Thursday, 27 May 2010

Porn on a train

I did a 26-mile walk yesterday, from Bath to Avonmouth via Bristol. It was a scenic stroll, and it is good to know that I have recovered enough of my fitness to do marathon-length walks with few problems.

There was a little incident on the train journey to Bath that disquieted me. I caught the seven o'clock train from Romsey, which due to the early hour was very quiet. A copy of the day's Sun lay abandoned on the table opposite, and I flicked through it for a few minutes before putting it back and getting a book out of my rucksack.

A man and his pretty young daughter - barely six or seven - got on the train at Salisbury and sat at the table opposite me. The father spread the newspaper out on the table and started reading, his daughter peering across the table to read as well. Soon he reached Page 3 and started staring at the topless woman. At this point the girl turned her attention to the window, only looking back after he had turned the page.

Later on he finished the newspaper and handed it to her. She turned straight from the front cover to page 4, ignoring pages 2 and 3. Later on she got out a set of crayons and a colouring book, which seemed to occupy her until I got off the train.

I found the father's blatant staring at the nude model, and the girl's reaction to it, quite off-putting. There was something callously unthinking about the father's actions. I am certainly not anti-porn, but I cannot help but feel that normalising young children to porn (even the low-grade topless kind) is wrong. Let them grow up in their own time.

The modern world is becoming increasingly sexualised. From pop videos that have scantily-clad women on dog leashes, to women's magazines that have covers dominated by lurid sexual descriptions ("My rape hell" being a favourite - surely the 'hell' is rather redundant). I am a broad-minded adult and these do not particularly bother me. However, if I ever have children, would I want to try to shield them from much of this? And would it be possible to shield them?

1 comment:

rfwitch said...

I think it is almost impossible to shield children from early sexualization. Probably, the only thing friends and family can do is make children aware of social forces and messages, analyze them together (why is s/he wearing that? why is s/he doing that? What are they trying to sell?) and provide a more mutually respectful vision of relationships.

I am not hopeful that this will become the norm, though. I think children understand stuff a lot better than they let on (and can get scarred earlier), and adults are mostly too embarrassed to talk openly.