Monday, February 05, 2007

DJ's vs.TAI on 'sexualising children'

David Jones Ltd is suing the The Australia Institute for saying that DJ’s advertising eroticized and sexually exploited children. DJ's was furious with the TAI claims which it denied. It demanded the TAI remove references to DJ’s on its website. The TAI in turn describes the DJ’s response as ‘corporate bullying’ and refused DJ’s demand – though looking at its website today I found no reference to DJ’s in the published part of the article on sexualizing children. I found the argument by Andrew Bartlett to be as sensible a response as I encountered on the original controversy – sexualizing kids is a dangerous activity and deserves public discussion. Little girls, and boys, should not be eye candy.

But I was surprised that DJ’s sued – the Myer stores who were also mentioned in the TAI report have not. DJ’s claim they have suffered lost sales but I think, regardless of the truth of the claims, almost no-one pays attention to the views of a minority group like TAI. Perhaps it was middle class mums, who dress their kids up as fashion accessories, the main customers, who DJs think might be sensitive to the claims of parental abuse. Or maybe DJ’s are just offended by the accusation that they are sexually exploiting a vulnerable group – it’s a claim many of us, as parents, would experience acute discomfit with.

On the other hand the beauty of children is something undeniable – the Konrad Lorenz theory of beauty holds that beauty in an adult’s face stems from the way it mimics the features of a child. Pedophilia is believed to influence the sexual preferences of up to one quarter of men and this creates potential hazards for children, particularly young girls.

More important that adult Lolita fantasies are the damages being done to young children who are encouraged to grow up early rather than being allowed to just be children. It is pathetic to see barely-pubescent young girls actively seeking attention with exaggerated dress styles.

So this issue does deserve public discussion although it would be better done in a broader setting than the present legal action. But there are substantial taboos against discussing the issues of sexualizing children so don't hold out your hopes for a non-sensationalist discussion. Current discussions of this legal action are at Larvatus Prodeo and Catallaxy.

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