In a brief moment of good parenting the other day I suggested to the girls that it was high time we bought some new bedding for them. We have, in truth, been using a rag-tag of hand me downs and un-matching bedding for years, and I thought it might give them a bit more pride in their bedrooms and just be a nice thing to do.
In a flash Preez piped up with “don’t worry about taking us shopping Dad, I’ll click onto Argos and see if I can buy the Playboy bedding on-line”
Oh the feelings!
- relief on not having to take them shopping
- a certain discomfort that she thinks Argos is a good place to shop!
- PLAYBOY!!? – what sex and fun and rabbits…on your bed?!
And it was then I thought through matters. I was 14 once. And I had a “relationship” with Playboy. Loads of 14 y/o boys did.
That relationship was in private though. Well I say private. Sometimes a whole gang of us would ride over to Smithy’s House to have a flick through his Dad’s stash. (they were in the suitcase at the top of the Cupboard – sorry Mr Smith, but we all knew). The thing is at 14, boys liked Playboy!
I thought about it some more and now respect my Daughter’s desire to be part of popular culture (the Playboy Bunny seems to be everywhere just now), and I am left with the decision to make…do I buy it or not?
I am aware that when push comes to shove I let my D’s get away with what they want. Well within reason. I’m simply not that good at saying “no” to them. I really thought I might buy this for her. I appreciate that it is a bit edgy and my take on it is I see a 14 y/o pushing the boundaries (and possibly her luck) with her Dad. All normal stuff, I thought.
…well that was true until I had a conversation with a very close friend, who explained to me that as an “adult sexual image” this bunny should not be marketed to children. “But it is” I replied…and then we got into a “but that doesn’t make it right” argument. I have been left a bit confused!
I was already a bit confused! Earlier this morning I was flicking through some blogs when I read Crystal Jigsaw’s piece on Watershed Viewing and it got me thinking! In truth, part of me thinks I perhaps should share some of this vigilance – and it sort of concerns me that I don’t.
Am I just being too lax as a parent? My girls (14 and 11) watch You-tube clips which often show scantily dressed females dancing provocatively. It’s what “pop stars” do. There is no getting away from it; and even if I was to try to monitor their consumption they would only be going round to their mates to watch it. Wouldn’t they?
There is an on-going debate at the moment on the “increasing sexualisation of girls”. From a Dad’s perspective it is all quite scary. Especially when you don’t fully understand the arguments!
Take underwear. When I was 14 and trying to fumble around with bras, they were always white and boring! Now when 14 y/o lads are fumbling around they will find red and black, altogether rather more racy numbers – probably with some kind of padding.
My point is this. 14 y/o lads will still be fumbling, and some girls will let them and other girls won’t. Hasn’t it ever been thus? Whether the girl is wearing sexy kit or “M&S boring”…what’s the difference?
Some of you reading this may remember that about a year ago I had a rant on Twitter about when P came down stairs one evening dressed in an overtly (what I thought then) sexual way. I remember doing the “you are not going out dressed like that” bit! It was in truth my first glimpse of her as a young woman rather than a girl. Those “moments” are hard for Dads (and I guess some Mums too).
Well a year on, I’m more relaxed. Not just used to it…actuallly more comfortable with the whole issue.
Popular culture has always done weird stuff to kids. I can remember trying to listen to my Black Sabbath albums backwards! The next generation saw young people sticking safety pins through their noses. Now we see pop stars gyrating in thongs. It will all pass!
I anticipate (as with my friend this morning) that this post may cause some strong reaction. It’s not meant to. It’s a post outlining a modern dilemma for parents and offered as food for thought and in so doing tries to outline why I will not be censoring my Daughter’s choice on this occasion.
For those reading this with younger children I’m sure the answer will seem straight forward. I anticipate for those raising teens (the first generation with FULL internet access) the question will pose a real issue about how on earth we keep up with, and deal with, the pressures on them to express their sexuality and character.
I think the question is this: If I buy it for her, what does it say about me and what message does it give to my daughter. And if I say she can’t have it, the same; what message does that really give to my daughter? Or am I missing something?