Steve Biddulph is a psychologist and the author of Raising Babies.
The Age (Australia) May 28, 2008
It is astonishing that the debate over Bill Henson’s photographs has been framed as art versus pornography, as if these were mutually exclusive, tidy categories that settle the matter once and for all. And as if art somehow excuses us from moral behaviour. The real issue is exploitation. That is also the issue in pedophilia. Children’s bodies are not always harmed by pedophiles, their minds almost always are. We are repulsed by pedophiles because they impose adult sexuality onto children who become depersonalised objects for gratification.
..Tens of thousands of parents now deal with the tensions in their daughters and sons as they struggle with self-image concerns they rarely had a generation ago, and teens themselves have to deal with the assumption that they will have sex long before they feel emotionally ready. This is a media-created problem, and art is just another media, though one that we might hope was more creative and less harmful. It seems idiotic to worry about our “freedoms” when children going to primary school routinely view ads for penis enlargers and brothels towering over our suburban shopping centres. To come out of sexual prudery is one thing, to be swamped in sexual pressure is as limiting and oppressive in the other direction.
..Artists, libertarians and parents, need to think beyond their own egos and wishes, because children actually matter more.