Maiden Voyages: September 2018

Exorcising Demons: Public relations is hard work! Just as I was congratulating Pip on his latest installment about Surrealist Art, I had to field a number of concerns about the content of that post. It should be understood that not every art form involving little girls will be everybody’s cup of tea. Also, the presentation of these images should not be interpreted as some kind of endorsement. Pip is performing an important service of educating us on why artists are so compelled to create these contentious images and why they are appealing to many people. Despite some of the images’ fetishistic themes, it does not necessarily imply a disrespect on our part for girls or women or even on the part of the artist involved. And part of the point is how the ambiguity of the age of the subjects pushes our emotional buttons. It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, but I am afraid the impact of these images has overwhelmed the points being put forth. For those sensitive souls who were shocked by what they saw, I do sincerely apologize, but we at Pigtails are committed to delving into virtually all portrayals of little girls, regardless of how uncomfortable it may make us. Be forewarned that this series will continue and appreciate that Pip has put a lot of thought into it and is not making frivolous conjectures for the sake of sensationalism.

Everybody Gets Naked: Regarding the difficulties parents have in explaining the facts of life to children, it is apropos that one of our biggest fans came across an excellent article regarding the use of nudity in a children’s book. The title of the article pretty much sums it up: “Nudity in kids’ books is nothing to worry about.”

At Least They Are Starting to Talk: I have been recently grilled by a couple of members of a child-advocacy organization about the justification for the kind of images we publish. Instead of making assumptions about content they don’t quite understand, they made sincere inquiries about why we do what we do. This is a hopeful step in the right direction. For a long time, I have had in mind that the real problem with the internet is the new level of access and relative lack of privacy that can result. I was told about an interesting video bringing public awareness to the problems of overexposing a child’s private life on the internet. Although a legitimate issue, the video’s key point seems to play on latent fears that images are being used in the sexual fantasies of strangers. This kind of fear-mongering does make one question their real motives and backing and casts doubts on the movement’s grass-roots credibility.

Another Piece of the Puzzle: When one begins a new project as Pip did with Pigtails in Paint, there is no notion about how successful or popular it will be. Therefore one tends to be cavalier about keeping track of source material for site artwork. Fortunately, over the past few years, various contributors have dug out the details and so we have been able to bring them to you. Pip just reported that he identified a piece of art he used for the second Pigtails banner, the one with the yellow background. The piece is called Anita by Jesus Blasco and as with all the other banner art, can be viewed on our Third Anniversary post.

28 thoughts on “Maiden Voyages: September 2018

  1. This is a very interesting thread.

    As a girl lover and also a fan of pigtailsinpaint, I have to say that paedophilia isn’t all about sexual desire. It’s about falling in love with children, admiring them, being interested in them and, often enough, caring deeply about their welfare.

    I do not engage in sexual conduct with children or try to justify it. Nor do I seek to excuse the production or use of child pornography. I’m not a prude, but my view of pornography in general is that it appeals to low instincts and, in doing so, is actually a kind of fascist propaganda.

    The beautiful, funny and sometimes challenging images of little girls on this site could not be more distinct from child pornography. Although the images are sometimes a turn on, they are far more likely to trigger a richer and more sophisticated response, thereby increasing my understanding of and respect for girls and their inviolate personhood.

      • This presents a bit of a problem for me. I am good friends with a model who has been featured on this site a few times. What is the difference between pedophile and girl-lover? While I think her art should be appreciated, it makes me kind of uncomfortable to know that girl-lovers are looking at her (and possibly turned on by it) as the comment above suggests. How would these kids feel to know someone was turned on by their images?

        • I understand your discomfort as these terms are not clearly defined. Therefore when a commenter uses certain language to express his/her ideas, he may not necessarily be making a special effort to use clear or correct language. Because of the taboo nature of the subject, there is not even a strong foundation about how pedophilia develops and what it implies about a person. However, it should be emphasized that there is a huge gulf between impulses, fantasies and action in the real world and people should educate themselves if they can overcome judgement and bias regarding the human psyche and can accept its messy reality.
          As to the reaction of former models and actresses, I think it is fair to say that that would vary by the individual (but I expect that was a rhetorical point you were making, but nevertheless since you brought up the subject …) The few anecdotal cases that have come to my attention would seen to indicate that the “violator” would be regarded with pity and, for the most part, so do I. I prefer not to stoop to some vulgar level and make some posturing adamant blanket condemnation. Incidentally, the most dangerous people are those with a sociopathic personality as they do the most direct physical and emotional harm and should be the main priority of any decent law enforcement agency. -Ron

        • Amanda … I’ve bee working through the material Graham Ovenden has had returned by the police but a lot more have never been returned. Even two of the models that eventually amended their claims against him had already testified in court that nothing happened during photo shoots! Even the judge was not unbiased enough to consider that WAS the case, so just how can you make a distinction between the way in which people view images these days. At the time that this material was created whilst there were some complaints, no one called people looking at album covers and other material with naked young bodies a pedophile. Now if you look at fully-clothed young models you must be one as ‘they must be acting sexually to be photographed at all’. So perhaps children should not be allowed out of the family home until they are 18? Our children should be free to explore life as they want to and being photographed to record their life should not be treated as if it’s all obscene. Isn’t the real problem today about sharing those activities with the world?

        • Hi Amanda,

          the difference between a ‘pedophile’ and a ‘girl-lover’ is that the latter term is gender specific. Other than that, nothing.

          I’m very sorry for making you uncomfortable. I do hope your model friend is not embarrassed by my disclosure. Most children are realists, so perhaps not.

          It may be better not to know what private thoughts people have when they see a beautiful child, but I appeal to the value of honesty and transparency in this. Sure, some things are better left unsaid, but I believe my comment adds more than it detracts, in the context of this blog at least. In contrast to the effect of stigma, shame and moral panic, some honesty about paedophilia can only make children safer.

          Beyond that, I don’t want to get any deeper into this discussion unless Ron indicates otherwise.

          • Again, well put and, yes, this is not the really the proper forum for going into this in any great depth. People should just know that there are plenty of open questions and maybe there are places on other sites where this is better handled. -Ron

      • While I do not support girl/boy love at all and think it is a crime against nature, I do commend you for being one of the few who realizes he can never be with a child romantically or physically. But I think any rational adult shares your sentiments about caring for kids and having deep concern for their welfare. I hope you care about the boys in your life just as much as the girls.

        • It is one thing to have ideals, but when operating a public forum, it is necessary to be pragmatic. Attitudes and opinions range all over the place and there is no way to make everyone happy. All I can say is that it is Pigtails’ intent to handle a very challenging subject in the most responsible way possible.
          Many readers have expressed the sentiment: what about the boys? I cannot speak for other fans of the site, but the fact is that girls and boys are different, even at a very young age. For children, the biggest differences are psychological (statistically speaking and with all due respect to the exceptions out there). From personal experience, I can say that I spent plenty of time with both boys and girls. But it is in retrospect that I realize that it was my time with certain girls that has had the strongest long-term emotional impact. This site is my way of exploring this peculiarity. Also, despite protestations to the contrary, we (including parents) can’t help playing favorites a bit. Some people fit together well and others not so much. We are social creatures and we cannot simply shut our emotions off in the name of the higher ideal of fairness.

        • Hi Amanda,

          I care about children’s welfare in a broader sense and I do what I can to improve their lot, by contributing to a children’s charity for example. Certain boys in my life have meant a great deal to me but, with one or two exceptions, I’m not attracted to boys. I prefer the company of girls, and they seem to enjoy my company in turn. I can’t tell you why. Paedophilia is an emotional state, not a belief state.

          I visited your site and I was thrilled to see the unreleased Ovendens. I love his art. I was a bit sad to be made unwelcome, but I deal with far less gentle rejections without feeling much rancour.

          Also, thank you for your commendation. I don’t agree that my feelings are ‘a crime against nature’, but I don’t want to belittle your anxieties; sexual abuse of children is a reality that generates strong feelings in good people.

          Paedophilia (and sexual orientation in general) is subtle and complex. I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to understand a person’s situation if they bring an understanding informed only by public discourse. It’s the quality of individual experience that ultimately motivates behaviour, not a set of compulsory social norms.

        • One more brief comment.

          I don’t believe I’m ‘one of the few’ people with paedophilic feelings who shows restraint in his conduct with children. I’m inclined to think most ‘paedophiles’ are decent people who care about children and understand their particular vulnerabilities. They’re just invisible to you because they can’t reveal their orientation without fear of persecution.

          In contrast, the most vile assaults on children are sensationalized and amplified by the media and dominate the public discourse on paedophilia. The word ‘paedophile’ itself has become pejorative and condemnatory, denoting a child abuser not a child lover.

          That’s why I prefer the term ‘girl lover’.

          • Please let this be the last words on this subject for a while. Your cooperation is much appreciated. -Ron, Editor-in-Chief

    • It seems these days that Pigtails in Paint is being scrutinized by quite a few people these days. Consequently, some of my colleagues were concerned that allowing this comment constituted some kind of endorsement; this is not so. So often, mundane, crude and often extremist comments come across my desk and it is refreshing, for once, when someone makes a thoughtful cogent comment. We usually try to avoid the debate about the vagaries of pedophilia since this is a site that focuses on the visual portrayal of girls. However, comments like this are inevitable and I am a strong advocate of us educating ourselves when it is for our collective betterment.

      The reason this was allowed was that it illustrated certain important points.

      1) Pedophilia is not clearly defined. It mostly has a sexual connotation these days, but the writer’s interpretation is that it is only a part of a more complex individual and relationship. It was not meant as an argument about sexual desire.

      2) The writer quite sensibly does not try to justify sexual conduct with children and says so explicitly. This is not the place to open up that ethical quagmire.

      3) The writer makes a good point about the function of pornography (as most people understand it) and that it appeals to our lowest instincts. Therefore, as a form of fascist propaganda, it is a means of manipulating people.

      4) Here’s a particularly important one: Pigtails in Paint does not publish pornography. Whether or not certain images may arouse certain individuals one way or another is due to the personality of the viewer, not any intent on our part to titillate. As the writer says, they are meant to provoke a “rich response” and hopefully lead to better understanding.

      5) Girls are people with certain inalienable rights. One of the main reasons this site focuses on little girls is that, in a certain sense, they are the weakest members of our society. It occurs to me that the best way to judge people is by the way they treat the weakest members.

      I hope this has cleared up matters and that my words will not be able to be twisted into some kind endorsement of sexual congress with children! -Ron

  2. From a Baudelairian perspective, art is an expression of the artist’s imagination, which transforms the external reality instead of copying it; by nature it is always beautiful, with a beauty that is necessarily astonishing. Thus art can sometimes be challenging and in some circumstances provoking or even shocking. But a work designed to challenge, provoke and shock, when it is not beautiful it is not art, but pure provocation. An example of provocative pseudo-art mentioned in Celestial Venus is the 1917 ready-made named “Fountain” by Marcel Duchamp, simply an urinal with a signature on it. Anyway, Pigtails does not restrict itself to art, all types of visual representation of girls enter into its scope.

    Concerning the comment by JoshB, it must be stressed that what people have in mind when they look at pictures or what they do in private with legal material, remains a private secret about which nobody can know for sure. Raising the alarm against showing nude children because of a supposed lascivious look by “paedophiles” bent on wrongdoing is similar to the claim by some “radical feminists” that artistic nude paintings or photographs of women encourage “men” to consider women as mere sexual objects, or even to rape them; of the same vein is the dictate by Islamic fundamentalist that women and girls must cover their body and head, otherwise “men” will get mad at them and lose self-control. All three consider people of one or another sexual orientation as sex-obsessed animals devoid of any appreciation of beauty and art. I don’t care about the sexual orientation of viewers and readers, what matters is how they can appreciate beauty.

  3. About the “Interesting Video.” I know they are trying to protect the children, but the scariest part of messages like this, is that they are telling people to see them with a sexual gaze. Some will be aghast and join the fight (making the problem worse). Most will hopefully see there is nothing to be aroused about. The harm they are doing happens when someone looks for this supposed eroticism in innocent images and they see what they are looking for. “It’s not what’s there, it’s what you see.” Paedophilia is about Cognitive Distortions and messages like this feed those distortions. It becomes a Self-Fulfilling Prophesy.

    • I could not have said it better myself. It is funny how there are so many things like this that appear to be a good thing at first blush, but when one analyzes the psychology behind it, one is forced to come to a disturbing conclusion about these people’s motives. -Ron

    • Perhaps I can explain myself. I think I am the member of the child advocacy group he is talking about. I worked on this video with the Child Rescue Coalition. Let me point out there is no cause more noble than rooting out child pornography. The things I have see would scar any rational human being and it has affected how I see the world. I think America has woken up to the prevalence of pedophilia. I have a trained eye for this kind of thing. I can spot the creeps peeping at nude kids at the beach and full disclosure, there are a lot of them. In working to create this video, I am trying to make a safer world. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen innocent pictures end up on some nasty websites. I certainly see both sides of the issue here, but my heart, my gut and my God tell me publicizing nudity is wrong.

      • Sir, you may have a “trained eye” for spotting “creeps” at the beach (how fascinating that you can read minds! I tend not to look for such things, but then I don’t see perverts around every corner as you clearly do) but I suspect you have a rather poor understanding of human psychology in general. Desires do not decrease in proportion to how unavailable legal outlets are for those desires. Do you think pedophilia goes away if there are no physical means for the pedophile to direct his or her sexual energies toward? Even you must realize how absurd that suggestion is.

        If, indeed, pedophiles are channeling their desires at legal nude images of children, then to me this is vastly superior to them having no legal outlets at all and thus seeking out illegal ones. And do not tell me that looking at such images will escalate into full-blown child porn or hands-on offenses. If that were so, then Japan would be full to the brim with child rapists, since lolicon/shotacon is legal there, and quite popular. And yet they have one of the lowest rates of sex crimes (and crime in general) in the world.

        But it is, in fact, the opposite case: needlessly generating a taboo against nude children in art (or on beaches, since you mention it) inherently fetishizes and creates a demand for the child’s naked body among those for whom taboos are a turn-on. How could it be otherwise? On the other hand, by demystifying the child’s body, one desexualizes it, a nice counterpoint to the fashion industry where children are eroticized by anti-holistic, fetishistic and idealized images of children in makeup and expensive clothes.

        Furthermore, regardless of what your heart and your gut tell you, your God has, to my knowledge, never said anything about nude children in art or any other context up until very recently. This is entirely a modern development, given that public nudity, particularly of children, would’ve been quite common in the epoch of the Bible’s writing, and well after. Moreover, nudist and naturist culture is still well-established around the world. No doubt there are pedophiles there too just as anywhere else, and yet everything I’ve read about nudism and naturism tells me sex crimes against children are even rarer in those contexts than they are in society as a whole, and those children are quite well-adjusted to boot. You know it must be so or the SJWs of decency and decorum would be complaining about it night and day.

      • Additionally, though it’s been stated here many times, I’ll say again that our site does not cater to pedophiles. We’ve had them attempt to make comments about how attractive this or that girl is, and we always nip that in the bud and make it clear to them that that’s not what we’re about, and if they’re just here to leer at child flesh then they are kindly asked to go elsewhere. We are under no delusions that all of them heed that advice. Nevertheless, as long as they are merely admiring the art (which may include using it for sexual gratification), then I shan’t worry about it. I think it’s foolish and objectively counterproductive to rearrange our entire culture around a handful of people, just to deprive them of images in which no one has been harmed. In fact, I think it is people like you who are the most destructive to children’s innocence, unnecessarily teaching children to believe there are murderous rapists hiding under every bush and to feel weird and guilty about displaying their own bodies. I have no intention of giving in to that sort of outmoded Victorian nonsense and will fight it at every turn.

        Regardless, thank you for your comment. You knowingly waded into treacherous waters here, and I will commend you for that. I have no issue with your goal of keeping children safe. I think all of us here agree with and share that goal. We merely differ on how we think that can and should be accomplished.

      • One who seeks monsters are bound to find them. I do not know at what venue you are finding these perverts, but for you to have any credibility, there must be a means to distinguish between those with malevolent intent or thoughts and those of us who are simply observing children with equally innocent delight.
        My serious concern about the video is that it gives the wrong motivation for respecting children’s privacy. Stigmatization and the resulting relentless teasing from peers is perhaps the most psychologically damaging and when parents post such images without giving any thought to how this might affect their children, that is either callous or thoughtless. None of this has to do with nudity or that a few so-called perverts are using the images for personal gratification. I suggest you take a good look into the mirror and give some real thought about what is really bothering you and not take the easy way out by deferring to religious doctrine.
        All that being said, I do commend you for putting your neck on the line and taking a public stand for something you believe in. -Ron

      • I don’t know if JoshB will see this, but further reflection requires me to point out that what little research exists makes clear that pedophiles and molesters are not the same thing, even though the terms are used interchangeably. No one really knows how many pedophiles there are, because the only ones reported are the ones that actually do commit crimes, which is probably a very small percentage. On the other hand, we do know that the vast majority of molesters are in fact not pedophiles. It’s a crime of violence, anger and control, and a child is far far more likely to be assaulted by a relative or family friend than some anonymous “creep.” I can think of many causes that are far more “noble” than censorship of innocent artistic representations of naked children that will do absolutely nothing to deter the real predators. Protecting children from the violence associated with poverty and depravation comes to mind. It would be better to devote your resources there.

      • I would rather promote naked children as innocent and have their images spread across the internet etc. than to squash those same images because they are considered erotic. They are not erotic. Even if paedophiles do use them for their gratification, it is because they have been convinced of that false eroticism. When the naked child becomes common place and everyone is talking about how erotic they are NOT, the paedophiles will discover that these innocent images not longer get the job done. Squashing them is planting the seeds of paedophilia. Repeated squashing, waters, feeds and nurtures those concepts. On the other hand, spreading the word of innocence in connection with these images, is a weed killer. We’ve spent 40 years eroticising the naked child. It’s going to take at least that long to reverse the damage that has been done.

  4. To say the artwork in question is disturbing is a tremendous understatement. I have never much appreciated the grotesque in art nor understood its appeal. I reject the notion that the purpose of art is to provoke, shock and outrage (such notion most often presented by artists who enjoy provoking, shocking and causing outrage). I submit that art has at least as much purpose to be pleasant and uplifting.
    All that said, while I can’t help wonder what’s going on in the heads of people who conceive such images, I wouldn’t want anyone looking too closely at what’s in my head, nor labling the things I enjoy as “wrong” and condemning me or trying to suppress such things.
    Therefore, while I don’t care for these works, I fully concur that they are a valid part of an important conversation and should be included

    • Arielle, you are of course entitled to your opinion and your tastes, but I don’t think you can effectively challenge the notion that the purpose of some (not all) art is to provoke, shock and outrage. Or, at the very least, to challenge the notion that art’s sole purpose is to be decorative and pretty. (I’m also one of those people who believes films don’t exist merely to entertain us.)

      And I should state—in fact, I did so in the About This Site section—that I do not necessarily like all of the art I post. But I feel I would be remiss in my stated goal if I posted only artwork I like. That’s not what this site was intended for. I’m certain if it was it would not have lasted as long as it did, since my passion for and interest in art extends far beyond its aesthetic appeal and freedom of expression has long been one of my life’s passions because of it. And everything I post I at least find interesting on one level or another.

      Having been an artist, an art aficionado and a student of art history for most of my life, I am nothing if not well-versed in this topic, and I see culture and society at large reflected in art’s trends where other people may not. I think that’s worth sharing. I’m not saying I’m absolutely right, but I do believe I am more learned than most on these matters and that my perspective is both unique and insightful. Perhaps that’s arrogant of me, but I believe my views will be well justified with time.

      Anyway, your feedback is appreciated and will be taken into consideration.

      • You misunderstand. I don’t see it as either-or, but there are many people who do, for example rejecting any work that doesn’t upset people as being too bourgeois (or whatever political label is appropriate). There is much in these recent posts that adds up to a huge WTF for me, and I am often at a loss to figure out what the heck the point is supposed to be. But it doesn’t matter.
        I teach literary criticism, among other things, and I’m the first to admit that while lterary (and art) criticism can offer profound philosophical insights, it’s just as likely to be so much navel-gazing and debating the “point” is to talk in circles. But I am surrounded by theorists who argue that if people “get it,” it must be inferior. “True art is incomprehensible” and so forth. To me the purpose of art is to be art. It tells us a great about who we are, and we can and should be open to a conversation about what that means, but I often find the most interesting conversation is the one about whether we should be having the conversation at al. But that’s ludicrously meta, and I realize I’m in the process of disappearing up my own navel at this point, so I shall close merely by saying that I appreciate all you bring to the conversation, whether I personally like it or not.

        • Okay, I see. Well, for the record I have always been the first to say that my interpretations, however informed by my immersion in art culture and history, are no more valid than anyone else’s. That’s the thing about artistic interpretation: ultimately no one is right and no one is wrong. My interpretations are based to a large extent on my research into semiotics: in essence, the psychology and philosophy of symbolism. But we must always be careful here because cultural differences (for example, European ideas versus African ideas about the meanings of the color black and the color white), and I try to understand the meaning behind an image based on what I know about the artist, about art trends of the time, the larger socio-cultural zeitgeist, and a host of other factors that I think are in play. Nevertheless, I could be entirely wrong on all of it. That said, I think, given how often I’ve had an artist personally reinforce my interpretation, I’m not too far off the mark much of the time. I certainly don’t approach these things without research, and I will cite relevant interpretations by others when they are known to me. In this case I think there are enough examples to reinforce my thesis, certainly more than many college-level theses I’ve seen in actual journals and books. In fact, I believe there is more than enough evidence to write a book on if I was so inclined, which I’m not. But it wouldn’t surprise me if someone eventually did.

    • You kind of bring up an interesting point. Not everyone is comfortable looking into the dark crevices of people’s minds, even their own. One must raise one’s hat to people who practice psychiatry or priests who frequently listen to people’s confessions. If it is ever possible to have a society where privacy is of little concern, it would only be because people would have the maturity and education not to make a big deal out of anyone’s dark or silly fantasies. A psychiatrists that did extensive work on sexual fantasies is Nancy Friday. She is probably best known for putting into print the sexual fantasies of women. When she tried to do the same for men, she felt herself being repulsed by some of the scenarios. But ever the professional, she soldiered on and began to realize a pattern in men and began to understand that even the most misogynistic fantasies did nonetheless reveal a kind of reverence and fascination with women. Knowing the disturbing truth about what are in our minds does not need to make us despondent about the nature of humanity, it should simply be understood that, however bizarre, they are a part of what makes the world work. I could add that scientists in any field would benefit by taking this kind of view to heart. -Ron

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