photographers as Wilhelm Von Gloeden and Guglielmo Pluschow in order to

protect characterizations of the nude male youth from being understood as
— police interpreted the images as pornographic, thereby focusing the court

proceedings and both the media and academic discourses on whether or not
‘Nude photos of kids typical of family albums’ are pornographic
(Bowles et al., 1998: 5–6). In similar cases throughout the USA, individuals
who are discovered to have family snaps of nude children are often arrested for
the possession and creation of child pornography (Kincaid, 2000). The warmed-
ness encircling the dislocation of the custom of distinct circumstances that
Different nakedness from the sexual feeds the hysteria around the debates over
‘pornographic’ depictions of kids. This region serves as a useful example of the

instability around contexts in which nakedness could be viewed as independent from the
Child pornography — an issue which, according to Laura Kipnis, is so
emotionally charged that it’s become difcult to approach it rationally (Kipnis,
1996: 5) — is difcult to dene. According to the Campaign to End Child Prosti-
tution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT), child pornography consists of ‘sexually
explicit reproductions of a kid’s picture — including sexually explicit photograph-
graphs, negatives, slides, magazines, movies, video-tapes and computer disks’
(ECPAT, 1996: 4). For the Australian Ofce of Film and Literature Classication,
child pornography is characterized in the following scheme: (1) texts comprising
depictions of actual sexual activity involving persons under 16 years of age
(hardcore); (2) photos of nude models under 16 which have sexual over-
tones such as sexually suggestive poses; (3) texts given in the main to naked
Kids in a non sexual context. Such recent conclusions of what makes up
child pornography concentrate on the textual image and aren’t concerned with
the image as a record of the sexual abuse involved in their production. In that
respect, child pornography is generally dened through its reading rather than its
production, and most laws of western states regulating the criminality of
child pornography possession, viewing and distribution determines the interpre-
tation of the image according to what the supposedly ‘reasonable’ person would
nd offensive (Hartley, 1998: 12; Cover, 2000: 108).
While it is surely true that the practice of recording sexual abuse of
children should be considered a criminal offence — and as offensive — the simple
record of a naked child can now be characterized as obscene because it is under-
stood to sexualize the youngster. For example, in a case in California, authorities were
called in by a photograph developer when he discovered ‘family snapshots’ of an 8-year-
old boy and a 6-year-old girl together in the bath eating sausages. What alerted
the programmer and caused the police to contemplate the photographs as ‘indecent’ and
‘degenerate’ were the sausages, despite the fact they weren’t, as James Kincaid
puts it, ‘being licked, stroked or inserted’ (Kincaid, 2000). In another scenario
identied by Kincaid, a girl:

… turned in bath-time snapshots of her 8-year old daughter to a Fuji lm processing lab in
Oberlin, Ohio. The lab contacted the local authorities, who discovered the photos ‘over the line’ and
Detained the mom for, among other things, snapping in precisely the same framework with her daughter a
showerhead, which the prosecution seemingly intended to relate somehow to breaths of mastur-
bation. (Kincaid, 2000)
These are two instances in which the record of youth nakedness under the gaze
of the parents was deemed to be obscene through procedures of sexualization or,
better, a reading that presumes the gaze of the parents through a camera lens was
a sexual one. The signiers that recontextualize the shots as sexual are, in these
two instances, the phallic sausage and the seemingly phallic showerhead. No such
signiers are needed for the sexual reading, nevertheless, as testied by the case of
the visual arts student and many other recent cases of charges or arrests for kid
pornography production.
What exactly is occurring here is a destabilization between the framework in which the
parental gaze at the nude youngster (and its lmic record) is presumed benign, and
the framework in which nakedness is seen as sexual. As with all textual interpretations,
the meaning resides in . In Tony Bennett’s post-structuralist formu-
lation of reception theory, the meaning isn’t held by the text, but actively
Made in the action of reading, and in the relationship between the text and the
reader. For Bennett, the productive activation of significance is governed by the
‘reading foundation’ or the ‘set of intersecting discussions which productively
activate a given body of texts and the relationships between them in a specic manner’
(Bennett, 1983: 216). Such readings of harmless photographs of nude children