Today in Rape Culture

[Trigger warning for sexual violence; rape culture tropes.]

So, I'm reading this article in a garbage magazine that we'll just call Schmeople about the garbage television show Toddlers & Tiaras, which documents the culture of child beauty pageants. It is a show I watched exactly once, barfed nine thousand times, and refused to ever watch again, but is nonetheless perpetually at the edge of my attention, because I frequently see stories written about its vast and varied "controversial" content in my daily news-reading.

Anyway! In this article about the show, I come across this doozy of a passage (among many) in regard to the sexualization of the contestants:
Several parents also concede that concerns about sexual predators at the pageants are ever-present, but pageant insiders insist that security is always a priority, and guests are generally limited to friends and family of the contestants.

On the one hand, yikes that the issue of child predation is so inextricably linked to these pageants, and the (erroneous) idea that sexualization of children disproportionately attracts pedophiles so pervasive, that it obscures all serious discussion about how the sexualization of these little girls is problematic for reasons other than potential sexual violence.

On the other hand, yikes is that a fundamental misunderstanding of potential sexual violence. "It's fine, because we generally only let in friends and family!" Okay, but here's another way of saying the same thing: "It's fine, because we generally only let in the people by whom children are most likely to be molested."

That is not to say that most family and friends of pageant kids, or any other kids, are likely to molest them. It is only to note that children, like adults, are exponentially more likely to be molested by a friend or family member than they are by a stranger.

So saying, "We only let in friends and family," as if that's some kind of safeguard against sexual violence, is ignorant at best.

It's one of those rape culture tropes, like "Christian axiomatically = good," which we need to challenge every time we see it, because, as I've noted before, abiding and indulging false notions about what inoculates children (and adults) against sexual violence has the inevitable effect of giving communities an excuse for not being vigilant about the things that actually support endemic sexual violence.

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