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Bill Henson

Anyone who knows me will know I have a passionate hatred for all forms of pornography.  Pornography has two goals.  It seeks to arouse the viewer.  That is the primary goal – to make them want sex.  It accomplishes this goal by turning subjects of porn into objects that can be used sexually.

Some pornography paints the picture visually and other pornography paints the picture verbally but the goal remains the same – sex.

Like anything there is a continuum.  Hard core porn is for people who don’t want to have to think – they don’t want to have to imagine or fantasize about using the object sexually – they want to see (or read about) it being used.

Upon reflection, perhaps that means hard core porn is for those who want to avoid taking responsibility for their lustful thoughts and their desire to use others.  Hard core porn allows them to say they are not using anyone – the person who is having sex in the porn is using someone.  They can also deny responsibility for their lustful thoughts by blaming the porn for making them to think that way.

Way down at the other end of the pornography spectrum is soft core porn.  It is still porn, it still has the main goals of porn, to arouse the viewer by turning the subject of the pornography into an object that can be used sexually.  It just relies more on people being willing to get involved by using their imagination.

The scantily clad girls are not being used sexually by anyone in the Playboy pictures but they are posed in a way that allows the reader to imagine using them sexually.  They are pictured in a way that suggests they want to be used sexually.  They are inviting the viewer to think about having sex with them if the viewer likes the goods on display.

I am a heterosexual woman with no interest whatsoever in having sex with another woman.  I have tried that form of sex and it left me unaroused.  Women are not my sexual preference but those pictures do make me think about them sexually too.  Not about ME having sex with them but about how enticing they would be to men.

Some of Bill Henson’s photographs of adolescents are soft core porn in that they are designed to make the viewer think of the child sexually.  Look at this image and see what comes to your mind.

Bill Henson Embrace
Photograph by Bill Henson from Untitled Series 1995-1996

copyright Bill Henson, 1995

I am not a paedophile but this image made me think about these two children sexually.  I look at them and I just can’t help wondering if they have had sex or if they are about to have sex.  The answer, or a clue to the answer, lies in the young mans genital area which is hidden.  I am a bit annoyed with the artist and myself for the fact that I have even TRIED to see his genitals!

The artist has managed to produce a picture that is neither fish nor fowl.  Is it soft core porn?  Not in the sense that it invites the viewer to use the subject sexually themselves and the key word here is INVITES.  Neither of these children is inviting the viewer to use them sexually however much a paedophile might think they are.

Is it hard core porn?  Not in the sense that the viewer can clearly see one person using another but it borders on it if your taste is for youngsters having sex.  It sets a scene where the viewer could imagine themselves entering the picture to make things happen.

I’m no artist or art critic.  As the saying goes – I merely know what I like.  I can, however, see the artistic merit in this image.

There is an innocence to these children.  They are portrayed in a way that lets us see adolescence symbolically.  A time when we are both innocent and sexual.  This could be brother and sister having a discussion about love lost and heartbreak.  It could be two kids who tried to make love but didn’t – she is clothed after all.  It could be two kids having second thoughts about having sex – he is ready but she is still thinking about it.  The more you try to work out what is happening the more possibilities there are.

Is it porn?  Not by my standards – the children are not using each other nor are they inviting the viewer to use them.

Could it be used as porn?  Most emphatically – YES!  A paedophile would get hard and want to insert himself in the tableau in more ways than one the moment he, or she, laid eyes on it!

Is it art?  That depends on preference I suppose.

You couldn’t PAY me to hang this picture in my living room!  I would not want to own anything that might cause the plumber or the TV repairman to get a hard-on in my home over children!

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