Innocence Lost

Now, I’m going to preface this by saying I am far from a prude. I enjoy a raunchy joke every now and then, just like many others. I’ve read books that probably bordered on being Harlequin romances. And I certainly don’t cover my eyes at love scenes in a movie. But here’s the thing – I’m an adult, and those are my own personal, private choices. They are not things that I expose my children to, because that would be inappropriate.

Unfortunately today, the idea of inappropriateness seems to be fading from society, especially when it comes to sex. Let’s face it, our culture is over-sexed, plain and simple. Somewhere along the way we have been injected with a huge dose of testosterone and it seems we just can’t get enough.

Sexual imagery is everywhere, surrounding us, but what’s more, our children. Our eyes are bombarded every time we turn on the television – it seems that almost every commercial uses scantily clad women, sexual imagery or humor. To say nothing of the fact that movies like 50 Shades of Grey end up grossing over half a billion dollar in the box office. Or that sexual innuendos are finding their way into children’s movies.

Our ears are subjected to it every time we turn on the radio and hear what is in my opinion, pure filth, from the likes of Nicki Minaj and Robin Thicke. It’s one thing for an adult to buy their cd and listen to it in the privacy of their home, but that songs like that are being played on the radio for our children to listen to in any public place, still blows my husband and I away.

Not to anyone’s surprise, sexuality is even there in print, too. In the United States, the Common Core reading list recommends an extremely sexually graphic book  for their sixteen and seventeen year old students to read. The book which gives vivid descriptions of topics such as rape and pedophilia,  would make 50 Shades of Grey look like nothing more than a tender love story.

It appears that nothing is safe from sexualization in today’s world. We took the children to the circus today – a small circus put on by a great group, who do phenomenal work with children. I have never had any qualms about supporting them. And yet, even there, in what you would think would be the least likely of places, our randy culture crept in. Granted, I am aware that acrobats need to wear tight-fitting costumes, that’s  a common-sense safety issue. However, what was not necessary was for that outfit to be, for all intents and purposes, a bra and panties. And let me tell you right now, I have seen underwear from Victoria’s Secret that offered more backside coverage than some of these outfits. When the acrobats were doing spread-eagles on their ropes in front of my 7 year old boy’s eyes, I was praying that there would not be a wardrobe malfunction, lest he get a lesson on female anatomy.

Breasts were obviously best at the circus. As one of the ladies bounced her ample cleavage around, dancing like she was in a night club, shaking her chest for all to see, I looked down to see my not-even five year old daughter trying to mimic her very actions. My husband and I were both a bit shocked to see the outfit that they had their child performer in – a young girl of no more than ten or eleven, was wearing tight booty shorts and  a handkerchief top that barely covered her chest, and that was it. Her full belly and back were bare for all of us to see. Is childhood innocence no longer considered sacred? Are there no longer any lines between what is appropriate for children and for adults?

Today’s North American culture is not an easy one to be trying to raise children in. How am I supposed to teach my son to see a woman’s body as something special, something private and to be respected, when he’s growing up being bombarded by images of nearly naked women at every turn? Like it’s no more special or out of the ordinary than sliced bread?  How on earth am I supposed to teach my daughter to value her body, and what’s more, to demand that other boys and men respect it – when she’s growing up being taught by media that flaunting it and using her body to get what she wants, is not only acceptable, but the norm? How am I supposed to teach sexual modesty in a world that increasingly scorns the idea?

These are the questions that many of us parents today are struggling with. Often, parents like myself who are concerned about such things are told,  “Well just screen what they read/watch/listen to”, but the problem is that you can’t screen everything. When you can’t even go to a mall or doctor’s office without hearing songs on the radio about sex, or derogatory terms about women, when schools are suggesting their students  read books about rape and pedophilia, and when you can’t even go to a family circus without having to hope private body parts don’t pop out of a skimpy costume… the answer isn’t, “Screen it.” Because the problem is, we shouldn’t have to.

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2 thoughts on “Innocence Lost

  1. I just stumbled across your blog and read this post. I could have written it myself. I truly don’t know how to shield children from this kind of thing, and I just don’t understand how it got this bad or why. I have an 11 year old son and I don’t let him watch much television or listen to the radio, let alone watch music videos (almost all of which are overtly sexual), but I can’t shield him from that forever and it comes at a great price because he doesn’t get to hear the really great music that might be out there too. Recently I allowed him to watch the pilot episode of the TV show “Galavant” which was placed in a family viewing (7pm) timeslot. Thankfully, I was able to preview episode 2 before he did and realised it was NOT suitable for children.

    Perhaps if I was not a parent I would not notice this so much, although I would still feel uncomfortable about the exploitation of women (and particularly very young women and girls) as sex objects, particularly by the music industry.

    Now I have to figure out how to approach talking to him about pornography because it’s everywhere and the chances of him coming across it at a friend’s house or stumbling across something on the internet are fairly high. Something which maybe could have waited until his mid to late teens (in my day) will have to be brought into his consciousness when he is just too young to really understand it. The thought of my sweet boy or any other young child being exposed to such things makes me sick and angry, and I don’t think it’s too strong a term to describe it as a form of abuse.

    How far can it go?

    Cathy

  2. That’s one of the big reasons I was so happy to find highland lessons that WEREN’T taught at a dance school. Ella’s first few years were at a dance school and there was pressure from some of the mom’s to have ‘flashy’ costumes like the other groups. Sorry, highland dancers wear highland dress! Ella wanted to do some other styles too, but I refused because I didn’t want her ‘dressed’ in the skimpy costumes dancing like a stripper.

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