Nearly as ludicrous as the crusade of the Zealots of the Right™ against the ‘preteen modelling’ industry is the silence of that very industry about the true purpose of its existence. Every time a news item emerges exposing various websites or an indictment is announced of a website operator of photographer that has provided ‘preteen modelling’ photographs to the public, there is public outrage that such sites can exist and nada from the industry. No solidarity amongst website operators, supporting the efforts of others. No public condemnation of the witchhunt against the purveryors of these photographs. Instead, these website operators scurry for cover, hide under a rock until the storm has passed and wait for the sun to emerge again before continuing to provide girllovers (and there are ‘modelling’ sites for boylovers too) with their weekly skin fix. Look at the example of the operators of the Playtoy sites. Whilst they are the Larry Flynts of the industry in tawdriness, they want nothing to do with his legendary outspokenness. Instead, after they were spoken badly of in the New York Times, they yanked all of their sites for several weeks until things calmed down a bit (can you imagine Larry Flynt diving for cover?). The only thing that most of these folks care about is protecting their profits. They seem wholly uninterested in publicly debating the various issues surrounding the existence of these sites. How cowardly.
I am going to say this plainly so that there is no confusion about what it is that I am saying (antis, take notice). There is only one reason that ‘preteen modelling’ sites exist. ONE. Their sole purpose is to provide entertainment for people who are attracted to young girls. To be even more blunt, many people attracted to young girls have a look at the photographs, enjoy what they see, fantasise about them and in some cases masturbate to them. That is what these sites are there for and that is how they are used. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous. The line that some of these sites provide about getting girls started in modelling careers is total rubbish. Anybody who claims otherwise is lying. The significant revenue that some of these sites rake in (thousands, tens of thousands, in a couple of cases, hundreds of thousands per month) comes almost exclusively from folks who find girls sexually attractive (of course, some of it may also be coming from the Pete Townshends of the world who are doing ::ahem:: ‘research’). So why do these sites steadfastly distance themselves from people (like myself) who advocate the rights of their primary client base? Why, with a couple of notable exceptions (you know who you are and so do I), do they refuse to join in the fight for their right to exist?
One of the questions that they ought to be asking, and loudly, is this: why are our photographs being classified as child pornography when similar photographs can be viewed in any major mail order catalogue? Take the girl pictured at the beginning of this entry. If we were to slap on a designer label and place her on page three hundred seventy-two of one of these catalogues, this photograph would be perfectly acceptable. Place her on a ‘preteen modelling’ website, however, and she is suddenly classified as child pornography. The fact of the matter is that many of us found great solace in catalogues before such sites came along. Catalogues were very safe, because if somebody came walking in, one could easily flip some pages and be looking at camping supplies, houseware or any of a variety of other totally innocuous sections. If you happened to have young female relatives at home, an even better safe alternative was Mousercise. Anybody remember that (I know a couple of you who do)? Early eighties? Young girls in tights and leotards putting Jane Fonda to shame (except Goofy and Mickey sometimes got in the way)? I wonder how our current day moral crusaders would judge these programmes (not to mention the fully nude photographs available on ‘preteen modelling’ sites just five years ago).
Another question that ought to be being asked is why are we classifying these photographs as child pornography when the photographs of Sally Mann, Jock Sturges, Graham Ovenden, David Hamilton and others who depict fully nude children are not? Whilst we can classify the photographs of some of these photographers to be art, this is not a good enough reason. Just because a controversial photograph cannot be classified as art, it should not necessarily be criminalised. Even if the photograph in question is considered tawdry, prurient or even obscene by some viewers (personally, I find quite a few of these sites to be raunchy and unsavoury), this is not a good enough reason to criminalise it. I would consider much of contemporary culture to be obscene but I still do not support proscribing it. My definition of obscenity is much different than yours is and I am not one to impose my aesthetic upon you. For me, the acid test of legality ought to be if anybody was exploited in the production of the product. In other words, if the young girls featured in the ‘preteen modelling’ sites are participating of their own free will and being properly compensated for that participation then none of this should ever be considered illegal. Considering that in the most recent case (and in most others), even the parents of the girls involved consented to the publication of these photographs, it ought to be a non-issue. These girls ought to be able to look back on these works in the future and be proud of them, rather than being brainwashed into believing that they were exploited.
No site should be pursued because its users uses the photographs for uses that some might find to be disgusting. After all, any photograph could be used for any of a number of reasons. You might use catalogue photographs to see how something might look on your daughter whilst somebody else might use that same photograph for something completely different. Twenty-five years ago, I used photographs in medical reference books to satisfy my desire to view the bodies of young girls. Perhaps then, we ought to ban photographs from medical manuals? Photographs on these sites should never be judged on their perceived use or whether they adhere to curent social norms. They should be evaluated on whether they were produced with the consent of the photographed. Nothing more, nothing less. The industry that provides us with these photographs ought to be at the forefront of the battle for its survival, not hiding like cowards as those unfortunate enough to be dragged before a judge await their fate.