Victorian Soft Porn

History doesn’t change but our interpretation of it does. It’s all the same events and and the same material culture (as far we can discover it), but when we look back on it we often see different things than our ancestors did.

I’ve been looking for a good example to add to my “toolkit” of elevator speeches, and here it is. Victorian pornography.

We think of the Victorians as being prudish. So prudish, in fact, that we joke about it.

At the same time, it’s pretty clear the Victorians thought it was okay to look at pictures of naked ladies as long as they could be defined as “cultural.” Make it a painting of a naked lady posing as a Greek goddess and you were home free.

Now we have #ArtActivistBarbie and #MuseumActivism. This couldn’t have happened unless our culture changed. Now that it has, our view of the Pre-Raphaelites and Neo-Classicists can also change. We don’t see the same thing when we look back that we used to.

This thing about soft porn disguised as culture makes perfect sense to me. Remember here that I’m an Ethnic Mormon, so I tend to be a bit stricter about some things than the general culture.

When I was a kid we lived in Las Vegas. We were living there when Caesar’s Palace opened. 1966, I think. My parents used to take us out to eat after church on Sundays. Sometimes we ate at casinos. I remember the first time we went to Caesar’s Palace. Pull up, park, and walk up a long path to the front doors. And that path was lined with statues of naked Greco-Roman gods. I couldn’t believe such a thing was allowed in public. (I would have been 10.) My sisters kept their eyes on the ground. My parents didn’t even notice anything was wrong. So worldly, they. That was the day I learned about the hypocrisy of art.

Now, I think I’m go to go follow @BarbieReports and @wmarybeard. There might be something more learn here.

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