By Mary Bawden
Cuties, a new film on Netflix, features hypersexualized 10- and 11-year-old girls with dance themes that groom youngsters for objectification in childification porn. It also emphasizes racial stereotypes that connect people of color to sexual exploitation.
In 2019, Netflix developed the original teen series Sex Education that featured nudity and numerous explicit sex scenes. And its original animated comedy series Big Mouth followed a group of seventh graders who engaged in masturbation and carried “hormone monsters” on their shoulders. If Netflix is concerned about children and is aware of research outcomes (have they asked national experts to review materials that are questionable prior to release?), why did they develop these shows?
Cuties describes itself as an empowering story of a young girl (Amy) who defies her “conservative family’s traditions” and joins a “dancing group.” It features explicit and erotic dance moves, such as twerking and gyrating accompanied by numerous, inappropriate views of little girls’ bodies. One scene shows Amy taking a picture of her crotch to send to her friends. In another scene, her pants are pulled down. The director, Maïmouna Doucouré, says that the film is a commentary on the negative effects of hypersexualization. That doesn’t align with a protective mindset for children. If you have a genuine concern about the hypersexualization of girls in adult costumes, choreography and music, why do you put children of 10 and 11 in a film that does to them what you say you are concerned about?
What are we accepting?
Cuties is another example of normalizing adult content for children. We see children as mini-adults effectively blurring the lines between childhood and adulthood. Behind the cultural media invasion (of child exposure to adult topics) is the powerful porn industry. For children, porn exposure introduces and then divorces sex from personhood (humanity). It parades children as objects instead of embodied human beings with a dignity that integrates mind, body, and spirit. For developing boys and girls, the negative evidence-based outcomes of this kind of exposure are horrific: feelings of shame, appearance anxiety, eating disorders, low self-esteem, depression and anxiety, harmful beliefs about consent, relational dysfunction, and many others.
Cuties is soft-core porn. As adults, our culture has to decide what is most important: valuing & protecting children or making money at any cost.
Dance educator and author Mary Bawden received a BA in modern dance from UC Riverside, a MA from Hope University in Fullerton, California, and a California secondary teaching credential. In 2016, after leading a dance ministry at Trinity E Free Church in Redlands, California, for more than 20 years, she released a book on faith-based dance titled Dance is Prayer in Motion. For several years, Bawden has noticed that the culture around children’s dance has moved toward an unhealthy, harmful trend – the hypersexualization of children under 12 in adult costumes, choreography, and music. That focus translates into a desire to provide & advocate for healthy, age-appropriate, evidence-based materials to protect children and preserve the art of dance. That has led her to found DA:NCE (Dance Awareness: No Child Exploited).