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Warning: If you think Stephen King’s stories are scary, never read an Italian horror story. Essential background to this real-life horror story is at Photography vs. Pornography and especially Photography vs. Pornography 2.
The prosecutor’s order of March 2016 to violate the privacy of my home and computer, and break my doors down if necessary, was based on the blatantly false claim that the Italian police had received “numerous complaints” suggesting I am guilty of sexual acts with children. But in reality the Italian police had not received even a single complaint of any such thing.
What the police had received was a single report three years earlier from an unemployed Italian social worker who was neither a parent nor a representative of any child, and who had a personal grudge against me. That witch hunter claimed my web site www.GirlBecomesWoman.com was offering “child pornography” directly to the public for 20 Euros. That false and hysterical report was apparently influenced by my website being in a foreign language (English), and after an investigation and presumably translation the Italian detectives correctly concluded that there was no evidence of any crime being committed. My photo-documentary is not erotic, sexual, or pornographic in any way, and in addition it was offered free and only to readers of my eBook Real Child Safety on how to protect kids from the most frequent and most deadly dangers in childhood. Far from being available “directly,” in order to view the documentary RCS readers were also required to fill out a 20-item questionnaire to prove they read the book and don’t have prurient interests.
Two years later the police also received a second report from another local hysteric (not a parent or child) that said I had asked a parent to let their kids participate in my video project Buddy Massage, a request which a higher court later ruled is not a crime either, and which has nothing to do with sexual acts with children in any case. But when a prosecutor needs to create drama to justify an illegal search, exaggerations are legally permissible. Despite no further reports about me a year later the new prosecutor falsely claimed these two old, frivolous reports were “numerous complaints” that supported the suspicion of “sexual acts with children,” and which necessitated an urgent search of my home and computer in the hope of finding some evidence of monstrous crimes. As described in my previous post, that fishing expedition would be sadly disappointed, but it created an eventual need to cover up the illegality of the unfruitful search.
After the search the new prosecutor’s request for an urgent “precautionary arrest” of a working school teacher for so-called “child pornography” featured such an outrageous and distorted presentation of the facts that no rational person in a civilized country could expect such a request to be approved. But since the request was private it would only be read and decided by a preliminary judge – without any legal defense let alone any input from the accused. Once (if) the request for arrest is approved, the accused is immediately brought to jail. So the punishment has been executed regardless of actual guilt or innocence. No eventual acquittal or financial compensation could ever undo such immediate and fatal damage to a teacher’s reputation. Despite no need for an urgent violation of my privacy, let alone any reasonable justification for an arrest, the prosecutor’s strategy was clear: Shoot first, and ask questions later.
According to Italian law the prosecutor, in contrast, risks no punishment at all if she makes unfounded or false accusations against an innocent person, unless there is proof she received money to do so. There is no law against prosecutor misconduct regardless of all the evidence in the world. But it is a very serious crime for anyone to question a prosecutor’s integrity for any reason (after all, the prosecutor is not even an individual but an “impersonal entity”). This is the Italian government’s procedural “justice” in action.
The prosecutor’s request for an arrest dated March 31, 2016, asserted that I had produced “two videos” in which there was genital nudity of a minor. More accurately, I had produced several instructional video clips of two pairs of kids illustrating a normal massage, at different times and in different places, with different cameras, for a total of about 30 minutes of footage in which all of the children’s genital areas and buttocks were covered, except for one brief scene in which a five-year-old boy got up to turn over. That momentary scene was obviously incidental and unintended, so I cut and deleted that scene from the final video which has titles and credits, audio narration, and background music (about 15 minutes long). For that supposed “crime” the new prosecutor felt my teaching career should be destroyed immediately and I should face a possible sentence of 6 to 12 years imprisonment.
By the way, the prosecutor’s request to the preliminary judge completely neglected to mention the final version of the video on my computer which does not include the momentary nudity, and which the undercover police could have obtained previously online (as outlined above) without violating my privacy. The new prosecutor also neglected to mention that out of approximately 20,000 photos and videos on my computer, only 2 photos were of children with genital nudity, and those images were in completely innocent contexts: a nine-year-old taking a shower, and a two-year-old standing up straight in her play room. I have also made hundreds of non-nude portraits of children, most of which are openly published online and are completely normal child portraits, not erotic or sexual in any way.
The prosecutor’s request for an arrest resorted to vague and misleading language to promote drama, and prejudice the judge against the accused. For example, to hide the fact that so few images contained genital nudity, the prosecutor’s request repeatedly referred to numerous images that were “nude or semi-nude,” even though semi-nude photography (breast nudity) is not prohibited by Italian law and hence is irrelevant. Nonetheless, the prosecutor tried to mislead the judge by falsely claiming there was sufficient material for an eventual aggravated sentence due to the massive quantity (!) of illegal “child pornography.”
The prosecutor also cited the titles of my other works in English (Real Child Safety and my novel Revolt of the Children), as if the mere existence of the titles is further evidence that supports the charge of my photographs and video being “sexually motivated,” when in reality the content of those published books flatly contradicts the charges. She also eventually cited the title of one of my blog posts on Emotional Incest as if that were also supporting evidence for the charges, but the content of that post also flatly contradicts the accusations. I wonder if the prosecutor actually read what I wrote about emotional incest and didn’t understand what she read, or if she read it did she merely dislike the ideological criticism I expressed and then attempt to exploit the law to destroy me financially and thereby promote her personal ideology?
A similar trick was used to dismiss my 10 years as a well-known volunteer in a pediatric cancer ward because – according to the prosecutor – my hundreds of days of volunteering with dying patients were merely a supposed excuse to photograph the children. The truth is quite the contrary: despite countless opportunities in 10 years I had never photographed any child patients, except for one photo of a few fully-clothed patients viewed seated from behind (faces not shown) being visited by Santa Claus.
The prosecutor dramatically described the very massage portrayed by the children in my video as “strongly erotic and evocative,” since scenes were prolonged and repeated (standard practice in video production), and since the ears and neck are “erogenous zones,” and hence the kids are “simulating a sexual act.” According to that dramatic rhetoric, millions of children who fondle the ears of their dogs every day are simulating sexual acts with their dogs, and the 2003 Hollywood production of Peter Pan (in which a dog licks the ears of a naked boy) clearly contains a pornographic portrayal of a sexual act.
The prosecutor also cited my hypothesis on the cause of clitoral erectile dysfunction in women (described in a few of my 50+ blog posts), as if my photo-documentary Girl Becomes Woman and my video Buddy Massage were motivated by a supposed attempt to “confirm” my “theory.” But my photo-documentary predated my hypothesis, and hence the prosecutor’s claim is logically impossible. Worse, how could a photo-documentary or video that contain no images whatsoever of female genitals possibly confirm a hypothesis about clitoral erectile function? How could a prosecutor in a civilized country make such a bizarre claim and expect it to be taken seriously?
Those incredible assertions are not marked fiction; they are in signed, official documents now available as a public record. I will be generous and interpret that series of pathetically distorted accusations as a predictable effect of the mass hysteria over child porn. When some people hear the words “child” and “nude” in the same sentence, they cease to perceive and reason like mature adults, and the required rules of legal procedure become irrelevant. But some readers who are less generous might see this prosecution as a clear and deliberate scam to promote the personal or political agenda of an individual prosecutor or her “impersonal” office.
A prosecutor is supposed to look for evidence of innocence as well as possible evidence of guilt, to avoid incriminating an innocent person. But consistent with the typical “urgency” of a witch hunt, there is no indication of any such balanced approach in the request for arrest. Despite all the concrete evidence of non-sexual motives for my published work, and despite me living, teaching and volunteering in Italy for 25 years, the prosecutor could not find a single positive word to say about me.
Three months after the new prosecutor submitted her secret request for an arrest, the preliminary judge replied. The judge reviewed the recent legal history of child pornography, which requires that images of nude children must be demonstrated to be for sexual goals. But despite the prosecutor’s one-sided and distorted summary of hundreds of pages of investigator’s reports that completely ignored evidence in my favor (e.g. repeated surveillance on the street with nothing unusual observed), and no reports from any supposed victims (a form that is supposed to list the victim(s) of the crime is left blank because there is no victim), the judge correctly concluded that my video depicts a normal massage, not an erotic practice or sexual act, nor any activity inappropriate for minors.
The judge also replied to the prosecutor’s ludicrous claim that I was found to be in possession of a “massive quantity” of child porn: also unfounded. He noted the technician’s report that a handful of nude artistic portraits of adolescents were on the deleted portion of my disk – deleted by me long before the search and only recovered by the computer technician after my disk was confiscated, so they were not even in my actual “possession.” Hence, the judge naturally rejected the prosecutor’s request for an arrest.
The preliminary judge incorrectly repeated the prosecutor’s false claim that my video was somehow related to my “absurd sexual theories,” apparently because the English language of my unrelated writing on female sexual dysfunction is a bit too complicated for foreign speakers to fully comprehend; only brief words or phrases quoted out of context were cited by the prosecutor against me. In the prosecutor’s rush to destroy my teaching career as soon as possible and at any cost, no comprehensive official translation of any of my writing was ever submitted by the prosecutor to substantiate any accusations.
Why is nudity censored with such hysterical urgency? A little lesson on Italian history might be helpful. Censorship has been a fundamental characteristic of Italian culture going all the way back to the ancient Romans, who not only required that conquered people pay tribute (i.e. taxes) to the invaders. Conquered peoples were also required to worship Roman gods, which created the resulting diaspora of the ancient Hebrews who refused to disobey their own religion. The Romans could not tolerate any deity whose chosen people were not Romans.
The Roman Catholic Church has continued the worship of censorship for centuries, eventually imitating the Romans in using torture and execution as punishment for talking too much. The confused theology of Tomaso Aquino (Thomas Aquinas) was that people’s sexual behavior should be like sheep and other farm animals that only copulate in order to reproduce. The primitive Catholic/Christian dogma became so entrenched in the West that eventually even secular laws have attempted to censor nudity and enforce the primitive ideal of saintly human sheep. Censorship, prosecution, and punishment of early scientific researchers who contradicted church doctrine are well-known.
Statues of nude men with their genitals chopped off (thanks to a particularly fanatical pope) can still be seen throughout Italy today. Long after the Dark Ages there was an old joke in Ethiopia that began: Under the Italian colonialists the rule was “Eat but Don’t Talk.” The Italian fascists likewise made censorship a central goal of their strategy and tactics. Many of the ministers chosen for the first fascist government were journalists. The fascists made censorship more scientific, such that Hitler called the Italian dictator Mussolini “my teacher.”
While Article 21 of the Italian Constitution now promises freedom of expression “to everyone,” widespread censorship and even self-censorship exists and is exemplified by the popular, slavish observance of traditions. On certain days of the year everybody has to eat a certain dish, or visit the cemetery, etc., even though many Italians don’t even know why some traditions exist. In many small towns girls must dress modestly and are still chaperoned like they were in cities a hundred years ago. There is still widespread faith in the Victorian belief that sex is so dangerous as to be unspeakable. A cynical but probably typical Italian teacher and mother of a daughter once confided to me: “All little girls are whores.” Is that why certain individuals and impersonal entities feel it’s so important to try to exploit secular laws to censor even partial nudity or discussions of sex education and sexual health? (To be continued.)
Please read my previous post Photography vs. Pornography for essential background to this story. I’ve already cited several examples of child nudity in the history of art and photography in another previous post Top Freedom, and in the interest of cultural literacy I should not neglect the sphere of fiction as it relates to child nudity and sexuality in my criminal case.
All pornography is fictional (i.e. staged and dramatized rather than realistic), but not all nude or sexual fiction is pornographic. It is an important distinction that the U.S. Supreme Court has acknowledged for many years, but a few hysterical individuals still have difficulty comprehending.
Ancient Roman literature that survives includes Petronius’ satire “Satyricon,” about a romantic pederast couple. In addition to describing orgies, the story contains a scene in which adults stage a mock wedding between two children, who are then encouraged to “consummate” their relationship. Much later Italy’s premiere poet, Dante, fell in love with Beatrice when she was eight years old. Although Dante was only nine, when I was nine growing up in the U.S. we boys fell in love with more mature girls who were sexually developed – not eight-year-olds.
In the distant past child prostitution existed rather openly in Europe, and there are famous cases of European teachers who married their former pupils. But feminists in Victorian times campaigned to raise the age of consent. One of the most famous writers of children’s literature is the Englishman Lewis Carroll, author of “Alice in Wonderland,” which has been translated into 174 languages. Not many people are aware that the author (real name: Prof. Reverend Charles Dodgson) was also a photographer, some of whose thousands of images of children (some nude) are currently in the collections of major university libraries. Multiple biographies have failed to find any evidence that his images might have been sexually motivated.
George Bernard Shaw’s story “Pygmalion,” set in London, has a father confront a professor who has established a live-in relationship with the man’s young daughter, so the dad asks the prof for five pounds in compensation. When the prof insists that his intentions are perfectly honorable, the father replies: “I’m sure your intentions are honorable. If I thought for a moment that your intentions weren’t honorable, I’d ask for ten pounds.”
A German author of fiction little-known outside Europe was Frank Wedekind, whose short story “Mine-Haha” (1903), praised by Leon Trotsky, was made into a film in French by Lucille Hadzihalilovic: “Innocence” (2004). It features numerous scenes of top-free little girls, as well as one scene where a girl about 13 is shown completely nude (front and rear) standing in a bathtub.
The most radical contribution to western culture that was related to child sexuality was by another European, the Russian-born author Vladimir Nabokov, who became an American citizen in middle age but actually spent the beginning and end of his life in Europe. His English novel “Lolita” was first published in France because the author had great difficulty finding an American publisher. At one point the frustrated writer threw his manuscript into the trash, but fortunately the ms was salvaged by his level-headed wife. The novel has now sold over 50 million copies, translated into 20 languages, and is the subject of two major movies so far (the first by Stanley Kubrick).
The story is about a very young French boy who lost his first love to typhus, and the trauma caused him to become fixated on very young girls for the rest of his life. It’s a tragic story in every way, but the work of a master story-teller that has been called one of the greatest love stories of the 20th Century. The scandalous plot was joked about on American TV when the novel was first published in the 1950s, and has since been studied by countless university scholars. The author was the subject of an exhaustive two-volume biography (which found no evidence that the happily married father might have been a pedophile in real life), and even Nabokov’s remarkable wife is the subject of a serious biography. The late Nabokov’s only son is an opera lover who chose to make his home in Venice.
I was surprised to discover that in Italy there is considerable interest in Nabokov’s work, as evidenced by the publication of an Italian translation of the author’s screenplay for the first movie version (certainly a marginal work even to most serious readers), as well as a spin-off novel by an Italian author: “Lo’s Diary.” The Italian authoress of that story retells the tragic tale from the young girl’s point of view, but it isn’t a politically correct version. Like the original, precocious Lolita who the old perv claims seduced him, “Lo” says openly she wants to seduce the older man. Unlike the Biblical story of Lot and his daughters in Genesis 19, the pathetic Frenchman wishes to seduce his unfortunate American step-daughter, and the Italian-style Lo conspires with the old perv.
Nowadays the original “Lolita” is considered one of the most politically incorrect stories to dare mention in public, at the risk of immediate personal attacks (usually by individuals who never even read the novel), as if no normal person would pronounce such a “disgusting” name except in the context of patting yourself on the back for hating the story and it’s author.
Louis Malle’s movie “Pretty Baby” (1977) portrays a child prostitute growing up in a bordello in New Orleans in 1917. Unlike the Lolita movies, the main character in this film is played by a real child, Brooke Shields, including some nude scenes. (She may have been wearing a body suit for the lower half of her body.) Brooke became a famous child model after posing nude in a bathtub for photographs by Gary Gross.
My own novel Revolt of the Children was rejected by numerous European publishers so after nearly 10 years of searching I published it myself. My story is an unflattering portrayal of Italy after World War Two, in which poor kids rebel against physical, sexual and emotional abuse by an Italian priest and other insensitive adults in the land of “close families.”
The creation of the Web spurred further hysteria about the supposed spread of kiddie porn, though never verifiable since the sites are always highly secret. In 1996 the so-called “Communications Decency Act” was passed by Congress to combat online porn but was soon struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as unacceptably vague. Nonetheless a thriving bureaucracy developed to profit from porn hysteria, along with eager private interests selling products and services to prevent, investigate and punish all those invisible producers of kiddie porn. Legal definitions of child porn are still vague and give judges the opportunity to make arbitrary determinations. (Current federal statutes define child porn as “any visual depiction of sexually explicit or sexually suggestive conduct involving a minor.”)
Today there is so much hysteria that when a 16-year-old boy expresses interest in a 14-year-old girl he is called a “pedophile.” This is the cultural context of the West today, in which exorbitantly paid prosecutors sit in air-conditioned offices to carefully study photographs of children online or on private cell phones to see if “too much” skin is showing.
But every day countless highly-paid investigators are confronted with the virtual non-existence of real child porn, so they pretend to be doing useful work by investigating and arresting a few people occasionally for innocent child nudity (parents photographing their kids in the bathtub), which are then reported dramatically as “Huge Child Porn Bust.” After damaging or destroying the lives of the falsely accused, the media often don’t even bother to publish follow-up reports of all charges being eventually dismissed or the innocent being acquitted. No wonder governments don’t have the time or resources (or inclination) to investigate the massive corruption within government as well as between government and business lobbies.
A few more little jabs at popular Italian culture before I get back to my criminal case: a popular Italian children’s song is about a baby dinosaur with a green penis. It has never sparked any controversy here in Europe, nor should it, though it probably would in the U.S. A modern fashion in Italy is to stage ancient Greek plays in the original, crumbing theaters that spectators used 2,600 years ago. There are several such sites in Sicily and southern Italy, and during such performances the actors sometimes wear modern clothing and even insert modern humor. One actor in an ancient comedy recently shouted: “Do you know why it’s so important to use extra virgin olive oil? Because in Italy the oil is the only thing there is that’s virgin!”
The devil is in the details. Early in the morning of March 18, 2016, four Italian police officers showed up at my door unannounced, with an order to search me and the premises (as well as a home at another, irrelevant address) and break the doors down if necessary. In theory, the prosecutor’s office is an impersonal entity; individual prosecutors are interchangeable. But the search order was signed by an individual. Only later did I discover that the original prosecutor in charge of my investigation for almost three years hadn’t seen any reason to violate the privacy of my home. The original individual who had much more experience as a prosecutor no longer had my case because she was promoted to a more important position. I had nothing to hide and at the time I didn’t know that the search order signed by a new prosecutor was completely illegal under multiple criteria.
According to Italian law, violating the privacy of someone’s home must be “well-motivated by a particular and urgent necessity.” Although the new prosecutor asserted that there was a particular and urgent necessity for the sudden search, she never specified exactly what that particular and urgent necessity was – because there wasn’t any. The search of my home was a fishing expedition in the mistaken hope that the authorities would find something illegal. When they didn’t, the new prosecutor was obliged to claim the innocent material they did find was really “pornographic,” to protect herself from a charge of having ordered an illegal search.
Prosecutors are supposed to investigate reports of specific crimes that have been committed, to determine if the reports are true and then find out who the guilty parties are, NOT investigate some specific individuals to find out if maybe they might have committed some crime. But the prosecutor in this case decided to investigate me by invading my privacy without any report of any crime having been committed.
In addition, the secret investigation of me that began in May 2013 had already expired. The new prosecutor had recently requested permission from a judge to extend the term of the investigation, but the extension was not approved until after the search was long over. As it turned out, the only “particular and urgent necessity” is that the new prosecutor was desperate because despite three years of surveillance online and on-the-street, the term of the investigation expired without any evidence whatsoever of any criminal activity. There was no reasonable justification whatsoever for ordering the police to break somebody’s doors down.
The police who came to my house were polite to me, but one asked me an odd question: “You enjoy writing?” Yes, I do, but since I’ve never written anything illegal, and Article 21 of the Italian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression “to everyone,” why would a government employee be interested in my writing? I have repeatedly and incessantly criticized the mass hysteria over child porn and child sex abuse, such as in my book Real Child Safety specifically criticizing the special interests that profit from the hysteria and exploit government power to promote their political and financial agenda. So maybe the question the government employee really meant to ask was: “You enjoy criticizing the government?”
The police then took me and my data disks to a police station where a specialist opened my hard drive (as well as my portable memory cards they had confiscated), and spent several hours looking at every single image and video I had. By the way, my lawyer was present during the search and analysis of my media. My tiny hard disk was only 500gb, and my portable memory cards amounted to less than 100gb, so the four investigators in two rooms had ample time to see everything I had. After they saw everything I had and after consulting the prosecutor, they said “This material is no problem.”
However, since my residence permit was expired, they said “That’s a problem,” and brought me to the Foreigners’ Office. I explained that I had attempted to renew my residence permit when it first expired over 20 years ago, but at that time an official told me it wasn’t possible. (Nor did he say I had to leave the country.) At that time I then went to another government office and asked if it would be possible to obtain dual citizenship since my father was an Italian citizen. That second clerk told me “not possible” as well. In 1999 I had also requested an immigration visa from the Italian Consulate in NYC, which a clerk brushed off with blatant discourtesy. In March 2016 my explanation did not impress the Foreigners’ Office at all, and they promptly issued an expulsion order without explanation – as if my residence permit had expired 20 days ago.
I only recently discovered that the information the government employees gave me 20 years before was incorrect. According to Italian law, I am an Italian citizen by birth, by virtue of my father having been an Italian citizen. Nonetheless, I would soon be accused of never having attempted to take advantage of my status as eligible for a residence permit! I immediately retained a second lawyer who specializes in immigration and we appealed the expulsion order, which a judge suspended immediately. After I obtained all the official documents proving my father’s Italian citizenship, the judge annulled the expulsion order three months later. Unfortunately my immigration lawyer was still in high school twenty years ago. Far from being a reasonable candidate for expulsion, according to my calculations the Italian government now owes me compensation for 20 years of lost income.
At the time of the illegal search and attempted expulsion I was teaching three classes in two middle schools, and I was able to continue working normally, but the police advised me not to tell “them” (presumably my employers or students) about the search. I didn’t know that in the meantime the drama evolved when the prosecutor secretly asked a private computer consultant to perform an immediate deep search of my disk’s free space for deleted files.
About a week later that consultant gave the prosecutor a preliminary report, listing the same things that the police had already found during the initial search in my presence, upon which the prosecutor asked a preliminary judge to approve an urgent “precautionary arrest” to prevent me from leaving the country (!) or producing any more “child porn,” as well as avoid the danger that I might warn any possible accomplices by informing them that there was an attempted criminal prosecution.
At the same time that I was appealing an expulsion order which the police themselves solicited, the new prosecutor was telling a judge I might try to flee the country. The new prosecutor (or her impersonal office) also tried to mislead that judge by telling him a few other, shall we say, inaccurate factoids. The preliminary judge eventually rejected the prosecutor’s request to arrest me, since the supposed evidence found in the search is not pornographic. What “child porn” was the prosecutor claiming? (To be continued.)
I was born and raised in the New York City area, which is one of the most progressive parts of the U.S., or at least it used to be. In the 1970s movie theaters in midtown Manhattan openly advertised real pornographic movies (e.g. “A Hard Man is Good to Find”), with quotes from reviews by the late Al Goldstien, publisher of Screw Magazine, that featured images of one to five erections instead of star ratings.
There were also porn shops which specialized in pornographic films and magazines, despite the condemnation of pornography in traditional, mainstream society. Apparently a similar situation existed in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and probably many other cities. There were also a few magazines about naturism (nudism) openly sold at NYC newsstands that included images of nude families and children in everyday life, but I never saw any child pornography, i.e. images of children intended to sexually arouse viewers.
The Times Square area was also home to the library of the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), founded by Dr. Mary S. Calderone, to promote accurate, balanced and comprehensive sex education from the earliest age (1). SIECUS published the Guidelines for Comprehensive Education: Kindergarten – 12th Grade, and eventually opened a public policy office in Washington, D.C. So there was good and bad in the NYC area. Having spent my youth in that relatively free and tolerant atmosphere, I developed an open mind unfettered by the more traditional culture more characteristic of some other places.
The grudging tolerance of real pornography was partly encouraged by the publication of Prof. Alfred Kinsey’s research in 1948 (2). Kinsey surveyed thousands of people throughout the U.S., scientifically, and found that 100-year-old laws and public etiquette were out of touch with what many Americans were actually doing in private. The founder of Playboy magazine, Hugh Hefner, was apparently inspired by that research. The Kinsey Institute for the Study of Sexuality still exists at Indiana University today.
But even before Kinsey and Hefner, a popular Shirley Temple movie featured the little actress top-free. Although that scene was cut from the final version of the film, the image was used in a poster to promote the movie. In her autobiography “Child Star,” Shirley Temple Black wrote that as a small child she wore nothing at all when sunbathing with her family.
After my divorce in the 1980s I moved to Europe where I discovered that although most Europeans tend to be very conservative in some ways, there are or were pockets of modern attitudes toward sex education and non-sexual naturism (nudism), especially in Scandinavia, France, Germany, Holland, and eastern Slavic countries. On the Black Sea coast there are even (or used to be) nude beaches for local families rather than for international tourists. The only real “child porn” I ever saw in my long life was one magazine openly on sale in a bookshop in Copenhagen.
In Germany there was a good book by a psychiatrist that featured images of nude children touching each other (German title: “Zeig Mal!”), and translated into English as: “Show Me!” (3). The content was not pornographic, but educational and constructive to combat the epidemic of toxic shame and help kids feel secure about their normal curiosity while growing up. A 13-year-old girl who reviewed the book said she’s too old for it.
The book was prosecuted as “pornographic” in a few states, but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the publisher’s assertion that the book is not obscene, and the First Amendment protects non-obscene sexual depictions, even of children. The book sold over a million copies and was translated into seven languages, but continuing attacks forced the publisher to discontinue printing it in 1996 because they could not afford the expense of more and more legal challenges.
The German anthropologist Hans Peter Duerr published a series of books on the myth of the civilizing process, in which he offered massive evidence that there was more body shame in the distant past as well as in pre-industrial cultures. In contrast to the idea that traditional body shame proves that people today are more “civilized,” contemporary western countries actually exhibit considerably less body shame than in the primitive past (4). Hundreds of nude family resorts throughout Europe are evidence of that, and although I knew there were a few nude beaches in the U.S., the popularity of nude resorts in Europe was something new to me. Prostitution is currently legal in Germany, and although officially illegal in some other European countries, sex work is widespread and unofficially tolerated in some cities.
I’m not defending pornography or prostitution, but the hysteria against porn is the same hysteria that drives the movement against any and all nudity in childhood – even in art and innocent family naturism. Nor am I defending prostitution, but the hysteria against sex work is the same hysteria that drives the movement against accurate, balanced and comprehensive sex education – which is the best way to prevent disease and early pregnancy.
Even in Catholic Italy where there are many people who are ultra-conservative, I was surprised to see young girls top-free on the beach at Rimini, home of one of the 20th Century’s greatest movie directors, Federico Fellini, whose international masterpiece Amarcord portrays adolescents simulating sexual acts (5). On Palermo’s public beach at Mondello I even saw one local girl about age eight completely nude – something I never saw while growing up in the U.S. The mainstream clothing stores in Italy sell (or used to sell) top-free bathing suits for girls up to size (age) 10. A series of animated cartoons on sex education for children produced in France was dubbed into Italian and published on video cassettes by Italy’s major newspaper La Repubblica as “L’Albero della Vita” (the Tree of Life).
For decades prime-time TV programming in Italy has included reruns of the blockbuster movies (at least in Italy) about the escapades of “Pierino.” Little Peter is actually an adult actor who portrays a comical teenager in sexual situations in school and at home. Although there is no nudity, there are under-the-skirt shots, staring at teachers’ breasts, etc. Such entertainment is not rated X or even PG-13, and might be considered pornographic in some states, but not in Italy since the intention is apparently to make viewers laugh rather than sexually arouse viewers.
The culture shock of Europe inspired me to embark on my ambitious photo-documentary: Girl Becomes Woman, about a young girl going through puberty, to try to understand why there seemed to be less inhibition about child nudity and especially breasts in Europe than in the U.S. I photographed a girl for seven years, from age 8 to 15, in her daily life and even lived with her family during all those summers. There is no genital nudity in any of those images.
I was also inspired by the work of British photographer David Hamilton, whose nude portraits of minors at St. Tropez, France, I discovered in Italian bookshops (6), and American photographer Jock Sturges, who made most of his images of naturist families in Montelivet, France as well as northern California, some of whose books were printed in Italy (7).
Jock was not merely a serious photographer with a master’s degree in art, but a courageous victim who fought back against the federal government when the FBI raided his studio and confiscated his images and equipment. A judge eventually ruled his images of nude children are not “pornographic,” and ordered the FBI to return his property. Jock’s work has been carried on by his former assistant Camille Jackson-Barre.
Another American artist who inspired me was Sally Mann, whose books and public exhibitions feature photographs of her own children completely nude on their family farm in Virginia. I remember seeing one of her books vandalized in a Barnes and Noble bookstore, although she was never officially accused or prosecuted as a “child pornographer.” Her beautiful work was critically praised and her autobiography “Hold Still” is fascinating (8). Sally Mann’s work is being shown to children in Italy as part of photography courses.
There had always been some vicious criticism of David, Jock and Sally’s work, but it failed to get their work censored. Freedom of speech used to be considered more important than the current whims of political correctness. Evidently the atmosphere of public opinion had changed, as indicated by the government’s eventual “clean-up” of Times Square. In part the change in atmosphere was blamed on the discovery of AIDS around 1980 (9).
An indication of the hysterical nature of that change is that the frequency of sex crimes actually decreased significantly during the same period that popular concern has exploded. There is also some evidence that the availability of real porn is associated with a reduction in the frequency of sex crimes (10). Also noteworthy is that the majority of child deaths and serious injuries are due to physical abuse and neglect, but there is little public interest in protecting thousands of kids from being crushed to death in car crashes every year.
Recently the Beautiful Body Project and other groups and individuals have been fighting unreasonable censorship to protect public breastfeeding and nudity in art. Workshops are offered for photographers featuring mothers and children nude as models. But as I expected might happen, my own presence on the web was the eventual victim of American hysteria over child porn and child sex abuse, as described in my previous post, but one European was soon to attack me even more viciously. How is that possible, since my work is considerably less revealing than those who came before me?
Despite the public largely ignoring my photo-documentary, in 2014-2015 I produced another, more humble project: “Buddy Massage,” a video for kids which I likewise published myself and offered openly on my web sites and promoted on YouTube. The health benefits of child massage have been verified by numerous scientific studies, many of which were conducted by the Touch Research Institute of the University of Miami School of Medicine. Primary schools in several countries now offer “massage time” in the classroom, and there are at least 30 videos of child massage on YouTube originating from several English-speaking and other (mostly western) nations, so my video should not be viewed as radical in any way. My innocent video portraying normal massage doesn’t contain any genital nudity either.
My video project received little attention from the public as well. The introductory presentation on YT got about 4,000 views in three years, a few positive comments, and mostly Likes, but the full video was recently accused of being “child pornography” by a local prosecutor in Italy of all places, a country that features countless paintings, sculptures and statues of nude children as tourist attractions open to the public of all ages. I won’t post examples of the countless images of nude children on display in Italy today because some web censors are becoming more prudish than traditional museum curators and urban planners.
I had been criticizing the mass hysteria against child nudity in my publications like “Real Child Safety” for several years, ever since I read attorney Lawrence Stanley’s research in the Cardozo Law Review, describing the failure of the FBI, Interpol, and other highly sophisticated police agencies to find evidence of the supposedly “huge” market for kiddie porn, despite years of investigations and millions of dollars of public money wasted in the search.
Even though all of my published work was in English, unbeknownst to me at the time the Italian police had opened a secret investigation of me and my work in 2013. Only later did I discover that the investigation existed and went nowhere for three years due to the lack of concrete evidence. That is until a new prosecutor was hired and suddenly decided that despite no new information to support any suspicion of possible “criminal activity” on my part, conditions were ripe for an immediate witch hunt. That was only the beginning of the nightmare.
- Kinsey, Alfred. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Reprinted by Indiana University Press, 1998.
- Fleischhauer-Hardt, Helga (author), and McBride, Will (photographer). Show Me! A Picture Book of Sex for Children and Parents. St Martin’s Press, 1975.
- Duerr, Hans Peter. Italian translation of Volume One: Nudità e vergogna. Il mito del processo di civilizzazione. Marsilio, 1991.
- Hamilton, David. 25 Years of the Artist. Dorsett, 1992.
- Sturges, Jock. Notes. Aperture Foundation, 2004. Distributed in Europe by Thames and Hudson.
- Mann, Sally. Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs. Little, Brown, 2015.
- Roiphe, Katie. Last Night in Paradise: Sex and Morals at Century’s End. Vntage, 1997.
- Chapman, Steve. Is Pornography a Catalyst of Sexual Violence? (Reason.com, November 5, 2007). http://reason.com/archives/2007/11/05/is-pornography-a-catalyst-of-s See also: Diamond M et al (2010). Pornography and sex crimes in the Czech Republic. Archives of Sexual Behavior. DOI 10.1007/s10508-010-9696-y https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-11/s-lcp113010.php
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“One of the most memorable events of my childhood was the day that I (a girl who loved nothing more than running around in ragged jeans and nothing else) was told I had to start wearing a shirt.” – Katherine.
Anjeza at 9. Copyright © 2009 Frank Adamo
Why do women cover their breasts? Why are little girls told to cover their flat chest? Was there more shame in the distant past, or less? Does somebody profit from breast shame, or is body shame inevitable?
I’ve written about breast nudity for several years, but now there is a new force on the scene who merits some attention: Chelsea Covington. I re-blogged one of her articles “Why Some Parents are Afraid of Bare-chestedness” and also corresponded with her about my reply to a comment on her article. Our correspondence revealed the complexity of the issue of top freedom, and some differences in viewpoint that may exist between individual advocates.
In 2009 I first published some of my photographs of top-free little girls on European beaches on Yahoo’s photography site: Flickr.com. Using the name “Girl Becomes Woman” my account quickly got over 300,000 views and hundreds of favorable comments defending my images as normal and constructive rather than “sexual” or “seductive” or “erotic” in any way. Nonetheless, some hysteric(s) succeeded in persuading Yahoo to delete my Flickr account, along with my associated Yahoo email account which was active for over 10 years.
In 2011 I published an eBook “Real Child Safety” which pointed out that the majority of child deaths and serious injuries are due to physical abuse and neglect, so why are some crusaders focusing on “too much” skin showing? Worse, some psychopathic individuals seem to be quite thrilled that responsible vigilance to protect children has deteriorated into widespread vigilantism. “Real Child Safety” criticized the mass hysteria over child nudity and child sex abuse and offered as a free gift a photo-documentary “Girl Becomes Woman” I had been working on for the previous five years.
The photo-documentary of a little girl going through puberty is accompanied by over 100 pages of text describing my personal observations and research on the learning of breast shame in childhood. The eBook was also praised by many readers as normal and constructive, and received no open criticism, actually no attention at all in the establishment-owned mass media. In 2010 this blog also began discussing body shame and sex hysteria, as distorted cultural values learned in childhood. The hysteria over child nudity and child sexuality today is palpable: when people see an image of a top-free little girl they are almost shocked, as if little girls are not supposed to have nipples.
Paypal had been processing donations for my Breast Pride Education Foundation for a year, but in 2012 Paypal panicked and blocked my account “permanently.” The mass media (and the California Better Business Bureau) ignored my crucifixion. I have continued offering “Real Child Safety” to readers (now in a second, expanded edition), as well as “Girl Becomes Woman” and my new video for children “Buddy Massage” – as always on the condition that RCS readers fill out a questionnaire to show they don’t have prurient interests, through my sites: www.GirlBecomesWoman.com and www.FRECS.org
Images of top-free little girls in painting and photography are nothing new, and many historical images are in the collections of major museums and university libraries, most famously the early photographs of Oxford University Professor Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), author of Alice in Wonderland, as well as Paul Chabas’ “The First Bath” (1907) http://www.mystudios.com/artgallery/paintings/131501-132000/131566/size1.jpg William Sergeant Kendall’s three daughters e.g. “A Statuette” (1914/1915) in the Brooklyn Museum: http://www.pigtailsinpaint.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/William-Sergeant-Kendall-A-Statuette-ca-1914-Brooklyn-Museum.jpg and the images of many other artists and photographers. Even Shirley Temple, the most gifted child actress of all time, was photographed top-free when she was nine to advertise her greatest film “Captain January” (1937): http://65.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m697bwOeG01qhpmnao1_500.png In her autobiography “Child Star,” Shirley Temple Black revealed that as a small child she occasionally wore nothing at all in the California sunshine.
Never before in American history has there been such hysteria over child nudity and even partial nudity as today. There is good reason to believe that there is method in the madness: Hysteria over breast nudity discourages mothers from breastfeeding, and thereby promotes sales of infant bottle formula – an industry with $30 billion in annual sales worldwide (1).
Chelsea Covington to the Rescue
Breast nudity is outlawed in many states while males may freely uncover their chest in public in most places. Chelsea Covington’s activism for legal equality of top nudity consists in casually walking around top-free on public streets, in public parks, and beaches while a friend videos her. The videos are posted on YouTube and promote her blog.
Ms. Covington focuses on the simple matter of legal equality, which I feel is not the best approach because that focus could just as easily justify forcing men to cover their chests in public – as men already are in many cultures around the world. As a man I have been told to put a shirt on in a public park. That is a form of “equality.” So I think focusing on legal equality is overly restrictive and could ultimately backfire.
Surprisingly, Ms. Covington has not been prosecuted on most of her top-free walks. If parents allowed their flat-chested young daughters to likewise bare their chests at parks and beaches in most states they probably wouldn’t be arrested either, but the modern police state has so terrorized parents with the threat of kidnapping their children (for “protection” from the supposed risk of abuse/neglect), that many parents are reluctant to challenge the hysteria.
Since body shame is learned in childhood, I believe that the mass hysteria over nudity and sex should be attacked at its source. Many mothers begin breastfeeding but then stop abruptly after a short time. Some women report pleasure and even orgasm during breastfeeding, which probably provokes guilt – a feeling that such pleasure and arousal are “abnormal.” Although some mothers claim various reasons for early weaning, I wonder if guilt over the natural pleasure of breastfeeding contributes to it.
In the past the genitalia were literally named shame organs: “pudenda” in Latin, and “shamhaft” in German. But mothers breastfed in public and even in church during mass. Nowadays the disease of genital shame has infected the breasts. Many parents (usually mothers) passively model breast shame and/or actively indoctrinate daughters to hide their flat chest. Media images of “perfect” mature breasts and complete censorship of normal breast development at puberty further make many growing girls feel especially ashamed of budding breasts, at a sensitive age when girls should be showered with compliments. I believe that children should also be taught buddy massage in school and at home rather than be neglected or ostracized for insufficient “modesty.”
Groups like FEMEN and GoTopless.org also demonstrate in public for women’s top freedom, but nobody seems to care about the source of the problem: instilling breast shame in childhood. We need to realize that the deeper problem isn’t merely legal inequality, but the distorted fear of the human body and its natural functions in fostering healthy sexual desire and genital pleasure.
There is good reason to believe that far worse damage results from body shame than merely offending a moral need for equality. Like other body organs, especially those whose primary purpose is perception or sensation, the clitoris needs stimulation during early life while the relative brain area that controls clitoral function is developing. Otherwise, girls risk suffering reduced sensitivity or irreversible clitoral erectile dysfunction later, an uncomfortable subject that many women have trouble even putting into words.
The Internet is revolutionary because it provides everyone with access to quantities of information never available before in human history. Unfortunately, some individuals feel so insecure that they have a need to limit and censor information they don’t like. They try to control the conversation, and when they don’t succeed they withdraw from the conversation and even try to censor any input from other individuals. That is a very unscientific and highly political (i.e. cynical) view of communication, and expresses contempt for democratic ideals.
Even before Betty Freidan published her classic “The Feminine Mystique,” she fought against oppression and McCarthyism by claiming the value of individualism and nonconformity. How sad that unlike Chelsea Covington most women and even most feminists in America today confront the issue of mental castration of little girls with complete silence rather than challenging the mass censorship and hysteria over child nudity and child sexuality.
- Palmer, Gabrielle. The Politics of Breastfeeding: When Breasts are Bad for Business, 3rd ed. Pinter and Martin, 2009.
I agree with Mr. Trump on some of the things he says, especially that we should cooperate with the Russians in Syria (and elsewhere) rather than antagonize them, and I think the mass media are very unfair in portraying him as an idiot – which he obviously isn’t. He has a sense of humor and the courage to be a politically incorrect non-conformist. Whatever happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave? But when Mr. Trump reportedly called a female attorney “disgusting” because she wanted to pump her breasts for her baby in his presence during a deposition, I have to object quite strongly.
Large and pendulous human breasts are virtually unique among mammals; they are beautiful organs of nourishment. Breast milk is the most miraculous food known to science, and it’s free. Considering that the criminal infant bottle formula industry does everything possible to sabotage breastfeeding from the moment of birth and even before – e.g. by making girls and women feel ashamed of their breasts – a woman who succeeds in breastfeeding her child anyway is a hero (1). If a savvy businessman like Mr. Trump says breasts or breast milk are disgusting, we must wonder if he is a ruthless stockholder in one or more of the largest bottle formula producers: Nestlè, Danone, etc. or one of the secondary profiteers of body shame: sellers of Vitamin D supplements, bra makers, and bathing suit tops for little girls!
Even if he isn’t a stockholder profiting directly from breast shame, Mr. Trump should know that once a woman has succeeded in overcoming the dishonest tricks of corrupted hospital staff who try their best to encourage mothers to buy inferior infant bottle formula, frequent suckling is essential to maintain the breasts’ production of precious human milk. For a working mother pumping the breasts as frequently as possible is not an arbitrary choice. There is no love lost between Mr. Trump and politically correct feminists, but his reported hostility to public breastfeeding is strangely consistent with the feminist crusade to legitimize and normalize dangerous feeding of inferior artificial formula, even if that’s at the risk of infant health.
In practical terms, expelling milk from the milk glands is accompanied by increased production of the pro-social hormone: oxytocin. If the attorney who reportedly wanted to pump her breasts was on the opposite side of the table, then that’s a perfect time for any opponent to be dealing with her. Calling a woman “disgusting” for pumping her breasts doesn’t mean Mr. Trump is against women, as some of his critics conveniently claim. A kinder explanation is that better education is needed about the human body in general, and in particular why breastfeeding and breast milk are things to cherish not shy away from.
Breastfeeding is one of the greatest experiences in life for both mother and child, but men can’t do it and naturally feel excluded. Men shouldn’t wallow in their envy; we can take positive steps to compensate for women’s superiority in that department. The skin contact of bathing, cuddling and nude massage can be just as important and rewarding as breastfeeding to both parent and child, and men can excel at that.
The mass hysteria over child sex abuse and pedophilia is fostered by body shame, so many men today are reluctant to even offer to bathe or massage their baby, for fear that his intentions might be considered “suspicious.” Mr. Trump appears to be a loving father who is close to his daughter. Such closeness can and should begin right after birth and continue throughout childhood, especially when a mother can benefit from time off from caring for a baby, but even long after weaning until children are old enough to massage each other.
Mr. Trump, we men need to become better informed about breastfeeding and childhood instead of unwittingly helping unscrupulous profiteers by promoting body shame. Your opponent, Hillary Clinton, has a long track record in promoting the interests of children. If you want to defeat your opponent (you say that you love winning), then you need to one-up Mrs. Clinton in promoting children’s welfare and well-being in an increasingly pedophobic world.
- Palmer, Gabrielle. The Politics of Breastfeeding: When Breasts are Bad for Business, 3rd ed. Pinter and Martin, 2009.