To quote Rufus Wainwright, "Oh what a world it seems we live in".
Most of the people likely to read this will already be aware, but it may be worth restating: I have lived a large portion (more than half) of my adult life in a culture other than the one in which I grew up. The result of this is that I consider myself, culturally anyway, to be truly an individual. I hold no real allegiance to either North American or Chinese cultures. This is important because it allows me to look at both cultures with the eyes of a very experienced outsider.
My wife recently wanted to post a bunch of pictures she'd taken of our 10 month old son on facebook (I have a VPN, so still have access to fb and youtube). I looked at the pictures she was planning to post and immediately spotted a problem. We live in China, and our son is often dressed in Chinese baby clothes. Google "Chinese baby pants" and click on "images" to see what I'm talking about. We've also just been through one of the hottest Summers on record with more than a month of over 40°C (104°F in the moronic American system) with humidity in the 80% range, so often he just goes without clothes entirely.
The process of trying to explain why she couldn't put pictures of a baby with his "junk" showing on the internet really made me think about the whole issue in a way I never had before. I knew that naked pictures of children (in any context) are considered, in your United States of 'Merica, to be pornography (child pornography, no less). I knew that posting said pictures on the internet was equivalent to writing a letter to Homeland Security threatening to bludgeon Glen Beck to death using the severed leg of Barack Obama, and then filling the envelope with corn starch before mailing it. PS. Please put me on a no fly list, and book me a room in Guantanamo. I had never really questioned the why of it all, though. My wife sure did.
We put cute little cartoons over the offending bits, and posted the pictures and moved on with our lives, (an example of this is here
) but it really got me thinking. Curious, today I looked up the relevant policies here on dA. The whole thing can be found here
, but I've included the parts that interest me below.
Official limitations on child/teenage photography;
No photograph may display a nude minor with an appearance of being age two or older.
This includes any angle of shot including front, side, back or any other possible viewpoint.
This prohibition stands regardless of whether breasts or genitalia are visible or not.
An exception for infants under the age of two with a bare bottom showing may be granted providing that neither penis nor vaginal area is visible. Exceptions are not guaranteed.
Female children may be shown topless only if they appear to have not yet passed their second birthday.
No female between the ages of two (2) and eighteen (18) may be depicted topless or implied to be topless in any manner whatsoever.
Wow. Just wow.
It is interesting to note that photographs of dead people are okay on dA "providing that a reviewing staff member does not consider the work to be unnecessarily graphic" but a picture that implies the existence of genitals on a 5 year old (without even showing them) is unacceptable.
Also interesting is the additional "topless" restriction for female toddlers. Do you know what the biological difference is between the chest of a prepubescent male and a prepubescent female is? Nothing, because the hormones that cause differentiation (estrogen and testosterone) are not present in sufficient quantities in prepubescent children for there to be a difference.
If I were to post an un-doctored (pun intentional, but obscure) version of the above photo I would be in violation of dA's policies, and probably numerous American laws. I could go to jail and be put on a sex-offender list for life. That would be ridiculous, but then it's a ridiculous law for a (n often) ridiculous country. Why is it ridiculous? Because it's a complete breakdown in logic - let me show you.
My son's genitals are not, in and of themselves, sexual, nor does he think of them in a sexual manner. He's 10 months old. There is nothing inherently sexual about the picture, as taken. There was no sexual intent on the part of the photographer. There is nothing sexual about walking (which is what he's doing).
So, nothing sexual about the subject, the photographer or the activity depicted. Any sexualization of this photo, therefore, would have to be on the part of the person viewing it. Charging me under child porn laws because someone might (not even "someone did" but "someone might") view it sexually would be like charging the CEO of Louisville Slugger with murder because someone might conceivably commit murder with one of their bats. That's not what the bat was made for, and he's in no way responsible for what someone else does with it. It is a very sick culture where the possibility that someone might sexualize an innocent picture of a naked baby is considered more likely than the possibility that they wouldn't, and where anyone other than the perverted party (viewing it) is held responsible.
As ridiculous as this all is, it isn't dA's fault. Especially with issues of this nature, they need to cover their asses, and ass-cover they have. Honestly, regardless of the merits of any particular piece of art that depicts the genitalia of a minor, they just can't take the risk - the penalties are too great. So who's fault is it then?
Well, as I pointed out before, there are rules against pictures of naked toddlers, but pictures of corpses are okay. I can only think of one group of people who think that death is okay but genitals are not.
So, this is an Intervention America. It's time to join the 21st
century, put away the two thousand year old superstitions and mumbo-jumbo used to control you, and get some common bloody sense. We care about you, and your ignorance hurts us. Oh, and the rest of us use the metric system, why can't you?