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Corporate Pedophilia

Caroline Overington of The Australian, has today written on Innocent Seduction. An excellent article that offers a balanced argument on the alleged sexualisation and exploitation of children through the marketing and advertising of designer children’s wear, I was saddened to read that giant retailer, David Jones, has entered Litigious Street. Demanding that references to their company be removed from an Australian Institute research paper entitled, Corporate Paedophillia (see Revealing Children’s Fashion), David Jones’ CEO has called in the legal guns to support their “reputation for high-quality apparel and corporate decency.”

It would appear that the research report, “Corporate Pedophilia”, has upset many fashion brand labels. Add to this, everyday parents who view that the author of Corporate Pedophilia is way off beam. One father was quoted in Overington’s article as saying that, "Parents are doting on their kids. Children are saturated with love and affection and care."

This may be the case for many families. Certainly, my children are loved and protected as are the children of the vast majority of people that I am friends with. However, the reality is that the rates of child sexual assault remain high and eighty-five percent of child sexual assault is perpetrated by somebody well known to the child. While it is not the corporate entities that are sexually abusing these children, their marketing and advertising may well become skewed in the minds of a voyeuristic child abuser – a person who has access to innocent children, a person who may well collect and read advertising from their mail box and then carries out their perverted thoughts on the children in the home.

Discourse is needed around this. It is the responsibility of all of us to stop pedophilia. Child sexual abuse is an emotive topic and the divide between the believers and those unable to believe is wide. Somehow, we’ve got to find a common ground, a place where both parties can understand what the other is saying.

Many years ago I watched a Dave Allen skit on a scantily clad woman rubbing herself all over a car. The skit was a take off, of a car marketing add. Dave’s punch line was, “Buy this car and you’ll be fuc*ed!” That one line has stayed with me for twenty years. It assisted me to become highly sensitive to the use of sex or sexualised behaviour in marketing. Conversely, advertising that talks directly to pedophiles, telling them that what they are doing is wrong, unacceptable but that there is help for them, would also work on me. I would support that corporate entity in their delivery of exceptional corporate responsible.

If one in three adults have reported in survey that they were sexually abused as children, then this is a high number of potential children’s fashion label buyers, or non buyers. Already I won’t purchase several brands of clothing because the companies openly flaunt sex to sell their product. How many more people are there in the world like me? David Jones may well be concerned that they have been slighted as being non-protective, but it is their reaction that has concerned me to the point that they may well become one of those shops I stop shopping at. They are failing to hear the essence behind the report and have instead personalised it. However, if David Jones displayed corporate responsibility toward ending child sexual abuse, perhaps even donating to treatment programs for sexual offenders, then I would be likely to purchase all of my clothes there. If this was a similar case for the one in three prevalence statistic of people who have claimed sexual abuse then that is a massive increase in potential customers to David Jones or any other fashion label/house.

Please, it is time to end child sexual abuse. To the corporates, we need your help. To everyone else, the corporates that are displaying recognition and action for ending child sexual abuse need our support.

What can we do so that we are all speaking the same language about ending child sexual abuse?

7 Response to "Corporate Pedophilia"

Vickie Farquhar said...

This is a subject that has been angering me for some considerable time.
I find it highly disturbing, when I see parents buying such items...especially such items as bra and panty sets for eight year olds. It's a rare eight year old that would have need of such an item! Parents, especially mothers, who want their daughter to look 'cute', should think first. Just because 'Suzie has one' is NOT the reason for such a purchase.

What should we do? Firstly don't buy such clothing, secondly: write to the managers of the stores and the CEOs of the companies that stock the goods you are worried about. Thirdly: Write letters to the editors of your local papers or contact talk back shows. Of course we have to be careful identifying the stores, but just putting the topic out there is a starting point.

I have friends in the US who are just as perturbed as I am.'s tantamount to hanging a sign around our childrens necks.


ERIK said...

Hi Megan,

You are right : the way advertising is used now it totally wrong. It seems that only sex is important and for selling products they use sex very often and not only by clothes.
Advertising can happen on a more efficient way and certainly on television. Why don't they advertise more on a funny way. It will have a better a result and better for the children.
I remember advertising by animals like monkeys who make fun to promote a product.
Maybe the media can do something on it : pay more for advertisement which happens on an efficient way and not with sex. Maybe more companies will avoid sex in their campaign for publicity


Megan Bayliss said...

Vickie and Erik
thanks for your comments. It is nice to know that there are other people in the world concerned about our children and the effects of advertising on families.

Vickie, your list of suggestions may be very helpful to parents. Just because advertisers and marketers have big pots of money and influence does not mean that consumers lack the power to change consumer trends. If parents don't like something, they can change it.

Erik, your suggestion re paying more for quality advertising minus any sexual connotations resonates with me. It's about changing the value and worth of children. All these kids are going to grow up to be consumers after all.

Just as an aside and on a different topic: There are certain foods that I will not buy because they have been manufactured in countries that commit dreadful human rights atrocities. By banning their products from my home, I am making a silent protest (well...I'm never silent but I hope you get my drift) against the government of those countries.

Imagine what would happen if those opposed to sexualised advertising black banned companies that engage in child exploitive advertising.

Vickie Farquhar said...

Just to clarify a point Megan.
What would you consider to be the upper age limit for child labour?

When I was at school, leaving age was 14 and, if there were mitigating circumstances, 13. Many kids I knew, were working and contributing to their family income at 14. We accepted that as the norm.


Megan Bayliss said...

Hi Vickie

In Queensland I think the legal age for being able to work regularly is 14 yrs and 9 months.

Depending on global and county situations(depression, war, etc) this changes. Thankfully, we don't have situations that demand our young go to work too early as was common in your childhood.

Child labour becomes exploitive when the kids are denied the opportunity to also be kids - to play, to learn, to develop. In some third world and developing nations, where children are locked in rooms and sometimes chained up and have no option to do anything but work, it is highly exploitative. I try very hard not to buy goods from countries that use child slave labour.

In terms of using children for advertising, etc, there are some industrial relation laws around how many hours in a row young children are allowed to work.
Certainly in films, often identical twins are used so that producers can get double the filming time per day.

Hope this is helpful.

Vickie Farquhar said...

Hi again Megan,
I know there are, so called, family businesses in Sydney, where the children are forced to work in the sweat shops their families run. Making clothes with labels that state "Made in Australia".
I actually worked in the office of a dress factory in Brisbane - I left because of the treatment handed out to the young girls working there... Australian girls who were slapped by the manageress for leaving their machines to go to the toilet outside break time. Actually I was fired for speaking up - but not before telling them they could keep their f'ing job!
I've always had a big mouth and a hot head.

I abhor the practice of making any child responsible for bringing in the income for the family.It's slavery but if they want to eat, sometimes there is no option. There us not enough funding to feed all the hungry and sick.

On the other side - as a 7yr old in the UK, I used to pick hops with my parents - I thought it was fun, but the farm owners made a tidy profit from 'holiday' labour.No one ever said a word about that.

Most of the kids I grew up with in rural Queensland had far more fun than children today, even if they did join the work force at a young age. There was a freedom that todays youngsters can only dream about.

As for advertising using children, I know they have reasonable protection and that there are laws pertaining to questionable ads.

The film industry is very responsible in their handling of young actors - some children aren't allowed to see the movies they are in because of rating restrictions and that's the way it should be.

This is an interesting topic and one that should be put out there for the general public to see. The Bulletin did do a piece on it last year and I put my two bobs worth in there too.


The Troll said...

Really, the marketing toward sexual values rather than valuing a child starts at birth, and when a boy hears " oooh" and a girl hears "eeew". Mothers and their others are highly responsible for this sexualization, in that they are often the first to describe a child as "cute" and "pretty" rather than a gajillion other adjectives to describe human life.
Children are not possesions, and they are not dollies for women to play dress up with.
Stop that behavior that exists primaily amongst women, and watch the market respond in kind.

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