I saw this picture online and thought "yes, it is creepy if you reverse the image":
And this morning it slammed into me why this image is ok but the reverse is not. It's because women are perceived as docile in our society. This isn't a picture of abuse or creepiness because the little boy is dominant....even as a little boy. This isn't about three half-naked women sexualizing a boy, it's about how even as a boy this little man can dominate the women. They are paying attention to him talk, they are waiting for him to impart wisdom. Or whatever, but the women are waiting for the boy to decide what to do. Even though he hasn't hit puberty yet he is still the one in control in the photo. It isn't about what three women will do with a little boy, it's about what the little boy can do with the three women...if he chooses to.
Now if we reverse the image and have a little girl surrounded by three half-naked sexy men it becomes abuse. Why? Because girls are docile. They wait for the man to tell them what to do. So in the above photo the boy is the leader of three women. In the reverse it is about how each man will take his turn with the girl. It's 2015! How can this still be a thing?!?
And I know, women have made great strides. We are dominant sometimes. We are leaders. We are strong and independent. We don't need a man around. But somehow women are still docile.
The reason it bothers me the most is because the TV shows I watch have strong female characters with complete backstories. In some cases, the men are the pretty things that exist simply to further the female character's development. So seeing an image like this reminds me that there will always be some people that would rather not have women be dominant. This includes some women perpetuating this idea as well as men. Sigh.