High streets need 'detox' from sexual imagery

Shadow health minister Diane Abbott believes sexualised imagery has become so prevalent on the high street that it is time for a "detox". 

Speaking to the Mumsnet website, the Hackney North MP said Britain's public spaces needed to be cleared of the "worst elements of unrestrained markets".

She criticised music videos and "very sexualised images of women that loom over our public spaces", as well as the "sexualised figures of women in films that are now commonplace".  

"I think it has reached a point where we need to detox our high streets and make Britain a family-friendly country again," she told the website.

"For me the key is putting parents back in control and also putting open-minded family values back in our public spaces."

She condemned the "very strange, disturbing and sad cultural development" of online bullying, including 'sexting' and 'slutshaming'.

A "porn version" of sexuality was being imposed on adults and children alike, with an especially damaging effect on girls, she warned.

"I think we have a culture now where sexuality, and women, have become commodified," she said.

"And one of the problems between this blurring between sex and the marketplace, and the pornification of British culture, is this myth of women's unconditional sexual availability and object status."

Ms Abbott said she was anxious to make a speech about the problem "to nail the lie that feminism is somehow the cause of the problem".

In addition to greater parental control, she called for a complete transformation of sex education.

"Most adults think that porn is just girls with naked breasts," she said.  "But actually the stuff children can access nowadays is ... hardcore.  And the average age of boys accessing pornography has dropped from eleven to eight."