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The Balenciaga BDSM Campaign is a Testament to the West’s Moral Decay

Balenciaga, one of the world’s top luxury fashion brands with millions of followers on Instagram, has come under fire after dropping its recent holiday ad campaign featuring children holding teddy bears in bondage gear. The BDSM accessories were also included on the runway at Balenciaga’s show at Paris Fashion Week. In a separate ad that dropped on November 21st, Balenciaga showcased documents from the Supreme Court case United States v. Williams, a ruling that concerned child pornography [1].

Balenciaga was quick to pull the ads after receiving a series of intense anger and backlash for featuring children in a sexualized campaign that included elements of child pornography. The #cancelBalenciaga hashtag began trending across Twitter and TikTok as critics accused the brand of promoting child exploitation and pedophilia. In response, Balenciaga apologized for its “series of grievous errors” and said it will take full accountability for its lack of oversight. “We want to learn from our mistakes and identify ways we can contribute,” Balenciaga concluded [2].

Despite the apology, many are infuriated over Balenciaga’s sexualization of children to make profit. Some argue that Balenciaga’s conscious decision to run the campaign could not have been a mistake, considering that it has previously published disturbing images including a copy of Michael Borremans’ book “Fire From the Sun,” a collection of portraits of naked toddlers with sinister references to violence [3,4]

The outrage over Balenciaga’s campaign comes at a time when Western media and entertainment industries are gradually breaking down taboos related to pedophilia. USA Today, one of America’s largest news outlets, promoted an article on Twitter in January 2022 that described pedophilia as an “inborn” preference that some are predisposed to [5]. “A pedophile is an adult who is sexually attracted to children, but not all pedophiles abuse kids, and some people who sexually abuse kids are not pedophiles,” USA Today wrote [8].

The outlet suggested that a growing scientific consensus is accepting that sexual attraction to children is “determined in the womb” and that pedophiles cannot control their desires [5]. This sentiment was echoed earlier in November 2021 by Professor Allyn Walker from Old Dominion University, who argued that pedophiles should not be stigmatized for their attractions. He stated in an interview that there “is no morality or immorality attached to attraction to anyone, because no one can control who they’re attracted to at all” [6].

Other human rights organizations such as the Protasia Foundation have advocated for changing the way pedophilia is seen in society, starting with replacing the word pedophile or “pedo” with “minor-attracted people” in an effort to create a safer space for people with these sexual inclinations. The foundation explained that “minor-attracted people deserve support so that they can have the same quality of life that we are all seeking” [7].

Public outrage against Professor Allyn Walker and other activists who promote the destigmatization of pedophilia have focused on the dangers associated with normalizing sexual deviance and degeneracy, especially in relation to children. Pedophiles are now demanding recognition as maligned minorities who have been marginalized and overlooked by society [9]. What follows will likely be the demand for sexual freedom and the right to love whomever they want, even if the object of that love is a child. 

As pedophilia inches closer to becoming the next social justice movement seeking protection from the progressive umbrella, and as the Western entertainment industry begins featuring it as a trendy state of mind, a key question remains: how far will the quest for social freedom go and what’s next on the list?

Western society prides itself in being secular and democratic. It promotes the freedom of speech, and provides a platform for all voices, good and bad. The problem, however, lies in the absence of a clear moral framework, as good and bad have no meaning if the standard for truth is individual self fulfillment. It seems as though the absence of a clear moral compass has heavily contributed to the gradual erosion of morality in Western society.

Thus, what some are now calling “an assault on Western civilization” is rooted in the subjective definition of morality in the West. Whereas religion defines ethics in an objective way with stringent rules and principles, secularism places that judgment on the individual: what is good or bad for one person can differ from what it is for another [11]

This unclear standard about right and wrong has stirred a heated debate among philosophers and politicians for centuries, but one thing is for sure: if the Balenciaga campaign is any indication, the Western world is quickly devolving into a sea of moral degeneracy without any signs of slowing down [12].





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  • Sarah Katib

    Sarah Katib is a multi-platform journalist who specializes in writing and research on international affairs, contemporary social issues, and Muslim identity in the West.

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