Androgynous Sexpots

July 14th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Apologizing in advance for serving up dried rants from my bag of jerky, I have inspiration today from fill-in FT columnist Gautam Malkani. His Why sex isn’t child’s play for advertisers analyzes the business aspects of sexualizing kid’s clothes and other products. It also concludes with a keen cultural observation of how adults match kids in immature role play.

Hence, my jerky…

Many folk — bluenoses, plain old parents and more — are aghast at the now common pornification, as Malkani has it, of kids’ goods. Think the obvious thongs and bras for wee girls. Such hooker clothes look tacky and do-me enough on adult women.

He cites condemning studies as well as a toymaker’s assertion that kids are more literal. That is, they don’t interpret obvious-to-adults sexuality as sexuality.

Malkani gets to it though with, “Children will always want to act like grown-ups, while the middle-aged increasingly adopt a younger, more sexual identity. The infantilisation of adulthood, therefore, forms part of the same dynamic.”

Back to my own dried rant, a scan of the most popular overly sexualized ads would confirm the efforts to squeeze kiddies and 20- and 30-somethings into a pubescent mold. The concept seems to be an ideal of hairless, flat-chested, asthenic things, critters up for any activity that does not require too much exertion.

The androgynous creatures in most of these ads have lately lost much of their drug-addict appearance of shadowy eyes and totally emotionless gapes. Yet they remain almost to a one without secondary sex characteristics that define gender to the larger world. That is, the likely females have neither obvious hips nor real breasts, and the possible males lack muscle mass or broad shoulders.

We can each draw our own conclusions about why anyone would want to be or be with asexual looking androgynous types. Unfortunately for those with such fantasies, only a very small minority of adults is so scrawny, hairless and without other gender traits. Those who aim for that appearance are forced into crazy clothes, crazy makeup and crazy diets.

The harmless, hairless critters of advertising and pop culture are already becoming artifacts and atavisms. Soft science practitioners like sociologists as well as historians should have great fun recounting them, particularly with so much ad art available as example.

Meanwhile, the advertisers seem determined to find out how well they can jerk consumers, including parents, around on sexual ads. We may as a culture decry the G-strings for girls type of products, but apparently enough of a subset of us is buying them to create a business. That seems to be evidence that we have too much time, too much cash, and too much desire to be trendy.


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