Child Sexuality (or: Thirza’s Vagina Shot)
This is something I’ve thought about for a long time, especially when I was making teenage lesbian videos and the fucking Alberta government outed me in high school because I was supposedly making a child porn recruiting video. Whatever. Then I was still thinking about it when I was nineteen only with the additional issue of chasing older lesbians who were running away for fear of the pedophile label attaching itself to them. But mostly I wanted to talk about teenagers wanting to fuck and why the hell is that wrong? Thus came “Untouchable.”
So I went as far as I could for someone with no sexual partner at the time and flashed my pierced vulva for the camera in what has become the one defining image people remember when they think of my work.
Why? It’s just a vag. Honestly, I think compositionally I’ve come up with more lush lyrical imagery. It’s practically at the point where it’s Thirza’s Vagina Shot, like you could write a queer videos of the 90’s essay on it. In fact someone did.
Then I tried to stick the final nail in the “queer youth” coffin with “Helpless Maiden Makes An ‘I’ Statement” where I juxtaposed a break up monologue with Disney Witch footage. On one angle it was a commentary on BDSM relationships, on another it was about sexualized images in children’s entertainment.
I got into shit for my early work, mostly because I was young and talking about the homosex. I was considered an anomaly in the queer community for coming out at fourteen. Shit, now we have queers coming out when they’re nine. The queer community has to do outreach to these folks, even at risk of being called pedophiles. I don’t mean slippery dick outreach, I mean having safehouses for youth who are running away from homophobic homes, and alternative schools for queers (there are some but not enough).
But child sexuality of all types is criminalized in our society, ironically under the guise of protecting children. I will get to why I think that is a fallacy in a moment.
Currently an issue of Blackflash is coming out where yours truly did a small artwork for (it’s a postcard, send it to your friends!) and it was the Sex/Love issue. One of the articles was about Child Sexuality and featured artwork from luminary folks such as Robert Mapplethorpe. Work which could be found in various galleries around the world. I was going to post a link to it here but probably because of child porn laws on the internet no one can publish it online anymore. It was of a little girl where you could see up her skirt. Nothing ultra provocative, nothing more scandalous than any pics most people have of themselves as children (yes, remember all your bathtub pictures you hide from your friends!). In fact, Diva magazine caught up with the little girl now all grown up (and a lesbian btw) who says it’s her favorite photo of herself as a child.
ANYWAY, Blackflash was set to publish when all the publishers got snippy and refused to reprint the images. Everyone was upset, including myself when I heard. I have in fact had the vice squad run off with my videos to inspect them for child porn (yes, police have seen the vag shot image which has defined my career). There was some rabble rousing, but I think in the end everyone felt pretty powerless to put up a fight. I mean, how long did the Eli Langer case drag on?
Child Porn laws always sound like a good idea on paper, but when new parents are being dragged away from the local one hour photo store for taking pictures of the twins having a bath, you start to notice how the lines are blurry.
I knew it was going to happen, but it didn’t make me less sad. A thirteen year old girl had sex with a twelve year old boy, and currently they are trying to decide how to try her since by law she is both a perpetrator and a victim. Her boyfriend is also considered guilty of being a sex crime perpetrator. People would say “Dear lord, she was thirteen! That’s too young these kids nowadays blah blah blah.” Actually, if you get people drunk/stoned and ask them when they lost their virginity, you’d be surprised how many will say a number between seven and thirteen. And not just people in my age group either, I know people much older than me who lost it at a really young age.
I’m not going to debate when the “proper” age to lose one’s virginity is, truth be told I felt a bit long in the tooth when I lost mine. But the fact is kids are doing sexual things and then turning pink and saying “nothing” when you ask them what they’re doing. I mean, under the law this girl’s being prosecuted, a kid can be charged for MASTURBATING! I’m serious. That means I was a criminal for 11 years of my life!!!
“Protecting” children, doesn’t. It criminalizes natural child behaviour. It criminalizes art work. It criminalizes child sexuality at a time when children are just naturally going about their sexual development. It keeps kids from being able to learn about safe and healthy sexuality, or even engaging with communities they belong to, namely the Queer community. Sexual predators hunting children still get around it. They don’t have to go ogle the local exhibition of Mapplethorpe or Langer, they can just hop on Myspace and write up a bogus profile. They can just wander back and forth along a playground. They can just offer to babysit to help out a frazzled single mother.
People always support laws “protecting” children, until they get caught in a loophole.
Now I really must go and have a shower and wash this famous vulva of mine.
(This is me at nineteen in Untouchable, my vulva is lower down, as is the fashion.)