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Object to Prostitot Culture? You’re Probably a Racist Prude

Posted on June 21 2010 10:00 pm
Jenn escaped blue state academia for redder pastures in the South. Follow her on Twitter and read more of her work at

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8- and 9-year-olds compete at a World of Dance competition

Decked out in flashy burlesque costumes, five dancers mouth sexually suggestive lyrics as they writhe and shimmy across the stage.   The audience hoots and hollers as they gyrate to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”

If you’ve seen the viral video then you already know: these YouTube sensations are just eight and nine years old.

The sight of a talented youth troupe thrusting their hips in shiny red hot pants prompted many commentators to condemn the parents and teachers involved.  But not everyone was on board.  In a Salon column last week, an infuriated Ada Calhoun ripped into critics for their “hysteria” and “moral panic” over the YouTube clip.  And the icing on her lily white cake of predictability?  If you criticize the video, you’re a racist.

But let’s start with Calhoun’s first beef with those of us who find the video disturbing. “Can we stop yelling at young women to put their clothes back on?” she asks.

These aren’t “young women.” They’re little girls who need to have their talent nurtured by responsible adults willing to set boundaries.  Instead, they’re being exploited by people catering to some Mohammedan fantasy.

No serious commentator yelled at the kids “to put their clothes back on.” The criticisms were directed at parents, choreographers, and anyone else who pretends that young talent can’t be nourished without rummaging through Dita von Teese’s wardrobe.

Calhoun’s next argument is that you should shut your hysterical neo-Victorian trap if all you can do is whine about kids today boppin’ to their doggone rock and roll records. “In every era, there are moral panics about girls; they all project the same tone of hysteria and the same cultural amnesia,” she writes.

Hysteria? This isn’t some town fight between the Squares and the Drapes or a moral panic about the “sinful gyrations” of Elvis Presley.  The outrage is that parents and teachers are coaching eight-year-olds to mimic sex acts for an audience of cheering adults.   In an era when thong panties come in tween sizes and condoms are handed out at school, there’s nothing prudish or panicky about encouraging kids to be kids.

But even that’s a problem for Calhoun who complains that “almost every article” included the line “Can’t we just let little girls be little girls?”  Is it really beyond the pale to suggest that parents shouldn’t rush their kids through childhood? Isn’t that Good Parenting 101?

Not in Calhoun’s eyes. She wrote an entire book on her parenting philosophy called Instinctive Parenting: Trusting Ourselves to Raise Good Kids. One Amazon reviewer called it “an entire book of excuses for being a bad parent.”

Now let’s return to Calhoun’s delightful charges of racism, quoted at length on the next page because laughter is good for the soul:

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