by DUNCAN FINE
I must have missed the memo.
You know, the one everyone else seems to have received about how we are all now living in a world so shocking and depraved that our kids are hopelessly sexualized, our culture is a swill of pornography and paedophiles openly groom children for sex.
That banned Pasolini movie – Salo? Next to us, a freakin’ Sunday School picnic.
Because that appears to be the world according to any number of psychologists and authors like Steve Biddulph and Melinda Tankhard Reist, who have made a career out of making perfectly good decent parents panicked about their perfectly good decent kids.
These people form a very long line of modern commentators who have mastered the art of simultaneously wringing their hands and wagging their fingers at how our culture has devolved into sex and chaos.
And what triggers all this angst? Let’s see. Take your pick from girls dancing around to Beyonce and Rhianna videos in their bedroom, Kmart selling a line of underwear for teenaged girls with the words, “I (heart) rich boys” and “Call Me” written on them. the work of Bill Henson, Kylie Minogue videos on TV, a member of Hi-5 appearing in a men’s magazine in lingerie, and pole dancing lessons for kids.
It’s hard to argue for calm in this debate because the emotive script about kids and sex has been so thoroughly written and seems so widespread. But some plain talking and some rational thinking are overdue. So here goes.
We are in the middle of a terrible moral panic about kids and their sexuality. And it’s being fuelled by both liberals and conservatives.
So on the one hand, Tankard Reist of the religious right, constantly calls for a “crackdown on degrading and objectified images of women in the public domain” in our “culture that is becoming increasingly pornographic.”
Meanwhile, Phillip Adams years ago coined the hyperbolic term “corporate paedophilia” which became the title of the left wing Australia Institute’s report on how corporations were making a dollar on the back of allegedly sexual images of children in clothing catalogues. Clive Hamilton, then head of the Institute, warned that, “corporations, retailers are sexualising children in their advertising … selling bras for 6-year-old girls.”
Now… deep breath… for the facts.
First, there is no evidence whatsoever that images in the media cause physical or psychological problems or a heightened and inappropriate sexual curiosity in children. Indeed, the experience of the Scandanavian countries and Japan, with liberal attitudes to porn, says the opposite.
Further, it’s in countries where there is widespread, explicit sexual education that we find the very lowest levels of teen sex, pregnancy and abortion.