As you all know, I have been a little M.I.A lately when it comes to the internet. Getting behind on your internet-ing can be a daunting experience; for one thing the internet is always changing. You miss one day on Reddit and a new meme has already been created, adored and finally abandoned, all without you experiencing it. Likewise, by having access to every news site on the planet, big stories hit the web with another just a few hours behind. Even now I have no idea what has really been happening in the world, are we at war again? What’s North Korea up to? Is there a new drinks based diet I should be consuming? What’s this I hear about a man with ten stone testicles?
In an effort to play catch up with the World Wide Web, I have been surfing around for some of the best treats I missed during my absence. This little laptop journey of mine eventually led me to this amazing story:
Just let that article fester in your minds for a moment. A woman dressed in a VAGINA COSTUME has to stop a man from beating up a man dressed in a PENIS COSTUME. It almost reads like a scene out of a Wes Anderson film.
Aside from the obviously comic value of this story, there is something else that caught my eye in this piece. The two genitalia dressed people were out advertising a piece of theatre and the whole debacle with the aggressor started over the perceived idea that their outfits were inappropriate for children to see.
Now there is a multitude of things that are inappropriate for children to see. Sex is right at the top and what’s in Hugh Grant’s recycle bin is a close second, but a lady wearing some styrofoam with some fake fur on it so that when you stand at a distance and squint your eyes she almost looks like a vagina (providing, of course, someone is holding a picture of a vagina next to her and you have another person walk up to you and say ‘she’s dressed as a vagina’) is not one of them.
People seem to have this idea in their heads that children are ignorant little balls of sunshine and innocence. But let me tell you something, children know what’s up. Now granted, they don’t know everything that’s up. They don’t know what a tax bracket is or the implications of a missile strike in the Middle East, but they know what’s between their legs.
However, what children don’t know is how to sexualise things, that stuff they learn in their teens when they ‘accidentally’ open their older brother’s porn folder. What we understand as the ‘sex’ function in certain behaviour and objects is like a mystery box to a child. They know it’s there, but they don’t know what’s inside or fully understand the ramifications.
Sex is a feeling but it is not knowledge to a child. If a child were to see something sexual they might experience a feeling of discomfort or (heaven forbid) curiosity. They might instinctively feel that it is something out of the norm, something forbidden that they shouldn’t be watching and maybe that’s scary or maybe it isn’t.
Of course, I should point out that I’m no child physiologist and these opinions are all based on my experiences as a youngling. I don’t remember everything from when I was a kid, but I think I was aware of sex in these terms. I knew it was out there, I knew I wasn’t meant to know what exactly it was at that age and things related it made me feel uncomfortable when they popped up suddenly.
The things that made me feel weird as a child to see were things like sex scenes in films or those smutty magazines in shops. Those things, now that I look back made me feel uneasy because they were inappropriate. They were sexual because they cognitive of sexual acts; the act of doing sex.
However, if my eight year old self had stumbled onto a man dressed as a penis or a woman dressed as a vagina I would have thought nothing of it. I would have laughed, but I wouldn’t have got that squirmy ‘this is not for your eyes’ feeling. Those are just body parts, why should anyone feel ashamed of something they themselves have at any age?
Children get naked all the time and they don’t do it to be sexual deviants, they do it because it’s their body and they know more than adults do that you make your body means what you want it to mean.
It’s my belief, that knowing the difference between what’s sexual and what just happens to be part of sex is something that our society lacks. A naked body posed in Nuts magazine is sexual; a naked body shown in sex ed class is not sexual.
Kids might not know what’s up all of the time, but we as adults should.