Sexualisation of the young is becoming society’s cancer

Steve Biddulph – Sydney Morning Herald 26 Feb 2013
The term sexualisation originated in child protection work.  It refers to  sexual behaviour imposed on someone, as opposed to arising from their own  yearnings or desires.  Government reports have been carried out worldwide into  the phenomenon,  and concern has grown that it is a serious problem for the  development of girls and boys.  Most people think it simply means girls acting  too sexy too young.

The trend for cheap clothing shops to sell tacky knickers and push-up bras  for eight-year-olds probably epitomises that, along with child beauty quests,  and a lack of boundaries around what children see in the media landscape.  This  concern is not insignificant – Latrobe University’s regular surveys of teen  sexuality over the past decade show a significant rise in girls starting their  sex lives at 14, and having multiple partners while still at school (approaching  one in five girls).  School counsellors in  Britain tell me that 11 or 12 is not  uncommon for first sexual experiences.  A disturbing proportion are with much  older boys.  But it’s in normal homes that the most pervasive effects are felt –  with eight-year-olds dieting and millions of girls declaring that “they hate  their bodies”.

I believe sexualisation is a deeper and more lifelong issue, perhaps even  endemic – and harmful – to gender relations throughout history.    Objectification of women was at the core of the feminist struggle.  But today,  from a completely different quarter, the nature of sexuality for all of us is  being modified.  For example, boys are being admitted to London’s Tavistock  Clinic for sexual abuse of sisters or girls at school and  found to have been  addicted to online porn for years. Some of these boys are only 12 or 13. But  it’s not just children who are affected.  Our whole environment is overtly  sexual now and it is changing a once-private activity, with considerable  emotional intensity, into a consumer activity with no meaning at all.