National Virtue and the 'media sexualisation of children' discourse in Australia

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    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Most studies of the media sexualisation of children debate focus on its significance in terms of discourses of sexuality and gender. This article makes observations about public meetings called to express concern about media sexualisation held in several Australian capital cities 2009-2010 to argue that media sexualisation is also meaningful in relation to discourses of nation. Drawing on the claim made by Valerie Walkerdine that concern with the eroticisation of girls is a defence against acknowledgement of difficult sexual desires and Gayle Rubin's observation that concerns with children's sexuality often carry other political agendas, this article argues that the concern with media sexualisation of children in the Australian context carries meaning about national identity and national virtue. It places the emergence of the discourse in the recent history of revelations about the systemic abuse of children by the state and the Christian churches throughout the 20th century and into this century, and argues that the media sexualisation discourse constitutes subjects who, via their investment in innocence, are exonerated from any culpability in this compromising national history.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)651-664
    Number of pages14
    Issue number5/6
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


    • Australia
    • children
    • innocence
    • media sexualisation
    • national identity
    • national virtue


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