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A new kind of child porn?
March 27, 2001 10:27 AM   Subscribe

A new kind of child porn? Teenage girls set up webcams, ostensibly to extend their social network through interactive technology. Sick bastard male voyeurs create Web site so they can spy on all their "hotties" simultaneously. Thank heavens for little girls? Some of these girls are only 14, and look nothing like what a 14 year old should look like!
posted by johnnydark (104 comments total)

 
i'm afraid to click on any of those links for fear of being labeled a sick bastard male voyeur.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:41 AM on March 27, 2001


I'm afraid to click on any of those links for fear of being arrested by Russian police.
posted by briank at 10:50 AM on March 27, 2001


Time once had a cover story about how teenagers are becoming more developed over time, and how genetics are playing a factor in it. The article had an X-Men like quality in that it sounded like mutations and what not.
posted by Cavatica at 10:52 AM on March 27, 2001


Looks like a bunch of grainy webcam shots of sullen goth girls. Whee.
posted by rodii at 10:54 AM on March 27, 2001


I don't think that is as disturbing as this yahoo group. It has a collection of webcam archives with teen girls flashing and kissing each other
posted by DragonBoy at 10:59 AM on March 27, 2001


I think I spotted my niece
posted by Postroad at 10:59 AM on March 27, 2001


Whatever you do, don't read the text without a bucket....
posted by Twang at 11:00 AM on March 27, 2001


Cavatica: Time once had a cover story about how teenagers are becoming more developed over time, and how genetics are playing a factor in it. The article had an X-Men like quality in that it sounded like mutations and what not.

My sister is studying the phenomenon of the drop in age of menarche. X-Men-like quality or no, it seems to be a reality.
posted by MarkAnd at 11:10 AM on March 27, 2001


Hmm, I'm probably going to get some nasty labels thrown at me for this, but isn't the real problem with kiddie porn the molesting-and-force bit, and not the creepy-old-bugger-getting-aroused-by-looking-at-JPEGs bit? We all agree that the molesting-and-fource has got to go, of course, but if these young girls are putting (non-explicit, by the way) pictures of themselves up on the web by their own free will, then I really don't see the problem with linking to them.

Besides, I'd love to hear your definition of how "a 14 year old should look like" :-)
posted by frednorman at 11:12 AM on March 27, 2001


I thought it was scary that these large-breasted teen girls have entire fan clubs devoted to their cams. Basically, people just post archives of the most revealing stuff.

It always baffled me why someone would willingly choose to become a midriff, I'd love to know how and why these teens do what they do. Is it empowering to them to be oogled by others? Are they doing it for attention? Are they ignored by their parents and peers?
posted by mathowie at 11:12 AM on March 27, 2001


The "only 14" site leaves me in doubt....does that look like the work of a 14-year-old girl who skips school to go to the beach? Either I'm way underestimating the creative and technical abilities of a young teen girl, or I'm naive to even think it might be real. Ah, times they are a changin'.
posted by mtevis at 11:13 AM on March 27, 2001


Some of these girls are only 14, and look nothing like what a 14 year old should look like!

And what, pray tell, should a 14-y-o look like?

(Yes, she looks as if she lives on the set of a Brit/stina video, and "drives" a red sports car, but whatever.)

But a tie-in to the "where do cams stop?" thread. Anyone got an informed judgement on the effect of "camgirls" on the wired generation that interests me most -- high school girls, who consistently seem capable of really well-designed, compelling sites in strictly web-based terms.
posted by holgate at 11:16 AM on March 27, 2001


MarkAnd: your sister is onto something solid. Menarche has dropped consistently since the Civil War in America, whether becasue of diet or evolution (comparitive studies would help on this).
As for 14-year-olds etc: Lolita the classic text on their appeal, though Nabakov depicted a girl younger than that. In England, in the Victorian age, 12 was the age of consent for a young woman.
posted by Postroad at 11:26 AM on March 27, 2001


holgate: I'm so with you; I'm curious about this. I used to volunteer in journalism classes at a large South Florida high school (about 2,700 students) in a good part of town. And even the most bright, articulate and hard-working students were not doing work of this caliber.
posted by mtevis at 11:27 AM on March 27, 2001


fred: i have to agree. if a teenaged girl sets up a webcam for her site, she's not being exploited, she's exploiting herself.

which might be distasteful, maybe even may be giving the girl in question less-than-100%-healthy ideas about self-image and identity, but hardly warrants accusations of global kiddie-porn rings and what have you.

further: lots of girls really dig being listed on those cam portal pages. it gets them seen, it gets them traffic. my guess is that these girls are in a way spreading their wings---experimenting with the new and heady power of being a "woman", and the attention that brings. I think I'd much rather my 14-year-old daughter (if I had one!) do that via webcam than dress up in a borrowed miniskirt, a stuffed bra, and forbidden lipstick to go sashay around the mall (or a bar with a reputation for being slack with checking IDs, or a frat party at Sports-R-Us U, or...) with a group of similarly tarted up friends for the sole purpose of watching the tongues of much older boys hit the floor.
posted by Sapphireblue at 11:28 AM on March 27, 2001


Part and parcel of the teen girl domain scene.
posted by gsh at 11:35 AM on March 27, 2001


My sister is studying the phenomenon of the drop in age of menarche. X-Men-like quality or no, it seems to be a reality.

From my days of marriage to an epidemiologist, I remember a couple of factors. Early onset of menarche is a risk factor associated with breast cancer (and possibly other cancers, I'm not sure). Regular physical activity is associated with delaying the onset of menarche. It appears that a sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor to the Britneying of America.

Seems a bit inconsistent with all that moving and shaking the she does on stage, but in the population as a whole, it's a dangerous trend.
posted by anapestic at 11:37 AM on March 27, 2001


my question is: where are the parents? I wouldn't allow this.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 11:43 AM on March 27, 2001


mtevis: I've no reason to think that nija.nu isn't a real, overindulged 14-year-old, especially when you read things like this.

But I've been fascinated by teen personal sites for a good few years now: it's something I've discussed with maura, that goes back to the first days of plastique.org. Anyway, GAC's "Teeny bopper, domain hopper" remains the seminal critique of this genre. (I'm Tom Paulin, g'night.) Hitting the web at 14, rather than 20, makes a difference.
posted by holgate at 11:46 AM on March 27, 2001


anapestic: It appears that a sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor to the Britneying of America.

If memory serves, that seems to exactly the cause: inactivity plus poor diet.
posted by MarkAnd at 11:46 AM on March 27, 2001


where are the parents? I wouldn't allow this.


The kids with the shiniest toys, from personal experience, are always the ones with the emptiest family lives.
posted by holgate at 11:48 AM on March 27, 2001 [1 favorite]


Always?
posted by aaron at 12:09 PM on March 27, 2001


waitafuckinsecond... we're talking about normal webcams, right? not nakedcams? not teen-sex-cams? what's wrong with a teenager having a webcam? frednorman, i'm all with you on this one. while it might disturb me to know that a bunch of older men were watching me along with however many other younguns, if it doesn't disturb the actual person on the camera, that's their deal. (incidentally, i'm not sure it would disturb me. if i'm keepin' my clothes on, what's wrong about them watching? and if i take my clothes off when i know i'm on cam, isn't that my choice too? it's not like it's an invasion of privacy...)

this thread sounds mighty condescending to a teenage girl such as myself. why shouldn't i have a webcam? just because older guys think i'm hot? well, i'm sure quite a few people think meg over there is pretty goddamned hot, too. i don't hear anyone telling her that she's exploiting herself. long story short, as long as no one's getting naked, no one's getting hurt here, and if they are getting naked, well... i personally think it's a personal choice issue and something that parents should deal with, but i can see how people would have a problem with it, depending on the age of the girl in question. but (and this has been bothering me a lot lately) i'm sick of people assuming that just because you can't legally buy cigarettes, you can't make informed decisions. just cos these kids are 14 and 15 or whatever doesn't mean they're completely immature and incapable of doing things without your say-so.
posted by pikachulolita at 12:11 PM on March 27, 2001


i agree with pika~. if we can put 14/15 year olds to prison for life with the rationalization that they "knew what they were doing", then we can also grant them respect in other aspects of life.
posted by bliss322 at 12:17 PM on March 27, 2001


Interesting. A 14 year old is old enough to decide that it's appropriate to exploit herself via a webcam, but a 15 year old is not old enough to decide to get married. These arbitrary age rationalisations are about as meaningful as the grit on the sole of my shoe.
posted by Dreama at 12:20 PM on March 27, 2001


Young lady, you watch your language!

No, I'm kidding. Well said, pikachu.
posted by Skot at 12:23 PM on March 27, 2001


Yee Ha! Pikachulolita tearing things up.
Try selling that line to your parents now.
Bet they take away your computer.
posted by a3matrix at 12:23 PM on March 27, 2001


It always baffled me why someone would willingly choose to become a midriff, I'd love to know how and why these teens do what they do. Is it empowering to them to be oogled by others? Are they doing it for attention? Are they ignored by their parents and peers?

Yes, I think a lot of them do it because they're incorrectly equating sexuality with power. Many of them also do it in order to establish themselves in their social hierarchy. If you have the socially-correct body type, and flaunt it openly, you get placed higher in your peer group's caste system than the flat-chested and ugly girls. It's no different than birds fluffing out their plumage to establish a pecking order.

And, of course, some are just slutty. And some simply do it because everyone else their age is doing it, and they haven't a clue how sleazy it makes them appear in others' eyes.
posted by aaron at 12:23 PM on March 27, 2001



Interesting. A 14 year old is old enough to decide that it's appropriate to exploit herself via a webcam, but a 15 year old is not old enough to decide to get married. These arbitrary age rationalisations are about as meaningful as the grit on the sole of my shoe.

I think you are mixing different peoples opinions here, but regardless, these are entirely different situations. To even try to compare having a webcam up of yourself and getting married as similar life decisions is absurd.
posted by howa2396 at 12:29 PM on March 27, 2001


Gee, Dreama, don't you see any difference between putting up a webcam and getting married? Differing age restrictions are nothing new. You can get a driver's license at one age, vote at another, and buy alcohol at a third.

My daughter's twelve, and there's no way that either I or my ex-wife is going to let her have a webcam at 14 (or 16) or get married at 15 (or before she graduates college, if we have anything to say about it).

Still, they're entirely different activities, and I think it's safe to say that most teenagers can handle having a webcam sooner than marriage, and the consequences of mishandling the situation are a lot less dire.

If you think age limits are arbitrary, are you suggesting that we let kids do whatever they want whenever they want? Or that we just keep them locked up at home until they're 18?
posted by anapestic at 12:31 PM on March 27, 2001


Um, I mean: what howa2396 said.
posted by anapestic at 12:35 PM on March 27, 2001


Always?

Always. As I said, from personal experience. Which includes the kids from school whose fathers worked away on the oil rigs in Scotland, or the drilling depots in the Middle East, and who had all the latest gizmos and nicest clothes, but only say their dads one long weekend every six weeks. Or the kids at Oxford who'd been packed off to boarding school in their early teens, never wanted for anything, and still wondered what they'd done to make their parents so uninterested in them: that their early life was nothing more than a financial investment that had to be repaid with interest, not to the next generation but the previous one.

I'm not peddling myths of the glories of poverty: my family didn't have much money, and it wasn't fun. But I've lost count of the number of friends who've had free access to a gift catalogue instead of a family life, and I think I got the better deal.

This doesn't necessarily apply here, anyway: as I said, I'm intrigued by the way that young girls in particular take to the web so naturally, and to the modes of interaction that surround it. I wonder sometimes, not really knowing the context, whether it's a response to the purported awfulness of high school, in its "My So-Called Life" glories: there are definitely patterns of self-exploration and experimentation, a playing with ideas of identity that can be shrugged on and off like a new top or a new site design. There's probably good work to be done, tracking this generation's attitudes, but I'm not really qualified to do it.

"The rose had the look of a flower that is looked at."

I think that line of Eliot's says more about the impulse to have a cam in your bedroom than any sociologist.
posted by holgate at 12:37 PM on March 27, 2001


pikachulolita: i'm sick of people assuming that just because you can't legally buy cigarettes, you can't make informed decisions. just cos these kids are 14 and 15 or whatever doesn't mean they're completely immature and incapable of doing things without your say-so.

I remember feeling exactly like that myself, but in retrospect there is this: teenagers are smart and informed and capable, but they lack life experience.

for example, I remember my parents not allowing me to wear certain things, insisting that they "sent certain messages". I scoffed at them. they were being gross and imaginary.

well, I see now *exactly* what they were talking about. I was too inexperienced to fully understand the impact and consequences of the outfits I thought they were over-reacting to. truly.

in my experience, teenagers have a strong intuitive sense of their sexual power, but not the life experience necessary to always make informed, responsible choices in that regard.

I'm not dissing on teenagers in any way. I'm really not. but I know more than I did ten or twenty years ago, and I'll know more than that ten or twenty years from now.

same reason most 20-year-olds I know don't make good managers: they haven't been in the workforce long enough, they don't have enough years of people experience.

same reason you probably don't want to elect me as president in the next election: I haven't done a days work in government. I don't have any idea about the systems and politics that go into being effective at that job.

another noteable thing about teenagers, often lasting well into the 20s, is related to the same thing: not accurately taking into account likely consequences of their actions. I've seen this over and over again, usually with minor consequences, occasionally with tragic ones.

again, this isn't meant to in any way dis teenagers. the teens I know are bright and creative and full of life, and in fact bring things to life that their elders - even by only 10 years - have lost.

youth brings with it a fresh, new approach to life, an excitement that simply isn't present later on. this newness makes those in their teens and twenties a delight to be around (at least for me) but the flip side of that newness is...the newness.

aaron: I think a lot of them do it because they're incorrectly equating sexuality with power.

actually, aaron, I think that's a completely accurate equation.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 12:39 PM on March 27, 2001


if meg has ever gotten all dolled up with club-kid hair and false eyelashes and and glitter polish and cleavage-for-days, turned on the webcam, and spent an evening making sex-kitten eyes at it, it escaped my attention, which perhaps is one reason we've not heard anyone accuse her of exploiting herself. a cam like hers---AFAIK, just "here's me working, no big deal"---is a far cry from some of what goes on out there in teencamgirlland. (this would be where I linked to Violet's Electralux cam portal if it were still there but it's not.)
posted by Sapphireblue at 12:50 PM on March 27, 2001


> if a teenaged girl sets up a webcam
> for her site, she's not being exploited,
> she's exploiting herself

Now perhaps you might want to to talk about the archive - that they're taking images without permission - but the girls themselves? Exploited? They're just having fun. Grow up - ya weirdo.

When lil' Matthew chooses to enter a dance contest that's shown on nation-wide TV doing a stupid shuffle dance while dressed as a lobster... exploitation? Children in general shown to the public is exploitation? Only when they choose to show themselves? Bah.

Teens lack experience - but you do have to phase them into society. They don't have sex until 16, no marriage until 18. Showing pictures of themselves ain't much.

[strike-a-pose] paedo-fever!
posted by holloway at 12:51 PM on March 27, 2001


My point is that all 14 year olds are not created equal. We don't know anything about these particular girls except that they have a propensity to vogue it up for webcams, and yet we sit here and pass judgments on their lives, their parents, their intelligence, their capability. We're talking out of our collective asses, and hiding it all behind a completely false assertion of concern for "the children" when we have no insight whatsoever into the real people that these particular children happen to be. Typical MeFi, and getting really old.
posted by Dreama at 12:54 PM on March 27, 2001


Dreama: My point is that all 14 year olds are not created equal.

no they're not. and I love some of the images I've seen on some of these cams; they're beautiful. but I wouldn't be comfortable seeing *any* 14-year-old in some of these poses. (have you even looked through these?)

and in any case, you do have to draw an arbitraty line once in a while. 8 years old? too young to smoke, can we all agree with that? I know someone whose dad gave him his first marijuana when he was 8; thinking, I suppose, that was old enough to handle it. I'm all for arbitrary lines. let a kid champ at the bit for a year or two; that won't cause as much harm as letting them do something ill-advised at too young an age.

and the page with the cams, icq, aim, etc listed? it's a stalker's paradise. I wouldn't want *my* cam to be listed there, and certainly not with all that information. it's cool that these girls are making art on the web (as some of them are) but to my view it's inappropriately being made public. I can't wait to see what they come up with when they're 20 and I *do* hope it's public then, but not yet.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 1:06 PM on March 27, 2001


perhaps these teens are really bored fat bald middle aged guys. hey, it happens in chat all the time.
posted by chrisroberts at 1:11 PM on March 27, 2001


Mmm, that's my fantasy.

I'm going to start a really-bored-fat-bald-middle-aged-guys fan club.

*drool*
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:12 PM on March 27, 2001


i have to agree. if a teenaged girl sets up a webcam for her site, she's not being exploited, she's exploiting herself.

A 14-year-old doesn't have the legal right to exploit herself. Somebody needs to talk to the parents of these kids, who are showing either gross neglect or terrible judgment by serving up their children to an international audience of pervs.
posted by rcade at 1:13 PM on March 27, 2001


Holgate: The kids with the shiniest toys, from personal experience, are always the ones with the emptiest family lives.

I guess I must be pretty lucky then, because as far as I can recall, I got to enjoy the benefits both of shiny toys and a stimulating family life. Home-based offices and telecommuting really can be made to work, you know. At least it worked for me, growing up in the late eighties. And if my dad was able to pull it through back then, it sure ought to be possible today.
posted by frednorman at 1:23 PM on March 27, 2001


no they're not. and I love some of the images I've seen on some of these cams; they're beautiful. but I wouldn't be comfortable seeing *any* 14-year-old in some of these poses. (have you even looked through these?)
Oh I agree. Why these people could be enjoying themselves with these pictures sitting a chair all greased up with fuzzy rabbit slippers and little squares of ducttape put around their body so when they tear them off they feel a squeamish pleasure before their eyes glaze over and they begin a slow rythmic shaking while foaming at the mouth as their neck slips loose dangling their head as it rolls from shoulder to shoulder from side to side slowly being jerked about as the person looks at the ceiling in ecstatic bliss they grope themselves and smear toothpaste over their chest before flicking their head forward more intentful and more hungry than ever as their breath comes faster and faster their neck moves about but only to counteract the gyrating body below as it matches the tempo of some tender Smiths song their father brought them - their head and eyes remain fixed on the dusty monitor ahead of them shaking jumping as a footspa filled with cream-corn and hair is switched on and the limp fatty arms grasp the upsidedown mouse and spin the ball with their tongue licking and scrolling page after page before meticuously typing metafilter.com

What disgusting minds these people have!

(expect you of course RCB, we don't trust anyone with these pictures)
posted by holloway at 1:36 PM on March 27, 2001


A 14-year-old doesn't have the legal right to exploit herself.
And, specifically, you're quoting which law? "Link pls!"
posted by holloway at 1:48 PM on March 27, 2001


My wife and I are expecting a baby girl in about six weeks, and this whole discussion only leaves me in stark terror about just what teenage girls might be doing in front of cameras in 2016.
posted by briank at 1:54 PM on March 27, 2001


Once again, pikachulolita is the voice of reason among a bunch of old, uptight fuckers. Thanks, p.
posted by jpoulos at 2:04 PM on March 27, 2001


The sky is falling, the sky...
posted by chickenLittle at 2:09 PM on March 27, 2001


And Dreama, I think it's important that it is noted, as it so seldom happens: You and I agree on this!!
posted by jpoulos at 2:12 PM on March 27, 2001


Nicely put, rebecca.

Now, for those of you who want to see some real harsh wit in action, Daign is a must read. (Warning: there is some nudity, but legal nudity)
posted by Hackworth at 2:14 PM on March 27, 2001


I wish to god I had a midriff worthy of a webcam shot....
posted by Chairman_MaoXian at 2:14 PM on March 27, 2001


Can someone explain how Stanley Kaplan and Amazon ads bracket such a site?
posted by ParisParamus at 2:22 PM on March 27, 2001


I think is rather funny how these young girls are getting much older men into sending them all sorts of free stuff without giving them anything in return.

Who is exploiting who?

Of course, I'm one of those types that doesn't think children of that age are that helpless at all. I'm in my 20's and still remember how much of a bastard I was back then. I also don't feel at all compelled to protect them from themselves. They need to learn somehow and learning to manipulate men from the safety of their own home is a perfect aplication of today's technology.
posted by john at 2:32 PM on March 27, 2001


> Who is exploiting who?

Silly rabbit, when involving sex the woman is the victim. Equality means they're only capable of the good things ;)
posted by holloway at 2:54 PM on March 27, 2001


When I was yonger I stayed with my Aunt and Uncle for a summer. During my stay (it was in France) we visited a nude beach where my aunt, uncle and 15 year-old cousin Lisa shed their clothes and walked about naked. Now, what is the difference between a 15 year-old on a nude beach and a 15 year-old flashing on her own web cam?
posted by DragonBoy at 3:14 PM on March 27, 2001


Well, a few things:

(1) It was France.

(2) There were an aunt and uncle there ostensibly supervising things, as well as to render advice and guidance on the issue (unless they peeled her nude without her consent).

(3) There was little chance for thousands and thousands of men to capture, download, and distribute the image to thousands and thousands of other men (unless it's the world's creepiest nude beach).

But mostly, (4), it was France.
posted by Skot at 3:29 PM on March 27, 2001


As far as I can see, Americans have a very uptight view of sexuality and general nekkedness. I don't think it's an issue unless we make it one.

I'm really disgusted with the American view (I am an american, BTW) that we need to protect everyone from themselves. We need to end the culture of victimhood that America has grown into. Who gives a shit if someone's doing something, even if they hurt or kill themselves... it's just one fewer stupid person who will reproduce.
posted by SpecialK at 3:37 PM on March 27, 2001


Forget the cams. What scares me is how much these kids are going to know about web design and backends by the time they're working. Here I am busting my butt to learn CSS layout ...
posted by dhartung at 3:43 PM on March 27, 2001


In a strange sort of way, I think these kiddies are going to be the superstars of tomorrow...
posted by owillis at 3:48 PM on March 27, 2001


holloway:

now, really.

if I was at the beach and observed adult men ogling my 14-year-old in her bikini I'd be uncomfortable, too. if I observed them surreptitiously photographing her, I'd insist that they stop. the big difference between the beach and the webcam is that I'd *be* there to make sure things didn't get out of hand.

these girls aren't doing anything I didn't do in my own bedroom in front of my own mirror. britney spears wasn't a role model back then, and that's a difference. but really, they're just creating themselves in the current media image. and then broadcasting it.

I'm simply not comfortable with the broadcasting part.

but then, I think adults should be using their hard-won experience to guide young people safely into their own adulthood. of course, I've already established myself as an old fuddy-duddy. :)

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 4:14 PM on March 27, 2001


RCB: Although you didn't really bring the issue up I think "broadcasting" is the point. Most broadcasting laws were made when broadcasting meant two television channels going to a national audience. Bluntly imposing the majority's morals sorta made sense.

These days however, online, it's thirty million channels (and you're at a site by choice) so the 'broadcasting' distinction is better redefined as "indiscriminant public viewing" vs "restricted and private". In my opinion, being online is irrellevent.

So, indiscriminant public viewing children/teens has several degrees of acceptable intimacy. Many cultures don't have such a problem with naked kids at the beach and in specific circumstances. I have no problems with teens talking to adults and having adult friends. I'd watch them carefully though - the usual parent schtuff. That's the lesson - not that it's "child porn" or that the watchers are necessarily "sick bastard male voyers".

As I read this thread it's obvious the paedo/child-porn hunt has got some people. The intro didn't help, and it certainly didn't provide any evidence.

> When lil' Matthew chooses to enter a dance contest

Hey, wait a minute. My name's Matthew!
posted by holloway at 5:00 PM on March 27, 2001


My, my, my... so many things to comment on. Glad I got here late. :-)

(and, having finished this reply, my mad apologies to the people who
have to read it... :-})

briank:
I'm afraid to click on any of those links for fear of being
arrested by Russian police.


Nice one. :-)

DragonBoy:
I don't think that is as disturbing as this yahoo group. It
has a collection of webcam archives with teen girls
flashing and kissing each other


... which we couldn't get to, damnit! :-)

Postroad:
I think I spotted my niece

Which one? :-)


MarkAnd:
Cavatica: Time once had a cover story about how
teenagers are becoming more developed over time, and
how genetics are playing a factor in it. The article had an
X-Men like quality in that it sounded like mutations and
what not.

My sister is studying the phenomenon of the drop in age
of menarche. X-Men-like quality or no, it seems to be a
reality.


Recently did a bit of reading on this; it seems this is mostly
self selection; the research I saw quoted suggested that we haven't
seen more than about a 12 month drop in the last 150 years.

FredNorman:
Hmm, I'm probably going to get some nasty labels
thrown at me for this,


You sane, level headed bastard, you.

. but isn't the real problem with
kiddie porn the molesting-and-force bit, and not the
creepy-old-bugger-getting-aroused-by-looking-at-JPEGs
bit? We all agree that the molesting-and-fource has got
to go, of course, but if these young girls are putting
(non-explicit, by the way) pictures of themselves up on
the web by their own free will, then I really don't see the
problem with linking to them.

Besides, I'd love to hear your definition of how "a 14 year
old should look like" :-)


Concur entirely. Is it child pornography if they *child* takes and
possesses the pictures in question? We had a fuss down here in St Pete
about a month ago where a bunch of 14-16 year olds with too much
free time too nudie shots, and *took them to school*. It got out, and
all of them, except the 14 year old girl, were *arrested*. Handcuffed,
and I said "Officer Obie, do you really need"... sorry. Wrong song.

The DA finally got a clue, but...

Even their *parents* thought it was ludicrous.

Matthowie:
I thought it was scary that these large-breasted teen
girls have entire fan clubs devoted to their cams.
Basically, people just post archives of the most revealing
stuff.

It always baffled me why someone would willingly choose
to become a midriff, I'd love to know how and why these
teens do what they do. Is it empowering to them to be
oogled by others? Are they doing it for attention? Are
they ignored by their parents and peers?


That too. At which point the question becomes this: are they any *less*
exploited (to the extent that they're exploited at all), by any
individual viewer who sits at home and keeps his or her mouth shut,
regardless of what else that viewer might be doing?

Honestly?

mtevis:
The "only 14" site leaves me in doubt....does that look
like the work of a 14-year-old girl who skips school to go
to the beach? Either I'm way underestimating the
creative and technical abilities of a young teen girl, or I'm
naive to even think it might be real. Ah, times they are a
changin'.


Ever seen a highschool girls' sketchbook? Some of them are *very*
artistic, yes.

holgate:
But a tie-in to the "where do cams stop?" thread. Anyone
got an informed judgement on the effect of "camgirls" on
the wired generation that interests me most -- high
school girls, who consistently seem capable of really
well-designed, compelling sites in strictly web-based
terms.


Indeed. Regardless the fact that perhaps these girls don't fit
into our social structures in a traditional fashion, they're
obviously not stupid or mindless.

Postroad:
MarkAnd: your sister is onto something solid. Menarche
has dropped consistently since the Civil War in America,
whether becasue of diet or evolution (comparitive studies
would help on this).


Cite? Cause that wasn't what I heard...

As for 14-year-olds etc: Lolita the classic text on their
appeal, though Nabakov depicted a girl younger than
that. In England, in the Victorian age, 12 was the age of
consent for a young woman.


http://www.ageofconsent.com

mtevis:
holgate: I'm so with you; I'm curious about this. I used
to volunteer in journalism classes at a large South Florida
high school (about 2,700 students) in a good part of
town. And even the most bright, articulate and
hard-working students were not doing work of this
caliber.


The design is often better than the writing on this sort of site...
but then, design is easier to steal.

Sapphireblue:
fred: i have to agree. if a teenaged girl sets up a webcam
for her site, she's not being exploited, she's exploiting
herself.

which might be distasteful, maybe even may be giving
the girl in question less-than-100%-healthy ideas about
self-image and identity, but hardly warrants accusations
of global kiddie-porn rings and what have you.

further: lots of girls really dig being listed on those cam
portal pages. it gets them seen, it gets them traffic. my
guess is that these girls are in a way spreading their
wings---experimenting with the new and heady power of
being a "woman", and the attention that brings. I think
I'd much rather my 14-year-old daughter (if I had one!)
do that via webcam than dress up in a borrowed
miniskirt, a stuffed bra, and forbidden lipstick to go
sashay around the mall (or a bar with a reputation for
being slack with checking IDs, or a frat party at
Sports-R-Us U, or...) with a group of similarly tarted up
friends for the sole purpose of watching the tongues of
much older boys hit the floor.


Beautiful. Absolutely the most level headed opinion I've
heard in years.

holgate:
Hitting the web at 14, rather than 20, makes a difference.

Yes... but *what* difference?

The ever popular Pikachulolita:
waitafuckinsecond... we're talking about normal
webcams, right? not nakedcams? not teen-sex-cams?
what's wrong with a teenager having a webcam?
frednorman, i'm all with you on this one. while it might
disturb me to know that a bunch of older men were
watching me along with however many other younguns, if
it doesn't disturb the actual person on the camera, that's
their deal. (incidentally, i'm not sure it would disturb me.
if i'm keepin' my clothes on, what's wrong about them
watching? and if i take my clothes off when i know i'm on
cam, isn't that my choice too? it's not like it's an invasion
of privacy...)

this thread sounds mighty condescending to a teenage
girl such as myself. why shouldn't i have a webcam? just
because older guys think i'm hot? well, i'm sure quite a
few people think meg over there is pretty goddamned
hot, too. i don't hear anyone telling her that she's
exploiting herself. long story short, as long as no one's
getting naked, no one's getting hurt here, and if they are
getting naked, well... i personally think it's a personal
choice issue and something that parents should deal
with, but i can see how people would have a problem
with it, depending on the age of the girl in question. but
(and this has been bothering me a lot lately) i'm sick of
people assuming that just because you can't legally buy
cigarettes, you can't make informed decisions. just cos
these kids are 14 and 15 or whatever doesn't mean
they're completely immature and incapable of doing
things without your say-so.


Actually, word on the street is that some of those teenage cam girls
get a bit out of hand... if that isn't too poorly chosen a phrase.
But, as you say, it's not like they *don't* know what they're doing.

Do they understand *all* the possible consequences?

The expansions of that question tread *dangerously* close to "she
was *askin'* to be raped", don't they?

Dreama:
Interesting. A 14 year old is old enough to decide that
it's appropriate to exploit herself via a webcam, but a 15
year old is not old enough to decide to get married.
These arbitrary age rationalisations are about as
meaningful as the grit on the sole of my shoe.


Indeed they are. 15 is old enough to marry in *many* jurisdictions,
quite a few of them without parental consent; see the link I posted
above.

Aaron:
I think a lot of them do it because they're incorrectly
equating sexuality with power. Many of them also do it in
order to establish themselves in their social hierarchy. If
you have the socially-correct body type, and flaunt it
openly, you get placed higher in your peer group's caste
system than the flat-chested and ugly girls. It's no
different than birds fluffing out their plumage to establish
a pecking order.

And, of course, some are just slutty. And some simply do
it because everyone else their age is doing it, and they
haven't a clue how sleazy it makes them appear in
others' eyes.


And, there are some of them that you'd *think* are being slutty, but
that isn't really their motivation. As someone comments below, the
body, even the aforementioned 34DD 14 year old female body, isn't
*inherently* sexual, and attempts to seuxalize -- and worse,
demonize -- it for the size of some of it's parts are just as bad
and dangerous as attempts to *desexualize* it because it's 5'0 and
300 lbs.

Anapestic:
Still, they're entirely different activities, and I think it's
safe to say that most teenagers can handle having a
webcam sooner than marriage, and the consequences of
mishandling the situation are a lot less dire.

If you think age limits are arbitrary, are you suggesting
that we let kids do whatever they want whenever they
want? Or that we just keep them locked up at home until
they're 18?


No, I think he's suggesting that parenting is an activity best
practice by *PARENTS*, not legislators. As for "less dire
consequences", though it's not an especially big issue, yes, there
may be some freaks out there who think "hey, she's masturbating; I
can fuck her", and yes, that might make doing that sort of thing on
a webcam slightly more dangerous than getting married.

But that's certainly not the girl's fault, now, is it? ;-)

holgate:
"The rose had the look of a flower that is looked at."

I think that line of Eliot's says more about the impulse to
have a cam in your bedroom than any sociologist.


One of David ... aw crap; that guy who shoots nudes of girls this
age; can't remember his name -- Hamilton. One of his books has
a quote from someone else that's almost identical to that.

> if a teenaged girl sets up a webcam
> for her site, she's not being exploited,
> she's exploiting herself

Holloway:
Now perhaps you might want to to talk about the archive
- that they're taking images without permission - but the
girls themselves? Exploited? They're just having fun.
Grow up - ya weirdo.

When lil' Matthew chooses to enter a dance contest
that's shown on nation-wide TV doing a stupid shuffle
dance while dressed as a lobster... exploitation? Children
in general shown to the public is exploitation? Only when
they choose to show themselves? Bah.

Teens lack experience - but you do have to phase them
into society. They don't have sex until 16, no marriage
until 18. Showing pictures of themselves ain't much.

[strike-a-pose] paedo-fever!


You know, the funniest part of the whole thing is that the people
for whom the term "paedophilia" was invented would not be caught
*dead* with any of these girls: they have hair, and breasts.

Pedos want the 6 year olds.

*That* is sick.

Being horny for a 34DD 16 year old? That's not sick. *Doing*
something with her constitutes bad judgement, but is we continue to
demonize just thinking that that is sexually attractive, we're
demonizing *most people who can be honest with themselves* (and are
of the appropriate sex and preference, of course).

Lust is *not* action. Ok? I know some of us have got that, but
some seem still not to...

Dream:
My point is that all 14 year olds are not created equal.
We don't know anything about these particular girls
except that they have a propensity to vogue it up for
webcams, and yet we sit here and pass judgments on
their lives, their parents, their intelligence, their
capability. We're talking out of our collective asses, and
hiding it all behind a completely false assertion of
concern for "the children" when we have no insight
whatsoever into the real people that these particular
children happen to be. Typical MeFi, and getting really
old.


Excellent point; and I'm the worst. Apologies to everyone for this
ungainly reply; that's what I get for being gone for 3 weeks...

rcb:
and the page with the cams, icq, aim, etc listed? it's a
stalker's paradise. I wouldn't want *my* cam to be listed
there, and certainly not with all that information. it's cool
that these girls are making art on the web (as some of
them are) but to my view it's inappropriately being made
public. I can't wait to see what they come up with when
they're 20 and I *do* hope it's public then, but not yet.


Um, rebecca? Who *publicised* those addresses? The girls
themselves?

We're trying to be their parents, and it's not our job.

Holloway:
Oh I agree. Why these people could be enjoying
themselves with these pictures sitting a chair all greased
up with fuzzy rabbit slippers and little squares of
ducttape put around their body so when they tear them
off they feel a squeamish pleasure before their eyes
[ ... ]
a footspa filled with cream-corn and hair is switched on
and the limp fatty arms grasp the upsidedown mouse and
spin the ball with their tongue licking and scrolling page
after page before meticuously typing metafilter.com


Oh, my. I can't see now. That was *hilarious*... :-)

Hackworth:
wit in action, Daign is a must read. (Warning: there is
some nudity, but legal nudity)


Let's be *perfectly* clear, here, shall we:

*No* pictures of nudity qua nudity are illegal. If there is no
overtly sexual behavior involving minors, the mere fact that a
picture contains a nude body under 18 years of age is completely
immaterial.

DragonBoy:
When I was yonger I stayed with my Aunt and Uncle for a
summer. During my stay (it was in France) we visited a
nude beach where my aunt, uncle and 15 year-old cousin
Lisa shed their clothes and walked about naked. Now,
what is the difference between a 15 year-old on a nude
beach and a 15 year-old flashing on her own web cam?


It's inherent in the connotation of the word "flashing".

Got pictures? :-)

SpecialK:
As far as I can see, Americans have a very uptight view
of sexuality and general nekkedness. I don't think it's an
issue unless we make it one.

I'm really disgusted with the American view (I am an
american, BTW) that we need to protect everyone from
themselves. We need to end the culture of victimhood
that America has grown into.


Oh, you *bet* we do. On all counts.

And that's all I have to say on this one.

Until someone else says something with which I want to agree or
disagree. Apologies again for the insane length of this followup.
posted by baylink at 5:17 PM on March 27, 2001


Is it child pornography if they *child* takes and
possesses the pictures in question?


Without a doubt.
posted by rcade at 5:33 PM on March 27, 2001


look. don't look. who cares? if the law can't jail you for looking then why worry If they can, be judicious.
posted by Postroad at 5:55 PM on March 27, 2001


wow. i feel loved. ^_^

I remember feeling exactly like that myself, but in retrospect there is this: teenagers are smart and informed and capable, but they lack life experience.

some of them do, some of them don't. i've lived more in my 18 years than a lot of 24 year olds i know have. believe me, these girls have a very intimate knowledge of the power their sexuality affords them. it's almost impossible not to know exactly what you can do to a man when you are "overdeveloped" (not my term) like that just because you've been dealing with the attention for so long. you know exactly why men look at you like that, and some girls love it. it doesn't make them sluts and it doesn't make them exhibitionists. it makes them feel beautiful. if all they're doing is sitting there "all dolled up" and they're not actively creating porn, i don't see where it's at all our place to judge that.

Once again, pikachulolita is the voice of reason among a bunch of old, uptight fuckers. Thanks, p.

thanks, darlin, right backatcha. ^_^

if meg has ever gotten all dolled up with club-kid hair and false eyelashes and and glitter polish and cleavage-for-days, turned on the webcam, and spent an evening making sex-kitten eyes at it, it escaped my attention, which perhaps is one reason we've not heard anyone accuse her of exploiting herself.

okay, so now your issue isn't with the webcam but how they choose to dress, correct? because if that's your problem, you have the exact same concerns every older generation has ever had about a younger generation. those damn longhairs haven't driven us into the ground yet, have they?

oh, and one more thing: since when is it possible to exploit yourself? you make the choice. you know what you're doing. exploitation in my book requires taking advantage of another person. show me someone taking advantage of themselves. i'm reminded of the kids in the hall sketch where kevin mcdonald sues himself for sexual harrassment... but i digress.

baylink:
wow, spot on, buddy. although i'd make the distinction that you can't be raped online, and besides which the "asking to be raped" issue with just appearance only is total bullshit. i might be receptive to such an argument if they were flirting with older men, asking to meet, etc, but simply being hot is NOT asking to be raped no matter what the circumstances. mad props for pointing out the difference between desire and action, though. such a huge difference there.

that all said, congratulations to the entirety of metafilter for not making a smart comment about my nickname. ^_^
posted by pikachulolita at 6:36 PM on March 27, 2001


Let's be *perfectly* clear, here, shall we:


*No* pictures of nudity qua nudity are illegal. If there is no
overtly sexual behavior involving minors, the mere fact that a
picture contains a nude body under 18 years of age is completely
immaterial.


Oh, interesting. I was just saying that none of the nudity involved minors, for the skittish, s'all.
posted by Hackworth at 6:38 PM on March 27, 2001



Just to give you all a little perspective, here is what those 'Sick bastard male voyeurs' do with the camshots of these young girl's indiscretions. [warning, many soft-core pictures of underage women flashing their web cams]

But really, is a young girl flashing her web cam such a bad thing? Do any of you remember your first experiences exploring your sexuality? I don't think it's all that bad that these girls are learning about their sexuality with partners that have next to way means of doing them harm...
posted by Neb at 8:12 PM on March 27, 2001


pikachulolita: believe me, these girls have a very intimate knowledge of the power their sexuality affords them.

I agree with that. but knowledge of that power and an understanding of their sexuality are two different things.

sexualized behavior is different from sexuality.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 8:51 PM on March 27, 2001


People are too busy trying to shelter their kids from sex rather than teaching them about it. None of my friends were ever talked to about sex by their parents, yet quite a few of them were having frequent sex even in the seventh and eighth grades. By sixteen, I only knew a few people who had not had sex. I did not know a damn thing about sex when I first had it, and coincidentally I did not even contemplate using any type of protection, nor did the girl that I was with.

At least, by exploring their sexuality online, these girls can learn about how they affect other people in a reasonably safe environment - their own bedrooms. Not to mention the fact that these young people now have a vast resource of information at their disposal so they can learn more about safe sex practices and gain a better understanding of what sex is before they jump in head first with no real knowledge about what they are getting into

As for the child porn nonsense, I am not sure that I agree with even including someone who is fourteen in the exploitation category. Women tend to mature faster than men do anyway, and most of the girls that I knew were much more responsible at sixteen than the guys were at eighteen or nineteen. Nothing makes up for life experience, but it is silly to suggest that these girls are all innocent little kids being exploited by the big bad web.

Of course, I would be uncomfortable thinking about or looking at even a sixteen-year-old in a sexual manner, but only if I knew or believed that she was that age. Why would I suddenly become uncomfortable about the fact that the hot babe I have been drooling over is only sixteen? Or why would my view of a girl suddenly change because I found out that she was two years older than I thought she was? Is a girl at fifteen or sixteen too young to think of herself as sexy? Is that why it is wrong? She most likely knows bloody well that she is sexy, even if the extent of her understanding is somewhat arguable.

I was certainly sexually attracted to girls when I was that age, and a great many of them had the bodies (and in some cases the sex lives) of twenty-year-olds. But now I can not help but feel like it is "wrong" for me to look at them in the same way that I would look at a girl only a few years older. I doubt that I, only in my early twenties, would want to date someone that is sixteen or seventeen, based upon the simple fact that I want to have a relationship with someone with a similar amount of life experience as I. But that has nothing to do with the fact that I can not look at them in a manner which treats them with understanding and acceptance that they are probably just as much a sexual being as a girl four years older, just with less experience. I would not want to date a thirty-year-old either, but that does not stop me from staring at Sandra Bullock.

I do not think most people in America can really provide a rational view of what constitutes healthy and unhealthy behavior in regards to something like this, because the way that we view it has been shaped far too much by a sexually oppressive society. We group people who are interested in someone in their mid-teens into the same category as people who prey on children who are not yet sexual beings and who have not even reached puberty. There is something really screwed up about that.

Okay, I am tired of typing now.
posted by bargle at 8:53 PM on March 27, 2001


As for the old guys sitting around gawking at collections of teenage girls on their webcams, I think that just points out that these guys have no life. Heh.
posted by bargle at 8:55 PM on March 27, 2001


After thoroughly and intently examining all of the links provided here, I have come to one important conclusion about the issue at hand; a conclusion that I will share will ya'll, as soon as I finish this cigarrette.....
posted by Optamystic at 8:58 PM on March 27, 2001


sigh. i just cannot wrap my head around the hangups people have with age. when i was 16, i was with a 24 year old. i was the more mature one in the relationship. i think it's actually healthier for me to consort with the older boys because the ones my age (not to sound egotistical; i really hate this about myself sometimes, actually) are... well, a LOT less mature than i am. i'm not saying these kids are in anywhere near the same situation (webcam != relationship) but i also think that their ages are relatively immaterial.

that said, i would probably want to hit these girls with a goddamned weedwhacker if i met them in real life. however... i respect their right to do whatever they're doing.

so optamystic... care to whisper that conclusion into my barely-legal ear? ;)
posted by pikachulolita at 9:48 PM on March 27, 2001


I would, pikachu, but that would violate the conditions of my probation. Damn, when they the cops say eighteen, the cops really, really mean eighteen.
posted by Optamystic at 10:17 PM on March 27, 2001


Speaking of America's twisted views of sex, porn, children and all things related...
posted by crushed at 10:27 PM on March 27, 2001


Btw, the website mentioned under Sick bastard male voyeurs create Web site? Yeah, well, it doesn't just have teenage girls. It also has ::gasp:: males who appear to be at least in their 20's. Those pedophiles must really be branching out.

I would respond to this is great detail like many before me have but my thoughts are too scattered at the moment. I will say this, though; could we do something about the real pedophiles who are an actual threat for once? Or at least get up in arms over actual child porn instead of webcams run by teenagers or family photos taken of kids in the tub, etc?
posted by crushed at 10:42 PM on March 27, 2001


As a father of a seven-year-old girl, I've seen hints of what may come. She and her fellow first-graders pick some of this up: the lipgloss, Hello Kitty, the synched dance moves. But being plugged into what's new w/ Britney and Christina is not the same as buying it. My daughter is a very smart kid, so I'm going to try to be involved and curious... and I'll cross my fingers.

I would enter that although lot of this is about propaganda that targets kids, it's also about free will, the will to be dumb. Like pika said, I think it really does depend on the kid; some kids are mature, and some don't grow up, ever, into responsible adults.

And if the parents are spaced-out and don't check out their own kid's domain... that's sad but also not a felony.
posted by Bootcut at 11:05 PM on March 27, 2001


Hmm. I'll admit that americans are pretty messed up re: sex and sexuality, and my earlier expressed creepiness might be unwarranted, but damn, how can anyone not find this teen webcam archive site (referenced in an earlier comment) creepy?

It's creepy, isn't it? I'm not being an old fuddy-duddy am I? Some of those nude girls look no older than 15. Certainly there's something just a little bit weird with that, isn't there? Look at how all the girls are referenced by numbers, to make it just a tad more dehumanizing. Creepy, no?
posted by mathowie at 11:06 PM on March 27, 2001


It's creepy, isn't it? I'm not being an old fuddy-duddy am I? Some of those nude girls look no older than 15. Certainly there's something just a little bit weird with that, isn't there? Look at how all the girls are referenced by numbers, to make it just a tad more dehumanizing. Creepy, no?

Okay, I gave in and clicked the link. Yes, to me those girls look very young and the site does seem pretty creepy. But I am not sure that I SHOULD be bothered by the age of the girls, and I would be just as bothered if this big database was of older women. The whole thing is just creepy to begin with. "Here is a nice sterile archive grouped in specific categories, please remember the rubber gloves and close the door after you get your fix."

What gets me is that I want to know if the girls were doing "private" shows for some person they were talking to online and then this person shared the pics with this site, or if this many girls were actually doing this on public webcams or if they did this on some pay sites somewhere, or what. I have visited a lot of random personal sites and NEVER have I seen any nudity on a webcam that was on a purely personal site. Granted, there are a few million web sites I have never seen, but still...
posted by bargle at 12:48 AM on March 28, 2001


Mathowie: that the photos are assembled in one place on a porn site, is that what's creepy?

If the pictures are acceptable it's an issue of being used on a site that the kid/parent approves of. I would expect a similarly pissed reaction on a KKK site. As someone else said, finding a busty 16yr lass attractive isn't wrong or at all near paedophilia. They are attractive. If they don't want to be on the site that's the offensive thing - but sexual appeal isn't. Do you find them attractive Mathowie? If so, I don't think that's wrong.

There are laws about porn (most countries it's 18, I think) but porn is the context, the rather blatant context. That site would probably be porn and breaking the law.

I wouldn't want kids appearing on a porn site, so yeah - maybe I agree about the creepy bit (I wouldn't use that word though)

ps. I always found numbers more humanising. Names aren't a unique identifier, numbers tend to be.
posted by holloway at 1:06 AM on March 28, 2001


at ease, pikachu. I swear, I am not a fifty-year-old midwestern biddy with a Zippo lighter I keep handy just to burn such provocative, youth-corrupting books as "Deenie" and "Dear God, Are You There? It's Me, Margaret". I don't think any of us really are.

for whatever it's worth, I am 24, left home at 15 and was on my own at 17, and have a webcam of my own. Okay?

with that out of the way, my "issue" with "how they choose to dress" was not an Attack On Teen Girls Everywhere. Rather, it was an idea of why people respond differently to the cam you mentioned (meg's) than they would to many of the images at the previously linked teen webcam archive site.

the provocative intent is the difference. you asked why no one was questioning the moral rectitude of meg's cam, and there is your answer. that, and she's legal.

if you're 15 dressed (or not) like 25, *yes*, people are going to question it.
posted by Sapphireblue at 5:20 AM on March 28, 2001


> It always baffled me why someone would willingly
> choose to become a midriff,

All the guys on the streets and in school are already staring at and complimenting them on their bodies. Or worse, the guys are complimenting them on everything else while staring at their breasts.

What embarrassments and agonies would you save them if you denied them their webcams and the chance to goof around a little in front of the world?

And give them a break; many of these girls are probably more emotionally and sexually healthy than a lot of you can ever hope to be.
posted by pracowity at 7:13 AM on March 28, 2001


Whether for against the cam and the moral issues that seem raised, try this out:

http://www.denverpost.com/news/news0328h.htm
posted by Postroad at 7:17 AM on March 28, 2001


Just as a benefit to our good friend Postroad, you can make URLs clickable like so:

<a href="http://www.denverpost.com/news/news0328h.htm">Denver Post story</a>

The result is Denver Post story
posted by netbros at 7:29 AM on March 28, 2001


O/T

From the Denver Post article:

Police have arrested a pool hall owner for allegedly videotaping half-naked teenage girls wrestling in the backroom before cheering customers. [Emphasis added.]

What does "half-naked" mean? These girls were wearing bikinis. Presumably well over half of the surface area of their bodies was exposed, but the parts that cause censors to foam at the mouth were covered.

Is the half-naked standard different for men and women?

Crap, now I'm gonna lose sleep.
posted by anapestic at 8:18 AM on March 28, 2001


(anapestic: men "can" walk around without shirts on; women "can not". I use those terms loosely.)

There are so many issues here, it's head-spinning.

First, age. I am a fuddyduddy when it comes to age; I do think there is a difference between being, say, 21 and 16 in many ways... but I speak out of personal experience combined with a bit of societal influence. There is a reason that kids are kids... on balance they simply don't have the life experience to make big time decisions.

Second, dehumanization. One of the rather sad side effects of the web is that while it does have the ability to bring people together, it can also strip away the humanity because we see words, images, maybe video - but don't interact in the same way. That said, there is an isolation between reality and not because these teens aren't "real". You can't interact with them in a human way - you can treat them like computers (command: take off shirt) and they'll work like them. This eliminates the feeling of responsibility in some.

Third, America's sexual immaturity. I won't go into incredible detail, but we alternately praise and shun sex. We want to keep our kids away from it, but they find out all about it anyway. We don't want to talk about it, but we have shows like Chains of Love (good golly). It's 2001, and there are still millions, millions of people who think homosexuality is unacceptable. We relate to sex only when it doesn't involve people - notice how similar this is to my second point.

When you put a real person in a situation, it changes the whole dynamic. When you use someone's image, or a made-up character, it becomes "fiction" even though it involves a real person.
posted by hijinx at 8:20 AM on March 28, 2001


I would be just as bothered if this big database was of older women. The whole thing is just creepy to begin with. "Here is a nice sterile archive grouped in specific categories, please remember the rubber gloves and close the
door after you get your fix."


Ok, well, courtesy of that comment, and Optamystic's delightlful little dalliance with Pikachu (and hey, hon, you got any free time to spend with *me* later? :-), let's delve a little deeper into the underlying topic here, since even the people who think this is "a little creepy" don't seem to be wigging out...

Yes, maturity is a curve. Yes, I know 16 year old girls who, by their observed behavior and reactions to the things that happen to and around them, are more mature than some of the 30 year old men I know.

And of course, the reverse. But as a friend of mine pointed out last night, 100 years ago, the average age at menarche was about 13... and the average age of marriage was about 14, and the average first pregnancy was something like 16, and this was *all good* -- no one was *dumping* on the kids for it.

Nowadays, that age of menarche is maybe 12... but we don't want them to get married until at least 18, "or maybe even after they're out of college", and we don't want them to have sex outside of marriage, and the more militant (read: stupid) ones are *still* chastising their kids for masturbation. So, should we really be surprised that by supressing *the* most basic urge of the human being for 6 years, and dumping on them for feeling like that, or, ghod forbid, actually doing something about it, that we end up with *really fucked up* adults?

Let's push a little harder.

In Florida, it's currently a felony for the aforementioned 24 year old to have sex with the aforementioned 16 or 17 year old. *Specifically*. There was a general law, but the saw fit to enact that specific one, purportedly to quash what they saw as "predatory behavior" that was leaving a lot of teenage girls pregnant. Now, I don't have stats on whether it's in fact had the results they wanted, but I can make one prediction with cool, calm assurance: there are a lot of teenage girls walking around in Florida right now trying to raise solo kids whose fathers *would* be there... but they're in gaol.

But the underlying question is where I was really going: what, precisely, is wrong with that 24 year old and that 16 year old having sex? As long as they're using protection, and neither of them has a communicable disease, I can't see anything inherently wrong with the act itself.

The issue, as I see it, is one of *power and control*. It is presumed, I think incorrectly, that it is *impossible* for such a relationship to be anything but the 24 year old exerting undue control on the 16 year old, to get his way.

Oh, sorry, did I say "his"? Silly me. :-}

So, Pikachu, having been there yourself, what do you think? Have I at least correctly delineated the situation? Certainly there will *be* some instances where there's a power imbalance. But is the number of cases high enough that such a draconian law is reasonable?

The question really boils down to: can the 16 year old legally give consent, doesn't it? Based on a quick check of that website I mentioned above, and the various ages of consent in "the several states", I'm guessin we're gonna have to say it does.

And finally: yes, some of those webcam-teengirls apparently do get naked and jill off for all and sundry, and based on the comments on the frames of some of the images, yes, they're not surreptitiously released private chat images. So, if they're doing that, and some older guy sits at home and joins in the fun, and sits back and keeps his mouth shut, how has *his* activity affected *her*, at all?

For that matter, to stretch it to the absolute limit: how does his behavior affect her even if *she didn't* know the images were getting out? In this case, of course, the *releaser's* behavior affects her, but that's a different issue,and I'm not talking about that.
posted by baylink at 8:40 AM on March 28, 2001


Oh, and just a quick sidetrip on the "half naked" issue that I missed while I was pontificating (:-):

In the territory of the 2nd Federal Distric Court, roughly New York State, yes, women *can* walk around topless; it was determined in a court case several years back that requiring women to cover their breasts if men were not violated the equal protection clause of the US Constitution, and the applicable law was struck down.
posted by baylink at 8:43 AM on March 28, 2001


Oh, and one other point: hush-hush putting numbers on the girls? That site is actually *protecting* the girls; it doesn't appear to point to their actual sites, at all.
posted by baylink at 8:46 AM on March 28, 2001


I'm not interested in the legality, people. I'm interested in the semantics. When I say I'm going off topic, I mean it, dammit.

If a girl in a bikini is half naked, when is a guy half naked? Better still, if a topless girl is half naked, when is a guy half naked? In a thong?
posted by anapestic at 8:53 AM on March 28, 2001


hijinx: There is a reason that kids are kids... on balance they simply don't have the life experience to make big time decisions.

I don't think the argument that you need a large body of experience to make big time decisions is a good one... Even if a teenager is less likely to make a good informed decision than an adult, I think teens should have every right to make those decisions, and to gain experiences by the results.

Or, are we saying that because they can't handle those decisions, we should make them for them? That sounds far from the most ideal way to make smart, well-adjusted adults.
posted by Neb at 8:56 AM on March 28, 2001


And you know, after spinning through a few of the archives at "First Flirt", you know what the majority of the pictures say to *me*?

"Yeah, I'm naked. So what?"

And, on balance, I think that's the healthiest thing I could have hoped to hear...
posted by baylink at 9:05 AM on March 28, 2001


Or, alternatively "Yeah, I'm naked, and I'm hot, and I know it, and I'm happy as can be about it!" But very little "Ok, you wanna see me naked, I'm naked; are you happy now?"
posted by baylink at 9:07 AM on March 28, 2001


Randomly:

1. Why is it that so many of the people who speak of "the moralistic jihad against pornography." actually look like they spend a little too much time with themselves?

2. Would porn be such a touchstone for the First Amendment if it weren't a multi-billion dollar industry?

3. Could Lolita have been set outside the US?

4. Am I looking in the wrong places, or is the "camgirl" phenom almost exclusively American? (Or Anglo-American.) In which case, you have to wonder whether the famously smarter attitudes to sex education etc across Europe make a difference...

And pika: pity us, for you too will be a cynical old 20something one day.
posted by holgate at 9:29 AM on March 28, 2001


Neb: I don't think the argument that you need a large body of experience to make big time decisions is a good one...

I'll give you that to a point, because if kids never have the chance to make those decisions, they will arguably never mature. My concern comes moreso from decisions that seem small but are in reality quite big; putting your naked body on the net, for instance, might seem like nothing. But it's something. (My use of the term "big time decisions" is a potential can of worms in and of itself....)

I agree, too, in that the decisions could be uninformed ones (and probably would be.) It'd be my hope that the kids will have knowledge gleaned from their parents to help get to the point of making those decisions. From there on out, experience will take over.
posted by hijinx at 9:32 AM on March 28, 2001


baylink: glancing at "first flirt", I can see what you mean, but what I also see is an acting-out of "familiar" poses and postures. Y'know, the semiology of sex put forward by the pr0n industry, where women are "horney co-eds" who can't wait to engage in "girl on girl action"... and other clich├ęs.

And I suppose that's what puzzles me: there's a well-trodden distinction between the way men respond sexually to images, and women to language; and I suppose I wonder whether this creates a climate where young people expect sex to resemble the image, not the reality. Which is, essentially, the same concern as hijinx and rcb: the blurring of the distinction between sexuality and sexualised behaviour.
posted by holgate at 9:43 AM on March 28, 2001


[Holgate]: . . . pity us, for you too will be a cynical old 20something one day.

20something? 20something? I'm going to cry. I'm old. One would at least expect that with age comes wisdom, but a random sampling of my MeFi posts puts that idea in the dumper. What would really help is the tender ministrations of a camgirl.

(Note to my girlfriend, if she reads this: Kidding! Kidding!)
posted by Skot at 9:47 AM on March 28, 2001


Will someone please explain what sexualized behavior is? It's a concept I've never heard of before...
posted by Neb at 9:57 AM on March 28, 2001


At least they weren't wrestling in applesauce, syrup and noodles.
posted by owillis at 10:48 AM on March 28, 2001


Well, holgate, I see what you mean... but I read it more as the reaction I get when I tell a girl I'm photographing "pretend to be a model"... since that's something they understand. It's still a parody of the behavior, or so it seems to me. You don't think so?

On an unrelated (:-) topic, yeah, whoever said 14 year olds aren't supposed to look like that is right. It's unfair to us old guys. :-)
posted by baylink at 10:59 AM on March 28, 2001


I'm not decided either way, baylink: but I suppose I'm struck by the way the proliferation of the image (to go all postmodern for a second, with apologies) leads to the image triumphing over the reality. And that I'm uneasy with whether porn be parodied, given that it's already a parody.

(An aside: I'd never heard the term "goofing off" until I went online.)

I read Martin Amis's piece in the Graun the other week, and his remark that "porno is littered - porno is heaped - with the deaths of feelings." And I worry what sort of sex life teenagers are likely to have, if they're attuned to the parodic mechanics of yer average porn screenplay.

(After all, the proto-cam has more or less devolved into self-parody. It's not fun any more.)

And I suppose that's the difference between sexuality and sexualised behaviour: one is reflexive, the other a kind of imposition.
posted by holgate at 11:44 AM on March 28, 2001


sexualize: 1. to render sexual; endow with sexual characteristics

it's been done forever in advertising: cigarettes, food, cars, etc.

these girls are *acting* sexual on camera; admittedly, that's one of the ways you learn what *is* sexual for you. on the other hand, innundated with images of britney and her ilk, I have to wonder, with holgate, if they're ever going to get a handle on what really *is* sexual for them.

and to revert back to the question "if they're getting older guys to send them stuff, who's exploiting who?" if you want your daughter to believe that her greatest worth lies in the way she looks, and that vamping is a good way for her to get what she wants in the world, and that a "good man" is the one who is willing to buy her things, or that it's okay to allow men to buy you stuff because they like how you look, and it's okay to manipulate people in that way in general.... well, then I guess there's no problem here at all.

parents. we need parents.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 12:21 PM on March 28, 2001


that vamping is a good way for her to get what she wants in the world, and that a "good man" is the one who is willing to buy her things, or that it's okay to allow men to buy you stuff because they like how you look, and it's okay to manipulate people in that way in general

For a while I thought Holgate was the only one that even saw my response.

Vamping is extremely effective and I'm sure the Erin Brockovich's of the world agree. It's a longstanding tradition of interaction. I don't really care for it personally, but I understand that both parties engage in it willingly. In that sense I don't have a problem with it. I don't expect people to adhere to such a high morale code. Most of the time I'm just glad they are not out there robbing and killing.

If this hastens the onset of cynicism and the fall of childhood idealism, then they will only be one step ahead of most others their age. As one who was forced to grow up rather quickly I don't see the importance of hanging on to the trappings of childhood if one is prepared to step forward.

As far as the maturity level of these kids, I suspect as with most things, it's individual. I hate to make generalizations since If I'm in favor of anything, it's of individualism.

As far as "your daughter" analogies go I don't plan on ever having children. They seem to be in ample supply and don't seem that special (But I know if you have them you think your's are).
posted by john at 1:34 PM on March 28, 2001


john: Vamping is extremely effective and I'm sure the Erin Brockovich's of the world agree. It's a longstanding tradition of interaction.

slavery is extremely effective and I'm sure slaveowners all around the world agree. it's a longstanding economic strategy.

but I don't intend to perpetuate it.

(not comparing vamping to slavery - although there are some who would - simply making the point that just because something's been around doesn't make it a good thing. *how* and *why* did the thing evolve? what is the cost? etc.)

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 2:06 PM on March 28, 2001


The issue, as I see it, is one of *power and control*. It is presumed, I think incorrectly, that it is *impossible* for such a relationship to be anything but the 24 year old exerting undue control on the 16 year old, to get his way.

I don't know. It is, of course, possible to have equal relationships with such an age difference, or a greater one, or whatever. There's no inherent problem. There's the problem that 16 year olds are under the control of parents and teachers, and if they don't trust the availability of a way out when things go on that shouldn't... it's easy for them to be taken advantage of, and to be made to lie and say they weren't. The only way you really can avoid this is to put under suspicion people who have sex with minors, period. It's a tough situation. But a society that says, minors must be under the control of adults, and obey the whims of certain adults, cannot also say, minors are responsible for what they do. Yes, that's also the problem with trying kids as adults when they commit violent, which was a shortcut taken instead of reforming the juvenile justice system to deal with that sort of thing.
posted by dagnyscott at 2:09 PM on March 28, 2001


rcb,

I don't think I siad I supoorted the practice, but the right of those to do it. I would not defend the right to enslave and don't see the connection outside of them both being in the realm of morality. Bringing it up almost envokes a certain law, but since you claim it as only countering the stake people have in tradition it doesn't.

I don't care for tradition myself, I just think it is their choice. Just as much as it's a person's choice to get hooked on crack. I believe in the freedom of choice even if some people choose to screw their lives up in some way. It's entirely possible they need that experience to teach them about themselves. Pain and suffering are some of life's best lessons and many an artist would never be able to express such depth of emotion if they didn't go through some sort of tragedy.

Sorry, got off a bit there.
posted by john at 2:34 PM on March 28, 2001


Not sure about how much power these youngsters actually have. Unless you happen to be a multinational corporation I think you have to be subtle in order to retain your power. The sort of power we're talking about here kind of depends on the recipient being ignorant.
posted by davidgentle at 4:31 PM on March 29, 2001


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