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Sexualisation of children or hidden agenda

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What do the following things have in common:

Kiddie pageants, music videos, padded bras for 9 year olds, Lady Gaga, Dolly Doctor, slogan t-shirts, sex education, department store catalogues.

Need some thinking music? Well, some people insist what they have in common is the premature sexualisation of children.

Was there ever a more alarming, loaded term?

It’s difficult to argue against anyone who claims to oppose the sexualisation of children. To do that, by definition you must be in favour of it. And what sicko is going to put their hand up to join that team?

However. While there are aspects of pop culture that make me want to throw things – and some that make me want to throw up –  the growing movement against the sexualisation of children is making me nervous.

And here’s why.

Lately, I’ve noticed that hot-button labels like ‘child sexualisation’ are being used in some cases as a Trojan horse by extremely conservative or religious groups whose true intentions are to turn back the clock on all sorts of other things.

Things like sex education, access to contraception, information about safe sex and reproductive choices. Not only do I think this is naïve, dishonest and counter-productive, the truth is that most of these issues have nothing to do with children. They relate to teens and adults. Very different.

That kind of alarmist blanket ban approach simply doesn’t work for me. For example, I’ll defend Dolly Doctor (and similar content in other teen mags) to the moon and back.

It’s vital that girls – and boys –  have easy access to information about sex and their bodies written by respected professionals.

Sure, since I became a parent, my tut-tut radar is more finely tuned. I loathe Bratz dolls, t-shirts that say ‘porn star’, and make-up marketed to 5 year olds.

I’m not a fan of the Supre ad we discussed yesterday.

I can’t stand those erection dysfunction ads and it’s best not to get me started on the portrayal of women in magazines and music videos.

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But what concerns me is the insidious motivations behind some of these groups who claim to be concerned about kids.

For instance the ad  that appeared around Brisbane last month for the rip and roll safe sex campaign.

There’s nothing overtly sexual about this ad. You probably didn’t even notice the very discreetly placed condom.

What I see when I look at this is a beautiful image of a couple with their arms around each other.

But other people see the premature sexualisation of children.

Yes, the Australian Christian Lobby, a powerful, right wing group that, according to their website: “Seek to bring Christ’s values of justice and righteousness into government” orchestrated a deceptive campaign that caused outdoor ad company Adshell to bow to their pressure and take down the ad.

Thanks to the power of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, it was revealed that the 30-odd complaints that Adshell had received about the ad, were all virtually identical and orchestrated by the Australian Christian Lobby.

Homophobia anyone?

None of these complaint letters mentioned God or Jesus or the Australian Christian Lobby. They all claimed concern about sexualised images and the impact on children.

I have no problem with people speaking out against things that jar with their religious beliefs. But declare your hand.

Declare that you’re part of the Australian Christian Lobby and that you believe homosexuality or contraception or sex education is against God or whatever it is you reckon. Don’t hide behind the ‘sexualisation of children’ argument as a way to peddle your religious beliefs.

And before we all take a giant step to the right and then back to the 1950s, sex education and sexual tolerance are crucial for young people. To wrap them up with kiddie beauty contests, padded tween bras and explicit music videos is not only deceptive and disingenuous, it’s dangerous.