no no no

My sister Anna and her husband Jacob have four young children, all daughters whom they are trying to raise to value their own dignity and face the world with self-esteem and confidence.

This, they have discovered, is becoming a full time job, since today’s culture seems bent on actively hindering their efforts at cultivating these virtues in their girls.

If that sounds like a sensationalist spin on the challenges of parenting today, consider this example. While driving her eldest daughter Lucia home from her first piano lesson one afternoon, Anna stops at a red light on a busy intersection in Melbourne.

As the car stands stationary, Anna notices Lucia quietly observing something outside her window. Following her gaze Anna sees, to her utter dismay, a large advertisement on the corner building depicting a pornographic scene in which two women, clad in nothing but scanty black lingerie, are sexually positioned. I personally think Anna would have been justified in running the red.

Lucia is nine years old, the age I remember enjoying reading classics like Seven Little Australians and watching films like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  Being a member of Generation Y, however, I have been more exposed to pornography than previous generations were. But it’s a trend which has proven degenerative, with today’s standards reaching a new low.

The very concept of homosexuality was a closed book for me until I was in my early teens, something I don’t think was unusual for people my age. But even as a teenager I found it confronting and lesbianism was especially upsetting.

Nor was I ever exposed to such blatant homoerotic imagery as my niece witnessed until, well, to be honest, until I saw the advertisement myself. Having seen it, I can fathom at least a fraction of the intense anger and feeling of betrayal Anna must have felt in the moment she saw her daughter observing it.

Apparently, this image was erected legally; it is not violating any law nor is it considered to impinge upon anybody’s rights. Very possibly it has been articulated somewhere that it is within the advertising firm’s rights to practise freedom of expression to this degree, and to question that would be violating their ‘rights’.

I don’t know about these types of rights. I’m of the school, and I suspect that most people are, that believes exposing children to such images can only harm their self-image and sow a false idea of ‘what it is to be a woman’. This is damaging not only to children, but to the whole of society in which those children may one day play significant leadership roles. And if my objections imply abuse of someone’s rights, then the very concept of Human Rights is being horribly abused.

What to do?

I could bemoan the failed program of feminism but that is to embark on a stale topic that many of us are fed up with. So my sister and I decided to call upon the conscience of the very many people who we think aspire to a better standard for our society. We decided to set up a petition on change.org to have this advertisement removed.

This is not an isolated incident but an indication of the permissiveness of our culture, a virtue championed only by secularist fundamentalists. More than that, permissiveness breeds apathy towards the task of nurturing a future generation with strong characters and moral integrity. This endeavour is often rejected as fostering intolerance and small-mindedness, but that too, I consider unapologetically as blatant idiocy, and the scapegoat through which one may shirk this duty.

Good moral values and virtues can take many years to establish in a person. Exposing children to the type of visual message in question here is like euthanizing their purity of imagination and innocence of childhood. Discernment is not something with which someone is born. And the onus to protect young people from visual pollution is not only on parents, but on us all.

Up until this point, Anna and I have often enough spent our energies enumerating all the problems of the modern world. That’s easy enough to do. But so too is signing a petition online. I invite you to do so right now, at Change.org

Veronika Winkels has just completed her BA and intends to continue studies in Science and Religion. Recently married, she and her husband have aspirations towards working in New Media and Australian Film.

Veronika Winkels

Veronika Winkels writes from Melbourne. She is the mother of three young children.