Tesco signs ‘let girls be girls’ campaign


9:50 am - June 15th 2010

by Chris Barnyard    


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Retail giant Tesco is the latest to sign the Mumsnet website campaign, ‘Let Girls be Girls’, against premature sexualisation of children.

The u-turn has come literally hours after Tesco was criticised for selling high-heeled shoes to girls as young as three.

The Mumsnet website explains the reasoning behind the campaign:

A growing number of toys, clothes (‘sexy’ slogans on young girls’ clothing) and accessories (Playboy-branded stationery sets, anyone?) encourage children to enter the world of adult sexuality.

There are plenty of reasons to be worried by this trend:

– It introduces children to the world of adult sexuality, when elsewhere we are rightly encouraging them to resist the pressure to become sexually active at a young age

– It tells girls that the most important quality they need is ‘sexiness’ and that female sexuality is all about pleasing others

– It encourages a culture in which children are viewed as sexually available

– Authorities as varied as the NSPCC, the NUT and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams have all weighed in on this issue, calling for a halt to the premature sexualisation trend.

The campaign offers retailers a positive course of action – to pledge that they will only offer products “which don’t play upon, exploit, or emphasise children’s sexuality”.

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About the author
Chris is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is an aspiring journalist and reports stories for LC.
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Reader comments


The quote in the last sentence makes more sense with the preceding sentence from Mumsnet:

We reckon that children should not be presented as sexual or encouraged to believe that attracting the opposite sex is something they need to consider.
Retailers who sign up to the Mumsnet Code pledge not to sell products which play upon, exploit, or emphasise the sexuality of children.

2. Flowerpower

The Mumsnet campaign is good and sensible, but inevitably this initiative will be hi-jacked by Leftist drabbies who will forbid young girls to wear pretty pink frocks or anything with flowers on as they seek to promote gender-neutral names like Biff.

The Oxford Reading Tree already does this and gender-neutral naming is the declared policy of one of the Lib Dems’ European partners.

Flowerpower – bit ott!

And ‘The Oxford ReadingTree’ is vile in many ways but your interpretation of ‘gender-neutral names’ is wrong. I think the main purposes of the ORT and also the vile GInn series can only be to firstly prolong the process of learning to read to a long painfull hellish experience in order to put children off reading for life and ensure they get all their info from biased MSM sources.

4. Flowerpower

@3

prolong the process of learning to read to a long painful hellish experience in order to put children off reading for life

Agreed. I recommend The Butterfly Book. It gets it all done from flashcards to Proust in 16 weeks, guaranteed.

your interpretation of ‘gender-neutral names’ is wrong

The two main characters, boy and girl twins, are called Biff and Chip. Counter-intuitively (or not, depending whether you’ve got with the programme), Biff is the girl.

The Muslim boy, however, is afforded a conventional Islamic name (Nadim – Arabic for ‘friend’), as political correctness requires.

I am 22 and Playboy stationery sets were out when I was in about year 7/8. Did I have sex at 14? No. Was I a teenage mom? No. I didn’t even have my first kiss until I was 16!
Some girls will always be slutty, regardless of these products.
The women at Mumsnet anger me on an unprecedented scale.

6. Col. Richard Hindrance (Mrs), VC, DSO and Bar Six, KitKat, Trio

inevitably this initiative will be hi-jacked by Leftist drabbies who will forbid young girls to wear pretty pink frocks or anything with flowers on as they seek to promote gender-neutral names like Biff.

Yeah, inevitably. The concept of the Slippery Slope Fallacy must have passed you by.

What else can you see of the future with your mystic troll foresight, oh flowery one?

Nikki, that meant you were 11 and not 4. And just what do you think is ‘slutty’, I’m really interested that a woman could have got to your age and have a teenage sense of morality? Be careful with that anger because one day you will understand Mumsnet.

My own little girl used to like sparkly pink play shoes with fake jewels when she was about 3 – and it certainly didn’t bother me, got it out of her system a bit if anything. She’s 10 now and she particularly dislikes clothes which she describes as ‘too grown up’ – by which she actually means ‘slutty’ to borrow Nikki’s word.

9. Shatterface

‘Retail giant Tesco is the latest to sign the Mumsnet website campaign, ‘Let Girls be Girls’, against premature sexualisation of children.’

The corollary is, of course, let ‘Boys be Boys’, but somehow I don’t think that will be embraced with much enthusiasm.

‘- It introduces children to the world of adult sexuality, when elsewhere we are rightly encouraging them to resist the pressure to become sexually active at a young age’

You could extend that argument to sex education.

‘- It tells girls that the most important quality they need is ’sexiness’ and that female sexuality is all about pleasing others’

I’d be interested seeing the survey results behind this claim. You couldn’t possibly be making this up?

‘- It encourages a culture in which children are viewed as sexually available’

No, a culture which views any visible flesh as an incitement to rape probably has deeper issues regarding sexual repression.

‘- Authorities as varied as the NSPCC, the NUT and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams have all weighed in on this issue, calling for a halt to the premature sexualisation trend.’

Quite apart from citing someone who talks to sky-pixies as an authority on child sexuality – surely you could have found a Catholic priest who at least has experience in such matters? – the NSPCC were partly responsible got the hysterical campaign to have 9,000,000 people branded potential paedos before the last government got the boot.

Nice try Shatterface.

‘Retail giant Tesco is the latest to sign the Mumsnet website campaign, ‘Let Girls be Girls’, against premature sexualisation of children.’

The corollary is, of course, let ‘Boys be Boys’, but somehow I don’t think that will be embraced with much enthusiasm.

Can you elaborate on how boys are being prematurely sexualised?

‘- It introduces children to the world of adult sexuality, when elsewhere we are rightly encouraging them to resist the pressure to become sexually active at a young age’

You could extend that argument to sex education.

Only if you were a moron.

‘- It tells girls that the most important quality they need is ’sexiness’ and that female sexuality is all about pleasing others’

I’d be interested seeing the survey results behind this claim. You couldn’t possibly be making this up?

Have you ever read any feminism? This stuff is all over the place. How about using a search engine, or order yourself a copy of ‘Living Dolls’ by Natasha Walter.

‘- It encourages a culture in which children are viewed as sexually available’

No, a culture which views any visible flesh as an incitement to rape probably has deeper issues regarding sexual repression.

Child sexual abuse is not related to sexual repression though. Your answer doesn’t work.

“Child sexual abuse is not related to sexual repression though.”

What, never? [CITATION REQUIRED]

12. Shatterface

”The corollary is, of course, let ‘Boys be Boys’, but somehow I don’t think that will be embraced with much enthusiasm.”

‘Can you elaborate on how boys are being prematurely sexualised?’

They’re not. Obviously my point passed you by. There’s nothing ‘premature’ about children’s curiosity about sex or dressing up as little adults. You seam to be under the impression that children are neuter until the age of 16.

”You could extend that argument to sex education.”

‘Only if you were a moron.’

Wow, ‘moron’, that’s ‘civil’.

You didn’t answer my point though. Ignorance of sex is neither as common nor as desirable as you seam to believe.

‘- It tells girls that the most important quality they need is ’sexiness’ and that female sexuality is all about pleasing others’

I’d be interested seeing the survey results behind this claim. You couldn’t possibly be making this up?

Have you ever read any feminism? This stuff is all over the place. How about using a search engine, or order yourself a copy of ‘Living Dolls’ by Natasha Walter.’

Yes, I’ve read feminism. You know that stuff about teh ‘patriarchy’ you think is so novel and profound? I read that in the 80s when it was still fashionable.

Ever read any psychology? You know, the stuff about how people actually think as opposed to how you’d like them to think if you had to design them from scratch?

‘Child sexual abuse is not related to sexual repression though. Your answer doesn’t work.’

Wow, now who’s never read any feminism?

Lol Shatterface, even better than your first comment!

Mumsnet is wrong to think that children are being infiltrated by an adult sexuality that is nothing to do with them. It’s the other way round: adult sexuality is an infantilization, especially for women. The problem is that our culture tends to construct adult female sexiness so that it shares many features with being a child. How about starting a campaign to stop infantilizing adult women?

For example, how many of the mothers of mumsnet remove much or all of their own (perfectly normal, adult) bodily hair because it makes them more sexy, without stopping to think that this implies that their pre-pubescence children are, by the same token, naturally sexy because they don’t just have body hair?

Only when (normal, adult) female body hair is redefined as sexy will our children be safe from adult sexual interest. And if you’re scoffing at the ridiculousness of that statement because you can’t imagine such a time ever happening, maybe you should examine your own feelings for pre-pubscent children…

Will they start to offer clothes, bags and stationary in colours other than bright pink? Or do we need rigid gender colour segregation all through life now? It just to be just for tiny babies and as a little girl I always preferred blue, but now all female children under thirteen are dressed entirely and drearily in pink. This has now spread to infect the adult female sportswear industry, so I can no longer buy running tops that fit me in colours other than pink.

It’s not sexualising them, but it is giving them very narrow signals about what it is to be female.

Cor. It’s all gone a bit 80s retro. Yawn.

17. Rowan Davies

Heh. I work for MN doing the campaigns so probably best to stay out of this one… but a fellow MNer has asked me to point out, @2, that the author of the ORT books has said that the name ‘Biff’ is intended to be a childish mispronouncement, not an actual name.

Hope that’s cleared that up.

Rowan Davies – Biff is a mispronouncation of what? Quif?

19. Just Visiting

Beth ? -> bith -> biff ?

High heels for three year olds are a bad idea, but not because of sex. People should wait until their feet have finished growing before wearing shoes like that or they could cause permanent damage.

E E Leach – but it’s *men* who have to spend the most time removing body (well, facial) hair in order to look pre pubescent.

22. Rowan Davies

@18 – no idea! But was what author said, apparently.

Agree with some of @14’s points about the idealisation of a child-like adult female sexuality, actually. But doesn’t preclude a campaign on the imposition of adult sexuality onto children IMO. Successful campaigns are about the art of the possible, after all.

@21

There is nowhere near as much pressure on chaps as on ladies. See here, for example.

@23 – I suspect, even if beards are fashionable at the moment, men in *some* professions might feel discouraged from growing a beard – this is glanced at towards the end of the article you link to. But I’ve never shaved my legs in my life – not a feminist position, just a lazy one! And I’ve certainly never felt under any pressure to do so.

@24

Fair enough. Though from browsing my girlfriend’s various magazines though it certainly looks like there is more pressure on women to be hairless as @14 says, than from the other side of the coin – men’s magazines don’t tend to wax lyrical (pun intended!) about the benefits plucking/shaving/waxing/brazilians etc… unless it’s for their partners.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Tesco signs 'let girls be girls' campaign http://bit.ly/9GyaEp

  2. earwicga

    RT @libcon: Tesco signs 'let girls be girls' campaign http://bit.ly/9GyaEp

  3. czol

    Interesting campaign… RT @libcon: Tesco signs 'let girls be girls' campaign http://bit.ly/9GyaEp

  4. Gina Hernandez

    Tesco signs 'let girls be girls' campaign | Liberal Conspiracy: A growing number of toys, clothes ('sexy' slogans … http://bit.ly/c7wp5q

  5. rowan davies

    Oooh! Two worlds colliding – @LibCon on our 'Let Girls be Girls' campaign: http://tinyurl.com/32da4b9 @KateVWilliams @MumsnetTowers

  6. s4foz77

    RT @KateVWilliams: Crikey. My 2 worlds collide -@LibCon on 'Let Girls be Girls' campaign: http://tinyurl.com/32da4b9 <huge plagiarist …

  7. katevwilliams

    Crikey. My 2 worlds collide -@LibCon on 'Let Girls be Girls' campaign: http://tinyurl.com/32da4b9 <huge plagiaristic hat-tip to @rowandavies





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