Children ‘over-exposed to sexual imagery’

I was delighted to see the report that has just come out with some very sensible recommendations around trying to stem the early sexualisation of our children:

This is an area that I have been concerned about for some time.

I wrote this blog post back in 2007 but the thoughts in it are still relevant now so I will share them again here:


Various incidents happened to me that lead me to consider exploring the issue of our sexualised or ‘raunch’ culture.

Playboy bunny a popular logo with children

  • I read that in 2006 the top-selling pencil case at WH Smiths was a ‘playboy’ pencil case. This really disturbed me. It’s not that I think that the young girls buying these really understand what the playboy bunny represents and that in some way this corrupts them. It’s the insidiousness of it all – ten years ago, there would have been no way that a child would have been allowed a playboy pencil case. Indeed it would have been something only men would have been interested in. Some might say that women have ‘reclaimed’ the playboy image for themselves. I think this is a false view of feminism.

The concept of modesty

  • I was on holiday in Italy last year. We visited Amalfi Cathedral. Before we went there, the tour guide on the coach said ‘if you want to visit the cathedral, ladies, please ensure that your shoulders are covered and men, please don’t wear shorts’. A woman behind me on the coach, probably in her late 30s said to her husband ‘that’s strange!’ This really surprised me – the concept of modesty in a place of worship was completely alien to this woman. I might not have been that surprised had she been a teenager, but for an adult to express surprise at such a request I thought was very odd.

Popularity of pole-dancing

  • Last Christmas, my colleagues were booking a restaurant for our Christmas dinner at a restaurant chain famous for flavoured vodka. As we were booking for a large number, the restaurant offered ‘pole dancing lessons’ at a discount to 8 or more women. I was asked if I’d like to do this, my friends said ‘Bryony, you’re normally up for a laugh, are you coming?’ I flat refused, I couldn’t think of anything I would rather not do, particularly with work colleagues. The connotations of pole dancing to me are all negative: a negative view of female sexuality, definitely related to abuse and prostitution, and to the subjugation of women. What really shocked me was that a) I was the only younger person in the office to say ‘no’ and b) that my friends and colleagues have bought the lie that pole dancing is somehow empowering for women. What utter rubbish! I can appreciate that you could lose weight by doing it but I could not in all conscience attend a pole dancing ‘lesson’ because of where it has come from and what it represents. The girls didn’t book the lessons in the end. I think a lot of it was bravado and that they didn’t really want to do it. However, I do know that lots of women are booking pole dancing as part of their hen do festivities. What sort of a view of sex does that give a woman going into a lifelong relationship? That their body is only for the pleasure of men? That sex is only a one way thing?

Now, I realise writing this down now that this blog could become a one woman rant. That is not my intention. What I intend to do here is explore some of the above issues in as measured a way as I can. I will write about each of these areas and try and look at the issues from a Christian and biblical perspective. The Christian view of sex has to be positive, not negative. Sex is an incredible gift from God. I don’t want to be Mary Whitehouse, but I do want to do something about the warped view of sex we have in our culture that is completely not what God intended for us.

As Christians we are called to change the world in the name of Jesus…are we sitting by and just letting this stuff happen?

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.- Romans 12:2

If we are not careful, we Christian men and women could sit by and allow the lies told by our over sexualised culture to be believed by new generations. I don’t want our children growing up thinking that they must be thin, sexy, sluttish and raunchy if they want to get by in life. I don’t want our young girls to think that boys will only like them if they dress a certain way and do things they may well not be ready to do. I don’t want boys growing up thinking that women are just a source of entertainment, both sexual and humorous – the ‘zoo magazine’ attitude to women.

I’m reminded of the analogy of the boiling frog. Put a frog into a bowl of boiling water and it will jump out, put a frog into a pan and gently bring the pan to boil and it will die.

For more on this topic, see my ‘dead fish blog’:

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