Monday, July 7, 2014

Does Willa Have Rights?

I've always squirmed when I see mothers blog about potty training their children or post nude pictures of infants. The internet is forever. What happens when they hit elementary school and their friends track those down? Then I found out that kiddie porn sites sometimes lift content from unsuspecting parents' pages. Now things like this just make me mad.
Facebook/Jill White

This is the censored version of photographer Jill White's tribute to the old Coppertone ad. The girl with the smiley butt is Willa, her two year old daughter. She posted it on Coppertone's facebook page, where it was blocked within three hours. She later reposted the photo as you see it here. In an interview with TODAY, White says she chose a smoochy lip face as a way of saying "Kiss my butt."
Naturally, the facebook community has once again decided to care more about their rights than responsibilities, and they're up in arms about it. Not because a young girl's butt is now out in the wild for every pedophile to see. But because it's the mother's right to put a young girl's butt out in the wild for every pedophile to see.
Is it harmless compared to a lot of the crap on facebook? Yes. But not for all viewers. Pornography is in the eye of the beholder. Willa might be White's child in real life, but as a sex symbol, she now belongs to everybody.
This isn't an issue of a mother deciding how to raise her child. This isn't a matter of a photographer choosing a subject. This isn't a case of a girl taking a provocative selfie and posting it on her own facebook page. It's a case of a child too young to even know how the internet works leaving a digital footprint. A two year old doesn't know what facebook is and can barely grasp the concept of a camera. She can't send an email. She can't leave a comment. She can't upload a photo. But somewhere in the world right now, a middle aged man with a touch phone can swipe her butt with his sweaty thumb as he scrolls down to view more.
Let's get more concerned about Willa's rights to privacy than her mother's rights of personal expression.

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