Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tesco? hmpf

I was shocked to read in this week's Scottish Socialist Voice about Tesco's selling pole dancing equipment as toys.

"Kids can now enjoy raunch culture too thanks to Tesco, the supermarket behemoth intent on cornering the market in absolutely everything, including infant sexuality. Yes, your pre-pubescent child can now get into pole dancing, once the reserve of sexually abused Las Vegas showgirls, thanks to the Pole Dance Kit! At ‘only’ £49.97, the kit comes complete with extendable chrome pole, a ‘sexy’ dance garter, ‘Peekaboo’ dance dollars and a DVD demonstrating how to move like an exploited sex worker bored out of her mind in a tatty, seedy lap dancing club.

"...laughably [Tesco] insist that the kit is not sexually oriented. Which renders it quite a mystery as to why the product description invites users to “unleash the sex kitten inside”... The sexualisation of young children is big business. Never mind that it can cause emotional distress, body image disorders and premature, unwanted sexual experience; it’s profitable! Next have been at it too, with their ‘So many boys, so little time’ T-shirts... for six year olds. As have Asda, pushing padded bras at...nine year olds."

Tesco have now removed the product from their shelves but it did get me thinking about the sexualisation of childhood. Obviously kids are bombarded with the same images as everyone else and I think they are not immune from the general expectations of being worthless if you're not having sex and all of that - messages we could agree are intended for adults but recieved by everyone.

But more than that, what interests me is the version of sexuality that's being promoted here. Sexist, vapid, visually orientated and therefore voyeuristic - yes, yes, that's all fine but the idea of sexuality as a pre-packaged product, a commodity to be bought and sold... I don't like.

Marx (is this his first mention on this blog? Could be...) talked about commodity fetishism - where human relationships are turned into distinct parcels of definable, gradable, unitary objects. The technical term for this would be reification. All that is intangible becomes solid. All that is fluid turned into concrete.

It's easier to understand concepts like "sex kitten", "frigid", or "porn star" than it is to understand complex social relationships that may shift and turn under your feet, even as you step into them. That's why they are the marketting man's tools of the trade and why they should be the left's anathema.


Anonymous said...

What makes the SSP morons assume that all strippers have been 'sexually abused'? Are those people truly for real? In my view a pole dancing doll is no worse than a Barbie (point being that Barbie portrays a sexist stereotype too).

Jim Jay said...

Liz, you're a sectarian moron who can't read - fuck off.

Anonymous said...

I read what they said about 'sexually abused' showgirls - it was quite clear.

As for my alleged 'sectarianism' I am not a member of any group - but I have my reasons for finding the SSP line on sex workers offensive.

I simply didn't have time to comment on your other remarks about commodity fetishism etc, although I'm inclined to agree with you on the sexualisation of children. But if that's your attitude and you can only resort to name calling and curses when somebody insults the party you aren't even a member of then so be it. Doesn't make your intellect look so good either.

Anonymous said...

Oops - I did think it was a doll as I'm sure I saw a doll of that kind spoken of elsewhere. Perhaps now you can apologise for your nasty put down - so it's not a doll, right.

Anonymous said...

"Sexist, vapid, visually orientated and therefore voyeuristic - yes, yes, that's all fine but the idea of sexuality as a pre-packaged product, a commodity to be bought and sold... I don't like."

I linked to this post on my own blog in relation to the said item so if you'd like to continue this discussion in a civil way there you can.

I do have a question for you though about the sentence I quote above - do you therefore oppose the selling of any sexual toys or aids (even if they are not sold to children?). I see nothing wrong in itself of a pole being sold to adults in an Ann Summers shop, or any other sexual items for that matter.

I see what you are getting at about sexuality being packaged and commodified but I think that is the case with everything in a capitalist society. You can't expect sex to escape this - the market knows it sells.