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 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.


n3isme said...

*claps* I think that you definitely should continue posting opinions like that - It's just as much a part of you as all the cooking and sewing stuff. Good job! :D

loveaphid said...

I think that you should blog what ever moves you. If its a strong opinion on something or a whimsical post about bed-napper sloths so be it. Just be you, I know I like it.

Anonymous said...

This touches on a very important subject until i read this post i didn't see that some people just can't see whats happening around them and somebody had to right a book because it wasn't common knowledge even though it's out there in the open for everyone to see. It just shows that some people just don't want to see it because they don't want to have to change how they act how they advertise(what the car wash had to do with cheese burgers I will never know) because if you stop advertising things with Inappropriate content you lose an advertising area on TV and some on the radio, which in turn loses money and causes a need for work to make up the loss of profit. So to end a long comment I think you should post about things like this as well and people should rethink how they act.

Erin said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for letting me know you support me and my desire to post all kinds of things. You are terrific.

Love, MOM

Anonymous said...

Personally some days I can't wait till all of mine are happily married and it won't matter any more. Thing is local channels are worse than cable these days. I don't have my head in the ground, just don't see much we can do about it. Even if I got rid of TV, and Internet and allowed no books, newspapers, or smoke signals, the kids still discuss it amongst themselves.
So unless you live in a cave, alone and never allow in other cave people, you can't avoid it.
Now like you, I agree humans are sexual as a gift from God. Just don't want my kids to enjoy or hear about the gift before they are mature enough to handle the consequences.

I work with 4 year olds and they are constantly breaking into groups of two. Male and female. We break them back up into groups of three or more. They see mom and dad kissing and they think it's okay for them.

Clark said...

I haven't been able to really get my thoughts around all of the factors involved, but this is just another area where I see our (not just mine, but everyone's) children under attack. I use the word "attack" because that is how I view it. All these groups are fighting to control what our children believe and how they behave. We, as parents, need to meet this challenge by having the honest and uncomfortable conversations with our kids about what we believe and why. Our kids are smarter than we often give them credit for and are more than capable of understanding why these groups are trying to influence their thoughts and beliefs.

Tricia Kauffman said...

Dear Erin,
I, like your other readers I'm sure, appreciate your many talents in all things domestic. But I also know you to be a very involved, informed, intelligent, independent thinker and I believe your readers will greatly benefit from having relevant issues brought to their attention and having your input. You are a balanced, well-rounded person, not to be pigeon-holed as just a domestic diva, so your blog can be a reflection of that. In other words, climb up on your soapbox any time the mood strikes!

Erin said...

Thanks, Tricia...laughing, laughing, laughing at the idea that I am a domestic, of all people, know what I am like at home!

Generations...when I volunteered full time (don't ask) in Buttercup's kindergarten class, it wasn't the mommy and daddy kisses that were the problem, it Mommy's new boyfriend, or shows that even I didn't/wouldn't watch that were influencing the behavior of these adorable 5 and 6 year olds...