The Childhood Culture Wars

/The Childhood Culture Wars

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 [...]

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 [...]

Revisiting My Little Princess, A Film By Eva Ionesco

After discussing Maladolescenza starring Eva Ionesco, I thought it was important I revisit her recent film, My Little Princess. After a closer look I now think this film makes a critically important contribution to the debate around the sexualisation of children. This is because it is a semi-autobiographical account by the one person who pushed the boundaries much, much further than anyone else. Not only did she pose nude for her mother, photographer Irina Ionesco, she notoriously appeared in Italian Playboy at age 11 photographed by French glamour photographer Jacques Bourboulon. He posed her as he would an adult model. [...]

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 [...]

The Moral Politics Of Child Pornography

I have already discussed the issue of sexual grooming after having read Child Pornography and Sexual Grooming by Suzanne Ost. Now to approach the difficult topic of child pornography. Why difficult? After all, shouldn't we be able to have a rational discussion about such an important issue? Well, as I will argue, the reason it is made difficult is precisely to discourage a rational discussion. This is part of the politics of this issue. As Ost reveals in her book, the issue of child pornography has been largely decided under the pressure of moral panic. As a result the debate [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

The Marina Experiment

A reader informed me of The Marina Experiment. I'm glad he did because the publicity around the project raises some important issues around interpretation, as does the experiment itself. The Marina Experiment is self-explanatory, or ought to be. But that's the problem. Despite the director Marina Lutz speaking very clearly and articulately about her reasons for making her documentary, it seems some people are intent on misreading the film, including people who we trust should know better. Marina Lutz, centre The problem lies with film's ability to manipulate, an ability used every day in advertising to try and [...]