Building back better at Heretic TOC

Where was I when I was so rudely interrupted? Let’s think. It was back in June, I know that. Perhaps better questions would be How was Heretic TOC interrupted? and What has happened since?

In a year so dominated by Covid-19 news, I could do worse than start by assuring former readers of Heretic TOC at WordPress.com that the sudden, unannounced, disappearance of the site two months ago owes nothing to the pandemic. Mercifully, despite being of an age that puts me in the “vulnerable” category, I have not yet been swept away into the mortality statistics nor even suffered so much as a slight cough.

No, the cause was less terminal than my death or indisposition, but you could say a horrible ancient plague was involved that is making a virulent comeback in countries that used to pride themselves on having all but eradicated it. I refer to the disease of censorship and the threat it now presents to our democratic way of life – by which I mean liberal democracy in the classic sense, wherein freedom of expression has long been seen as a foundation stone of modern civilised society.

The source of the outbreak that hit Heretic TOC in June was clear from the start: the Mail on Sunday. The active viral agent was a story headlined “Outrage as paedophiles rebrand themselves as ‘minor-attracted persons’ in chilling online propaganda drive”.  The report, by freelance shit slinger Katherine Denkinson, spent little time dwelling on what was supposed to be so outrageous about the MAP term. She perhaps felt, with some justification, that readers of the Daily Mail and its Sunday edition tend to be in a state of outrage by default: they love nothing more than to have their fury stoked, especially by paedophilia stories; to them a good paedo yarn is not so much “chilling”, as the headline puts it, but chilli: it is like a really scorching vindaloo or a chilli dish that all but sets you on fire. Yes, you’re in danger of exploding or melting to a puddle but in a rather exciting and satisfying way.

Objectively, though, the Mail story was tepid, a mild, korma affair in which no serious allegations were made against users of the term MAP, and certainly not against Heretic TOC. The dung was flung largely via the adjectives. A so-called gay rights campaigner was quoted to vilify MAPs as “fiendish”, “sub-human”, “delusional” and “evil”. Hate speech, wouldn’t you say? Except that hate speech directed against someone’s sexual orientation is illegal unless they are a MAP. In that case it is all but compulsory!

Personally, I got off rather lightly on the hate-speech front, with a mere “notorious”. However, Denkinson added about me, “he has campaigned to legalise sex with children on his WordPress blog”. This alone, it seems, was enough for blog hosting company WordPress.com to take fright and close down Heretic TOC, a move I found shocking and disappointing as the firm had previously never given the slightest hint of any problem with my material. They must have known almost from the start what Heretic TOC is all about, not least because in earlier years they rejected complaints from various individuals against the site. Indeed, Matt Mullenweg, founder of parent company Automattic Inc. (the corporate moniker includes his own first name, hence the double T),  has had a long-standing commitment to free speech. He is on record as saying “WordPress.com supports free speech and doesn’t shut people down for ‘uncomfortable thoughts and ideas’, in fact we’re blocked in several countries because of that.”

Shame he couldn’t stick to his principles, although strangely enough I can understand why he might have had a genuine change of heart on absolute free speech in recent years following something I learned about only a few days ago. “In August 2018,” I read on Wikipedia, “WordPress.com began removing several pages that suggested the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.” We can see his point, can’t we? Nobody with any wisdom ever said free speech was easy.

So there may have been as much confusion as cowardice behind the WordPress.com capitulation but either way I suddenly found myself left high and dry, repeating the dire experience of a good many other MAP bloggers and YouTubers.

Actually, my use of the first person singular here is wrong, for I very quickly discovered this was a we situation, not just an I one. Fellow heretics began to contact me when they heard the news, expressing sympathy along with the hope that Heretic TOC’s archive could be retrieved and a new site set up. Better still, practical support was also offered, both financial and technical. My spirits were soon hugely lifted by this concrete evidence that we are not just isolated individuals who can be taken out at will, but a real community capable of rallying around when it matters.

That has been the real story of the last two months, which have involved both generous digging into pockets and spadework of a more time-consuming kind. Starting a blog from a secure server, with a bespoke design giving good access to a large archive transferred from a different platform is not a quick or easy business, I discovered. When I started Heretic TOC with WordPress.com it was dead easy. All I had to do was sign up, pick an off-the-shelf design and start writing. The entire process took about an hour. This time it has taken over two months, even with a lot of very efficient expert help at my disposal. Part of the problem was my own lack of tech knowledge, which meant it took me quite a while to discover which of the many wonderful offers of help I received would draw on the skills I could best make use of! This was an embarrassment of riches! My heartfelt thanks, of course, to everyone who offered their services, including some who undertook great labours that I was not ultimately able to use.

That was painful, to me as well as them; but at least we are through all that now and what you see today is to my mind a well designed site, elegant in appearance and with better functionality than the old one: specific improvements include a better search tool, a drop-down calendar that makes the archive much neater and less space-consuming, and a page that scrolls down through archived blogs, revealing their opening text, giving a real sense that there is a treasure trove waiting to be hauled up from the depths (nearing 250 blogs in total, and closing in on 15,000 comments).

Best of all, though, is that from now on skinny comment threads will be a thing of the past! Heretic TOC regulars will know exactly what I mean. A glance through any of the archived blogs will reveal that no matter how long the conversation goes on, the threads never shrink below quite a wide and very readable width.

As for the treasure trove, fortunately there was never any cause for worry that it would be sunk and lost forever in the WordPress.com shipwreck of June. This is because someone – I have no idea who, but I am grateful for the good work – was ahead of the game, making sure that a full backup of the site was available at the wonderful internet archive called Wayback Machine, where the old blog can still be found. So I would recommend this “insurance policy” to anyone still using WordPress.com or other blogging platforms vulnerable to censorship.

Note that I keep referring to WordPress.com, rather than just WordPress. Unsurprisingly, the company called WordPress was responsible for developing the software of the same name. That was back in 2003. However, the tech stuff has its own website, WordPress.org, and is non-commercial. It is a free, open-source, content management system created as for blog-publishing but now put to many other uses as well. The point here, though, is to say that Heretic TOC is still using the WordPress technical system but is not tied to the company in any way. I am sticking with the software because it is familiar and involves less hassle when transferring design elements and a big back catalogue to a new site. And I do actually like most of the available features.

Even the company itself isn’t all bad. Yes, they shoved me up shit creek but at least they threw me a paddle, supplying me with files of Heretic TOC’s whole archive and technical assistance to download it, so we never had to rely on retrieving anything from Wayback Machine. Why did they give this help? Perhaps because depriving me of my intellectual property would have left them vulnerable to legal action; or maybe they were secretly ashamed of giving in to media pressure and wanted to be as nice as possible in the circumstances. Who knows?

The information given by the company came in two files, one for the main text and design code, the other for the images and captions. From now onwards the images should look fine but the archived ones have defaulted to a small size that fails to do them justice. I hope to rectify this over time. Shouldn’t be too big a problem as photos and other graphics were rarely used in the early blogs.

I imagine the new masthead will be a talking point, i.e. the dark blue title bar across the top of the page. It was originally conceived as a minimalist affair, stripped right down to the bare essentials, like Google’s Home Page. However, even Google often play artistically with their own logo, using all sorts of decorative and meaningful variations of the lettering. An afterthought on my part for Heretic TOC was that the design would really fly if it was given some wings. So these “wings” have been added on either side of the title lettering in the form of two roundels, only one of which needs any explanation i.e. the butterfly logo on the right-hand side.

This artwork has been around for quite a while as a child-love symbol. When searching for it online the first site where I found it had a version that turned out to be from an FBI file released by Wikileaks! Here there is a description attributed to Norbert de Jonge, saying it is “used by many to show their solidarity with the four proposed guidelines for physical intimacy in friendships between children and adults”. I think the guidelines he had in mind would have been those referred to in an essay on ethics by Dr Frans Gieles, which were discussed under the auspices of Ipce.org early in the new millennium. The principles outlined had much to commend them. They give some idea of what kind of relationships would be ethically acceptable if allowed by law i.e. if the age of consent were to be reduced, or replaced by legal protections of a different kind. In other words, those subscribing to the principles would not encourage illegal contacts but neither would they condemn ethically conducted relationships in the past, where they had been made possible through favourable cultural circumstances e.g. in ancient Greece.

In any case, a considerably simpler explanation of the logo’s four segments readily presents itself. Just take a good look! Called the “CLogo”, it has been described on Newgon Wiki as “a traditional childlove symbol. It depicts a butterfly whose wings are formed by four hearts. Two are larger than the other two representing the adult and the child. Two are pink and the other two blue representing the masculine and feminine.” The symbol was said to be “widely accepted as associated to childlove and past movements”.

The present fashion for gender fluidity and the emergence of transgender activism in recent years might be thought to render such a gender-binary symbol all too “traditional” these days, hence obsolete. By all means tell me what you feel, but I am inclined to disagree. There is nothing inconsistent, in my view, with supporting those who are “gender questioning”, “gender queer”, or transgender, while recognising that most of us are either men or women, boys or girls, and that biological sex is fundamentally binary.

No doubt we will return to this theme in future, along with a host of other complicated and controversial issues. For my part, I can’t wait to get writing again about significant recent developments that have been piling up since the old blog was knocked off its perch. So, watch this space!

Finally, a bit about the very important items at the top of the right-hand column:

Subscribe: It costs nothing to subscribe to Heretic TOC and by doing so you will be notified automatically by email when each new blog is published. Just go to the subscription area at the top of the right-hand column, enter your email address, and click on the blue button. Easy!

Donate: For the first time, Heretic TOC now has to pay for web hosting. The cost of that for the first year has already kindly been covered by an anonymous benefactor. But other significant expenses were also necessarily incurred out of my own pocket once it became clear that professional help was needed to develop the new site. Paid-for services will also be needed on a continuing basis for periodic help and site maintenance. Accordingly, please consider chipping in. The account you will be paying into via PayPal bears the name of a small company wholly owned by me. It was set up for the company originally but the account is in fact a personal one and any funds paid in will be entirely at my disposal.

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Christian

Hi Tom,
As no one told me about your new blog, I had to search several times on Google until I finally found a conversation where one person gave a link to it. Congratulations!
I too was kicked out of WordPress.com, but earlier than you: in March 2019. Unlike you, my account was just cancelled, I did not have the opportunity to recover anything from the database, and my inquiries did not get any answer. One probable reason is that I had a free blog, I did not pay to remove the adverts that appear at the bottom of posts (except when viewed by logged-in readers). On the other hand, you probably had to pay to have an advert-free blog, and paying subscribers are better treated.
But not having a copy of the old database was the opportunity for me to make a completely different blog, where all old articles are revised before being progressively published, along with new ones, and without following the previous chronological order. I had been cautious to copy all articles on the Wayback Machine and to keep the text files of their HTML source.
As you, I have a new provider in the UK, who runs for me the WordPress.org software as well as the database, PHP, updates, backups, etc. I just have to fill in the contents. I save everything on both the Wayback Machine and archive.today.
I hope to read new articles from you in the future.

Dissident

Tom, I thought you and our fellow heretics may be interested in checking out this post I made on GC today, where I analyze a quote taken from Cuties screenwriter/director Maïmouna Doucouré to determine if she may be a youth liberationist. I make my conclusion quite clear, and feedback from you and the rest of the heretics here would be quite valuable to the discussion!

Zen Thinker

Silly question perhaps but is annabelleigh.net safe? I remember trying to access it several years ago and my ISP had blocked it. I then worried that irresponsible posters might have uploaded illegal content. Got to stay safe. Please set my mind at rest that it is a safe platform…

LTEOGNIS

It’s fantastic that you came back to express yourself freely, because it’s a human right to free speech. I am delighted with your return and I will surely encourage the discussion on this new website, to face the perspectives of the changing and eternal evolution of human sexuality, morality must change, the struggle of always. Your fan and fervent fan of the history of ACTIVISM. We spoke a few months ago by mail. Cordial Greetings TOM

Yure

I’m very glad that your are back, Tom. I was worried.

Stephen James

Here’s a great attack on age of consent laws by a young Brazilian girl:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eTlPbNilPE&feature=youtu.be

Stephen James

From the first review:

Cuties isn’t a movie for pervs that relishes in sexualising its child cast.

But it does sexualise them and the director must have been aware of it. I wonder what her attitude is to the fact that ‘pervs’ will be enjoying it? I don’t think she was asked that question in the interview I saw.

Dissident

The first article (didn’t get a chance to look at the second yet) does launch a defense of the film, but certainly not from the perspective of respecting the girls as individuals with potential or as naturally sexual beings. Instead, it focuses approvingly on the director’s depiction of them as inherently innocent and “know nothing” about sex (like the silly scene with one mistaking a condom for a balloon…seriously?). They are simply imitating what they see adults do, otherwise…they would never think about sexual things? The adult columnists who write this stuff are willfully ignorant about their own past as kids, and outdo any 11 year old in regards to naivety. Come on now, all the kids that age in my circle back in the day knew what a condom was at age 11, not only from the pre-abstinance-only sex education, but from watching films like Porky’s (which had its own silly scene involving blowing up a condom). Movies pushing the boundaries like that were rampant during the ’70s and ’80s, and this was a generation of kids who didn’t have the Internet like Amy and her peers do. If they were actually that ignorant, it’s because their parents went out of their way to shield them from reality, and still only if French schools did away with sex ed completely. I’m still not buying it for girls who grew up in the age of the Internet, parental controls or not. It was clearly shown that Amy and her friends knew ways to bypass any parental controls on the Net.

Some articles purporting to defend this film are as ignorant as the legion of naysayers.

John Sydney McNair

Congratulations Tom on building back successfully. I look forward to getting your latest posts.

Dissident

Tom, there is yet another good favorable review of Cuties that is on Facebook courtesy of journalist, college professor and anti-spanking advocate Stacey Patton (she has nothing to do with the MAP community). You can easily find her and this post via Facebook’s search engine, but I’ll cut and paste it here:

Mmmkay, so “Cuties” is NOT a pedophile movie!

Yes, there are 11-year-olds twerking. It’ll probably make you feel uncomfortable. But if it does, it is an opportunity for YOU to engage in some self-reflection about why. The fact is, little girls twerk. In the Diaspora, girls and women have been twerking for a millennia as performative rituals and rites of passage. Colonization and being subjected to the European gaze and notions about purity have taught us to attach sexual deviance to this kind of dance.

But I digress . . .

What I saw were adolescent girls coming of age and engaging in normal childhood behaviors, some of it rebellious and destructive even. I saw these behaviors in my own girlhood friendships. The only difference is that in the 80s and 90s we didn’t have cell phone cameras and user-generated social media platforms to broadcast ourselves. We were what the adults called “fast.” But these days you can go onto YouTube and see young girls filming themselves being provocative, and parents beating them for doing so.

What I also saw was a young girl being pulled between her immigrant conservative Muslim culture and mainstream French society’s temptations. I saw girls trying to fit in. Using their bodies to get attention and validation. Trying to resist oppressive social and religious and parental control. Rejecting the message that their bodies are sinful and impure and not mature enough to be classified as women.

I saw the frustration that comes with feeling powerless and voiceless in an adult world. I saw girls seeking alternative outlets as a release from poverty, isolation, verbal abuse, and emotional neglect. They use dance as an outlet to channel their fears, anxieties, anger, and primal longings. The science on child development is clear — subjecting girls to stressful environments elevates levels of oxytocin — the love/feel good hormone, which then places them at risk for precocious puberty and risky sexual behaviors.

The filmmaker makes us see the consequences of children trying to survive adults who create such a messed up world where adults are forced to embrace toxic religiosity, respectability, gender norms and constraints while pretending to be happy about it all and trying to slow down their children’s natural development. It’s all so counterintuitive.

What I found especially disturbing in this film is that none of the adults talk to these girls about their changing bodies and healthy sexuality. Their growth is met with silence, fear mongering stories, and emotional or physical violence.

Calling this film pedophilia is easier than dealing with the hard truth that children mirror the behaviors, values, and hypocrisy of adults and get punished for it. Children don’t give birth to themselves, and they don’t raise themselves either.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dissident
Stephen James

>The science on child development is clear — subjecting girls to stressful environments elevates levels of oxytocin — the love/feel good hormone, which then places them at risk for precocious puberty and risky sexual behaviors. [My emphasis]

Oh dear! And things were going so well in this review!

Steve Diamond

You’ve been officially baptized into the brotherhood of banished blogs…

Welcome!

I’m terribly sorry you were forced to join this club.

It’s nice you are back.

Kamil Beylant

Congratulations on your return to free discourse in readable form. I was also just axed off Twitter after six years (much longer than I expected to persist there) for no stated reason at all.

(I received the usual false accusation of automated behavior and demand for a phone number that was part of using Torbrowser as my access point, but I’d received those bot-demands once or twice a year forever, and the staff always accepted my appeal that I’d exhibited no automated behavior at all and shouldn’t have to compromise my security by providing a phone number.)

I’d noticed that apart from the occasional assault by an English scandal rag, the main opposition these days was from teenaged child soldiers recruited by a few internet influencers like June Lapine (Shoe0nHead) and ‘Ms.’ Blaire White. I found that my account was being tied up by interactions with insensate child fanatics and I was starting to think some restrategizing was necessary.

I regret the interruption with a few good friends, especially our mutual friend from the acquaintance of the late Leigh O., but I’ll be back in touch when I’ve got things sorted. Please give her my warmest regards if you have the chance.

John Sydney McNair

It’s great to see you on this post Kamil. Your incisive wit and informed commentary are missed on Twitter. If you ever get back on Twitter dm me…if I am still there! It doesn’t take much to be suspended.

Dissident

Tom, before you complete your upcoming blog on the Cuties controversy, I figured you and our fellow heretics here might want to check out this frankly honest review of the film from political YouTuber MrGirl, virtually the only positive and open-minded commentator on the film I have yet to see. This review predictably got him pilloried all across YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9CQxIu9_cw

Last edited 1 month ago by Dissident
Zen Thinker

Frankly astonishing to see someone in the mainstream (200k+ views) putting forward opinions of this kind and a) not get suspended by Google through sheer unpopularity b) maintain a legitimate presence on the site. Normally it’s mob rule on social media, I’ve seen some very nasty responses to people.

In terms of the content, it’s good, and he’s given it a professional presentation too.

Dissident

Indeed. Of course, as expected, he took quite a bashing for this all across YouTube, with one basher describing him as currently being “the most hated man on YouTube.” I am sure he was prepared for nothing less than that, including the huge disparity of “thumbs down” ratings vs. the still impressive-number of “thumbs up” he received. He is well aware that people think with their gut, not their brain, on this issue. MrGirl has some serious cajones, and despite his sometimes crude use of language, his voice is very needed in the quagmire of vitriol and enforced silence regarding this topic.

Dissident

For anyone who may want to read it, I have a Diss-ertation sharing my full thoughts on Cuties up on GC. You can access it here. Tom, please feel free to “mine” it for info as needed when you put up your own blog analysis of the film 🙂

Dissident

“Diss-ertations” was the name of my long-defunct blog on the long-defunct Girl Love Garden hosted by GC during the 2000’s. Humanist once pejoratively gave my long diatribes that name, but I actually liked it so I ended up adopting it. It’s what I’ve always called my longer essay-posts on GC ever since lol!

AnonHopeful

Why the canvas extraction and Javascript requirements? Better to keep users safe, secure and anonymous.

Dissident

All I do know is that Javascript is supposedly very insecure in terms of keeping a user’s identity/location safe. But as Tom asked, can the truly tech-savvy among us elaborate further on this?

Saptak

Hi, I am Saptak and I made this website for Tom. First of all, JavaScript is secure and one can safely use it on any site. JavaScript can be insecure (Privacy related issues) for website visitors only if the webmaster want to do so. And Some time 3rd party analytics script (Like google analytics) can collect data from users. But we did not use any 3rd party JS in this website. Tom Insisted that we should not use Google Analytics. This site is using a WP plug-in (Statisfy) to count visitors, which only records visitor counts and the pages visited.

Right now the only information webmaster have is your name, email address and the IP you are commenting from when you comment. Nothing else.

However it is better to turn off JS if you don’t trust a website. Most people turn off their JS when visiting the dark web.

So in short if you trust Tom, and his ISP, you can use this website without any worry.

PS : without Js a lot of smooth functionality will not work on the site.

Last edited 1 month ago by saptak
Dissident

Thank you for clearing this up, Saptak! 🙂

AnonHopeful

>First of all, JavaScript is secure

A bold claim, considering JavaScript vulnerabilities are stilll found in Firefox, which Tor Browser is based on! Look at the Tails errata or CVE lists.

>However it is better to turn off JS if you don’t trust a website.

Securitywise, it’s better to turn features, such as JS, [b]off[/b] by [b]default[/b]. (Much like some us don’t leave doors and windows open most of the time when we leave the house, no matter how convenient it would be for visitors, including uninvited ones!)

This caused no functional loss when the blog was hosted by WordPress.com. Now, JS is required to post comments.

Saptak

I wanted to mean JS used here on this site is secure. And you can trust this. If you need I can provide all source code used here to inspect.

This site uses PHP, JS, HTML, And CSS for all of this. And Every language have some kind of security flaws if you write that in an insecure way. Every script can be written using a secure way and a non secure way. So I think there is no point turning some feature off.

And if you think WP.com is not using JS then you are wrong. They are just using it in a silent way. So you really don’t know what they are collecting in background.

AnonHopeful

>I wanted to mean JS used here on this site is secure.

Including arbitrary JS from an adversary? I’m not assuming perfect security.

>And if you think WP.com is not using JS then you are wrong.

WP.com still retains functionality, such as posting comments, with JS DISABLED.

Dissident

Two other interesting things to briefly note about the ongoing Cuties controversy.

First, note this tweet from self-described amateur journalist Sam L Bradury who has a typical emotional reaction to the film while also attempting to respond in an open-minded way to the extent that he can to a critique from another tweeter:

https://twitter.com/SamLBradbury1/status/1304840892042313728?s=20&fbclid=IwAR3XVJ7WPL8q64efwXgj7IrPu7yf1Bc8B31o0SQkp6Ky9wD-82yIFAH7lr0

Even though Bradury acknowledges youth sexuality as normal, he feels that it doesn’t need to be “promoted” (read: acknowledged) in depictions on film because it’s “disgusting” (read: adults do not want to see it due to the negative gut response it invokes) and “aired publicly in such a way that drives perversion & the debasement of society & youth”–meaning, it “debases” society by “normalizing” something that is normal but disliked, and “debases” youths by compromising the idealized image of them that Disney, Nickelodeon, and society at large attempts to foster. And worse, it just might encourage more young girls to embrace twerk dancing and other things that combine artistic and erotic expression.

The second thing to note, which will surprise no one here: Cuties is now in Netflix’s Top 10 viewed streams. Which means the literally few hundred thousand “thumbs down” the film got for its pre-streaming adverts vs. a mere few thousand “thumbs up” votes, not to mention the torrent of vicious attacks all across social media, didn’t prevent it from becoming a hit to U.S. viewers.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dissident
Zen Thinker

Yeah I distinctly remember at the age of seven having (proto-)sexual fantasies about girls in my class. But to call it proto-sexual is to make an artificial distinction. Child sexuality is universal but heavily suppressed. I don’t understand the ‘gut response’ that calls it ‘disgusting’. Or how it is a moral danger to society. As a Christian, I don’t see it as a moral danger. Even Augustine talks about child sexuality in his ‘Confessions’, it is literally universal across time and space. And if Cuties helps to broaden the debate about the sexuality of young people, that is in my opinion a good thing.

Dissident

At least part of the reason behind the “gut response” is, I think, because adults almost never see depictions of youth sexuality anywhere, as filmmakers, writers, etc., are fearful about presenting it in a frank & accurate way (at least explicitly) these days. So, their guts cannot develop a tolerance for it. Much like depictions of homosexual eroticism were viewed in a similar way by heterosexuals until it became common seeing adult homosexuals (at least) kissing and having sex on TV, movies, video games, comic books, etc., as of the past two decades. Adults do not see such instances in real life because youths have to do it in secrecy, and keep these secrets to themselves.

As for the “danger to society” you mentioned, it is a danger in the sense that it threatens to compromise and change the norms of our adult-dominated society that essentially force kids to publicly appear as personifications of the type of Innocence that adults worship as sacred but are simultaneously thankful they do not have to adhere to themselves. That’s why it’s described as an “adult” activity that is only for adults.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dissident
Zen Thinker

Yes, it threatens existing power structures, so is not a moral argument at all, but rather about status in society. Hence the director of Cuties defended the film against the backlash by calling it ‘feminist’, i.e. empowerment for young girls. And really child sexuality endangers patriarchal power structures and power relationships within the nuclear family. Innocence in relation to the child is a Romantic notion (i.e. eighteenth century) although the sexual purity of the female has always been prized in the Christian era, again as a patriarchal power dynamic. The pre-Christian Roman world had what we could call a more ‘normal’ approach to the sexuality of children. And while temperance is an important quality for any civilisation, the heavy suppression and especially the severe legal approach to the ‘sexual child’ appears abnormal. I don’t want to see a society overrun by a cheap and tacky form of sexuality, but equally I think the male paternal ego likes to wield excessive power over its subordinates, and part of this power is to control the sexual realm. The disgust at Cuties is really dismay that children can’t be put in a box and controlled by society; this empowerment through sexual expression is societally dangerous to existing power relations. No-one wants a collapse in the values of civilisation, of high art and culture replaced by twerking and shallowness, but I don’t believe the sexual child threatens the deepest values of our civilisation, and our cultural expressions: of Shakespeare and Mozart and Michelangelo, even of the Christian ideal of virtue and temperance. It merely redresses a power imbalance, and corrects a draconian and unjust legal standard. We talk of safeguarding and the protection of children, and indeed we should guard against exploitative behaviours, but Cuties showed the independent, confident and safe use of sexual expression: it isn’t an issue about safeguarding at all; it’s about power.

Dissident

Zen had a lot of good points about status! I do concur, however, with your assessment of how fun can coexist peaceably and harmoniously with what we might consider more serious art forms. For instance, the emergence of twerk is similar to the fun craze surrounding break dancing when it emerged and became a ‘thing’ among young boys during the 1980s (remember that?). It had no erotic elements, so it wasn’t met with any sort of controversy, but twerk dancing is a similar craze that girls have embraced in the modern age. Since it does have some overt erotic elements, in this political climate it was sure to be seen as far more controversial and ‘exploitative’ than break dancing. Girls are constantly told they shouldn’t try to be “adult.” Well, I see the twerk sensation as a wry display of girls giving the middle finger to that restrictive convention and saying, “Sorry, but we can be ‘sexy’ too if we choose to be.” Like many arts, both “high” and “shallow,” it is a form of boundary pushing while having fun at the same time.

Speaking of dance crazes in the ’80s, remember the phenomenon of “dirty dancing” popularized by the eponymous film? Yes, it was done by adults in the film, but younger people quickly picked up on it too. I remember attending a multi-faceted all-ages dance contest that included a group of kids no older than 5 or 6 called the ‘Dirty Dancers’ who frivilously imitated the dancing from the film. The audience found it cute and satirical, and laughed and cheered it pleasantly rather than getting offended and outraged (“Where are the parents?!” “What ‘sick fucks’ would allow this!?”). That was a time when the ongoing moral panics were just starting, but people of all ages were still allowed to have some fun at the expense of social conventions.

Stephen James

Whenever I you read a reasonably frank autobiography (by a man at least – for some reason I haven’t read many autobiographies of women), the author nearly always recalls sexual thoughts and interests in childhood, testifying to the near-universality of childhood sexual feelings.

Zen Thinker

True. And here’s a frank and personal admission: in fact I’m middle-aged now but the only real sexual experience of my life occurred at seven, with my female cousin a few months younger. I was staying over at hers, and in her bedroom we both stripped naked and started touching each other intimately. Proof if any were needed that children have a sexual interest and curiosity. Alas due to ill fortune and shyness I have never had a girlfriend, whether growing up or now.

Dissident

As I was an unpopular kid growing up, my sexual experiences with peers were few, and most of them came only after I became an adult, and were obviously with other adults. As a result, I savor the memories of those few despite how ephemeral they were, because I am well aware that nothing like them will ever be possible for me again. I do enjoy and cherish my continuing sexual experiences with young women of legal adult age, but…it’s just not the same.

Due to my shyness as a young teen, at age 13 and 15 I backed away from aggressive sexual overtures that came from a 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl, respectively. You can well imagine how much I regret not having had more experience at the time (as these girls obviously did) so that I could have responded in kind with no legal offense and without being considered a monster by society. I consider these two of the most tragically wasted opportunities of my youth, as I had no idea at the time that my preferences would not age along with me.

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Zen Thinker

Yeah it’s a shame. I find that writing about my thoughts and experiences concerning minor attraction helps. I started in 2012 and am now on over 130,000 words. It covers everything from societal views to reflections on the beauty of the child, to thoughts about film and culture, including the actress Brooklynn Prince who I admire. I’ve written about her latest drama series ‘Home Before Dark’: very unusual and quite new for a nine year old to be a lead actress in an adult drama.

This sort of thing helps enormously. Children are having a larger role in the culture nowadays so the best I can do is be at one remove, so to speak.

Dissident

I do understand, and I apologize for putting you in any kind of position. Suffice to say, those experiences I mentioned were all legal, just for the record. I actually had no idea that it’s illegal in the U.K. for two people under 16 to willingly consent to sexual activity with each other! Wow. Some states in the U.S. have fornication laws prohibiting such same-age-but-underage liaisons, but in other U.S. states it is not a criminal offense for two youths of similar age to consensually share sexual contact. At least, not yet.

salai

Good to see you back.

Zen Thinker

I watched Cuties last night – it is actually framed as a process of self-realisation, and the concluding scene suggests a return to childhood innocence, so it is completely contrary to how the ignorant and resentful Right define it. Nevertheless, the by now famous scenes of raucous dancing do push the Overton Window, and suggest, as the film frames it, that sexual self-discovery is one possible path for the young, along with religious fundamentalism, although both are rejected by Amy in favour of a final epiphany in the form of a spiritual awakening. So what does this have to say about minor attraction? Broadly, that child sexuality is normal and acceptable, and the child as an object of desire is permissible. This is the underlying message I suspect that has fuelled the ressentiment and agonised outrage of the mob – which I suspect is psychologically complex and linked to a primal fear of the sexual child. But in any case the film is an interesting work of art and clearly not ‘for the titillation of paedophiles’ – such a view is an injustice to both the complex and deep responses of minor attracted people and to the integrity of the artistic product. But I would highly recommend the film.

Dissident

Thank you for this good mini-review, Zen. I got a similar impression of the film upon watching it to completion. One thing missed by the cyber-mob of naysayers was how Amy was driven not only to the frank sexual expression and the potential empowerment provided by twerk dancing (the film minced no words about its blatant erotic aspects that focus on the attractiveness of young girls) but to “acting out” in various negative ways (e.g., stealing) due to rebelling against her strict and oppressive Muslim upbringing. It also made clear that her mother was highly unhappy about dealing with her husband taking a second wife yet tolerated it because she was told by so many elders in her family that it was her “duty” as a married Muslim woman. This hit Amy very hard. However, many of the negative critiques ignored this and actually defended Amy’s mother for “not wanting her daughter to be sexualized.”

Further, Amy was also trapped between the typical rock and a hard place that many young girls are caught in today: suppression of their natural sexuality on the one hand, and incessant slut-shaming when they do express it on the other. This societal contradiction that demonstrates the love-hate relationship Western culture has with female sexual expression is no stranger to adult women either. I think her “acting out” over all of this is why she had unique difficulties in dealing with the combination of popularity and moral scorn brought to her by her twerk dancing and her feeling compelled to take and post the sexual “selfies” she took on the side–both of which the other girls in her dance team did not suffer from. I think these contradictions were played out well by the director and screenwriter. They did not come across as a condemnation of twerk dancing and sexual expression of youths per se, but rather to highlight these contradictions, as well as how cultural suppression of the same can sometimes drive girls to extremes in rebelling against it.

BRASS -- BOY

Great to see your new blog Tom and thanks for the link. Reading some of the comments about various issues related to minor attraction, such as “Cuties” etc, there was something I thought I’d mention. Stacy Dooley did a documentary about this and I have discussed it on here before; About these child idols in Japan. France24 did a small News report on these male fans that are the age of the girls fathers. In some of the interviews they deny the minor attraction, but one guy threw it back at the reporter stating; “That is the age that they’re more beautiful, don’t you think”, “They are so feminine”, Not hard to see that some don’t shy away from admitting their attraction.

Stephen James

Welcome back, Tom!

>A so-called gay rights campaigner was quoted to vilify MAPs as “fiendish”, “sub-human”, “delusional” and “evil”.

The list of hateful epithets is so extreme as to be almost comical. And I always like to remind myself that not everyone in the world ‘out there’ actually thinks like this. We know from empirical evidence that having some level of minor attraction is by no means a rare thing and at least some of those who have such feelings are going to look askance at histrionics of this sort, even if they are not in a position to voice their doubts openly. One day, perhaps, the truth will be more widely acknowledged.

Sugarboy

As an untermensch, one should say that Tom behaves quite clever. Every time the bluenoses think they have rid themselves of him – voila, he gets reborn in a new and even more fierce way, like the Phoenix.

Dissident

Welcome back, Tom! I knew this latest setback wouldn’t keep you down for long! You have always gotten back up again whenever you’ve been knocked down, and you have been knocked down harder than most of us ever have or will on more than one occasion. I really like the better functionality of this site, so maybe this will turn out to be a blessing in disguise over the long run. I certainly plan to help around here by donating!

One thing I am looking forward to seeing is your take on the recent vicious attacks on Netflix over streaming the French film Cuties. I have a few things to say about that as well, of course 🙂

Last edited 1 month ago by Dissident
BRASS -- BOY

At least there are other moral panics around now, stoked up by the media, that of ‘C19, (I need to turn this predictive text off one I figure it out) They are actually promoting the snitching of fellow citizens for not wearing g masks etc. I won’t wear one and will get arrested if necessary.
And what’s with QAnon, child sacrifice, blood drinking etc. no, I just find them sexy.
At least with all this myopic obsession with C19, many of there Salvationist charities will dry out, that can only be a good thing.

Ethics of Paradise

♡ ♡ ♡ 🙂 WELCOME BACK TOM – LOOKING GOOD! 🙂 ♡ ♡ ♡ 

During the time period that you were without a blog/website to communicate through, I was able to refine my thoughts even further about the importance of children/younger humans among many other worldly things and thus make a conclusive statement with a few following steps to help achieve what nearly every good person on the planet would like to see within all of humanity.

-The highly sought after solution that describes what is most necessary to return to a balanced and stable mode of humanity is simply by being directly involved with children as the main priority in our lives with a few important incremental steps of which are all to be taken very seriously and worked on until what seems radical becomes normal as this is what is required of the human race to save itself :

Step 1. Children First: regardless of important teachings of intimacy, intelligence of nudity, or acceptance of childhood sexuality.

Step 2. Teachings of Intimacy: A) children learning to be intimate with other children B) adults learning to be intimate with children.

Step 3. Nudity: covering body with clothing as little as possible to encourage a very real and natural back-to-basics way of living through nudism.

Step 4. Children Playing and/or Playing with Children: intimately when necessary; especially while nude.

Step 5. Consensual Human Relationships: A) adults with adults B) children with children C) children with adults (avoiding penetration by the adult if necessary). Responsibly intimate, nude, and sexual as an optimal growing experience to keep humanity in equilibrium with all things.

Read more here:
https://lakevillagecreeper.water.blog/2020/08/25/children-first-the-speech/

Haley Watterson

I’m really glad to see you back and I look forward to more blog posts to come. I really appreciate all the work you’ve done for our people over the past half century, despite it being a thankless job. I’m amazed at your perseverance and your ability to get back up every time you get knocked down. Keep up the good work.

Haley Watterson

Thanks! You too!

Jean_luc_picard

Great to have you back, Tom! 🙂

Zen Thinker

Good to see it back. The censorship came from an entirely reactionary right wing position, and the Mail are total hypocrites as they’re always posting articles on celebrity kids, young girls in bikinis etc. I think it’s a case of ‘the eye wink at the hand, yet let that be / Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see’, to quote Shakespeare. In other words, total hypocrisy. Myriad examples in culture atm of moves towards increased liberal depictions of minors (Netflix, mainstream advertising, TV shows) but as soon as one mentions ‘minor attraction’, as a tangible concrete concept, there is still the old mass revolt. So we’re in a strange and two-faced position in our culture atm, and the Mail is just one particularly extreme example of this bipolar attitude.

Dissident

I too have noticed what you and Tom have noticed, Zen: The strange “tug-of-war” dichotomy going on right now with both the promotion of child/youth attractiveness and sexual expression on the one hand; and the familiar virulent pushback against it on the other hand. The corporate powers that be know that youth beauty/eroticism sells, and that more and more young girls are promoting it themselves as a form of free expression with their videos on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, one of the most obvious contemporary manifestations of it being the emergence of the twerk dancing sensation. But then there is still the widespread knee-jerk reaction to it culled from the past few decades of the moral panic, where numerous media pundits of every political affiliation angrily denounce every prominent manifestation of this tendency with all the usual histrionic insults, demands for banning/censorship, calls for the blood of MAPs who may dare to admire the beauty of the girls appearing in such videos/films (note the #SaveOurChildren quasi-movement popular on Twitter and Facebook now), and all the other virtue-signalling that comes with it. What is amazing to me is that Netflix caved only to the point of changing the way the film was advertised, but didn’t pull it from their roster altogether as I expected! It’s an interesting time to be sure, seeing this societal contradiction playing itself out.

Zen Thinker

Indeed. Well put. There’s certainly an inherent contradiction in societal ethics right now, which I can only see as the beginning of a slow move towards broader acceptance of the MAP position. This may be piecemeal, as the opposition is ferocious and virulent, and most of us only have free speech under pseudonyms, but I strongly believe there is an undercurrent towards greater liberalisation in this area. Netflix didn’t cave because it is getting easier for big corporations to resist the mob now. A recent example is the Audi advert for a sports car model: there was a young girl in front of a flashy red sports car eating a banana. It was fairly innocuous but the right unleashed a furious twitter mob on Audi, who gave a half-hearted apology saying ‘we care about children’ but kept the advert up. Of course, Netflix’s Cuties (which I hope to watch tonight) is the prime example of this: Netflix have remarkably resisted the mob; even US senators are now involved such as the atrocious far-right Ted Cruz, accusing Netflix of serious crimes. So I can say with a fair degree of confidence that the tide has begun to turn; and lastly note good old France, who had Cuties showing in cinemas and barely anyone batted an eyelid. The American right are working towards their own destruction by sensationalising these issues.

Dissident

Ted Cruz and his ilk routinely support war-profiteers that drop literally hundreds of thousands of bombs on neighborhoods in the Middle East every year since this perpetual ‘war on terror’ has been going on, and this has killed, maimed, and orphaned too many kids to count. You also never see them ranting against policies that hurt numerous kids domestically each year, like those that increase poverty, cause neglect, and force kids into the authoritarian mandatory schooling system. This is why I refuse to believe that anyone who supports the status quo are truly looking out for the best interests of kids when they make such moralism-based attacks on Netflix et al., let alone the MAP community. Such individuals are simply concerned with protecting exactly that: the status quo. They are clearly concerned not with the actual well-being of kids, but simply maintaining their “place” and moral propriety.

Sharpshooter

Hi Tom! Finally managed to get through by using a different browser (as I mentioned to you already on email my normal default settings seemed to be problematic). Anyway, it’s really great to see the site up and running again, and to have all the archive material too – yours has always been one of the most stimulating resources and I’m very much looking forward to your new posts, the comments (now I can access them!), and all the guest blogs to come!

Peter Herman

Hi Tom,

It’s a pleasure to again have a site where superlatively expressed rational and nuanced ideas are the norm.

Explorer

Welcome back, Tom!

Happy I can again read and comment on your blog, I missed it.

Explorer

Why is my greeting is the only one left unreplied by you, Tom? Maybe it is too short to be worth replying to? Yet, one by Jean_luc_picard is even shorter than mine!

I feel myself somewhat discriminated by this reply distribution inequality. 😉

BRASS -- BOY

Is “my bad” a new expression, First heard it on that Robert DeNero advertisement

Sugarboy

Welcome back, Tom! It is interesting that your temporary disappearance was due to one of those journalists that normally are ready to weep and wail about “freedom of speeech” as soon as one of themselves has ended up in handcuffs. More worrying, on the other hand, that a virtually serious company like WordPress agreed to abide the shit slingers – albeit with a delay of 10 years or so.
However that may be, welcome back once more!

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