Friday, August 27, 2004

Tricks for treats 

This blog doesn't engage too often in moral pontifications (except on foreign policy matters), but once in a while a story comes along that almost impossible to resist.

It seems that a company called
Brands on Sale, which sells children's Halloween costumes, is now marketing pimp costumes for boys and hooker costumes for girls. Now, I think I've got a reasonably well developed sense of humour, but I have to say that I fail to see anything amusing in dressing up children as sex industry workers.

Johnathon Weeks, who designs the costumes for Brands on Sale, has a lot of things to say in defence, all of them
pretty lame: "[W]e're not telling everyone to buy [the costumes]... [They are for] unique customers." I'd say. To be honest, I'm not sure whether I'm more disturbed that somebody is designing and selling these costumes, or that some supposedly responsible parents would buy them for their children.

Weeks goes on: "If they want, they can purchase a devil costume, or a ghoul or ghost costume - I don't care. But it does not promote prostitution or sexual exploitation. It's just a costume for kids to dress up and pretend." It's not about promoting the behaviour per se; after all, few would argue that children who dress up as devils aspire to demonhood, or more mundanely, those donning prisoner uniforms want to spend the rest of their lives as career criminals behind bars. It's about normalising the undesirable. In the end, it is far easier and lot more straighforward to explain to a child that being a criminal is bad, than doing the same in regards to a pimp or a prostitute. It would require us to enter that next level of "education" about the ways of the world that most of us prefer to leave off for a few more years.

The last of Weeks' excuses is surely the thinnest: "If you think about a real pimp, they're not in flamboyant suits. Kids don't even know what the word pimp means - regarding soliciting women for sex. They think being 'pimp' means having big, fancy cars and homes." Well, dressing them up as pimps can only bring forward that distinctly un-magic moment in their lives when they will learn the awful truth: not only there is no Santa, but pimps, far from being only amusing aficionados of outrageous clothing, are rather unsavoury characters who live off women renting their bodies.

wrote some time ago about the "whorification" of children and teens - the whole Britney Spears-inspired schoolgirls-who-dress-like-strippers-who-dress-like-schoolgirls vicious circle of inspiration. The bottom line is, even my libertarian friends think that there is a difference between a child of, say, 10 and a woman of 25, or 18 for that matter. If the latter thinks that the poll-dancer is the latest hip look to imitate, it's her decision; but children are children, and should remain so as long as possible. They will enter the adult world soon enough, and have plenty of time to savour the good, the bad, and the ugly of it, guided by their character and experience and making decisions of their own free will. But I don't necessarily think there is much benefit in speeding up that process.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?