NYTimes: Ok to sexualize children for the cause of genderqueer

NYTimes: Ok to sexualize children for the cause of genderqueer

NYTimes: Ok to sexualize children for the cause of genderqueer

The New York Times uses its Style section to publish a puff piece on underage “makeup artists” that amounts to little more than promoting the sexual objectification of actual children. As long as the subjects are boys and the behavior is gender-bending, of course.

Would you be inclined to buy makeup because a 10-year-old boy is showing you how to create a look on Instagram? If we’re talking about Jack Bennett of @makeuupbyjack, then the answer could well be a resounding yes. […]

He is the latest evidence of a seismic power shift in the beauty industry, which has thrust social media influencers to the top of the pecking order. Refreshingly, they come in all shapes, sizes, ages and, more recently, genders.

The article spends much of its focus on celebrating so-called gender fluidity and promotes the idea that parents who indulge, or promote, their pre-pubescent sons to become genderqueer advocates are doing A Good Thing™.

“What you have now are millennial moms* who have grown up in an era where gender is more fluid,” Ms. Friedman said. “Millennials are very in tune with empowering their children.”

*Note: there is no mention of dads, millennial or otherwise, in this article.

Yet for a male influencer like Kevin Ninh, 21, known as Flawless Kevin on Instagram and YouTube, simply putting on makeup and taking photos should be only part of the message. Mr. Ninh is now at the University of Washington Bothell, where he is double-majoring in media communications and gender, women and sexuality studies. [of course he is … ed.] Though he started wearing makeup as a teenager and posting about it on YouTube five years ago, he has learned, he said, how portrayals in media can affect perception of gender and identity.

“Yes, it’s important to entertain,” he said. “But while you’re doing it, why not teach them something at the same time.”

Yet, this promoting of children and teens into adult roles wasn’t being celebrated when it came to the case of JonBenet Ramsey and the Beauty Pageant circuit.

Frank Rich, 1997:

In a sense, the JonBenets of America are the cultural inheritors of Gypsy Rose Lee, who, unlike her sister, did not have the talent to become either a vaudeville star or legitimate actress and so became a stripper instead. But Gypsy was old enough to make her own choice to become a sexual icon. Today the merchandising of children as sexual commodities is ubiquitous and big business — not just in beauty contests for toddlers or in the media’s disingenuous fixation on JonBenet’s runway footage as ”news,” but everywhere — from the increased garishness of Barbie displays at the local mall to the use of Sally Mann-esque child models in home-furnishing magazines.

Alex Kuczynski, 1998

…Shelby wore her auburn hair in an elaborately curled and sprayed ponytail on the side of her head. She wore the clothes of an 8-year-old — a baseball jersey over jean shorts — but her face was done up like an overenthusiastic 20-year-old: her cheeks were matte with beige foundation, her eyelashes stiff with black mascara and her lips, expertly traced with lip liner, sparkled with a cherry-red gloss. The effect was doll-like and eerily mesmerizing. […]

After her death, JonBenet became for many Americans a poignant symbol of parental manipulation and child exploitation. The media tempest that followed her death, especially the tabloid television coverage, propagated a stereotype of dangerous role models for children and perpetuated an image of the jealous, preening stage mother.

The scolding tone, the cautionary lectures from the NYTimes and other coastal media was ubiquitous even as it was fueled in part by the arrogant, condescending cultural distaste of anything arising out of The South or fly-over country.

A good parent’s primary obligation to their child is to set limits. The loaded buzzword “empowering” has no place in a responsible parent’s lexicon. Limits actually give children the room to grow, explore, and test their own strengths and desires free from people who would exploit them.

If today JonBenet Ramsey were a ten year old, with an Instragram following 300K strong, the NYTimes wouldn’t be drooling over her getting the attention of MAC and NYX. They would be running articles on the loss of innocence and the exposure to abuse, sexual or otherwise, in the rush to commodify children as the Next Big Thing™.

And they’d be right.

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