My friends, you know how I go on and on every day about how sexualization impacts children and introduces them to concepts of adult sexuality before they are ready and able to understand these things? And how this sexualization can disrupt their healthy emotional development, impact their emerging sexuality and weaken their self esteem? And that we have to give our kids a solid foundation of our family’s values and help them build a strong sense of personal brand because our culture and the media are going to throw things at them that you don’t want to stick?
Well tonight at bedtime the 8yo Original Pigtail Pal Amelia began asking me her litany of questions like she does every night, except tonight she was asking about a topic that was discussed between three of her classmates and her during work time today at school. The conversation began between these second graders with one of the girls announcing she wants to grow up to be a stripper at a bar. The other two girls then began discussing the merits of pole dancing, as in how to work the pole to earn money. My daughter had no idea what they were talking about. Then the girls began talking about girls being forced to have sex against their will.
Second grade, people. Before the OPP got up to go to bed we were talking about the Tooth Fairy, whom she still believes in. During tuck in time I was answering her questions accurately because I believe if the child is able to ask the question she should be respected with an age-appropriate answer. So tonight that was a chat about what strippers really do. Ten minutes prior we were discussing the TOOTH FAIRY! I just……I can’t…….because……Oy. Just, oy.
So here’s the silver lining, and actually, there are two:
1. One of the girls said, “Don’t tell your mom about any of this.” I have taught Amelia since the age of 3 that anytime someone says that to her it is an unsafe secret and she needs to tell me as soon as she can and she will never be in trouble for doing so. Amelia told me she had a bad feeling in her stomach when the other girls were talking about these things and I said I was proud of her for listening to her tummy voice.
2. Upon me explaining to my eight year old what these words meant that her friends had taught her at school — stripping, pole dancing, and rape — and dying a bit inside that my little girl has to now have this kind of knowledge, she gave me perspective like she always does that makes me believe in the unfaltering strength of a girl’s heart when we raise them right.
She told me stripping was the dumbest thing she had ever heard of and that she would never in her life do that. And I quote: “That is disrespectful to yourself and your body.” Drop. Mic.
I am PISSED that I had to explain these things to my young child tonight. Pissed. But you know what else I am? Sad. Sad because my fierce little girl has me to guide, educate, and protect her. She came to me with the unhealthy secret because she knows that she can trust me and that I will always tell her the truth. But the other girls from this story most likely do not have that, and out of everything you just read, that is what is the biggest shame of all.
**Quick Update: During our PPBB Facebook Community discussion about this I assured people that I had contact the teacher and principal at Amelia’s school, who were immediately responsive.