As I noted in a post below, what particularly rubbed me the wrong way about how the children were used in Jill Greenberg’s art was denying the reality of their emotions in order to provoke a certain feeling in adults. Denying the reality of their emotions, reforming them into allegory, and saying this had no effect on the children whatsoever.
It is not just an art issue. It is a matter of how children are viewed by society, which means it is also a matter of how different constellates of peer groups will treat those who are viewed, for whatever reason, as living beneath a comparable status. In certain contexts this conceit has been called The White Man’s Burden.
I’ve written about this in a number of posts.
The child to whom you offer the lollipop, then deny them that lollipop and take their feelings and deny them even those and resculpt them for allegory, that child is being treated as an inferior and that they dont’ own their experience, instead it is owned by those upon whom they are dependent and it is plastic and pliable according to one’s whims. “But the child is an inferior,” some people may not say but will certainly believe.
No, the child is not an inferior being. The child is a child and that’s all there is to it. Childhood is not an inferior state. They are living as they should, as children. That a child is dependent doesn’t mean they are inferior.
But then, this is how many people choose to live, rating themselves and others on a continuum of less or more inferior. Many people see nothing wrong with it all. For them it is reality.