Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Baby Strippers


Well, not quite babies, but it's getting closer to happening. In July it was reported that 16 year olds in Rhode Island can be strippers. In strip clubs. With adult men ogling their naughty bits.

Now, there are some caveats here:
  1. The minors must be done stripping by 11:30pm
  2. The minors cannot appear in any adult entertainment such as pornography.
  3. The minors cannot even purchase any adult entertainment such as pornography.
  4. The minors cannot be the bartenders in the strip clubs that they're walking around naked in, and yes, they can appear naked - or as close as the respective club allows.
There are a few things that any reasonable person would most likely feel as a visceral, initial reaction to this news. First and foremost is that these are children and it is disgusting to think they're being lusted after by all kinds of patrons. Secondly, you're probably wondering what the hell these parents are thinking, allowing their children to lick their legs around a stripper pole. And then the rest of your thoughts are probably some combination or derivative of the above and their connotations.

This is my field. My senior thesis for my Bachelor's degree was over juvenile sexuality and delinquency. This is exactly the area in which I got a degree for. And...I'm not so sure I have a problem with this law. Now, before you throw your mouse at the screen or click away to read The Onion, I'd like to explain my point.

The average age for children to begin having consensual sex is 9, as of recent data. 2003 statistics from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy showed that 9% of children are engaging in sexual activity by age 14, and these same data indicated children starting to become sexually active as early as age 11. Also, over a quarter – 27% – of children in the age bracket of 12-14 that have admitted to having had a sexual relationship with someone also admitted to having multiple sexual partners within the last 18 months. This seems to be a natural progression of the society we're raising our children in. Now, do I agree that early childhood sexualization is the absolute best thing for our juveniles? Absolutely not.

However, I think it should be noted that these young men and women, at the edge of adolescence, will be legally allowed to have sex with a banana for money in porn if they so choose in 2 years. The difference in young men and women engaging in these acts 2 years later and at the age of 16 is that at 16 their parents must sign off on a work permit. Meaning, these parents must be involved in watching over the care, safety, security, and overall welfare of their children. Let's face it, many of these individuals are going to be strippers in 2 years with or without their parent's consent. Doing so subversively can quickly lead to familial alienation, the assumption of harmful labels, and these behaviors strongly correlate with later criminality and drug abuse.

Perhaps, just perhaps, if some of these parents treat their children's decision - which they're legally allowed to make - with respect and healthy oversight, they can teach their children to navigate through this murky world of very adult potholes before they go off on their own. Perhaps they'll teach their children respect for themselves and their bodies, and teach them how to spot a liar, a con-man, a dangerous person who might harm them. Maybe they'll show them how to properly save and invest all of that money they're getting. And maybe, just maybe, if they treat them like adults and don't throw them out on the street for their choices, they can even get their kids to set a timeline for this particular job field, setting up an endgame. Say, the kid will do this for 3 years, 5 years, whatever, and then move on to a more mundane career with a much more solid financial foundation.

Do I think my 16 year old daughter or son should choose stripping for their first job? Absolutely not. Do I think other people's children should? No. However, do I feel that we should not give our children ultimatums about this career choice? Hell yes. We shouldn't throw them out or make them feel like shit because this is what they've chosen to do. And we should most definitely guide them through this so they can come out as unscathed as possible.

What do you think about teenage strippers? What do you think about early childhood sexuality/sexualization in general? I'd like to know.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

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