Undergroundnetwork


Lamb dressed as Mutton (if dressed at all) by underground

Last night’s 60 Minutes broadcast a segment on the sexualisation of children. The issue has come to the fore in Australia, where a photo of a nude six year old was used on the front page of Art Monthly Australia magazine. The girl at the centre of the controversy, Olympia Nelsen (now 11), claims to be “really, really offended” by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s comment that he “cannot stand” the image. Opposition leader Brendan Nelsen (no relation to Olympia, as far as I’m aware!) was also appalled by the image, describing the use of the photo as “a two-fingered salute to the rest of society”. It was actually Olympia’s mother Polixeni Papapetrou who took the photo used in the “artwork” and her father Robert Nelsen is apparently an art critic. I’m going to put this bluntly: What kind of sick people would allow their daughters naked image to be displayed publicly as art?

Although I cannot speak from experience on this, I am sure that it can be very difficult to raise children nowadays. Parents must combat corporate marketing and advertising enticing children to desire their products in order to be cool. And as we all know, sex sells, even for children. And children are impressionable, as we also all should know. Whilst young boys are having violence condoned through video games, movies and music, young girls are having their self-worth equated with their body image. Worse still, girls are encouraged to be sexy, with the provocative dolls (bratz) they play with, to the clothes they wear. Everything they see around them, from pop music videos (Pussycat Dolls), to billboards, to teen magazines, reinforces the image of women, and young women, as sexual objects. There is, of course, the even more extreme and explicit; 60 Minutes found bras for four-year-olds and underwear with sexual themes printed on them.

Boys are in turn also taught to think that women are sexual objects for men, as this is image that gets reinforced to them through the media. Most often these images are of older girls who can give consent and are free to make their own decisions. That is fine, although perhaps consideration should be made for who may also see such material. However, now we are seeing even younger girls used in sexual, nude or provocative images, whether its Miley Cyrus, or Olympia Nelsen. What is the message when even young girls’ peers are sexualised?

For once I am probably on the side of religious lobby groups and those that espouse “family values”. Images and messages that are detrimental to society’s most vulnerable must be restricted. It is plain to see what the effects of such messages are to young people. Young girls (or anyone for that matter) should not equate their worth with their appearance. No one should feel obliged to be sexualised. When young people are having sex at ever decreasing ages, should we not consider the impact the media has on their decisions?

I’m not that far removed from my teenage years, I know how impressionable young people are. Peer pressure is massive. You look up to your idols whether they are musicians, celebrities, sportsmen or whatever. And you want to be like them. So like it or not, the Britney Spears and Pussycat Dolls of this world have a social responsibility. Which is pretty scary!

Parents also have a responsibility. Why would any mother give their girl a Bratz doll, or dress them like a whore? I remember working in a bookstore a while back, and saw a lot of young girls going shopping tarted up, just like their mothers. In all honesty, where can we expect those girls to be in a few years? Why not believe that your daughter can potentially achieve more than being another teen pregnancy statistic? If you encourage her to be sexual, guess what she is going to have?

Back to Olympia. Still aged only 11, and still very impressionable. Hopefully she realises she is worth more than “art”. What is art anymore anyway? Naked children? Porn? It is something of a sitcom joke that a male character will defend his pornography as art. To me, this is the quality of the defence conjured by those who support this filth. These are exactly the sorts of images a paedophile would crave. Don’t be so naïve. As my mum put it:

“Do you really want paedophiles masturbating over your daughter?”

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