The offending article. Premise is that children in the UK are being exposed to more and more sexualized imagery and are being damaged. Boys are becoming sexist pigs and girls feel like objects. I’m not sure that is really anything new in western culture, but I agree it is a problem.
However, the solution is not censorship of everything. For one, kids and teens are better at finding porn on the internet than adults are at thwarting them. Two, adults have a right to material that is not appropriate for all ages. We cannot sanitize the entire world on account of
protecting the children keeping children ignorant. I don’t agree with the expert cited in the article, either. “Author Dr Linda Papadopoulos said there was a clear link between sexualised imagery and violence towards females.” Uh, heard of Afghanistan? Saudi Arabia? Any other state with violent fanatics? I don’t think those places have lad’s mags, much less boys acquiring them. There’s a clear link between sexism and violence towards women, but not necessarily sexual imagery.
I keep seeing sentiments like the Dr.’s put forth as a reason to censor this, censor that, ban “extreme” porn, ban all porn, etc. and I think it’s misguided. Guess what? The content in my porn folder would probably get me arrested in the UK. I’ve seen all manner of horrible and/or sexy things on the internet, yet I still look at women as people. Okay, but I’m a woman myself so that makes me more immune? No, I know men who can look at the same supposedly depraved porn I do without turning into rapists or abusers.
The difference between us and the boys harassing girls for naked pictures is we were taught that females are people too. They have a right to make decisions like consenting or not consenting to do things, and other people have to listen to them. I can see an attractive woman or man in public (or a photo, or a video) and not assume I have a right to touch him or her, or stare, or comment, or otherwise infringe upon their space and wishes. If I see an unattractive woman or man, I know that person has a right to exist and be happy and my amusement is not a factor. People can say no to me and I won’t have a tantrum. I don’t think this is really that difficult of a concept, considering we teach children that they can’t beat up the other kids when they don’t get their way.
Sexist messages in the media don’t teach children healthy social interaction or to value themselves and others as more than pairs of balls or boobs. Parents and teachers can help kids understand what they see though, and process it in a way that doesn’t lead to negative outcomes. This isn’t an endorsement for giving 10 year olds access to violent porn or for sexy clothing ads to be directed at them, as those things aren’t age appropriate. But, if a 10 year old happens to see a BDSM themed clothing ad in the mall it can be explained in an age appropriate way so that the child understands it’s not about male superiority, rape, or abusing women (assuming a male dom and female sub depiction).
I’m guessing the biggest problem is that kids are learning that it is okay to harass girls, hit women, etc. from family and friends. Children who see the adult men in their lives mistreating the women will think it is okay to do that. Girls who see their mothers struggling with body image are more likely to hate their own bodies. Kids will have to re-educated to break the cycle.