Monday, April 8, 2013

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

"Sugar and spice and everything nice--that's what little girls are made of."

Sweet innocent little girls-- loving kitties, playing outdoors, hugging teddy bears--every decent parent wants to keep them safe. They want their little girls to be carefree, to learn to think for themselves, get a good education and make good decisions. To develop their intellect and become doctors, judges, Senators,  clergy, bakers, teachers, homemakers, and moms. But giving them the time they need to become more than sex objects is becoming an increasing challenge.

 A few days ago, I saw a FB friend ask the question of whether it was appropriate for her 5-year-old daughter to be singing the words to a song--if I recall right they were "I am sexy." Regardless that.was the message. The comments that followed were interesting. Many thought it was harmless. One person suggested that "sexy" is now considered by little ones to be equal to "nice." Hmmm, I wonder is that a good thing?

There are no easy answers, that's for sure. But, it seems to me, that the girls who start using the word "sexy" at such a tender impressionable age are more likely to be easy targets for traffickers. Soon they may be mimicking teens who are wearing Victoria Secret's new teen line that plasters messages like "Call Me," or "Wild Thing" in places that were never intended to be billboards. Or maybe in a few years Victoria Secret will expand their advertising campaign to market to little girls.

So how can parents respond in a culture that glamorizes sex to the point of minimizing almost everything else? When did the purity of genuine romance turn into the profanity of an obscenity created by casual sex with multiple partners at increasingly young ages? Won't forbidding certain song lyrics only make them more desirable.

Even when most people behave in a certain way, parents can make it unacceptable if they start when their kids are young. We were forbidden to say "shut up," when I was a kid. Everyone else I knew said it, but I kept that rule when my children were young because my mom had explained how disrespectful it was and that showing respect for people is always a good idea. It's the same idea as saying "please," and "thank you."

Rules that teach self-respect could be a good way to use that song lyric to start a conversation about how a little girl, or young woman, is so much more than sexy and that's why it's not good to focus on that. Girls who see themselves as "sexy" frequently start to limit themselves in ways that hinder their growth. How much better for a little girl to sing "I am smart," because she has a brain that can explore outer space. Or, "I can see," because she has eyes that can see the beauty inside a person, or "I can create" because she has hands that can make anything she wants. Maybe the best way to encourage broader thinking is to think broader ourselves and perhaps that will lead to song lyrics of a different kind.

In 1975  "I Am Woman" was chosen by the United Nations as the theme song for International Women's Year. I don't think the intention was for women to become so sexualized that they were to stop being anything but a sex object.

Maybe that's a better song to sing.

What do you think? Does the oversexualization of our society have an impact on human trafficking? Do we need to be concerned about the impact of our culture on our little girls? If so, what's a parent to do?

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