R. Danielle EGAN / Gail L. HAWKES
"Endangered Girls and Incendiary Objects: Unpacking the Discourse on Sexualization"
in: Sexuality & Culture (2008) 12, p.291–311
"Drawing on academic and activist writings and their concomitant news coverage in the United States, Britain and Australia, we analyze the epistemological foundations guiding the argument on sexualization as well as its potential social and political repercussions."(292)
[Dit artikel lijkt inhoudelijk erg op het vorige artikel "Girls, sexuality and the strange carnalities of advertisements - Deconstructing the Discourse of Corporate Paedophilia" - maar is wat algemener getrokken. Het is duidelijk dat deze twee auteurs een heel ander standpunt dan vrijwel alle andere auteurs. Het wordt hen niet in dank afgenomen:]
"Expressing our reticence about the near unanimity on the effects of sexualization, we are often faced with deep skepticism and the charge that we can not possibly understand the risks because we are not raising children."(293)
[Dat laatste is wel een heel grof argumentum ad hominem. Alsof je niet op allerlei andere manieren kinderen kunt meemaken en zo verder.]
"It is our contention that much of the recent writing on sexualization rests upon four assumptions which, we contend, ultimately undermine its explanatory power as well as its activist potential.
1) Sexualization is conceptualized as a universal process that is both monolithic and axiomatically damaging thereby ignoring historic, cultural or individual variation of the term and the process.
2) The discourse of sexualization promotes a mechanistic and passive construction of the child. As a result, the discourse on sexualization fails to acknowledge the complexity and multiplicity of reader response and ignores how children might submit to as well as subvert particular cultural messages as well as forms of fashion and commodification.
3) The deterministic nature of the discourse on sexualization unwittingly conflates sexual expression in girls with sexualization.
4) Finally, the framing of the problem as gender specific reproduces historically persistent patriarchal and moralizing beliefs about the compliant and pathological nature of heterosexual female sexuality — particularly the sexuality of poor and working class women.
Like many of the academics and activists concerned with sexualization we too believe that the drive for profit within many corporations actively confronts ethical concerns about marketing schemes aimed at children and is thus clearly worthy of criticism and protest. However, we also contend that the conceptualization of childhood, sexualization, and resistance within the movement ultimately misses its mark and fails to achieve its goal of ‘‘empowering girls.’’ It is our hope that this article might begin a dialog that can move us toward this important goal." [mijn nadruk] (293-294)
Volgt weer de kritiek op het hele idee 'seksualisering' zoals dat door de meeste auteurs kritiekloos gehanteerd wordt.
"Given the gravity of these claims, empirical grounding seems crucial. However, the majority of the literature under review relies on inferential causality. (...) It is our contention, that the literature on sexualization creates a rhetorical, as opposed to an empirical, link between sexualization and its proposed effects. The connection these authors make to research on related topics makes sense given the fact that sexualization is a fairly recent ‘‘social problem,’’ however the lack of attention to any interdisciplinary scholarship that might broaden their conceptualization of sexualization as a process and outcome is curious. Instead, sexualization is conceived as omnipresent in that it inundates almost every media source, is unyielding in that it targets girls on almost every level, is global in its reach and can be life threatening. What are the implications of such a framing?
We contend that sexualization, as it is theorized in the literature above, is beset by over generalization and ambiguity." [mijn nadruk] (296)
"It is our contention that sexualization promotes an overly reductionist framework in its failure to tease out the interrelated, but separate, phenomena of corporation and media practice and individual consumption as well as cultural and historic variation. Given this level of ambiguity, the explanatory potential of sexualization is hindered due to its overarching status." [mijn nadruk] (297)
"We want to be clear that the position we are forwarding here is not an unproblematic celebration of advertising and popular culture (although we would argue that even within corporations intentions are far from uniform), nor are we saying that popular cultural images are devoid of problematic representations of women and girls. Rather it is our contention that the media determinism of sexualization ignores the complexity of consumption in its monolithic construction of the problem and outcome."(297)
"It is our supposition that because sexualization taps into such historically persistent and ambivalent constructions of the child and its relationship to sexuality and gender, that according children agency in this framework becomes much more challenging, if not untenable."(298)
"Why is so much potential accorded to these images? Unpacking the social construction of childhood at work within this argument sheds light on the level of anxiety expressed in the literature on sexualization. Employing the theories of developmental psychology, the dominant paradigm within psychologic and education literature, sexualization scholars rely upon a construction of childhood as processual or incomplete until its full maturation in adulthood (Jenks 2005; James et al. 1998; Gittins 1998). This paradigm constructs the child as passive and in need of protection from adults, a formulation that was clearly articulated by the mid-nineteenth century, when ‘‘childhood was conceived as ‘‘incorrupt but corruptible thus requiring the family and educational institutions to preserve its innocence and purity en route to adulthood’’ (Evans 1993, p. 211). We argue that the reactive nature of this model may help foster an exaggerated sense of peril. In that sexualization impinges upon or corrupts a passive recipient, both present and future are morally compromised. This understanding of childhood absents the possibility of children as active agents in their own lives thus intensifying the level of danger inherent in sexualization. The nullification of agency is underlined and legitimated by the assignation of incompleteness within the discourse of development. Within this framework, children are subjugated to adults in a hierarchy of cognition."(299)
[Dat is echt een heel boeiende benadering die zegt dat de hele ontwikkelingspsychologie gebaseerd is op bepaalde normatieve uitgangspunten waarbij je vraagtekens kunt zetten. Ik ben het erg met Egan-Hawkes eens.]
"For the discourse on sexualization emerges from the adult world. Adult voices decide what is dangerous and create models which provide the proof that sexualization has taken place. Sexualization has been constructed as an intractable obstacle to proper development. Any evidence of resistance and reinscription by the young person is axiomatically evidence for the truth of this claim." [mijn nadruk] (300)
"To be clear, we are not celebrating thong underwear, bralettes or any other commodity marketed to children for that matter. Instead we are raising questions about the over-determined status objects are granted within the sexualization argument."(302-303)
"We are weary of arguments that create causal links between clothes and behavior and would point toward the long standing work of sexologists since Kinsey who have shown that what people wear rarely predicts their sexual conduct."(303)
"It is important to note that all of the authors we reviewed make a point of distinguishing sexualization from 'healthy sexuality'."(303)
[Wat uiteraard even normatieve uitgangspunten kan hebben.]
"The vision of ‘normative’ girlhood that the discourse on sexualization draws on is a highly sentimentalized 19th century conceptualization of the child, which requires protection due to its ‘‘incomplete’’ and innocent status."(304)
"If we want to promote a culture where children are viewed as sexual citizens and collaborative social agents in policies concerning this integral part of their everyday lives — we need to move away from protection and toward sex positivity."(309)