What is sexualisation? Is it a matter of opinion, or does it have a rational basis?

Mexx Children’s Clothing Ad – Equal To The Boys.

I want you to look at this image carefully. What do you see? What do you think? It's an ad for Mexx children's clothing, the jeans in particular, taken by photographer Beatrice Heydiri. Personally I think this image is great. Why? Because it does not sexualise the girls. The first thing I noticed was that the girls are dressed exactly like the boys. Same jeans, same hands in the pockets pose. In other words, the two girls have not been forced to conform to conservative gender stereotypes. No pink. No cutesy dresses. No sexual differentiation. Equal to the boys. Yes, [...]

Addendum To The 5 Myths

One of my objections to the current moral panic over the sexualization of children is that it lacks historical perspective. It is in the nature of moral panic to exaggerate the extent and urgency of the problem and to demand immediate action. However, when one goes back and studies the advertising of the past, especially the era prior to the sexual and feminist revolutions, we see very clear evidence of the sexualization of children, young girls in particular. I think it is important to note that during this pre-feminist era the ideal woman was seen as child-like and naive, in [...]

Five Myths Of The Sexualization Debate

1. Sexualized images of children encourage men to see children as sexually available. This is the big fear. The first issue here is the definition of a sexualized image. As I have argued, this is often highly subjective. A conservative Christian is likely to see certain images as problematic that others may not. However, even with images that most people would accept are deliberately sexual, such as child pornography, there is no clear evidence that viewing such images causes otherwise normal men to offend against children.  In 2009 Frank Urbaniok from the Canton of Zurich Department of Justice reported in [...]

Lady With An Ermine

My major complaint with the modern sexualisation debate is that it lacks historical and cultural depth. I am reminded of this constantly. As I was researching the story of young adolescent groupies I watched a documentary on a newly discovered Da Vinci on the ABC Da Vinci: The Lost Treasure. What caught my attention was the suggestion that Lady with an ermine is every bit the masterpiece that the Mona Lisa is. I must admit that I had never really looked at the Lady with an ermine. When I did the first thing I noticed was that she was very [...]

My Childhood In The 60’s And 70’s

I was born in 55, that means I was 13 in 68, the year Led Zeppelin released Whole Lotta Love. Of course I knew it was about sex. We all knew it was about sex, that he was mimicking the sounds of orgasm. That's why I find it so difficult to buy the argument that the sexualisation of children has somehow gotten worse. Are you kidding me? My adolescence was saturated with sexuality; in music, in the media and amongst my friends. If anything, times have become far more conservative in comparison. Yes, it is different today, but that [...]

The Child Pornography Debate And The Theology Of The Child

Fact was largely eschewed in favour of emotive supposition, the actual was ignored in favour of the potential and the remotely possible was selectively interpreted as imminently probable. (McCarthy and Moodie, as quoted in Suzanne Ost, Child Pornography and Sexual Grooming) The hysteria around the issue of child sexuality speaks of a deeper cause. When the authorities are having some success at smashing child pornography rings and the incidence of child sexual abuse is actually in decline, the panic over the sexualisation of children is about something more. I am clear that this is all about adult fears projected onto [...]

Daphnis And Chloe: Adolescent Female Sexuality And Male Beauty

This is a sort of interlude to my longer discussion about child pornography. I think it is an important digression that compares the classical approach to adolescent sexuality with the censorious Christian approach. The story of Daphnis and Chloe was reportedly written in the 2nd Century AD by Greek romancer Longus. The story takes place on the island of Lesbos, long associated with the poet Sappho. It tells the story of a young goatherder, Daphnis, and a young shepherdess, Chloe. As children they formed a close friendship and roamed the fields playing, but in this story they have entered puberty [...]

Grooming, Seduction And Teens Falling In Love

I'm currently reading Child Pornography and Sexual Grooming by Suzanne Ost, professor of law at Lancaster University. It's a serious book that examines the history of legislation and case law. Whilst I was initially encouraged by the blurb below, I now have serious reservations about Ost's analysis. There are some important factors she simply fails to address. ...exploring the critical tensions within legal and social discourses which must be tackled to discourage moral panic reactions towards child pornography and grooming, and advocating a new, more rational approach towards combating these forms of exploitation. Despite these reservations (which I will explain [...]

What Elle Fanning Did Next

I've been following the Fanning sisters for two reasons: I think they are both gifted actresses and because they have been criticised by moral conservatives for being 'sexualised'. Dakota raised their ire for appearing in a campaign for Oh Lola!. Now Elle has appeared in the campaign for Lolita Lempicka. But before I get to that I want to mention her new film Ginger and Rosa in which the 13 year-old Elle plays an older teenager of 17. Most reviews have praised her performance. The director, Sally Potter said of her. She has a quality, Elle, of transparency in her [...]

Pole Dancing Is Now Mainstream

A few weeks ago I examined the claim that pole dancing is associated with stripping and that this makes it inappropriate for girls. I argued that whilst strippers do indeed use pole dancing in their routines, it is also being used as a prop in more mainstream acrobatics and dance where it is appreciated as a specific skill. This means that it is inaccurate to continue to associate the pole with stripping. As further evidence that pole dancing has become mainstream lets look at the season 9 female winner of So You Think You Can Dance, a very popular and [...]