CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Sexual Assault on Childhood

Sep 19, 2008

The recent news story of three six-year-old boys at a Brisbane school who ran a “sex club” is certainly a shocking bit of news. One media source begins the story this way: “A group of six-year-old boys ran a ‘sex club’ at a Brisbane primary school, threatening other students if they refused to comply with their demands for sexual favours, reports claim”.

But the really shocking thing about this story is not that it happened, but that it may well be just the tip of the iceberg. How many more such incidents are taking place today? Given the sexual tsunami which has inundated Western culture, the real question to ask is not, “Why did this happen?” but “Will we not in fact see much more of this sort of thing?”

Indeed, the sexualisation and pornification of culture has gotten so bad lately, that it is not just the usual suspects who are concerned about it. A raft of books have appeared recently bemoaning these trends. Some are penned by conservatives and religious types, but some are not.

Consider just a few recent titles: Porn Generation by Ben Shapiro (2005); Pornified by Pamela Paul (2005); and Prude by Carol Platt Liebau (2007). All these books warn about the flood of pornography and sexualisation which is devouring not just men and women but our children as well.

In her important new book Save the Males (2008) author Kathleen Parker has a chapter on “celebrity sluts and America’s ho-down”. She documents how the mainstreaming of porn, and the sexualisation of every aspect of society, is not just harming men and women, but devastating boys and girls as well. We all now live in a ho (whore) culture.

She writes, “Poor guys. It’s little wonder boys and young men are confused by constantly shifting and conflicting signals about how they should behave toward the lovelier sex. Torpedoed by cultural messages that are relentlessly sexual, by pole-dancing moms and prostitots decked in baby hookerware, they are nonetheless expected to treat females as ladies.”

The rise of this “slut culture” is not just confined to adults of course; children are being aggressively targeted. It seems that it’s never “too early to start little girls thinking about sex and teaching them to dress the part. Edgy four-year-olds can opt for T-shirts that say ‘Future Porn Star’ or ‘I Faked It.’ Budding tartlettes can find bustiers, stilettos, and ‘pleather’ pants in toy stores, as well as itsy-bitsy lingerie sets of lacy panties and bras. Bratz ‘bralettes’ – for those who don’t need them – come in thirty different styles, including padded ones for girls not quite ready for implants. In 2003, girls aged thirteen to seventeen spent more than $157 million on thong underwear. Wedgies R Us.”

Melinda Tankard Reist, writing in today’s Herald Sun, comments on the sexualisation of society and its negative impact. She mentions how Australian celebrity, and sister of Kylie, Dannii Minogue, is considering posing again for Playboy. She asks how young women will be affected by this, and what message it sends out to the rest of society:

“Perhaps Dannii doesn’t know or care that Hugh Hefner is responsible for the trivialisation of female sexuality worldwide. Tweens are his new market. The Playboy bunny adorns pencil cases and doona covers. A Playboy make-up line includes ‘Tie me to the bedpost blush’ and ‘Hef’s favourite lip gloss’. They should be re-labelled ‘disgusting old man in pyjamas’ lip gloss. Girls are wearing the brand of the global sex industry. They think ‘cute rabbit’. With her provocative make-me-a-porn-star posing and her false breasts, Minogue helps entrench this dehumanising industry. Doctors are reporting more young girls are seeking breast enhancement. One in four 12-year-old girls wants cosmetic surgery.”

She continues, “A recent British survey found the majority of young girls aspired to be celebrities, lap dancers and strippers. A 22-year-old American plans to auction off her virginity via the biggest US brothel. ‘We live in a capitalist society . . . why shouldn’t I be allowed to capitalise on my virginity?’ women’s studies graduate Natalie Dylan said. ‘I understand some people will condemn me . . . but I think this is empowering.’ There’s that word again. Empowerment has been reduced to pimping your virginity, wrapping your legs around a pole, flashing your breasts in public or giving sex jobs on demand.”

Tankard-Reist concludes, “Studies have shown that after men are exposed to sexualised content, they treat women like sexual objects. That’s what’s become of the movement for women’s equality. As a 15-year-old lamented in the book Sex Lives of Australian Teenagers: ‘We’ve come nowhere from the sexual revolution.’ Minogue could help girls like this by sticking to her charity work – clothes on. Helping girls see that they can change the world, now that’s liberating.”

In such a highly charged climate of 24/7 sexuality, in which all things sexual are accessible everywhere, anytime, is it any wonder we are seeing things like “sex clubs” being set up in primary schools? Indeed, why not? Kids everywhere are being sold the message that life is ultimately about one thing: sex, sex and more sex. Popular culture and the advertising world – to name just two powerful forces – have mainstreamed sleaze and porn, and have sought to convince us all that the normal life is the life of the stripper and the pornstar.

A steady diet of these kinds of messages, coupled with zillions upon zillions of sexually explicit images, ads, websites, TV shows, pop songs and movies, is of course having the desired effect. We are now awash with sexuality and sleaze, and we are somehow surprised when six-year-olds simply pick up on what is everywhere promoted and standardised by the adult world.

Expect more such horrible news stories to appear in the days ahead. Until we say enough is enough with the sexual revolution, and all those making heaps of money off it, we can only expect things to get much worse, much more quickly.

www.smh.com.au/news/national/children-involved-in-sex-club/2008/09/13/1220857886424.html
www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24368224-5000117,00.html

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12 Responses to The Sexual Assault on Childhood

  • One aspect not mentioned in this excellent article is the sex education industry – which is firmly ensconced in public education in Britain (and no doubt other Western countries). It has been said (rightly in my view) that sex education is a large part of the problem, and not the solution at all – hence, yesterday’s announcement that the Family Planning Association (“the country’s biggest sexual health charity”!!) have produced a book aimed at 6-year olds, to help them identify sex organs and, presumably, start them out on a life of experimentation, is just the latest deplorable development in the sexualisation of children.
    John Thomas

  • Thanks John

    Yes you are quite right about the sex-ed industry, and its contribution to the problem.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I heard today on ABC radio of plans in Indonesia to introduce some kind of anti-pornography law. I didn’t catch all the details except that it was being promoted by an Islamic group. Perhaps this is one aspect of sharia law that might actually be beneficial, except that we wouldn’t want it to go to the extremes of that of the Taliban.
    Ewan McDonald

  • I have always found it strange that if sexual exploitation is dressed up as art or advertising then it is somehow exempt from the most basic moral code.

    I would like to meet the parents of those six year old boys. What have they been exposing their children to?

    Ben Green

  • I have for many years been concerned about how sex education is taught in public schools. I once had a fifteen year old student tell me he was ready and waiting for his first opportunity to put into practice all the theory he had been learning. For all the fine talk about a values based education, there was no emphasis in sex education about valuing yourself and others. I cannot recall whether there was any mention either in the curriculum of all the STDs this young man could contract, but the wide variety of contraceptives on the market certainly was! When I gave him a list of all the STDs, pointing out in particular the ones which were incurable, he was taken aback and agreed he was not yet ready to take that sort of risk.

    I’ve also come across several incidences of boys dumping girls immediately after a sexual encounter, and then moving on to their best friend. The results have been devastating and the mess left for school chaplains, counselors etc to deal with.

    While boys are encouraged to act on their adolescent sexual urges, and girls encouraged to dress provocatively, trouble is just waiting to happen. Some boys are even labeled “gay” by their mates if they are reluctant to associate with girls.

    Child Protection legislation ideally protects young children form sexual abuse and exposure to sexual media, but as far as I am aware, little or nothing is done about the subtle and not so subtle sexual messages conveyed by advertising and retail commodities targeted particularly at children (and their buying parents).

    Thanks, Bill, for your informative article.

    Glenda Morgan WA

  • Good article, as usual, and I certainly agree with you. I was outraged when I first read of these events, but not surprised: they seem a natural outcome of an increasingly sexualized culture.

    GM said:Some boys are even labeled “gay” by their mates if they are reluctant to associate with girls.
    This may also be the case for boys who enjoy the company of girls just because girls are (shock) interesting people, and do not feel the need to consider girls in sexual terms. But I’m not particularly ‘in with the crowd’, so I’m not sure if this plays out in reality.

    Samuel Sparks, Qld

  • Please consider this article.
    http://www.newsweekly.com.au/articles/2008jul19_cover.html

    “In a media release on June 26, Dr Hamilton stated: “There remains a huge gulf between the level of community concern about the sexualisation of children and the Senate committee’s report. As a result, the process of sexualisation will continue, with children being caught up in it at younger and younger ages. Another inquiry will be necessary in five years time to deal with the consequences of the failure of this one…..”

    Jennifer Parfenovics

  • Thanks for your comments, Samuel. I was referring to the pressure on a boy to prove his sexual prowess with a girl in order to receive approval from his peers. Some boys I’ve talked to, especially in years 8 & 9, are plain not interested in girls yet.

    My overall concern is that our children and youth are being robbed of their innocence and are confused by conflicting messages when the values of respecting yourself and others are not taught. A girl will be labeled frigid if she refuses sexual advances or be labeled a slut if she gives in. Likewise a boy will be labeled gay or a stud.

    Glenda Morgan

  • Thanks for your comments, Samuel. I was referring to the pressure on a boy to prove his sexual prowess with a girl in order to receive approval from his peers. Some boys I’ve talked to, especially in years 8 & 9, are plain not interested in girls yet.
    Yes, that’s what I thought you meant. Perhaps my comment was a tad superfluous, but in any case I was attempting to add another thought rather than contradict you 😉

    My overall concern is that our children and youth are being robbed of their innocence and are confused by conflicting messages when the values of respecting yourself and others are not taught.
    Agreed. Surely learning such values should be part of a good education. Instead, boys seem to learn to treat girls as sex objects, and, as a result, girls may expect to be treated this way. This is bad enough if it starts during high-school, but evidently it is occurring as early as Year 1.

    Samuel Sparks, Qld

  • Dear Bill,

    As the father of 6 (4 girls and 2 boys aged from 9 to 24 and all living at home) I have faced the issues of the sexualisation of children for quite some time and will continue to have face these issues for some time still. The family environment itself can significantly assist children prepare for and resist the sexualisation of their lives but even the strongest family is fighting an uphill battle. As parents it it easy for my wife and I to exercise some control over what our children wear, including 2 teenage and 1 adult daughters who buy their own clothes. With the teenagers and adult its less control and more suggestion and guidance.

    However I find that the hardest fight is not over the direct sexualisation of children but the more insidious brainwashing of children through all forms of media that they live in a “I want it now!” and “You must have it because it is the latest!” society. This message is being pushed at the youngest of children through TV ads for everything from food, cereals, toys etc. Children are immersed in a day to day culture of self gratification. It might start out as, I must get a hamburger from a specific brand because it comes with the toy of the moment, but once acquired this sense of self gratification is very easy to manipulate to promote the sexualisation of children without children often realising that is what is occurring.

    Not only is the sexualisation of children a scourge that pervades every aspect of our sociey but equally pervasive are the underpinning errors of self gratification and instant satisfaction which tear at the family unit, social cohesion and a Christian value set. Even in the doom and gloom of a sexualised self centred society it is amazing what effect one child can have on other children when the one is happy, sharing, friendly and all without having the latest or most wanted fashion item or gadget. Sometimes our own children provide the best examples to blunt the attack of those who want to promote the sexualisation of children. Of course our children can’t do it on their own as they are in many respects merely a reflection of the values we have taught them, but our children can influence other children to adopt the same values.

    John Ryan

  • A confronting, awful, but necessary read. What a tragedy for the kids who are victims. What an indictment on the society that has created the situation that has so damaged their concept of ‘person’. What a future that lies ahead of us as we seek to encourage a very different ‘normal’ that will stand the test of time.

    Thanks for enduring it to keep us in the picture.

    Bob Johnston

  • It is sad to read this article. I think teaching similair to that of Allan Meyers regarding the fundamental truths about sex deserve to be championed and promoted by christians.
    Tim Macdonald

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