NRO Takes on Trampy Preschoolers

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It's neither Halloween nor V-Day , and yet we've been treated to a raft of articles on the sexualization of young tarts-to-be. The occasion is this APA report, which includes such insights as "Girls use the Internet frequently and for many purposes (D. Roberts et al., 2005)" and "Analyses of photographs from Maxim and Stuff (two popular men's magazines) revealed that 80.5% of the women were depicted as sex objects." Well, Mona Charen is convinced!

When girls barely out of diapers are encouraged to wear make-up, skin-tight mini skirts, and push-up bras, we've left the realm of wanting to look pretty and gone into something sick and tawdry. Whatever we may think of immodesty in grown women, there is little doubt that it is disgusting, demeaning, and depraved in little girls.

What does it even mean for someone "barely out of diapers" to be "immodest"? Your worldview has to be incredibly sex saturated to look at a four-year-old in a skirt and think "whore!" The idea that a piece of clothing (a miniskirt, a belly shirt) signals the exact same thing in every context (a brothel, a daycare) is just obviously absurd… unless you're invested in a narrative of cultural decline. I'm wearing lipstick today; I hear all the cool girls are wearing lipstick to their rainbow parties. I guess we're the same.

It's interesting that this subject, the sexualization of children, is condemned by both the Left and Right.

This is especially interesting if you've been in a coma since the late 70's. Every sex-panic infused topic of the moment (human trafficking, egg trafficking, Britney's lack of underwear) involves a coalition of scolds left and right.

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  1. Ahh, Reason Magazine, brave enough to stand up for your fifth grader’s choice–nay, right!–to wear sweatpants that say “Juicy” across the bottom to her strip cardio class.

  2. Ah, Abul. Brave enough to respond to a position no one took.

    BTW-This article would have been a great chance to break out my favorite neologism: prostitots.

  3. The Catholic schoolgirl uniform is pretty much one of the sexiest outfits ever created. I suspect the church was going for the opposite effect.

  4. The Catholic schoolgirl uniform is pretty much one of the sexiest outfits ever created. I suspect the church was going for the opposite effect.

    Yeah, I expect them to go sexy on the schoolboys/alter boys, but not the schoolgirls.

  5. Sorry….the point being that skin or no skin, people will come to identify certain outfits as slutty even though objectively there is little explanation for such a characterization.

  6. The idea that a piece of clothing (a miniskirt, a belly shirt) signals the exact same thing in every context (a brothel, a daycare) is just obviously absurd? unless you’re invested in a narrative of cultural decline.

    Or unless you’re sane.

  7. Your worldview has to be incredibly sex saturated to look at a four-year-old in a skirt and think “whore!”

    Right. When I first saw a video of JonBenet Ramsey dressed up as Morgan Fairchild and doing a slutty dance before an audience of adult men, my first thought was, “Aw, ain’t that cute! What harm could come of it?”

  8. Dan T.

    How do you account for my example?

  9. Halloween must be when Furries and COSplayers think that kids are too sexualized; trick-or-treating in fox, dog, Yugi-oh and Pokemon costumes.

    It seems like there isn’t much of a difference between “kid’s clothes” and “adult clothes” anymore.

  10. It’s interesting that this subject, the sexualization of children, is trivialized by Kerry Howley.

    Fixed.

  11. ed:

    And when you first saw her all made up, did you think, “wow, I wanna screw that 4 year old” or was your reaction something else? Please tell us you didn’t have a sexual response to a 4 year-old. Please?

  12. In my mind this goes back to the same root as people who lie to their children about where babies come from, telling them they either come from a stork or a cabbage patch (or a combination thereof), the fear, no PANIC, of how to talk to kids about sex. I think we would have a much healthier society if we did not lie to our kids. What is inherently evil about the human body in any case?

  13. Pastafarian Pirate,

    The human body keeps us from worshipping God properly. 😉

  14. The idea that a piece of clothing (a miniskirt, a belly shirt) signals the exact same thing in every context (a brothel, a daycare) is just obviously absurd? unless you’re invested in a narrative of cultural decline.

    Or maybe some people just realize that there are a lot of perverts out there and that real child pornography and child exploitation does exist. What is child pornography? Well, it probably involves child nudity. What do miniskirts and belly shirts do? Expose bare flesh. When I see a child wearing that sort of thing, I don’t think “whore”, but I do wonder what the fuck is running through their parents’ heads, if anything at all. My parents never let me wear a bikini when I was a little kid. I was confused at the time as to why they would care about such a thing, but in hindsight I completely understand what they were concerned about and I don’t blame them for not permitting it. That, or they thought I looked fat in a bikini.

    That said, a quote from Jabeen Akhtar’s column (linked to above):

    It is rare to see a woman in a costume that will make her look ugly or make people laugh at her.

    Translation: Listen ladies, why won’t you just stop demeaning yourselves and fight the patriarchy by dressing yourself up like an ugly idiot…that’s right — put your clown britches on. Meanwhile, I’ll be painting suggestive patterns on my nude body for public exhibition. Fight the power!

  15. smacky,

    Are you trying to argue for some type of correlation?

  16. It is rare to see a woman in a costume that will make her look ugly or make people laugh at her.

    You know, I really am trying not to bring the Santorum’s daughter thing up again. You aren’t making it very easy 😉

  17. “What is child pornography? Well, it probably involves child nudity.”

    So does changing diapers.

  18. “Your worldview has to be incredibly sex saturated to look at a four-year-old in a skirt and think “whore!”

    I don’t think whore, I think what the fuck are her parents thinking. If you are not grossed out by a four year old or an 8 year old dressed wearing a mini skirt that show half her ass or daisy dukes that say “juicy” on the back, what the hell is wrong with you Howley? Can a five year old or a ten year old really make an informed choice about sexualizing herself? If thinking that perhaps children should wear clothes in public not expose a lot of skin or dress like adults do when they are out cruising for pickups makes you a scold, then I guess I am one.

  19. …this subject…is condemned by both the Left and Right.

    That by itself, is a pretty strong endorsement.

  20. “What is child pornography? Well, it probably involves child nudity.”

    So does changing diapers.”

    Do you think that it is a good idea to change diapers in full view of everyone who walks by? Better yet, what about taking close ups and posting them on the internet for a price? I am sure there is some sicko out there somewhere who would pay.

  21. The idea that a piece of clothing (a miniskirt, a belly shirt) signals the exact same thing in every context (a brothel, a daycare) is just obviously absurd.

    So what *does* a miniskirt, or a belly shirt or makeup signal when worn by a four year old? What do “juicy” short-shorts signal on an 8 year old?

  22. Kerry in a rainbow party…mmmmm…

    excuse me while i wipe off the keyboard…

  23. John,

    Do you think that it is a good idea to change diapers in full view of everyone who walks by?

    Well, whether it is a good idea, it is common enough. That is, in our culture we have changing tables in many public restrooms and these generally aren’t hidden from public view.

  24. Grotius,

    A correlation between the type of clothing worn by children and the proliferation of child pron? I’m not arguing that, but I’m sure it doesn’t help. I just don’t understand why parents allow (and even encourage) their children (I’m not talking about older teens, mind you, but pre-teen and even younger) to be “sexy”. It might have something to do with the said parents’ same desire for their children to be popular. For girls, popularity is usually determined on looks alone (unfortunately).

    Anyway, regarding the APA report, I don’t have any central “thesis” about this per se, but I would say that if you teach girls that they are only as good as they look, they will think of themselves that way — and boys who witness this attitude will notice this and remember it, too.

    Lamar,

    The age group of the children in question are not infants. Besides, sexual attraction to infants is something entirely different than pedophilia. I think it’s called infantophilia, but I could be wrong about that. Anyway, it’s different, and it’s not the top of discussion in any of the articles linked to on this thread.

  25. Smacky, I would not at all be shocked to learn that a lot of the sickos were screwed up (in the metaphorical sense) by their parents visa-vis sexuality, they were probably taught they sex was inherently evil by overbearing religious parents and want to connect sex with “innocence” somehow (as though consensual sex is not innocent) and thus the attraction for having sex with kids.

  26. “What is child pornography? Well, it probably involves child nudity.”

    So does changing diapers.

    Belly shirts, miniskirts and the like were created for the purpose of making the wearer more sexually attractive, yes? Can we agree on that much? And diapers were created for the purpose of collecting poo-poo and pee-pee, correct? The distinction between an infant crawling around in nothing but a diaper, and a four year old dressed like Jon-Benet, really shouldn’t be that hard to discern, despite the fact that the former may be exposing as much or more flesh.

  27. I gotta say, I’m a little bothered by some of the stuff that “kids these days” wear. It’s not that the kids look slutty (that’s not an adjective that fits kids in my mind), it’s that there’s a blurring of lines between childhood and adulthood.

    Dressing like an adult who is trying to achieve a particular look is something that a person should grow into. I don’t claim any strong opinions on how adults should dress, or how best to time the transition from child mannerisms to adult mannerisms. There’s a time and place and age for a particular look, and people should choose the timing of a particular look as they reach a level of maturity and interest in projecting that look. If kids are already dressing like an adult going to a nightclub, it seems like some lines are being blurred.

    I’m not about to tell anybody how a teenager should dress, since teens are between child and adult, nor am I about to call for any coercive remedies (re-read that disclaimer as many times as you wish), but I sure do wonder “What the hell are their parents thinking?”

    Adults don’t wear their night club or beach clothes to church or the office, why should kindergartners dress like adults at a beach party or night club?

    I reserve the right to think that their parents are screwed up, even while recognizing that…oh, hell, enough with the disclaimers.

  28. Pastafarian,

    That is mere speculation on your part. I could just as easily surmise that parents who were too lax on their children and didn’t impose any restrictions on them were the ones responsible for raising sickos who don’t know reasonable boundaries on what should and should not be sexualized. Nice try, though.

  29. “Well, whether it is a good idea, it is common enough. That is, in our culture we have changing tables in many public restrooms and these generally aren’t hidden from public view.”

    But there is nothing really sexual about that. I don’t think it is the same thing as teaching your daughter to dress “sexy” at age five. I think fears of repressed sexuality are totally overblown. I dont’ want to go back to some puritanical ideal, but there ought to be a middle ground between beating children for playing with themselves and telling little girls that they need to be “sexy” and dressing them like rap video dancers.

  30. So what *does* a miniskirt, or a belly shirt or makeup signal when worn by a four year old? What do “juicy” short-shorts signal on an 8 year old?

    Their parents don’t have very good taste.

  31. I’m guessing that the Libertarian Party will not be inviting Ms. Howley to address their next convention.

  32. My parents never let me wear a bikini when I was a little kid. I was confused at the time as to why they would care about such a thing, but in hindsight I completely understand what they were concerned about and I don’t blame them for not permitting it.

    Uhmm, in many countries in Europe kids aged 2-4 many times frolick in the complete nude. And I think there is a big leap to get from dressing a child up in adult clothes (like mini-skirts and makeup) to wearing a 2 piece bathing suit.

    Futhermore, it seems like the attitude is : well some creep might get turned on so I should limit my kids choices to avoid inadvertently turn on a potential pervert. Sounds pretty close to the whole blame the victim/if she didn’t want to be raped she shouldn’t have dressed so provocatively argument.

    Do you think that it is a good idea to change diapers in full view of everyone who walks by?

    No, but not for the reasons you seem to be implying. It’s polite to not changed shit soiled diapers in full view of others, but not because it’s a sexual or pornographic act. It’s just kind of gross for those others.

    If you believe it to be sexual, it says more about you than anything else.

  33. “Futhermore, it seems like the attitude is : well some creep might get turned on so I should limit my kids choices to avoid inadvertently turn on a potential pervert.”

    What a load of horshit Tom. How does a five year old make an informed choice about dress? I think Thoreau made the best point. There ought to be distinctions between adulthood and things that adults do and childhood. Sex and dressing to attract sex is an adult thing not a child thing.

  34. I just don’t understand why parents allow (and even encourage) their children (I’m not talking about older teens, mind you, but pre-teen and even younger) to be “sexy”

    I’m not saying I agree with parents doing that, but it seems that what one may consider “sexy” other could rationally consider “feminine” or “trendy” or whatnot.

    There seems to be a lot of assumptions about other peoples motives improperly being thrown around this thread. Just because something is “obvious” from your perspective doesn’t mean it’s so obvious to everyone else.

  35. Unless it’s a rainbow party, Dan T. 🙂

  36. One more thing. People need to shut the fuck up with the “if you think that is sexual you are just a pervert” crap. You don’t have to be a pervert to recognize and be grossed out by five year olds dressing like hookers. Yes, sexualization of children does exist and you don’t have to be a pedophile to see it.

  37. It’s not even that young kids look provocative (they don’t, they look like kids, and no amount of clothes will change that). But certain clothes can be used to project a provocative look on mature bodies, and the look is something that you need to manage with respect to time, place, age, and mindset. Certain clothes are tools with particular uses, and as such they are not something for the kindergarten playground.

    None of my admonitions apply to teens, mind you. Telling a teen how to dress is an exercise in futility. My plan is that when I have kids and they become teens I’ll give them a clothing budget proportional to GPA, and what they do from there is up to them.

  38. You don’t have to be a pervert to recognize and be grossed out by five year olds dressing like hookers.

    True. But if you try to make that point by seriously equating changing diapers in public as something inherently sexual then you might be a fucking pervert.

  39. February 26, 2007, 4:11pm | #

    “Well, whether it is a good idea, it is common enough. That is, in our culture we have changing tables in many public restrooms and these generally aren’t hidden from public view.”

    But there is nothing really sexual about that. I don’t think it is the same thing as teaching your daughter to dress “sexy” at age five. I think fears of repressed sexuality are totally overblown. I dont’ want to go back to some puritanical ideal, but there ought to be a middle ground between beating children for playing with themselves and telling little girls that they need to be “sexy” and dressing them like rap video dancers.”

    Read the damn posts Tom.

  40. “That is mere speculation on your part. I could just as easily surmise that parents who were too lax on their children and didn’t impose any restrictions on them were the ones responsible for raising sickos who don’t know reasonable boundaries on what should and should not be sexualized. Nice try, though.”

    And if you do not talk about sex with kids (i.e. telling them a stork dropped them by) how are they supposed to know where “reasonable boundaries” are? Not imposing restrictions, while certainly unwise, would at the very least allow them to learn from their own mistakes (assuming they survive to adulthood). As for knowing what “should or should not be sexualized” our genes do that for emotionally and psychologically healthy people. There is no genetic advantage to having sex with a child who has not yet achieved puberty.

  41. “Telling a teen how to dress is an exercise in futility. My plan is that when I have kids and they become teens I’ll give them a clothing budget proportional to GPA, and what they do from there is up to them.”

    That is not a bad idea.

  42. Uhmm, in many countries in Europe kids aged 2-4 many times frolick in the complete nude.

    ChicagoTom,

    Again, that is an entirely different age group that you are talking about. Surprisingly (I learned this recently myself) there is a categorical difference between sexual attraction to toddlers (which is the age group you were referring to) and to children.

    And I think there is a big leap to get from dressing a child up in adult clothes (like mini-skirts and makeup) to wearing a 2 piece bathing suit.

    Well, I hate to break it to you, but there isn’t. Make-up and miniskirts are sexualization as much as a two-piece swimsuit is (and argueably moreso).

    Futhermore, it seems like the attitude is : well some creep might get turned on so I should limit my kids choices to avoid inadvertently turn on a potential pervert.

    Or maybe it’s: Limit my kid’s choices because I’m the parent and I know better. Then again, I am not a fan of the “I’m your best friend, we are peers and you know just as well as I do” style of parenting.

  43. Perhaps we can now arrange a truce in the name of our daughters

    Spoken like a true culture warrior. Absent, as usual, about the “sexualization” of our culture are two things:

    1) Parents who actually decide what their pre-adolescents wear.

    2) The boys.

  44. Please tell us you didn’t have a sexual response to a 4 year-old. Please?

    I didn’t. But someone evidently did.

  45. Of course, if my kids get A’s in science and math they may decide that there are better uses for the money than buying clothes.

    Or they may be replacing clothes due to failed chemistry experiments. Who knows?

    Needless to say, my kids will also have budgets for lab equipment. And if they spend it I will be SO proud!

  46. Can’t agree with you John. I think a four year old with “juicy” written across her ass is cute. I would be disgusted if I thought there was anything sexual about a four year old.

    The video of little Jon Benet did disgusted me. But not because she was made-up like a whore. It was because her parents robbed her of her childhood. I have the exact same reaction to parents that make music, or sports, or worst of all “acting” the whole of their life.

    But when a third grader tarts herself up trying to look like [insert preteen idol here], I think “cute”.

  47. Kerry, this has to be one of the most absurd things I’ve read on here. This is like some bizarre avant-garde art show where there’s a plate of rocks with whipped cream and a cherry on top next to a glass of Zin and silverware. When the viewer says this must be a piece about eating rocks, the jackass artist comes out and says “You must eat rocks, if that’s what you saw! What kind of wierdo eats rocks??”

  48. her parents robbed her of her childhood

    Yeah, murder does that to a kid.

  49. I can’t agree with you Warren about the Juicy shorts. It is not cute. The third grader dressing up like Jessica Simpson? That is a good point in that I can imagine that being innocent and not robbing children of their childhood. Like everything else though, if in moderation. I don’t see how letting her dress provocatively is not robbing her of her childhood.

  50. Good grief!

    Pedophiles will want to come after your kid regardless of what they are wearing. They are just bent that way. Its the kidness, not the sexy attire that they want.

    Normal people will not want to come after your pre-teen kid, regardless of what they are wearing.

    Now, there might be an impact on the child’s psychology from wearing certain clothes. I don’t know what it is, but it might be there.

    What I do know is that juicy sweats don’t create pedophiles or set them off. Kids do.

    As for how an adult might view your fourteen year-old based on sexy dress or whatever, that is a different kettle of fish. A fourteen or fifteen yearold who dresses sexy might ‘confuse’ some guy into bad behavior, a ‘sexy’ six-year old won’t.

  51. John,
    If I ever have a daughter, I’m going to stencil “JUICY” on her diapers, just to annoy you 😛

  52. As this thread demonstrates, America has gone crazy, but not exactly in the way “Moan-ah” Charen is concerned about.

  53. Again, that is an entirely different age group that you are talking about. Surprisingly (I learned this recently myself) there is a categorical difference between sexual attraction to toddlers (which is the age group you were referring to) and to children.

    Maybe I am confused but in the original post it said:
    What does it even mean for someone “barely out of diapers” to be “immodest”? Your worldview has to be incredibly sex saturated to look at a four-year-old in a skirt and think “whore!”

    So what age group ARE we talking about then??

    Well, I hate to break it to you, but there isn’t. Make-up and miniskirts are sexualization as much as a two-piece swimsuit is (and argueably moreso).

    No smacky, I hate to break it to you, but there is. It’s swimwear. Lots and lots and lots of young girls from the local pool to the beaches of Europe wear 2 pieces there is nothing remotely sexual about it. Especially on toddlers and young undeveloped pre-pubescent children.

    Or maybe it’s: Limit my kid’s choices because I’m the parent and I know better. Then again, I am not a fan of the “I’m your best friend, we are peers and you know just as well as I do” style of parenting.

    Neither am I, but I don’t think its fair to accuse those who don’t put the same limits on their kids as you as wanting to make them sexy. Like I said, they might want them to be trendy or

  54. So…people are seriously floating the idea that only a pedophile can recognize when a child is inappropriately dressed?

    Let’s hope this thread stays near the top of the main page for a while, I’m interested in how much crazier it could possibly get.

  55. Damn you all for making me agree with Dan T!

  56. The idea that a piece of clothing (a miniskirt, a belly shirt) signals the exact same thing in every context (a brothel, a daycare) is just obviously absurd? unless you’re invested in a narrative of cultural decline.

    Well, it seems to me that the signifying value does vary from place to place, but we are talking about all of this occurring within an overarching framework of an American public that does, to a greater or lesser extent, share certain values. This is not to deny the contextual nature of the interpretation, but it seems like the “scolds” are pointing to the ways in which some young children are dressed (deliberate use of the passive here) in public areas. They do not have to be arguing for a universalizing, decontextualized master semiotics of clothing here to recognize that in the public sphere some kinds of clothes (“miniskirt, a belly shirt”) do convey a rather sexualized image that is incongruous with what is usually associated with children. (For that matter, what would you think if a neighbor girl who always wore frumpy clothes and went to Bible school suddenly showed up in “juicy” pants? I’d bet that you’d figure the Bible school went with the change in clothes…)

    Anyway, these clothes, when worn by adults in public, DO convey a certain message about sexuality, and it is not hard to see what many adults (including die-hard libertarians who would die for your right to dress your daughter up like a Helmut Newton model) would be distressed to see that message conveyed by/about children.

    One reader is right to point out that boys are ignored in the image. Whether you like it or not, there is an almost universal tendency around the world to invest girls with the role of cultural guarantors. Let the boys do whatever, but the moment you touch the girls…

    Whether or not girls should have that heavy role is one thing, but they do have it. Thus you can get upset about the parents who think that it’s cute to give their boys mullets or mohawks and have them wear “punk” clothes, but in general that is less threatening to worldviews than to see little girls sexualized.

  57. As for how an adult might view your fourteen year-old based on sexy dress or whatever, that is a different kettle of fish. A fourteen or fifteen yearold who dresses sexy might ‘confuse’ some guy into bad behavior, a ‘sexy’ six-year old won’t.

    Okay, so at what point do you tell your daughter that she can no longer wear the exact item of clothing she’s been wearing for years, because now she’s become a sexual being? I can hardly wait for that conversation.

    The real danger of a “sexy” six year old isn’t that some pervert will molest the six year old, the danger is what type of person the girl will be at twelve or fourteen, or 25.

  58. So…people are seriously floating the idea that only a pedophile can recognize when a child is inappropriately dressed?

    Not at all. But inappropriately is one of those subjective things that is hard to define and is different for different people.

    But don’t conflate inappropriateness with sexualization. It could be inappropriate for a number of reasons that aren’t “because it makes them desirable to pedophiles” or turning them into a whore.

  59. For many of the examples given, it does disturb me to think someone would be offended by cute kiddie dress by complaining it’s sexualizing. I think a 2-piece swim suit sexually advertises young girls more than topless does, while I suspect others might think the opposite. However, for one of the examples given, push-up bras, how could anyone not take that as sexualizing and somewhat creepy on the very young?

    But I’ve had the shoe on the other foot. I thought my college age niece’s pose in a photo her mother (my sister) showed me that her daughter had posted online was sexually provocative, and thought she should tone it down, and my sister was offended by my suggestion.

  60. I’m just glad I’ve got boys instead of girls.

    You know what they say, with a boy, you’ve only got to worry about one penis…

    I know that’s not completely true of course…perverts and all…but at least I don’t have to get sucked into the ‘juicy’-on-the-britches thing.

  61. Kerry Howley can make all the jokes he wants, but the sexualization of children is no joke, and as a father of a 9-yr old daughter I’m plenty ticked off about it. Which is far more than Kerry Howley can say–he probably being a single nonthinking libertarian who cares about little more than his ideology. Woman are being made objects of in this society, and all Howley can do is laugh about it. Well, fuck him.

  62. Okay. Carl inadvertently wins the thread. Bravo, Carl!

  63. It seems like everybody’s got a subjective response that they have internalized as somehow objective.

    Changing diapers in the nude vs. slutwear. Somebody said the intention of article of clothing matters. Somebody else said that diapers are for the wrong age segment (infants). And another noted that kids romp around naked in Europe until well into the JonBenet age group.

    I don’t know the answer. I don’t know if slutwear has negative consequences or if it is a question of taste. The only thing I do know is that a lot of folks are trying to express their subjective opinions in the form of objective analysis. Can’t be done. I would go so far as to say that “because it’s ungodly” is a more understandible answer in this context.

  64. I agree, VM. Carl, you win.

    Corn syrup shots all around!

  65. Sexuality is in the eye of the beholder…bad taste too.

  66. Interesting, Dr. T: that thought crossed my mind, too.

    *raises shot glass of C. Syrup in appreciation

  67. Carl probably lives next door to some anthropomorphic fast food items in New Jersey. Can I come use your pool, Carl? Are you wearing sweatpants and a wife beater?

  68. I was so busy celebrating that I accidentally bumped the corn syrup bottle (very gently, mind you) and the cork popped off and hit somebody! Now I’m being sued.

    Man, I need a drink. Bartender, pour me another shot of corn syrup!

  69. One thing that’s bemused me about Reason since the 1970s is what’s seemed to be an overabundance of ladies with 2-way names on their masthead. I remember showing it to a feminist anarchist in the early 1980s, and she rejected the mag as uninteresting because it didn’t have enough women. I didn’t know at that time how many of the boy-looking first names (like Marty Zupan’s) were girl names.

    And then of course there’s D. McCloskey.

  70. Women in our society have more autonomy and options than in most.

    Anyway, if you don’t want your kids to dress slutty, don’t let them. That is your right as a parent. Just don’t complain that adults have to child proof the world at your request.

    Tackiness and vulgarity is reprehensible, especially when it the tackiness of adults expressed in their kid’s clothes. Still, it is not the cause of any pedophilia. Pedophiles want little kids because they are little kids, not because of any assumed adult-like attributes. Also, I have never heard that actual incidence of pedophillia is any more rampant today than in past eras.

    As for parents who are ticked off that their kids are attuned to the adult culture and that that culture is sexual, I don’t quite know what we are supposed to do about that without stomping on adult freedom. I guess you have to engage your children in discussion and relate to them and educate them and help them navigate adolesence. If you dindn’t want that responsibility, then you shoudn’t have had kids. Its not easy, but no one ever said it would be.

  71. Carl, tell me more about what it’s like to be a woman in our sexist society. Does it involve the assumption that only men can be opinion journalists? Seems pretty sexist to me.

  72. But Kerry, what could you possibly know about women being made objects in our society? Do you have any idea what those creepy men on the internet say when they see a picture of an attractive woman?

    Anyway, you might as well just lock the comments in this thread, because Carl won thanks to unintentional irony. Now let’s hoist a glass of corn syrup in salute!

  73. I have some in my pantry! PARTY AT MY PLACE!

  74. Some parents don’t want to say “No” to their children — let’s pass laws so they don’t have to! It is one thing the left and the right can agree on.

  75. Come on now, let’s not allow Carl’s understandable assumption that a someone with a man’s first name is a man distract us from the real message of this thread: that we should all be thankful that libertarians are not in charge of anything.

  76. Forget about kids, I don’t want to see old women in their 50s wearing JUICY on their butts either!!

  77. I think it’s safe to say Kerry Howley is a devious gender-bending shapeshifter

    That is Kerry Howley? Well, I for one am smitten!

  78. Party on Thoreau and Timothy!

    Kerry: LOL!

    Dr. T: sounds like you were using Glock brand Conr Syrup (this has been sponsored by ADM. It’s got corn syrup. It’s what plants crave)

    Gotta watch that.

    (This is sponsored. It has corn syrup. It’s what loonies crave)

  79. Anyway, if you don’t want your kids to dress slutty, don’t let them. That is your right as a parent. Just don’t complain that adults have to child proof the world at your request.

    I don’t believe anybody on this thread has done anything of the sort. Other parents can do what they want, without any demands from me. All I’ll say is, if condemning the sexualization of children makes me a scold, I can live with that.

  80. You know what I really hate? When inappropriately dressed kids run across my lawn. Hey, you darn kids, get off my lawn!

  81. Here’s a happy toddler related diversion:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=6GfdyIZcRH4

    Enough parents complained about this commercial in Australia to get it banned. Unbelievable.

    And congratulations Carl! It’s pretty hard to win a thread inadvertantly, but you managed to do it! Almost made me spit coffee on my screen.

  82. This whole thread was like a debate on how many angels could dance on a pin head until Carl showed up. Are we getting strafers from NRO?

  83. Has anyone seen the Bratz movie that was shown on cartoon network last month? It’s not just the fact the Bratz girls are walking though the world in their panties, it’s the glam/shopaholic consumerism that is the real perverted message in that movie!

  84. Just a random thought…is is possible that pedophiles are actually turned off a little by children that are dressed provocatively?

    Stay with me here. They are, obviously, attracted to children and possibly the perceived innocence of children…that said, a child that dresses as an adult might not be viewed in the same light by pedophiles; they might not seem as attractive to them.

    Has there been any studies on that??

  85. Kerry is man’s first name?

  86. Oops, I hate it when people post links and don’t linkify it:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=6GfdyIZcRH4

  87. Forget about kids, I don’t want to see old women in their 50s wearing JUICY on their butts either!!

    It depends on the woman. Really. There are woman in their 20’s who have no business in such an outfit. But its the same for fat guys who think they are muscular.

    I think it is safe to assume that the person least built for revealing clothing is the person most likely to wear it. Gender makes no difference, nor youth or age anymore.

  88. realist,
    Yeah? Well fuck you too. I’m going to be chasing that 50 year old ass myself one day all too soon. I don’t know if “Juicy” is going to do it for me. Just don’t try to tell me old people can’t look hot.

  89. It is a bit easier to be a strict libertarian before one has children. Frankly, I find it easier to impose order on the chaos as acting as something akin to an Oriental potentate. As for how other people ruin their children, I don’t suppose it is any of my business.

    As purely on observation, I recall being much more focused on sex and relationships and sex as a young man. My children seem to run in groups and are far savvy and sensible about physical intimacy than I was at the same age.

  90. Kurt,

    the linked article seemed to be implying that our culture needed to be cured to prevent these sexy tiny tots from running amok.

    Do you honestly think anyone on here cares if parents choose to exercise influence over how their four year-old dresses?

  91. Oy!
    Why does anyone care what someone else’s kids wear? Your kids can walk around in gladiator costumes. His kids can wear speedos and string bikinis. Her kids can sport burkas. Everybody suit your damn self.

  92. Some parents don’t want to say “No” to their children — let’s pass laws so they don’t have to! It is one thing the left and the right can agree on.

    Can someone point me to anyone proposing such a law? The APA secion on “What Parents Can Do” is here; I’m having a hard time finding “Contact your Representative” in there. Here’s what Mona Charen wrote:

    “Well good luck with that, but perhaps a more traditional approach would work better. Fathers and mothers, protect your girls’ innocence. Take the TV out of their rooms. Monitor what they watch. Don’t purchase the racy clothes or music or movies. And try a dose of what Bill Bennett and Joe Lieberman attempted to do more than a decade ago – shame the purveyors of smut. Here we come to the conservative perspective. Popular culture, in all its crudeness, is the output of liberals. It is liberalism that for decades has rejected any protest as “censorship” or “McCarthyism.”
    ———–

    Geez, how awful and un-libertarian of her. Let’s all flog her for these outlandish suggestions.

  93. I am by no means an expert, but it just seems logical that putting belly shirts and miniskirts on a 4 year old would be more likely to repulse than attract a pedophile. Pedophiles are into sex with kids and it would seem like dressing them as teeens or adults would ruin the whole experience for a person with such a specific kink.

  94. Forget about kids, I don’t want to see old women in their 50s wearing JUICY on their butts either!!

    I dunno… I’ve seen some really juicy 50-something women lately.

  95. I’ve always wondered, do women wear sweats and shorts with words on the ass because they want men to look at their asses, or because they figure since men are already looking, they might as well do some reading while they’re at it?

  96. An NRO writer is a pandering prude on a subject on which she has little expertise? Say it ain’t so! Next we’ll learn that the Earth travels ’round the sun. Though it is always fun to see what nutty conservatives are objecting to now (last weeks quote from Leon Kass decrying licking ice cream was delicious).

  97. Kurt,

    the linked article seemed to be implying that our culture needed to be cured to prevent these sexy tiny tots from running amok.

    I disagree. Her explicit suggestions were for parents to exercise control over their children.

    Do you honestly think anyone on here cares if parents choose to exercise influence over how their four year-old dresses?

    No. Do you honestly think that expressing negative opinions on how some children dress, and expressing negative opinions on some aspects of the culture, amount to demanding that adults child proof the world?

  98. thoreau | February 26, 2007, 5:05pm | #
    You know what I really hate? When inappropriately dressed kids run across my lawn. Hey, you darn kids, get off my lawn!

    I only hate it when they don’t stop by the bedroom on their way out.

  99. It is a bit easier to be a strict libertarian before one has children.

    Finally, we have a winner.

    As for how other people ruin their children, I don’t suppose it is any of my business.

    True, they’ll only be the ones running everything in a few decades.

  100. Whoa, whoa… I think we’re all missing the most important thing here – 19.5% of the women in Maxim and Stuff are not presented as sex objects? Now, I ogle my partially dressed ladies for free on the interwebs, but I have to call bullshit on that – I’m thinking their estimate is off by an order of magnitude, at least.

    (And on the topic of weirdo clothing and accessorising for children – when I was three or four I walked around everywhere with an enormous plastic sword. I couldn’t get away with that anymore – damn zero-tolerance society, you’d think we were all living in Scotland.)

  101. I’m late to this debate…but I’ll just add that I still cringe when I see girls in my daughter’s playgroup wearing earrings. WTF are their parents thinking?

    BTW – My daughter is 15 months old.

  102. It is a bit easier to be a strict libertarian before one has children.

    It is easier to be lots of things before one has children. It doesn’t mean much to have principles then abandon them because it’s easier.

  103. Kurt,

    when someone says that damned liberals have described “any protest” as censorship and mccarthyism, I get to thinking that she is referencing “protests” by members of congress who have held hearing to decry the culture and see if they want to clean up their act “voluntarily” under the threat of legislation, rather than live with the legislation itself.

    I do think that when parents complain about the culture, they are putting it on someone else to solve their problems. Ms. Charen’s remarks about the need to “shame” the culture are relevant here. You hardly need a movement to change your own kids mode of dress. The fact that she is calling for some kind of group action implies political action to me.

  104. thoreau,

    It’s not that the kids look slutty (that’s not an adjective that fits kids in my mind), it’s that there’s a blurring of lines between childhood and adulthood.

    I hate to break it to you, but those lines are almost exclusively drawn as an aspect of culture. Indeed, I think that a lot of the efforts to draw out childhood, to keep kids from working prior to a certain age, for example, has a lot of drawbacks.

  105. How is a reference lauding the efforts of Bennett and Lieberman not a call for legislation?

  106. MP,
    So what would you think of parents I knew in college. They were both punk/goth and they had at least a dozen hole in their kids face by the time he was two. Dressed him in black denim, ripped shirts, spiked leather collar and an orange Mohawk to boot.

    FWIW
    They were married. He was finishing his MSME at the time.

  107. A friend of mine is extremely religious. His daughters will have their hair covered and will attend girl-only schools at least until they are 18. They have their daughters’ ears pierced before they are a year old.

  108. thoreau,

    Of course, if my kids get A’s in science and math they may decide that there are better uses for the money than buying clothes.

    So what happens if your kid wants to be an artist or a historian? 😉

  109. Dressing your young kid up in fetish wear or whatever is like dressing her up in a swastika tee-shirt. The purpose of sexy clothing is to provide content, so to speak – it conveys a deliberately sexy message. It puts the idea in the air, and says something about the wearer. The purpose of a Nazi tee-shirt is also to send a certain message, and say something about the wearer. That’s what they’re designed for.

    When you put them on a 7 year old, even if the outfit doesn’t come across as a sexy or fascist – if they are obviously a joke, for example, drawing attention to how our of place they are – you’re still taking advantage of the kid to send a message that she has no possibility of consenting to. If you’re deliberately doing it to make your kid look sexy or Ubermensch-ish, then you’re exploiting her innocence. Even if you’re just doing it to be socially fashionable, you’re still tapping into a particular fashion that is drawing on sexual or fascist imagery.

    BTW, this has nothing to do with nudity. A six year old running naked through a sprinkler is completely innocent. A six year old wearing small shorts is innocent. A six year old wearing a certain type of skirt or hot pants or something, even if they cover more, can be totally inappropriate.

  110. smacky,

    I just don’t understand why parents allow (and even encourage) their children (I’m not talking about older teens, mind you, but pre-teen and even younger) to be “sexy”.

    I am sure there are a number of explanations. Shit, why do some parents demand that their female children only play with dolls?

  111. And screw Charon for the slanderous, brain dead conflation of this crap with liberals. Since Bratz is part of popular culture, and the people making popular culture like Bratz clearly aren’t traditionalist conservatives, that means that liberals endorse sexualizing children.

  112. smacky,

    Indeed, why do some parents say things like “my child is a [x religion]” and teach them that is the only cosmological system, etc. that is appropriate for adoption?

  113. It’s strange that this topic evokes so many cries about childhoods end and cultural decline. Imitating adults is a quintessential part of being a child. One kid wants to wear a miniskirt, and one wants to play war. So what? When a boy plays with a toy rifle, are people afraid that his behavior will start an armed conflict? So many of us are apparently scared that child abuse is the inevitable result of children wearing mini skirts, as if adults can’t understand the difference between intentionally sexual behavior (or intentionally violent behavior) and rote imitation by a fundamentally non-sexual creature. I’m not saying it’s abnormal to think “Brittany Spears” when you see a child dressing like Brittany Spears, but it is abnormal not to immediately distinguish between childish imitation and actual sexual cues.

    If someone has any evidence that a discrete harm flows from this behavior, I’m all ears, but all I’ve seen above are statistically bunk comments about the prevalence of pedophilia and bogus characterizations regarding the nature childhood. All evidence I’ve seen points to a lengthening of adolescence and childhood despite all of the terrible things apparently facing our children these days.

  114. Exactly, joe. Provocative clothes can’t make somebody provocative, but they are nonetheless tools. Giving them to a young kid who has no use for them is bad parenting.

    But once they’re teens, I say give them a clothing budget proportional to GPA and let them work it out from there. They aren’t in the stage of learning by imitating parents, they’re in the stage of rejecting parents and imitating peers. Micro-managing is tough, so control the clothing budget by making it contingent on GPA, and let them learn how expensive it is to dress however they want.

  115. smacky,

    I think 99% of them have completely innocent intentions. The parents want their kids to look good, and have really bad taste that sexualizes looking good. Or the kids do, because they’re kids, and the parents give in because they don’t know any better.

  116. Chris S.,

    Imitating adults is a quintessential part of being a child.

    You just won the conversation.

  117. When you put them on a 7 year old, even if the outfit doesn’t come across as a sexy or fascist – if they are obviously a joke, for example, drawing attention to how our of place they are – you’re still taking advantage of the kid to send a message that she has no possibility of consenting to. If you’re deliberately doing it to make your kid look sexy or Ubermensch-ish, then you’re exploiting her innocence. Even if you’re just doing it to be socially fashionable, you’re still tapping into a particular fashion that is drawing on sexual or fascist imagery.

    Joe,

    I think most parents are allowing their kids to do this rather than trying to send a message. You can’t always give in to your child’s demands — that would be idiotic. Most children would likely kill themselves if left entirely to their own whims. But new fashion is the least of our concerns. Really, what do people think will happen to the girl with the “Juicy Cuture” pants?

  118. So what would you think of parents I knew in college. They were both punk/goth and they had at least a dozen hole in their kids face by the time he was two. Dressed him in black denim, ripped shirts, spiked leather collar and an orange Mohawk to boot.

    I’d think “is that their child or a life-size doll”?

    Then I’d think they were out of their minds.

  119. Chris S.,

    You seem to be pointing us toward the “moral panic” nature of this issue, which seems to be what the guts of Howley’s write-up was about.

  120. Really, what do people think will happen to the girl with the “Juicy Cuture” pants?

    The acquiescence of parents who accept/encourage this type of dress will more likely lead to her giving BJs at 11.

    And maybe it won’t. But there is no way I plan on letting my daughter do things to make her “pretty” that cross into the bounds of what adults do to make themselves “sexy”.

    Until, of course, she’s thirteen. They I agree with thoreau that I’m likely totally screwed.

  121. Charon’s emphasis on modesty for girls is what I find irksome.

  122. “Really, what do people think will happen to the girl with the “Juicy Cuture” pants?”

    What do you think would happen to a kid in a Nazi tee shirt, who went out into a world where Nazis looking to convert people to the cause were as common as guys trying to get laid?

    I think he’d be a lot more likely to end up being approached by Nazis.

  123. Serafina,

    You weren’t supposed to notice the part where Charen purposely conflated deliberately playing up your sexuality with manifesting insufficient shame about your body.

  124. Like a lot of folks here, I find sexual clothing on kids to be kinda disgusting. And joe’s right, it’s different from nudity.

    But I don’t know that it’s any of my business (whether for legislation or mere “shaming”) and I haven’t seen anyone here make a convincing argument that it is. Calling the practice “bad parenting” or “inappropriate” and asking “what are they thinking” are all begging the question in lieu of showing some actual harm. joe’s charge that it’s exploitative of the nonconsenting is true, but still doesn’t show how it harms the kids or anyone else. The closest anyone has done to that is the suggestion that it encourages sexual abuse, but the single case of JonBenet Ramsay notwithstanding, that seems like so much conjecture. (Notwithstanding the equally weak arguments being made by some that only sickos are affected by sexually clad kids, since they’re obviously worry enough.) As Chris S. said, show some tangible harm, then we can decide on whether even purely verbal and noncoercive accusations of “bad parenting” are warranted.

  125. What do you think would happen to a kid in a Nazi tee shirt, who went out into a world where Nazis looking to convert people to the cause were as common as guys trying to get laid?

    I think he’d be a lot more likely to end up being approached by Nazis.

    Maybe. But then, if most kids are wearing Nazi tee shirts, wouldn’t that greatly water down that potential?

  126. As Chris S. said, show some tangible harm, then we can decide on whether even purely verbal and noncoercive accusations of “bad parenting” are warranted.

    It’s the culture that leads to BJs being common to the under 15 set. That is the harm.

    Did you ever see Thirteen?

  127. It’s the culture that leads to BJs being common to the under 15 set. That is the harm.

    Joking, right?

  128. I hope I didn’t leave the wrong impression about the nonconsenting element of this. There’s nothing inherently wrong with making your kids do things without their consent – to teach them, to discipline them, to take care of needs they don’t understand, or even just to screw with them, parents do it all the time.

    The point here is that doing this sends them out into the world with all of the baggage that comes with dressing suggestively, without their having the skills to deal with it, or even know that there is something they’re supposed to deal with. That’s not good for kids’ development.

    “The closest anyone has done to that is the suggestion that it encourages sexual abuse, but the single case of JonBenet Ramsay notwithstanding, that seems like so much conjecture.” It’s not the threat of assault that’s the big deal, but the impact on the kids’ development.

  129. To paraphrase one of my favorite authors, an article of clothing cannot be indecent, but a person….

  130. It’s not the threat of assault that’s the big deal, but the impact on the kids’ development.

    And what impact is that? You speak of “baggage” the kids must deal with, but unless you mean adults are going to hit on them, I don’t know what you mean. Sure, sexuality carries with all manner of difficult issues, but how does dressing kids sexually bring these issues into kids’ lives before they’d be there otherwise?

  131. Joking, right?

    No. Maybe I’m just suffering from new parent paranoia, but second-hand anecdotal tales from teachers I know lead me to be highly wary of the provocative dress among children. And I think the tendency of children to want to adopt provocative dress partially stems from an acceptance of this type of dress from parents who adultacize their children.

  132. fyodor,

    If most kids were wearing Nazi tee shirts, that would make it a lot more common and normal for people to talk about the Nazis. Kids would probably know a lot more about the Nazis a lot earlier.

  133. A small point, I know, but (before Grotius makes it) there’s a rather significant difference between Charen and Charon. One is a humorless and sepulchral character and the other one doesn’t write a syndicated column.

  134. “Sure, sexuality carries with all manner of difficult issues, but how does dressing kids sexually bring these issues into kids’ lives before they’d be there otherwise?”

    Lots of ways. Slightly older kids look at them differently. Kids the same age look at them differently. Different topics come up in conversations.

  135. LoL, DAR.

    How about, “…and the other steers a boat.”

  136. My daughter plays with Slutz dolls. I don’t think it has had any measurable effect.

    Of course, it helps that we talk to her about the coming day when, after she turns 12, we’ll lock her up in the basement. It is good to have an open dialog with your kids.

    Oh, btw, Abduhl wins the thread. LOL.

  137. MP, high school kids aren’t children, not in any meaningful way. They’re trapped in a legal purgatory of sorts by a myriad of legal and parental sanctions, but that doesn’t mean they are children. Nature and God both intended adulthood to commence with the ability to give birth and raise a family, which culturally speaking, many teens may not be well equipped to do in modern America. Jesus Chrysler, it hasn’t been that long since twenty was middle age and forty was it.

  138. I guess I’d rather that kids ease into teenage behavior at their own pace rather than be primed and ready to run in full blast. Some of them will run in at full blast and, well, so be it. Thus it has always been. But some might approach it a little more slowly if they haven’t been trained since kindergarten to act like a teenager. If, when they’re thirteen, they’re bound and determined to take up tools for serious flirtation, well, then they’ll do so. No matter what. But, for God’s sake, there’s no need to prime them for it! If, by some chance they might ease into it rather than rush at full blast, isn’t that for the better?

    I know that teens will do what they’ll do, but I see no need to train them for it. And yes, I will criticize their parents while of course no calling for coercion, yadda yadda, consult a lawyer for details, offer not valid in Alaska or Hawaii, no purchase necessary.

    If criticizing somebody while rejecting coercion makes me a bad libertarian, so be it. I’m a bad libertarian. What are you going to do about it.

    Oh, and for the record, VM already declared the winner of this thread. All subsequent declarations of a winner are null and void.

  139. …I will criticize their parents while of course no calling for coercion…If criticizing somebody while rejecting coercion makes me a bad libertarian, so be it.

    It does not make you a bad libertarian, but it may make you a busybody.

    To misquote somebody, might be William Burroughs, don’t get in the middle of a parent-child relationship.

  140. man. when i was a little kid, growing up in the 70s in texas and alabama, i ran around in a bikini and flip flops all the time during the hot summers. lots of other little girls did too. i don’t think it ever occurred me or my parents that there was anything sexy about it. and i never got hassled by any perverts either.

    i do agree, however, that many parents today make bad choices about how to let their young daughters dress. clothing for pre-pubescent girls that apes the deliberately provocative clothing that used to be reserved for adults seems like a bad idea. but the line between what’s acceptable or unacceptable, provocative or benign, can be judged differently by reasonable people.

    i can’t recall where or with whom i was having a similar discussion the other day, but i was surprised that the other women i was talking to felt that any makeup is inappropriate on a thirteen year old girl. i wore makeup when i was thirteen. i was trying to look pretty and probably just looked silly. but i wasn’t trying to look like a vixen. as for my parents — who came of age before the sexual revolution and have the values to show it, i think they just saw it as “natural” and fun for a girl of my age to wear makeup.

  141. It is liberalism that for decades has rejected any protest as “censorship” or “McCarthyism.”

    This is the kind of line that gives anybody away as being hopelessly blindered by ideology. It should be obvious to anybody paying attention that both liberals and conservatives reject any protest as “censorship” when it suits their fancy. True, only liberals use the epithet “McCarthyism;” the corresponding conservative phrase is “P.C.”

  142. I’m more concerned about grown men wearing diapers and getting their bottoms spanked by the head mistress.

  143. The funny thing here is that, even amongst highminded libertarian types, it’s always the sex threads that go longest.

  144. Chris S.,

    “If someone has any evidence that a discrete harm flows from this behavior, I’m all ears, but all I’ve seen above are statistically bunk comments about the prevalence of pedophilia and bogus characterizations regarding the nature childhood. All evidence I’ve seen points to a lengthening of adolescence and childhood despite all of the terrible things apparently facing our children these days.”

    Well said!

  145. MP,

    I thought you were joking because Fyoder asked for evidence of harm and then you came along and said “Did you ever see Thirteen?”

  146. As Chris S. said, show some tangible harm, then we can decide on whether even purely verbal and noncoercive accusations of “bad parenting” are warranted.

    Well, that’s an interesting placement of the burden of proof. How about this – someone show the “tangible harm” of my noncoercive accusations blah blah blah blibbity blah.

    Actually I agree that it would be hard to demonstrate tangible harm, simply because the parents that do this aren’t likely to be raising the next Sandra Day O’Connor anyway.

  147. I think fears of repressed sexuality are totally overblown. I dont’ want to go back to some puritanical ideal, but there ought to be a middle ground between beating children for playing with themselves and telling little girls that they need to be “sexy” and dressing them like rap video dancers.

    Interestingly enough, the Puritans were very upfront about sexuality with their children. The classic primer by which children learned to read (A – In Adams fall, we sinned all, etc.) used “fornication” as the example word for F. The puritans had to be upfront about sex. When everyone sleeps in the same room, or even in the same bed, kids learn about sex pretty quickly. For the puritans, children were miniature adults with the same tendancies towards sin that needed to be expurged through discipline. The idea of childhood as a special and distinct phase of life came from Victorian England. But that’s another story.

  148. People who dress their children in clothes that cover their wrists, ankles, and neck (all the time, even in gym class) are prudish freaks.

    People who dress their children in Juicy pants, make up, and the like are oversexualized freaks.

    As a libertarian, I just refuse to associate with either group, and occasionally I voice my dissatisfaction with their behavior (if they are in my face). No laws are needed, thank you, except for the right of free speech.

  149. Can little boys wear slutty clothes? Should my grandsons be left behind? Do I perceive some sort of discrimination here.?

  150. No. Do you honestly think that expressing negative opinions on how some children dress, and expressing negative opinions on some aspects of the culture, amount to demanding that adults child proof the world?

    If you don’t intend action, then it’s just a bunch of snotty whining, best kept to yourself.

  151. If you don’t intend action, then it’s just a bunch of snotty whining, best kept to yourself.

    Thanks for the contribution. I eagerly await your action.

  152. If you don’t intend action, then it’s just a bunch of snotty whining, best kept to yourself.

    That’s truly a stupid statement. Don’t anyone ever say a word unless you intend to do something!

    I hate Kim Jong Il; he’s mean. Oh no! I’d better invade North Korea or Mmm tacos will think I’m a whiner!

  153. This entire thread has been like an extended remix of an example of “Fallacy of the Excluded Middle”. (ie, pretty much like every thread here) Either you’re a pervert because you think a 4-year-old wearing a skirt is horrendously sexualized, or you’re a pervert because you don’t think a 4-year-old wearing a skirt is horrendously sexualized.

  154. It really is annoying to see little kids dressed in this kind of ridiculous clothing. But not because of any sexual reasons; just because these kids are not learning important lessons about what kinds of clothing are appropriate in different social situations.

    It is rare to see a woman in a costume that will make her look ugly or make people laugh at her.

    This quote makes me think Jabeen Akhtar must not get out much. I see women (and men) in costumes that make them look ugly and/or make me laugh at them all the time. I suspect these are the same people who were made/permitted to wear inappropriate outfits in non-sexual situations as children, just as I suspect the people who bump into me on the subway without uttering an “excuse me” were never taught proper manners as children.

    But I guess the world needs some people to be the butt of the stories about how they got fired for wearing a halter top and leather skirt to the office.

  155. thoreau,

    If criticizing somebody while rejecting coercion makes me a bad libertarian, so be it.

    Would you actually do this in real life?

  156. The problem I’ve got with this issue is that there are as many reasons for why a kid dresses in a certain way as there are kids and parents. I certainly recognize that lots of styles for little girls are awful, but I’m unwilling to condemn all short skirts without considering context. One girl in a very short skirt could have idiot parents, or she could have just had a growth spurt and her parents don’t want to take away a favorite outfit. (My sons usually grew out before up, but their friends often grew up first.) My older son wore his Batman pajamas to daycare for most of the summer of 2001, when I was pregnant with his little brother and Steve was working 100 hours per week. Also, you really must consider the sources of clothing, too. Some horrible outfits are hand-me-downs, or the gifts of indulgent or otherwise moronic relatives. (My mother inflicted a rayon DRY CLEAN ONLY yu-gi-oh shirt on me. For a six-year-old. It was Andy’s favorite shirt. Did I mention the dry clean part?)

    So, to summarize, the deliberate sexualization and hurrying-into-adolescence that we see with lots of kids is a bad thing. Their clothes can be one part of it. I don’t, however, think that it’s something that requires quite as much handwringing as Ms. C gives.

  157. You think Jon-Benet had it bad? My master dresses me up in red leather doggie sweaters, with a pre-cut hole you-know-where, and mixes Altoids into my Purina One. Worst part is, when he comes to me with the leash and collar, there’s only a 50-50 chance we’re going for walkies.

  158. “Kids would probably know a lot more about the Nazis a lot earlier.”

    not to mention the obligatory “FUCK OFF NAZI TODDLERS” shirts.

    actually, aren’t the nazis pretty durn common as a topic of conversation?

  159. NAZI TODDLERS!
    NAZI TODDLERS!
    NAZI TODDLERS!
    FUCK OFF!

  160. It’s not the threat of assault that’s the big deal, but the impact on the kids’ development.

    I take it you missed the thread on Santorum’s kid. Dressing like a dork is not without harm.

    Kids would probably know a lot more about the Nazis a lot earlier.

    Might want to keep them away from The History Channel.

  161. Mmm tacos whines the thread

  162. sucked into the ‘juicy’-on-the-britches thing

    when I was three or four I walked around everywhere with an enormous plastic sword

    Until, of course, she’s thirteen. They I agree with thoreau that I’m likely totally screwed.

    nothing inherently wrong with making your kids do things without their consent – to teach them, to discipline them, to take care of needs they don’t understand, or even just to screw with them

    when they’re thirteen, they’re bound

    apes

    in my face

    requires quite as much handwringing

    Jon-Benet had it bad

    You guys is all preverts is what.

  163. It’s odd what get’s considered inappropriate attire for the young. Did you ever see a Shirley Temple movie? Ultra-short skirts on a 6-year-old were considered cute, nothing more. Young boys used to routinely wear short pants, and didn’t get outfitted with long trousers until they had grown up some. It used to be a mark of maturity and seriousness to wear more, and more elaborate, clothing.

    I attended parochial grammar school in the `60s. In grades 1-8, the girls wore uniform jumpers. For most of that time they were grey A-line jobs, with some plaid trim on them. By the time the girls hit 7th grade they were hemming them as short as they could get away with. Did the nuns threaten to get out a ruler and measure? Yup. Meanwhile, the girls at the local public schools were agitating to be allowed to wear pants, even denim, to school. Pretty soon seeing a teenage girl in a skirt or dress that wasn’t a school uniform became anomalous. Schools started allowing girls to wear slacks to school dances. Even wearing pants to church became OK. (Compared to miniskirts, dress slacks probably seemed more modest, anyway.)

    I went to Catholic high school in the early 70s. Our female students wore the infamous pleated tartan skirt, kneesocks, loafers, blouses and a weskit with the school crest. Besides taking up their hems, girls who wanted to wear a shorter skirt would roll up the waistband. I have to admit that glimpsing a shapely female thigh did occasionally distract a fellow from his schoolwork, but so did a pretty face or a well-endowed, if well-covered bosom. By comparison, we boys were dressed like Young Businessmen: crested blue blazer, grey slacks, tie, dress shirt, and dress shoes. We only ever saw each other in “civilian clothes” at after-school events, and there was a dress code in effect for many extracurricular activities. Somewhere on the intertubes, somebody thinks either or both of those outfits are “hot,” but I don’t particularly get a jolt out of either of them.

    Adult women wearing clothing specific to childhood is certainly fetishistic. But there’s been a long-term change in what is considered proper for adults, both women and men, to wear. Many adults routinely walk around in casual wear indistinguishable from what they might wear if they were teenagers (jeans, T-shirt, baseball cap, athletic shoes.) Little kids want to imitate their elders, whether that’s their parents, their older siblings or figures from the media. I once had it explained to me thusly: 17-year-old girls didn’t buy Seventeen, their 15-year-old sisters did. The 13-year-olds were buying 16. So, a child’s belly-shirt may be a knock-off of a baby-T made for an adult in imitation of what children wear. Mirrors within mirrors.

    It’s always been Mom and Dad’s job to put their feet down when Bud or Princess wanted to wear something they considered inappropriate. As long as the scolds don’t bring the gubmint into it, I’m fine with their continuing that tradition. One place that might be unavoidable is in publik skools. If the skule bored allows Student A to wear “Juicy” on her bottom, they are going to have to let Student B wear something “disruptive” on his T-shirt.

    In some ways, I’m glad I don’t have kids.

    highnumber, do you want to invest in the film I’m foing to pitch to Troma, Nazi Toddlers Must Nap!?

    Kevin

    (smacky wins the thread, for discussing those designs she wants to paint…)

  164. nor am I about to call for any coercive remedies

  165. kevrob,
    I’ll see if I can revive Dead Kennedys for the soundtrack. Jello will be the toughest nut to crack. If I can get him, we’re golden.

  166. funny thing here is that, even amongst highminded libertarian

    = tautology

  167. Joe gets a penalty for gratuitous Nazi references.

  168. Wow, this is an insanely long thread. It would be impossible for me to respond to everything, but I’ll tackle Joe’s Nazi shirt comment.

    Joe,

    I don’t know what Nazis do to kids in Nazi shirts. I find Nazi’s somewhat mystifying and the neo-Nazi phenomenon probably sheds no light on pedophilia. I also don’t assume that pedophiles are attracted to the same clothing that you and I might find sexually appealing. I have absolutely no clue why a grown man would be turned on to an 8 year old, and I don’t know if such a man would prefer an 8 year old that revels in her youth with a My Little Pony shirts (or whatever other “innocent/childish” thing is currently popular), or one that imitates an older rock star or movie star. I can also say with confidence that being randomly approached by a pedophile is rather rare. Most child molestation occurs at the hands of relatives, not strangers. Why would an uncle or a father or a cousin molest a young relative? I don’t know.

    I hate to revert to anecdotal evidence, but I was raised in a community that included quite a few Old Order Mennonites (Old Order Mennonites are similar to the Amish – nothing modern is allowed). As I understand it, the Old Order Mennonites have a fairly serious problem with child abuse, including sexual abuse. Old Order Mennonite girls wear bonnets and dresses and sleeves that cover their wrists. They cannot wear makeup or anything provocative.

    As far as I know, child abuse has existed in one form or another since the dawn of time, and every community has sexual deviants. I don’t pretend to understand these deviants, and I have no reason to believe that a girl dressed like her favorite rock star is at greater risk than anyone else. But I do know that new fashion – particularly women’s and girl’s fashion – has a way of attracting unwarranted hysteria.

  169. joe’s charge that it’s exploitative of the nonconsenting is true, but still doesn’t show how it harms the kids or anyone else.

    fyodor,

    If it is true, as you say, that this phenomenon is exploitative of the nonconsenting, wouldn’t you see how that would be perceived as an inherent harm by a libertarian? (Or by anyone else who objects to the exploitation of the nonconsenting?) I would argue that that itself is a harm, by definition.I also object to the indoctrination of children into religion — but that’s a whole other thread (plus I am even willing to recognize that doing so may actually have certain long-term benefits to a person’s character, whereas teaching your daughter to be a superficial ho doesn’t…but I digress.)

    As Chris S. said, show some tangible harm, then we can decide on whether even purely verbal and noncoercive accusations of “bad parenting” are warranted.

    Again, I don’t think the harm need be “tangible”. Societal trends can’t always be defined tangibly, nor can societal harms or benefits, for that matter.

    My best friend in the first grade wore makeup to school everyday that had been applied by her mother. Did the boys in the class think she was a cutie? Yes. (But she probably would have been even without the caked-on makeup.) It was weird, though. I think I asked her about it once and she said that her mom put it on her everyday. I don’t think it was her choice. I think her mom turned out to be a schizophrenic or suffering from some other mental condition.

    The purpose of makeup worn in the context of being a woman (and not, by contrast, in a stage play) is expressly to enhance sex appeal. I never objected to my friend wearing makeup, but I still think it was objectively weird.

    joe’s charge that it’s exploitative of the nonconsenting is true, but still doesn’t show how it harms the kids or anyone else.

    fyodor,

    If it is true, as you say, that this phenomenon is exploitative of the nonconsenting, wouldn’t you see how that would be perceived as an inherent harm by a libertarian? (Or by anyone else who objects to the exploitation of the nonconsenting?) I would argue that that itself is a harm, by definition.I also object to the indoctrination of children into religion — but that’s a whole other thread (plus I am even willing to recognize that doing so may actually have certain long-term benefits to a person’s character, whereas teaching your daughter to be a superficial ho doesn’t…but I digress.)

    As Chris S. said, show some tangible harm, then we can decide on whether even purely verbal and noncoercive accusations of “bad parenting” are warranted.

    Again, I don’t think the harm need be “tangible”. Societal trends can’t always be defined tangibly, nor can societal harms or benefits, for that matter.

    My best friend in the first grade wore makeup to school everyday that had been applied by her mother. Did the boys in the class think she was a cutie? Yes. (But she probably would have been even without the caked-on makeup.) It was weird, though. I think I asked her about it once and she said that her mom put it on her everyday. I don’t think it was her choice. I think her mom turned out to be a schizophrenic or suffering from some other mental condition.

    The purpose of makeup worn in the context of being a woman (and not, by contrast, in a stage play) is expressly to enhance sex appeal. I never objected to my friend wearing makeup, but I still think it was objectively weird.

    To Mmmtacos:

    So I will criticize it when it is the topic of the thread…k? thx.

  170. crap…I don’t know how I managed to cut and paste the same thing twice…oops. Cut that last post in half.

  171. A friend of mine was horrified when she discovered that she could, if she so desired, purchase thong underwear made for her 5-year-old daughter.

    Who are the marketing geniuses who came up with that one?

  172. dhex,

    “actually, aren’t the nazis pretty durn common as a topic of conversation?”

    Sure, at 14 or 17. But among 8 year olds, no, not really. Although it would likely become one if dressing your kids up in SS wear was more common. That’s my point.

    green mamba, I’ll take a yellow warning card, but not that I haven’t called anyone a Nazi, or compared their behavior to that of the Nazis.

    Chris S., my concern here is not about how adults would interact with the kids but how they would interact with each other, and how their older peers would interact with them.

  173. Edit: The purpose of makeup worn in the context of being a woman (and not, by contrast, in a stage play) is expressly to enhance sex appeal or to conceal aging or blemishes. Teenagers will understandably wear makeup; women will understandably wear makeup.

  174. Smacky,

    Paternalism towards children is normal and healthy, so let’s not get worked up about free will as applied to the toddler crowd. Believe me, not making choices for your young child will almost certainly result in their electrocution, poisoning, etc. Every parent plays a role in their yound child’s wardrobe choices — this hardly rises to the level of “explotation.”

    I also doubt that most kids wearing juicy pants or whatever else are forced to do so by their parents. Autonomy has very little to do with this debate.

  175. I also doubt that most kids wearing juicy pants or whatever else are forced to do so by their parents. Autonomy has very little to do with this debate.

    Chris S.,

    It has plenty to do with this debate. How many children do you know who can drive themselves to the mall and buy slutwear with their hard-earned money? Yeah, I didn’t think so. I would guess that most kids probably don’t start purchasing their own clothes until their teens, and at that point it should be more or less up to them to decide. But you know as well as I that the same parents who dress their daughters like little trollops are going to be the same ones who throw a fit when their 13-year-old is pregnant or needs an abortion. Then they will blame “society”.

  176. “Chris S., my concern here is not about how adults would interact with the kids but how they would interact with each other, and how their older peers would interact with them.”

    Well, what exactly is the threat? How will their peers interact with them? You’ve stated that you have “developmental” concerns, and concerns about interactions with older peers, but I have no reason to beleive that miniskirts stunt the intellectual growth of 8 year olds or that they’re overwhelmed by advances from the 10 year old crowd. Am I missing something?

  177. Yes, you are missing the fact that sex will play a more promient part in their interactions and socialization at an earlier age, and that this their sexually-themed conversations and behavior will be steered towards the adult-level themes and ideas implied in the clothing, rather than age-appropriate ones.

  178. It has plenty to do with this debate. How many children do you know who can drive themselves to the mall and buy slutwear with their hard-earned money? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

    Smacky, I don’t deny that parents facilitate children’s clothing choices. They also probably choose socks, shoes, and toothpaste for their kids. Exploitation? Hardly.

    But you know as well as I that the same parents who dress their daughters like little trollops are going to be the same ones who throw a fit when their 13-year-old is pregnant or needs an abortion. Then they will blame “society”.

    No, I actually don’t know that, but more importantly, I don’t care. Some people blame their woes on society — that’s a different issue than child fashion. Seriously, how many of society’s ills are we going to blame on children’s fashion?

  179. Yes, you are missing the fact that sex will play a more promient part in their interactions and socialization at an earlier age, and that this their sexually-themed conversations and behavior will be steered towards the adult-level themes and ideas implied in the clothing, rather than age-appropriate ones.

    Good luck on avoiding the “adult-level” themes. It won’t be the Juicy Cuture pants that get you. But more importantly, I’m not sure that our sexualized culture is really going to ruin the kids. “Age-appropriate” themes are, as far as I know, whatever children choose to talk about in order to comprehend and internalize what they see in the environment around them. Parents ought to guide this process directly rather than trying to use clothing to either send a secret message or protect a child from something they can’t realistically avoid.

    Additionally, I don’t think that the truly young children process “sexy clothing” as “sex,” so I’m not afraid that miniskirts will somehow throw toddlers and such into a traumatizing sexual abyss. The older ones — the ones who are older enough to experience sexual attraction — are going to figure out some way of incorporating sexual themes they see every day with their own beliefs and sexual feelings. Why are the miniskirts going to ruin this process?

  180. Smacky, I don’t deny that parents facilitate children’s clothing choices. They also probably choose socks, shoes, and toothpaste for their kids. Exploitation? Hardly.

    I’m sure we differ in our opinions on this, but I do think that narrowly constraining someone to a gender role at a young age is exploitation. You’re free to disagree. Would you also say that child beauty pageants aren’t exploitation? I think they are.

    Seriously, how many of society’s ills are we going to blame on children’s fashion?

    Seriously, Chris S., this thread is about child fashion. If you don’t have anything to say about it, then leave the thread. Don’t try and shush me because I have an opinion. That’s what blogs are for — annoying other people with my opinion. Also, I’m not blaming “children’s fashion”…it’s actually “adult’s fashion” projected onto children that I have a problem with. That, and total dearth of parenting.

  181. Seriously, Chris S., this thread is about child fashion. If you don’t have anything to say about it, then leave the thread. Don’t try and shush me because I have an opinion. That’s what blogs are for — annoying other people with my opinion.

    Huh? Why has the “stop gagging me” tactic become so common on Internet debates? I’m not trying to “shush” you. Write as much as you like.

  182. Chris S.,

    I shouldn’t have directed that comment at you. I don’t know why that was in there.

    Anyway, this thread seems to have devolved into arguing about parenting differences, which is about as futile and rude as arguing about religious beliefs. I’m dropping out of the conversation, to everyone’s collective relief.

  183. I don’t know why that was in there.

  184. Because it was labeled “Juicy”.

  185. “Sure, at 14 or 17. But among 8 year olds, no, not really.”

    maybe you just hang out with the wrong kinds of eight year olds.

    my favorite picture book as a kid was called BLITZKREIG and had awesome pictures of people dying in the snow and shit.

    so…wanna buy a lampshade?

  186. Besides the sexualizing, another thing that bothers me is parents identifying their children with particular brands. My sister projected a love for Little Kitty goods & clothing onto her daughter at an age when she couldn’t possibly have had a preference.

    This is turning into a rant about my sister.

  187. Seriously, does anyone outside the loop of fringe sociocons and talk radio geeks really give a wet slap about anything Mona Charen says?

  188. . . . Madonna, who once wore cone bras and girdles in public, is upset because her daughter wears tight pants. “My daughter is going through a phase of wearing jeans so tight she can’t bend her knees in them,” the Material Girl told the Daily Mail. “I have a go at her and say, ‘Can’t you wear something else? You have a closet full of clothes and you wear the same pants every day. And please wear a belt because I don’t want to see your butt crack when you bend over.'” – Jeannette Walls @ msnbc

    Momma, don’t preach!

    Kevin

  189. Yesterday on the subway I saw a really revolting example of the sexualizing of children. The NY Dept. of Something has a baby safety campaign, and had ad posters on half the car I was riding in. One said, “Don’t leave your baby alone in the bathtub.” The accompanying photo was of an apparently simulated bathroom, and standing in or next to the bathtub with wet hair was a baby about 1 YO, dressed in a ladies-style swimsuit. If they thought a baby girl’s genitals would offend, they didn’t have to be in the shot, and indeed it was cut off above crotch level anyway, so they must’ve thought baby girl breasts would offend!

    Nudity doesn’t sexualize, but in this case clothes do.

  190. First of all, Ms Howleys article is not libertarian, and anyone here who attacked libertarianism based on it, is silly. Her article is a dissenting voice. Something that reasonable people respect and desire to help keep check on there human habit of getting tunnel vision. She stated that even though a large portion of our population is up in arms about the apparent sexualization of children there were actual questions about what that sexualization means. And she has a good point. It’s a shame that some on here feel the need to demonize those who make valid logical arguments.
    Some points. It is the responsibility of parents to decide how they will raise their children. It is the responsibility of the individual to decide where they stand on the issue of the sexualization of children. It is the right of the individual to express their opinion; to include such things as refusing to have relationships with those who they disagree with (hanging out with like minded people and refusing to trade with those who don’t have the same view.)

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