SEX. S-E-X. A choir of giggling children is heard. Alright, kids. LISTEN UP. Sex sells. The sexualisation of people in the media is commonly shown everywhere we look. Sex is used to sell different things and is found everywhere we look. Confectionary brands, airlines and even clothing company’s use sex to sell their products and services. “Sex selling” is the new craze. However, when young, innocent children are added to this equation, a moral panic sets in. There are constant expectations to protect our children (girls in particular) from the big, bad world called the MEDIA. *cue dramatic music*
According to Charles Krinsky, a moral panic “may be defined as an episode, often triggered by alarming media stories and reinforced by reactive laws and public policy, of exaggerated or misdirected public concern, anxiety, fear, or anger over a perceived threat to social order.” So essentially, any controversial piece of news in the media which differentiates from the norm can cause a moral panic within our society. In this blog post, we are focusing on children and the media.
Back in the days when I would watch Disney Channel, the stars on the TV in front of me had a commonality between them all. They were all living the “perfect” teenage life, were stereotypically thin and gorgeous and life was working out perfectly for them. It was always the “geeky” or “chubby” girl that the audiences would chuckle at. Sad, isn’t it? Television today is still very similar and girl’s consider someone who is perfect as being thin. With the constant exposure to photoshop on magazines and billboards, a young girl’s idea of “perfect” is distorted due to the media’s perception of what “perfect” should look like. This is largely due to the role that sexualisation has played in the media.
It is simple for us to blame the media for these situations. However, by placing the blame on the media is an act of fear. I can telepathically hear parents in a moral panic, proclaiming that “Kid’s shouldn’t know about sex until their late teens!” Unfortunately for parents, children are learning about sex at younger ages and are exposed to the sexualisation via social media, television and through the curiosity of their peers. Most children already know about how babies are made before they are taught about it in PDHPE at school. Although this isn’t such a bad thing, it is understandable why parent’s think it is “scary”. No parent wants their child exposed to the explicit content that can be found online. Perhaps instead of blaming anyone or anything, we need to take a new approach for counteracting the exposed sexualisation.
This highly controversial topic is often the basis of sexualisation in the media, and there are varying opinions on it. I believe that marketing has played a role in this perpetuation of child sexualisation through different campaigns. However, for large corporations, it is the profit that matters and building customer loyalty at a young age. As a society, we need to accept that younger audiences will be exposed to such content. We need to ensure that the moral panic that is set in parent’s minds is settled and search for a solution to this over-sexualisation. But for now, sex will always continue to sell but we need to teach our children that individuality is the best asset anyone could have.
Krinsky, C 2013, ‘The Moral Panic Concept’, Introduction, pp.1. Available from: <https://www.ashgate.com/pdf/SamplePages/Ashgate-Research-Companion-to-Moral-Panics-Intro.pdf> [19 April 2015].