Friday, April 27, 2012

Sexualization of children in media 2

Children are used so often in advertising context that we now no longer reacts to how children are depicted. Below is a picture that we all recognize. We get these promotional pictures almost weekly. Children who show five children's clothing. In this picture shows the forward swimwear for customers. Notice their hips and legs, etc. What is it they want to achieve with such a posing of the children's body? The images may seem challenging and inviting. The only child here that is fairly "normal" for a child here is the boy standing passivly anf just holding a beach ball. The girls on the other hand push out their hips (which they do not have), and pose the way the camera man requires.

This is a promotional image for the jeans. The company is Sasson jeans. This promotional photo shows a child in an exact mirror image of an adult female model. It is common to use a fan in such images to blow your hair backwards. The child has very tight jeans on and seems very impractical for a child to be wearing. However oldfashion it may seem and no matter how absurd it may seem, the term "OO LA LA" is still an implication of sexuality.
Internationally, it happens frequently that men who are arrested for sexual assault on children asserts that the child was so enormously seductive that it was the child's fault and not his. A man says: "They are so incredibly beautiful, and I think they do not quite understand that even in an age of 8 or 9, they have a magnetism coming from them." Another man came with the following statement: "She's been after me for a long time. I know that she does the same thing with many of the men in the neighborhood here, so what could I do to resist? What a 10-year-old, she could really do everything!"

Such ideas and beliefs can only be enhanced through such images. Child models get a lot of approval, not to mention the huge financial gain to learn to pose in such a manner. It is extremely important here that we emphasize that they are trained to pose like that, and must not in any way be accused or considered to be responsible. We have long been aware of the importance of this. The victim in sexual assault cases are alleged to be deceptive, must not be accused. It is a matter of learned behavior. All children are looking for recognition from the adult world and act in a way that gives them just that. Their main question is "how do I act to get the adult's recognition?" A former victim of sexual assault reflects this:

"It's strange when I think back. There were certainly times, I see that now, where I was actually quite seductive. I have to admit it. I used to dress up in all sorts of sexy dresses, clothing and lingerie and I remember how I thought it was exciting to dance around and model for him. It is no longer possible now to say whether I realized it or not, when I was 6 years old, that this was the way to incite him up and to dance around like that to stir him up. But it is quite certain that I was looking for some sort of praise or recognition. When I think a little more about it, I think I was looking for a way to get a response, something positive from him outside the bedroom. It never succeeded with that. "
The next picture below is an advertisement for perfume. The picture is found in a costly fashion magazine called Harper's Bazar. The text under the picture of this girl is: "Tiny Treasures - fabulous Christmas fantasies". Is it the perfume we're talking about here, or the child? Remember that such expensive perfumes are often purchased as gifts from men to women. The text below the image also states that: "Jasmin and Gardeniia to deceive, though with an
breeze of innocence."
Sexual abuse of children has become a daily event in all other countries in the world. This is a  painful and serious problem in society. And it does not go away by itself. Professionals has been very active in the fight against sexual abuse for many years and the knowledge within society is growing aaround this painful reality. Both clinical and research practices are now much better prepared to help victims of sexual abuse, their families and perpetrators than for 30 years ago. This is extremely important.

But the questions I have tried to raise by focusing on the sexualisation of children in media is on another level, a macro level. I have become more and more concerned that the question of what it is in our society that not only makes sexual assault possible, but even actively promotes it.

Sexual abuse of children cannot be explained by reference to child pornography. Child pornography are pictures of child sexual abuse. What comes before
child pornography? One has thought of children as an objects for sexual gratification long before gaining child pornography. Let it be said clearly, possession of child pornography is illegal, and citizens around the world support this. But my point here is that it is not only child pornography that encourages men to seek child prostitutes or assaulting young girls / boys. Before the action, they have a thought. They have fantasized about, and had an attitude that says "children are exciting and legitimate sexual objects". Where does this setting, the predispositions come from? Some would argue that Freudian intrapsychic processes are at work here and that there has been an abnormal development in the early stages of childhood. Maybe they are right. But I have tried to argue that this setting also has cultural and historical roots. We must dare to put this painful part of our reality into a cultural and historical context and discuss it openly.

And thankyou again Elizabeth M. Matz for your courage in showing the way in this difficult landscape.


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