Saturday, March 10, 2007

Damaging sexualization

Just ran across a wonderful piece from Kathleen Parker on the recent discovery by the APA that girls are "sexualized" and that's not necessarily a great thing.
When it comes to figuring out what's gone wrong with our culture, we can usually rely on the American Psychological Association (APA) to catch on last.

Thus, it came to pass a few days ago that the APA released its findings that American girls are sexualized. And that's bad.

If you missed the headlines, it may be because of stiff competition from the breaking news that Anna Nicole is still dead and Britney is still disturbed.

Irony doesn't get to be ironic when it's that conspicuous.

It's a great piece, and I recommend it. But what she's talking about is both obvious, and greatly concerning, particularly to a parent. It is very difficult to bring children up in a culture that is so obviously hostile to traditional standards of deceny. As Parker says, "we shouldn't need a scientific study to tell us that sexualizing children is damaging." I don't want to spend all my time shielding my children from the outside world, but, on the other hand, the attitudes of the culture in which we live are so pervasive, and so harmful, that you really do have do a lot of teaching just to overcome the baseline.

In any event, this is a good article. With a strong, common-sense close.
It can't be coincidence that girls' self-objectification -- looking for male attention in all the wrong ways -- has risen as father presence has declined. At last tally, 30 percent of fathers weren't sleeping in the same house as their biological children.

The APA is calling for more education, more research, forums, girls groups and Web zines to tackle girl sexualization. But my instinctual guess is that getting fathers back into their daughters' lives and back on the job would do more than all the forums and task forces combined.

Ultimately, it's a daddy thing.

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Caveman channels C.S. Lewis

A comparison...

First, a passage from C.S. Lewis:
The whole modern estimate of primitive man is based upon that idolatry of artefacts which is a great corporate sin of our own civilisation. We forget that our prehistoric ancestors made all the useful discoveries, except that of chloroform, which have ever been made. To them we owe language, the family, clothing, the use of fire, the domestication of animals, the wheel, the ship, poetry and agriculture.
- C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Next, a Geico television commercial parody of a news-channel talking-head show:
Announcer: Tone aside, historically, you guys have struggled to adapt.

Caveman: (with extreme sarcasm) Yeah, right. Walking upright, discovering fire, inventing the wheel. Laying the foundation for all mankind. You're right, good point. Sorry we couldn't get that to you sooner...

Coincidence? Plagiarism?

I report - you decide...

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Vietnam and Iraq - the Shawcross take

Excellent piece in The Times of London by William Shawcross, one of the anti-US journalists who wrote a book excoriating the American Indo-China policy back in the mid-70s. But Shawcross, unlike many of his peers, apparently still has a brain, and is willing to use it.
I wrote a book called Sideshow, which was very critical of the way in which the United States had brought war to Cambodia while trying to extricate itself from Vietnam. But horror had engulfed all of Indo-China as a result of the US defeat in 1975. In Vietnam and Laos there was no vast mass murder but the communists created cruel gulags and, from Vietnam in particular, millions of people fled, mostly by boat and mostly to the US. Given the catastrophe of the communist victories, I have always thought that those like myself who were opposed to the American efforts in Indochina should be very humble. I also think it wrong to dismiss the US efforts there as sheer disaster.

He then goes on to talk about the middle-east, in the context of what the United States did in Vietnam.

I still believe the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was the correct thing to do — and it was something only the United States could have done. For all the horrors that extremist Sunnis and Shias are inflicting on each other today, the US rid the world of the Pol Pot of the Middle East. So long as the vile Saddam family regime remained in power there was no hope of progress in the region. There is still hope — if we do not abandon the Iraqi people.

I think that there's a lot of truth there. I strongly recommend the piece...

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