The sexualization of American youth

A Rallying Cry Against the Oversexualization of Our Youth. The Daily Beast, November 30, 2014.

A worthwhile article about a documentary that decries the sexualization of American youth, most especially females. The real issue is that we as a nation are now immersed day in, day out in the media. And the creators of media material have one purpose in mind: making money. Whereas parents usually perceive their children as inherently valuable for their own sake, the media only wants them as consumers of products it sets out to sell, be it lingerie items, food products, or the products of the media itself.

What we do know about youth is that they are often insecure, often curious about the world, notably in the area of sex, and often questioning of the points of view of their parents. In the area of sexualizing the human body, the media’s capacities to entice kids into watching and in a sense learning about sexuality, the media has a great advantage over parents. Whereas parents are often mum about sexuality, stymied by sexual taboos away from even talking with their offspring about sex, the media rushes is and gets graphic without a wince, especially when there is money to be made.

How can a parent hold his or her own against the onslaught of the day in, day out media? After all, parents need to sleep and work and interact with each other. The major answer is the one promulgated in this article, namely the encouragement by the parents of their children developing a critical mind of their own. Though this undertaking is far from simple and quite uncertain in its outcome, it seems the major avenue for moving forward on the part of the child through adolescence into adulthood.

One danger that many parents instantly see in such an approach is this: If the child develops critical thinking, then the child may become critical of the parent and his or her positions. I see this danger, and yet I contend that there is no way to avoid this process. In fact it should be embraced as it is a hallmark of human maturation for the offspring of parents to become emotionally separated and individuated from parents and so to move forward in his or her own life.