The Childhood Culture Wars

/The Childhood Culture Wars

Paradise Children: The Photography Of Alain Laboile

The children of Eden grow up in a pre-fall Paradise, wild like many tribal children. There is a science behind this - developmental psychology. Many modern Western children grow up with tightly controlled, highly managed lifestyles. There is a growing body of evidence to show that the lack of 'wild' play increases the chance of the child developing neuroses and insecurities. The French photographer Alain Laboile is noted for the photographs of his children engaged in wild play on their rural property. They capture a sense of joyful freedom and do a good job of capturing how the children of [...]

Graham Ovenden (2): Persecuting The Models

Persecute: harass, hound, pursue, pester, badger, distress, victimize, bully. It's an odd thing how those who claim to be acting in the best interests of child models end up being the very people who cause the harm. In this blog I have detailed a number of examples. When Hetty Johnston pursued the photographer Bill Henson she paid no attention to the harm it would cause the model. When former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described a photo as disgusting, the young model Olympia Nelson came out to defend her image. Then there are the highly articulate thoughts of Jessie Mann, daughter [...]

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 [...]

Gifted Kids: Alyssa Lock

I'm beginning to suspect that the more young girls succeed, the more conservatives complain about the sexualisation of girls. And here we have another young girl busting the barriers. Alyssa Lock is 12 and was the youngest surfer to compete in a professional event when she contested the recent trials of the Roxy Pro. It's a pity that in an article in the Australian, fellow competitor and four-time world champion, Lisa Andersen resorted to cliches.I didn't even start surfing until I was 15. You like seeing super-talented kids get some experience and there's no harm putting a few miles in, [...]

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, [...]

Gifted Kids: Brooke Raboutou

This one is a coincidence. In the last few days I've been fleshing out a character for my SciFi novel. Her first scene sees her doing a tough cross-country trial that includes rock climbing. She is a skilled athlete with a particular ability to climb - although she has genetically enhanced strength, speed and has deliberately halted puberty so she can maintain the perfect body for her chosen sports. So, even though she is in her early twenties she has the body of a child with the strength of an adult.Then this turns up on FB. It's a video of [...]

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 [...]

The History Of Nude Swimming In Schools

I came across this fascinating documentary about nude swimming in schools. I have been arguing that our modern aversion to images of the naked child is very recent. This documentary reveals that in many parts of America is was common for boys to swim naked up until the 60's and 70's. However, what I find even more fascinating is how quickly this piece of social history was forgotten. What this tells us is that people can choose to forget once common social customs when those customs have become sexualised, shameful or embarrassing - or deemed politically incorrect. The documentary is [...]

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 [...]