DSC_758610811780_10152378420026787_778208241_nI’m currently sitting-out a 24 hour Facebook ban for allegedly posting a ‘sexually explicit image’ (above). Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see any genitals, or fully exposed buttocks or breasts? And there certainly isn’t any verbal descriptions of sexual acts? Sexual activity? Not with an ice lolly. No.
All of the images in this article have been reported at one time through my Facebook page, some were removed, like the one above, others weren’t. I think the closest to falling outside the FB ‘guidelines’ is the last image here. I see a lot of images on FB that fall well outside the guidelines and haven’t been removed. I’m not saying the image isn’t offensive, that’s not the point here, there’s plenty of photographs on Facebook that I find offensive, but they don’t get deleted. The issue here is that the photo has been removed for none of the stated reasons.

I know a lot of people will think, ‘It’s not important…so what, it’s only Facebook’. But I think it is important, it’s a form of censorship on a public forum, and I for one think that any kind of gratuitous or unnecessary censorship is a bad thing.

So, I really want to know what’s so offensive? Please feel free to comment, honestly, in the comments section. Positive or negative, no remark or opinion will be deleted. You can also comment on my page – Phil Kneen Photography, if you so wish to.

***Any model I use for anything even remotely semi-naked or naked is a fully consenting over 21 year-old***

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  1. J.J. Sommer

    It’s a wonderfully evocative image. You likely made someone uncomfortable by experiencing an emotion. Emotions will not be tolerated on Facebook, unless it’s a rage filled user comment. I guess they played the sexual content card to ban you since they didn’t know how else to go about it. No one should care what Facebook thinks, and I can assure you Facebook doesn’t care what we think either.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lol – the popsicle image? Yeah, I can understand how someone would find that image offensive or inappropriate. It’s a provocative image, and in the world of semiotic and Freudian analysis there’s a mess of Lolita-esque symbolism and imagery going on there.

    It isn’t an innocent composition choice by far. Why the pink panties? Why not blue or green or black? Why did you pick the outtake with the camel toe suggestion or not edit it out? Why the red melting liquid on the panties? Again, why not blue or green…popsicles come in all sorts of colors and flavors? And why a popsicle? Why not a round ice cream sandwich or something with a less phallic imagery?

    Sure, this may seem like “silly” pop psychology or an over analysis (who does Freudian analysis anymore?!). But come on, as a society we’re all pretty adept in visual literacy; that’s why photography, film and images so powerful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mikebutcherdesign

      I like your photos Phil, but I completely agree with this comment! No, the image doesn’t offend me in the slightest but I gotta admit as soon as it appeared in my timeline I thought ‘well, that’ll be banned, and he knows it…’ Also, you can totally see her vajayjay 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. FB have a very strange sense of what is ok and what is not. Vitriolic hate speech fine, very artistic photographs not ok. I’m writing a blog post about this soon, inspired by my wife’s recent experience of trying to get a certain page taken down for inciting racial hatred.. Good post and I really like your work, hope you are back on FB soon 🙂
    Sent from my BlackBerry smartphone from Virgin Media

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Steven Lawrence

    When Adam and Eve had to cover up when they developed a sense of self awareness our culture became one of guilt and shame. I wonder if the writer of that account had any idea how that account makes the human body something to be ashamed and embarrassed by. Things are changing slowly so someday we may have a more rational view of things.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You must be doing something right! Censorship is high praise (and endorsement) for great art. And as we all know, critics are weasly, talentless, living-in-the-dark-ages, impotent hacks who repress progress and gasp in horror at anything outside the lines of status quo, thus elevating genius through ‘scandalized’ ignorance. I love the irony! Remember, according to the French press at the time, looking at paintings by the Impressionists (like Van Gogh, Renoir, Gauguin, Lautrec, even modest Monet!) caused insanity, and women to have miscarriages. So I guess that means you can measure your talent based on the number of miscarriages you cause. And THEN you can get the Right to Lifers cursing your art, and shezam, you’ve hit the Big Time of Stupid…which means of course you are BRILLIANT! Art that doesn’t provoke, incite, bemuse, stirke a nerve, unsettle, or challenge the imagination, ‘morality’ and intellect is NOT art. True Art breaks free from the herd, scoofs at limits, breaks rules, charges into trespass, and decimates the Expected. Look at Robert Maplethorpe! And if we were to listen to those oh so wise critics, the Louvre and D’Orsay are full of heinous failures and madmen.


  6. Hiya!

    I thought this comment from JJ. Sommer above probably, and quite succinctly, describes exactly what happened. And then, the internet being any idiot’s soapbox, they (the objector) hopped right on up.

    > You likely made someone uncomfortable by experiencing an emotion.

    Keep on keeping on ~

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi again.

    Oh, and by the way, I’ve been too busy since the day you posted the photo in question to respond earlier, but I had intended to comment under that photo this very morning when this current post popped up, to say “Fecking masterful!” or some such.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. These are free expressions of natural beauty with your own creative twists or turns. Hardly offensive. Human nature, though, is vulnerable to every tangent possible in perception. In love we can be shrewdly sensitive to the perceptions of others as long as it flows with your own creative photographic sensitivities. Then I recall the photos on the fishing boat…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s the outright dare to see this as sexual that’s upset someone, I think. Without the lolly, this would have been no more emotive than a lingerie ad, but the suggestion of blood and menstruating is really visceral. Weird how just the pants probably wouldn’t have been an issue, but the lolly-as-tampon is apparently offensive. You’re right – it doesn’t match of the criteria they’ve listed, but they probably don’t have a subsection of ‘it makes me think of sex because it’s not sexual in the way I thought it ought to be, and that makes me uncomfortable with my own thoughts’. I think a lot of the pictures probably have that effect.

    I should add that I love how visceral it is. There’s a proper grounded, earthy, human body in all its grimy glory feeling to this picture and a lot of the others here – the bottom pic with the stain on the mattress for one – and I love these images for that feeling of making you see the decay and life and humanity.

    If seeing people as working, messy, emotive, fleshy bodies is upsetting people enough that they’re complaining about your photos on facebook, then you’re probably doing it right.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think censorship (in general) is a difficult subject. I find your nudes very creative and beautiful, but then I come from an art and design background in my youth. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder.

    The B & W image in this post is stunning, very beautiful indeed. I wonder if B & W has any less impact than colour on FB?

    I’m not so keen on the photo with the male sitting on the bed with the 2 females behind him though. But it’s because of the composition and angle, not because there’s 3 nudes on a bed.

    Interestingly enough, I have an internet friend who continually posts nasty content about Obama which I find racially prejudice and offensive. He also raves on about Christianity and religious dogma which I find distasteful. I don’t like people who try to ram religion down my throat, call themselves Christian and then……….put what I call racial slurs on their page. But that’s just me.

    zararuth has a good point – it’s not much different to a lingerie ad.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Andy FD

    It’s erotic. And definitely suggestive. But offensive? It’s entirely imaginary. There is nothing offensive unless implied by the observer. Dying animals diplayed graphically offend me. Not this!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve been trying to have a page on Facebook shut down. It supports dog fighting and is filled with images of animals that are wounded and bloody,all for the amusement of human beings. Facebook in its infinite wisdom doesn’t see anything wrong or inappropriate about this. I wish people would gain a sense of perspective about what to be truly outraged by. Your images are thought provoking and brilliant as usual, but offensive? Not at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree! I’ve been reporting that same FB page, it’s graphic, cruel and violent and it’s still up and running. Yet FB doesn’t have a category for that kind of ‘offensive material’. It would seem that many people find violence perfectly acceptable yet can’t handle their own responses to the human form.


  13. The fact that they can do that, when they simultaneously steal your information and sell it to others is ridiculous.

    The neo-siliconians need to chek themselves before the 99 gets too angry for their servers to save them.

    I viewed that piece as well as the others as artistic expressions of grace and beauty. Powerful in the extreme.

    When people throw out the phrase, “I don’t get it.” Just remember that is a sign of your intelligence. My writing is not predicated on their understanding. And facebook is a shitty company.

    abigailsteed*** makes a really good point. Their standards are ridiculous.

    I have been doing domething recently too. Taking screen vids of how many friends i can add before i break the system. So far I have only received warnings.

    Fight the power,



  14. Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with your image; I admire your creative talent, your ability to conceptualise and bring those concepts together. I think the problems that FB faces is that the various publics that use the platform come from different culturals and as such each individual viewer brings to the reading of the image their own cultural capital—backgrounds, values, beliefs and personal experiences. This cultural capital has the ability to negate your intent in the interpretive process in instances where the viewer is confronted with taboos, such as nudity.

    It’s a shame but the distinction between naked – the state of wearing no clothes – and nude – portrayal of the naked body in art – has been lost, with a great proportion of people simply labelling nude and naked images a pornographic. Pretty much any sign of naked flesh is now interpreted as perverted or pornographic. This makes many people feel uncomfortable, which stems from their own interpretation of the image, the feelings that arise within them, and as such they seek to cast blame of inappropriateness upon the image or artist.

    Also, your image plays on both denotation and connotation. As someone mentioned earlier, the colour of the underwear comes into play, it connotes youth, as does the firm skin, and the melting Popsicle brings into play images of childhood, the physical signals of a young girl transitioning to womanhood, and a phallic symbol. There is a very strong Romanticism attached to the portrayal of children or young girls that when triggered makes people flare with fear, shame and rejection. This image would no doubt make some people uncomfortable with the emotions they experience, hence the FB reaction.

    The medium of photography also lends to criticism – were this a painting then there is a chance that it would be deemed ‘art’. The realism of the photographic medium contributes the the reactionary nature. In a painted artwork the ‘realism’ is somewhat removed.

    Overall, I think your images are a wonderful nod to nude studies and you avoid stereotypes of using only beautiful, cosmetically enhanced models. Your works explore the human form, the shape of the body and its separate parts, the naturalness of being naked along with playing with grand narratives. I empathise with your frustration, but don’t let this FB stuff stop you from producing work. Societies are built around forms of censorship – and hey, it might in lead to increased interest in your work. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I think there have been a lot of valid comments on this so far. I am not sure what I can add to what has already been said, but I can add my own opinion.
    I feel that there is a sexual overtone to the popsicle/summer image, that is evident all the way from the phallic ice-lolly and the red liquid through to the choice of leaving the visible outline underneath her underwear. I also think that you have captured the intimate and highly personal sensations of summer.
    I agree that Facebook is getting pretty Victorian on what they display on the “their” social site and I can see that as a company they don’t want to let any possible offensive images slip through. As a company they have to take action on any reported images immediately. If it wasn’t reported and just blocked, it may have been picked up by their image content scanners because of the colour of the underpants matches closely skin-tones, and the ‘camel-toe’ would have see the image scanner into hyper drive.
    I, as a human, would not block or report this image as it holds important emotions that you wanted to express. I think that Facebook is not the best medium to tell us what is acceptable art and what isn’t. It’s like letting grandma choose your movie selection.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Jg

    There Is a few buttocks about ! But I like your stuff it’s imaginative…..always some prude about, if they know what sort of things you post why don’t they just avoid your page instead of looking at it then reporting it.
    It’s the world we live in !


    • You’ve got a good point Jg – why don’t prudish people just avoid Phil’s page. Seems to me the obvious solution.

      45 years ago, (when I was a teenager), the film Portnoy’s Complaint was made (1972) and was headlines news and labelled scandalous, pornographic AND the day I saw it in the movie theatre, 3-4 older people got up and walked out very early on in the screening. They muttered and hissed and carried on about the ‘shocking’ scenes.

      But what got me was that it was headline news and STILL people went to see it (who would find it distasteful). Why do people seek out or view things they don’t like?

      (BTW Portnoy’s Complaint would seem very tame indeed by today’s standards).

      Liked by 1 person

  17. People can use Their own imagination to make a big (or small) deal out of this particular photo.

    But in my opinion this photo is not “family friendly” or “safe for workplace”. Not appropriate for all viewers.

    On the other hand, it has nothing to do with if its a good photo or not. In this case, it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I don’t find the image offensive at all, don’t understand why we have yet to accept the human body, and think censorship is crap especially as a witness to art. That said, whomever took offense to the image may have perceived it as a photo of a child, or at least too young to be modeling in their underwear, and most people I think are rather sensitive about that. I don’t know if it is the popsicle or what might have sent such a message, and ultimately such a claim would have been an assumption if they did not ask, but it explains why the image may have been reported. I can’t be certain that was the case, and again, I do not support censorship but to completely avoid it I suppose we’d have to never be subject to others judgments and I don’t know if that is possible. I would love to be free of that myself and am pretty sensitive personally to others judgment unfortunately. At the same time – we cannot control how others will perceive who we are, or interpret what we do. I think that is especially true for us as artists / creative individuals. Sorry for the consequences of such judgment, but when you do get back on facebook, maybe pose this question there by sharing this post. Hopefully you will learn what was taken offensively and respond diplomatically with how it is as equally offensive for an artist when their work is misinterpreted without question, thus leading to the censorship of your expression, which by now – should be at least one obstacle our culture has overcome.

    There will always be a fine line between perception and what we create, which we can’t really avoid. We’re artists, it’s our job to push the boundaries. In retrospect, controversy is why we even know the name and work of many great artists… Don’t let the public pigeon-hole you or decide for you what your morals and ethics are about, but know that you can take down barriers without crossing certain lines. If somebody assumes you have, and it bothers you – let it be known that when someone has misinterpreted your person based on something you have done creatively, you in no way feel the need to ever defend art.

    When you think about it, if an assumption like the one I suggested, is indeed why the image was reported, then your argument is in defense of your self since a claim like that says more about you, who you are – the photography is quality like the rest of your work, so that is not what I would be defending here… Just my thoughts, and again no way to confirm but regardless, good luck – I think your work is outstanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Chris Lavaud / Photographer

    Phil, this is only creation, open-minded, artistic sense, but obviously everyone does not think like me, I like you to do for over a year, I encourage you to continue me your pictures does not shock me! Vive artistic freedom, long live photography.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Agree with all the above. It doesn’t offend me but it is a very erotic image with plenty of potential to offend the public (if not the pubic, heh, heh). It evokes both underage-ness and menstrual blood. And yikes, it looks very chilly on the lady bits!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Reblogged this on Ambeau and commented:
    A photographer I admire is currently waiting out a 24 hour Facebook ban for posting a photo Facebook thought to be inappropriate due to nudity. Please look it over, I want to know your thoughts. Here is the commit I left for Phil:

    Congrats, you’ve made someone think and feel. Now that is true art. Continue on, you’re doing something right.


  22. The comments in this discussion are so valuable (to me). One of things I find hardest is to hear critique of my work. I am constantly trying to understand the mind of the viewer, how they see, how they interact. It’s so much easier to hear these things when it’s not your own work being critiqued. Thanks for having this discussion and to the contributors.


  23. deenagoerke

    These photos are amazing. They are part of your individual creativity. They tell stories that only you can understand fully, so don’t let some robot named Facebook tell you they’re solely “nudity”. Own them brother, they’re amazing.


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