“Shameless mums” and universal pedophiles

Sexualization and commodification of children

Authored by: Sara Bragg

The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415527699
eBook ISBN: 9780203066911
Adobe ISBN: 9781135076955


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In recent years, the “sexualization of childhood,” and to some extent its “commercialization,” has moved into the center of public policy and debate internationally. Raised as a concern at high-profile and official levels, the issue has brought together government departments, academic researchers, voluntary sector and pressure groups, teachers, children’s authors, media commentators, media institutions, and more. In Britain, for example, the New Labour government of 1997–2010 commissioned a series of reports concerning children’s online safety (Byron 2008), the commercialization of childhood (Buckingham 2009), and the sexualization of young people (Papadopoulos 2010). The Scottish parliament funded research into “sexualized” consumer goods available to children, such as Playboy merchandise (Buckingham et al. 2010). The UK Coalition government that came to power in 2010 commissioned a further review of the sexualization and commercialization of childhood (Bailey 2011). The American Psychological Association’s (2007) review of the psychological literature on sexualization has been widely cited, as has a controversial Australian report (discussed further on pp. 324 and 326–7) entitled Corporate Paedophilia (Rush and La Nauze 2006). The latter apparently sparked an inquiry and reports by the Australian Senate (2008) and the Commissioner for Children and Young People in Western Australia (CCYPWA 2012). Duits and van Zoonen (2011) describe a 2008 proposal by the Dutch government for a policy against the sexualization of girls and young women. In France, Chantal Jouanno, a Senator and a former Minister for Sports, published a parliamentary report, Against Hyper-sexualization: A New Fight for Equality, in 2012. The same year a Polish politician, Joanna Skrzydlewska, presented the European parliament with 21 recommendations addressing the sexualization of girls. Sexualization and commercialization, often in relation to globalization processes, have been the focus of protests in countries beyond the Global North, including South Africa and India; in the state of Kerala, for example, Hindu fundamentalists have opposed celebrations of St. Valentine’s day (Lukose 2009).

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