Yours Alone

When does sovereignty of naked photos expire? Do they ever? Or should they?

Not the commercial nudes adorning glossy magazines or porn sites, but those serving as, what, mementos that have been passed between lovers. In some circles, these are called “dedication pictures.”

As in “dedicated to the one I love.”

Naturally. What proclaims deepest affection and fidelity more than a lover’s or companion’s voluntarily exchanged nude photograph?

Nonetheless affection and fidelity don’t last forever. At least not often enough. So one mustn’t imagine the deluge of ex-lovers caught in compromises of their own development.

These keepsakes were offered with the sincerest intentions possible. Obviously the presenters and recipients never considered ends to the relationships which fostered such trust. If there were portents of the binds weakening and failing, well, those cautions were tossed to the fates because don’t lovers take the greatest leaps of faith?

After all that naked emotional exposure I suppose the unflinching honesty of appearing irrevocably nude on demand seems a lesser challenge. So the expanses of bare flesh, the subject’s willingness and comfort rendered implicit through attitude and presence before the lens, just solidifies the bond.

However, haven’t technology and the people of this era diluted the meaning of dedication, much less dedication photos?

Until digital proliferation pretty much rendered film and darkrooms obsolete, naked pictures of one’s self weren’t as nonchalantly taken and offered as today. If the photographer didn’t have access to development facilities, he or she needed to find a somewhat trustworthy developer. Absent that, then the matter depended on nowhere near as sharp results from a self-developing camera.

Ideally an admirer would’ve possessed the graphic skills necessary to render his or her adored in lead strokes on paper. Now there’s dedication – on both ends. But that required patience and eyes to recognize and translate nuance. Two traits sorely lacking from the instant gratification generation.

Doubtlessly scads of such images have circulated as long as photography has existed. Until recently, though, weren’t all but the most emotionally scurrilous instances resolved in circumspect fashions?

Another trait in short supply. Circumspection.

Which should society weigh greater? Ownership or propriety?

A lover presents his or her partner with an intimate photo. While it becomes the recipient’s property, isn’t it incumbent upon him or her to severely limit who else, if anybody else, appraises the image? And not just during the course of the relationship, but afterwards should “forever” not quite last that long. In that case, should rights, if in such cases “rights” are retained to voluntarily given keepsakes, as well as the property itself automatically revert to the subject?

A short time ago, the most fleeting of acquaintances artlessly worked his girlfriend’s provocative poses into our conversation. Unbidden, the young man with whom I’d been conversing whipped out his personal device and opened a vivid file exposing his darling in all her glory and then some.

He shared his girlfriend with the ease of offering me a stick of gum.

Quite suddenly these strangers held no secrets from me. By his action he disclosed his notion of privacy to be an expansive concept, while through her poses she pushed commitment into ridicule on the way to indignity.

Pretty in a common way, what snagged attention was the brunette’s use of a prop. Recumbent and naked upon a couch, a small foam shark head clamped onto his truly beloved’s hairless sex. The scene had been captured from every angle possible except one. The only one missing? That point of view into the shark’s mouth. Deducing who suggested these tableaux took scant effort.

Displaying his handiwork, the proud fiend grinned feverishly. He encouraged lascivious comments.

Familiar with the flesh as he must’ve been, the pixels swiped and shuffled still aroused first-timer’s ogling from him. Appearing so freshly stimulated, one might’ve seen him as that two-legged dog who slavered whenever the can opener whirred.

A powerful motivator indeed.

In my own younger days I never inspired such reckless affection. Drat!

The closest I ever came to some sweetheart proving her devotion occurred in an Arizona writing class. If correctly remembered revelation the exercise’s purpose. Insisting we mine our yet unencumbered lives, Buzz, the course’s professor, hoped the assignment led to strengthening his novices’ instruments.

What a stretch. Plenty of repetitious stories featuring unfocused young adults whose lives hadn’t amounted to much. My own included. However, there was an exception.

Moira, a ginger proto-punk in our conventional midst, certainly skewed the general generational trend. Our contemporary, a radical who’d emancipated herself as a teen, she’d already cohabited for years with some fellow.

In high school, I knew another redhead who in her teens severed parental ties. She also shacked up with a guy. What’s it with flame-haired chicks chucking hierarchal strictures and delving into beyond bounds passion so readily? And most importantly, where can I get me one of those?

Although free of the legal binds which would’ve made their union nice and neat for those of us whose thinking remained solidly inside the box, that pair had thoroughly melded. Without gagging I guess one could’ve called them “soul mates.”

Moira’s story signified an intimacy alien to her predominately happy hour hook-ups aligned classmates. Through photos given to her beloved she further doubled down on her half of the couple’s connection.

In this series of pictures she conveyed to him “This is me. I’m yours.” One hoped the lucky man felt obliged to cherish her.

Exhibiting more bravery than foolhardiness, Moira also brought one of the self-developed pictures into class. She allowed those of us who so desired to inspect the evidence. In her chronicle, she informed what considerations ran through her mind while the aperture winked.

No come-hither propelled her posing. An observer couldn’t merely regard her as a sexual being. Or is that an object?

She wasn’t particularly bold either. Nor were hers any of those wacky candid shots. In the one example, the pale coltish woman stood casually against a midnight background and simply stared into the lens. The short crop atop her head, lips, nipples, and pubic thatch heightened the pallor of her skin. Though thinking back, mightn’t this have been by-effects of the emulsion and flash?

Could she have been any more honest and uncompromising? Perhaps one could’ve mistaken hers for a gentle brutality. How many of our fellow classmates found her nakedness painful or failed comprehending it altogether?

Then, who among Moira’s classmates were capable of matching her same depth of devotion?

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