Suzanne Ost

/Tag:Suzanne Ost

Moral Panic And The Vilification Of Graham Ovenden

I hadn't planned to write about the recent court case involving Graham Ovenden but as more and more was revealed I realised that it was essential to much that I have written on this blog. First let me fully acknowledge that much of the information has been more than adequately covered at Artist on Trial and at Graham Ovenden: Fall from Grace? What I intend to do is place these events in the context of two of the themes of this blog; the childhood culture wars and the naked child in art. In particular I want to make reference to [...]

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 [...]

Child Pornography: The Contradictions (2)

It goes without saying that art reflects the culture and time in which it was made. It can therefore be an invaluable tool to the historian. In relation to the theme of the childhood culture wars, art provides us with a pictorial representation of childhood through the ages. It also tells us something regarding attitudes toward child and adolescent sexuality. Bartolmeo Veneziano, the adolescent Lucrezia Borgia, who was first married at age 13 The problem with the current debate over the sexualisation of children is that it lacks historical depth and cultural breadth. It is often a demand [...]

Defining Child Pornography: Real And Imagined Harm

In an earlier entry on this subject I said that child pornography was evidence of a crime against a child; documentary evidence  of child abuse. For this reason the authorities that prosecute this crime now call such evidence child abuse material. And despite the moral panic around this area, the police have been very effective in tracking down the victims, the perpetrators and those who enable this crime by trading in these images. To be even more effective the police need more resources. They do not need distractions. Yet, this is precisely what the moral conservatives demand: placing more resources [...]

Defining Child Pornography

The problem with the term child pornography is that it is poorly defined and too easily misused. Because of a natural desire to protect children, the accusation of child pornography has considerable emotive impact. The problem is that moral conservatives easily resort to accusations of child pornography to censor images that are clearly not either of children or pornographic. Over the last few decades these accusations have been used to create a climate of fear and doubt. In 1968 Italian director Franco Zeffirelli made an award winning film of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In the play Juliet is 13 and [...]

Using The Fear Of Child Pornography To Control Adolescent Sexuality

In her book Child Pornography and Sexual Grooming Suzanne Ost points out that the effect of legislation passed under pressure from moral panic has been to attack the sexual rights of older adolescents and even to criminalise behaviour that was once legal. This has been achieved by a number of laws and provisions that has increased the definition of a child to anyone 18 or under, even when the age of consent in most countries is 15/16 (as a median, the range is 12-21). This means that in most jurisdictions the rights of adolescents who have reached the age of [...]

Internet Grooming And Unintended Moral Hazard

The problem with all moral debates is that they are usually generated by moral panic. In her book 'Child Pornography and Sexual Grooming' Suzanne Ost argues that policy on these issues had largely been driven by moral panic which exaggerates the extent of the problem and often demands a quick, simplistic solution. The media cynically whips up the panic to satisfy the public's prurient interest and sell newspapers and politicians act simply to appease public perceptions. Ost argues that this creates the moral hazard of bad policy and she cites the moral panic over internet grooming as a prime example. [...]

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 [...]