The Childhood Culture Wars

/The Childhood Culture Wars

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 Theology Of The Child And Adulthood

I think it's important to note that the theology of the child also makes a statement about the nature of adulthood. Rooted in the Puritan work ethic, the myth of childhood innocence necessarily includes a corresponding myth of adult 'responsibility'. If childhood is a time of play, then adulthood is serious and businesslike. In this world adults must work hard and deny themselves both play and pleasure. In fact we could propose a relationship: the more adults feel pressured by all the demands placed on them, the more they insist on childhood innocence. Interestingly, the most overworked and stressed people [...]

Groupies And Predatory Adolescents

In the past I've written extensively about 'rock chicks' because they transgress several boundaries. Just recently a friend sent me a link to a Huffington Post blog written by a former groupie from Australia, Nikki McWatters, provocatively titled Predatory Teenage Girls. Unsurprisingly she came in for the usual, cliched criticism that she was endorsing paedophilia and teenage rape. Bizarre. What she was doing was talking about an inconvenient truth, namely that adolescent girls develop crushes on older men and sometimes actively pursue a relationship. In certain circles this is taboo. The politically correct line is that until they reach an [...]

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 [...]

Fanny Hill: An Interlude

Here's the connection - Edouard-Henri Avril did some illustrations for an edition of Fanny Hill. I haven't read the book, although I am well aware of its notoriety. However, I have seen the BBC production, starring the 22 year-old Rebecca Night. That the BBC was able to produce a TV version of this controversial erotic novel indicates that times change. It was cleared for publication in the US in 1964, then in England in 1970. But despite this, the BBC chose to avoid Fanny's real age, because she was only 15 when she first entered prostitution. She is initiated by [...]

Defining Child Pornography: The Contradictions

There is no agreement as to what constitutes child pornography. The reality is that various jurisdictions pursue often arbitrary campaigns based on the level of local moral panic. In most cases this amounts to the persecution of innocent parents and legitimate artists. The purpose of this persecution is to satisfy the irrational howls of the mob who desire a scapegoat. If they can't get their hands on a genuine child abuser, they target anyone they don't understand. All of this is a distraction from the real problem. In America there have been several cases where local police and prosecutors have [...]

The Naked Child As Model: Shauna

Where I can I try to provide the words of children who have experienced modelling nude. According to the moral conservatives the only possible reaction is shame, yet I have provided a number of examples where the response has been pride. Here are the words of Shauna, written some years after the photo was taken. It was part of The Century Project by photographer Frank Cordelle. Like any work containing images of naked children it was controversial, yet, for the most part, it was well received. I especially like her concluding words: The image looks like a protective position where [...]

Inquiry Into The Education Of Gifted And Talented Students

I was pleased to see the Victorian government publish the Inquiry into the education of gifted and talented student . It is long overdue. The people who have followed this blog since its inception will know that I am interested in the education of gifted and talented children and occasionally I will do a post on these children. Behind everything I do on this blog is a complaint that conservatives deliberately hold back children as a form of control. The childhood culture wars are ultimately about creating children in the conservative image. Gifted and talented children are a problem because [...]

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 [...]