Pornography and Sexual Representation: A Reference Guide - Vol. 1

By Joseph W. Slade | Go to book overview

8
Child Pornography

The dark side of pornography, in terms of both its existence and its prosecution, is linked to the abuse of children, who are assumed by law and prevailing moral standards to be incapable of informed consent and thus vulnerable to exploitation because of their inexperience. Most Americans—and most producers and consumers of pornography—draw the line at sexual depictions of minors. The same goes for advocates of candor. Robert Stoller, whose Porn: Myths for the Twentieth Century maintains that pornography is not harmful, except that which involves children. Camille Paglia, who also approves of pornography, condemns Calvin Klein ads on the grounds that they transgress against children in “Kids for Sale.”

Heterosexual and homosexual pedophiles are not a modern phenomenon, and youthful characters have been common enough in pornographic fiction for decades, but explicit photographic and cinematic pornography in which children figure has surfaced in any quantity only in the last twenty-five years. Historically significant pedophiles include Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, and Pierre Louys, the French erotic novelist, both of whom photographed little girls in the nude. Only a few pictures that Carroll himself overlooked when he destroyed his images have survived. Louÿs's photos, perhaps numbering 10,000, have never appeared in any quantity on the open market.1 Prior to World War II, American pedophiles might purchase classic nude studies of boys by foreign photographers such as Wilhelm van Gloeden or the occasional domestic picture or photo set of nude underage males, sometimes in intercourse with older men. Measured by any standard, the traffic during the 1950s in explicit photos or movies was small. Most American pedophiles simply collected innocuous pictures of boys and girls. The Kinsey Institute houses files of hundreds of policeseized photos of little girls in communion dresses and boys in short trousers,

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