Crotchless thongs for pre-teens, sexy Halloween costumes that are meant to go trick-or-treating, not to adult parties, or this petition which was prompted by a Facebook photo of a very young and very pouty girl wearing a tank top that reads, “I heart cock” – if these things aren’t enough to convince you that children are becoming too sexualized too early, maybe a few words from British prostitutes will. According to them, overtly sexualized teen dress is bad for business. Customers are having a hard time telling the amateurs from the pros.
Sexualization of young girls is actually not a recent phenomenon. While it may be new to see six-year-olds in mini skirts and high heels, teens have been sexual for as long as there have been teens. Pre-Industrial Revolution, it was normal for a 16-year-old to be married with a child on the way. It was also normal for a mother to die during childbirth and if she made it that far, it was normal to be trampled by a horse before her 40th birthday.
To put it mildly, times have changed. Medical technology has given the women the ability to delay childbirth, at least to a point. Not only do women work, but in most families, they work out of necessity. For most girls, education is the key to a successful life and eventually, to less struggle-filled child rearing.
The life of a teen parent isn’t easy. Most are forced to drop out of school. The vast majority rely on welfare sometime during the first 10 years of being a parent. Daughters of teen parents are three times more likely to themselves become teen parents.
You might ask what clothes have to do with teen pregnancy. It’s actually a good question with some conflicting answers. It may be counterintuitive, but it appears that sexy clothing has no correlation to teen pregnancy. In fact, teen birth rates have fallen dramatically from their recorded peak in 1957.
Experts cite the use of contraceptives, legal abortion and abstinence programs for the drop. However, the rate of unmarried teen parents has dramatically increased from that time. Currently, 88% of teen parents have no spouse vs. just 29% in 1970. Teens are still sexually active, and some from a very young age. From Guttmacher Institute:
In 2009, 31.6% of 9th graders reported having experienced sexual intercourse. The corresponding statistics for older teens were 40.9% for 10th graders, 53.0% for 11th graders, and 62.3% for 12th graders.
Perhaps more damaging than the potential for too early sex is the body image minefield that goes with baring skin. For those fortunate enough to be naturally thin and lanky, it might not be too much of a problem, but for the majority of girls, many of whom suffer body issues on the best of days, the simple act of going to school can be fraught with challenges. The perceived need wear those skimpy clothes in size two or below can lead to eating disorders and depression.
School is a time of self-discovery. For both girls and boys, adolescence is a time of overwhelming sexuality, but it is also a time to imagine adulthood. Girls can either be taught that sexuality is their only power or they can be taught that there is power through intelligence and accomplishment. As long as girls believe that they have to live to please boys, there will be fewer women senators, fewer women presidents, fewer women astronauts, fewer women video game designers, fewer women movie directors and fewer women who want to change the world. Instead, we could have an over-abundance of grown-up sexy school girls.
|Wendy Gittleson is a seasoned writer, a dog lover and an avid political junkie. She is the Senior Editor for Addicting Info. In her rare down times, you’ll find her somewhere in the mountains or near the beach. Follow her on her Facebook page or on Twitter, @wendygittleson|