In the first decade of the 21st century, considerable campaigning and public policy attention has coalesced around the ‘sexualisation and commercialisation’ of children. As with other laments for lost childhood, many contributors to the debate are historically myopic and ill-informed about the longstanding nature of some of the issues raised and the role of consumer culture in constituting much of what we understand ‘childhood’ to be. Nonetheless, ‘sexualisation’ brings to the fore some specifically contemporary anxieties about digital image proliferation, the meaning of the ‘mainstreaming of sex’ and about the very act of looking in a visual culture; when linked to childhood these tend to universalize a pedophile spectator. The chapter will analyze how debates about child sexualisation and commodification incite surveillance of images, of self and of others to ambiguous effect, and how these are embedded in practices associated with new media forms and texts. Magazine and newspaper online forums, for example, encourage debate about instances of alleged sexualization (the ‘shameless mum’ whose daughter pole-dances/ gets a fake tan/ has a makeover and so on) through which we can discern shifting notions of public and private, citizenship and ethical responsibilities.
|Title of host publication||The Routledge companion to media and gender|
|Editors||C. Carter, L. Steiner, L. McLaughlin|
|Place of Publication||Abingdon|
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2014|