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Title: Narratives of the sexual child: Shared themes and shared challenges
Contributor(s): Hawkes, Gail  (author)orcid ; Dune, Tinashe (author)
Publication Date: 2013
Open Access: Yes
DOI: 10.1177/1363460713497459Open Access Link
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Abstract: For the past five years in the Anglophone West, narratives of the sexual child have been dominated by anxieties about sexualization (of girls), sexting (by both girls and boys) and most recently, children sexually 'abusing' children. The terms in which these social issues are discussed are increasingly negative and, in the case of the latter, dominated by panic. It is the inevitability of these negative consequences that is assumed rather than proven. Sexualization of girls is seen as the inevitable and damaging outcome of a sex-saturated society and primarily impacts upon girls to produce women who have a negative self-image through self-objectification. In addition to inappropriate visual representations of girls, a more direct and insidious threat comes from direct physical contact with what are deemed by the campaigners to be 'incendiary objects', usually underwear. Girls alone are assumed to be susceptible in the contradictory dynamics of corruptibility and innocence. Within this literature, sexualization appears more symptomatic of a conservative political position than a critically evaluated social phenomenon. The possibility of subjective self-determination in children is systematically sabotaged by the fear and panic fanned by conflating age-inappropriate appearance with actual or immanent predation and abuse by paedophilic adults. This polarization has resulted in an impasse of unsubstantiated claims and unresolved and circular panics. In response, sexuality and cultural scholars have used empirical and comparative studies, as well as history and critical sociology to argue that 'sexualization' is itself a constructed and unsubstantiated concept. (Egan and Hawkes, 2008a, 2008b, 2009, 2010; Gill, 2008, 2009, 2012). Beyond this intellectual incoherence, recent critical literature has insisted upon the recognition of sexual agency in young people both in terms of their own self-empowerment and in relation to their capacity to resist the objectification manifest in discourses of endangerment of innocence.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Sexualities, 16(5-6), p. 622-634
Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 1363-4607
Field of Research (FOR): 160899 Sociology not elsewhere classified
160805 Social Change
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Psychology and Behavioural Science

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