Ask anyone here in the States what they think of sexual slavery and they’ll most likely react with shock and pity and a little bit of denial. “It’s horrible, but I don’t want to think about it.” That’s pretty much my reaction; I think about it enough to be very sad and enough more to do what little I can to see that it goes away. Things like literacy, birth control, open borders, nutrition and respect for the individual go a long way toward turning the ship away from sexual slavery. Whenever I hear someone griping about “all the jobs going overseas” I find myself thinking that the jobs that go overseas take opportunity with them. That opportunity brings changes in the community that mean daughters no longer have to be sold into prostitution.
We abhor sexual slavery here in the West. Or at least we say we do.
Because when I hear about things like the Victoria Secret Bright Young Things line it occurs to me that we tut-tut over selling daughters into prostitution when it happens in India or Pakistan or Shanghai or Estonia. But when it happens here–when we trade our young girl’s innocence for commerce–it’s nothing more than Business As Usual.
Selling underwear to middle school-aged girls (10-13 last time I checked) with “Call Me” on the pubis is definitely not the same thing as chaining the same girl up in a cold, dirty trailer and forcing her full of heroin to keep her docile enough to service male customers three and four times her age. But it’s very nearly the same principle, as it asks a young girl to consider herself objectified into a being designed for sexual servitude and supplication.
Any money that a girl that young gets to buy those panties comes from her parents or the adults her parents allow her to babysit for. Or maybe it comes in a birthday card from Grandma.
The Limited Brands that operate Victoria’s Secret also operate Bath and Body Works, Henri Bendel and other stores I’ve never heard of. (I think I’m outside the demographic for “Pink”–whatever that is.)
On their webpage the Limited Brands Corporate strategy talks about
In order to mirror our associates’ and our customers’ values, Limited Brands supports community programs that focus on empowering women, nurturing and mentoring children and improving education.
Last time I looked, female empowerment meant more than marketing underwear to children with “Feeling Lucky” written on it. Nurturing children, to my way of thinking, does not include enticing them to mimic college students’ sexual behaviour.1
I guess this should be what I expect from a company that considers “beauty” and lovable bodies to have so narrow (literally and figuratively) a definition.
Women are reporting sexual dissatisfaction and dysfunction in ever-greater numbers, as the marketing campaigns for Victoria’s Secret and their ilk fail to live up to the reality of the variety of body types that self-identify as female. I blame part of that on the objectification of sexuality in children. In CHILDREN. And today I’m holding Victoria’s Secret partly responsible.