Friday 11 July 2008

The Child - our Guide and Saviour??

Child sex, child pornography, child photos, child models, child fashion... Can you add to the list?

If you came up with yet another titillating, newspaper selling ratings winner you didn't think hard enough.

Observe the body language of a mother as she unabashedly casts adoring looks towards her child at a restaurant table while the little brat produces another one of its inanities.

Observe the proliferation of fashion shows where children parade the latest must-have before a rapt audience.

Observe the rage of a parent in response to the often feeble attempts by a teacher to instill a modicum of discipline in the classroom.

Can't, or won't, connect the dots?

There was a time not so long ago, and in demographics outside the West there still is, when an attitude of benign interest focused on the young as they struggled to gradually imitate the behaviour of the adult. When playing with cars, acting out through some game, handling a doll, was seen as hints of the maturity yet to come. And sex, that nasty, sweaty, ecstatic trait of our species, must be included.

Yet instead of seeing all of the above as fun, or a laugh, or a peccadillo, they have come to represent a profound message coming from the new gods. Depending on the cultural situatedness of the context they are either received with utter seriousness or vengeful condemnation.

Why should the dress worn by a child be taken as a fashion statement standing for the leitmotiv of a society - what does a child know about style anyway, and what does a little kid have that allows it to carry a symbol of cultural abstraction on its unfinished body?

How can it be that a melee on the sports ground is deemed so important that parents turn it into a rallying cry for their own wars?

How come the child has gained such stature?

As a matter of fact, it always possessed it. To a mother her child is the most precious, beautiful, intelligent being that ever was. And, in tandem with that kind of sentiment, it will be shielded against the outside regardless of its actual potential. Yet the adoration remained in the home, and without it children would not get the love and care so essential for their development. Critical analysis comes later, and in stages.

Over the last few decades feminism infused our society with the inherent mindset of the Female. Her mother instinct transposed itself into the wider world and moulded it in its image. A game of dressing-up in the bedroom turned into a public occasion, a wrangle in the backyard has become an event worthy of official assessment, and a tickle is subsumed under the mantle of paedophilia. The real paedophile, that body-mind combination which centres on the child as representative of an exclusive demand of their personal satisfaction, that phenomenon is thrown into a swirl of uninformed arguments made doubly opaque by tossing together emotional triggers serving an ill-understood catharsis.

Who, in this carnival of madness, is the real paedophile? The person who playfully engages a cute body, or someone who uses the child as a serious substitute for their own agenda?

Ultimately the problem is not so much the child. Even sending youngsters down a coal mine, for all its horrors, did not wipe out a civilisation. But today's adulation is far more insidious.

If a projection serves any purpose at all, at the very least it should be something productive. But the feedback from a fashion parade of children, or the instilled ego in a pupil, does not produce anything but an immature reflection of what should, or could, have been.

To turn such outcomes into a cultural standard spells disaster.

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