Wednesday, February 4, 2009
"Have you read this book?" or "My small soapbox moment"
I read a lot. I read fiction, primarily, but lately I've been adding a number of non-fiction titles to my reading. After a long wait on the library list, I was finally at the top of the list for a book I'd requested a few months ago. I finished it a few days ago and I find myself compelled urge all of you (parents and non-parents) to read it, too.
The book is called "So Sexy, So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do" by Diane Levine and Jean Kilbourne. This books explores the hyper-sexualized society in which children are being raised these days. Television, radio, school, and stores are all pushing a level of sexuality on our children that is confusing and inappropriate and, frankly, that they are not equipped to deal with. If you think to yourself, "We didn't look that way when we were in Junior High!", you are absolutely correct. I would wager that my friends who are teachers would agree that the level of overt sexuality, inappropriate sexual behavior, and sexual awareness in the classroom is unprecedented and uncomfortable for everyone.
Let's face it...we live in a world where little girls in kindergarten know that being sexy is a good thing, even if they don't know what "sexy" actually means. They are body aware and younger and younger ages. Little boys receive their own confusing messages as they watch/listen to men degrade women and women parade around barely clothed. Even though these things might not be happening in your own home, your children are seeing and trying to process these things. Before you think your kids are too young or completely insulated, I urge you to think for a minute. Unless you live in a cave, they've seen these things. Anybody had their children ask them what "erectile dysfunction" is? What about, "What is an erection lasting more than four hours?"...we were watching History Channel this evening and my children heard and quesitoned both those things. What about that stupid Paris Hilton Carl's Jr. commercial that was on a few years ago? Remember that? She was writhing all over car squirting water on herself and moaning? Gee, what was the subliminal symbolism there? These are not "late night" commercials, either. These are commercials that are on during "prime time" for goodness' sake.
This book tackles children's exposure to inappropriate content beginning at preschool age (oh, yes, it is there) and moves on through high schoolers. Even if you are doing your very best to keep the children in your life insulated from these messages, it behooves you to understand why and how they are being transmitted to your children. Even if you feel certain your faith and your church are sending strong messages of what is appropriate, you must remember that your children are spending their days with children who might not be getting those same messages. For parents who've never really thought about combating it, or feel helpless in the face of the onslaught, the book concludes with techniques to help combat this exposure and its ramifications at every age.
Unlike some books of this nature, this book was a quick read and just reinforced my commitment to be vigilant protecting my children's right to be children. I am not a prude. I understand all human being have innate sexuality and my children are no different, but the pace at which they experience grown-up things should not be media driven.
Okay, that is my soapbox and I'm stepping off it for now. I urge you to read this book...it is worth your time. It is not preachy, it is practical.
Please let me know if you prefer me to stick to cooking and sewing and crafting. I'm not sure I'll be able to, but I'd like to know what you think.