R. Danielle EGAN / Gail HAWKES
"The problem with protection: Or, why we need to move towards recognition and the sexual agency of children"
in: Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies Vol. 23, No. 3, June 2009, p. 389-400
[Volgt de bekende standpuntbepaling met een nieuw element:]
"Drawing on the recent work of Judith Butler we forward her theory of recognition as a framework for rethinking the sexuality of children. We argue that foregrounding recognition will help us create a cultural context that fosters sexual agency and in so doing promotes the sexual citizenship of children."(389)
Over hervormingsbewegingen bgin 20ste eeuw in Australië die moesten leiden tot 'social purity' en 'social sexual hygiene', die zich vaak baseerden op een biomedisch model en 'de kinderen wilden beschermen'. Een eeuw later is het de beweging van Rush e.a. , maar ook die van het feminisme, tegen de seksualisering van kinderen die dezelfde dingen doet.
"At first reading, the dangers discussed within these reform narratives, purity reform, sexual hygiene and feminist, respectively, seem as divergent and disconnected as their causes. However, we contend that each relies upon and reproduces a particular vision of the sexual child that forecloses the recognition of children as sexual subjects and the possibility of their sexual agency. It would be erroneous to claim that the political motivations that drive these reform movements are uniform (we would contend that even within the same movement motivations vary); however, we argue that the construction of childhood sexuality within these narratives rests upon the same foundational assumptions. Childhood sexuality is conceptualized as the result of an outside or deviant stimulus inevitably condensed into an exosomatic response. It becomes the outcome of something done to children and not as something that can take place within a larger constellation of a child's sexuality. Moreover, once sexuality is realized in the body of a child it becomes cause for concern and adult intervention. As a result, the only viable outcome becomes adults taking action in the child's best interests." [mijn nadruk] (391)
"This is not to say that children were or are passive. The frequency of reform movements historically and in our contemporary culture speak to the fact that the 'problem' of childhood sexuality was never resolved and continues to be a thorn in the side of adults today. However, the idea that a child has the right to claim its body, pleasure (homoerotically, heteroerotically or something in between) and knowledge would be as abhorrent now as it was historically. The extent to which this is true is always striking during discussions of the sexual rights of children and how those rights are often conceptualized in very narrow terms. The rights of children, as sexual subjects, are often singularly framed as the right of protection from sexual exploitation but rarely do these conversations turn towards the equally important right of sexual agency (Levesque 2008; Lehr 2008; Evans 1993; Males 1992). Even theories that historically acknowledged sexual instincts in children (e.g. developmental theories) only go so far in the acceptability of its realization - discussions are limited to sexuality as an exosomatic response and not an agentic site (Hawkes and Egan forthcoming; Romesburg 2008). Children's sexuality within dominant discourse is still ideologically dependent on what adults deem to be socially acceptable.
We want to be clear that we are not arguing that we should do away with the protection of children. Rather, our contention is that the discourse as it is currently conceptualized is deficient and unrepresentative because there is no place for the sexual subjectivity of children, their agency or recognition of their rights as sexual citizens. Until we move our thinking away from these historically persistent assumptions and their concomitant desire for normalization our discussions with and on childhood sexuality will remain stymied by contradiction and beset by deeply troubling political ramifications."(393)
Judith Butler's werk wordt vervolgens gebruikt om de aard van die 'agency' duidelijker te krijgen.
"Self-determination is viable only in a culture that promotes and enables the exercise of agency. It is only through collective contestation that self-determination is made possible. Agency, for Butler, is a definitively social endeavour."(394)
"We contend that Butler's framework offers a powerful model for thinking about the sexuality and sexual agency of children. By highlighting the mutually interdependent nature of social recognition the possibility of social and sexual agency extends beyond the province of adult rationality to a reflexive and dynamic collective endeavour - one that includes children and adults as socially viable members and agents in their community."(395)
"Making the lives of children better in all domains, sexual and otherwise, means we must take them seriously as 'knowers' in the world."(395)
[Er volgt nog een heel verhaal, maar de kern van de zaak is gewoon: neem kinderen serieus, accepteer dat zij een eigen vorm van seksualiteit hebben.]
"Second, we need to uncouple children's sexuality from an adult model. Children's sexuality should not be constructed as a mirror to or corollary of adult sexuality. Such a framework reproduces the assumptions of previous discourses which rendered the expression of children's sexuality as prematurely adult and thus an abhorrent manifestation. In equal turn, the goal should not be one of adult liberation of a repressed and uninformed youthful sexuality. The underlying logic of both of these discourses is that the sexual subjectivity of children is the result of an outside stimulus, and although the outcome is negative in the former and positive in the latter - both rely upon and reproduce a vision of childhood sexuality through the lens and desire of adulthood."(396)
"The shape of children's sexuality cannot be known, defined or supposed in advance. Recognizing children as capable of sexual agency requires that we get more comfortable with ambiguity and be open to its becoming."(397)