This woman obviously is mature. Her body signals that she is fertile, she is desirable, she is ripe. She has breasts, pubic hair, and the lines of her body are longer. Her body sends signals to attract a man so that she can start a family.
This woman is obviously built to pillow grandchildren on her breast. Her fertility is unquestioned, but it is in the past. She is no longer sending out signals to young men. Indeed, the signals she is sending may include the prosperity of her husband or the group.
So what happens when you dress the little girl as a sexual being and the grown woman as a child? You confuse the messages they are sending to the world
This is supremely dangerous. We no longer live in small familiar groups, but in large anonymous populations. Many anthropologists believe that this is the reason for wearing clothes in tropical climates, to reduce the sexual signals that occur when strangers meet. (Nudists do not find the bodies of their family members enticing, only of strangers.) So, adults dress to reduce the signals, and there are cultures where adults dress and children run around naked. No one gets confused about who is sexually mature and who isn't. When children start wearing clothes, usually because of the climate; sometimes because of the size of the society, there is nothing provocative about their clothing. When a girl reaches maturity, the society has ways for her to dress to signal that. It may be a flower behind her ear or pierced ears or low cut dresses or floor length dresses. Whatever it is, it is different than little girls wear. The society is careful to guard little girls against inappropriate sexual interest.
But, what we do is a double whammy. Not only do we sexualize children's clothing, but we then dress sexually mature women in children's clothing, which begins to sexualize the non-sexual clothing of children. We are setting ourselves up for trouble, as this article on CommonDreams.org No Escaping Sexualization of Young Girls by Rosa Brooks makes clear.
In our hyper-commercialized consumerist society, there's virtually no escaping the relentless sexualization of younger and younger children. My 26-month-old daughter didn't emerge from the womb clamoring for a seashell bikini like Princess Ariel's but now that she's savvy enough to notice who's prancing around on her pull-ups, she wants in on the bikini thing. And my 4-year-old wasn't born demanding lip gloss and nail polish, but when a little girl at nursery school showed up with her Hello Kitty makeup kit, she was hooked.Yes, they will sell anything. Your health. Your future. Your child.
In a culture in which the sexualization of childhood is big business and — mainstream mega-corporations such as Disney earn billions by marketing sexy products to children too young to understand their significance, is it any wonder that pedophiles feel emboldened to claim that they shouldn't be ostracized for wanting sex with children? On an Internet bulletin board, one self-avowed "girl lover" offered a critique of this week's New York Times series on pedophilia: "They fail, of course, to mention the hypocrisy of Hollywood selling little girls to millions of people in a highly sexualized way." I hate to say it, but the pedophiles have a point here.
There are plenty of good reasons to worry about children and sex. But if we want to get to the heart of the problem, we should obsess a little less about whether the neighbor down the block is a dangerous pedophile — and we should worry a whole lot more about good old-fashioned American capitalism, which is busy serving our children up to pedophiles on a corporate platter.