Pedophilic gaze

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The pedophilic gaze is the interpretation of children and depictions thereof in a sexualized way. Robert J. Danay writes:[1]

According to Adler, child pornography cases require the courts to take on the gaze of the pedophile in order to root out pictures of children that harbor secret pedophilic appeal. . . . The various attempts at judicially defining the term "lascivious" reveal the extent to which courts have, like a deer caught in headlights, become locked into the "pedophilic gaze." . . . . In an effort to condemn all materials that might hold some special inciting effect upon alleged pedophiles, the judicial pedophilic gaze is extending to materials that are increasingly mundane. . . . . Primarily, the determination of whether the materials depict the sexual organs or anal region of a person under eighteen for a sexual purpose requires the judicial adoption of the "pedophilic gaze." In general, I would argue that the "sexual purpose" test imports a dangerously subjective element into prosecutions stemming from child pornography. As opposed to looking at the materials from some objective perspective, this test begs the court to examine impugned materials from the perspective of a pedophile in order to expose the motivation of the accused in collecting or possessing the materials in question. This exercise is patently ill-advised, as it explicitly requires courts to take on the "pedophilic gaze" when examining materials involving children. . . . I contend that when, after careful examination of a family photo of a toddler opening up her Christmas presents, the court finds the depiction of the child's genitalia to be "startling," it is clearly locked into the pedophilic gaze. . . . . In my estimation, prosecutions targeting materials that caused true abuse in their production entail the least possible degree of "pedophilic gazing." . . . Adler notes that "once we accept that prohibited depictions of 'sexual conduct' by children can include not only explicit sex acts, but also the more subjective notion of 'lascivious exhibitions,' we put in motion the sexualization of children through the taking on of the pedophilic gaze." . . . Asking whether particular photographs or videos of children's genitalia or anal regions were taken or collected for a sexual purpose strays too far from the pressing issue of harm and becomes involved in the prurient and destructive realm of judicial pedophilic gazing.

Concerns over what uses pedophiles might make of images have resulted in bans of parents taking photos of children on primary school sports day and at nativity plays.[2]

See also


  1. Danay, Robert J. (2005). "Danger of Fighting Monsters: Addressing the Hidden Harms of Child Pornography Law, The". Rev. Const. Stud. 11 (151).