Ed Morrissey wonders, "Is it possible to be both disgusted and jaded at the same time?" Oh yes, certainly. I do it all the time. What inspired his question is the advent of "push-up" bikinis for little girls who have nothing to push up. I'm not surprised, either, but some very uncivil thoughts, involving images of large kettles of boiling oil, pass through my mind when I think of the people responsible for the sexualization of children.
But they wouldn't be selling it if parents weren't buying it.
Along those lines, Jennifer Moses asks, Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That?
All of which brings me to a question: Why do so many of us not only permit our teenage daughters to dress like this—like prostitutes, if we're being honest with ourselves—but pay for them to do it with our AmEx cards? [. . .]I think she's right. When the sexual revolution hit, young people were its victims as well as its proponents. And they knew very little about the consequences of what they were doing. Sex is powerful, though few outside of religious circles will tell you so. In the secular world it's often promoted as mere recreation, a "fun" way to "unwind," and the less personal the better.
I have a different theory. It has to do with how conflicted my own generation of women is about our own past, when many of us behaved in ways that we now regret. A woman I know, with two mature daughters, said, "If I could do it again, I wouldn't even have slept with my own husband before marriage. Sex is the most powerful thing there is, and our generation, what did we know?"
Sexual abstinence is hard to discuss with one's children without a moral hook to hang it on. Pushing sexual morality on anyone, including your kids, is the opposite of cool. No one wants to be Ned Flanders. Moses continues:
We are the first moms in history to have grown up with widely available birth control, the first who didn't have to worry about getting knocked up. We were also the first not only to be free of old-fashioned fears about our reputations but actually pressured by our peers and the wider culture to find our true womanhood in the bedroom. Not all of us are former good-time girls now drowning in regret—I know women of my generation who waited until marriage—but that's certainly the norm among my peers.She's right. Secularists don't know how to teach modesty and chastity to their children. The very words embarrass their sophisticated sensibilities. (By the way, I'd include serious Catholics in Moses' list of exceptions.)
So here we are, the feminist and postfeminist and postpill generation. We somehow survived our own teen and college years (except for those who didn't), and now, with the exception of some Mormons, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, scads of us don't know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily. We're embarrassed, and we don't want to be, God forbid, hypocrites.
Still, in my own circle of girlfriends, the desire to push back is strong. I don't know one of them who doesn't have feelings of lingering discomfort regarding her own sexual past. And not one woman I've ever asked about the subject has said that she wishes she'd "experimented" more.I applaud Moses' partial rethink of the glorious sexual revolution, and encourage her and her friends to take an even harder look at that "lingering discomfort." Their daughters' welfare is at stake, and they know it.
As for the girls themselves, if you ask them why they dress the way they do, they'll say (roughly) the same things I said to my mother: "What's the big deal?" "But it's the style." "Could you be any more out of it?" What teenage girl doesn't want to be attractive, sought-after and popular?That's a damning revelation, that grown women are still vulnerable to the siren call of popularity and will sacrifice their daughters for a vicarious thrill. If the mother is that shallow, the daughter is doomed.
And what mom doesn't want to help that cause? In my own case, when I see my daughter in drop-dead gorgeous mode, I experience something akin to a thrill—especially since I myself am somewhat past the age to turn heads.
I wouldn't want us to return to the age of the corset or even of the double standard, because a double standard that lets the promiscuous male off the hook while condemning his female counterpart is both stupid and destructive. If you're the campus mattress, chances are that you need therapy more than you need condemnation.How about a standard in which promiscuity is rejected by both men and women (or boys and girls, as is so often the case)? There are young men out there, at least a few, who don't view young women as vehicles for their own gratification. I imagine most of them come from the exceptional groups listed above. They make wonderful husbands and fathers. Moses wraps it up:
But it's easy for parents to slip into denial. We wouldn't dream of dropping our daughters off at college and saying: "Study hard and floss every night, honey—and for heaven's sake, get laid!" But that's essentially what we're saying by allowing them to dress the way they do while they're still living under our own roofs.Ms. Moses needs to keep thinking about this. Perhaps she could talk to some women outside her own circle to get some perspective from mothers whose daughters not only don't dress "like that," but don't have any desire to do so. She might also read Hold On To Your Kids, which has a chapter on promiscuity. These peer-driven, popularity-seeking girls are desperately trying to fill a void.
Have you noticed who is conspicuously absent from Moses' piece? Yes, dear old dad. Does he have any input on this issue, or is he merely a meek, or spurned, bystander? Is he physically or emotionally absent? If so, could his absence have anything to do with his daughter's premature desire to attract men?
Bonus item from the UK: Isn't it about time we started quizzing 11 year-olds about their sexual preferences?
Children as young as 11 could soon be asked about their sexuality without their parents’ consent, it has emerged.Put that kettle on the fire.
Teachers, nurses and youth workers are being urged to set up pilot studies aimed at monitoring adolescent sexual orientation for the first time.
A report commissioned by the Government’s equalities watchdog found that it was ‘practically and ethically’ possible to interview young children about their sexuality.
Controversially, it says parental consent, while ‘considered good practice’, is not a legal necessity.
Ten minutes after I posted this, Kathryn Jean Lopez posted this: The AmExed Sexing Up of the American Tween. She echoes a few of my thoughts and adds many worthwhile ones of her own.
Linked by Mark Steyn (thank you), who connects all the dots:
In a way, this is part of the same story as Libya, and I'm not so sure that in the long run it isn't the more important part.It's a must read. My follow-up here.
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