Monday, March 1, 2010

Getting Real - pt 1

Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls, edited by Melinda Tankard Reist

I heard about this book last year, and waited months for it to arrive - well worth the wait! Although a depressing read, it's key reading for anyone who has anything to do with girls (& boys for that matter) - parents, teachers, church leaders ...

While depressing, it also issues a challenge, especially to those of us who are parents, to not sit idly by and let the prevailing culture (led by media and advertising) dictate who our children imitate, learn from and are influenced by.

The book is a collection of essays, all written by different authors and all addressing different aspects of the sexualisation of girls:

- the risks of premature sexualisation for children
- the psychological and developmental impact of sexualisation on children
- how advertising works on children and it is almost unavoidable
- the 'moral panic' raised by something like the Bill Henson photos in 2008, and the inability to allow proper debate on the issues raised
- the increase in medicalisation of sexualised girls - dealing with contraception, abortion, pregnancy, depression, STDs, etc
- how sex is so trivialised

One thing I found fascinating was the observation made of still advertising - predominantly the depiction of women in advertising is that they are young, thin, white and idle (p67). Next time you see a woman advertising something (especially in still media) ask yourself: is she doing anything? Does she have a job? Care for anyone? Chances are there are no clues - she has no background - she is just enjoying the product on offer, making the statement that "the perfect woman is beautiful, decorative and completely without identity" (p70)

I must admit that reading this book made me want to lock both my son and daughters up with no access to television, advertising, the internet or the outside world until they are 25! What children now have to face, in terms of exposure to pornography, a sexualised culture and society's ideas of how they should look and act (ie. be sexy and act sexy) terrifies me.

However, I do and must remember that God is sovereign. He knows all things and is in control of all things. As parents we need to trust that God loves and cares for our children, even more than we do.

That's not to say however, that we sit idly by and let it be. Next week, I'll make some comments about some areas this book got me thinking about more.

Nicole has also been commenting recently on this book - we often seem to read the same things at the same time! See her introductory comments on it here.

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