It’s a complete mystery to me how those demanding the removal of sexualised images of children from the media can justify reproducing those very images in their campaigns.
For example, on the website of Melinda Tankard Reist, Australian feminist Christian advocate for children and women, there’s a series of images reproduced from French Vogue depicting very young children wearing adult clothing, shoes and makeup. Some of them are suggestively posed in sexually suggestive environments.
The point of the post is to cause outrage in readers at these sexualised images of little girls. In order to do that, I suppose their argument goes, readers have to be able to see them.
But there’s something awry about this reasoning. You don’t want these images viewed, you think it’s wrong that they are readily available in the media, and yet you reproduce them on the Internet to make a point?
You disseminate these images yourself, while at the same time railing against their publication in other arenas?
What is going on here?
I wouldn’t like any little girls in our family to be in this Vogue photo shoot. Then again, I wouldn’t like the little girls in our family to be in any Vogue photo shoot, even if they were covered head to toe and clutching soft toys. I want our little girls to do what little girls enjoy doing, and not what adults enjoy little girls doing. From what I’ve heard about photo shoots, they’re no picnic.
My first thought on seeing these pictures was, what were their parents thinking? Surprisingly, nobody addresses this aspect on the MTR website. It’s all Vogue’s fault. Well, it certainly is Vogue’s fault, but some adult caretaker allowed these little girls to do this photo shoot. Some adult caretakers allowed their charges to be transformed into sexualised commodities by French Vogue. As long as parents are willing and eager to offer their children up, somebody will be willing and eager to provide them with the opportunity.
It comes down to the individual. It’s a very personal matter. It’s about morality on a very intimate level, and this is where it has to be addressed, as well as more broadly as a media responsibility.
Perhaps Tankard Reist could have set a personal example by declining to publish the children’s photos on her website?
It would have made her post less titillating, and readers would have had to go find the photos for themselves. But at least it would have been one less publication of those dreadfully sad pictures, and one less exploitation of those little girls.
Tankard Reist criticizes the media for sexualizing children. But what she fails to realize is that she is part of the media. Her blog is on the Internet. Anybody, even the pedophiles she fears will be drawn to these images, can access her blog and see the pictures of the children she has published there.
I don’t think you have to be a parent to feel anguish for these little girls, or to feel a desire to protect them by refusing to perpetuate the circulation of these photographs.
What has happened to feminism that the end now justifies the means?
And doesn’t publishing these photographs make a mockery of their protests against French Vogue?
On the same website there’s a post critical of those who’ve published the names of the women involved in the Assange sexual misconduct allegations. Yet Tankard Reist, apparently without any awareness of what she’s doing, publishes an article by another blogger, in which the women are named!
Tankard Reist has now added her own name to the long list of people who’ve targeted the women by outing them on the Internet.
Then there’s an article by Clive Hamilton, failed Greens federal candidate, and Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University. Under the heading: Dymocks Bookshop: Porn Merchants? Professor Hamilton gives Dymocks a good old telling off for stocking a boxed set containing the first ten years of Playboy. I can’t imagine what’s in them, and neither, apparently, can Professor Hamilton.
Call me picky, but I always think it’s a good idea to personally acquaint yourself with something, before you go on a public campaign to ban it.
MTR has kindly furnished an email address where you can send your objections to Dymocks about them stocking Playboy and acting like porn merchants.
Clive Hamilton is also a mandatory Internet filtering advocate, whose position is that while some legitimate websites would probably face accidental blocking by a mandatory blacklist, that’s a necessary evil, and that the good outweighs the bad.
Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear phrases like the good outweighs the bad, I get edgy. It sounds as if someone hasn’t really thought things through and they want to shut me up with a phrase designed to repress and suppress.
And who is Hamilton to make decisions for the rest of us? We have to take his definition of the good as a universal and filter the Internet? Non, merci.
- Are the kids all right? (news.bbc.co.uk)
- Laws against sexualisation of children impractical, say campaigners (telegraph.co.uk)
- Coalition to launch blitz on ¿sexualised¿ pre-teen clothing and children¿s advertising (dailymail.co.uk)