Young people are learning. It's what happens when you are young, and is one of those aspects of youth that cannot be avoided. We are not born with a wealth of knowledge and experience. We are empty, and life fills us with what we need to become who we are.
Opinion is one of the things we develop. It is shaped by ALL KINDS OF FACTORS... who our parents are and how they feel about things, who we learn from and who our leaders are... who we choose as friends... where we go and what we see, all affect opinion. In all this, one aspect is key: to be able to say; "I like this, or I don't like this... and here's why..." is the essence of all opinion. To be able to do this honestly, you have to experience the thing about which you are rendering your opinion.
You cannot render an opinion on faith.
Looking at images of naked women invokes a great deal of opinion in people. Young, old, good looking or fat and pimply, smart as a whip or dumb as a box of rocks, there is perhaps no other subject that causes people to offer their personal opinion than images of another human being without their clothes on.
It is a very good thing to be able to give your opinion freely. It is a freedom, and one of the ones we should be willing to fight to keep.
To close out this preamble before I get to the list of responsibilities one should have when offering one's opinion about images involving nudity, here is my opinion on opinions;
The saddest part of people and their opinions is the fact that most offer their opinion with little or no sense of responsibility for the words they speak, or the underlying attitudes that create a basis for the opinion. A person should never offer their opinion without first giving an issue serious, deep, and considerable thought. Young people fail to do this because of a lack of experience, and many adults fail to do it because of a lack of either education or rearing. And some people are just plain assholes, and don't care who hears their opinion, and more importantly, whether or not it (their opinion) makes any sense at all.
Following is a short list of responsibilities a person should accept before offering an opinion on nude poses in photography or art.
1: You should look at enough photos and illustration to decide from experience what you feel is acceptable and what isn't. You need to be able to describe, in a way anyone can understand, your personal values about what is okay and what crosses the line.
2: You should look at your own personal attitude towards nudity, and discover how much it affects your opinion about nudity in art. If you have what most people would consider an unhealthy self image, you should refrain from offering your opinion on nudity because your point of view is tainted. Being shy is not the same as feeling you are grossly overweight when you aren't, or hating to be seen naked or to be naked. If you have a psychological issue with nudity, keep your opinion to yourself, and seek help. When your self image, and attitudes are healthier, re-evaluate your opinion on nudity in art, and THEN offer it.
3: If, for social reasons, your opinion is skewed, you should, at the very least, STATE SO clearly, up front, before offering your opinion. People who fall into this category would be the deeply religious, victims of assault, teachers, mothers, social workers who work with those convicted of sex crimes. If your experiences have left you so jaded that your opinion is deeply and irrevocably tainted, you should keep your opinion to yourself. It is unfairly balanced, and therefor unjustly tips the scales in one direction or another. Above all, an opinion should be fair, and far too many of us give opinions we KNOW are skewed.
4: If your opinion is controlled or influenced in any way by a third party, you should avoid giving it if you can, because IT IS NOT YOUR TRUE OPINION.
4: Depending on the seriousness of the issue (and how we as humans relate to our bodies is a pretty serious issue in my opinion) you should STUDY the history of an issue before offering an opinion.
Study the history of nudity and art, nudity and photography, and pornography as it has been defined through time. For example: one of the great truths about the issue of what IS pornography, is that it's PUBLIC definition has changed and evolved through time. If you study the history of humans even only as a light enthusiast, you quickly learn such things as; the healthiest societies humans have established all had very liberal attitudes towards nudity and sex. Both were encouraged, seen an an integral aspect of a healthy life well lived, both were much more public, and even sometimes the center piece of important, shared social events.
On the other hand; the most damaging, controlling, ruthless societies we have created all had very rigid, puritan, negative attitudes towards nudity and sex. Such societies control their women, limit the rights of everyone except adult men, and crush out individual expression.
5: If you offer YOUR opinion, by default, you agree to listen to the opinion of everyone else without trying to limit what is said. Shouting down someone, being rude or crass, refusing to listen or participate in a discussion, NO MATTER WHAT SIDE YOUR OPINION FALLS ON, is unacceptable. If you can't accept hearing other people's opinion, DO NOT offer yours.
6: Power is best wielded lightly. This is an axiom, especially with humans. RESPECT the fact that your opinion carries weight. It has an effect. This becomes progressively more true when your opinion is one of a block of opinions all expressing the same point of view. Thus are elections decided. BE WARY of offering your opinion. Treat the moment when you do so with the respect and dignity it deserves. Because of this, young people should as a matter of WISDOM, be reluctant to offer their opinion if they are inexperienced in the relevant issue. If, for example, a young person has never been naked in the presence of another, other than as a child with a care giver or other children, they may not have the frame of reference required to speak knowledgeably on the subject of nudity.
7: If your opinion cannot be changed by discussion and exposure to new ideas, think twice about offering it. A rigid set of opinions and attitudes is, if nothing else, a DEAD thing. It does not grow or evolve. It is DEAD. The world, for all it's failings, is a living, evolving entity. The opinions of the dead, even the walking, talking dead should not affect it.
The correct way to respond to this essay would be to list what you think is important about the responsibility of rendering your opinion that I did not list here.
I look forward to a further discussion of this article.