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So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids
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So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  516 ratings  ·  121 reviews
Risqué Halloween costumes for young girls. T-shirts that boast “Chick Magnet” for toddler boys. Sexy content on almost every television channel, as well as in movies and video games. Popular culture and technology inundate our boys and girls with an onslaught of graphic sexual messages at earlier ages than ever before. Without the emotional sophistication to understand wha ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 21st 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published August 5th 2008)
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3.56  · 
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 ·  516 ratings  ·  121 reviews


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Brian Sison
First off, I couldn't finish this book. The last third may be awe-inspiring and clever, but I'll never know.

Being the father of two girls, I borrowed this book in the hopes of getting insight into their still developing minds. What I got was puritanical alarmist drivel. True - in this day and age, there is sex everywhere. From Barbie to Britney and everyone trying to "If you seek Amy"... it's all around in the media. If you have daughters and it takes reading this book for you to realize that,
...more
Bridget
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I work in the field of youth development and sex education. I thought this book was too sensationalized. True, sex is too pervasive in youth culture and the media, but it needs to start at home. Too few parents/guardians are having open, honest discussions with their kids about sex, standards of behavior--namely respect and responsibility, and communication. You can't blame the media and youth culture on issues that need to be addressed in the family unit and community.
Cory
Jan 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a hard one for me because I really, REALLY wanted to like it. It's a great book if you haven't immersed yourself in weird media studies, but I have a long-held interest in media and children and advertising and all that. Maybe I just feel like, since they were preaching to the choir in my case, they should have had a really great sermon. Unfortunately, I don't feel like there were enough specific examples, or enough of a connection made between the science and the conclusions that the a ...more
Kim
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
I am growing weary of the sensationalist books designed to make parents hysterical, always with a "Catchy Disturbing Problem: What Parents Can Do to Save their Children" style of title. That said, this book does identify a problem in the media that I've been rather troubled by. While it felt a little padded out, this book does have some great tips on how to talk to your kids about their concerns (about what they've heard from friends or seen on tv or the internet). Also some very basic advice on ...more
Megan
Sep 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very helpful book--especially the ideas on how to have conversations about sexuality with your children, and things you can do to address the commercialized gender roles they learn from many types of media. Part of it seemed a little alarmist (they cite Me and You and Everyone We Know without realizing it's critiquing the sexualization of childhood--in my opinion), but most of it is pertinent and pragmatic. The bibliography is very helpful, too. The chapter that I found the most encou ...more
Colleenish
This book was fantastic. It talks about how media sexualizes our culture to sell stuff and how harmful that is to children. Most parents would agree that media is teaching their children lessons about sexuality and self- worth that are unhealthy. So much of it is common sense, things we know. Reading about all of it together opened my eyes and made me want to change how things are.

I have so many thoughts. First, I'm thankful for my parents. My mom previewed most of my books until I was in my te
...more
Jenny
Jul 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book with my 6-year-old daughter in mind, and surprisingly ended up gaining insights that are most applicable to my 4-year-old.

The book is divided into two halves, the first on early childhood (ages 8 and under) and the second on the tween/adolescent years. I thought the second half of the book was mostly a case of "too little, too late," but I really enjoyed the first half. I had never made the connection before that all the pretty dress up toys and images we're bombarding little gi
...more
Hayley  Brentmar
The premises of this book was very interesting. Essentially the authors describe how "sex sells" and how this notion is being used to market products to younger and younger children (with devastating results). They argue that advertisers are presenting kids with ideas about sexuality that they are far to young to comprehend and analyze. About half of the book is spent citing examples of this.
For me (as the reader), they were just preaching to the choir during the argument phase. When I picked u
...more
Brianne Christensen
I Have gotten a few chapters into this book. I decided it woud aid me in my research paper on Sexual appeal and procreation. I regrettably came to find out that this book is nothing but a crazed prude puritan throwing stories out as evidence again the media in sexualizing children. The book completely ignores any other sources of sexualization children may come across and blames it on the media. It screams ignorance and denial to me. One thing that struck was the sentence "Both girls and boys, b ...more
Kitchengrrl
picked this up at my parent's place, and I made it a few chapters in. I disagree with one part of the premise, this very old-school feminist line that girls don't have an adequate idea of their possibilities. However, the rest of it, that kids are growing up to fast, that media and culture is hyper-sexualized, I totally agree with. I'm looking forward to getting to the chapters about what to do about it. I don't have my own kids, but I teach seventh grade and whoa..... :P

Okay, having now finishe
...more
Karla
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy to read, relevant to significant problems in our society. Includes good advice for raising sexually healthy children and also to how we can drive changes to the media driven sexual 'education' of modern humanity. There is nothing puritanical in this approach, it is about encouraging healthy sexually aware humans who can develop quality relationships and recognize that actions have consequences. These tenets are not taught in media's portrayal of sexual relationships, whether commercially in ...more
Megan
May 05, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Megan by: Wicked Book Group; Jamie Cook
Shelves: bookgroup
I pretty much hated nearly everything about this book. I've been dreading writing this review because I hardly know where to start in my list of grievances. I do agree that there is a problem with our children's childhoods being sexualized, but I could have topped the examples that the authors used to suggest how bad it has gotten. Grand Theft Auto, for example is a lot worse now than it was 6 years ago.
This book seemed old and outdated--more than it's 6 years of age. The examples were dated and
...more
Jess
Jan 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, media
Unfortunately, due to a massive headache, I can't give a great review on this. The book seems torn between being a slutshamey, alarmist, heteronormative mess, and an incredibly insightful review on the effect of media on young children, and how it follows through in their development. Jean Kilbourne's chapters standout with their media analysis. Kilbourne explores the detrimental effect of misogynistic and hypersexual media on children, examining possible effects on body image, self identity, se ...more
Jenna Mullen
Last night we had our book group on this book and we collectively agreed that it should have been half the length. The authors are too repetitive and use the same few examples over and over, which makes them lose some credibility. Even though it's only 6 year old, many of the examples are dated. There is also a lack of studies and research cited in the book. Another point brought up at our book group, is that women played with Barbies 45 years ago and also dressed them up and did fashion shows. ...more
Lanae3
Jan 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a VERY open discussion about the direction our culture is taking and the sexualization of our young people for commercial interests. It talks frankly about all media sources and the effect they're having on the lives of our youth and on children, ie, violence and lack of respect, objectifying women and girls, and making everything about appearance and sexiness - even for very young girls, while taking caring relationships out of the equation for sex. It was eye-opening and thought provo ...more
Nathan Schwartz
Uninteresting. Common sense suggestions for problems everyone has heard about and hopefully agrees with. This book was written in 2008, and I feel that in the last five years (I'm writing this review in 2013) the sexy pre-teen issue has gotten a little bit better. It’s still a problem, but I don’t see nearly as much of the slutty Halloween costumes for children as I used to, and the Bratz doll thing has faded quite a bit. The authors have some extremely sloppy and agenda-driven scholarship in th ...more
Shelley
Jan 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good information. Could have been written in about half the pages, or perhaps as an expanded article/series, as it just gives a very basic overview of the authors's research. Nonetheless, an important book for all parents. If you've taken gender psych at all, you may not find too many surprises in the book, BUT, that said, I was surprised at all the advice I can really use as a parent. Good.
Kris Patrick
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Price of Privilege reminded me that I read this book a couple summers ago. Good book about a topic that gets me fired up!
Jeanine
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Between the common sense points, these writers throw in way too many slut-shaming opinions. They weakly say sex is natural and good, but mostly allude otherwise. They throw in some cheap shots at porn, as in, for adults, in general, not in relation to children. That sounds like a whole separate topic and instead discredits their ideas. This book seemed outdated for the years it was written and definitely not on board with today's thoughts on teaching kids to respect, understand, and enjoy their ...more
Marianne Mullen
I did enjoy the book even though parts of it felt like it was repetitive and circuitous. I liked the "how to" section for making changes in society and in your own world but there weren't too many new ideas. I think it is a must-read for parents who don't know where to start or aren't very familiar with the concept of sexualization or objectification of women.
Stephen
For me, the filthiest show on television is Toddlers and Tiaras. Perhaps I'm old-fashioned: I'm generally repulsed by the stereotypical idea of 'sexiness' in western culture -- provocative clothes, made-up faces, and posed behavior. What attracts me to a woman is more an internal matter: I like character, strength, and self-respect. Perhaps I dislike the idea of sexiness because it's only about sex, missing the real substance of human relationships altogether. In any case, as objectionable as I ...more
Mary
Sep 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve wanted to read this book for the past few years so when I stumbled upon it at the library I grabbed it. It was an eye opening book full of facts as well as examples of behavior. At some points in the book it scared me as I have two daughters who are 8 & 9 years old.

The first few chapters are detailed in explaining the use of media to influence young children (later in the book older adolescence). In the later chapter outlines proactive things as parents that we can do. What I got from
...more
Julie
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My thinkgirl.net review:

Diane Levin, cofounder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and Jean Kilbourne, creator of the films Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women, have crafted an informative and advice-filled guide. The authors analyze media and consumer trends in a fascinating overview that spans the 1980s to present. They consider such events as the de-regulation of FCC children’s television guidelines and the recent popularity of Bratz dolls.

More importantly, Levin and
...more
Michelle Llewellyn
These Ph.D authors missed the point entirely. They had this chance to write a valuable educating tool about the mixed signals sent to children as young as five and the first thing they do in the introduction is reassure the parents, "We're not going to blame you for the fact your innocent five year old girl wants to grow up to be a hooker."
They push safe sex education messages, spurn abstinance-only education, encourage parents to talk to their kids about sex (I'm sorry but a six year old boy
...more
Andrea
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
Since becoming a step-mom to two young girls, the overwhelming gender-divide and sexualization of childhood has astonished me. My husband saw it too.

Little girls on the playground in high-heeled boots and platform sandals. Fiddling with uncomfortable spaghetti and haltar straps. Everyone wearing party-dresses that they trip over when trying to play - the primary task of childhood.

The stories in the book are all very similar to stories we have -- and we are "strict" parents who don't have cable,
...more
Emi Bevacqua
I rate this right up there with Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher and Consuming Kids by Susan Linn. I didn't get much out of the first half of this book, as it was entirely preaching to the choir. But eventually I did learn a couple new terms, and I appreciate the corresponding advice:

To combat Compassion Deficit Disorder parents should model positive affection and caring relationships, lending of a helping hand, and point out positive news stories about the generosity and compassion of others.

F
...more
Shae
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating, informative, and ultimately empowering. This quote is the basic thesis or premise from which this book begins:

"When sex in the media is talked about, it is often criticized from a puritanical perspective -- there's too much of it, it's too blatant, it will encourage kids to be promiscuous. But sex in commercial culture has far more to do with trivializing and objectifying sex than with promoting it, more to do with consuming than with connecting. The problem is not that sex as portr
...more
Bethany
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it's almost scary to read this book at 26 when you're about to give birth to a little girl. The examples of the permeation of the media in young girls' lives are all too familiar in your recent past. And it makes you realize that it has only gotten worse, much worse. I like that this book doesn't expect you to raise your children in a bubble/vacuum, and they provide you with healthy ways to talk about sexuality with your children. I had a lot of issues with sex in my teens/early twenties and I f ...more
Anne
Mar 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
I heard Diane Levin speak at a local AEYC meeting. She was GREAT! And th book gave me food for thought in my life as an early childhood teacher and good advice as the parent of twin teenagers. A must read for parents who care about the effects of media on their children...male or female. The notion of "compassion deficit disorder" due to more time with screens than people and "problem solving deficit disorder" due to too much time with toys that can only beused in a prescribed manner really reso ...more
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General discussion starter 1 29 Jan 30, 2009 07:09PM  

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Jean Kilbourne is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work on the image of women in advertising and for her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising. In the late 1960s she began her exploration of the connection between advertising and several public health issues, including violence against women, eating disorders, and addiction, and launched a movement to promote media l ...more
“Children as young as four learning to gyrate to songs in ways that might have stunned grown-ups a few decades ago. Elementary school children looking at pornography on the Internet and using words such as “rape” and “blow job.” Young teens engaging in oral sex.

Parents, grandparents and teachers around the country and beyond tell us stories like these, and about how issues related to sex and sexuality come up in unexpected and even shocking ways with children, often at very young ages.”
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“Children growing up today are bombarded from a very early age with graphic messages about sex and sexiness in the media and popular culture.” 0 likes
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