Is Your Daughter Virtually Safe?

by on December 17th, 2010
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It does not take long to realize when strolling through the mall or any public area that little girls are starting to look more and more like little women. In fact, it seems that almost every week, we see some shocking or surprising photo of an underage girl looking “sexy.” Recently there was a story about Cindy Crawford’s ten-year-old daughter’s modeling debut. There she was in a short skirt, black stockings, and a face and hair that looked more like seventeen. I had to ask, “Wait, is this a little girl or a woman?” But we’ve seen this with Dakota Fanning, Miley Cyrus, and, more shockingly, in an article by Daniel Brook, “Mickey Mouse Operation, Forget Miley Cyrus. Check Out Disney’s Chinese Underwear Ad,” where a young girl in pigtails is lying on a fuzzy blanket in nothing but “mouse” underwear. But the sheer scope of the problem can be witnessed in social media, such as YouTube and is not only about clothing.

There is little doubt that clothing and fashion are highlighting the sexualization of underage girls, but the explosion of technology and of social media has made it easier than ever to see and have access to girls’ everyday lives. In fact the problem seemed so relevant that the American Psychological Association put together a task force on the sexualization of girls. That report, published in 2008, referenced over 200 sources and looked at media and fashion.

What is clear with this report is that we all are obsessed with how women and girls look. And looks involve more than clothing. It’s also about physical appearance and how girls are encouraged to act and behave. For a girl, “looking good” is how she is defined and a way of life for her.

So in the past six months, I looked at social media and witnessed example after example of young girls being asked to do sexually suggestive videos. Not only did many girls do these videos, but they got in return x-rated, or at least adult-rated responses from mostly adult viewers, way too obscene to be posted here. However most of these requests seemed to come from men over thirty. In one video on YouTube, for example, a girl is showing how to warm up for a gymnastics routine. The video is fine until the viewers catch glimpse of her underwear. One man posts, “Am I right? Prove me wrong. Just look at all the young girl videos on YouTube. You don’t see boys making videos of themselves in their underwear or in bathing suits, now do you? Adolescent girls like showing off their bodies, plain and simple. YouTube allows girls to do this.”

The girl he is referencing was thirteen.

On the contrary, YouTube does not allow videos of children in such a manner, and this is clear in the guidelines for posting videos. Most likely these videos escape censure do the volume of videos being posted daily. But that does not stop your daughter from being on a social media website, watching these videos and reading such comments?

Still a skeptic?

A girl who titled her video “Subscribe to My Channel!” was asked, as she says in the video, to do a video with a popsicle. The man (or woman) who asked her to do this gave sexually suggestive directions. The girl, all but seven or eight, carried out some of those directions and said, “but this I will not do, but I will do this.” Before that video was pulled, it had over 500,000 hits. Of the 161 videos this girl posted, the next highest score (hits) she had was 1,700. I wonder why?

It is a cop-out to say that those sexualizing are only pedophiles. The problem may run much deeper and affect more than we know.Sexualizing girls has become mainstream culture.

Is your daughter virtually safe? If you are asking the question, probably not.

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