Joining the public debate: Fae on air

From demo to radio studio. I was asked a week or so back to contribute to a programme this afternoon on sexualisation. The radio station was ONFM and…i wasn’t too sure.

Despite the fact that i didn’t know them too well, this definitely felt like a bit of a step upward from the usual local radio stints. And i was going to be up against some unknown quantity in a debate that i suspected might be framed in slightly hostile terms.

Into the lion’s den

Initially, it looked like my worst fears were to be realised. I arrived and found my opponent – Tanith somebody – looking a bit grim and already briefed and well aware of who i was. Whereas i didn’t even have her full name!

She was, it turned out, Tanith Carey, who has recently written “Where Has My Little Girl Gone? How to protect your daughter from growing up too soon”

I smiled and, for opening gambit, before we got into the studio proper, wondered if we might be more in agreement than it looked. Tanith asked me if i was objecting to the term “sexualisation” as too broad…and the focus of recent reporting on girls? Er, yes.

Oh. She thought we might be disagreeing!

Chance to debate further was interrupted as the studio assistant (sure that’s the wrong word, but hey! its what she did) whisked Tanith off to start the debate. I grabbed my phone and dialled a friend…thought i’d get a bit more background on Ms Carey before i walked into the lion’s den.

Was i about to be chewed up and spat out? Maybe, was the somewhat disconcerting answer.

On air, mostly in agreement

And then on to a surprisingly, pleasantly non-confrontational session. On air, I explained my problems with the current debate – too much about some broad undefined generic problem, not enough about specifics.

I agreed (with Tanith) that if a watershed made sense for programming in general, it might also make sense for music video’s: and by and large we found ourselves mostly nodding our way through the debate.

Tanith agreed that a lot of the worst images cited by the newspapers were from some years past. I mentioned the “Little Miss Naughty” range of underwear for girls, which .. . was last sold (i am informed) in 2002 .. .and is actually Little Miss Giggles.

(Naughty is on the branding for the range, but the actual logo used on the underwear is Giggles).

I was heartened. My real objection to much of this debate is the way in which various bandwagoning movements like to jump on the back of it. “Sexualisation” is pretty meaningless as concept. Its not well defined by most of those who are most vocal on the subject: its not measured; there certainly are no objective comparisons made between now and ten years back.

Or where there is, the evidence gets trashed all too frequently to suit specific agendas. Its not that long since i attended a shock! horror! presentation about the incidence of “child porn” sites.

Now i know those figures, having good links to the UK’s Internet Watch Foundation, who patrol the net for such material. On average, they – the experts – reckon about 500 child abuse url’s live at any one time, and about 8-10,000 live over a year.

Whereas the presenter i was listening to both had the gall to state 200,000 url’s and, when questioned, to say he’d got the figure “off a website” and it wasn’t up to him to check it. Ye-es.

That said, there are undoubtedly facets of the s-word that are measurable, have changed, and possibly for the worse. It is really then the duty of government and parents to find out what those are and deal with them… as opposed to running around, hands in air, like a bunch of headless chickens (or is that a mixed metaphor too far?).

By the end of the sesh, Tanith was smiling. I warmed to her: quite liked her in fact. I shall put the earlier grim look down to nerves about the broadcast and possibly reciprocal feelings about me. Perhaps someone had warned her that i would chew her up and spit her out.

I hope not. So not my style.

I now await the recording of the show with interest.



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