As long as we’re talking about the line between appropriate and inappropriate adolescent sexuality, I thought I would bring up Jock Sturges. There is much controversy about Jock Sturges‘ photography. Mr. Sturges primarily takes pictures of nude adolescent girls on nude beaches.
The answer, of course, may lie in whether you’re French or American – that is, what kind of cultural and sexual understanding you have of the human body. This is really so similar to how people understand the FLDS debacle – so much is based on how you see girls between the ages of 12 and 16. (And yes, it is absolutely a tragedy and a debacle, regardless of which “side” you’re on.)
Me? I think that girls between the ages of 12 and 16 should be free to find their own sexuality – but should not be the objects of adults’ sexual desires. Basically, I think the FLDS folks shouldn’t allow their daughters to marry under age 18, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for Jock Sturges to publish images of girls under 18 naked.
Mr. Sturges talks at length about the quality of his relationship with the girls he photographs and their parents. And I commend him for that – or, rather, I don’t condemn him as I would if he didn’t make it crystal clear that he has a great relationship with them. Nevertheless, it’s hard enough for young teenage girls to make sense of their developing sexuality without their naked images being published online and in books.
Give teenage girls time and space to develop sexually and romantically. There is plenty of time – plenty! – for them to get married and pump out babies if that’s what they want or to pose naked for photographers if that’s what they want. I just don’t think that a 13 year old is ready enough to make those decisions – and I certainly don’t think her parents should be making them for her.
And to stave off the comments I already see in the rear view mirror: No, I’m not sure an 18 year old or even a 24 year old is always fully ready to make those decisions either. But I am absolutely confident that a post-adolescent woman of 18 is more capable of making decisions than a pre-adolescent girl of 13.
I am not including any of Mr. Sturges’ pictures in this blog post on purpose, but you can find plenty here and in the links above.