A friend sent me a voice recording the other day. It was a voice recording because, she said, writing it down would lose the immediacy of the experience. What had happened was this: three children had come down the street outside her home. A girl of about 14 was explaining to a boy – who appeared to be about 13 – what “pansexual” meant. A younger girl, perhaps nine years old, followed them. Trying to get into the conversation, she loudly announced: “I am bi! Bi, bi, bi, bi, bi!” My friend was horrified.
The conversation was startling as a demonstration of child sexualization. There has been a lot of discussion about child sexualization over the last 20 years. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines sexualization as “occurring when a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behaviour, to the exclusion of other characteristics.” This conversation, in which the younger child’s “in” to the older children’s society was the announcement of a sexual identity that implied behaviour, appears to be a prima facie case.