Oh dear! Much frothing over at the Mail, where yet again, confusion reigns as to what is sexualisation, what is just a realistic recognition that teenagers – girls as well as boys – do things that have a sexual dimension. Not only, but – shock! horror! – there is nothing wrong with this.
The cause of all this froth is the story, posted today, of how a Mount St Mary’s Catholic High School in Leeds, no less, has been giving girls lessons in how to apply make-up. Not only: they have even been teaching them how to get ready for a night out!
The implication is clear. Tis but a short hop from prepping these naive kids with lipstick and blusher, to pimping them out directly to raise extra dosh for the school PTA. Parents are squeaking. Educational organisations are up in arms. Sort of.
Now let’s pick that one apart. These are 14 and 15-year-old girls. It is not unknown for girls that age to be experimenting with make-up. It is not unknown, in fact, for girls half that age to be experimenting and for girls considerably younger to be wearing the stuff.
This is an after-school class – and its optional for those who wish to attend, with parental consent. Not much indoctrination going down there, then. And its about teaching appropriateness: how to do make-up well: the difference between make-up for an evening out, a night club and a job interview.
Sounds like a life skill to me. And while we may decry the idea that looks count, as long as some jobs depend on presentation at the selection stage, it is very much worth girls knowing how to deconstruct the art of make-up.
What about the protests? We-ell, two parents are quoted in the piece: but then, there are always two. One felt that 14 was too young to be worrying over such stuff. Another reckoned this was for parents to sort out at home. Like sex ed?
Then there’s the “family campaign groups” – actually just the one: Family Education Trust – though there is a slightly odd attempt to bring David Cameron and Sarah Teather, MP on side by association.
Ye-es. A clue to where they are coming from is revealed by their response to the Healthy Schools Programme, which they describe as “being used as a vehicle to impose a liberal and permissive type of sex education on pupils in many parts of the country”.
Nadine Dorries does not appear to be a member: but many other reactionary and right-wing politico’s are; and she wwould probably be well at home with an agenda that appears to be both homophobic and in favour of teaching abstinence in schools.
Hmmm. Last word to the mostly sensible commenters. The best-rated, and most sensibly in favour of this policy seem to be almost exclusively from women who just possibly have some experience of what these girls are going thru.
The worst rated and most hostile to the idea are almost – not quite – all from blokes, variously disgusted by the proposal, misogynistic or, in one instance, unable to spot the difference between teaching girls how to use make-up and paedophile grooming.
Not an entirely edifying bunch.
And evidence yet again, that behind the anti-sexualisation agenda are some very nasty fellow travellers.