Thursday, June 09, 2011

Action in the UK to protect children

News this week on the result of a UK commissioned report on the commodification of childhood. The investigation was prompted by action from Mumsnet, The Mothers Union, and other campaigns such as Pink Stinks. It seems David Cameron has read Sue Palmer's Toxic Childhood. The story of the Bailey Report is here:

These are the recommendations:

Key measures

• Retailers to ensure magazines with sexualised images have modesty sleeves.

• The Advertising Standards Authority to discourage placement of billboards near schools and nurseries.

• Music videos to be sold with age ratings.

• Procedures to make it easier for parents to block adult and age restricted material on internet.

• Code of practice to be issued on child retailing.

• Define a child as 16 in all types of advertising regulation.

• Advertising Standards Authority to do more to gauge parent's views on advertising.

• Create a single website for parents to complain to regulators.

• Change rules on nine o'clock television watershed to give priority to views of parents.

• Government to regulate after 18 months if progress insufficient.

For a feminist reaction see here:

Without a feminist perspective you have no hope of an honest discussion about the sexualisation of young girls. They are being groomed – not by pervy old men hanging over computer keyboards, but by today's ideology-free, value-free consumer culture, which tells them they're sexually hot or they're nothing.

Somewhere along the line, the old feminist hope that women, like men, would be valued for their skills, brains, hard work, entrepreneurial chutzpah, experience and humour – well, it just got dropped. Feminists hoped if girls were given options that went beyond wife and motherhood, they would find a wider range of ways of living opening out before them. Of course, many have done. The gains are real. But today the main option opening out seems to be to look hot and thin – which is all very well in its place, but hardly a career. With "gentlemen's clubs" (hah) fashionable again, and the word "feminism" barely mentioned in polite society without the qualifier "sour-faced", the clock has been turned back with a vengeance.

Feminists can make cause with traditionalists in wanting to limit some of the more extreme effects of an exploitative culture. In the absence of religious or ideological checks, the default mechanism of western consumerism seems worryingly and depressingly narrow. But let's be clear. We can only help Annie and her friends if we have a good alternative to offer: the role models, the interesting jobs and the alternative ways of enjoying life that make a padded bra and a bit of rude dancing on the telly not shocking – just rather dull.

And a piece by Tanith Carey (who wrote 'Where Has My Little Girl Gone? How to Protect Your Daughter from Growing up Too Fast') asking parents to stay vigilant, to not buy the products if they don't feel comfortable about their children having them, and to tell businesses when they have crossed the line.

I wonder when this issue will be taken seriously in Australia?This action in the UK should provide some traction.

1 comment:

blue milk said...

I received a package last week - it made its way through several delivery people to get to me - and it had a CD and some lovely inspiring reading material in it and I LOVED receiving it. Thank you!

Also, this post was a very interesting one.