Yesterday a Wellington man was shopping in Toyworld with his seven year old daughter. Beside the Lego backpack was a 'Deluxe Play Bunny Kit'. Nope, not a cute fluffy bunny, but a sexy-lady-Playboy-bunny-like bunny.
The first thing that struck me about this was the number of people that would have seen this costume before anyone thought to point out its inappropriateness in a children's toy shop. This costume would have arrived at this store, it was unpacked by someone, entered into their database, taken by someone to the shop floor, a space for it cleared among the other toys, then numerous staff and customers would have passed it throughout the following days, and NO ONE thought to question the appropriateness of it until yesterday?
I think that to a certain extent we are so steeped in a culture where sexualised stuff for kids is not seen as strange, that people have become somewhat blind to it.
Toyworld has claimed that stocking the costume was an error – and no one is debating that: sexy costumes in a kids toy shop can only ever be a huge error. However, I think it is a good opportunity for us to consider the mainstreaming of pornography. Playboy sell a huge range of products in New Zealand (for example, the Warehouse stocks 40 Playboy branded products). In this product diversification, what can easily be forgotten is Playboy's core business: pornography that exploits and objectifies women. Let's do all we can to ensure that our children don't have the opportunity to develop brand loyalty to such companies.
Toyworld have apologized "to anyone who was offended", and I was asked to comment on Radio New Zealand National this afternoon about the incident. If you would like to listen scroll through to 18:30:
NB: I am not anti-porn or anti-sex: I am anti-exploitation, and I am anti-the-sexualisation-of-children.
Rachel is a writer and educator whose fields of interest include sexuality education, gender, feminism and youth development.