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Seksualisering (rapporten en artikelen)

Valerie WALKERDINE
"Violent Boys and Precocious Girls: regulating childhood at the end of the millennium"
in: Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1999, p3-23

[De auteur komt uit Australië. De titel verraad al de invloed van Foucault. En dat blijkt inderdaad verderop. Dat leidt helaas ook tot behoorlijk abstract en onduidelijk taalgebruik.]

"In recent years a number of major concerns have been raised in relation to the safety of children in public and private spaces (...) In all of these examples there are two features: the dangerous adult (almost exclusively male) who is violent and/or sexually predatory on young children and the proto violent or proto-sexual girl, as in the case of James Bulger and Jon Benet Ramsey respectively. (...) I want to argue that indeed such issues raise profound questions about the status of adult sexuality and its object, or, as Rose (1985) suggests, the desire of adults for children." [mijn nadruk] (3-4)

Ze wil dat afzetten tegen ideeën over wat normaal is en wat pathologisch:

"to the extent that it is certain children, who are ‘Othered’, who become the object of pathologisation discourses. Normal boys are naughty and playful, not violent. Normal girls are well behaved, hard working and asexual (e.g. Walkerdine, 1989)." [mijn nadruk] (4)

"Increasingly, newspaper reports express concerns about the safety of children on the streets and in public parks, whether play schemes or beaches are safe. This concern about safety is less a worry about environmental danger (though that certainly plays a part), but more about the threat posed by the violence and sexuality of adults."(6)

[Ik denk dat er heel wat minder zorgen zijn over de gevaren voor kinderen door het milieu etc. dan over het geweld en de seksuele verlangens van volwassenen resp. de invloed van 'games' en Internet. Waarom is die morele paniek over 'predators' en zo er ineens?]

"Thus, moral concern about violence and addiction was generated at this time, building upon the moral technologies from the nineteenth century (and indeed before this). Concern about violence and addiction were two of the major concerns addressed by research on video games, as was previously also the case with the arrival of video technology. In the USA in particular, such research appears to have developed in tandem with the anxiety about the loss and disappearance of childhood itself, with figures such as Neil Postman (1983) arguing that television signalled the erosion of childhood, to arguments about addiction and abuse (e.g. Jenkins, 1992; Best, 1990), which suggested that 95% of American adults are addicted and/or had abused childhoods, presenting this as one of the major American anxieties of the late twentieth century. This can be put together with the fact that almost all research on violence and the media comes from the USA." [mijn nadruk] (8-9)

"The working class proto-addicted boy was the object of concern, it was the middle class boys who were the biggest fans of game-playing, yet they were neither the object of concern nor of most scrutiny."(10)

[Dat is nogal typisch inderdaad. Onderzoekers en hun vooroordelen ...]

"However, all children claimed that while boys might simulate moves in the playground, the children themselves imposed strict limits on actual violence. They had a strong sense that hurting anyone was a transgression of boundaries – that violence was simply simulated in games and not to be repeated in real life." [mijn nadruk] (10-11)

[M.a.w.: het is de angst van de ouders, het wantrouwen dat ze hebben tegenover hun kinderen, de geringschatting van hun kinderen die ze voelen die leidt tot die morele paniek. Ze begrijpen niet dat kinderen veel meer weten dan ze denken en veel beter grenzen kunnen stellen dan ze verwachten. Kinderen hoeven niet altijd beschermd te worden. We kunnen beter de ouders opvoeden.]

"However, this anxiety about new technology was an entirely adult affair. For children, computers are simply a taken-for-granted part of their lives.(...) Let us now turn to another set of anxieties, those about femininity in relation to the constitution of that other Other, the precocious eroticised girl." [mijn nadruk] (11)

"If studies of popular culture have largely ignored young children and studies of girls are limited to teenagers, the topic of popular portrayals of little girls as eroticised, little girls and sexuality, is an issue which touches on a number of very difficult, and often, taboo areas. Feminism has had little to say about little girls, except through studies of socialisation and sex-role stereotyping. With regard to sexuality, almost all attention has been focussed on adult women." [mijn nadruk] (11)

"The topic of little girls and sexuality has come to be seen then as being about the problem of the sexual abuse of innocent and vulnerable girls by bad adult men, or conversely, less politically correct but no less present, the idea of little girls as little seductresses. I want to open up a set of issues that I believe are occluded by such debates. That is, in short, the ubiquitous eroticisation of little girls in the popular media and the just as ubiquitous ignorance and denial of this phenomenon." [mijn nadruk] (12)

Voorbeeld van een 6-jarig meisje dat braaf en hardwerkend is in de klas, maar in de toiletten liedjes staat te zingen met erotische inhoud.

"In moving out of the public and highly surveilled space of the classroom, where she is a ‘good, well-behaved girl’, to the private space of the toilets she enters a quite different discursive space, the space of the little Lolita, the sexual little girl, who cannot be revealed to the cosy sanitised classroom. She shifts in this move from innocent to sexual, from virgin to whore, from child to little woman, from good to bad."(12)

"In order to explore the varying subject positions taken by Janie, I want to explore some of the ‘gazes’ at the little girl, the ways that she is inscribed in a number of competing discourses. I will concentrate on the figure of the little girl as an object of psycho-pedagogic discourse and as the eroticised child-woman of popular culture. I have argued in previous work (Walkerdine, 1998), that ‘the nature of the child’ is not discovered but produced in regimes of truth created in those very practices which proclaim the child in all his naturalness. I write ‘his’ advisedly, because a central plank of my argument has been that although this child is taken to be gender-neutral, actually he is always figured as a boy, a boy who is playful, creative, naughty, rule-breaking, rational. The figure of the girl, by contrast, suggests an unnatural pathology: she works to the child’s play, she follows rules to his breaking of them, she is good, well-behaved and irrational. Femininity becomes the Other of rational childhood. If she is everything that the child is not supposed to be, it follows that her presence, where it displays the above attributes may be considered to demonstrate a pathological development, an improper childhood, a danger or threat to what is normal and natural. However, attempts (and they are legion) to transform her into the model playful child often come up against a set of discursive barriers: a playful and assertive girl may be understood as forward, uppity, over-mature, too precocious (in one study a primary teacher called such a 10-year-old girl a ‘madam’, see Walkerdine, 1989). Empirically then, ‘girls’ like ‘children’ are not discovered in a natural state. What is found to be the case by teachers, parents and others is the result of complex processes of subjectification (Henriques et al, 1984). Yet, while this model of girlhood is at once pathologised, it is also needed: the good and hard-working girl who follows the rules prefigures the nurturant mother figure, who uses her irrationality to safeguard rationality, to allow it to develop (Walkerdine & Lucey, 1989). Consider then the threat to the natural child posed by the eroticised child, the little Lolita, the girl who presents as a little woman, but not of the nurturant kind, but the seductress, the unsanitised whore to the good girl’s virgin. It is my contention that popular culture lets this figure into the sanitised space of natural childhood, a space from which it must be guarded and kept at all costs. What is being kept out and what safe inside this fictional space?" [mijn nadruk] (13)

[De invloed van Foucault is duidelijk. Ze wijst er op dat het beeld van kinderen sociaal geconstreerd wordt. Het natuurlijke kind als het onschuldige kind voor wie seksualiteit niet bestaat is dus ook een sociale constructie. Jongens worden daarbij anders gezien dan meisjes. De dubbele moraal. Tegenover het onschuldige kind staat dan het erotische kind, voor meisjes met name de grote bedreiging van het andere beeld. Het is de populaire cultuur die die kleine Lolita creëert. Maar vindt de auteur nu dat dat erotische beeld ver gehouden moet worden van jongens en meisjes? Dat lijkt zo. Het is me niet duidelijk of de auteur een moreel standpunt ineemt.]

"Indeed, it is precisely the idea that sexuality is an adult notion, which sullies the safe innocence of a childhood free to emerge inside the primary classroom, which is most important. Adult sexuality interferes with the uniqueness of childhood, its stages of development. Popular culture then, insofar as it presents the intrusion of adult sexuality into the sanitised space of childhood, is understood as very harmful."(14)

[Is dat een empirische bewering of vindt zij zelf dat het schadelijk is? Ze wijst op de media, met name op de wereld van advertenties en marketing waarin die seksualisering plaats vindt. Dat is die populaire cultuur die volwassen vormen van seksualiteit op kindeen 'plakt' en binnenbrengt in die andere wereld van het natuurlijke 'sekloze' kind.]

"It would not be difficult to make a case that such images are the soft porn of child pornography and that they exploit childhood by introducing adult sexuality into childhood innocence. In that sense then, they could be understood as the precursor to child sexual abuse in the way that pornography has been understood by some feminists as the precursor to rape. However, I feel that such an interpretation is over-simplistic. The eroticisation of little girls is a complex phenomenon, in which a certain aspect of feminine sexuality and childhood sexuality is understood as corrupting of an innocent state. The blame is laid both at the door of abuse and therefore pathological and bad men who enter and sully the terrain of childhood innocence and of course conversely, with the little Lolitas who lead men on. But, popular images of little girls as alluring and seductive, at once innocent and highly erotic, are contained in the most respectable and mundane of locations: broadsheet newspapers, women’s magazines, television adverts. The phenomenon that we are talking about therefore has to be far more pervasive than a rotten apple, pathological and bad abusive men approach. This is not about a few perverts, but about the complex construction of the highly contradictory gaze at little girls, one which places them as at once threatening and sustaining rationality, little virgins that might be whores, to be protected yet to be constantly alluring. The complexity of this phenomenon, in terms of both the cultural production of little girls as these ambivalent objects and the way in which little girls themselves as well as adults live this complexity, how it produces their subjectivity, has not begun to be explored, and yet doing so is very important to avoid an overdetermination of what constitutes ‘girl’." [mijn nadruk] (14-15)

[Het is allemaal nogal dubbel en ingwikkeld, vindt de auteur. Er worden heel tegenstrijdige beelden van meisjes geconstrueerd. En het is overal in de media, het beeld van een erotisch kind is echt niet alleen maar het beeld van een paar verdorven volwassenen. Binnen dat beeld groeien meisjes dus op en ontwikkelen ze hun persoonlijkheid, maar dat fenomeen is nog nauwelijks onderzocht.]

"I want to draw attention to the contradictions in the way in which the eroticised child-woman is a position presented publicly for the little girl to enter, but which is simultaneously treated as a position which removes childhood innocence, allows entry of the whore and makes the girl vulnerable to abuse. The entry of popular culture into the educational and family life of the little girl is therefore to be viewed with suspicion, as a threat posed by the lowering of standards, of the intrusion of the low against the superior high culture. It is the consumption of popular culture, which is taken as making the little working class girl understood as potentially more at risk of being victim and perpetrator." [mijn nadruk] (15)

[Dat klinkt toch normatief. Dus toch een waardeoordeel temidden van die complexe beeldvorming over meisjes.]

"Culturally, we are left with a stark choice: sexuality in little girls is natural, universal and inevitable; or, a kind of Mulvey (1975) type male gaze is at work in which the little girl is produced as object of an adult male gaze. She has no fantasies of her own ..."(16)

[De psychoanalystische uitwerking die dan nog volgt voegt niets toe, leidt eerder af. Waardevol aan dit stuk is de nadruk op die sociale constructies van hoe we kinderen en vooral meisjes zien. Het beeld van 'het onschuldige kind' is net zo'n constructie als het beeld van het erotische kind. In de praktijk is er echter sprake van een groot spanningsveld met een hoop aanleidingen voor debat en paniek: het eerste beeld van vooral opvoeders wordt steeds meer ondermijnd door het tweede beeld dat de media en de marketeers in de wereld zetten. Maar zet als bij het deel over 'gaming' zou ik hier ook graag de conclusie zien dat kinderen meer weten dan hun opvoeders denken en ook op dit punt hun grenzen wel kennen. Ook meisjes. Ik denk eigenlijk dat kinderen niet zo erg in de war raken van het erotische aspect van de populaire cultuur. Ik denk wel dat ze in de war kunnen raken van de eeuwige nadruk op een perfect uiterlijk, op materiële rijkdom, en zo verder.]

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