Monday, July 07, 2008

Sexualisation of children is not feminism, homosexuality or the punk movement

It is not the next frontier for bored artistes. It is not witty or clever.

Art's latest cause appears predicated on the assumption that all taboos are there to be deconstructed. This assumption ignores history.

While progress has seen women's rights recognised and sexual freedom for consenting adults gain acceptance, it has seen an age of consent introduced, then raised, so that 12 year old girls are no longer considered partner material.

That is, protecting kids has come with progress, and the age of consent is a notion that has been developed as we have become more enlightened.

At its core is the notion that both maturity and knowledge assist with being able to give consent. These are not conservative rules designed to repress, they are rights handed to those who are still learning about the world and their place in it.

Progressive activists should be seeking to strengthen the protection of the young as an issue deserving advocacy alongside other rights agendas.

Wheeling out your 11 year old daughter to defend herself does not alter the age of consent argument one iota. As for saying:

"It's interesting that if the Prime Minister comments on, say the greenhouse effect, he gets expert advice first," Monash University Associate Professor Nelson said. "I would like to know which art expert advised him on this."

Which child protection expert advised Professor Nelson on his view? And what does art expertise have to do with arguments relating to age of consent?

I'm not saying it's not art, anyone who tries to fight that battle is getting bogged down in irrelevancy.

It is art. Almost anything is art. Move on.

I even started off leaning towards Mr Henson in this debate- his photos were not part of an attention-grab, and there is clearly some merit in being cautious before interfering with free expression. Or before agreeing with everything Huffy Hetty gets hot-headed about. I know this area is a magnet for wowsers.

But the latest effort was designed to make a statement, the editor of the Art Monthly has said as much.

This is not the next great liberalisation agenda. It is not clever. And nothing will lead to a splurge of draconian law making, one that'll have overwhelming popular backing, than a few bored artists trying to make hay with this issue.

Leave it alone, stick to putting things up in galleries where rockspiders in raincoats can't make malicious use of them, and I don't see any issue for the coexistence of children's images in genuine art on the one hand and a robust child-focused protection regime on the other.

UPDATE: See, legislation now on the table.

UPDATE II: Return hat tip to Skepticlawyer.


helen said...

Just read this post again - really spot on, you lawyer's lawyer you :)


Anonymous said...

Henson is so out there, most of he major galleries have banned him in Europe, he doesn't make sense, a PG in cowtown doesn't work for us in Berlin or London,

it is (also) about money, who needs to wheel out fifty lawyers for a movie still type of photo item getting sold for 6 notes. I spend that getting my car waxed.

Five or six grand just isn't worth the trouble. Then there is the head stuff, I mean, with staff, quite a few these days are unfashionably ethical. There must be a college somewhere turning them out.

Mostly, my objection is, that it looks like child pornography, that's the real clincher, who wants that kind of not safe to baby-sit buyer eyeballing wandering about? I'd sooner work for a living.