From: Kate Mahoney (email@example.com)
Date: 10/13/03-02:40:22 PM Z
Yes Judy, child nudity was okay in photos when suitably titled (kitsch
again!), but actual nudity among those of Alice Liddell's class at least, in
that society, was definitely not on - think of all those skirted Victorian
piano legs!!!! I guess I was thinking about that particular climate rather
than a universal one, but now that I have pondered, I realise that nudity
among children in the 19th century was a matter of place and class, with the
upper and middle classes shunning it while the poor, expecially the country
poor, probably had different ideas. Also it's curious that nude bathing was
allowed for boys but not girls.......and men too, as long as it was out of
sight. N.B.Von Gloden's photos of boys at that period are usually classed as
----- Original Message -----
From: "Judy Seigel" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2003 5:48 AM
Subject: Re: Neo-Pictorialism, sally mann
> On Mon, 13 Oct 2003, Kate Mahoney wrote:
> > Well, Daryll, all I can say is if that is the case, it's up to us
> > photographers to exert control where we can, in the images we make, to
> > the best of our abilities and the current climate......yes I know about
> > all the Lewis Carroll controversy....don't forget that at this time
> > child nudity WAS a no-no, and child prostitutes roamed the streets at
> > the same time - odd double standards! Le plus ca change........and ol'
> > Charles Dodgson didn't exactly exhibit those images, did he?????
> I'm not sure that "child nudity" was a no-no at the time of lewis Carroll
> -- As I recall it was viewed as "innocence." In fact I have a photo
> annual from about 1903 showing an erotically posed naked girl of about age
> 10 by none other than Robert Demachy -- which would get him arrested
> today. The title is "Innocence."
> Secondly, the nearly hysterical taboo today on photographs of naked
> children is probably counterproductive -- and often ludicrous. The
> stories of parents who innocently photographed their babies' bath and got
> themselves arrested & the pictures confiscated are familiar enough to
> signal that society is out of its tree in this respect. All of which does
> in fact simply INCREASE the titillation of the material -- it's not only
> sexy, it's * contraband.* The notion that by wiping out such photographs
> we can wipe out child abuse and that in our pathologically sexualized
> culture there's a magic line at a certain birthday that makes it all OK,
> or no-kay, is absurd, inane, and part of the problem.
> But I think now of the famous photograph by -- pretty sure it was Walker
> Evans -- of an Appalachian family on the front porch... the little boy,
> about 4 years old in the front row is, as the expression goes, jaybird
> naked.... As little boys and girls probably were in the country (probably
> somewhere near Mann country I'd guess) then -- and I doubt that created a
> comment, let alone an uproar about kiddie porn, and the photo is
> everywhere reproduced. Does it stir pederasty?
> Did we have more abuse of children then? Given what's been in the news
> lately in this and other countries (Portugal and Ireland most recently) it
> seems unlikely abuse could have been worse.. But EVERYTHING about sex is
> hyped up now... a vacant-minded public is partly cause & partly effect of
> the fact that advertising rules our media and "sex sells".
> The general obsession is of course *illustrated* by the uproar about naked
> children, not caused by it. These puritanical taboos are part of the
> problem, not the cure.... As for "exploitation," we always have parents
> exploiting their children, from Brooke Shields, Jackie Coogan, Judy
> Garland and the kids whose little league is ruined by their big league
> minded dads, to all the hidden ways that never get into the news.
> But some get a pass -- There's a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph of a
> little girl with no underpants on and her legs spread under her skirt,
> published with her parents' permission tho not apparently to any gain for
> them that is far more shocking (and yes I found that one shocking tho none
> of the Manns) --- is that on the website?
> As I recall, however, the troops rushed to the barricades to defend
> Mapplethorpe-- while condemning Mann for an oeuvre that contains many
> marvelous and nuanced photos of children, with only a few overtly sexual.
> Why? That's a no-brainer -- men are allowed, they're cool. Women are not.
> She's a WOMAN, A MOTHER, her OWN CHILDREN ( as if it were better with
> someone else's children !).
> In any event, the assumption that these photographs CAUSE child abuse by
> perverts needs debunking. Their possession is now taken as prima facie
> proof of intent to abuse and leads to jail... Yet they're symptom not
> cause -- may even be harmless diversion (not proved or disproved for
> violent video games, which have yet to be outlawed).
> Meanwhile, the abuse of the kiddy law is, to my mind, more obscene than
> any of the "guilty" photographs. For instance, a few years ago a young
> artist in Florida recovering after years of therapy from child abuse, as
> part of both his art and his therapy did a private diary of drawings --
> that's DRAWINGS -- for which he was sent to prison.
> I know of another case where a young man mail ordered photographs that
> were ADVERTISED as legal... but it turned out they weren't and the state
> had a watch on the mailing list. He went to jail for 5 years. Yet the
> photographer who had made the pictures by ostensibly doing test runs for
> fashion shoots in a park while actually using a long lens to zoom in on
> the little girls' underpants was out of state and not prosecuted. (I know
> of this case because I know the reporter who covered it for the Chicago
> Tribune. But the hot-potato subject made the paper soon drop it and no
> group or individual dared take up the young man's defense.)
> The fact remains that naked babies and sexually provocative childhood
> (pre-latency -- innocence dies and inhibition sets in at puberty) are
> natural, normal & universal. You may want to overlook it or divert it in
> your own children, or simply be relieved that they're normal. But it's a
> mistaken obsession of our own culture that criminalizes the photographs.
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