Coverage of this issue on television and in the media has been problematic for a number of reasons. Take the comments of the mother on the Panorama documentary, who was concerned that her daughter wearing short skirts and ‘showing her legs’ would lead to an underage pregnancy. Or the tabloid headlines which labelled Primark’s padded swimwear for seven-year-olds as the ‘PAEDO BIKINI’. The fact that the outrage exclusively focuses on girls, the way they might behave or the things that might happen to them as a result of liking or wearing certain clothes or being exposed to sexual imagery, rather than addressing the issues in the ways they affect boys, looking at the wider problems surrounding the way we view sex and relationships as a society, or asking the girls themselves what they actually think about it all.
The ‘sexualisation of our daughters’ and other double standards: Hannah Mudge
This is something that frustrates me, too. When I tell people I’m writing a book about sex, the automatic assumption is that it’s going to be a book about women. Perhaps this is partly because I am a woman, but I also think it’s because almost all our political discourse about sex - whether conservative or liberal - is about women.
And you know what? Women’s sexuality is political, socially constructed, culturally mediated - all those things. But so is men’s. And by focusing all our conversation, be it “who’s sexualising our girls?” or “the Madonna/whore complex is still alive and well, you know!”, on women, we’re saying that cisgender, heterosexual masculinity, as it is experienced and played out in our culture, is universal, unremarkable, unworthy of comment.
And that’s just not true.
Related: No, not sexualisation. Objectification. Say it with me.
So, I may have gotten a little bolshie on that whole sexualisation thing.