What’s The Line Between Art And Pornography?

So this particular Sunday my family of 6 heads out for our favourite Sunday brunch at a trendy cafe spot located not far from downtown Toronto.  It’s our go-to place when hubby has been busy travelling all week and wants to catch-up with the ‘fam’.  The closer you get to downtown the tighter the living becomes and so to the atmosphere inside our little sanctuary.  It’s always noisy and somewhat crowded; our seats are still warm from the patrons who just finished.  The coffee is first class, the service is brilliant and friendly and we always leave with a full belly and a re-connected family. 
The street scape is completely different to our neighbourhood; there is a mixture of soup kitchens for those in need, some trendy antique, recycle, reuse shops, some great hip fashion stores and a couple of scattered art galleries.  It’s relaxing for us to stroll up the street after a satisfying meal and take in the diversity this part of town has to offer.
As our children are getting older we are noticing just how much more they want to learn and better understanding.  It’s gone from a whiney ‘but why mummy?’ to a concerned ‘oh, but why is that mum?’  And today was no exception; we were casually strolling the streets with no real purpose other than spending time together, stopping only occasionally to peek inside a shop window or two, when BOOM there it was, the shop window laden with various artists interpretation of how ‘beautiful’ the human body is.  Child 1 extremely curious as to why the man in the photo was holding his ‘bits’ and had such a large smile on his face and Child 3 interested to know if it would hurt to have your body in ‘that’ position. 
Looking downwards towards the grey sidewalk, not sure what I was looking for, maybe a gap big enough for me to crawl into. I panicked “Nothing to see here children, move along now”.  I know its art and I am a huge advocate for making sure you love your body, but please, where was the detour signs for parents with young families – how come I lost my right to shield my children from these illustrations.  Was it protected from being seen as pornography because it sat inside a gallery and called art?
My intention is not to offend the artists here just because my interpretation of what was displayed did not appeal to me – My intention is to better understand why as a society we seem to becoming more relaxed as to what is OK for our children to be exposed to.  I can never take that vision back from my child’s memory, and yes I may have handled it poorly at the time, but I am not sure what I was supposed to do.  Were we meant to stand there and study the artwork together, was I suppose to scream at them to close their eyes and look away from those inappropriate pictures, or am I just to hope and pray that my kids learn to appropriately filter all this information and file it away for when their mind & body can properly interpret the content.

It is my belief, at some point the ‘adults’ in the world decided to reduced their duty of care and wrap it all under ‘freedom of speech’ – go ahead display, advertise, market, package, sing whatever you want, even if the receiving audience isn’t able to correctly articulate how those images are effecting their internal makeup.  I think not!  I didn’t think I was a prude, maybe I am, maybe I just want to protect my children and deliver them into adulthood without the markings of a prior generation appearing not to care.  I fully understand as the parents we have the choices as to what they watch, read and listen to, but when it infiltrates into my Sunday afternoon stroll spent with my family, I may have just lost that choice.  Next time we visit our little sanctuary in downtown Toronto, we will be sure to walk down the street instead.

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