Child Pornography and The Sexualisation of Children

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with giorge thomas

“Lostprophets lead singer, Ian Watkins, has been convicted on child pornography charges in Wales this week. At the 11th hour, the 36 year old changed his plea to guilty, though maintained he does not remember any of his depraved acts – which include the attempted rape of an eleven month old baby – as was high on Crystal Meth.”

Do Child Pornography Websites Lead to Acts of Unimaginable Evil?

Earlier today, giorge thomas posted an article in which she gives a detailed account of a case that has shocked the UK public. Ian Watkins, aided and abetted by two of his rock band’s fans, both women, got access to their children and performed sexual acts on an eleven month old baby.

Footage of him raping the child was recovered from his computer, seized by police from his home when searching it on drugs charges.

The two women have been charged and will be sentenced in December.

This could have been avoided had police acted four years earlier when his girlfriend informed them of his paedophilic tendencies “after he showed her a picture of a young girl and confided that he desired having sex with children like her.” Had they taken the tip seriously and searched his computer they would have been able to discover much earlier “online profiles Watkins created on child porn sites. One included twenty-seven paedophilic photos which received more than 40,000 views.”

There is an on-going debate in the British media as to whether recently implemented pornography filters on major internet sites will be able to reduce access to child pornography online. Whereas most agree that this is a step for the better, there are calls for David Cameron to invest in further online policing, as these new measures will not affect the underground networks of the kind that Watkins had access to.

There is another aspect to this debate too. As giorge tomas indicates “The decision sparked outrage in some sections of the community, stating this is taking away a person’s liberty…” She disagrees, and is of the opinion that more should be done to shut down child pornography websites as they perpetrate crimes against children and it is their liberty that is endangered by their continued existence.

I agree with her standpoint. No one’s liberty is infringed in the removal of the sites. We claim to live in a civilised society, and no self-respecting, decent human being can ever possibly view child pornography as a freedom to be protected. Such people ought to be ostracised from our midst as the sorry excuse for human beings that they are.

However, I would like to take this debate further. When it comes to child pornography I doubt that many would disagree that it is wrong, but how about the sexualisation of children perpetrated by popular media?

December-Vogue-images-of-Thylane-Loubry-Blondeau

The girl in the Vogue issue illustrated above is only ten years old. She is dressed and made up as a grownup. I find this development disturbing. Don’t you?

Vogue Paris has gained a reputation for its provocative shoots, but I believe that it crossed a line from the provocative to the sickening in its December/January 2011 issue where the magazine features three little girls – Lea, Prune and Thylane, as models in the “Cadeaux” editorial.

The young models wore luxurious designer gowns, expensive jewellery and more makeup than most women usually use. They do not look their age, and I believe the photographers’ choices in making them look like adults were deliberate and it went too far. Examine the photo below. Is this an acceptable pose for a ten-year old?
Vogue Issue

You may argue that there is a big difference between these images and child pornography. However, these images use the same logic that all other fashion shoots use. They are exhibited with the same intent and work under the same assumption: that sex sells.

Except for in this case the “sex” that sells uses images of vamped up children and a disturbing connection is established between allure, sex-appeal and temptation — all concepts used by this industry to sell – and children.

This is not the kind of mind-set that an industry with any degree of social responsibility ought to be promoting.

Vogue Issue Cadeaux

The images were met with little reaction in France at the time. But about eight months later they caused a stir in the United States.

I would say this when it comes to the US reaction. I agree with its condemnation and criticism of the French issue of Vogue, but I would like those critics to consider the irony of their position. After all, child beauty pageants in the US have their fair share in the sexualisation of children.

I simply do not understand this desire to promote an image of children as “sexy”.

Adult sexual motifs are used for products and clothing targeted at children, reducing the gap between what is produced for children and adults. The merchandise aimed at young girls pushes the boundaries of “sexiness.” I have come across so many girls who at the age of twelve already wear the latest fashion labels, hair extensions and false nails as a big part of constructing their image.

These bombardment of children with sexualised images, either of other children or even of adults, has resulted in a radical change in their self-image.

The sexualisation of society as a whole influences young girls to convey a sexual maturity and display an image of themselves that is incongruous with their age.

Amongst other harmful consequences, I fear that this increased sexualisation of children may inadvertently result in lax attitudes towards abuse.

Who is to blame? Is it the fashion industry and fashion magazines? Are the music industry and pop stars to blame for the promotion of such over sexualised images? Does mainstream TV have a part to play in all this?

*

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42 thoughts on “Child Pornography and The Sexualisation of Children

  1. Oh Vic – I saw these adds a while back and nearly hit my fist in a wall (actually I think I may have truly done that?)
    Did I read correctly ‘some people are saying clamping down on child porn sites goes against the liberty of those who use them’ ?????????
    Please tell me there are not truly people who can actually believe that to be true??
    Dear God ~
    I LOVE how you have tied up the sexualization of tiny people in all this – that story of the lostprophets dude is just shocking and a sad truth that exists in much higher quantity then we think or imagine – it is rife. DO we have VOGUE and the likes to thank for it becoming ‘normal to view our babies who should be in ribbons still, as sex objects? I believe we do. having said that – it is just also human exploitation since the earliest times – even children seen in their little girl (or boy!) attire in all their innocence being sought by sick bastards. But now we promote it and advertise it – we condone it with these images. See here – look – little girl up for treats. I cry.
    We used to protect children in all our capacity from being seen in this way. We used to dress girls conservatively – for this very damn reason!

    It is one thing for a human being to find beauty in a child – perversion of that concept into a sexual nature is the problem of our planet. In fact – I will go so far as to say – learning the truth of the feelings we have stirred up in us in ANY circumstance is what is vital. To mistake absolute appreciation of something beautiful whether that is a child a friend or a lover or spouse are all intrinsically different and society does not get the guidance to differentiate between these sensations. NOR does it protect itself from carrying out the incorrect actions based on these tendencies. We get drummed into our heads that everything is about sex. If we feel any empotions stirring for someone – we think it must be because we want to or must bonk them! Our minds become so full of sex sex sex – that we are perverted in our thought to view every human being in a sexual light. And it just grows down through the generations. (sorry this is just one of those topics that makes me boil!)
    I look at my son who is 11 – I see SO MUCH BEAUTY – I smile and my heart leaps sometimes when I watch him getting on with his play or work or whatever – he is beautiful to me. I can look at all children in this way. If I had sex on my mind ALL the time in the perversion of these feelings and was taught that sex is how we show and receive all our affection and satisfaction in life – I would probably be a child molester for the overwhelming feelings I have for the beauty of children.
    AND even then – EVEN if one would have such thoughts – surely – SURELY one would have the fucking balls to lock yourself away from all children? I guess for the mind to end up in such a perverted state would mean the individual just does not give a damn about anyone other than themselves.
    I’m done.
    I am going to tidy my house and not think today.
    God help us – is my plea.
    Sick sick fallen perverted world we live in ~ I can only thank God for the lovely people who ARE wise and see ~ Thank you Vic.

    • I saw these ads when they first came out as well. I wasn’t blogging back then, and when I read the news about Ian Watkins those images came back to mind. I’ve actually been told by a man once that he didn’t see how he could be blamed for trying it on with an underage girl when she doesn’t look underage. I was appalled. He seemed like an average guy to me so that comment was completely unexpected. It did persuade me however of the fact that the sexualisation of children, and I include teens in this too, can have damaging consequences for all in the long run.
      You asked whether some people are saying that clamping down on child porn sites goes against the liberty of those who use them. They weren’t referring to child porn sites as such, they were referring to the use of pornography filters on internet sites overall. Presumably they believe that this may be filtering out free adult pornography. I doubt that they would’ve voiced their disapproval regarding targeted child pornography since that is illegal after all.
      I knew when I made the connection between paedophilia, child pornography and the sexualisation of children, that it may be seen as tenuous by some. However, like you, I do believe that these issues are interconnected.
      By making sexualised images of children the norm, we are implying as a society that children can be objects of sexual desire. The law says otherwise, and we ought to be careful that our message overall is consistent.
      The media should take its share of blame and should censor the use of such images. I find these images to debase innocence. It disturbs me, and even though it’s not been legislated against, I don’t think it is acceptable.
      Thank you for your extensive comment, and for the reblog as well. Although it is an upsetting topic, it was too important and I felt too strongly about it to keep silent.
      Warm regards,
      Vic

      • I am glad you did not keep silent – and thank you for clarifying that query vic.
        It is just all too real –
        You know what you said about seeing the images before and not blogging yet: I think in part all these kinds of things is what drives us to take the plunge into the blogosphere too – and to keep at it. I may be wrong speaking for you here – but it is so for me.
        If we are just one drop…all the drops can fill that bucket 😀
        Bless you.

      • Sure thing, I’m always glad to answer any questions. It helps when someone mentions if there is any ambiguity.
        You are right about blogging providing a platform where we can express our opinions and hopefully make them count. It certainly seems better to step out of being the silent majority.
        Beautifully said, one drop at a time indeed 🙂 Thank you.

      • Oh yes and she sis back – I have been procrastinating for about 4 weeks now (1 week after moving here) I just cant face it all – the move wore me down physically (and the other stuff)this time – so I come and feed my soul instead 😉

      • You will get around to it soon enough. Perhaps it is just a matter of taking things easily and then it will all fall into place. Certainly not complaining about you being here instead 🙂

      • I am figuring the same – but I am beginning to fall over stuff…which is never a good thing. The biggest woe is the paper work that is waiting. I think ‘RIGHT – lets get ‘dusting’; then go – OH SHIT! Those papers I was supposed to do!’ and I sit back down on the blog…’
        None the less – I do know it will settle down again (there has really been so much going on since moving here ( and before) – but yeah – I am taking this thread to far away off topic. AND YET _ all that keeps me busy is these little people we speak of 😉 Which is cool. I had it all taped about 2 months back (and had for a lONG time) then – well – the virtual world called. ANd you know what – it is actually SO awesome to chat with such fine people 😀 I used to get real lonely before…not so much now.

        Later vic
        Supper time here. Must cook.
        Take care

  2. I also believe the Vogue images cross a line. Yes, little girls put on their mom’s clothes. I did. My daughter does. But its innocent. These pictures are Lolita-like. I do not want my little girl to be a sex object at the age of 7. I believe that when it comes to rights, her outweigh that of a pedophile.

    • “These pictures are Lolita-like.” – very well put. I didn’t consider the connection, but you are quite right to mention it. There is a reason why we have an age of consent. Anyone younger than that is too young to be a sex object, I absolutely agree.
      To be honest, many girls are too young to be the objects of sexual desire even after they’ve reached the age of consent, and I believe there is undue pressure from all sides on children to grow up quicker than ever.
      There is hardly any time left for innocent play, to be just a child without worrying about adult issues – such as body image for example.
      Thank you for your comment, Victoria, especially the one regarding rights. Could not agree more.
      Regards,
      Vic

  3. I totally agree with you. No second opinion. Some how with the ‘modernization’ of the society, children are force to act like adults or rather grow up faster. I have one doubt…. Isn’t this child labor ? To use these kind of children for promoting their products? I would certainly look it at that way. There should be norms and regulations as to which kind of projections can be done on the children. I am not sure if there are any.

    And I don’t want to even think or talk about the child abusers or paedophiles. Just gets my blood boiling.

    • Certainly, KG. There is legislation that regulates child labour. Children are allowed to work for a certain number of hours every week in exchange for payment, as long as this doesn’t interfere with their education I believe. Nonetheless, there should be stricter rules regarding what industries they are allowed to work in. I would even go so far as to say that babies should not be used to sell products aimed at babies. There are other ways of advertising products. Animation comes to mind. Children do not have the legal ability to consent so therefore they should not be “used” by others, whether parents or guardians, to earn money that may or may not be used to care for the child. It may seem like an extreme position, but I do think that the advertising industry is overstepping the mark and if they are unable to be responsible in how they act then we should find other ways of discouraging abuses.
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment, KG. Appreciated.

      • Thanks for clarification Vic. Since no one is raising any hue and cry about it, both the industry and the people involved in it are just on the verge of or rather misusing the privileges. And I would like to apply it to all those Kids programs that are being telecast too. All the feeding of the feel of fame and fortune at an young age. They should be allowed to enjoy their childhood.

      • Of course, KG. I find it strange that they should be so irresponsible. Aren’t many of them parents too? How can they think it appropriate? And I agree with you that TV does appear to have a negative influence as well.
        In the past when children were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, they used to answer fireman or doctor, now it’s famous. They don’t even care what they’ll be famous for.
        We are bringing up the new generations to value superficiality over depth.

  4. Thanks Vic. To make light of the situation, perhaps now ten year olds are the only ones small enough to wear designer clothes.

    But seriously, any kind of exploitation of children is wrong. Those child beauty pageants? Terrible. Sex and children simply do not mix, in any way. What else do those skimpy outfits, full makeup and big hair, together with kiss-posing (with bottom stuck out) do but sexualise these children?

    Great post, Vic. Thanks for the inclusion.

    • Thank you, Giorge. You raised a range of very good points in your post and the detailed description of the Watkins case certainly put the questions into perspective. So it is I who must thank you for yet another thought-provoking piece.
      I’ve been considering writing a post on the sexualisation of children in the media, and after reading your post I realised that the two issues are very much interconnected. As you said, his family blame child pornography for the fact that he became a paedophile. It made me wonder to what extent the sexualisation of children in the media, fashion, film and music industries serve as a springboard for those who then search and watch child pornography. It certainly can’t help the matter.
      I know you said it in jest, but you’re probably right about designer clothes only fitting children these days. The average sixe for women is a UK 14 I think? And yet most designer labels only come up to 8.
      Have you seen Little Miss Sunshine? That was my introduction to the pageant world. I wasn’t aware of tis existence before then. What I have found out since made my hairs stand on end. Dreadful.
      Warm regards,
      Vic

      • I LOVE little miss sunshine. They very cleverly showed the ridiculousness of these pageants. I am pleased to inspire. This is why I love wordpress – it’s such a co-inspiring place!

      • Co-inspiring indeed. It is great how engaged most bloggers are and how open to an exchange of ideas, views and opinions. I’m certainly finding it a very enriching experience. I loved Little Miss Sunshine too and actually met a little girl who resembled her in every way soon after: just as quirky and lovable.

  5. Sadly, the world seems to be going to “hell in a hand basket”. It is disgusting to hear of these horrendous acts against innocent babies and children. (What the hell with the mothers? Did they “allow” him to do this to their little babies?) They all need to be thrown into jail and throw away the key. Mothers today are so anxious to have “beautiful” daughters and sons that they are pushing them out of childhood and into an adult world they are no where near prepared for. This is going to cause huge ramifications for these children later. Unfortunately, I see a lot of suicides from little girls who no “longer” fit into societies view of “beautiful.” Sigh.. God help us all.

    • Dear Priceless Joy, it seems that the mothers actually colluded with Watkins in the crime. One of them abused her own child for his viewing pleasure and the other brought his child to the hotel and watched while he raped and filmed it. Absolutely dreadful. It makes me think that a post about the dangers of our obsession with celebrity is in order next.
      That children should ever be made to feel that they are not beautiful enough, or good enough or not enough in any way to fit into this world is just too terrible for words.
      Thank you for your comment. All very pertinent points.
      Regards,
      Vic

  6. Where are the days when the child pageants were about frilly dresses and ribbons and bows and little gals singing off key to Over the Rainbow? It was cute back then, now we have these little mini-sluts (sorry, but that’s what they look like) strutting their stuff to Minaj. It’s disgusting, and no wonder there’s been a rise in pedophilia….

  7. vb, Very much agree with you here, although I would go further in terms of what to do with the vile individuals who support this heinous abuse of children.

    One thing about the Vogue photos. The parents of the girl(s) are pathetic. They deserve to be publicly rebuked, and soundly so.

    • Thank you, navigator. I think something must have broken inside any person who perpetrates these kind of crimes against children. They must have lost their internal compass.
      No matter how many times I come across stories of parents who push their children into professional careers so early on, it still surprises me. I am sure that some of them are well intentioned, but unfortunately there are those that are trying to fulfil their own dreams at the expense of their children’s own.

  8. There are days when I wish there was an “agree” button rather than a “like” button. I don’t like any of this. Any society that doesn’t do everything within it’s power to prevent this kind of thing, to punish the perpetrators (including the parents, who aren’t really parenting at all if they are in collusion or denial), to heal this sickness, to shout in outrage at the horror of how things have gone so wrong, cannot be possibly be considered civilised. I have compassion for humans, no matter how lost they get, but at the same time absolutely no tolerance whatsoever for this. It’s friggin’ unacceptable and those vogue images prevented me from even viewing this post for a while, I find them sickening because I know exactly where they lead and anyone who says they don’t is dead or lying.

    • Thank you, jamborobyn. I am with you when it comes to the agree button. Sometimes, when I read an article on a difficult topic I am reluctant to press the “like” because it is not a matter of liking, so if I do, I always add a disclaimer that the like is for how the author approached the topic rather than for what is being described.
      Regarding the images from Vogue, you know… I was for a while undecided whether to use them or not for the same reason. I find them disturbing. In the end I made the choice to include them, but I didn’t do so lightly, and still feel somewhat divided about it. Sometimes a picture can tell the story better than words, but this is one story that was tough to tell.
      And you are right, those who believe that these kind of sexualised images of children have nothing to do with the horrors of child abuse, are lying either to others or to themselves.

      • Don’t second guess yourself though, you have done the right thing – even if you kind of feel like you are swinging out there in the wind with nothing to hang on to. Sometimes you just gotta shout your truth, so you can sleep at night and know that the day was worth living. Thanks for showing the way 😉

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