When I sat down to write my guide for parents on how to deal with the premature sexualisation of children in our society, in many ways I was not prepared for what I was about to see.
Before I came to research the effects of pornography on young minds, I mistakenly assumed that truly hard-core X-rated images could only be accessed with credit-cards and that they were hidden behind pay-walls.
But when I typed the word S.E.X – a word that any first-grader could spell and Google – I was confronted with a panoply of images that as an adult I found disturbing. Not, I should say here, because of sexual prudery, but because so many were so humiliating for women.
On these pornography portals, as you would expect there is no love, intimacy or mutual pleasure. Vaginal sex is shown as a minority interest.
But it went far beyond that. Much of it is what has been come to be known as “revenge porn.”
As women have become more sexually assertive, gender sociologist Dr Michael Kimmel explained to me that the payback for women is to show increasingly degrading images of them. Hence the rising popularity of videos showing women being ejaculated on in the face, or penetrated by three men at a time.
Because sexual assertiveness goes against the male fantasy for women to be innocent, and have no other lovers to compare them to, Dr Kimmel told me: “What men are saying is “So, you like sex, do you? Well, let’s see how you like this…”
As adults, we are lucky enough to have the power of discrimination and analysis when we see these images. The problem is that our children, who don’ t yet have those skills, are becoming caught up in this backlash.
The web is already filled with images of “barely legal” teens – flat-chested women in Cindy Brady Bunch pigtails. But that’s not all.
There is the also whole culture of Japanese cartoon porn where the wide-eyed faces and voices of five-year-old girls are transplanted onto porn star bodies with huge breasts. These videos invariable showing naive and innocent female characters being abused and mistreated – often by father figures, like teachers.
Furthermore there are the sites devoted to pornographic versions of our children’s favourite cartoon characters, from Homer Simpson having incestuous sex with his daughter, or Disney Princesses posing in X-rated positions.
Such is the sex industry’s fascination with the corruption of innocence that it is widely credited with instigating the trend for adult women to shave off their pubic hair to look like children again. The sad fact that it’s now mainstream fashion for so many women today shows how acceptable it’s become to blur the lines between adulthood and childhood – not just on the computer screen, but in real life too.
But just because it’s become “acceptable”, let’s never forget that it’s still very wrong.
Tanith Carey is author of “Where Has My Little Girl Gone? – How to Protect your Daughter from Growing up Too Soon, available now on Amazon.com, price $19.99.
I don’t know about you, but I am deeply concerned about the sexual health and wellbeing of our children today. We are beginning to see the impact on the first generation that grew up with a steady diet of Internet pornography, and for most users, they have been far more likely to engage in risky behaviors, have multiple sexual partners, abuse drugs and cheat on their spouse. These aren’t things that I want for my children.
In our pornified culture, if parents are not vigilant, it’s highly likely their children’s first sexual experience will occur in the glow of computer screen, devoid of healthy, age-appropriate guidance and true human interaction.
It’s vital that parents have conversations with their kids about healthy sexuality and use the technology resources and parental controls (like Safe Eyes) available to prevent their kids from being exposed to this content. Check out our parent resources for more.