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Back to the books…


I’m finally getting back to the book reviews.

I just finished “So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids”, by Diane E. Levin and Jean Kilbourne. I’ve been a big fan of Jean Kilbourne since college, having read all her other books regarding advertising, the media, society, and our views of ourselves as human beings.

“So Sexy So Soon” does it’s job in explaining the difference between sex, sexuality, and sexualization, and how the current consumer culture is forming the youngest generations to focus on the sexy without explaining sexuality. As most Jean Kilbourne books do, it hits the nail on the head several times in regard to the issues. However, I feel this book is missing something. The examples were so transparent, so obvious in their portrayal of the crisis that is created when young children are continually bombarded with images of sex without guidance for interpretation that I feel the authors didn’t go deep enough. They didn’t find the more underlying and deceptive methods of advertising that we wouldn’t normally recognize as a problem, something I usually find so intriguing in Kilbourne’s analysis.

Perhaps this is an influence from the other author, Levin, who I have not previously read. If it is, however, I am happy with what I see as her other big influence in the book – a very open and careful guide of how to deal with the situation of sexualization of children – both your own and others. What to do next, other than be aware of the problem, is something that is lacking a bit in Kilbourne’s past writings. This book is certainly not lacking in options of what to do next. Because of this, I feel it will be used as classroom reading in more than just women’s studies classes. It will apply especially to educators and classes involving childhood development.

As a side note, most of the examples used in the book were found on the East Coast, perhaps a few on the West Coast. One thing I pointedly remember from my human sexuality class is that differentiation between the sexes and sexuality are more drastic, more outwardly visible and identifiable on the coasts of the United States. It would be interesting for Kilbourne and Levin to look at the middle of the country – Appalachia, the Mid-West, and the non-coastal West to find what might or not be working as a counter to commercialization and sexualization of childhood in these areas.

Coming up next: “Tyrannosaur Canyon” by Douglas Preston

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