What if elementary schools resisted pornification? Or, why not to wear heels to school when you are eight…


Picking my daughter up from school today, I saw what looked like a 3rd or 4th grader trying to navigate her walk home in high heel black fuck me pumps. Her dad trotted obliviously behind her. With parents so blissfully unaware of the hyper-sexualizing of their daughters, can we really be shocked when sexualized violence is so rife in our communities?

Turn a child into a sex object (or anyone into an object) and you make it easier for her/him to be treated as a THING. If such fashion “choices” occurred in the context of a just, non patriarchal world, that would be one thing. But, given our pornified culture which constructs violence as sexy AND younger and younger girls as sexy AND females as “booty” to be “tapped,” such a shoe choice seems very poor judgement.  Get that girl some friggin’ tennies. Sheesh.

Sadly, this pornified footwear is not a unique occurrence. At the talent show a few weeks back, two 5th grade girls gyrated stripper-style to a hip-hop song with “do me” type lyrics. Um, did the talent show crew really think this was acceptable “talent”? How sad that shaking your ass to degrading lyrics is considered a-ok for a K-5 event.

This pornified vibe is also evident in the comments I hear as I wait for my daughter after-school (“that teacher is hot” said by a boy who was perhaps 10), in t-shirt logos (“Boy candy”), and in the sexed-up walk of some of the girls who seem to have learned that our culture views their most important “talent” as the ability to attract male attention. I shudder to think what my daughter’s 5th grade graduation will be like – if my son’s was any indication, likely there will be many unfortunate fashion choices and too much flashing of the class privilege (a teacher shared with me that last year one boy was picked up in a Hummer limo and took a handful of friends off to a day of 5th grade style debauchery at Boomer’s).

How many kids are aware of how wrong this all is or have parents that help them navigate the crazily violent, consumerist, and hyper-sexualized worlds of elementary and middle schools? I wish all of them did. More to the point, I wish elementary could be a place of learning, fun, and friendship, rather than a place to “shake that thang” and flaunt your assets – be they bodily or monetary.

7 thoughts on “What if elementary schools resisted pornification? Or, why not to wear heels to school when you are eight…”

  1. So many of these things the kids pick up and want themselves. I grew up in the eighties and it was exactly the same back then – the cool kids, aged about ten, would try to push the envelope by sneaking in sexualised things at school discos and talent shows. I remember “One And One” by 2 Live Crew being a particular forbidden thrill.

    Not sure cocooning is the right answer here – possibly it only encourages the kids more.

  2. I think that this trend is alarming and very dangerous for young girls. It teaches them that they are only valuable for their bodies and their sexuality. This is not a question of agency because the girls are not actively choosing this rather they are being specifically guided and this continues to support the systemic marginalization of women.

  3. The better solution is to start at the home, and by that I mean in the education of children by their parents against such actions. This must go hand in hand with education about the things they see and hear in mass media. A child has no idea what “black fuck me pumps” are, but they do see people wearing them … people who are glorified in the mass media that they may want to emulate. Educate them on what is real and what is advertising – what it means to be manipulated into wanting something without knowing why, then once you discover why being able to apply critical thinking to undo it.

    It sounds like too much to expect from a child, but it’s not. As much as a parent should explain the difference between cartoon violence and real violence, or point out that no one ever gets killed in the GI Joe gunfights, they should also point out that you do not have to be sexually active to be liked, nor do you need to buy your way to acceptance.

    Millions are spent every year to tailor “shows” that are thinly veiled thirty minute advertisements towards children. Likewise on advertising that ‘teaches’ children how they should act, who they should be, how they should dress, and just like their adult counterparts, there is an underlying sexual theme.

  4. Also keep in mind that banning television or limiting exposure to mass media is not a viable solution. They will be exposed to it sooner or later – with their friends or when they are curious. Education means that when they are exposed to it – which they inevitably will – they have the tools to process what they see sanely.

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