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So Sexy So Soon, Sexualized Childhood


By Tracee Sioux

“Kids close your eyes!”

How many times do you find yourself trying to protect your children from harmful and destructive images while watching family television?

Two years ago, while watching television, I was assaulted with an image of a woman wearing a see-through nightgown, nipples protruding and visible, erotic soft lighting, floating in a bathtub. It was intentionally erotic, except that she had been violently and bloodily murdered and this erotic woman was, in fact, dead.

“What the heck is going on?” I thought. “Why are my children and I being subjected to this kind of sexually violent imagery in a commercial?”

So, I wrote the FCC. The Federal Communications Commission used to be the people who governed our airwaves. They used to control when and what was allowed to air during times when children were expected to be viewing television. Remember when they wouldn’t let radio stations play George Michael’s, I Want Your Sex?

Many months later they wrote back.

“Each network or television station has control over what it airs during commercials. You’ll have to write each network to complain about every commercial you feel is inappropriate,” they informed me.

“What? Who made that stupid rule?” I wanted to know.

And now that I’ve read So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids, by Diane Levin Ph.D and Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D, I know who made that stupid rule.

As a point of fact and matter of record it was specifically: Ronald Reagan who got the “deregulation of the media” rolling. George H.W. Bush furthered the problem with the telecommunications act of 1996.

The euphemism for more sex and violence on TV is deregulation of the media.”

Sounds innocuous doesn’t it?

Essentially, deregulation means fewer laws. Fewer laws governing what? What companies can sell and who they can sell it to, when they can run an ad, and what the ads’ message can contain.

The motive? To stimulate the economy allowing telecommunications companies more freedom to make more money.

To that end, deregulation has been a fantastic success.

Companies spend about $17 Billion annually marketing to children, a
staggering increase from the $100 Million spent in 1983, according to Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

Unfortunately, their freedom to make more money by advertising whatever they like in front of whichever audience they buy airtime for – is infringing on my freedom and my children’s freedom to not be subjected to sexualized violence and objectification of people on television.

This is especially upsetting to me in regards to commercials where I, and children who don’t know better, are a CAPTIVE AUDIENCE and there is no implied consent, as there is when choosing to watch a sexual or violent movie or TV show.

Did Ronald Reagan mean for deregulation of the telecommunication industry, including children’s television, to result in hyper-sexualized and all-too violent advertising for children? Was this his intention?

Was it the intent of the George H.W. Bush and Congress in Telecommunications Act of 1996 to further open the floodgates for marketers to legally target children, instead of targeting their ads at parents?


This is the result. This is where we’re at.

I know for a fact the religious conservatives who voted for them would not have been in favor of such legislation if they had understood the kinds of sexual and violent imagery which would be coming at children from every direction. But, again, who cares?

It is from here we have to make a choice. Do we want to allow this kind of thing and all its consequences on our culture, our children and our own minds to continue?

I was just reading in A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles” by Marianne Williamson, this morning, the definition of one of the most beautiful miracles – Changing Our Mind.

The fundamental change will occur with the change of mind in the thinker.

We can change our minds.

Right now. There are numerous bills before Congress that would re-regulate our children’s media and make parents, as opposed to marketers the primary influence over our children’s minds. Visit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood for direct links to find out about the bills and send letters directly to representatives.

Stay tuned we’ll get into the ideas presented in So Sexy So Soonand the practical steps to change our own minds, our schools, our culture and our media’s influence over the role of sex in our children’s lives.

More details about my contact with the FCC in Misogynistic Violence for Breakfast

11 replies
  1. Kelly - PTT says:

    I bet this is a great book. We have now officially removed cable from our home. This will make a big difference.

  2. Tracee says:

    I is a great book. But, cable is only part of the problem. A large part to be sure. Violent and inappropriate commercials are also on basic network television.

    “Media” includes Internet, video games, magazines marketed to children, Scholastic books, signs and banners in schools, ads in report cards and strategically placed near playgrounds, billboards, product placement in children’s billboards and on and one.

  3. jeanie says:

    I was working in media when that sort of law came in over here – it was obvious it was all in favour of the media and completely out of focus with protecting or enabling viewers…

    They actually think 2 1/2 men is suitable for general viewing over here, and the promos shown before 8.30…

    The only way to avoid some stuff is to just switch the beastie off.

    Good on you for moving for change.

  4. Carol Saha says:

    I have a Tivo attached to both tvs in our house. It’s a little less than $25 per month. Fast forward past all commercials.
    My 10 yr old was complaining because she used to get up and do things during the commercial. And she doesn’t like to pause.

  5. Tracee says:

    Tivo is a step. It’s an OK Step.

    Spontaneous television viewing shouldn’t be so damaging that it effects the viewer, nor should forgetting to fast foreward because mommy went to the bathroom.

    A major problem with the rating system is that it’s 100% Voluntary. Like Jeanie said, 2.5 men is on Prime Time and rated for young audiences.

    The E Channel for a long time CHOSE not to have ratings. Currently Hugh Hefner’s Harem, with their nudity and objectifying of women for fun is rated TV-14.

    If there is any group of people for whom Girls Next Door is the most inappropriate for it’s 14 year old girls.

    They choose their own rating under the current system.

    I don’t think that’s the choice we want to make.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] know what this reminds me of? So Sexy So Soon, a fantastic book that came out in 2008. It was revolutionary in that it very effectively exposed […]

  2. […] So Sexy So Soon, Sexualized Childhood […]

  3. […] Monday’s story: So Sexy So Soon: Sexualized Childhood. […]

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  5. […] Read more in this series at So Sexy So Soon: Sex Education Quiz and So Sexy So Soon: Sexualized Childhood. […]

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