Posts Tagged ‘self portrait’

When is a “child” not a child and a “teen” not a teen?

January 24th, 2011

A few weeks ago I was reading Injustice Everywhere when they mentioned an article in the West Virginia Gazette-Mail titled Policing the Police.  I recommend the article, but this post isn’t about police misconduct.  What I find more interesting was an article listed on the side of the website that was linked with the headline “Teen charged with murder”.  Unfortunately I can’t find the same article on the website, but I did find similar ones such as “Teens plead guilty to killing S. Charleston counselor” and “Teen charged in East End shooting“.  These headlines are really what prompted me to write this post.

I’ve been noticing for a while that certain people and organizations will use words that while true will imply something different and specific to the people who hear them.  The people and groups I’m talking about generally have a specific agenda they are promoting and include, but are not limited to, politicians, media outlets, and special interest organizations.

The specific words I want to talk about today are those related to age.  To help me on this I asked a number of my friends to give me their first impressions as it relates to age on 23 words.

child
high school
old
teen
woman
adult
student
underage
mature
baby
minor
man
mother
toddler
father
college
pedophile
young
adolescent
parent
puberty
middle aged
juvenile

While this was not a scientific survey, and I only received 3 responses, the data generally backs up my beliefs.

Let’s start with “teen”.  When I hear the term teen my first instinct is someone 16 years old.  If I think about it a little longer I would say 13 to 18. Other impressions I get are high school aged or someone in high school.

But the definition of teen is someone who is at least 13, but less than 20.  That is how it’s used in the stories linked above.  They are both about 18 and 19 year olds.  So while a headline of “Teen” is true, it implies something to most people that is completely different.  If you’ve just seen a headline that says “Teen charged with murder” you’re going to look at those walking to high school a little fearfully, aren’t you.

Let’s take a look at another word, “child”.  My first instinct is someone roughly 5 to 8 years old.  In my survey I received a response of 4, 5, and 5-13.  Wikipedia says that biologically a child is a human between birth and puberty.  I think when the majority of the population says “child” that’s what they mean.  The biological definition.  But legally a child is anyone who has not reached the age of majority, generally someone under 18.

One of the places you’ll see child mentioned in the media is in a headline like this:  Former UW-Madison student is on trial over alleged encrypted child porn photos

But one thing that is very rarely, if ever, mentioned in stories like that is the actual age of the “children” involved.  Legally, child pornography is pornographic images of a human under the age of 18.  It doesn’t matter if they’re 7 months, 7 years, or 17 years old, it’s all illegal.  But by calling it child pornography the police, the justice system and the media are creating certain ideas in our minds.  We’ve already seen that most of us think of a pre-pubescent person when we hear child.  Is it too much of a stretch to think that the people responsible for “protecting” us are using that to their advantage?

Now I’m not defending anyone who would force another, through violence or psychological coercion, to perform a sexual act.  And I’m also not defending recording a sexual act without a persons knowledge and/or consent.  But I am saying I have a very different reaction to pornography involving a 7 year old, than I do to pornography involving a 17 year old.  Especially considering that in 38 states, that same 17 year old can legally consent to sex.  (30 states = 16yo 8 states = 17yo)

That’s right, the esteemed legislatures of 38 states have voted and decided that a 17 year old is old enough to wisely choose a partner, understands the risks, rewards, and consequences, and potentially create another human life and become a parent.  But that same 17 year old is NEVER allowed to show an image of him or herself in a sexual situation.  Even if they’re the only person in the image, and they are the ones creating it.  In fact it’s illegal just to create it and teens have been prosecuted for it.

What kind of message does that send?  Everyone talks about body image issues that teens have from magazines, TV shows, fashion models, etc.  But here we are telling the same group of people that their bodies are so wrong, so immoral, so dangerous that they can’t even photograph themselves?  That doing so could land them in jail for years, put them on sex offender registries, and basically ruin their entire lives.

Next we have “minor” and “underage”.  For “minor” I received responses of 21, 18, and 17.  While “underage”, received responses of 17, 18, and 17.  I thought these responses were quite interesting and honestly that they would have been reversed.  Legally, a minor is someone who has not attained the age of majority, for the US and most of the world, that’s 18.  “Underage” is basically the same thing, and describes a person who is “under” the age of majority.

What bothers me about minor, and to a lesser extent underage, is that they’re so negative.  The definitions as used in relation to age are negative; “not attained”, “under the age”.  The way the word is used not related to age is negative; “inferior, smaller, unimportant, not serious, academics requiring fewer courses”.  This is how our society, how our legal system, defines those who are that way merely because of when they were born.  If you don’t believe me you’re not remembering hard enough or you were very lucky.  The way most “adults” treat minors is that they are inferior, unimportant and not serious.

I guess what I want you to take away from this is to try to be more aware of the words people use who might want to influence your opinion.  And not just the definition of those words, but of how those words are used and how they make you feel.  Especially if they create a strong emotional reaction.

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Strobist Boot Camp II

June 9th, 2009

So I’m going to try really hard to do the Strobist Boot Camp II.  I’ve been following the Strobist blog for a while now, a year, maybe two.  But so far I haven’t done any of the assignments.  I’ve learned a ton and have done things similar to what’s shown on strobist but not while the assignment was going on.  If you’d like to try as well check out http://strobist.blogspot.com

Self-Portrait using two lights, back light had a red gel on my slate gray seamless

Self-Portrait using two lights, back light had a red gel on my slate gray seamless

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What you can’t fix, you feature.

March 10th, 2009

I heard that phrase a number of years ago.  They were talking about guys who wore glasses.  Some men think of glasses as a handicap, others as an asset.  In the particular story the gentleman had an eye infection and couldn’t wear his normal contact lenses.  So when he went out that night he wore glasses and asked women if he looked better with or without them.  Great way to start a conversation with something that may not be ideal.

It popped into my head in response to a thread on MM.  This thread is about one young woman’s difficulties in how people respond to her nude modeling.  In this particular thread it was her parent’s responses to her first real nude shoot.  Many of the things they said to her would apply to any number of people, from other family members, coworkers, and the general public.

And they’re all wrong.

I’m not gonna refute everything that’s in the thread.  You can go read that yourself and just use common sense.  What I am gonna do is to relate this back to the title of the post.  One of the things that her parents said was

No one will want to marry you.

Now, I’m sure that there are some people in this world that would not marry such a woman.  They would not even entertain the thought of marriage if they knew or even suspected that such an event had taken place. That any woman who would do that is morally bankrupt.  I don’t agree with the people in this group, but they have their beliefs and they’re following them.  I respect that.  Much more than the next group.

The hypocrites.  They’re okay with female nudity.  Until it’s their daughter, or their fiance.  They don’t mind seeing your girlfriend, or your wife naked, but theirs is “special” only for them.  These are the guys I like the least.  They’re usually jealous and insecure.  So many women I’ve photographed want to do nudes, but don’t because of guys in this group.

The next group we’ll call the apathetic.  They don’t really care either way.  They may tend to be slightly positive about it.  They might get to see the woman naked before having sex with her, which is usually a plus.  On the other hand if the woman hasn’t posed nude, it’s not gonna bother them at all.

I really don’t know what to call the last group.  Why don’t we call them people like me.  Nudity is important to me.  And not just sexually though that is a nice side benefit.  All of the women that I’ve met who have been nude in front of a camera are women that I want to know outside of the photography industry.  They share many of the same traits like confidence, intelligence, creativity and a willingness to try new things.  I don’t know if they had these traits before they posed nude or they developed them after posing.  Perhaps it’s some of both that feeds back on each other.  Either way these women are better than the general population.  Which is why I won’t become involved with a woman that isn’t willing to pose nude.

Now, I don’t expect a woman to strip right after I get her phone number.  And I’m not going to rule a woman out because she hasn’t posed yet.  But if she’s downright against it we won’t be spending much time together.  If the relationship progresses, and she hasn’t been in front of my camera sans clothing, then her finger will be sans ring.  That’s right.  I won’t marry a woman UNLESS she poses nude.  I would hope she enjoys it as much as I do.  I don’t expect her to have a career in nude photography, unless she wants to.  And if she only wants to pose for me, that’s fine.  But I’m not gonna stop her if she wants to pose for others.

And now we’re finally back to the first phrase at the top of this post.  What you can’t fix, you feature.  I can’t change the people in the other three groups.  But I can show them a better way to act.  So besides the personal benefits of having a wife willing to pose nude, I’m hoping that my example may help others.  And, just to show that I’m not a hypocrite, here’s some photos of me.

Josh Nude

Josh Nude

Josh Nude

Josh Nude

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