In what is only the latest in a numbing series of such stories, a new French lingerie line is selling provocative bras and panties for girls ages 4 through 12.  The catalog for the line, created by Jours Apres Lunes, features child models in full makeup and Lolita-esque poses.  The line of lingerie includes bras, panties and camisoles for toddlers. 

Why a 4-year-old needs a bra is not explained on the site.

Let’s coin a term, shall we?

You’ve heard of commercialization, and bureaucratization.

How about “pornification”?

It is as if we have sexualized everything.  Name something that is sold – what hasn’t been sexualized?  And brazenly so?  Would the average person even suspect that godaddy.com is about web domains instead of an actual porn site? 

We all know about the hardcore pornography available on the internet.  This has led thoughtful parents to install filters and take other actions to protect their children from the seedy ghettoes of cyberspace. 

All well and good.  But the pervasive sexualization of our culture is far from confined to the web.  A new study has shown that most kids aren’t exposed to sexual content on the internet (perhaps due to parental control?) as much as they are through television and music (where parents aren’t exercising control?). 

As reported in USA Today, between 16 and 25 percent of children say they are exposed to sexual material on the Internet, while 75 percent say they are exposed to it on TV and 69 percent in their music. 

As Frank Rich wrote in the New York Times Magazine, “Pornography is no longer a sideshow to the mainstream…it is the mainstream.” 

I’m certainly not the first to feel the need to use a variant of this term to coin a condition.  Pamela Paul writes of a “pornified America” where pornography has become a part of our daily lives.  It’s on the covers of mainstream men’s magazines; in the promotion of music, movie and television celebrities; it’s in the advice columns of women’s magazines.

Paul argues that as porn becomes more pervasive it has changed our marriages and families as well as our children’s understanding of sex and sexuality. 

And the new media is only going to make it worse.

When Steve Jobs announced the original iPhone as little more than a combination of “three revolutionary projects” – a cell phone, an iPod, and a keyboardless handheld computer with internet connectivity – even he didn’t know what had been unleashed. 

Beyond the over 400,000 applications and counting, it opened the door to what Brian Chen calls the “anything-anytime-anywhere future” where we are constantly connected to a global internet community via handheld, incredibly capable gadgets with ubiquitous access to data.

As he titles his book, we now live in a world that is “always on.”

The only problem is what is “on” in that “on” world.

James Emery White

Sources     

“French Designer Blurs Line Between Adulthood and Childhood With New 'Loungerie' Line for Children, “Joe Piazza, FoxNews.com, August 17, 2011.  Read online.

“Lingerie line for little girls sparks outrage,” Today Show, August 18, 2011.  View online.

Pamela Paul, Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationship, and Our Families.

Frank Rich quote: cited by Candice M. Kelsey, Generation MySpace: Helping Your Teen Survive Online Adolescence.

Brian X. Chen, Always On: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future – and Locked Us In.

“Kids see sex on TV, not the web,” Baptist Press, August 8, 2011. Read online.

Editor’s Note

To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world.  Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.