Curb sexualisation, for the good of our children

We should all be “up in arms” about the sexualisation of children, the head of a parents’ forum has said.

Justine Roberts, who co-founded the influential online group Mumsnet, has called for a clampdown on the culture which pushes sex on children.

Writing in The Times, Mrs Roberts said many of the parents on her forum are deeply concerned about the sexualisation of society “leaking, toxically, into the lives of children”.

“It is obvious in the products that are marketed directly to children — and it is likely to be damaging them”, she added.

Controversial

Mrs Roberts went on to criticise controversial products which have been blasted for sexualising children.

She mentioned Primark who quickly withdrew a pink sparkly padded bikini for seven-year-olds.

Mrs Roberts also highlighted high heels for 3-year-olds, which were criticised this week, and Tesco’s “infamous Peekaboo Pole Dancing kit”.

But, she added, “do a quick trawl of the high street and you’ll still find plenty to suck your teeth about”.

Campaign

Mrs Roberts went on to describe Mumsnet’s campaign – Let Girls be Girls – which encourages retailers not to sell products that “play upon, emphasise or exploit the sexuality of children”.

She wrote: “Plenty of retailers — Boden, StartRite, House of Fraser, Mothercare and Asda were quick to sign up to Let Girls be Girls.

“Other big names — John Lewis, M&S, Boots and Next followed”, and now Tesco has signed up as well.

Only three retailers said ‘no’: Gap, H&M and WHSmith.

Girls

Mrs Roberts wrote: “You don’t have to be a feminist to believe that little girls probably shouldn’t be told that a vital quality to cultivate is that of being attractive to boys.

“Nor do you have to be Mary Whitehouse to believe that it’s not great for girls — or boys — to grow up thinking that being feminine is all about a pornography inspired pastiche of female sexuality.”

She went on to say that “girls are being introduced at young ages, through the products and media that surround them, into a world in which they are viewed as a sum of body parts, sexually available, and whose value lies in how sexy they look to boys and men”.

“Intelligence, emotional strength and sporting achievement pale into insignificance when compared with sexiness. And we should all — parents, non-parents, men and women — be up in arms about it”, she added.

Related Resources