Lullaby

What is art? How do we know, how does anyone know? Does it become art when it’s framed and hung in a museum?

Like Balthus’s Thérèse dreaming for instance.

Image result for therese dreaming

Is that art? Or is it a voyeur peering up a teenage girl’s skirt and masturbating?

It may be art, but it for sure is an adult man posing a teenage girl in such a way that we’re staring at her crotch.

Phillip Kennicott, probably not a teenage girl, says It’s Art.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has made the right decision, to reject the demands of an online petition calling for the removal of an erotically charged work by the Polish French artist Balthus. The 1938 painting, “Thérèse Dreaming,” shows an adolescent girl sitting on a chair, with one leg raised to expose her undergarments. The petition, which has gained more than 9,000 signatures, argues that the painting “romanticizes the sexualization of a child.”

The word “sexualization” itself is too polite, too valorizing, too romanticized. It’s creepy peering up the skirt of an underage girl, is what it is, and making an ArtWork out of that so that we can all feel enlightened for looking at it and not screeching in disgust.

There is a difficult and emotional conversation to be had about Balthus’s works, which frequently depicted adolescent or pubescent girls in a sexualized way. No serious exhibition of Balthus, who died in 2001, can avoid confronting those issues.

BUT. You know there’s a but. Of course there’s a but. We can’t possibly just decide that making Art out of creepy perving on underage girls might be surplus to our aesthetic requirements. Nosir. We have to Confront the Issue, but only in such a way that no difference is made.

We must deal with sexual harassment and sexual abuse without losing all that was gained during the sexual liberation of the last century.

And if that means underage girls become fodder for men’s masturbation fantasies, it’s totally worth it because SEXUAL LIBERATION by god.

The danger in the wings is a new Puritanism that would only increase the shame surrounding sexuality (a convenient weapon wielded by abusers) while undoing the painful, 20th-century process of deregulating sexuality from religion and heterosexual male power.

And there should be no shame in this very natural desire men have to look up the skirts of teenage girls, it’s a healthy natural joyous urge, the display of which is part of the process of deregulating sexuality from heterosexual male power.

Or not. Whatever. Who knows. Just don’t take away the paintings of girls letting us peer up their skirts, that’s all.

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