Ifit is true what they say, that children really are the future, why is it thatmankind seems to repeatedly disregard the impact of its actions on saidchildren? Faulkner (2010) writes that children are “sweet, innocent, vacant,smooth skinned, spontaneous, and mischievous” (p. 117) Reading these wordsoutside of context, what also comes to mind is the female. Sweet, innocent,vacant – is this not the description of a sexual woman in this society? It isagreed by Faulkner (2010) that this is also how “we construct the desirable,”thus drawing the comparison between society’s tendency to “see ‘the child’ and’the erotic’ as coincident” (p. 117). This is a troubling school of thought, aschildren should inherently by asexual. They have yet to reach sexualmaturation, either through primary or secondary sex characteristics. A childshould be incapable of being sexual and yet she is still a source oftemptation. Therates of sexual abuse in children have experienced a staggering increase fromthe 1980s to the 1990s alone.
O’Donohue, Gold, and McKay (1997) account that 8%jumped to 54% in females, while 3% to 25% of males report unwanted sexualcontact as a minor – any time under the age of 18 (p. 291). Although the agespresented here include likely periods of time after adolescent puberty, in theUnited States at least, many state governments cite 18 as the year ofadulthood, making anyone younger a child in the eyes of the law.
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Knabe (2012)contributes these dictations to “concerns about the female children and theimplicit regulation of their sexuality” (p. 12). However, it should be notedher specificity in the term ‘female’. Faulkner (2010) as well addresses thisattraction to female sexuality, arguing that society has become obsessed withwomen and girls as “innocent asexual beings,” meaning that they are susceptibleto the corruption of men’s “uncontrollable sexuality” (p. 108). Whyis it that man is almost obsessed with the protection of female children? Okamiand Goldberg (1992) attempt to discuss this male fascination through historicalperspectives of data which suggest average age of marriage as 12-15 for femalesand indicates that “adult male sexual attraction to sexually mature femaleadolescents is normative in virtually all societies” (p. 303).
It appears thatmen have always found themselves intrinsically interwoven in the responsibilityof female sexuality. In the past, for example, this had taken form in theexistence of child brides – those 12 to 15-year-olds. Today, it is seen through”early twentieth-century legislation concerning age of consent, statutory rape,and prostitution” (Knabe, 2012, p. 12). These categories are indeed worthy ofinspection and restriction.
However, it is perhaps questionable that though theimpact of these laws directly affect women, with Congress being predominantlymale and white, women likely had little room to influence these decisions.Though it is counterproductive to argue against most of these progressivenotions, they still must be viewed with a critical eye. Regardless,it is established that children, girls especially, are apparently in need ofprotection from oversexualization. But in what forms does this affront againstthe innocent child take place? To begin with, many cite child pornography asbeing a significant outrage. Finkelhor and Araji (1986) argue that throughsocial learning, “it is possible that exposure to pornography involvingchildren teaches such arousal to people who would not otherwise have become so”(p.
153). This is an interesting stand against child pornography – could itcause sexual attraction that wasn’t there before? Can the origin of pedophiliaand overall sexualization of children be linked to this exposure? Regardless,it is important to acknowledge the negative impact of child pornography if onlydue to its exploitation of children.