December 7th, 2004

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12:43 am - on being the creepy old man...

Little Girl at Niagra Falls
Originally uploaded by chrismaverick.
so I have been posting more photos to my photo blog at Flickr. That I mentioned earlier.

Thus far, I have pretty much been going through my iPhoto Library to get old pictures that I liked and move them into my Flickr photo sets. Hopefully this will soon inspire me to get out and take more pics. Maybe even take more of the photoshoots that I promised to start doing again way back when.

Anyway, when looking through my old photos, I came across this picture of this little girl from when beststephi and I went to Niagra Falls this summer. I remember when I took it, and I thought it was really great. In fact I still really like it for some reason (like anything creative I do, I am curious as hell to other people's opinions), but when i took it, I felt undeniably creepy. I don't know. There's just something that feels weird about taking a picture of a kid in public. Especially one that you don't know. I mean, it was totally innocent. You can't even see her face. Its not at all "naughty" or anything. And as far as anyone knew, I was taking pictures of the falls (which i did take a lot of). But somehow it just felt... well creepy. Even now, I think "people are going to look at that and think I have some sick fetish for seven year olds." And I wasn't even wearing my I fucked the Olsen Twins T-shirt. But that's just the thing. The Olsen Twins shirt is clearly a joke. And they're celebrities, so they're famous. And somehow that makes it ok. I've taken pictures of random grown-ups i didn't know, and that felt ok. But little girls... and I feel like a creepy old man.

Its funny, because I also took some pictures of Steph's niece and nephew when we went to the beach a couple months back, and even though i knew those kids. And in fact the kids were there with me. It still felt weird. Maybe because I'm black and the kids are white and onlookers might not realize I'm their "uncle" and its supposed to be ok. I dunno. But I felt weird. Weirder than I would have felt taking a picture of the random hot babe in a bikini who might walk by (no link, as I didn't get any of those *sigh*), and certainly weirder than I feel taking pictures of the kids in a non-public setting. Somethings just not right about taking pictures of little kids anymore.

Why is that?

Damn pedophiles ruining it for everyone. I wanted to say that I needed to go out and fuck Mary-Kate just to feel better about myself, but eh... she's getting too old now.

(14 comments | Leave a comment)

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[User Picture]From: stuntviolist Date: December 6th, 2004 - 11:22 pm (Link)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the picture. If you had taken dozens of pictures of that little girl, then it would be creepy. As it is, it is just a nice shot.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: December 7th, 2004 - 07:04 am (Link)
oh, I don't really think there is anything wrong with it. It just feels sort of creepy is all. In a perfect world, if a little girl was doing all kinds of cute stuff, I think it should be ok to take lots of pictures of her. But the world isn't perfect. Ah well... I guess I will stick to photographing bikini and lingerie models.
[User Picture]From: ouchfest Date: December 7th, 2004 - 04:39 am (Link)
I feel for you, man. The media has fostered the impression that men are child-molesters. Sensationalistic stories sell advertisements. They have inspired a upiquitous fear and distrust of any men who want any kind of contact with children.

I think (this is my personal perception) that it's hit men harder than women. I've worked in a daycare, an after-school program, and a few hospital facilities with kids age 1-17, and nearly all of my coworkers (all at the daycare) were women. I was constantly terrified at each job of looking like a molester. I wouldn't hug the kids like the women did.

Sometimes female coworkers would ask me to change a kid or give someone a bath. That trust made me feel better. Other times the female supervisors (there were never male supervisors) specifically said that male staff should never be alone with female clients, but the reverse was fine, and that pissed me off. I know what the arguments are for this, and I don't have time to debate them, but I'm just going to say that they're only partially justified and mostly bullshit.

The media also historically hypersexualized men and hyposexualized women. That's changing now. I wouldn't be surprised if we see an upsurgance of female pedophiles. Then we'll all be afraid of anyone interacting with children. It makes me sad. Like that scene in Mrs. Doubtfire when Robin says to his brother how pissed he is when the social worker wonders why he hugs his own children.

It's natural and healthy to care about children and touch them. It's not necessarily sexual. We're just indocrinated to believe that those behaviors coming from men are sexual, and coming from women are not. The practices of the media are so hurtful to society.

Go ahead and take pictures of children.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: December 7th, 2004 - 08:03 am (Link)
in general, history will human nature will always treat men as more predatory than women. Several reasons exist for this. First, historically, its true. Equality (or the pretense thereof) for females is a relatively recent invention. As such, we have eons of acceptance to the idea of men as hunters, warriors, breadwinners, or villains. Women on the other hand are to be mothers and caretakers. Second there is the physical threat level. A man on average is stronger and more dangerous than a woman. Finally, there is the testosterone level. A man is generally going to be capable of greater levels of agression than women. Naturally, none of this adds up to men automatically being pedophiles (or rapists, or killers or whatever), but there's naturally going to be a greater fear present.

Interesing question for women. In many cases, regarding possible (perceived) sexual or intimate contact to women. Women might specifically choose a female gynecologist. Female doctors will sometimes be brought in to perform rape kits. Female officers do the strip searches on an arrested suspect. So the question is, as a woman would you prefer an older, stably married, heterosexual but likely past his sexually excitable prime man do a procedure such as this, or a younger, sexually active and vibrant lesbian? Society, I think tends to favor the lesbian. There is simply something "safer" feeling about women.
[User Picture]From: ouchfest Date: December 7th, 2004 - 04:27 pm (Link)
A man on average is stronger and more dangerous than a woman. Finally, there is the testosterone level. A man is generally going to be capable of greater levels of agression than women. Naturally, none of this adds up to men automatically being pedophiles (or rapists, or killers or whatever), but there's naturally going to be a greater fear present.

Oh, yeah, and women suck at math% Statistically significant differences in averages are not always as important as practical similarities in distributions, and the etiologies aren't particularly clear between genetics, environment, testosterone, and aggression. We have a lot of correlational observations, and some counterintuitive experimental results. People just don't A) have the right information or B) understand how to interpret information. Thank you, Fox News and our educational system%

I'm not saying there are no practical differences. I'm just saying that 99.9% of the population has no idea how to even evaluate relevant information, and current perceptions are way off from reality in a damaging manner, and contribute to a terrible self-fullfilling prophesy.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: December 7th, 2004 - 07:15 pm (Link)
perhaps... perhaps not. It really isn't relevant. if 99.9% of the population evaluates something logically incorrectly, but in the same incorrect manner, then essentially they are correct. Consensus reality. Gay marriage is a sin, not because of any edict from Jay-Z or whatever higher power the rest of the country believes in but because most people believe that some higher power denoted it a sin. Whether he did or not, or whether there is even a higher power is irrelevant.

Point being, whether women suck at math or not, if no one will allow them to do math because of the belief that they suck, then the end result is the same.
[User Picture]From: cuddlyd00m Date: December 7th, 2004 - 05:17 am (Link)
When citgirl and I were doing the photography for her book on the Dino-mite Days exhibit (well, she was taking the pictures, I was wielding the mighty laptop) we came across several situations where there would have been some great shots with kids playing on or around the dinosaurs, and that was awkward as hell. Meredyth made sure to make herself as "kid-friendly" looking as possible, usually wearing her Dino-mite Days t-shirt, and we talked to the parents if we could find them prior to taking any pictures, and if we couldn't find the parents, we waited until the kids were gone to take any pics. Granted, this was also because pictures of their kids might end up getting published (assuming that the lawyers at the Carnegie ever get off their asses), but also it seemed to reassure the parents. Usually, I would stand around and talk to the parents while Meredyth took the pictures so that I could tell them about the book, and what generally ended up happening was that the parents were delighted to help us, and asked us to let them know when the book was published. Even so, I felt really creepy the whole time.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: December 7th, 2004 - 08:05 am (Link)
yeah, I think you're pretty much experiencing the same feeling. But in your case, as least you had a "legitimate purpose" that you could explain to the parents. "My wife and I are collecting images of children playing for a book, do you mind if we photograph yours?" As opposed to me, "oh your daughter looks cute. I'm taking her picture."

Also, it likely helps that you're white. It shouldn't. But it probably does.
[User Picture]From: cuddlyd00m Date: December 7th, 2004 - 09:13 am (Link)
"My wife and I are collecting images of children playing for a book, do you mind if we photograph yours?"

Actually, it was even better than that. "My wife and I are collecting images of the dinosaur sculptures for a children's book. Would you mind if we went ahead and took the pictures with your kids in it?"

Also, it likely helps that you're white. It shouldn't. But it probably does.

I'm fairly certain it does make a difference, which really sucks. Interestingly, though, it was the black families who were more likely to agree, and more interested in helping out. Heck, when we were taking pictures of "Jazzosaurus" over in the Hill District, the people who were hanging out nearby went and got the artist, talked to us about it and all his other art for a while, and invited us back for an improv jazz concert the next day. Pretty damn cool.

What made even more of a difference, however, is the fact that Meredyth can come off sounding like a very large 8-year-old when she's talking about the book. :)
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: December 7th, 2004 - 09:22 am (Link)
yeah, its a different mentality. Where white people might be afraid that the scary nubian black man taking pictures of their kids is going to kidnap, rape and kill them, black people think that the goofy white people hanging out in the hood taking pictures of their kids must be doing something important. Goofy, but important. Granted, those are stereotypes and your milage may vary, but you're right, that is kind of an interesting phenomenon.
[User Picture]From: dgr Date: December 7th, 2004 - 05:58 pm (Link)
because i coach at a catholic school, i was required to go to a lecture called, "Protecting God's Children", whose purpose was to raise awareness about sexual abuse. it was a typical, heavy-handed, tear-jerking video and then a question and answer session where you repeat what was said back to the "faciliator".

ostensibly, it was to raise awareness so that if you get a funny feeling about a particular adult, you know you're supposed to go contact someone. (the catholic church appears to have a fairly strong witchhunt going on, including allowing anonymous tips, etc.)

in reality, it was more of a we're-not-naming-names, but if you're going to be abusing children, know you know everyone around you will be watching.

all of the antagonists in the case-studies were male. they mentioned several times that church officials are no more likely to commit sexual abuse than other people, but never mentioned once that it is possible for women to commit sexual abuse.

they didn't cover anything useful, like common warning signs that abuse may be occuring, how to broach the subject with a child (they want you to report every suspicion, so they can bring in psychiatrists and cops), etc.

i end up feeling creepy because i'm volunteering my time to coach a girl's volleyball team. it doesn't help that the girl's volleyball coach at my high school was mildly creepy about it, and the volleyball coach at george's high school was openly creepy.

society is fucked up.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: December 7th, 2004 - 07:22 pm (Link)
well the fact that you want to coach a girls team clearly makes you a deviant as far as the catholic church is concerned. Everyone knows that a good morally upstanding man favors little boys. Odd really. The catholic school girl uniform is the prototypical hot outfit in the world. If I heard that a bunch of priests were molesting 14 year old catholic school girls, I'd be like "that sucks, but I kind of see where the temptation comes from." And yet you never hear about that. Just altar boys. I wonder if it happens.

Back to the point. Hmmm... I'm not sure where the creepiness cut-off is. I'm pretty sure I would not feel awkward photographing a high-school student like you coach. Honestly I don't even feel awkward saying that a 16 or 17 year old girls is sexy. From a sexiness point of view, I'd probably feel weird about a 14 or 15 year old (I guess its that half my age thing), but I probably wouldn't feel bad photographing one in a situation like the little girl in that pic. But once you get under like 10... maybe even at 12-13... I start feeling really weird.
[User Picture]From: rmitz Date: December 7th, 2004 - 09:43 pm (Link)
I dunno, I had no qualms at all of taking this sequence of photos of a girl feeding ducks in front of the new American Indian museum in DC.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: December 7th, 2004 - 10:38 pm (Link)
well, clearly you are a pedophile.

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