sights & sounds

June 7, 2010

“Where is her mother?!”: on overblown reactions to Baby Gaga

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jay @ 4:26 pm
Tags: , , ,

So, this video of a toddler reenacting Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’ is making its rounds on the internet, generating some interesting buzz on youtube and in the blogosphere. While some commentators are simply shrugging it off as something innocuous (though a bit silly), most of the commentary has been rather alarmist and…well, silly. A few common objections I see people making to the video, along with my critique of them:

  • “What was her mother thinking?”

..as though all responsibility for a child’s behavior should rest with the mother. Granted, women usually end up handling most childcare duties; but that’s a problem, not something we should accept as a given. Something interesting: Plenty of people clamor for men’s alleged ‘right’ to have some kind of say over his partner’s abortion decisions1, saying, “It takes two to make a baby!”; but after the baby is actually born, they’ll drop the ‘it takes two’ rhetoric fairly quickly – you often won’t hear the same people complaining when women are expected to handle the bulk of childcare; and if the child does screw up, it’s usually, “Where is that kid’s mom?”

  • “Those outfits and poses are too ‘adult’ for a child!”

This point is actually valid, in some ways.  Most of the outfits weren’t too over-the-top, though; and I’ve actually seen much worse in child beauty pageants. Many of the objections to the outfits are framed in ways that irritate me, though, as they usually boil down to “What if pedophiles are watching?” or “Kids are INNOCENT and sex is NAUGHTY!”

I’d just rather not see young girls encouraged to wonder very much about their looks – a byproduct of the sexualization of young girls is the worry of, “Am I pretty enough?”, and quite frankly, if I had daughters, I’d try to shield them from the rest of the world’s hateful messages about their bodies for as long as possible – study after study reveals that girls’ self-esteem takes a sad nosedive at puberty when they start becoming more aware of their bodies and what other people think of them; and I’d like to delay that process for as long as possible.

So, it’s ‘adult’ behaviors that encourage girls2 to critique their looks that worry me. Things like dress-up and make-believe are fine for children of all genders; and it seemed as though the outfits in the video were geared that way, which is why they didn’t bother me much.

  • “ZOMG DON’T YOU KNOW THERE ARE PEDOS WATCHING THIS VIDEO?!!1”

This final point dovetails nicely with the previous one about sexualization of children. Apparently, the ‘wut about pedophiles’ alarmists don’t get the fact that a pedophile could be anywhere – the pediatrician who sees your child nude could easily be a pedophile; your child’s baseball coach could easily be a pedophile; the guy in the cereal aisle behind you could easily be a pedophile; the lifeguard at the pool where your child is splashing around in a swimsuit could easily be a pedophile. You get the picture – the only way to shield your child from the prying eyes of pedos would be locking the kid in her room at home and draping her in an enormous burlap sack during all outings.

If pedophiles want to look at kids, they can go sit in the back of the movie theater during Shrek; or watch the glitzy crap that passes for entertainment on the Disney channel. Furthermore, most abused children end up being abused by someone they know –  the chances of a random pedophile feeling moved to stalk a little girl because of a Youtube video of her in a tutu are much slimmer than the chances of her being abused by, I don’t know, her uncle, her siblings, or her own dad.

Get a life, everyone. Please.

1. This is different than objecting to compulsory child support payments, which I also disagree with. The ‘it’s his baby, too!’ crowd seem to think that if the mother wants to abort and the father doesn’t, the father’s opinion should have some legal sway over the decisions she’s able to make with her own body

2. I’m specifically focusing on girls because the vast majority of the debate about sexualization of children revolves around young girls; and girls are likelier to develop eating disorders, as well.

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1 Comment »

  1. Thank you! It bugs me when people take their adult fears and perceptions and project them onto children.

    Comment by Flutterby — June 13, 2010 @ 10:09 pm | Reply


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