Over the last few days, the sexualisation debate has become ubiquitous. It’s in the Guardian, the Independent, and the Telegraph. It’s probably in the Times too. And of course, all the tabloids.

Humans are sexual beings. Most of us choose long term sexual partners. We bind individuals together in socially recognised unions. Individuals who have chosen celibacy are perceived as having given up an important part of life. Yet sex is, by and large, private – we unveil something special to our lovers and hide it from the rest of the world.

Over-sexualisation of society pushes the boundaries of the private nature of sex. More worryingly, it creates a new norm – one of appearing to be permanently sexual and permanently available. These are the current social expectations and constraints, and there is little room for individualism.

Children become adults in a messy, drawn-out and hormone-fuelled manner. Their bodies and their emotions are rarely in step, and the development of some children occurs years earlier or later than their friends. Parents can be caught off guard by being uneasy about sex, or unprepared for experiences different from their own memories of puberty – such as the mother whose daughter, borrowing heavily from the paternal gene pool, turns into a woman before leaving primary school. And parents can be caught completely by surprise by the strength of social expectations.

The sexualisation of society is an important issue. In my view, it is the over-sexualisation of society which creates rigid gender roles, which holds narrow and unrealistic expectations of mothers and fathers, which demeans anyone who doesn’t look sufficiently attractive. While damaging to adults, this social smog is particularly toxic to children on the cusp of puberty. Children need a safe space in which to explore their new feelings carefully. It’s as wrong to mollycoddle them and deny their transition into adulthood as it is to ask them to fit a narrow and over-sexualised model of normality.

This is something we need to debate, but we don’t need to take sides. Don’t be fooled by those who say that it’s a battle between Brave New World and Persuasion. Surely we can find a middle path which is neither constrained by taboos nor sexually explicit? Surely?


About feminismfortories

Moderate Tory, Liberal Feminist. Based in the UK.
This entry was posted in Banning things and sexism, Foolish comments, Media, society and state and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Sexualisation

  1. lupapoeta says:

    Sorry to comment on so many of your posts, but I have had a HARD time finding any other ‘feminist’ type sites! I agree with the issue facing adolescents in regard to sexualisation. I do not agree that society is over-sexualized. Rather, I would say theat sexuality has RULED all societies and all cultures from the beginning of history, it is just to what degree a culture allows it to be exposed, and who is allowed to display it. Teaching children to filter and to understand what sexualization is, how and when it is appropriate etc…, is the only viable option. Children who have not been taught to THINK are the ones who fall victim to this sexualization. I believe (and I am a professional in a field dealing with adolescents on a daily basis and a mother of girls) it is a parental issue and not a societal or cultural one.

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