My daughter’s sexy-dancing at seven and I don’t know who to blame.
I could blame music videos, although she barely sees them.
I could blame those bump-and-grind dance classes, but she doesn’t go to them.
I could blame her friends, but when I see them together, they are much more likely to be running and swimming and climbing stuff than gyrating.
I’m sure it’s someone’s fault.
“Where did she get that from?” is a question every parent likes to ask, loudly, when their kid does something they’re not comfortable with. Swearing. Talking back. Saying they’d like to punch Donald Trump. Swinging their bum around like a seasoned pole dancer.
Watching my girl dancing solo around the living room, having the time of her life, I am tormented by one of my most tedious companions – feminist parenting angst. Like a million other mothers, I worry about my daughter becoming “sexualised” too soon.
I don’t want her to be taught that “hotness” is a woman’s most-valuable currency. I don’t want her to be preoccupied with being a recipient of an approving male gaze when she should be focusing on pulling up that maths performance and, you know, learning to tie her shoes.
But hey, maybe that’s just how she dances. Wiggling your bum feels great, right?
While our children are small, we parents love to think we can control everything they do and say and wear and think. We are hyper-aware of them being exposed to any stuff that doesn’t fit with our view of the world, anything that clashes with our “values”.
Tracey Spicer voiced many, many mothers frustrations about this yesterday in a Fairfax column called Why Do Men Think It’s Okay to Comment On My Pre-Teen Daughter’s Looks? In it, Spicer recounted a conversation between herself, her 10-year-old daughter and an acquaintance at a barbecue.
Listen: Mia Freedman discusses the sexualisation of young girls with author of ‘Girls and Sex’, Peggy Orenstein, on No Filter.
“My, how you’ve grown,” The Guy said to her daughter, Gracie. “You’re a pretty little thing. All the men will be looking at you instead of your mother!”
I think I speak for many mothers of daughters when I say: Yuck.
Barbecue Guy probably didn’t mean to be creepy, but there is no doubt that’s a dick thing to say for about 14 reasons. Let’s count out a few:
- 10-year-old girls just love being told “you’ve grown”, don’t they?;
- Gracie is definitely not A Thing;
- Why does a 10-year-old need to be contemplating “men looking” at her? Which men? Why?;
- Is this the moment a little girl is meant to realise her mother, who has always been her nurturer, protector and champion is, in actual fact, her competition?
Reactions to Spicer’s piece have varied from fist pumps to cries of “chill out”. If it makes anyone think differently about the language they use in front of female children then it’s job done.