Does The Media Play A Role In Normalizing Pedophilia?
The New York Times and Balenciaga are moving on after a notorious 2022 marketing campaign featuring toddler girls holding teddy bears outfitted with bondage gear. But should they?
Pedophilia is a psychosexual disorder, generally affecting adults, characterized by sexual interest in prepubescent children - Britannia.com.
It was just a couple of toddler girls holding teddy bears outfitted with mesh vests and bondage harnesses to sell high-priced merchandise from Balenciaga, a luxury fashion brand.
So what’s the problem?
This was the premise of a 2022 New York Times story headlined, “When High Fashion and QAnon Collide.” The NYT seemed to think the problem was not the ad campaign but QAnon, a bogey-man organization regularly trotted out by the far-left to dismiss concerns about child pornography, sexual abuse and pedophilia. The NYT minimized the obvious sexualization of the little girls.
But the public outcry over the Balenciaga campaign wasn’t limited to Balenciaga, which is owned by Kering, a French corporation that also owns Gucci and Saint Laurent. There was equally intense outrage about the NYT’s defense of the Balenciaga campaign.
It was baffling that the article, co-authored by NYT Fashion Editor Vanessa Friedman, effectively defended the predatory depiction of little girls. The problem was plain to see. So why didn’t the NYT see it?
Friedman revisited the controversy Monday after attending a Balenciaga fashion show in New York. She writes the flap caused Balenciaga to lose forward momentum. She said Demna, a designer, and Cedric Charbit, Balenciaga’s chief executive, are contrite.
But there is no sign that Ms. Friedman and/or the NYT are contrite. Indeed, the evidence goes the other way.
First, Friedman minimizes Balenciaga’s infamous campaign by stating it involved “young children holding bags that looked like teddy bears in bondage gear.”
The young children are little girls, aged two or three, one of whom was standing on a bed with a pink headboard. The toddlers were holding teddy bears that plainly were trussed up in bondage gear. Even Balenciaga agreed and apologized that its “plush bear bags… should not have been featured with children.”
Friedman then refers to a second Balenciaga ad as being separate.
She writes that “buried in a giant mess of papers were documents about a Supreme Court case on child pornography.” In fact, the document, placed under a handbag, is a Supreme Court opinion that loosened restrictions on child pornography.
The Guardian notes that in the background of another shot is a coffee table book of the work of artist Michaël Borremans, whose “Fire from the Sun” paintings include images of naked toddlers engaged in what the gallerist David Zwirner describes as “playful but mysterious acts with sinister overtones” The NYT omits this entirely.
What difference does it make whether or not it is separate ad campaign when it reflects the approval of an international fashion brand and is being displayed around the world?
Finally, Friedman concludes the flap was about “where our sacred cows get adjudicated in the court of public opinion.”
Pedophelia is not a sacred cow. It is a fundamental tenet of a civilized society that children have a basic human right to be protected from sexually predatory behavior. Moreover, the responsibility for protecting children in this case extended both to Balenciaga and the New York Times.
Where is the NYT’s “redemptive narrative?”
The NYT chooses to pretend that it played no role in the fiasco. Clearly the public doesn’t agree. Ms. Friedman and her co-authors were roundly deplored as covering up for pedophelia. A tsunami of scathing tweets complained, “Yea, this ain’t the move. This is really blatant and this article looks like its trying to protect the pedo bix.”
The NYT could have used the backlash created by its article as an opportunity to examine how the media covers and should cover pedophilia, child pornography and sexual abuse.
Meanwhile, the NYT claimed in an editorial that “far right activists have been waging a nationwide campaign of harassment against L.G.B.T.Q. people and events in which they participate.” The NYT surely knows this is not true. People, including gays and lesbians, are properly concerned that drag queens are engaged in an unseemly effort to normalize their controversial definition of “gender fluidity” to children.
Children should be singing “Old MacDonald has a farm.” They should not be sitting in a taproom in Seattle where a smiling trans woman with oversized flowers in her hair and child-friendly clown attire, encourages them to sing: “If you’re a drag queen and you know it, blow a kiss!”)