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On the sexualization of prepubescent girls

Submitted by sitarane on Wed, 2011-03-30 19:00

A recent controversy around swimsuits for little girls is currently causing some stir. I have no doubt that it will soon vanish into the oblivion it deserves, and that is why I don't provide any links. But the simple fact that it raises controversy deserves attention.

Why do we find the sexualization of little girls shocking?

When is it OK for a little girls to start using make up? 10 years old? Too early? Fine? When is it necessary for a little girl to switch from a one-piece swimsuit to one that covers the chest? Is it ok that a girl that doesn't have breasts yet uses padded bras to give the illusion that she does? When can a young girl start using high heals? miniskirts? Thongs? At what age should a little girl get her ears pierced?

And, to see the issue from another angle, how would you translate it to the little boys? Surely little boys are just as eager as little girls to look adult. So, what is their side of the issue?

So far, I don't see any. Little boys don't paint mustaches under their nose, nor do they wear padded clothe to look more muscular. It is rumored some stuff their underwear, but I don't see a brand providing inflated underpants for pre-teens.

So the question seems to be limited to the female gender.

Do these question seem relevant to you? Is there an age when it's too early for girls to engage in those behaviors? When it would look "gross" or "ridiculous". I've seen my 5 year old sister sneaking in my moms closet to put on the high heels shoes, or to smear make up all over her face. I know she was acting out of typical childhood mimetism, but still, the former stroke me as ridiculous, the later gross.

But why? Why did I find it disturbing? All those sexualizing acts in which adult women engage on a daily basis without causing the slightest stir? Are we not proud to see children being precocious in all other respects? If they start walking early, or reading books, or doing their homework alone, taking responsibilities?

The easy answer is the following: Because children don't have the hormonal and sexual apparatus necessary for sex, so displaying them as sexually desirable is misplaced. It is false in two ways.

Firstly, past puberty, a kid does have both the hormonal and sexual apparatus necessary to enjoy sex. The hormonal one arguably more developed than that of an adult. Still, society will cast the same disturbed eye on the sexualization of the post-pubescent 14-year-old. Secondly, in all other respects, it is still seen as desirable for a kid to display interests in the adult fields that he is not yet able to handle. Such as riding a bike, cooking, DIY... and daddies often will let the boy play with the safe tools from the tool-box, and mommies will affect baking a cake together with the girl. Everyone finds it normal. Everyone actually find it cute.

I suspect that the true reason why we find them shocking because those acts are shocking by themselves. We should actually be shocked every time a person paints her face in a way that will make it seem more in line with the beauty standards of the moment. We should be grossed out every time someone hangs futile little shiny thingeys to their mutilated ears. We should always find it funny that someone would choose to walk on sticks. But we see it so often that our judgment is dulled out. It's only when it happens to people that were not previously doing it that the confused minds will ring alarms.

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