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The real tragedy of ‘Cuties’

By Nathan Rice

Netflix caused a commotion a few weeks ago when they released a movie called “Cuties.” Netflix touts the film as a coming-of-age drama, but many criticize the movie for sexualizing young girls. The film features 11-year-old girls in a “free-spirited dance crew.” The dances the children learn to perform are highly suggestive and sexual. The film is so raunchy that it caused a viral campaign calling on people to cancel their Netflix subscriptions and several legislators questioning if the film should even be legal.

We should be disgusted at this movie, but its release on Netflix should not have come as a surprise. America has been allowing, accepting and promoting the sexualization of children, especially of girls, for quite some time. This movie, like films often tend to do, has simply brought to light a part of our culture.

The dances the girls perform in the movie are suggestive at times and blatantly sexual during some routines. It’s sad that we would allow this to stream into our homes, but what’s worse is that many parents allow their children to mimic sexual acts in the name of performance art. Children too young to understand the nature of the movements are called cute, and those who know what they are imitating are said to be “so grown.”

The movie places the girls in inappropriate outfits, but it’s not a stretch from what some children wear in real life. Young girls are often allowed to wear suggestive or revealing clothing for a night out with friends, on a date, or for a special event at school. Outfits once donned only by bar-hopping adults or those going to nightclubs are now made in children’s sizes, and this should cause us more concern than a movie.

There are many reasons the sexualization of our children, especially our girls, has grown so much in the past decade.

For one thing, we have allowed our children to date at an earlier and earlier age. The days of school crushes are almost gone as many parents now allow and encourage their children to enter into a full-fledged relationship before they even reach high school. This leads to children often feeling more mature than they are, and they try to dress and act like the adults they see in relationships. Some children fully understand what they are copying, while others don’t quite understand what they are imitating, and I’m not sure what is worse.

Secondly, we inundate our children with sexualized images, movies, TV shows and songs from a very early age. Things that we once hid from children to allow them a childhood are now broadcasted to them on a nearly consistent basis.

The release of this film saddens me, but perhaps it will force America to take a long look at what we are doing to the children in our country. The problem isn’t a movie. The problem, and the real tragedy, is what we’ve done to our kids.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.