when i mentioned how BC was freaked out when she saw the gun display in a walmart -- and that said display pissed me off far more than any sexy window display would, a parent on my favorite list, DCUM, mentioned how the book "Freakonomics" mentions that kids are more in danger of drowning in pools than they are of getting shot. That well may be, but regarding "Freakonomics" - yes, plenty of children drown in pools, and I sometimes wish my children had a little more of a healthy respect for the fact that a pool is a great place to play as long as certain safety precautions are in effect (such as a grownup must be watching you, etc.) But a pool in and of itself isn't something with a purpose to kill. There are no purposes for a gun other than to shoot at something - you don't make crafts with them, play with them, make hats, brooches, pteradactyls, etc. Yes, I know there are sports people out there who think that shooting at clay pigeons is a great activity. But, for the most part, anytime someone shoots at something, there is the opportunity there to actually kill or hurt something or someone -- certainly one careless miss at the clay pigeon shooting fest and you might bean someone in the eye or butt, perhaps. (And please, for the love of the Diety of your choice, I am NOT trying to incite an argument about whether it is your constitutional right to bear arms. THAT is a windmill I only tilt at in smaller forums ;-)
My daughter does not watch television news. We have shielded her, rightly or wrongly, from pretty much everything we think we can up to this point. Hurricane Katrina, which we felt she was old enough to understand, is something we have talked about at length, as we knew she would hear about now that she is at elementary school, and we thought could provide some very teachable and interesting discussions about people and economics and disasters. When my kids see a pool, however dangerous that pool is, they don't immediately tense up in horror. But when my daughter sees a gun (and I hope to G-d she never sees too many in real life), she knows it is something that can kill her. I'd certainly prefer this attitude than the attitude that unfortunately kills or maims many children each year when they accidentally come upon some unsecured firearm and start to play with it.
So, as you can gather, I am one of those people who is far more concerned about the violence kids see in their games, their TV shows, their lives. That being said, I think it is my job as a parent to moderate my kids' interactions with these and all other things, as much as I can. As they grow older, I will have fewer and fewer opportunities to monitor/moderate what my kids experience. By that time, I will have hopefully done some serious parenting and talked extensively about sex, drugs, violence, and, of course, rock and roll (for example, in my house, Celine Dion is considered a sign of the coming of the Apocalypse ;-) I don't believe my opinion should dictate what Victoria's Secret shows in their window. (I certainly can't tell WalMart not to sell guns, at least not in this political climate, and those have a greater chance of harming someone than does a thong, however painful the latter can be in practice.) As a consumer, I have the choice to avoid the store and not patronize the company if I don't like what they're doing. But hello, they are selling lingerie. There have always been mannequins dressed up in little teeny tiny nothings as long as I can remember (and I remember as a child in the late 1970s seeing the Frederick's of Hollywood store in the Ocean County Mall with a mannequin in some skimpy boa number. Mostly, it inspired giggles and a conversation with my mom.)
If nothing else, maybe this is a wakeup call for many of us to think carefully about our conversations with our children about sex and sexuality. I am very uncomfortable with some of the comments in newspapers made about the "sluttiness" of these mannequins, as if women shouldn't feel comfortable expressing their sexuality for fear of being branded as "bad" women. I'd be lying through my teeth if I said I was jumping up and down in anticipation about talking to my daughter about what some consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes; but if my girl decides to ask me about it, I am going to do my best to put things in context as I think appropriate. Obviously, we all have different ideas about what is appropriate about sex and sexuality and need to convey our ideals to our kids for their thinking pleasure. For my part, I want my daughter to see that the world is a big place full of diversity and wonder. And while I don't want her baring her middriff in elementary school at the moment, I want her to also know that one day, when she is a grownup, she can make choices about all that she wants to do -- and that there may be consequences for her choices, but that she needs to make the best choices for herself, the right choices that let her be true to her feelings, her community, and her world.