Is the Glee GQ Photoshoot Pedophilia?

According to the Parents Television Council, yes. It is.

GQ Cover Image

The group argues that, although Dianna Agron, Cory Monteith, and Lea Michele are all in their 20’s and well above the age of sexual consent, GQ is a publication written for adult males overtly sexualizing those who play teenagers and high school students on television.

Considering the fact that all of the actors in the shoot are considered adults, I’d say no, it’s not pedophilia; since pedophilia by definition is the sexual desire in an adult for a child. Agron, Monteith, and Michele are adults – so that throws their argument out the window. Any sexual desire had is for an adult, not a child.

However, I would argue that this is a prime example of the confusing sexual images put out

Lea Michele in GQ

there in the media of women and girls. Agron and Michele are adults, yes. But for the photoshoot, they dress up in bras, high-heels, open button-down shirts, and mini-skirts, sucking on lollipops and posing suggestively. A sexy photo-shoot for sure, but set to the background of a high school and dressed up like cheerleaders, it shows the way that sexuality of women is mixed together with a kind of “school girl” image in today’s society. Women are expected to be overtly sexual and yet innocent; suggestive but virginal. It’s a confusing message, and one that creates a dichotomy – if you’re too sexual, you’re a slut. If you’re too chaste, you’re a prude. Monteith doesn’t have the same confusing message in the GQ photoshoot – he is simply wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and a letterman’s jacket. There’s no expectations being set, no message being sent.

Dianna Agron in GQ

The most surprising part of all this? Editor-in-Chief of GQ, Jim Nelson, said that this was “just another example of the overt sexualization of young girls in entertainment.” While I know that Nelson was referring to the fact that, in his opinion, the Parents Television Council was reading a bit too much into GQ‘s shoot; it actually kind of proves my point – young girls and women in entertainment are expected to be “Sexy”, which is a confusing powderkeg of innocence and raw sex appeal, of pigtails and revealing skin.

Instead of the Parents Television Council attacking GQ and vice versa, perhaps we should focus on changing the sexual images of women and girls in the media. There’s a certain amount of wiggle room in terms of having fun with images and stereotypes, but the imagery of sexy cheerleaders and sexy locker room scenes isn’t innovative, new, or unique. It’s been done thousands of times over by a variety of different men’s magazines and teen movies. Glee may be a TV show about High School, but that doesn’t mean we need to sexualize the image of High School girls in our media. The shots of Agron, Michele, and Monteith aren’t pedophilia – they’re all in good fun. The problem, however, lies in what we as a society find to be the most sexy.

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About beckawall

AU Alumni, feminist, master of peanut butter brownies. Lover of Teddy Roosevelt, politics, analyzing popular culture, and general nerdery.

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