Writer Molly Lambert wrote a remarkable essay about pornography, sexuality, and the sexualization of young girls over at the mp3 blog This Recording.
It is not (and never has been) shocking that people sexualize children, especially girls. It is not the pictures that rob these girls of their agency, it is the discussion around them. When an actually shocking story like the Austrian guy with the incest dungeon breaks, the public’s repulsion is matched only by their lust for sordid details. The flip side of disgust is fascination.
The internet is a Pandora’s Box for pornography, and shutting down provocative preteen modeling sites like Lil’ Amber will not stop pederasty or the sexual exploitation of minors any more than banning Lolita would have. Shows like To Catch A Predator play on the desire that morally outrageous crimes be stopped, and encourages the public to think that modern society and its evils are somehow responsible for outbreaks of sin.
But none of these problems are new. They occur behind closed doors in purposely antiquated settings like the FLDS, and reading any of the true crime records widely available online (or The Bible, for that matter) makes it obvious that most transgressions, no matter how hideous, have been happening for thousands for years. Which is not the same as deeming them acceptable.
The whole thing is worth reading (and talking about, if anyone cares to).