Whilst just now reading this essay I had that pleasurable and heady experience of seeing clearly articulated a host of half-intuitions and suspicions, things I didn’t know I knew, things which had till now lay in my mind ‘unhatched’ .

B. J. Muirhead has written an important essay, and I recommend it to anyone interested in Art, ‘the nude’, child sexuality and ‘paedo-hysteria’. There is much that is illuminating, challenging and convincing here, and, as far as I’m concerned, BJMuirhead nails the issue of child nudity in Art. And when one nails ‘Art’, one also nails ‘Culture’ and, by extension, ‘Society’. No mean feat.

This is not an easy essay – I found it it required concentration, I am also sure that this is the kind of essay that can be fruitfully reread several times. BJMuirhead’s clarity comes from his articulating ideas which our culture has, because of the conceptual poverty it enforces round the subject of child sexuality, rendered virtually inarticulable: we are as well furnished with the tools for thinking about child sexuality as are the natives of a culturally isolated tropical island for constructing an igloo.

I just hope that BJ doesn’t (as he hints he might do in his introduction), stop writing about “art, children, “paedophilia” and adult-child sexual relations”.


I completely forgot that one has to join academia.edu to read articles and papers on that site. I have decided, therefore, to post the text of this short essay here as well, and will do so with any future articles I may write and publish. If, on the other hand, you want a pdf of the work, then you will have to go there and join in order to download it.

I have to say, however, that I am not sure just how much further work there will be. I am feeling as though I need a change of direction (again), and I have said nearly everything I want to say about art, children, “paedophilia” and adult-child sexual relations. I will, however, make a post about childhood sex arising out of comments made by one reader, though that will be a little way away as yet. In any event, for…

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8 thoughts on “Re-blog of “Nakedness of children” by B J Muirhead

  1. Amazing how things change. Forty years ago in 1976, I remember being in a WH Smith store and on the book shelves there was a hard back book called “Growing Up”, which was primarily a book aimed at parents to enable them to talk to their children about sex. On the front cover, there was a full colour full frontal photo of a naked boy and girl, aged about ten, I’d say, and inside there was a photo of the boy with an erection and an explanation about masturbation, ect. Further along the shelf, on the magazine racks, was the latest edition of “Parents” magazine, with a full colour, full frontal cover of boy and girl toddlers. This, of course, was long before the present day paranoia about child nudity and it’s strange to think that anyone who bought that book and magazine in 1976 would quite possibly find themselves arrested for possession of child pornography today, if they were found to still possess them. The goal posts regarding what is simple child nudity and what is child pornography have continually been moved over the years until people today don’t know where they stand with it.


  2. Excellent news!



    Observer has this to say about naturism as a sex-positive activity:

    “Culture must be desensitized to the sight of the naked body whether they like it or not. In the end, we want nudity to be the norm, and intimacy looked at no differently than sleeping, eating or soccer. File it under ‘something you wouldn’t mind your children seeing.’ Only a solution this radical will have any lasting effect.

    Normalization of the genitalia (also known as naturism) and sex-positivity are inextricably linked. We think penises and vaginas are weird because we don’t see them enough in normal settings, on normal people. Because these parts of the body are always covered, they gain a sort of phantom “mystique” about them. Once we begin to see them as normal parts of the body, we will naturally ask why we feel children cannot give others permission to touch there and nowhere else.

    Eliminate the “specialty” of the special places, and the most important part of the battle is won.

    Of top priority shall be the separation of sex from nudity. People will feel more comfortable naked once they realize it doesn’t have to be sexual. Currently nudity is limited to secluded resorts, novelty events and similar oddities due to restrictive laws and concerns about hygiene. We must push for the repeal or alteration of these laws to make body-positivity a viable lifestyle. Simply placing a robe underneath you when you sit would be enough for proper hygiene. Even with these laws, property owners have wide leeway when it comes to what they can do inside.

    When it comes to promoting nudity, it’s best to take an incremental attitude. More skin is always better than less skin. If people want to wear a towel around their waist at first, that’s okay. But as long as the majority of their body is uncovered, (including the top), we will be making progress. Not everyone has to be naked, but once 10% of the population decides to give it a try the other 90% will quickly follow.”


  3. It seems that nudists are an island of sanity in the UK and those naturist children I have known have all been noticeably well-balanced, healthy and confident.

    What surprises me is that naturists seem to have been left relatively unmolested and uncriticised by the UK media and by the proponents of paedo-hysteria. A search for ‘naturism paedophilia’ brings up a few news stories linking the two but these attempts at provoking hysteria don’t seem to have ignited.

    I wonder why.

    (having written the above, I’ve just visited the British Naturism site and found this:

    “There are indications that the prejudice against naturists is increasing. That is not surprising give the scaremongering being used to promote prudery. We are pushing back but it is an uphill struggle. The censorship described below is getting worse so it is getting harder to get our message across.”)


    1. “I wonder why. ”

      Well the law is on the side of the naturist; the same cannot be said for paedophilia. Again from the BN website: “In (English) law, there is no offence of nudity. Various pieces of legislation and common law are often mentioned in connection with naturism but they are rarely relevant.”

      I guess the difference is that paedophiles are perceived to be male and mentally disordered, whereas the average naturist is perceived to be either male or female, often married, possibly with a family, and to all intents and purposes, having an ‘acceptable sexuality’,


    2. Did you not watch ‘The Naked Rambler’….He has been in and out of jail, they had a TV crew following him the day he walked past a school — The cameraman started to warn him, then out came the kids and parents, who zealously covered their kids eyes; After the cameraman protested about having to follow him past a school, He just answered ‘why must I choose another route, just because some kids may see me naked, its part of nature is it not’…The cameraman had no answer — they the Police caught up with him in a shop, and that was that!


      1. No I didn’t catch that. I’d have liked to have seen it – is it on youtube?

        >”out came the kids and parents, who zealously covered their kids eyes;”

        Stupid parents, covering up their children’s eyes – I bet those parents stop the children looking down at their own bodies when they’re having a bath – or looking in the mirror! Maybe children should all take their baths in darkened rooms.


  4. The fact that society has such a problem with nudity creates some interesting paradoxes. In the UK, and likely other countries that promote stranger danger and prosecute the creation and distribution of ‘obscene’ nude-child-imagery, there have existed since time immemorial, naturist organisations and clubs that promote a healthy lifestyle for individuals and families. There are even public places in the UK designated as clothes-free areas, where anyone can legally be amongst naturists of all ages, and where one can enjoy looking at naked children and thinking whatever thoughts that might occur, and not fear prosecution.

    British Naturism has this to say about censorship of nudity: “Fuelled by the lack of clarity in the law, the misconceptions of individuals and the wider sexualisation of society through the internet and media, there is a growing trend to censor normal healthy images of nudity. Far from being harmful, there is ample evidence that seeing real bodies, as opposed to the picture-perfect ones portrayed in the media, helps to promote positive self-body-image and a sense of well-being especially amongst young people. Openness about the body also encourages the attitudes which allow adults to educate children about their bodies, whether through health and sex education or informally as part of the child’s environment. It is no coincidence that the most censorious Western Countries have appalling outcomes for all the body-attitude related indicators. The prudification of society is a serious and growing problem.

    There is a private members censorship bill in the House of Lords (don’t believe what the guidance notes say) and the government has promised another later this year. If these bills were evidence-based, and if they required evidence-based filtering, then there would be no problem. Unfortunately, and it is particularly unfortunate for the children who will be harmed, they are based on what causes ‘offence’, or to put it more honestly, they are based on myth and prejudice.”


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