eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
SINCE 1997
TRAMES cover
TRAMES. A Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
ISSN 1736-7514 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-0922 (Print)
Impact Factor (2021): 0.467
PDF | 10.3176/tr.2022.2.07

Simone Eelmaa

Technological advancements have begun to blur the line between the virtual and real, bringing about more threats to the safety and well-being of children. One such is creating virtual child sexual abuse material (CSAM) using deepfake technology. Another significant and well-established strand of creating overtly sexual content is hentai, in its meaning of anime and manga pornography. In early 2018, the online platform Reddit changed its rules on simulated pornography and sexually suggestive content involving minors after mainstream media raised deepfakes-related concerns. Based on a large dataset (N = 13293) of Reddit comments collected on the topic, this article takes a qualitative approach to examine Reddit users’ views and attitudes about the sexualization of minors (SOM) in deepfakes and hentai. The analysis captured five major themes in the discussion over SOM: illegality, art, promoting pedophilia, increase in offending and general harmfulness. Furthermore, the discussion was underscored by the central question of who is a minor, which feeds the already problematic definitional ambiguity and keeps the perceived discursive boundaries of the illegality of SOM in flux.


Al-Alosi, Hadeel (2018) The criminalisation of fantasy material: law and sexually explicit represen—tations of fictional children. London and New York: Routledge.

American Psychological Association, Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls (2007). Report of the APA Task Force on the sexualization of girls. Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022.

Bartels, Ross M., and Hannah L. Merdian (2016) “The implicit theories of child sexual exploitation material users: an initial conceptualization”. Aggression and Violent Behavior 26, 16–25.

Baumgartner, Jason, Savvas Zannettou, Brian Keegan, Megan Squire, and Jeremy Blackburn (2020) “The pushshift reddit dataset”. In Proceedings of the international AAAI conference on web and social media 14, 830–839.

Berger, Peter L. and Thomas Luckmann (1966) The social construction of reality: a treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.

Chiang, Emily (2020) “Dark web: study reveals how new offenders get involved in online paedophile communities”. The Conversation, 2 March. Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022.

Clough, Jonathan (2012) “Lawful acts, unlawful images: the problematic definition of child pornography”. Monash University Law Review 38, 213.

Cole, Samantha (2018) “We are truly fucked: everyone is making ai-generated fake porn now”. Vice. Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022.

Corbin, Juliet and Anselm Strauss (2014) Basics of qualitative research: techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. Los Angeles: Sage publications.

Delfino, Rebecca A. (2020) “Pornographic deepfakes: the case for federal criminalization of revenge porn’s next tragic act”. Actual problems of Economics and Law 105. Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022.

Duncan, Susan Hanley (2010) “A legal response is necessary for self-produced child pornography: a legislator’s checklist for drafting the bill”. Oregon Law Review 89, 645–700. Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022.

ECPAT International (s.a.) SECO manifestations factsheet. Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022.

Europol (2020) Exploiting isolation: offenders and victims of online child sexual abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic. European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation. Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022.

FRA (2017) Dataset: minimum age requirements related to rights of the child in the EU. Age of consent for sexual activity with an adult. European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022. 

Gosse, Chandell and Jacquelyn Burkell (2020) “Politics and porn: how news media characterizes problems presented by deepfakes”. Critical Studies in Media Communication 37, 5, 497–511.

Greijer, Susanna and Doek Jaap (2016) Terminology guidelines for the protection of children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. ECPAT International. Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022.

Hunn, Charlotte, Caroline Spiranovic, Jeremy Prichard, and Karen Gelb (2020) “Why internet users’ perceptions of viewing child exploitation material matter for prevention policies”. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology 53, 2, 174–193.

ICMEC (2018) Child sexual abuse material: model legislation & global review. 9th ed. International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC). Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022.

Kelly, Maresa E. (2017) “The media’s impact on beauty and the sexualization of women”. Marian University. Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022.

Kikerpill, Kristjan (2020) “Choose your stars and studs: the rise of deepfake designer porn”. Porn Studies 7, 4, 352–356.

Kirchengast, Tyrone (2020) “Deepfakes and image manipulation: criminalisation and control”. Information & Communications Technology Law29, 3, 308–323.

Krauss, Steven Eric (2005) “Research paradigms and meaning making: a primer”. The qualitative report 10, 4, 758–770.

Leonard, Marcella Mary (2010) “‘I did what I was directed to do but he didn’t touch me’: the impact of being a victim of internet offending”. Journal of Sexual Aggression 16, 2, 249–256.

Maddocks, Sophie (2018) “From non-consensual pornography to image-based sexual abuse: charting the course of a problem with many names”. Australian Feminist Studies 33, 97, 345–361.

Markham, Annette (2012) “Fabrication as ethical practice: qualitative inquiry in ambiguous internet contexts“. Information, Communication & Society 15, 3, 334–353.

Moore, Allison and Paul Reynolds (2018) “The sexualisation of childhood”. In Childhood and sexuality, 121–141. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

NetClean (2018) Netclean report 2018: a report about child sexual abuse crime. Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022. 

O’Donnell, Ian and Claire Milner (2012) Child pornography: crime, computers and society. Cullompton: Willan.

Paasonen, Susanna, Kaarina Nikunen, and Laura Saarenmaa (2007) Pornification: sex and sexuality in media culture. Oxford and New York: Berg.

Paul, Bryant and Daniel G. Linz (2008) “The effects of exposure to virtual child pornography on viewer cognitions and attitudes toward deviant sexual behaviour”. Communication Research 35, 1, 3–38.

Porn Hub (2019) The 2019 year in review. Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022.

Prichard, Jeremy, Caroline Spiranovic, Karen Gelb, Paul A. Watters, and Tony Krone (2016) “Tertiary education students’ attitudes to the harmfulness of viewing and distributing child pornography”. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law 23, 2, 224–239.

Quayle, Ethel and Max Taylor (2002) “Child pornography and the Internet: perpetuating a cycle of abuse”. Deviant behavior 23, 4, 331–361.

Reddit (2018) Update on site-wide rules regarding involuntary pornography and the sexualization of minors. Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022.

Russell, Diana E. H. and Natalie J. Purcell (2008) “Exposure to pornography as a cause of child sexual victimization”. In Handbook of children, culture, and violence, 59–84. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Seto, Michael C. (2009) “Pedophilia” Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 5, 391–407.

UNFPA (2017) Harmonizing the legal environment for adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights: a review of 23 countries in East and Southern Africa. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Available online at
Accessed on 12 March, 2022.

Back to Issue