Monday, November 28, 2011
The sexualization of children in our culture is the scandal from which most Americans seem to want to avert their eyes. Perhaps that is because they feel helpless to do anything about it. The forces behind it seem so powerful and indeed dominant. They give us everything from Lady Gaga, to thong underwear for girls sold by Abercrombie & Fitch, to "sex ed" curricula containing images and information that would have shocked a sailor a generation or two back. To complain about any of this is to mark oneself as a "prude" or even a "rube." So people remain mute as the innocence of children is massively compromised and the lives of many youngsters, especially in poorer and more vulnerable comunities, are devastated.
Yet, there are a few brave souls who are willing to speak up. Mary Anne Layden, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School's Center for Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology, is one. Another is the distinguished Muslim public intellectual Hamza Yusuf. (See his speech on the social costs of pornography, here: http://seekersguidance.org/blog/2010/10/video-shaykh-hamza-yusuf-at-the-social-costs-of-pornography-event/). Now Mary Graw Leary of the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University has spoken out in a powerful piece published today at Public Discourse: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/11/4340. Her point of departure is the moral indifference of some in the face of the revelations of child sexual abuse and exploitation at Penn State.
A couple of excerpts:
The second reason we should not be surprised by the callousness of Penn State's protesting students may be a new one: They have been raised in a culture that has normalized children's sexual objectification . . . This generation has so regularly witnessed the sexualization of children that they have become numb to it.
Having created and perpetuated this cultural climate, are we now surprised that some of the young adults it produced do not understand the true nature and gravity of the sexual abuse of children? Are we now surprised that some of these young adults express indifference to the kind of abuse that increases victims' risk for short-term and long-term physical and psychological damage? How can we be? Not only have we groomed the victims for these offenders, we have groomed the generation for indifference.