We fight for more than Love or Pleasure

Heretic TOC presents a guest blog today from “Sylvie”, who has the unusual and possibly record-breaking distinction of having been openly an advocate of decriminalising consensual sexual relationships between adults and children since the age of 13, arguing the case passionately with friends, classmates, and even teachers! Her liberal parents, she tells me, were the kind of people who would keep a close eye on their child without interfering. What follows is part of an email I received recently from Sylvie. With her approval, it has been edited for this blog.  
I have wanted to write to you for a long time. I feel the time has now come. Many times l have tried to sit down and write but it seemed I just could not get my head around it as my story begins when l was 13 and me being 38 now, that’s quite a frightening length of time! To make a long story short: like you, l advocate for the decriminalisation of consensual sexual relationships between adults and children, and have relentlessly been doing so since l was 13. Does that make me the youngest activist who has ever lived? 🙂
I was an intellectual child, listening to classical composers at 8, reading Oscar Wilde at 10 and EM Forster at 11. I was fortunate enough to have parents who granted me unconditional freedom. Yet not everyone was as sensible so I sometimes ended up surrounded by adults who mistakenly took me for a “poser” claiming that, at my age, l could not really understand what l was reading. How pathetic are adults who belittle children! Truth is: my books were my best friends and literature has taught me more on the human condition than one could ever hope to learn in a lifetime without it; and l can assure you that not only could l understand everything l read as a child, but my understanding was real and deep.
One day – l was 13 by that time – upon returning home from school, l found this magazine and l learned that behind the story of the girl who falls down a rabbit hole was an Oxford don who went by the name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, and that this whimsical, magical man happened to be, among other things, a lover of children. For the first time in my life the words “paedophile” and “paedophilia” appeared before my eyes. It struck a powerful chord deep inside, and my path has been clear to me since that day. To me it just seemed OK to love children and l could see nothing wrong with it, provided no coercion was exercised. I vividly recall looking at the image of Lewis Carroll and thinking to myself these very words: “I like you”. That was the start of a lifelong friendship between Mr Dodgson and l.
It was also the start for me of my advocacy for the rights of paedophiles. Throughout the following year l researched the subject, growing more and more aware of the discrepancy between hysteria and reality, more and more indignant at the social stigma that affects paedophilia, forcing too many paedophiles into the darkness, making them unable to open up to anyone, with the dire consequences on many levels that this forced isolation brings about.
As I had always been interested in issues surrounding civil liberties, l had from time to time magazines at home that dealt with either women’s rights or gay rights. One day I noticed an ad in the Contact page of a gay magazine. In the ad it was stated that a pressure group called “Gruppo P” had been formed to promote discussion of intergenerational relationships and that anyone who was interested in joining was welcome to contact them. I immediately did. In my letter I explained that I was a 14-year-old, that I believed that consensual contacts between children and adults existed and could be desired by both parties, that such contacts did not necessarily result in harm, and that therefore this type of non-coercive relationships had to be decriminalised. I said I was willing to actively help and join the group.
Soon afterwards I received a letter from the group’s founder, asking me to contact him at his work phone number, which l did. In retrospect l now think he wanted to make sure that l was who l claimed l was. When l called him we agreed to meet.
I was not scared. All l wanted to do was to go out and march, head up high, banner in hand, for the advancement of our cause (how much l miss the naivety of youth!) Unfortunately l was too young to formally join (minimum age required was 16) so I remained on the sidelines, eagerly waiting for the day when l could become a full member. Sadly, that day never came as the police investigated Gruppo P. The founder phoned to let me know the police might pay me a visit, although he believed that as I was a young girl they would not try to pursue a case against me. He was right: they never came. Not that I was intimidated by the thought of encountering them. On the contrary, I was eager to meet the police so I could “preach” the legitimacy of our cause (such is the folly of youth!).
The founder was in due course arrested, accused of “conspiracy”. I can testify that there were absolutely no illegal activities inside Gruppo P. Its aims were not criminal but political. Nevertheless the founder and others were arrested and held in custody awaiting trial: evidently the coming together of dissidents who challenged the current laws was considered a crime in itself. As we who hold these beliefs well know, Orwell’s concept of “thought crime” becomes a reality where discussion of paedophilia is concerned.
I recall very well the innuendos that were made. It was put about that an enormous quantity of illegal material had been found, but no such material circulated at Gruppo P! It was claimed that members were actively seeking children to groom, but l for one had never been approached in a sexual way. I was always treated as an equal; no one tried to take advantage of me.
What l also recall is the ugly ostracism of Gruppo P by the gay organisations. The police raid made their dearest dream come true: get rid of paedophiles. The gays said they “abhorred” paedophilia, insisting that homosexuals stand for sexual liberation and paedophiles are opposed to it because they force themselves on individuals who cannot consent.
I wanted to appear in court as a defence witness, but the lawyers ignored me, and my friend was eventually found guilty of conspiracy. In the following years I have seen or heard of former activists who have grown disillusioned, gone underground, given up…. For me, it is something l will never get over. I have seen or heard of too many people living a death-in-life: I cannot accept it; I will never accept it, and it brings me anguish.
I have had your book Paedophilia: The Radical Case since 2003. I have always told myself that sooner or later I would contact you, and as soon as the PIE “scandal” came out this year, l googled your name and, voilà, I saw that you have a blog. [For the “scandal” see Paedogate puts the past in the pillory]
I agree with you that this reign of hysteria will eventually come to an end. You and l might not see it, but future generations will. It is for these future generations that we must now stand our ground. Refusing to be silenced is one way, and a dignified one at that. Familiarity is another: reaching out to people who are close enables us to help them see through this fog of lies surrounding paedophilia. l have always taken every opportunity to discuss the issue. I have never been afraid or ashamed to share my beliefs. A propaganda-fed mob might bay to see paedophiles hanging from a rope but individuals will listen. For almost 25 years now I have taken the time to sit down at a table with a friend, a colleague, or a stranger, and say something like, “Look, things are not exactly what they seem. Please, let me explain.”
I spoke from the heart and from the mind; through rationality, compassion, and truth, l had them listen, ponder, and challenge their prejudice. I saw people genuinely persuaded of the unjust treatment reserved for paedophiles. I saw people genuinely sorry. I saw people, including my own mother, grow indignant at injustice. And l always thought that if we can persuade them that they are all being lied to through toxic and hysterical propaganda, and that there are fellow humans in this world who are being persecuted for the simple reason that they exist, then there is hope that they will perceive the terrible injustice suffered by paedophiles, and no man or woman of good will can tolerate a modern witch-hunt without starting to question its legitimacy.
And through questioning comes change. Am l being overly optimistic? Maybe. But l refuse to be cynical. We must work to create a society where paedophiles can lead normal and productive lives, within the boundaries of the law. Paedophiles also need to be educated: it is not only immoral, but dangerous as well, to have people indoctrinated on a daily basis, stuffing the idea down their throats that they are “molesters”, that their affections and inclinations are nothing but a “disorder” to be treated. This is a lie, and we must fight it.
As EM Forster put it, “For we fight for more than Love or Pleasure; there is Truth. Truth counts, Truth does count.”
I am willing now as much as l have been for the past 25 years, to speak up for truth, and actively help in any way l can.
My greatest pride is that in my youth I was an independent thinker. My beliefs sprang from within, and these beliefs prompted me to reach out to like-minded people, in whose company l could share what mattered most to me. These are the people I am most grateful to have met, to this day.

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[…] accordingly makes its debut below. This is Sylvie’s second guest piece, her first having been “We fight for more than Love or Pleasure”, last […]

Dave

Well, this blog page is getting alot of traffic. It’s great to see so comments offering rational and compassionate views regarding paedophiles. I am one myself, in my early 40’s, and it goes without saying that the media and rest of society severely damaged my life. Tom might remember me speaking before, but something happened about 3 years ago that knocked me for six: I discovered the genital mutilation of boys is rife in the UK, and continues to go unchallenged in the main-stream media. I spent quite a few years fighting with people on the internet – you know, telling everyone there is a massive difference in someone who is attracted to children, and one that rapes or kills children.
When I discovered that I was a victim of genital mutilation, I knew that was where my priorities lie, for now, because once society gets whiff of it’s hypocrisy and acceptance over something, that actually *does* meet the definition of “sexual torture” (and “rape” to some degree), there will be a large shift in attitudes. We have the Lib-dems gaining a lot of support with their focus on mental health, and this is music to my ears, because in a society that treats mental health problems properly (and that includes prevention as well), there will be no place for the poison that’s been directed at paedophiles for the past 15 years or so. I only wish I could comfort and reach those CHILDREN of today, that will be soon to attach this label to themselves. It’s not fair that people have to go through their lives being portrayed as monsters by all those around them. I typed this sentence onto a news page the other day, and it really hit home just how absurd this is.
Why is it that child molestation is illegal regardless of the sex of the victims, but genital mutilation is only illegal on females?
Blood, extreme pain in the genitals, and theft of the most sensitive part against one’s will and for non-therapeutic reasons, is where violence and sex truly meet eachother. I want ALL children to be protected from forced genital cutting; I want the media to stop using the term “paedophile” to mean “abuser”, and I want our laws surrounding child imagery to be re-worked with common sense – there is still no clear cut definition of what is illegal to look at, and still remains in the murky depths of Thought-Crime.
Was a pleasure reading your post Sylvie, and it would be such an honour to be contact with you, especially if you live in the UK being a similar age to myself. Not sure if I can leave my add here, but I’ll try. Drop me a line, I would be grateful. willdave4@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjFecGimGrC_xIH–XiwWvA/videos
P.S. Sorry If I offended anyone regards child circumcision, but no child enjoys having that done to them, and there is quite a wave of campaigns to put a stop to it now.

Peter

As @Stephen6000 has informed us, different societies do seem to allow different levels and types of Incest. An example is an account given to me by my lady friend. It being, the Muslim mothers in Georgia (not the American one, but that neighbouring Russia) masturbate, even fellate, their own sons from puberty. She also told me that such women especially enjoy giving oral sex to males. She knows this, as she had a Georgian lover and met his family. I have no doubt in her accuracy/honesty.
As far as I know, such salaciousness would certainly not be allowed in British Muslim families.

James

Wow. Interesting! Does she have any information on how incest is treated in any other cultures?
Also: are you sure that family wasn’t an outlier? Did she meet any others like that?

Peter

Hi, no more specific information about other cultures. With the Georgians, she stated it as if it was general rather than just that one family.
I think most people will be surprised/shocked to discover what is “normal” in other cultures.
Thanks for your interest.

Linca

Peter,
There is a woodcut that this thread brings to mind. This is what my Evolutionary Psychologist friend says about it:
“As noted by Philippe Aries’ in a book he authored that is considered to be the “bible” of child historians, “Centuries of Childhood”,
There is an engraving of 1511 depicting the holy family: St. Anne’s behaviour strikes us as extremely odd –she is pushing the child’s thighs apart as if she wanted to get at its privy parts and tickle them. It would be a mistake to see this as a piece of ribaldry (Aries’ 1962, 103)
My curiosity piqued, I became determined to see this engraving. I found it and a copy appears on the page following. Perhaps even the normally forthright Aries had some pause about truly describing what occurs in the picture. Clearly, the Christ child is not merely having his thighs pushed apart; St. Anne is making sexual contact with the Christ child’s genitals –it appears that she is tickling the Christ’s genitals. But such behavior was neither uncommon in medieval Europe, nor throughout the world.
Evolutionist Fox relates of the broader context: “In many societies, mothers stimulate the genitals of their baby sons to calm them” (Fox 1980, 164). Margeret Mead noted infant stimulation among the Balinese:
…the Balinese place very early emphasis on the genitalia. A little boy’s penis is being continually tested, pulled, flipped, flicked, by his mother, his child-nurse, and those around him. With the slight titilation go the repeated words, “Handsome, handsome, handsome,” an adjective applied only to males. The little girl’s vulva is patted gently, with the accompanying feminine adjective “Pretty, pretty, pretty.” (Mead 1949, 72)
The artist who created the engraving of the holy family was no doubt trying to make a very human connection between the infant Jesus and other infants of the time in order to evoke feelings of tenderness and empathy for the Christ among the medieval populace. He, thus, chose to frame his portrayal of the holy family in terms of a parental behavior that was very common for the times. It is only in retrospect that it now evokes shock in us. I think the woodcarving provides a particularly powerful image that challenges the sexually repressive beliefs of those who see sexuality as necessarily opposed to Christian spirituality. It also demonstrates that extreme sexual repression by the Christian Church came relatively late in its evolution [as did the idea, incidentally, of a virgin birth –i.e. a birth “untainted” by sexual lust: “…the cult of the Virgin Mary…began to develop in the eleventh century” (Richards 1990, 44).]
Now a challenge –can we look at this picture and honestly claim that the infant Jesus, as portrayed, is a sex abuse victim?
Aries, P. 1962. Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Fox, Robin. 1980. The Red Lamp of Incest. New York: E.P. Dutton.
Mead, M. 1949. Male and Female. New York: William Morrow & Co.
Richards, J. 1990. Sex, Dissidence and Damnation: Minority Groups in the Middle Ages. New York: Routledge.”
Holy Family woodcut by Hans Baldung Griencomment image?dl=0
Linca

Peter

Thank you Linca for your input. It was a pleasure to read.
I have read about modern Western mothers doing similar. I doubt very few mothers do this just to get excited themselves. However, many women report being aroused by suckling. Yet that is simply physical sensation, albeit most intimate too.
The telling the baby words, like “Handsome” or “Pretty”, will much add to that person’s lifetime self-esteem. Positive reinforcement using the ‘Rule of Three’.
Oh yes, imagine the scene now. An invasion of a loving home by social workers and the police, the baby taken away and the parent possibly imprisoned.
Again thanks to you.

James

“The telling the baby words, like “Handsome” or “Pretty”, will much add to that person’s lifetime self-esteem.”
I’m an outlier, but if someone were touching my penis while repeating “an adjective applied only to males”, I’d probably be very distressed.

Peter

Hi, I don’t know where the taboo came from.
Is it too obvious to blame the organised religions? Do the scientists think pre-historic people had such a taboo?
I’d be interested to know.

James

“Is it too obvious to blame the organised religions?”
As much as I enjoy some good religion-bashing, yes, it kind of is. Religions don’t make their laws out of whole cloth (which is more than you can say for their gods). They take the things that already exist in the human psyche and codify them and give them legitimacy. Religions can’t claim credit for morality because humans come with moral intuitions, but they can’t be blamed for racism because people form ingroups and outgroups automatically. The incest taboo has to come from somewhere before religions can put it on a pedestal.
BTW: Has anyone studied whether MAPs are less susceptible to the Westermark Effect? It’d also be interesting to see how strong your disgust responses are on average (to things like rotting fruit). I think this would be a far more fruit investigation into your psychology than white matter “theories”.

Peter

🙂 Thanks @James for your contribution, informing us that the Incest taboo will pre-date organised religion.
Although it seems most people insinctively avoid Incest, there do seem to be a few people who don’t.
I think we need more research on this.

Peter

Hi, hearing about real Incest used to leave me feeling very shocked and quite disgusted.
Then, as you write, I questioned why this is so taboo. I researched it and discovered two new theories: that (1) Incest proponents are claiming there is only a very slight increase in birth defects; and (2) after many generations of inter-breeding, the gene pool becomes pure anyway.
Whatever the truth is, sex between only female family members, or no vaginal penetration by a male, will be safe and therefore takes away the risk of birth defects.
I have classified Incest into the following 3 levels :-
(1) Mild:
eg. open masturbation;
(2) Intermediate:
eg. mutual masturbation or oral;
(3) Extreme:
eg. male penetration of F or M.
Presently Level 1 would be my personal limit, but I judge no-one if they go further.

clovernews

…I questioned why [incest] is so taboo. I researched it and discovered two new theories: that (1) Incest proponents are claiming there is only a very slight increase in birth defects; and (2) after many generations of inter-breeding, the gene pool becomes pure anyway.

So what has your research revealed as to the reason for the incest taboo? It originated long before any genetic knowledge and I doubt that animal breeding would have revealed any deleterious effects from inbreeding.

stephen6000

And why does it take so many different forms? Almost every society has some form of incest taboo, but many allow types of incest that would be anathema in others (and just about every kind is tolerated somewhere or other).

mr p

Warren Farrel….Incest is like a magnifying glass,In some circumstances it magnifies the beauty of the relationship,also when asked about a victims conference he said…It was like asking Cuban refuges what they thought of Cuba!
http://www.thelizlibrary.org/site-index/site-index-frame.html#soulhttp://www.thelizlibrary.org/fathers/farrell2.htm

James

Speaking of Cuba, all the media reports I hear about Cuba make it sound awful but all the actual Cubans I know love it. Of course, these are mostly teachers who are exported as part of south-south cooperation ventures so they may be artificially selected for. Is there any place to get anything even approaching a consensus view on Cuba?

mr p

I’m no expert on Cuba,but i know they make great cigars·:-)

James

LOL. I know. My uncles highly recommend them 🙂

James

The visceral squick response is due to the Westermarck effect. However, western incest taboos are stronger (and encompass greater genetic distance) than most other cultures. That’s what you get when your culture came from west of the Hajnal line. Of course there are some perks to this. (I do not endores everything on this blog. Particularly the racism.) However, one off pairings are mostly safe. It’s long term inbreeding that’s problematic.

clovernews

The visceral squick response is due to the Westermarck effect.

The Westermarck effect describes how children raised together (whether related or not) tend not to find each other sexually attractive and doesn’t explain why it should be forbidden. You don’t forbid something which doesn’t happen.

James

The Westermarck Effect isn’t fool-proof. There are some people it simply doesn’t affect. However, to a large extent, the root of social conservatism is the disgust response. In fact, you can increase someone’s support for conservative policies by priming them with unhygenic surroundings. A socially conservative person is disposed toward preventing others from doing things that disgust them personally (see opposition to homosexuality). Thus, social conservatives, acting under the influence of the Westermarck Effect, impose taboos on those unaffected by it.
Could also be learning by trial and error. A society realises that a family who’s engaged in long-term incest is suffering birth defects and strange diseases so they ban it. Or, ban some of it. As previously noted, different cultures have different degrees of taboo.

Peter

My respect to you Sylvie for your courage. I am not as brave as you, but occassionally dare hint to my support for the minor-attracted in my public blogs. Also, with my trusted best friend I have been quite explicit, though I feel he is too afraid to allow himself to openly agree with me. I sense his mental anguish, as I am not primarily attracted to children but do now fully understand those that are. And admit to this revelation.
Anyway, my latest lady friend was born into a nudist family, where open masturbation (by all family members) was the norm. And at just aged 10 she initiated sexual activity with adult men, and has thoroughly enjoyed herself ever since. She has no sexual hang-ups and yet is overall one of the most moral and sane people I have known. Her concern in life is opposing the destroying of human life and not the creating/procreating of it. Also, this may shock even some paedophiles, but as an adult she has also had some incestrous contact. This has made me now question my own incest ignorance.
Last night I discovered this legal website and think the articles/studies will much help this blog’s readership. Indeed, they link to one of TOC’s.
Good luck trying to educate the non-paedophilic and also helping those you are attracted to children….

Peter

Oops! Sorry folks, here is that link:
http://www.URyourstory.org

gantier99

“Anyway, my latest lady friend was born into a nudist family, where open masturbation (by all family members) was the norm. And at just aged 10 she initiated sexual activity with adult men, and has thoroughly enjoyed herself ever since.”
Could you point this wonderful person in the direction of this blog? We need to hear her story!
When my children were of roughly that age we would sometimes all thoroughly enjoy romping round naked in the house or on the beach. It was always my intention that nakedness and physical closeness would never be “difficult” for them. There was never any overt sexual content in this play, so strong is the incest taboo. For them to laughingly tell their friends that dad likes running round naked is one thing, but to burden them with activities that they wouldn’t feel comfortable about divulging just didn’t seem fair to any of us. But I agee, I don’t see anything intrinsically negative about open masturbation in a family situation.

Peter

Hi, TOC has already asked my lady friend to share her stories, but with much regret I had to decline. She has political enemies in high places. I dare not say anything more than that. Sorry!
However, thank you for replying to my post.

gantier99

TOC has already asked my lady friend to share her stories, but with much regret I had to decline. She has political enemies in high places. I dare not say anything more than that. Sorry!
The plot thickens! A public figure perhaps! Thanks for saying as much as you did.

James

“The plot thickens!”
Dun dun dun!!!
I wonder how many narratives are similarly silenced. It’s a bit depressing. It’s almost as if everyone expects the Spanish Inquisition.

mr p

good point…and i mean good point this time lol…if more people in the family are open to these activities,it removes the hurtful secrecy,its nothing more then a taboo when you break it down·:-)

gantier99

Yapp thanks mr p. Its a way back now but it was all No Big Deal that naked thing. And there was no conflict for me, these were my children, I was their dad. With their friends it could feel different, there could be romance and flirting in the air, but out of respect to my kids my interests in that department were kept on the back-burner. Sounds a bit altruistic. Truth is I was a bit traumatised after a previous disaster….
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsS_W5jN-vU
(Apologies Tom for posting a song 🙂

Sylvie

My apologies to everyone. I was away for a week and came back only today. Will catch up and read your comments and reply to those who might have asked me something.

gantier99

Hi Sylvie glad you’re still around, I’m sure I’m not the only one here who really appreciated your blog but just hasn’t had the time to reply… yet!

A.

Thank you for this post, Sylvie, and for your courageous long-term activism. It’s good to see another woman around here.

James

There’s also Sophia in the comments below.
(Not sure if I count since I’m more genderqueer than female)

A.

Good to know!

Sophia, NOT Loren!

~waves~ I haven’t been able to do a whole lot of keeping up with comments here, but… yeah 🙂 There are more of us than the “standard narrative” would have you believe! Then again, most “standard narratives” are complete bullshit, so, there’s that, I suppose.

Linca

This song from Elton John’s “Billy Eliot” came to mind: Expressing Yourself http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywkyGND8TDA&sns=em
Linca

stephen6000

Maybe this is a good moment for me to put in a plug for FUMA (Forum for Understanding Minor Attraction), a discussion/activism blog for minor attracted people set up by myself and another activist. For more information, go to http://tomocarroll.wordpress.com/?s=stephen+james. This is a private blog, so If anyone here would like to join, please contact me at stephenjames465@yahoo.co.uk, giving some information about yourself and the reason for your interest.

stephen6000

Can I add this rider to my earlier posting: currently we have no women in our group and we are particularly keen to recruit some.

Sophia, NOT Loren!

Are you specifically seeking people in the UK, or would it be useful for those elsewhere to contact you as well?

stephen6000

No, you don’t have to be from the UK.

Sophia, NOT Loren!

Good to know. I’ll be in touch soon!

James

I’m pretty sure I sent an email to you before but didn’t receive a response. Maybe it got lost? Anyway, my address is jarrk9@gmail.com.

gantier99

James, my last reply to you at lifeofapedophile seems to be still awaiting moderation…. am I ok to use your email?

James

I didn’t know LoaP had moderation. The reply seems to have come through since I just checked.

James

Edit: No, the reply didn’t get through. However, your ‘test’ did. Sure, you can email me 🙂
Did you save a copy of the comment you submitted?

gantier99

Yes I did. Look out for an email.

holocaust21

Interesting the mention of the crackdown on Gruppo P. I’ve heard numerous stories about what were essentially political crackdowns on so-called “pro-paedophile” organisations. Have these crackdowns ever been more thoroughly documented anywhere?
It seems to me that the reason why “paedophilia” is so reviled is because governments threw all their political opposition into prison! Having a document demonstrating that the reason there are no organisations that support ‘paedophiles’ is because they all got imprisoned on politically motivated charges seems useful to the cause.

Dissident

Too many people believe that political prisoners are entirely non-existent in Western nations. That may only be due to the fact that they have no sympathy or desire to defend people who are essentially imprisoned for loudly proclaiming opinions that are sufficiently unpopular in the present time or place.

Sylvie

I’ll start by saying thank you to everyone who took the time to read this.
@Ethane
You said: “How should we view your story differently if you had been born ten years earlier and begun your activism at age 23?” – please clarify this so that l may provide with an answer. Is the focus on cultural climate (1990’s as opposed to 1980’s)? Or on my age, implying that hadn’t I become aware of this reality and the hysteria surrounding it in my formative years, I might have taken a different stance later? Or would my stance have been more legitimate had it started at 23 instead?
As for me being the living proof that if parents give their children total freedom it may work out fine, I believe the outcome has more to do with the individual child’s personality than the idea that giving total freedom is always good. Giving such freedom does not sound, at least to me personally, as a necessarily wise choice all the time. l clearly recall that some, if not several, among my peers did not have the intellectual or psychological resources to know what was best for them nor did they have a strong sense of identity as I had. I was given the freedom to travel on my own from an early age, to go wherever I wished to go in order to cultivate my interests and friendships, to meet whomever I wished to meet provided my parents knew their first and last names. The reasons why I wanted to meet these people was, to my parents, something between me and the people I met and had to remain so. Whether it was out of an unusual level of maturity or simply out of luck, l managed to never get into trouble nor into ambiguous situations. And my opinions were and continue to be taken for what they are: my own legitimate, however unusual, opinions.
Despite the fact that I see my parents as truly exceptional people, there is nothing exceptional in the way they reared me: from my point of view, they simply did as any parent should do, and that’s acknowledging their child’s natural inclinations and providing her with the right to make her own legitimate life experiences.
As for allowing adult-child sexual relationships being a good social policy or not: I am not terribly persuaded that – at this stage – abolishing age of consent laws could be the best possible policy. If that is to come, it has to come after a change in the current cultural climate and after other reforms are made. I believe though that consensual, non-coercive sexual relationships should be decriminalised without any further thought. I believe as well that courts can and should take the time to determine whether there is coercion or not. I consider children as capable of recognising a pleasing emotional or sexual experience and therefore capable of desiring sexual contact with adults. Any inappropriate sexual contact that is unwanted BY THE CHILD is, to me, appalling. I consider the child to be a reliable witness when it comes to determine whether the sexual encounter was desired or not and I expect the adult partner to show absolute care and responsibility and to hold back, should he or she perceive that the child is uncomfortable.
@Dissident
Thank you for your kind words. I agree that natural critical thinkers are often a marginalised group unto themselves. However I would say that strong independent thinking – even when voicing unpopular stances – is also often considered as a sign of unusual intelligence and – at least I, personally – am seen as a charming character. Which is fine by me as I take pride in my eccentricity 😉 I myself have admiration for critical thinkers, even when their stances are radically on the opposite side.
Let us not be discouraged. NEVER.
Are you?
@Stephen
Thank you for your kind words. One cannot rely on support only though as battles are not won by a single soldier rather by battalions.
We have the moral imperative, each one of us, to lead dignified lives. To me this implies a clear refusal to be silenced and an even stronger refusal to stay invisible.
@James
Nope. I do not advocate about changes in the voting age. I see far too many teens sporting “political” views out of ideology or, even worse, “fad”, lacking in serious critical thinking, political intelligence, and common sense. To me politics is a very serious matter and its ultimate aim must be the common good, and ideology, in its granitic dogmatism, often fails to even recognise what the common good is. To be honest, I would strip of the right to vote all those who haven’t read Plato’s “The Republic”!
And, nope, no autism for me, despite the loving relationship I entertain with my beloved books (critical editions only – thank you). Actually, I am your typical extrovert, life-of-the-party type. Being born a Gemini, how could I be different?
No irony! The legal age required for joining was 16. And me being younger, it was frustrating.
Oh Determinism. Yes. I’m a strong believer in it 🙂
@Jedjones
The Forster quote is not from ‘Howards End’ though, it’s from ‘A Room With a View’.
I truly appreciate your commitment, and the way you articulate it. Definitely, I call for the need to organise and campaign, especially in these difficult and often dark times. While I understand the disillusionment and discouragement of previous generations of activists who saw their expectations betrayed, I call for the need of younger generations to overcome fear, but most of all, overcome “sloth” (a sin, seems to me, that young people are prone to easily fall to nowadays). Passively accepting the current cultural narrative as it is can only make things worse and allowing more hysteria and irrationality-driven measures to be created.
THANK YOU for putting into words this ultimate truth: the radical case is the RATIONAL case. You are right: my arguments never related to my own wish, at the time, for sexual encounters with adults. To be honest, in my early teens I was too busy finding myself and completely absorbed by the political discourse to even actually ‘see’ boys, or men. That is to say that my arguments, either at the time or now, were/are based solely on rationality and evidence I could see. Just as the current hysteria over paedophilia is based on irrationality, myths, lack of familiarity, and propaganda. The “evidence” of any harm caused by sexual encounters between children and adults is certainly not a “scientific” one.
See link below.
http://youtu.be/AtqBlewo3DE
Yet why is research ostracised in most academic circles?
I can well relate to what you say about fiction and creative writing, and creative projects in general!

James

Huzzah! A fellow determinist! As far as I can tell, we’re a rare breed.
Do you believe in horoscopes or was that a joke?
WRT ideologies, are you aware that most political orientations are hereditary? In fact, one’s opinion on homosexuality is more strongly hereditary than homosexuality itself. The youthful ideological idiocy you see is usually a radicalized version of the views they were predisposed to have as adults. However, for every Stalinist teen, there is an Objectivist teen so the median voter would be mostly unaffected.
(BTW: would your hypothetical nation have a place for someone who read The Republic, thought the State described was terrible and would, if born in such a society, start a revolution in five minutes flat?)

ethane72

I tried to fix the social climate variable at the start of your activism by making you born 10 years earlier, but I guess it’s not clear that way either, since of course you would have been absorbing information differently based on your earlier experience.
First, I hope there is no doubt that your thoughts, opinions and conclusions are fully as valid as anyone else’s, and I hope neither I nor anyone else would dream of saying they were less valid than anyone’s because you first formulated them when you were young.
The question about how we should view your story differently is actually directed more at everyone else reading than you personally. The headline here, the news value, what makes your story special is that your views started so young. It sounds to me like you are saying that you do not think your youth had any impact on your views and you ask no extra credibility because that’s when you adopted them. Since you make no such claims, my speculations about overvaluing personal experience do not apply and should be ignored.
Glad to hear of your nuanced view on granting kids freedom. My experience from raising 3 children was that I could give them much independence, while fellow parents with very different children had to be more restrictive — it’s all about the individual child. (Unfortunately there are lots of far-from-ideal parents, but that’s a different topic.)
Your views on age of consent and sexual relationships are also nuanced. Our positions are close in theory, though in practice small differences can have big effects. I go so far as saying that as long as a minor insists that a sexual relationship with an adult was just fine with her (or him), the adult should not be prosecuted. I also am fiercely opposed to the current practice of bullying minors into saying they have been abused if that was not their initial experience. But still, that’s more forgiveness than permission, as I don’t think an adult can know ahead of time that a minor will end up seeing the relationship that way. The AoC’s main benefit is protecting minors from indisputable rape — adult women have to prove they didn’t consent, and minors should not have to do that.
As far as classifying whether people were interested in sexual activity when they were young, it sounds like you do not add yourself personally to that tally.

mr p

I suppose if you were born ten years earlier,and joined that organisation,regardless of how different your views may be,you would’ve been
jailed with the rest of them?

sugarboy

Hi Sylvie,
This is just to tell you that I know the person you are talking about … actually, after he fled Italy, he moved to a place 1 mile from me, and he still lives there! The problem is that I have not been in contact with him for several years (because of a dispute due to trivial reasons that are not p-related at all), but Tom is welcome to give you my mail address, and if you need more information, you are welcome to write to me (in Italian).
All the best,
Sugarboy
[TOC adds: Sugarboy, I have forwarded your email to Sylvie and slightly edited your post above.]

Dissident

Thank you for your reply, Sylvia! Rest assured, I agree with you regarding the importance of critical thinkers. A few points I would like to address here, though.
As an almost life-long youth liberationist, I do support granting voting rights to younger people because I believe that is an inalienable right that should not be restricted based on perceived levels of competency that are arbitrarily aimed at a specific group. Yes, it’s true that many adolescents have a stance based on ideology alone, but that is also the case with many adults – yet *they* are almost always given the benefit of the doubt simply *because* they have the civil rights to demand access to the voting booths. In fact, it’s well known that the great majority of people in the U.S. who voted in favor of the vicious Bush/Cheney administration were *older* people (and this despite their open attacks on Social Security!). Many of them proclaimed, when asked, that they had no real knowledge or interest in politics, and simply voted for Bush because he was the sitting president. And there are many adolescents and even younger people who are very well aware of politics, and younger voters have been shown to statistically vote for third party candidates espousing highly progressive reforms in considerably greater numbers than older people, who more often than not seem to be against any type of change, even if it’s needed. Moreover, people of any age can learn all the basics required to make responsible civic judgments.
As for ending the AoC laws, I fully agree that their full termination should not occur until a large degree of sweeping reforms are made. One of those changes, I will again say, must be awarding the right to suffrage to people under 18, otherwise their rights will never be assured, and they will always be dependent almost solely on people over 18 advocating on their behalf… which is a very mixed bag if you do not allow younger people to the table as well. In the meantime, I agree with you that all cases of intergenerational sexual contact should be legally and socially judged on a *case-by-case* basis, with investigations being mandatory if the younger person insists they were willing participants and did not consider themselves victims.
Finally, as for the idea that natural critical thinking requires an unusual form of intelligence: I would say it does indeed constitute a specific *type* of intelligence, and resembles the difference between raw intelligence and humble wisdom. I think anyone can learn critical thinking skills, but since the Western and Eastern education systems highly discourage independent thinking and instead impose notions of conformity and heavy respect for authority figures – and because this occurs during the important formative years of our lives – it becomes considerably more difficult to have so much as the inclination to develop critical thinking skills beyond the age of 18. In fact, I think our education system conditions people to be naturally resistant to developing their critical thinking skills beyond a certain point.

James

Thanks for the support on suffrage! I certainly agree that it’s unfair for adults to be given a greater benefit of the doubt that their views are rational. My only issue is that young people being more likely to vote for third parties isn’t necessarily a good thing. first-past-the-post systems naturally decay into two-party systems as surely as Uranium(236) decays into Thorium(232). The UK is part-way there with smaller parties gradually being strangled (though they’re a way off from extinction) but the US is already there. As it stands, unless there is deep structural reform, there will only ever be two parties with a chance at control. The best solution, of course, is to change the system. Too bad we’ve got institutional inertia…
“I think anyone can learn critical thinking skills, but since the Western and Eastern education systems highly discourage independent thinking […] it becomes considerably more difficult to have so much as the inclination to develop critical thinking skills beyond the age of 18.”
My views are a bit more bio-determinist but I’ll agree that the existing education systems certainly don’t help.

Dissident

Hi again, James, and you’re very welcome for my support of youth lib. Thank you for similar support and continued food for thought (very appetizing!).
For one thing, I’m all for radical structural change in the system itself. I’ve always supported economic democracy, which is Marxism as Marx and Engels actually formulated it with modern productive advances thrown into the mix. The third parties that younger people have most often stood behind were progressive and in favor of major structural change, even if not quite as radical as replacing the existing system; of course, you’re correct that a sufficient number have stood for parties and ideologies that would bring about negative change, but not in greater numbers than older people. The majority of older people, in contrast, tend to be “set in their ways,” and prefer what they are mostly *used to*, as opposed to significant change. And they’ve had many more years to get used to a certain way of doing things than younger people, which is an indictment of the common attitude that wisdom invariably accompanies greater age.
As for bio-determinism, it would be interesting to know if there is an inherent genetic tendency for certain abilities, or to what degree they can actually be learned. I think evidence suggests the majority of human behavior is learned, which is distinct from inherent ability, of course. I think critical thinking can mostly be learned, just like civic responsibility, but it’s heavily suppressed in what passes for our education system.

James

“I’ve always supported economic democracy, which is Marxism as Marx and Engels actually formulated it”
Have you read Das Kapital?
“The third parties that younger people have most often stood behind were progressive and in favor of major structural change”
If I’m not mistaken, the most popular third-party in the US among young people is the Libertarian Party. Although libertarianism can fall under some definitions of “progressive”, I doubt it’s what you’d have in mind. Your point about adult conservatism still stands.
“As for bio-determinism, it would be interesting to know if there is an inherent genetic tendency for certain abilities, or to what degree they can actually be learned.”
Just about all human traits vary according to both genes and environment. The amount of variation due to each depends on the trait. Most personality traits are around 50/50 hereditary and environmental, with exceptions leaning heavily on one or the other. IQ is between 45%-85% hereditary depending on which studies you read and I’d expect IQ and critical thinking to correlate.
Anyway, I find the genetic component of bio-determinism to be far less interesting than the environmental. Nutrition, parasite load, disease and pollution are the factors I’m more interested in. For example, giving iodized salt to people with iodine deficiencies can boost intelligence by an entire standard deviation! I’d like to see how these factors affect critical thinking too and whether we can produce more critical thinkers through dietary intervention 🙂

Dissident

Regarding the Libertarian Party: I consider them progressive when it comes to civil rights issues and foreign affairs such as those involving war – to the point where I agree they have a better and more courageous record on these things than the great majority of contemporary liberals – but quite conservative when it comes to economic matters with their gung-ho support for anything to do with the “free market”. I’m actually quite distressed that so many younger American people are today buying into support for unregulated capitalism in this manner. Many younger people in other countries vote for truly progressive third parties, however, and a lot of younger people in America currently support anarchist and Green policies. Thankfully, widespread youth support for laissez-faire capitalism is largely an American phenomenon, suggesting cultural factors behind it. Older adults, by contrast, continue to largely support either Democrats and Republicans, failing to even entertain the notion that both serve the same corporate interests.

James

(Borrowing a tablet from a friend)
Well, I was speaking specifically about the US because you’re American. In many other countries third parties have a serious chance of affecting policy.

Sophia, NOT Loren!

Thank you, Sylvie, for that inspirational letter, and thanks to Tom for sharing it! You remind me that I can do better — should do better — at being open and visible about my beliefs. It’s a useful thing to keep in mind as you say, that

A propaganda-fed mob might bay to see paedophiles hanging from a rope but individuals will listen.

Just like anything else, being “out of the closet,” being proud and unashamed and honest whenever and wherever possible, is what makes the difference between “those nice men down the street” and “that happy gay couple,” or between “that friendly gal you see around town” and “that polite. trustworthy child-loving woman” — and in any case, that difference is what helps end prejudice. I’m reminded of Harvey Milk’s plea for people to come out:

“…come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake.”

James

But deciding whether to be out must include some consideration of the consequences/dangers, right? As much as it might be good for raising awareness, I am not coming out as trans as long as I live where I do and I’m only very cautiously out as an atheist. Given that, what’s one to do?

Sophia, NOT Loren!

As I said, whenever and wherever possible — I’m all too well aware that it’s not possible to be out for a lot of people, in a lot of places. (Also, hey! ~waves~ from another trans* person!)
I think it’s also critical to keep in mind, when considering the consequences/dangers to heed the “only to the people you know” bit. I frequently want to shout to the world “I love little girls!” but that’s not a wise thing to do. I leave breadcrumbs and signs where I can, and I am fortunate to have a few closer friends and chosen family who know…

James

“(Also, hey! ~waves~ from another trans* person!)”
Thanks! I know – I read and enjoy your blog.
“I think it’s also critical to keep in mind, when considering the consequences/dangers to heed the “only to the people you know” bit.”
I’ve already told one person but I can’t think of anyone else it would be ok to speak to. I’ll get around to telling my parents once I’m living thousands of km away and not right where they could nag me about how it’s so obvious that I’m really a boy, etc.
You’re a non-exclusive pedophile, right? (Given the contents of your blog, I’d say it’s pretty unlikely you’re exclusive :P)

Sophia, NOT Loren!

Yeah, you got it. AoA is a pretty wide range for me 🙂 And I’m flattered to hear I’ve got a “fan!” Honestly, I write for myself, and it’s a side bonus if anyone else gets something from it — I figure, much like coming out, actually, that if anyone can see that they’re not alone, that somebody else can read my story and see themselves, then it’s worth it.

James

Well, I’m not sure if I could say I ‘see myself’ since we seem to be quite different, but your life is interesting and I enjoy your writing 🙂
How wide is the range of your AoA?

Sophia, NOT Loren!

Toddlers to geriatrics, basically. Sophia Loren still turns my insides to mush, and I have a friend who recently turned 70 whose bed I’ve shared; I’ve seen girls at 2 or 3 who move me in the same way. Plenty of others everywhere in between, too! “Again” from my blog is about a decade my junior, for example, and I have another long-distance (maybe mutual?) crush who is almost 20 years older than me.

James

Wow. That’s some exceptional breadth you’ve got there.
If your blog is specifically for you, how come you haven’t mentioned this attraction before?

Sophia, NOT Loren!

Because it’s a/ something I’m only more recently coming to terms with, even if I’ve been aware of it in some fashion for much of my life and b/ it’s more public of an admission or “coming out” than I’ve felt safe making. Also because c/ I haven’t been doing nearly as much writing about many topics that I’d love to be writing about, because writing takes more energy and focus than I’ve had available in the less-than-fantastic temporary living situations I’ve been stuck in 🙂
I do make what mentions I can, and as I mentioned earlier the “breadcrumbs” are out there (like links to Heretic TOC and other similar sites in my blogroll, poetry posts about the difficulty of being unable to love openly, frustrated blog entries about keeping secrets…) I haven’t been as explicit as I should, and that was part of my thanks to Sylvie in my first comment, reminding me that I can and should do better!

James

I see. OK 🙂
Sorry about your living situation 🙁
Wish I could help but I live in a completely different country.

Linca

Yes to Harvey Milk. Come out for the sake of all mankind.
I heard my mom say to one of her friends not to many years ago “We couldn’t keep Linca away from that man.” She was talking about the nice man across the street when I was a kid.
Harvey Milk – Yes to Harvey Milk he to liked the young ones.
Linca

James

The title reminds me of a maxim we Preference Utilitarians (in contrast to Hedonic Utilitarians) have: “Not for the sake of sake of pleasure alone, but for every human value.” Of course, the EM Forster quote is great too.
“openly an advocate of decriminalising consensual sexual relationships between adults and children since the age of 13”
Wow. Cool. I wasn’t very interested in this issue until a year ago (15) but I’ve been arguing with all and sundry that the voting age is bull since I was six. What does she think about voting age restrictions?
“Her liberal parents, she tells me, were the kind of people who would keep a close eye on their child without interfering.”
Sounds like mine. They believe that invading my privacy would be morally dubious, which is a thought that never occurs to most parents I’ve encountered. I also once argued with them that criminalising possession of CP was stupid. The argument got loud, we graphed utility on napkins, it was messy. However, in the end, they accepted my difference of opinion.
“my books were my best friends and literature has taught me more on the human condition than one could ever hope to learn in a lifetime without it”
YES! THIS! I can’t agree enough. All these autism feels – I could shed a tear! (Don’t know If you’re autistic, though. Are you?)
“Unfortunately l was too young to formally join”
What’s that smell? Hmmm. I’m pretty sure it’s Irony. *Sniff* Yep, irony.
“My beliefs sprang from within”
Have you ever heard of a philosophy called Determinism? (Just kidding)
Are you active on the site? Will you be participating in this thread? I’d love to speak to you. I see Ethan’s already jumped in and I expect the interaction between you two would be a sight to behold.

jedjones1

Hello Sylvie, you are most welcome! I hope you check in and read the comments, and that your contribution will grow collective legs, and we can go forward from here by organising and campaigning again, and striking a blow for sanity against the hysteria.
So we have something else in common: E.M. Forster’s Howards End has massively influenced my thinking and writing since I first read the novel at the age of 16.
Discovering you is one heck of a morale boost; it’s just a shame we have been fighting much the same fight all these years in parallel and never knew of each other’s existence.
So it’s hardly surprising that we find ourselves in a collective strategic quagmire, needing to secure first base before we can figure out how to get off it.
Why am I still getting a hard time even trying to contact like-minded people who are also writing fiction or otherwise engaged on the creative front? How are we ever going to collaborate to produce that ground-breaking play or movie or documentary film to raise awareness and change hearts and minds at this rate?
Why can’t anyone buy this documentary film four years after it was showcased at the Gdansk Film Festival? http://kino.net/PressKit_PASSION_DESPAIR.pdf
Anyone who can get an answer to this question from producer Steff Gruber (who must have invested a fortune of his own money in the project) or his staff, is a better man or woman than me. Good luck!
A former child web model who co-stars in the film, Valentina Gladkova, is one of my friends on facebook. When I messaged her, asking if she had any idea why no one could buy and watch the film, she replied that she would like to know the answer to that question, too, as she herself was still waiting for the chance to see it!
I also salute anyone who can get past the gatekeeper at http://inquisition21.com
to contact and support the victims of police corruption in the Operation Ore case – the greatest police scandal in the UK since Hillsborough. “The forum owner has disabled registration to this forum.” I e-mailed their solicitor, Chris Saltrese, asking what (if anything) people who sympathised with the plight of his clients could do to support them. He never replied.
I e-mailed solicitor Phil Smith and telephoned his office on behalf of Jeremy Forrest’s supporters for the same reason, with the same result.
With friends like these, who needs enemies?

ethane72

An impressive post. You sound like an impressive woman — who was also impressive at age 13. I agree with a lot of your positions (though as others here know, not all). But there are some elements to separate here. How should we view your story differently if you had been born ten years earlier and begun your activism at age 23?
You are living proof that if parents give their children total freedom, it can work out fine. You are living proof that a 13-year-old can think the concept of sex between adults and kids is fine. Aside from noting some youthful idealism fading appropriately regarding tactics, your views seem not to have changed, implying that youth have the information to reach correct positions on matters of social policy, and by implication other matters as well. You don’t say whether you yourself were interested or would have been interested personally in a sexual relationship with the right man (or woman) — admittedly a personal matter. You don’t say whether the legal limits on your rights to have relationships with adults felt like a burden to YOU, either practical or theoretical.
But none of these things have any direct bearing on one key issue here, which is whether allowing adult-child sexual relationships is good social policy or not. Your own experience (N=1) can be weighted too heavily in terms of what is good general policy. Those questions should be resolved on their own merits by looking at classes of people.
An imperfect analogy could be the poor person who becomes successful or even rich, and thereafter preaches that anyone else can achieve the same with hard work, so no social safety net is needed.

James

Firstly, at this point you have to admit it’s at least N=2 🙂
Secondly, I don’t think she ever indicated that she was making the judgement about what is/isn’t good social policy based on her own experiences. It seems rather uncharitable to propose that this was her basis when she never even mentioned how the AoC related to her. As someone who has to continuously do battle with the Typical Mind Fallacy just to interact with neurotypicals, I’m quite put out that you’d be willing to level that accusation in the absence of evidence.

jedjones1

Ethane, surely what’s best for the child should dictate how the criminal justice system deals with each individual case, if it needs to intervene at all? What do you mean by a child? If 10 is too young for a child to consent to sex, why is it the age of criminal responsibility for sexual and other crimes against other people? Social policy – and the enforcement priorities of police and social services – are not determined by any rational process, they’re driven by tabloid hysteria.
We don’t start from a position where the status quo reflects either the will or interests of children and young adults who don’t have the vote. Lawmakers and policymakers don’t listen to them, they listen to their paranoid Daily Mail reading parents.
We don’t have good social policy, we have age apartheid: ghettos for old people and ghettos for the young from whom the mass of adults are driven away, leaving the young more vulnerable to the real villains. In classic Orwellian style, kindness and compassion have been re-branded as grooming for sex.
My understanding of Sylvie’s post is that her position is different from your Norman Tebbit “I never needed benefits, I only needed my bike to get a job” analogy. It would be the same, if she was saying, “I’m all right, Jack, therefore so should you be.” But she isn’t. The clue lies in your own question about the absence of any reference to her own sexual relationships: the answer is, her arguments don’t rely on those.
The radical case is the rational case. Compare factors – such as teen pregnancies, rates of sexual activity, number of different sexual partners, rates of unprotected sex, and sex crimes against children – per capita of combined populations who live under jurisdictions where the age of consent is, respectively, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18, and see what results you get.
(Of course, there will always be extraneous and confounding variables in play, but to some extent, different countries with the same age of consent will control for independent cultural variables within individual countries.)
A rational social contract between the State and young citizens would be one in which their rights and responsibilities were commensurate, and their legal capacities consistent. How can you be old enough to reassign your gender, terminate a pregnancy, and switch off a life support machine, and not old enough to consent to sex?

Dissident

I read the linked post of yours, Tom, and it was exemplary as always! I do have a concern or two regarding the “responsibilities need not accompany rights” argument, which counters the usual argument. Here is why I think this can be a sticky subject to consider.
As James noted, I agree that responsibilities should ideally be commensurate with one’s proven abilities. As such, there are certain rights that do need to be accompanied by a set of responsibilities, otherwise many forms of injustice can arise from individuals who enjoy such a sweetheart deal. Here is an example I’ve heard argued by a fellow youth liberationist whom I believe allowed his emotions get in the way of his judgement, and takes the equivalent of a PC stance as a result:
He has argued that he fully agrees that young adolescents should have the right to sign contracts… however, he believes they shouldn’t be required to comply with the agreed upon conditions because it’s “cruel” to expect that of them. In other words, we should recognize their competence while simultaneously giving them license to breach a contract signed in good faith in deference to the permanent “vulnerability” they have as a result of being oppressed minorities in the hypothetical past. Another friend of mine expressed a similar concern to me: He worried about a youth liberated future in which a 13-year-old loses his temper and smashes the window of someone’s car whom he disliked, only to shout “I’m only a child!” when the police arrest him.
A real life example regards a perpetual cycle I have seen in which courts, juries, and commentators repeatedly insist that women do not serve comparable sentences to men who commit similar atrocious acts. A good example is how Karla Homolka only got 7 years as opposed to her serial killer and rapist husband Paul Bernado (justifiably) receiving life with no possibility of parole… despite directly helping him kidnap his victims and abuse them on camcorder, and even went so far as to drug her own kid sister for him and then help him cover it up when she died as a result of the drugging. The judge gave her this lenient sentence despite the jury refusing to buy her attorney’s claim that she was a dupe of her husband and helped him commit his horrific deeds out of fear for her own life; the jury refused to accept the defense’s claims due to what they described as her enthusiastic participation in the assaults her husband recorded on tape.
Another real life example is a Change.org campaign I am involved in to deny the parole of a woman for “good behavior” after serving six years of a 35-year-to-life sentence for directly helping three male accomplices in kidnapping a Kentucky couple and brutally sexually assaulting, torturing, and murdering them in extremely disturbing ways… and then three days later writing in her journal about what a “wild time” she was having since arriving in Kentucky. None of her three male accomplices (thankfully) were suggested for parole, and she is believed as guilty as two of them for direct involvement, with the other male receiving a ten year sentence for aiding and abetting. When I signed the petition on behalf of the couple’s families, not a *single* one of my many progressive friends and allies in real life gave me any support when I ran the petition on my Reddit account (they simply stayed silent), and I find this very unsettling.
Those above examples I think fully illustrate my concerns here regarding the temptation to grant license in regards to rights vs. responsibilities based on *emotional* issues. That said, I fully agree that the rights of very young children can be looked after by older advocates without expecting those children to have corresponding responsibilities. It’s the above examples that I’m concerned about if the policy is taken to “PC” extremes.

James

“He has argued that he fully agrees that young adolescents should have the right to sign contracts… however, he believes they shouldn’t be required to comply with the agreed upon conditions”
I actually laughed out loud. This is so ridiculous – who in their right mind would sign an unenforceable contract. It’s equivalent to not giving youth any right to sign contracts at all, since no one else would agree. Also: if you smash a window, pay the fine. I wouldn’t say these responsibilities are dependent on rights – they’re just rational guidelines for a functional society.
The ‘justice’ system is broken in a wide variety of ways. However, I don’t believe the things you mentioned were due to a disjunction between rights and responsibilities.

Dissident

Alas, when people make decisions based mostly on emotion, they tend to completely throw logic aside. As such, their suggestions based on this won’t make any sense whatsoever when held up to rational scrutiny.

James

“We don’t start from a position where the status quo reflects either the will or interests of children and young adults who don’t have the vote.”
Are you in favour of extending franchise?
“Of course, there will always be extraneous and confounding variables in play, but to some extent, different countries with the same age of consent will control for independent cultural variables within individual countries.”
Not necessarily. It’s possible that there will be additional factors which help determine the AoC in a given country (eg: religion) and these outcomes – the textbook case of a confounding variable. A better test might be to see if there are immediate changes in any of these outcomes after the AoC in a country was changed or to look at variations in the sub-national divisions of a federation (eg: The United States).
“A rational social contract between the State and young citizens would be one in which their rights and responsibilities were commensurate”
As a Utilitarian, Social Contract phrasings leave a bad taste in my mouth. See Tom’s quote and link.
“old enough to reassign your gender”
Firstly, terminology quibble: ‘reassign your sex‘.
Secondly, what country are you thinking of? I’ve investigated this issue quite a bit (for reasons) and I’ve never heard of a country where you could legally have Sex Reassignment Surgery before 16. Additionally, most countries require detailed medical and psychological examinations before you can even get your hands on hormones.

jedjones1

Yes, James, of course it’s sex and not gender, but that’s everyday language for you.
Not sure what you mean by ‘utilitarian’ – not, I presume, in the sense of the Stalinist/Maoist principle that the sacrifice of one or millions of human lives can be justified in the name of the greater good (the antithesis of individual human rights)?
Of course, individual rights and duties are not and should not be CONDITIONAL upon each other. Rights need to be unconditional precisely to protect individuals from the State or anyone else playing God. That is a long-established legal principle.
But that’s different from good social policy depending on people having commensurate rights AND responsibilities. e.g. A person who suffers from extreme paranoid schizophrenia has the same right to life as everyone else, but diminished responsibility if he kills someone. That’s a sound legal principle, but good social policy would keep that person in secure conditions to protect the rights of others.
It would also be good social policy, and logical, if children’s sexual rights (of protection and self-determination) reflected their sexual responsibilities AND levels of competence typical for their age, and the onus lay on the State or others to prove the case for specific individuals to become exempt from any of those rights or duties.
Because I would like to make progress from where we are now before I’m dead, I make no apology for advocating a BETTER social contract than the status quo. I cannot envision a stateless utopia except in a fictional fantasy world.
Rather than campaign for abolition of the age of consent, which is not going to happen in any of our lifetimes, anyway (even if it’s desirable, and I, for one, remain to be convinced), let’s campaign against 14-year-old boys carrying adult criminal responsibility for rape two years before the law allows them to consent to sex.
Let’s campaign against a 10-year-old boy being condemned for life as a ‘child sex offender’ under the CRB system, for playing doctors and nurses with a 9-year-old girl.
Let’s campaign against Jeremy Forrest getting a longer prison sentence than the bastard whose fake bomb-detecting scam killed thousands of people including children. And his wife got a community sentence for knowingly living off the immoral earnings of death.
If this is how highly our legal system values the lives of Iraqi children, it won’t do much to dissuade teens from swanning off to Syria and signing up with IS.
Teens generally are not scholars of the law and philosophy but they know a blatant, indefensible double standard when they spot one from a thousand paces.

James

“Not sure what you mean by ‘utilitarian’ – not, I presume, in the sense of the Stalinist/Maoist principle that the sacrifice of one or millions of human lives can be justified in the name of the greater good”
Umm, define “greater good”. If the only way to save 10 lives is for 1 person to die, it’s only sensible to save those lives. However, if you mean: “let’s starve the Kulaks to bringing about an extremely improbable utopia”, that’s just a variant of Pascal’s Mugging, which most Utilitarians reject.
“But that’s different from good social policy depending on people having commensurate rights AND responsibilities.”
I get that people should have both but you seem to be indicating that they’re independent of each other. In that case, what’s the relationship? Your first post sort of implied that one was a function of the other.
I’m totally in favour of ratcheting improvements toward an optimal society.

James

This comment appears to have gotten lost.

Dissident

The thing is, sacrificing the few for the stated benefit of the greater good has often been used by a tyrannical majority to justify/rationalize the oppression of a minority whose needs threaten the majority control. I think the societal position MAPs currently find themselves in is a textbook case in point: The same-age attracted majority often tries to justify their oppression and constant legal attacks on us by claiming that our best interests are inherently opposed to the best interests of children, so that oppression and suppression of us is rationalized as anywhere between an unfortunate necessity to an absolute noble and heroic endeavor. I think an optimal society should endeavor to resolve such conflicts to the mutual benefit of both sides in a perceived conflict of this sort.
I also believe there can be times when looking out for the best interests of a minority, or even of a single individual, over that of a majority can arguably serve the greater good if the minority or lone individual in question happens to be in the right.

James

“sacrificing the few for the stated benefit of the greater good has often been used by a tyrannical majority to justify/rationalize the oppression of a minority whose needs threaten the majority control.”
Whether you appeal to Consequentialism to justify yourself has no bearing on whether your actions were good by Consequentialist standards. This is, yet again, Pascal’s Mugging. In the vast majority of cases interfering with a minority does not generate a net increase in utility – that’s just an excuse. Thus, since we cannot trust ourselves to choose these occasions selectively, we enshrine liberalism as an unbreakable heuristic. Thus, no Rule Utilitarian may identify as such while calling for heavy-handed repression in service of the Greater Good.

James

“looking out for the best interests of a minority, or even of a single individual, over that of a majority can arguably serve the greater good if the minority or lone individual in question happens to be in the right.”
Depends on what you mean by over. A sufficiently large harm to one person obviously outweighs a sufficiently small harm to five people. This does not, of course, mean you should kill five people to save one.
It also depend on what you mean by right. If you mean concern with punishment, protection and justice under the rule of law, I strongly endorse this as the best (Precedent) Utilitarian solution currently existing because of Game Theory. (Which you really should look into. It’s fascinating stuff.) Of course, since you’re an Anarchist, I suspect you’re referring to something other than the rule of law.

Dissident

Thank you for your thoughtful responses, James. For the record, however, even though I have sympathies with anarchism, I more identify as a Marxist than an anarchist.

James

My apologies. ‘Marxist’ it is! 🙂

Dissident

Hi, Jedjones, and thank you for your participation. Just a few quick responses:
I don’t believe a stateless society would be a “utopia,” but very possible as a *better* – albeit not “perfect” – world. Responsibility and authority can be evenly disbursed among everyone, and the lack of belief that we can achieve a better society of this nature is the main impediment of us accomplishing it. Most fiction I’m aware of, in fact, actually insists that the system we live under today will remain more or less intact indefinitely into the future, or can do nothing other than become progressively more extreme and despotic until the human race puts itself out of its misery (check out the type of futures depicted in films like the “Alien” franchise; the “Riddick” franchise; “Blade Runner”; “Heavy Metal”; “Jason X”; and “The Fifth Element” for just a few memorable examples!).
I’m against the AoC laws out of principle, but I’ve described elsewhere how to ameliorate the situation under current conditions: Advocate a system of determining each instance in a case-by-case basis, and require good evidence before deciding that coercion or “exploitation” occurred if the younger person insists they were not victimized; never indict solely on the dreaded “erring on the side of caution” basis if no evidence exists. And for the moment, utilize the Dumas-Epstein Test of Adulthood to enable individual younger people to prove their competence and thus achieve emancipation, as described by Robert Epstein in his ground-breaking book TEEN 2.0 (a 2010 update of his popular 2007 book THE CASE AGAINST ADOLESCENCE).

James

“I don’t believe a stateless society would be a “utopia,” but very possible as a *better* – albeit not “perfect” – world.”
Have you read much Game Theory? If so: I’d like to know how you plan to solve coordination problems (prisoner’s dilemmas, stag hunts, dollar auctions, etc.)? (Disclaimer: this is not snark. I’d honestly like to know. I’m aware most of my writing sounds unusually snarky but this is purely accidental.)

Dissident

I didn’t consider you snarky. That word sounds more like a character Charles Dodgson would come up with any a type of attitude anyway! 😛
*Have you read much Game Theory? If so: I’d like to know how you plan to solve coordination problems (prisoner’s dilemmas, stag hunts, dollar auctions, etc.)?*
No prisoner dilemmas, since prison as we know it would not exist there, as there would be no material incentive to commit crimes if no one lives in want, and everyone has a right to work at a vocation that is commensurate with their interests and talents. Dollar auctions wouldn’t exist in a moneyless society. Stag hunts? Assuming we were still hunting animals for food and sport in such a society, I imagine we would continue to hunt them much as we do today.

James

I’ll take that as an indication that you haven’t read much Game Theory. Those are all broad categories of problems that have been given weird names because intelligibility is kryptonite to Game Theorists. There are no literal prisons or stags involved. I’d explain more but I have to return the tablet now.

jedjones1

Sorry, I forgot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S5usRgY720
Extend the franchise, yes. 16 would be a step in the right direction. Old enough to become a parent and sign on the dotted line to fight and die for your country, but you can’t vote for or against the government that sends you to war?

Dissident

In order for a social safety net to be worth its weight in proverbial salt, it needs to consider the matter of *choice.* If people are deprived of choice and opportunities, then a “safety net” becomes more akin to the type of net that a fisherman uses to contain a group of tuna; in our case, a net of imposition based on the ideology of those in power. To expand on your analogy: Forcing younger people to never act on a certain choice, rather than educating them and providing support networks to make the most intelligent choices for themselves as individuals, is like demanding that the hypothetical poor people must fend for themselves without welfare programs, simultaneously insist that public funds *not* be incorporated into creating public sector jobs with living wages for everyone who may want them, and then declare these poor people to be inherently “lazy” for not being able to find jobs, or those that pay enough to rise completely out of the dole. It’s a form of dirty pool that is actually aimed at keeping poor people in their place so that the people who actually have power – the wealthy few – keep control and maintain the status quo to their advantage.
Now, transfer that analogy from the wealthy 1% and their bureaucratic servants to the general degree of gerontocentric control over the system’s political apparatus, and to people under 18 in place of the poor people, and it becomes quite clear that your description of a “safety net” only serves as such if it operates in harmony with democratic precepts, something it cannot do if it denies freedom of choice entirely based on arbitrary reasons.
Moreover, I would wager that your analogy is highly loaded and unfair, as I hardly think that the number of younger people who would have positive outcomes in response to mutually chosen romantic contacts with older people would be as rare as the number of poor people who become members of the 1% simply by working hard and saving their meager wages. It’s like comparing the likelihood of all people involved in an interracial relationship to have positive outcomes with the number of people who are likely to survive if leaping off of a 5-story building.

James

“In order for a social safety net to be worth its weight in proverbial salt, it needs to consider the matter of *choice.*”
Are you acquainted with the concepts of Basic Income and Negative Income Tax? These are, admittedly, Capitalist-reformist measures but they appear to be relevant to the discussion at hand.

Dissident

Yes, though I admittedly didn’t imagine they were relevant to the specific analogy I was discussing 😛

James

Well, in the analogy, no. I guess I let the metaphor run away with me!

Dissident

Thank you for speaking out for MAPs as long as you have, Sylvie, and for this guest blog… it means more than you can possibly imagine. It also puts paid to the common claims amongst the anti-choice crowd that no one under 18 would ever disagree with the laws and attitudes as they currently are. I too had the natural gift of being an independent thinker from an early age, and I know from much sad experience that natural critical thinkers are often a marginalized group unto themselves.

James

“It also puts paid to the common claims amongst the anti-choice crowd that no one under 18 would ever disagree with the laws and attitudes as they currently are.”
*Vigorously waves hands*
“I too had the natural gift of being an independent thinker from an early age”
Were you pro-pedo before you found out you were one?

Dissident

I’m ashamed to admit, James: No, I was not pro-MAP during my adolescence. I was pro-youth rights, but until I realized I was a hebephile (which does not occur in adolescence, but typically at some point in your 20s) and actually met my share of gerontophiles of legal age afterwards, I foolishly believed that no younger person would ever actually want to be romantically intimate with an older person… this despite the fact that as a child I had my share of crushes and even intense sexual fantasies about certain adult actresses (I had some very “impure” fantasies about actresses Jacqueline Smith from “Charlie’s Angels” and Priscilla Barnes from the last three seasons of “Three’s Company”). So, I was essentially of the same belief as many non-MAPs and non-gerontophiles of the youth-friendly anarchist political camp of today: They basically oppose AoC laws as now written out of principle to their youth liberationist ideology, but still hate MAPs because they believe the media-inspired beliefs that we are selfish individuals who lack a conscience or anything remotely connected to good intentions. Read: Personal bias and indoctrination can taint whatever lofty principles we may think we hold; and can discourage us from looking outside of our own perspective, and to believe the worst of individuals who hold disparate perspectives.
Sadly, I had similar views towards homosexuality due to the popularity of homophobia during my childhood and how often bullied young boys like myself were called “faggots” and “fairies” by the peers who bullied us. Once I realized I was a hebephile by my mid-20s, I did *a lot* of re-thinking about many things, and I realized how many apologies I owed to the LGBT community… only to later realize that many of them owe the MAP community an apology for similar reasons. Even people with naturally critical thinking skills can be subject to indoctrination about various things that impact – or *do not* impact them – in certain ways, which is why *everyone* needs to be mindful when it comes to matters of tolerance. I am reminded of this whenever I meet members of our own community who are biased against those who prefer girls over boys, or vice versa.

James

Do mainstream Anarchists ever mention the AoC? The only anarchist I’ve come across who mentioned it (while poo-pooing the idea that 12 year olds can’t consent) is Benjamin Tucker (1854-1939) of the Liberty newspaper.
“I am reminded of this whenever I meet members of our own community who are biased against those who prefer girls over boys, or vice versa.”
That’s a thing? Seriously? Of all the things to argue about…
And I thought the radical left had a hard time getting along…

Dissident

I’ve seen several anarchists mention it when the subject is broached, and others advocate for youth rights on a regular basis. But the great majority of them do not like MAPs for all the stereotypical reasons that everyone in society has been indoctrinated with over the past 35 years.
And yes, that is most certainly “a thing” within the MAP community, unfortunately, but not nearly as bad as it used to be. The thing is, BLer’s were politically isolated from GLer’s for a long time, not really becoming acquainted with them on a large scale until the early years of the previous decade. Moreover, advocacy for, and academic interest in, man/boy love was very dominant over that of man/girl love (let alone woman/girl love, etc.) in the MAP scene for all of that time, and studies and discussion of man/girl love (let alone woman/girl love, etc.) remains somewhat marginalized in comparison to this day (a situation that is gradually changing as more GLer’s become politically active).
As a result, many BLer’s developed the idea that man/boy love was of greater moral legitimacy than man/girl love, with some even arguing that the two have no political parallel with each other, much as vanilla homosexuals have argued regarding MAPs and themselves; others simply didn’t think about it much at all, since it was rarely discussed among them.
Worse, many used the preliminary data of the Rind Report’s meta-analysis that girls reacted much more negatively to intergenerational contact than boys to justify this attitude, without bothering to read the *entire* meta-analysis: pages 30-32 describe how upon re-checking the data to see how much the element of consent mattered regarding the outcomes, the new data revealed that incidents involving coercive incestuous abuse was conflated with the consensual non-relative encounters with girls to a considerably greater extent than the boys; this simply displayed that girls were victims of unwanted incestuous advances and abuse by stepparents much more often than boys, and didn’t account for outcomes with intergenerational relations *in general*.
Once the matter of consensual encounters were sifted through, the responses between boys and girls became much more homogenous. But this later data in the meta-analysis is still too often overlooked and easily ignored, partly because it interferes with this or that agenda, and partly because only the abstract of the preliminary data is currently available for free.
And of course, as noted, some GLer’s have shown a similar bias against BLer’s due to bad social experiences with them, or due to typical homophobia, etc. And there have been many female GLer’s I’ve met who have eschewed contact with their male counterparts, insisting that woman/girl love is morally valid whereas man/girl love is not, due to societal attitudes that male sexuality is inherently predatory while female sexuality is inherently nurturing, etc.
Sadly, *no* group of people are inherently immune to the psychological tendency of “Othering” a different group if the societal circumstances, refusal to look beyond one’s personal sensibilities & perspective, and motivations related to political expediency are present.

James

I’m aware of how othering works but I never expected it to divide along these lines. I’d have thought different issues would be more central to in-group/out-group formation. Well, I expected maybe a little, but not an argument!
Did PIE include both BLs and GLs?

James

OK.
Note: You may not be hearing from me for a while. My brother just (a few minutes ago) damaged our family’s computer so we’ve both been banned from using it (if the logic of that makes sense to you, you’re doing better than me). Not sure when next I’ll be online. Bye!

James

We managed to find someone to fix it so now it’s available for both of us to use again. This was actually resolved much more quickly than I dared to hope for 🙂

jedjones1

“….woman/girl love is morally valid whereas man/girl love is not, due to societal attitudes that male sexuality is inherently predatory while female sexuality is inherently nurturing, etc.”
You have nailed the dominant narrative in a nutshell. It’s called ‘radical feminism’ and is neither radical nor feminist. This biological determinism allows no possibility of change and its logical solution is genocide.
Here we go again in the UK – another hysterical witch hunt. The poor police are overwhelmed by 50,000 ‘paedophiles’ – so defined because they possess ‘images of child abuse’ which even the police characterise as ‘relatively low-level’ offences – whom the police lack the resources to ‘bring to justice’, so they have been forced to ‘prioritise the hunt for the most dangerous ones’ according to their browsing habits.
‘Low-level images of child abuse’ = pictures which thousands of former child web models and their parents take pride in, openly assert there was no abuse or exploitation, and express no wish for anyone to be punished on their account.
http://kino.net/PressKit_PASSION_DESPAIR.pdf
‘Bring to justice’ = name and shame people who looked at the pictures as paedophile monsters and drive them to suicide, tear their families apart, and scar their children for life in the name of child protection.
Of course, the mainstream media permits no one to challenge either the premise that looking at pictures a monster makes, or the premise that an ‘indecent’ image of a child must involve sexual abuse and exploitation.
The narrative is shifting beyond the othering of paedophiles: such vast numbers of evil, predatory teachers, doctors, police officers, magistrates and politicians plays into the demonization of men and male sexuality: the feminazi agenda.

James

“This biological determinism allows no possibility of change and its logical solution is genocide.”
Please don’t dump this on bio-determinism. I doubt any of us actual Determinists buy the shit RadFem’s peddling.
“The poor police are overwhelmed by 50,000 ‘paedophiles’”
I really don’t get why the law targets peadophiles in general. I mean, I can sort of see the justification for going after “child molesters” but attacking people on the basis of attraction is just such a stupid idea.
“The narrative is shifting beyond the othering of paedophiles”
I think the main force behind the continuous decent into madness is the crazy spiral of hatred. Everyone can gain status by attacking “child abuse” while defending against a stupid or spurious attack causes an immediate loss of status. Thus, given these incentives, the narrative shifts further and further into la la land.

jedjones1

I did say THIS biological determinism which characterises all men as evil monsters – the cry of the biggest apes in the la-la jungle. “Kill the beast!” However, when power grows it eventually becomes visible and visibility betrays the real monster, diminishing its power. e.g. Sheffield United fans are discovering for themselves the difference between the truth about Ched Evans and the swivel-eyed-feminist-driven deceit in the mainstream media. http://chedevans.com/
For my part, I agree wholeheartedly with the narrative of his web site: it’s precisely because rape is such a heinous crime and rapists must be brought to justice that the credibility of real victims should not be undermined by those who falsely allege rape.
Equally, it’s precisely because real sexual harms against children – as distinct from what is falsely represented as such – are so appalling that it matters to tell the difference between the real villains and everybody else. (Indeed, that’s how I would summarise this blog and where Tom is coming from.)
This is the only answer to your “status conundrum” – the only way to change hearts and minds without outing yourself in the eyes of your peers as a MCP dinosaur or a paedophile monster.

jedjones1

To quote EM Forster again, “Only connect” the spirals of hate: “All men are wife beaters, child molesters, rapists”. That’s where I see Ched Evans fitting into this. Who knows, the swivel-eyed lunacy might just be about to backfire this time because the feminazis have overplayed their hand. Paedophiles, and anyone falsely identified as one, are soft targets. So was Ched whilst in jail. I expect they thought they could isolate him and his club and fans would disown him. Demonizing thousands of Blades as macho morons is a tougher proposition, especially the women who know when they’re being taken for idiots by other women who claim to speak for them but whose claims contradict their own experience.
The usual suspects are applying their usual methods to bully the BBC again, by setting the parameters of what counts as taboo and heresy and politically incorrect – such as, suggesting women, in significant numbers and without any pressure or any excusable reason, falsely allege rape.

James

“This is the only answer to your “status conundrum” – the only way to change hearts and minds without outing yourself in the eyes of your peers as a MCP dinosaur or a paedophile monster.”
This, of course, assumes we can convince people that sexual contact =/= harm. This alone is quite a herculean task. Tom does a good job (worked on me at least) but he’s been going at it for decades while the ‘dominant narrative’ continues to become progressively more insane.

mr p

about ched the girl went to the police cos she lost something and couldn’t remember the night before,so police concluded rape,ched continues to state she was conscious throughout the intercourse,the police suspected a drink was spiked,maybe the friend she slept with first could have done that,or maybe she just had one two many! how can he apologize if he wants a retrial?
also the fact that people don’t want him back into the club is a moral one,morality itself is subjective,a psychologist said he is in denial,cos rape is such a hard thing to admit to yourself,but as michael portillo pointed out how can she be so certain of his guilt!?

Linca

Thank you for posting this Tom: Wow!.

stephen6000

I can only congratulate you, Sylvie, for your courageous and independent-minded stance, especially in view of the fact that it started so early in life, relatively speaking. If we had more supporters like you, our task would be much closer to being achieved.

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