Everyone’s invited to reconsider childhood

 

“Everyone’s Invited”: Sounds nice, doesn’t it? So welcoming, so inclusive.

And to my pleasant surprise the Instagram campaign with this name, which went viral last month with its testimonies by (mainly) teenage girls to sexual harassment they have suffered at the hands – and occasionally penises – of their classmates, is not at all the shrill, vengeful, hyperbolic litany of righteous fury that might have been expected to follow the #MeToo hate-fest.

Setting the tone, the campaign’s Homepage says:

Moving forward, we know that our responsibility lies in improving and healing the wounds we have uncovered. We do not condone or believe in cancel culture. We have taken crucial steps to ensure that everything on our platform is anonymised for this reason. We urge our community to practice empathy. To reconcile is to understand both sides, to listen…

Could be a lot worse, couldn’t it?

The website’s co-founder, Soma Sara, 22, was at Wycombe Abbey School in Buckinghamshire, an exceedingly posh, prestigious all-girls school. Hardly the place, one would have thought, for her to learn much about sexual harassment by boys, who are overwhelmingly the complained of sex in some 15,000 testimonies now posted at Everyone’s Invited.  We gather from interviews that she picked up her knowledge of “rape culture” from talking to friends and watching TV – specifically, last year’s BBC drama series I May Destroy You.

Plenty of scope here, then, for a cynical suggestion that this this is a young lady who has cleverly spotted a gap in the market for victimhood narratives and jumped on the bandwagon.

Maybe there is an element of opportunism; but the moderate, reasonable, constructive approach I discovered at Everyone’s Invited suggests a degree of sincerity that deserves to be taken seriously – as does the sheer volume of all those personal testimonies from youngsters whose stories likewise do not strike me as dishonest from the sample I have read.

So, what is “rape culture” according to this campaign, and what are we to make of the testimonies?

Rape culture exists, we are told:

…when thoughts, behaviours, & attitudes in a society or environment have the effect of normalising and trivialising sexual violence. When behaviours like “upskirting” or the nonconsensual sharing of intimate photos are normalised this acts as a gateway to criminal acts such as sexual assault and rape. Behaviours such as misogyny, slut shaming, victim blaming, and sexual harassment create an environment where sexual violence and abuse can exist and thrive. All behaviours, attitudes, thoughts and experiences in this culture are interconnected.

Dressed to kill? Or to reconcile? Soma Sara, as featured in an interview with Vogue, the influential fashion magazine.

Whoah! This is a very mixed bag that needs careful unpacking. It is a job lot ranging from quite specific acts such as “upskirting” to far more nebulous notions such as “misogyny” that could cover a multitude of sins or none, depending, as with beauty, on what is in the eye or mind of the beholder. Being aware that attitudes and behaviours, etc., are connected without exploring the nature of those connections quite carefully runs the risk of jumping to false conclusions as to what constitutes a “gateway” to crime.

Upskirting and sharing “intimate” photos are described as “a gateway to criminal acts”.

I have news for Sara. They are criminal already.

No one, including school kids, can legally distribute “intimate” photos of a minor under 18, with or without permission. As for upskirting, is now specified as an offence under the Voyeurism (Offences) Act, 2019. So it is false to suggest that these things are wrongly being tolerated and that this is normalising rape.

If we really want to examine what sort of thoughts and attitudes are likely to generate bad behaviour, we need to pay attention, as ever, to properly researched evidence on the matter.

But first, it is time to turn to last month’s massive outbreak of moral agonising over the testimonies, and how they were interpreted by politicians, senior police officers, head teachers, and media commentators in a deluge of coverage.

After a relatively quiet start to the Everyone’s Invited campaign last June, the conflagration appears to have been set ablaze when media interest was sparked by outrage over the kidnapping and killing of Sarah Everard. An interview with Sara by Alice Thomson appeared in The Times at the height of that outrage. Vastly more coverage would follow in the next days and weeks, media interest whetted by the fact that many schools, including elite ones such as Eton and Dulwich colleges, had been identified and associated with allegedly rape culture incidents.

Thomson began her interview piece powerfully:

Scroll down the testimonials on @everyonesinvited and weep. Eleven-year-olds forced to send nude photos to older boys, 13-year-olds molested in front of cheering pupils in parks, 15-year-olds coerced into having sex at parties, hundreds of children’s desperate stories of rape culture, harassment, assault and sexual humiliation. This is Britain in 2021.

Soon she was naming famous schools that had been called out: St Paul’s and Harrow, Latymer Upper, Wellington College and Bedales. Thomson was at pains to mention less elite places, too, but the media spotlight was mainly shone on what was being perceived in some quarters to be outdated, sexist, arrogant, entitled attitudes in the higher echelons of British society.

This was strongly exemplified a week after Thomson’s interview, again in The Times. This time the focus was on Westminster School, a seat of learning so distinguished it has produced six prime ministers, three Nobel laureates and seven Victoria Cross holders, plus an astonishing pantheon of famous artists, musicians, novelists, and poets.

Current and former pupils at the school, the Times reported, had compiled a 21-page dossier of discontent, detailing 76 entries from students claiming they had been left traumatised and humiliated by being forced to perform sex acts on boys, subjected to threats of sexual assault, and joked about as gang rape victims. They alleged that girls, who are admitted to the sixth form, were only there “to raise the academic level” and teachers did not “invest in their emotional being”.

The dossier claims that “senior management is more prepared to protect their image by defending abusers … Having a close friend sob out their soul in your arms after being told that ‘nothing could be done’ after a fellow pupil raped them was a truly harrowing experience”.

A former female student wrote:

A boy, who I perceived to be my friend, took my hand and dragged me to a younger group of boys, who I didn’t know, in front of maybe four or five people, and said “Who wants first dibs?” It was filmed and it’s really traumatic rewatching that video. This behaviour is implicit in the narrative which the school teaches the boys: that they are the best, the brightest, the future leaders of the world and therefore untouchable.

One thought that strikes me after reading a number of these testimonies from a range of schools, including mainstream state ones, is that we find an intriguing mixture. Some incidents are described in convincing graphic detail but mainly relate to incidents at the milder end of the scale, while darker allegations of “rape” tend to be vague, as though trying to hide what was really only a squabble within a relationship. Just as with the description of rape culture given by Everyone’s Invited, everything is chucked into a heady punchbowl of discontent without any taxonomic structure or quantification to give a basis for clear conclusions.

The knee-jerk response of politicians from all sides was to call for an inquiry. For once, I agree with them. An in-depth investigation would gain useful clarification if it were to commission academically independent formal research, but not – and sadly this is more likely – if it were merely to gather opinions from the usual biased sources, such as the NSPCC.

Not that the current lack of clarity inhibited the pedagogues and the pundits. Headmasters of the schools named were quick to deflect blame by pointing to wider problems in society. The columnists and podcasters gave us their pet theories, a favourite explanation being, as so often, the evils of modern technology, especially the ready availability of pornography on the internet, and the ubiquity of the mobile phone in teenage hands, offering endless possibilities for illicit photography and malicious social media postings.

It would be unwise to dismiss such thoughts lightly. There is definitely an ugly malaise on the social media platforms, where freedom of expression has undeniably delivered a cesspit of abusive hate speech, and where depictions of sex are by no means confined to enthusiastic and mutually enjoyable intimacy.

By why bother going into other people’s pet theories when I have my own? Better than that, I have ideas with strong research backing – unlike the anti-porn lobby, which has been trying for decades without success to come up with evidence showing that pornography is morally corrosive and turns men into rapists. The latter is certainly not true, and here is my first research-based point: a whole succession of studies across a range of countries have shown that where pornography laws were liberalised in the past, sex offences went down sharply. Likewise, in the US after porn became widely available on the internet for the first time, sex offences fell.

Also, much as I like the idea of bashing the elite culture of entitlement perceived by many of the Everyone’s Invited complainants as the source of their woes, I am sure this is not a complete explanation. The prominent representation of posh schools in the testimonies can be accounted for at least in part by Sara’s own background and contacts in private education. A study based on data taken proportionately from all types of school might have revealed a similar pattern of grievance everywhere.

At its broadest it appears to be a pattern of bad manners and mismatched expectations between the sexes as to how to go about achieving mutually desired sexual contacts and relationships. It is a failure, just as Sara says, of relationships education.

Unholy bunch? Boys at Westminster School on their way through the cloisters leading to the nearby school chapel, otherwise known as Westminster Abbey.

So what sort of education is needed? Sara wants to find out through a process of reconciliation, saying that to reconcile “is to understand both sides, to listen”. It means, she says, to “forgive and go forward”. While the generosity of spirit expressed here is commendable, her suggestion goes nowhere far enough, in my view. Individual sixth formers might well be able to work things out in this way, and good luck to them; but the systemic problem will remain.

For a start, this view is based on the unsustainable premise that girls are necessarily right (they will do the forgiving) and that boys are wrong. The listening part might well need to take on board the thought that chastity is overvalued in our culture, and that girls might be happier if they (and boys) had relationships education that allowed them to lighten up a bit without being slut-shamed.

The teenage years are not the right time to start. Basic attitudes to the relationship between the sexes are learned long before, starting with the social behaviour of toddlers and becoming more entrenched through middle childhood. Extensive research on the evolutionary biology of our species and that of our fellow primates has demonstrated that humans uniquely have a lengthy childhood period in which we are not capable of reproduction.

Why? It enables us to maximise the advantage of having a large brain, giving time for a period of learning and apprenticeship. The evolutionary background is explored in Melvin Konner’s The Evolution of Childhood, although be warned it is a highly technical book and its 944 pages do not make for light reading. Parents and teachers alike have long understood that kids in middle childhood soak up information like a sponge, memorising much more efficiently and effortlessly than at any other time. Relatively recent research, as explained to a wide audience in the wonderful Channel 4 series The Secret Life of 4 and 5 Year Olds, has also shown that children are capable of understanding moral concepts at a considerably earlier age than used to be thought possible.

This presents a huge opportunity for social education that is largely going to waste at present. In the Gradgrindian rush to stuff kids’ heads with facts that will get them through exams (and will often be of little other use), the WEIRD culture we live in has lost sight of the very basic need for boys and girls to learn about each other’s bodies and sexuality, so they can be more at ease with each other. And even when this need is vaguely understood, we have become too “civilised” to grasp how to facilitate this learning, mistakenly thinking it has to be done by specialist teachers trained to tiptoe euphemistically and inoffensively through a minefield of potentially “triggering” topics.

Ironically, expert educationalists are well aware that the ideal way of learning is by doing, not by listening.  Why not apply this to sex education? And what better time to apply it than well before puberty, when there is no possibility of unwanted pregnancy? Instead of being thought of as a school lesson, along the lines of orthodox Relationship and Sex Education (RSE), the doing part should be seen as rehearsal. Little girls have traditionally anticipated and rehearsed motherhood by playing with dolls. Why shouldn’t little boys and girls alike be allowed to play “mummies and daddies” in a kindergarten bedroom, fulfilling a similar role rehearsal function?

This is not off-the-wall extremist theory. It is practical. It has been done. Work that came out of Scandinavia in the 1980s included an observation-rich book on the sexual behaviour of kindergarten children, Barns kärleksliv (Children’s Love Life) by Gertrude Aigner and Erik Centerwall. Published in Sweden in 1983, it features scenarios in which kindergarten staffs were able to observe and hear the goings on in a “Cosy Room” with comfy bedding, where the pre-schoolers are able to relax away from adult company. The reports of their sexual activities are graphic and extensive. This book has never been published in English, but at least I blogged about it and was able to introduce it to a wider Anglophone readership last year when my review of the Cambridge Handbook of Sexual Development: Childhood and Adolescence was published in Sexuality & Culture.

For present purposes, though, the really important point is not children’s expression of their sexuality in itself, but the fact that from time to time it is not plain sailing. Just as in other areas of life, in which children learn to treat each other considerately, to share fairly and so on, this “body learning” includes just such moral elements. A fascinating aspect of Aigner and Centerwall’s book was to reveal the detailed and effective engagement of the kindergarten staffs of the time with the tricky question of how to allow sexual freedom for children while avoiding harassment of one child by another. Their debates over power-play amongst the children, and indeed between children and staff, are well worth re-visiting and offer a model for nipping teenage power-play in the bud.

 

NOW IT’S FOUCAULT’S TURN FOR THE CHOP

The reputational guillotine that fell recently on the necks of French public intellectuals Gabriel Matzneff and Olivier Duhamel over alleged child sexual abuse, has now been brought slicing down on an even bigger figure than either of them in the new revolutionary reign of terror: Michel Foucault. The Sunday Times broke the story in an interview piece, and there was a follow-up report in the next week’s issue:

The philosopher Michel Foucault, a beacon of today’s “woke” ideology, has become the latest prominent French figure to face a retrospective reckoning for sexually abusing children.

A fellow intellectual, Guy Sorman, has unleashed a storm among Parisian “intellos” with his claim that Foucault, who died in 1984 aged 57, was a paedophile rapist who had sex with Arab children while living in Tunisia in the late 1960s.

Sorman, 77, said he had visited Foucault with a group of friends on an Easter holiday trip to the village of Sidi Bou Said, near Tunis, where the philosopher was living in 1969. “Young children were running after Foucault saying ‘what about me? take me, take me’,” he recalled last week in an interview with The Sunday Times.

What amuses me is the framing of the indictment here, by reporter Matthew Campbell in his opening sentence. He makes it sound as though being woke is worse than child molesting. I might agree, but it is surprising a Sunday Times writer would think the same! Perhaps it is because of what he reports in the last paragraph quoted here, about all those Tunisian kids running to be molested. Campbell must have noticed they hardly seemed to have found Foucault’s company traumatising!

 

FROM RUSSIA WITH MISCHIEF

Russia’s mischievous meddling in other country’s domestic politics, aimed, it is said, at destabilising its democratic foes, has now struck the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the middle of an election campaign. Moscow-based news agency Sputnik News has run a story linking the SNP rather circuitously to the Paedophile Information Exchange. Even my name is dragged in, apparently for slightly more up-to-date smear value.

The most culpable player in this dirty politics, though, could well be former SNP leader Alex Salmond. As anyone keeping a close eye on British politics will know, Salmond has a bitter personal score to settle with the party’s current leader Nicola Sturgeon, following his acquittal at the end of a trial for attempted rape and other sex offence charges. Sputnik cites information coming out of a conference called by Salmond’s new Alba Party as a source of the politically embarrassing alleged paedophilia connection. Murky!

 

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD CHARGED WITH RAPE

It is reported that a 7-year-old boy from Brasher Falls, New York State, has been charged with rape.

“State police didn’t release much information,” reports the report, unhelpfully, although it is hardly surprising the police might be coy on their own account as well as any concern over the privacy of the young parties and their families.

So, what to say? What a little bugger (allegedly)! Or fucker! Or should that be “What a wrongly accused pure, innocent, little angel!”, as we all know that children have no sexual feelings?

 

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Stephen James

This is hilarious in its lack of subtlety:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4GKXsAOYZE

They must think all parents are stupid!

Also, its telling that the visitor left till last (and therefore presumably the one considered the most threatening) is not the machine gun wielding killer but the pedo!

Fata Morgana

Yes, a rather skewed hierarchy. Unless they just feel that the machine gun-wielding maniac is less of a threat because he’s a terrible shot.

Prue

Yeah this clip was beyond parody

Stephen James

It reminds me of the famous ‘Brass Eye’ episode about ‘paedogeddon’!

Prue

Me and a friend of mine watched it several times – it gets better every time! Some of the lines!

[paraphrasing]:

“Are your children having sex with adults?! If we define the child as anyone under 30, the number of people having sex with adults skyrockets” XD Amazing!

Throughout the whole thing no one ever says what a paedophile actually means, that’s part of what makes it so funny. There’s a clip that still goes around today.
The narrator says that a national survey told British men what a paedophile was [of course, not telling us, the viewers] and asked them if they were one, and “92% said yes”. Very good stuff.

There’s so many clippable bits. They have the singer “JLB-8” and they ask some girls “wouldn’t you object if he tried to kiss you”, and of course they say no.

Oh god that bit about “composite” CP images! That guy who came in to evaluate them and say whether they constituted CP or not; he was THE REAL DEAL! His names is Michael Hames. He was head of the UK MET Obscene Publications Branch. He’s LEGIT and I still can’t tell if he was trying to show how ridiculous the law was or if he was being serious.

And then there’s the songs! Oh the songs. The end song is just wonderful and closes it really well.

Very much recommended. We could probably do with more comedy to get through to normies. It would be very easy to present facts as if they’re a joke – “and 1/3rd of those sex offenders are children themselves…” – it’s so absurd the wider public wouldn’t think it’s the reality they’re living in!

Zen Thinker

Just wondering what people’s thoughts were about the Pope’s pronouncement this weekend that child sexual exploitation (CSE) was ‘a kind of psychological murder’.

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2021-05/pope-francis-meter-association-audience-child-abuse-pornography.html

He describes the ‘spiritual wounds’ caused by CSE, their innocence being ‘violated or enslaved by the selfishness of adults’. I always listen to the Pope seriously and this has given me pause for thought. Exploitation of any individual is wrong, and the Pope seems to suggest the ‘sacred innocence of the child’ is paramount, even though children are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the technological world.

I think the Pope’s warning against direct CSE is correct, but where children and their families showcase their lives on social media, that is a product of the internet age, and we cannot have ‘exploitation’ impugned against us (and for the record, Insta, YT and TikTok are *safe*).

As for a ‘pro-contact’ position, I respectfully state that I am entirely neutral on this issue, especially as my own minor attraction expresses itself just in legal forms on social media. And I always weigh the Pope’s words carefully, but for others here, feel free to disagree.

Prue

Will have to read the article later but…

Wanted to chirp in that I see “pro-contact” vs “anti-contact” as a false dichotomy. More of a way to smear people like Tom et al. who are willing to argue about questions of harm, consent and willingness, and dare to propose changes to legislation. In my child marriage piece https://heretictoc.com/2021/01/13/should-a-child-ever-get-married/, Tom pointed out to me that this term was coined by VirPed to further distance them.selves and smear the “other side”.

https://heretictoc.com/2016/01/14/humble-or-haughty-nasty-is-naughty/
https://heretictoc.com/2016/01/18/down-and-dirty-in-the-vp-basement/

The problem, as I see it, is that even Tom stans like myself don’t advocate that people should accept the advances of young people or make effort to get in touch with interested youth. In the current climate regarding expression deemed sexual, the risk of iatrogenic harm / nocebogenic harm is simply too great.

Though this does not mean, at least IMO, that 1.) older persons can’t be friends with youth, however risky that could be depending on individual circumstances).
Or 2.) that we can’t or shouldn’t offer support to those in legal trouble or give advice on what to do if they falter and engage in something deemed criminal. None of this is advocating for people to go out and do X or Y, so there’s not really a distinction between “pro” and “anti” in that sense. No one thinks people should engage in something deemed criminal, but we have to recognize that when things like “child pron” don’t require nudity nor real children, the ever-expanding scope of criminal liability means the line isn’t particularly clear and it’s very easy to become a “criminal” without having hurt a fly.

Rather, it’s recognizing the wealth of evidence, both anthropological and more recent, making it clear that harm in non-violent, mutually willing encounters is not inherent, but a function of culture and external responses to the activity. Including, of course, what one takes “harm” / “harmful” to mean. For instance, sometimes CSA being related to having more sexual partners in general is rendered as a “negative outcome”, but of course why this is / should be the case isn’t clear; it’s simply a reflection of values and culture.

Even Finkelhor emphasized the importance of culture before the new wave of research in the 80’s. To quote: “Finkelhor (1979a), on the basis of his college sample, observed

People .. . still use the standard of intercourse to judge the seriousness of a child’s sexual experience. In other words, they presume that experiences involving intercourse are the most traumatic. .. . However, our data show the opposite; that is, the seriousness of sexual activity as it is usually understood does not seem related to greater trauma in children. .. . It suggests that the actual sexual activity involved is less important than its context, (p. 103)” (Quoted in Rind et al., 2001, ‘The Validity and Appropriateness of Methods, Analyses, and Conclusions in Rind et al. (1998)’, p. 742).

Even Tom himself said, commenting on a court case w/ historic allegations involving him, quite powerfully and probably surprisingly to the wider public if they had bothered to take notice:

“When we defy the law we put children at grave risk of growing up feeling they must have been damaged – because our culture virulently insists it is so, on a daily basis – even when that is not how they felt at the time. Only in a culture which has changed so much that it is ready to accept more liberal laws will child-adult sexual relationships be ethically feasible. It is because I refuse to give up on that vision that I continue to write.”

(From, https://heretictoc.com/2016/03/20/a-rare-escape-without-bribery-or-bloodshed/).

I think you, ZT, summarized it best in a comment to me:

“Pro-contact” means a desire for a future social and legal settlement where the sexual child is properly understood and allowed to engage in relationships of their choosing.”

However, where I would most likely part ways with some MAPs is when they assert those who have offended in some way (whatever that offense many be) are NOT or no longer part of the MAP / CL community. There was a youtube channel called “the proud MAP”, apparently run by a 16 YO GL, who took this position (quite ironically, their channel has since been terminated). A case of divisive brainrot identity politics IMO.

The juncture is clear: I wouldn’t disavow them, but they’d disavow me [or Tom, more likely, given his convictions]. Personally, I’m not about to throw people under the bus simply bc the label on them is politically inconvenient. People are more than their convictions. We distance ourselves by our opposition to those who inflict violence on children or impose themselves sexually. Other than that: No one left behind.

Part of the reason I prefer Tom’s community and Tom’s stances in general (apart from their emphasis on research), is that there’s less pressure to disavow our comrades if, for whatever reason, they get in trouble with the authorities. I would wager that those who take a VirPed stance that intergen sexual activity is always wrong would struggle to defend their allies if they got in trouble, as it makes it look like they’re fraternizing with those they ostensibly rail against. “VirPed defends child rapist / child porn convict” wouldn’t be good PR.

Trying to end this far too long comment, I refrain from using the term “pro” or “anti” contact bc 1. it’s misleading and falsely smears one side, and 2. bc no one wants children to be harmed, but those deemed “pro” [i guess I’d be in this camp] just disagree on, and aren’t precluded from debating, the source(s) of / what constitutes “harm”.

Zen Thinker

Yes this was a very articulate and interesting response, so thanks. I certainly didn’t mean pro-contact as a smear, I simply used it as a particular political and legalistic stance.

It’s difficult for me because I use the Pope’s words as a basis for my own personal morality, and sometimes he appears to say hardline things. Or at least makes general statements about a complex and ambiguous issue.

I appreciate your input because you have set out a clear ethical path forward. Oh, and don’t assume just because some of us keep quiet that we haven’t had run-ins with the police 😉

Fata Morgana

It’s difficult for me because I use the Pope’s words as a basis for my own personal morality

Then don’t, because he’s fallible like every other human being. (And I mean that with the greatest of respect to you, ZT.)

Zen Thinker

Haha, yes sadly I know about many of the more scandalous popes. One has to believe in something though, everyone atheists included believe in some metanarrative about life – and without that, what is there?

Fata Morgana

‘One has to believe in something’ doesn’t provide support for a particular belief.

Prue

“Paul III (1534-1549) murdered relatives, including poisoning his mother and niece, to inherit the family fortune. He had two cardinals and a bishop hacked to death with swords when he tired of their theological conversation. Notoriously corrupt, he controlled some 45,000 Roman prostitutes, taking a cut of their earnings: so he was a pimp pope, big time! His most well-known lover was an attractive young lady named Costanza Farnese. She was his daughter!”

That is one hell of a life story! Imagine the films that could be made just based on that alone! Either dramatic action films or the classic Anti documentary where they play creepy music and zoom in on the worst, most pixelated photo they can find of someone. The documentary “Kinsey’s Pedophiles” had me and my friends in stitches it was so ad hom and ridiculous!

Prue

Prob more relevant to the blog post itself, I just read an article about Billie Eilish. If you search “abuse” you’ll be able to see an example of someone not only re-interpreting a past experience in light of becoming an “adult” looking-back, that is, in line with prevailing cultural mores. But, in an even more dangerous message for those w/ positive experiences, we see someone who’s clearly had an unhappy upbringing (even going to Rehab) combined with what appears to have been non-consensual intergen encounter(s), projecting her experience outwards as if it’s representative.

It’s unfortunate that this is the message probably millions of people will be exposed to through her music (she’s apparently done songs about abuse and power dynamics). A few simple caveats and it wouldn’t be an issue. Y’know, recognizing that just because X had a bad experience, doesn’t mean others will.

Of course, the article is framed through the author who’s reporting on their conversation, so who knows whether Eilish, in her mind if not in public, would be willing to recognize distinctions. There’s prob more I could say but here’s the article:

https://www.vogue.co.uk/news/article/billie-eilish-vogue-interview?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB

Prue

Got a relevant study people might find interesting / useful.

Marc-André Goudreault, Study of the psychological and physiological characteristics of a community sample of pedophiles, 2017 thesis.

Link here https://papyrus.bib.umontreal.ca/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1866/19870/Goudreault_Marc-Andre_2017_essai_doctoral.pdf?sequence=2

Goudreault compared a community sample of 190 male pedophiles with a control group composed of 151males from the general population, examining differences in their depressive symptoms, self-esteem, esteem, psychopathic traits, height, and handedness.

What did Goudreault find? Well, some good evidence that it’s not appropriate to use clinical samples to demonize child-lovers in the general population. Namely, the highlight of the study IMO: “Difference between pedophiles and controls reached statistical significance for psychopathic traits, with pedophiles displaying fewer psychopathic traits compared to controls. These results contradict the findings of the large majority of studies using forensic and clinical samples of pedophiles.” (pp. iv-v, my emphasis).

After performing a useful and reasonable discussion of relevant literature (including Wilson & Cox and the late Dave Riegel), Goudreault concluded:

“when compared to controls, our pedophile participants did not report significantly more depressive symptoms, they did not demonstrate a weaker self-esteem, they did not display more psychopathic traits, they were not shorter, and they did not tend to be more non-right-handed. Thus, our results suggest that pedophiles from forensic and clinical samples are different from those in community samples and that generalizing the conclusions drawn from forensic and clinical samples to all pedophiles is an important methodological and conceptual bias. In order to properly understand the general pedophile population, researchers need to stop generalizing conclusions drawn from forensic and clinical samples and need to conduct more studies on pedophiles recruited from the community.” (p. 44).

Think this would go very well alongside Wilson and Cox’s research on PIE’s membership.

If anyone wants to share this study around, post on BoyChat / GirlChat or Freespeechtube perhaps, or barrage Sara Jahnke with emails, that would be FAB. ATM I don’t have an account on either.

Prue

Haha, no worries. That’s what happens on google scholar trawls; pdfs upon pdfs! Drowning in pdfs! XD

This one might also be useful in case you (or anyone here) wants to tackle the idea of empathy and empathy regarding MAPs in particular.

Haven’t been able to access this one but might be something worth bookmarking. https://doi.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fpas0000732

Fata Morgana

Just to play devil’s advocate to Goudreault, because he concludes that generalising the conclusions drawn from forensic and clinical samples to all pedophiles is an important methodological and conceptual bias, is there not also potential for bias in his study? All 190 paedophiles were sourced from the Internet. It’s quite plausible that paedophiles with higher psychopathic traits wouldn’t be found discussing their plight on the Internet, especially if they harboured any intentions of committing an offence. This might explain the lower degree of psychopathic traits found. Perhaps if all bias could be removed, the finding would be that, on balance, paedophiles are no more or less psychopathic than the rest of the population.

Prue

All studies have some kind of bias, even down to the level of word choice; what’s important is being able to recognize it and weigh up pros and cons. Goudreault is no exception, and I agree with you that: “Perhaps, if all bias could be removed, the finding would be that, on balance, paedophiles are no more or less psychopathic than the rest of the population.” I can give some reasons why.

At the moment, the data we have, based mostly on clinical / criminal samples, is problematic for a few reasons.

1. because clinical samples may skew the picture towards those with tendencies towards violence, mental health issues, and dysfunctional lives (compounded by poverty which compound the rest).

And 2. because many studies do not make it clear how they determined, whether they even tested, whether their sample were in fact paedophiles. They erroneously assume that someone who participated in something deemed criminal with a youth makes them a paedophile, when of course it does not. Touching a child’s genitalia or talking to them about sex (“non-contact offense”) doesn’t mean a person is preferentially or exclusively attracted to prepubescents. It would be pretty dangerous for parents to keep their kids clean and answer their sex questions if that alone were enough to classify them as paedophiles!

A relevant study touching on this problem is Andreas Mokros et al., ‘The Uncertainty of Psychological and Psychiatric Diagnosis’, in Psychological Assessment, 30:4 (2018), 556–560 <https://doi.org/10.1037/pas0000524&gt;

They explain that, psychiatric and psychological phenomena “have no gold standard for establishing their presence beyond a reasonable doubt” in making a diagnosis, and estimate that up to 1 in 3 diagnoses of paedophilia in sex offenders may be wrong.

However, why do I think you’re probably right that the ped population “are no more or less psychopathic than the rest of the population”? Well, because those few studies based on paedophile work-groups and organizations, I would speculate, are more likely to attract people who actually are pref or exclusively attracted to youngsters. And what did they find? Frits Bernard’s study of Dutch work-groups found, quote: “The results for our subjects do not differ significantly from those of the average Dutchman” (Paedophilia: A Factual Report, 1985, p. 83). Wilson & Cox, famously in their study of PIE members, concluded they were “gentle and rational”, etc.

There are probably more studies I’m just failing to remember.

I would briefly caution a few things you’ve said:

“It’s quite plausible that paedophiles with higher psychopathic traits wouldn’t be found discussing their plight on the Internet, especially if they harboured any intentions of committing an offence.”

I know this might not be your intention, but I’ll just add that:

  1. It’s also quite possible that paedophiles with higher psychopathic traits would go online to discuss their plight. A pathologizing researcher would call it something like a need to divert responsibility by “rationalizing” their cognitive distortions. The very fact someone could entertain sexually engaging with a child as mutual, and to interpret the child as a sexual being, can be seen as both manipulative, a lie, and a disregard for, and violation of, the child’s rights. It’s all about the paradigm a researcher works within and how that shapes the process of gathering and interpreting data. Prior to the late 50’s, the mental health issues of homosexuals were interpreted as further proof of their disordered perversion, not that the hostile society led people who were same-sex attracted to develop more mental health issues. Same is probably true of paedophiles but our current climate makes it difficult to investigate. Bernard + Wilson and Cox’s findings lend support to this, given many of their research subjects had grown up well before the 1980’s paradigm shift.
  1. I think we should be careful of assuming that someone who intends to commit an offence would show more psychopathic traits. They may not be prone to lying, manipulative behaviour, or lacking in empathy or moral right and wrongs. They may simply have developed their own views on what constitutes right or wrong, the highest stage of moral development according to Kohlberg. I would be careful about pathologizing; even the language “offenders” is probably not helpful. All we mean is that someone’s been involved with the criminal authorities / law, that doesn’t tell us much else. I would also just caution that offences may not be “harboured”, that is, premeditated. It may spring from nowhere; a child could impose themselves on another; their initial resistance might break down. Richard Yuill’s main interviewee discusses just that, where, as a boy he took his opportunist moment and the initially terrified man eventually gave in and let him do his work. There’s too much variation in human behaviour to disavow everyone who’s “offended”, much less assume that they’re either paedophiles or have high degrees of psychopathy. There may be a difference between those whose offences were premeditated to those whose were spontaneous and seemingly came from nowhere, just as there’s probably a great difference between sexual experiences initiated by a child compared to those initiated by the adult. But we’d need to test, and dare to make those distinctions, to find out. It’s all about the paradigm and the context. Someone who kills as a soldier is a hero to one side and enemy to another; someone who kills a police officer in self-defense is a criminal to the law, a victim of circumstance to their supporters, or a thug to those who support police brutality. They’ve all still killed, but the context and the paradigm the same event gets interpreted through, gives you a different end result.

Hope that was interesting to someone somewhere. Rant. Over… 🙂

Stephen James

And then again, aren’t these categories like ‘paedophile’ rather artificial? There’s a spectrum. As someone who must be somewhere in the middle ( I’m about equally minor-attracted and teleiophile) I am very aware of this fact. Not that this goes against anything you are saying, really. One could treat minor attraction as a matter of degree and still ask whether there are any non-sexual qualities correlated with it – and be rightly skeptical about this, as you are.

Prue

Yes I’m with you on that. Very important to point out and I wish more people would! Especially scholars. Honestly if I was a journal editor I’d request some caveat like that as a condition for publication on articles discussing the “P” word, just to make it clear that “paedophile”, “teliophile” etc does not necessarily mean exclusive. The lack of understanding is such that making definitions explicit is important if not necessary, IMO.

Zen Thinker

Interesting societal reflection by Ross Douthat in the New York Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/08/opinion/sunday/capitalism-conservatism.html

He writes:

It’s not that capitalist dynamism inevitably dissolves conservative habits. It’s more that the wealth this dynamism piles up, the liberty it enables and the technological distractions it invents, let people live more individualistically — at first happily, with time perhaps less so — in ways that eventually undermine conservatism and dynamism together. At which point the peril isn’t markets red in tooth and claw, but a capitalist endgame that resembles Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” with a rich and technologically proficient world turning sterile and dystopian.

If capitalist churn isn’t what it used to be, if taming its excesses in the style of France or Sweden isn’t enough to restore family and community, if the combination of welfare-state liberalism and personal emancipation trends toward a Huxleyan dystopia, do liberals have any resources besides complaints about capitalism that might help pull us off that course?

In my opinion the vast societal changes since the 1960s, after a long era of stability, do portend to some aspects of a “Huxleyan dystopia” as far as that extends to a state of late decadence. But the upshot of this is that with the breakdown of the nuclear family and the emancipation of first women, and now even children, the future has some aspects which are far from negative. I personally am something of a champion of “individualism” and I found rigid family structures stultifying and ossifying. “Family and community” are false ideals which entrench old societal structures. We live in a world now where five-year-olds use makeup and mascara, and Brazil is perhaps leading the world in the trend of youth empowerment.

Social conservative values have been truly undermined and “let kids be kids” is now an idiotic anachronism. “Wealth, liberty, technological distraction” have indeed fundamentally altered contemporary civilisation, to the extent that some aspects of the Brave New World society may come true. The minor attracted person will not be permitted to interact with the child, but increasingly the child will take on adult, sexual and “public sphere” characteristics that will fundamentally shape the dynamic across generations. This has long term implications which may even eventually begin to undermine trenchant AoC laws; consent is already being ideologically questioned in the sphere of early transgender rights. But expect strict Western State intransigence in the face of liberalising “child safety” laws; we may not see meaningful development for many decades.

It’s strange, because once a change of culture happens, the shift can be very sudden, and we are seeing the foundations being taken away from youth marginalisation in society. No-one can predict the future, but it looks as though consent as a concept will continue to undergo fundamental transformation, as it has in the light of #metoo; transformational both in terms of a tightening of social mores but also paradoxically and inevitably a liberalisation of the social discourse around sex and relationships. The end result is a tendency towards infantilising adults and adultification of children, thus levelling the playing field between the two generational classes.

Prue

“The minor attracted person will not be permitted to interact with the child, but increasingly the child will take on adult, sexual and “public sphere” characteristics that will fundamentally shape the dynamic across generations.”

This was a really nice and thoughtful comment in general. I think you’re absolutely right to emphasize technology. Especially regarding communications technology and the internet which, whilst facilitating the smooth flow of Capital across borders, also radically transforms childhood, what children can and can’t do, and how they’re perceived. I recently had a chat with a female friend of mine who has a 7 year old son, and she told me that a local (peer-aged) girl asked to see his **** . She stopped him but the son still wanted to show the girl, and later he was caught trying to photo his **** to send to the girl. (This mother is very supportive of me and my work, and only stopped her son because of fears about how other parents might react, not because she thinks it’s inherently a problem). The point is that kids having phones and cameras opens up new possibilities for them to express themselves; before the fear was adults taking photos of them, now it’s kids photographing themselves.

Karthyn Bond Stockton kind of gets at this in her discussion of the queer child, which includes the sexual child.

There’s tensions for sure, and they’ll probably intensify. Especially if the climate crisis and climate refugees comes to pass.

When you say “The end result is a tendency towards infantilising adults and adultification of children”, are you suggesting that children have a lot more info, responsibility, expectations placed on them at younger ages? So, for instance, giving kids in the single digits “consent, sex and relationships education”, undermines the idea of “kids being kids” – that their relationships are or should be just harmless play, or that, if they do harm each other, they shouldn’t be held responsible anyway. One possible response to the criminalization of child sexuality is to invest their activities with a seriousness befitting it’s legal seriousness, which seems to have occurred, rather than challenging the law itself. Angelides (2019) reports a school text for teens: “Sexting between minors is a felony and can have serious legal consequences. You could be charged with a crime,” declares the NCPC. “If convicted you could be labelled as a sex offender for the rest of your life.” (p. 162). So the idea is that education follows suit and treats children more like adults?

Not sure if I’m expressing myself very well…

Question: when you say “We live in a world now where five-year-olds use makeup and mascara, and Brazil is perhaps leading the world in the trend of youth empowerment.”, do you have anything you’d recommend to learn about that?? I know Laura Lowenkron is a decent scholar writing in the Brazilian context, but I’m curious as to what you mean by “youth empowerment” here?

Zen Thinker

By ‘adultification of children’ I mean the way early access to technology is making children more mentally mature at young ages. Or rather, mature in some ways, but still retaining their native innocence and also a charming joie de vivre. They are becoming mentally mature through constant bombardment of cultural influences in pop music, TV, social media and other forms, as well as ever earlier sex education in schools – which ironically was to try and stymie these cultural influences, but probably in fact accelerates the sociological process even further.

While I think it is important to protect children online, I was dismayed to read this article in The Telegraph today:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/05/11/social-media-firms-fail-protect-children-barred/

I quote: Social media giants would no longer be allowed to let under-aged children on to their sites with “no further questions asked” and would instead face sanctions for failing to enforce minimum age limits.

This is terrible. It is one thing to protect children, and another thing to make them outcasts from the digital world and take away their agency. I don’t know how this new UK legislation will pan out, but it seems to have an agenda of removing children entirely from the digital space, which would be a tragedy for them and for the cohesion of broader society.

My Brazilian comment uses Brazilian Instagram as my core piece of evidence. There are many young social media influencers in Brazil, with accounts administrated by their mothers, so they can’t be banned for having underage accounts. It is my personal belief that Brazil is a society with a far greater degree of cultural and sociological sophistication / maturity in its children than in the conventional West.

Instagram actually has a really neat algorithm that tracks young Brazilian influencer accounts for me without me having to follow anyone. This isn’t for nefarious purposes of course, it is an aesthetic joy, even at times a spiritual thing, to see these influencers and their glamorous lives. There are some very beautiful girls and some as young as five use makeup and mascara in a completely normal and everyday way. They are heavily into fashion and have been brought up early to value these things. Now I don’t like superficiality, but I call it ‘youth empowerment’ because young girls are being given more autonomy, and the mothers are incredibly liberal, often beautiful, young and glamorous themselves, and encourage their children in these things in a safe and loving way.

Meanwhile, the UK is apparently ‘leading the world’ in its new online safety legislation but in many respects it’s a sham. I hate online predators targeting children, and if it dealt with that effectively I would be all for it. But the proposal to ban children from the online space altogether is in itself a nefarious and devious attempt to roll back the clock in a socially conservative way and stop children developing more mature psychosocial traits, in my opinion. Furthermore, it is doomed to fail, as the tide of technological progress is inevitable; it is just annoying that they make these petty jabs at preventing the digital participation of children.

Prue

Posting links to reviews of Rahel Hope Cleves’s book here. Also posted on the Norman Douglas blog in case anyone (like me!) enjoys looking back through previous posts.

First, see http://wapercyfoundation.org/?page_id=1056 at the William Percy Foundation’s book reviews section.

Second, see https://greek-love.com/biographies/pederasty-biography-reviews/unspeakable-a-life-beyond-sexual-morality

These 2 reviews really complement each other.

The scholar who runs the Greek Love site has also reproduced letters from Eric Wolton to Douglas; see – https://greek-love.com/modern-europe/norman-douglas-1868-1952/letters-from-eric-wolton-1921

For the interested reader there’s more:

Always more to learn about! And, of course, heretics and fellow travelers could consider sharing these things around. BoyChat, Freespeechtube, and wherever else it’s safe to do so.

Fata Morgana

Prue, do you have an anonymous e-mail address? I’d be interested to hear about your experiences of tackling taboo subject matter in academia.

Prue

Hi there, I never said thank you for the article you linked me down below (feels bad!) so I’ll just take this opportunity to say cheers for that.

For an email go for hatopiyo@protonmail.com
[email I use less and would be less annoyed if I get troll mail]

I should briefly note that I only have an MA and I didn’t have to go through any hoops (e.g. ethical approval), so unlike someone like Richard Yuill who was doing a PhD and interviewing people about positive experiences, I kept everything very much on the down-low and didn’t have (really any) pressure to liaison with an academic adviser / overseer(s). In my case I pretty much resigned myself to accepting the risk; that I’d just write about it and if the examiners took umbrage, if I get kicked off the course, well so be it… Luckily it turned out all right but I don’t think I have quite as informative an experience, and certainly nowhere near as dramatic, as Yuill’s.

But yh sure send me an email; feel free to ask me what I think about X, if I know about Y.

For instance, I’d be interested to know what you think of the term MAP?

Stephen James

I loved this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88bGTF1_fRA

The NOs are often more revealing than the YESes!

Fata Morgana

This video is is revealing in a different way. I can’t help but wonder what prompted her to reach that conclusion.

Stephen James

Most likely just a fanciful notion on her part, but who knows? It looks like comments have been disabled but even if they haven’t, it would be wrong – I won’t say ‘inappropriate’, that’s the Enemy’s language – to probe.

Stephen James

Our minds think alike – those were two of my favourites as well!

Mr P

Tom I’d just like to draw your attention to a documentary That I saw an advertisement for.
Tears of a Crime. I have seen their earlier series. I enjoyed it, not seen the one about Jimmy Savile yet, The body language expert who I recognise from Itv analyses the give away traits of some of the UKs most famous killers. The new series they go over Michael Jackson’s interviews with Bashr. Just seeing the advert they seem to imply MJ to innocent. I’m sure you’d have something to say about that.

Dissident

Thank you for this post, Tom. I have no problem per se with trying to encourage more ethical behavior by males towards females. The problem is not that; the problem, IMO, is how one-sided this whole situation is. Yes, misogyny should be opposed, but how could Sara and her ilk ignore how blatantly acceptable that open misandry is nowadays on social media? Or, how unattractive males are openly looked upon with contempt by women, who then penalize them when they get angry and bitter. Yes, slut-shaming is a problem, but why do they ignore the fact that women do this to each other at least as often as men do it? What about the plethora of advice videos and sites for women intending to be a “sugar baby” on how to control men, whom they often expect to provide for them financially for increasingly platonic relationships? I think that it should be acknowledged that women are likely treated better in the modern West than at any previous point in recorded history. A segment of them claim to still be oppressed not because they have it disproportionately bad compared to men in the West, but because they want more than simple equality, and they know playing the “victim” card is the best way to do this.

Ultimately, why overlook the fact that our society encourages males and females alike into financial, emotional, and social competition with each other? This is not going to result in mutually respectful behavior.

Dissident

Thank you, Tom. To extrapolate one more matter based on my above observations: Unattractive men, often referred to in social media as “incels”, are one of the most genuinely marginalized and demonized groups in modern WEIRD society. What is a sure way to tell when any given group is truly marginalized? When it’s considered fully acceptable to openly attack and demonize that demographic with little concern for harsh rebuttal or pushback. Do women, blacks, and LGBT people fit this profile in modern WEIRD culture/social media? Most certainly not, save for in the delusional claims of SJWs and ultra-liberals. Do “incels” and MAPs fit the bill? They most certainly do, and it would be silly to claim otherwise.

Stephen James

Just after I read this I watched the latest edition of Thaddeus Russell’s podcast in which he interviews Warren Farrell. As some of you will know, Russell is a very bold podcaster – he even questions AOC laws, for Heaven’s sake! Warren Farrell was a prominent ‘male feminist’ who had a big change of heart. The interview is very long but very worthwhile, I think. One interesting revelation is that female violence against men may actually be as frequent as male violence against women. Here is the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5mzvCNZV7A

Dissident

Thanks, Stephen. I will check out his videos with interest!

Gantier99

Dressed to kill? Or to reconcile? Soma Sara, as featured in an interview with Vogue, the influential fashion magazine.”

Exactly my thought when I happened across an even “less appropriate to the subject” picture of Sara Soma, in Tatler magazine. It appears near the end of this informative article:

https://www.tatler.com/article/latymer-upper-school-rape-culture-everyones-invited-soma-sara

On reflection, I think the choice of picture must have been intended as a statement of resistance.

Peter Herman

“Brave New World” may have used the concept of hands on sexual education of young children to enhance a dystopian idea, but the 1958 movie “Auntie Mame” did not. The main character, Auntie Mame sends her ward and nephew to a progressive school in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. To the shock of the boy’s executor, the boy tells him that to learn about sex, both boys and girls were urged to squirm naked next to each other to simulate exchange of semen between “gentlemen fish and lady fish.” Though the scene was in jest, it did not do so in a condemnatory way and, albeit as caricature, mirrored the more permissive attitudes of the time.

Last edited 7 months ago by Peter Herman
freetheteens69

“A fellow intellectual, Guy Sorman, has unleashed a storm among Parisian “intellos” with his claim that Foucault, who died in 1984 aged 57, was a paedophile rapist who had sex with Arab children while living in Tunisia in the late 1960s.

Young children were running after Foucault saying ‘what about me? take me, take me’,” he recalled last week in an interview with The Sunday Times.”

Sounds like a clear cut case of rape! lol

Zen Thinker

Just thought I’d alert readers to an important statistic: “Ofcom found last year that 42% of eight to 12-year-olds used TikTok”. The source is linked in this article:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/apr/21/case-launched-against-tiktok-over-collection-of-childrens-data

Of course the minimum age requirement is 13. But this incredibly high “underage” participation in the service suggests it is not rigorously enforced.

This is significant in that it suggests an unprecedentedly high degree of children’s involvement in creative social media, which has long term implications for social mores and children’s autonomy, as well as their participation in the digital economy.

As a further sign of the times, Instagram are to launch a specific under 13s service – widely criticised by Twitter users for “encouraging paedophilia”.

In my opinion, the vast majority of responsible stakeholders in society, MAPs or otherwise, will give children a safe space to express themselves creatively, and welcome their greater public participation in contemporary society. This is the way the world is going, and the force of social change is both unstoppable and, it seems, inevitable.

Dissident

I fully agree, Zen, that social media of today is a major game changer. It has initiated forms of progressive social change that cannot be easily stopped, if at all. Unfortunately, the pundits that be will continue to try, while virtue signalling every step of the way by loudly announcing their noble commitment to “protect” children throughout social media. Who knows, if they’re loud enough about it then just maybe they will be invited as a guest on one of the latest Oprah wannabe shows, or get hired as a spokesperson for some NGO that is all about “saving the kids,” and they will be hailed as a public hero while racking up hefty donations as they bring us further towards a global surveillance. As long as they have such virtuous intentions, how can we possibly fault them for bringing us closer to a draconian police state?

Rest assured that one of their main tactics will be to denounce adults admiring kids on such pic and vid channels as constituting something more immoral than cold-blooded murder, and that the orbits of planets must be stopped to prevent this situation from arising. Notions like democracy and freedom of expression will be thrown to the wind as some of the worst ideas since bloodletting and chattel slavery–at least where “innocent” children are involved. This type of emotional histrionic will be used to bully the administrations of Instagram and TikTok into strengthening restrictions and going out of their way to identify and penalize any adult who may dare to view pics and videos of kids for “that sort of reason.”

As a result, you will see kids’ Instagram accounts compelled to say that they do not want any adults other than relatives viewing the page, much like you actually see some parent-run accounts currently decreeing that the site is only for other young girls to view, not any adults. Are they serious? Or are they simply covering their arses with the public and the administration? It is truly impossible to tell nowadays.

Zen Thinker

Well put! However I am more optimistic – it’s clearly harmless to admire children safely and legally on these social media channels. And the debacle with YouTube where they removed comments and blocked related videos, as well as the viewing figures, suggest it is not just an isolated few of us. I must emphasise that respect and consideration are vital however.

Instagram is actually my favourite – it is the highest form, the most polished, and mostly run by mothers. YouTube is a close second – there are some excellent ballet and gymnastics videos. TikTok is actually last – although I wrote about it and like it, the short form is actually quite restrictive, and I prefer Instagram Reels, which tends to be of a higher creative quality.

I understand the general public’s disquiet with MAPs wishing to view videos produced by children or their families, but it is really completely harmless and I am optimistic that society will view it for what it is, an innocent admiring of children’s beauty. “Progressive social change that cannot be easily stopped” is a great way of putting it, Dissident; we must remember that children already have a prominent public place in the online world, which has only really emerged in the last five or so years, and we are yet to see the long term social implications of this.

Stephen James

Regarding the Foucault allegations, it seems the author Guy Sorman is a rather unreliable right-wing hack. I have a link here, but perhaps I should mention that when I go to it my browser says it is ‘not secure’. (But I don’t really know what that means. Maybe someone can enlighten me?)

http://www.truthandpower.com/blog/blog/politics/michel-foucault-a-pedophile/

Christian

As I explained in my comments to Tom’s article “The cruel martyrdom of Steven Freeman” (see at the top of the comments section), the French media agitation against cases of intergenerational sex was in preparation to the law increasing repression of intergenerational sexuality, making sex between adults and youths under 15 automatically a rape. It was unanimously voted, so now the media hysteria on this topic can subside, and Sorman can recant.They did the same about the dangers of Islamic extremism, and voted a law against “separatism.” Now they can agitate about another subject: delinquency and violence against cops.

sugarboy

<i>making sex between adults and youths under 15 automatically a rape.</i>

Had this possibility not been rejected by the Constitutional Court a couple of years ago, because it violates the principle of presunction of innocence? You cannot convict for rape without proving that rape took place – it would be like saying “A person riding a bicycle without lights at night shall be punished for rape”.

Stephen James

I think they’re redefining rape. They would say that they can convict for rape when you or I or any well informed and rational person would say it wasn’t rape but it is rape by their definition. It’s the legal semantics of Humpty Dumpty.

Prue

I was just reading about Olivier Duhamel (mentioned in Tom’s section on Foucault above), and found this:

“Last month, the lower house of parliament adopted a bill that would automatically make sex between an adult and a child under 15 statutory rape, punishable by 20 years imprisonment. The bill would also make it illegal for an adult to have sex with a relative aged under 18.”

Source: https://www.france24.com/en/france/20210414-french-intellectual-olivier-duhamel-confesses-to-sexually-abusing-stepson

Note that the wiki page (and every other article I’ve seen so far) never defines “sexual abuse”, so no one seems to have any f-ing clue what he’s meant to have done. And, moreover, the above article says Duhamel has “confessed”, which is absolute nonsense unless one’s definition of “confessed” is “someone told me he said he did X”… Ridiculous.

My jaw literally dropped when I read this. 20 years imprisonment! Had to read it again just to make sure. 20 years! Depending on how long a person lives that could be 1/3 or 1/4 of your life; and for what? Is “sex” defined as forcible penetration (or any forced sexual activity), which everyone here would agree is wrong? The wiki page refers to “sexual abuse” which is defined as “molestation”, so we’re talking about touching genitals not just penetration as no doubt people are led to believe by terms like “sexual assault” and “sexual abuse”.

Again, molestation is used inaccurately and disingenuously as an emotional-rhetorical ploy, as are all these terms. “Molestation” refers to activity that is forced or elsewise unwanted; but law and media use this term irrespective of whether force was involved or whether the activity was wanted by the younger party, since they don’t recognize young people’s consent as legally valid. By this logic, since rape is (re)defined as non-consensual sex, not unwanted or forced sexual activity, but of course “children” (people under 18) can never consent, it follows that all sexual activity involving them constitutes “rape”.

In case anyone thinks I’m exaggerating, it’s already happened: 1/3 of those on the sex offenders register in UK and US are legally defined “children” themselves, often there for otherwise innocuous sexual experiences with peers, as Paul Okami warned about in his essay “Child Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse”: The Emergence of a Problematic Deviant Category’, in Journal of Sex Research, 29:1 (1992), 109-130 <http://www.jstor.com/stable/3812693&gt;

Bit of a rant but thought I’d vent a bit XD

The power of (re)definition!

And apparently MAPs are extreme!

freetheteens69

What is amazing to me, as an american, is that the AoC is still 15 in france though. It’s almost heaven on earth!

Fata Morgana

Prue, you might find this article interesting.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3672591.stm

Christian

The Constitutional Council had censored the previous law, but maybe they have now reworded it. The Constitutional Council has not yet examined the new law. This law considers that in sex between an adult (over 18) and a minor aged less than 15 (less than 18 in case of incest), if the age difference is at least 5 years, automatically the younger person will be deemed not consenting, so:

  • for penetrative or oral sex, it will be rape, up to 20 years of prison;
  • for sexual touching, it will be sexual assault, up to 10 years of prison.

Before that law, sex between an adult and someone under 15 was “atteinte sexuelle”, a French designation for sexual abuse, which was not considered as sexual assault or rape, since invalid consent was not being equated with no consent. Note that the law is called “law against sexual violence”, as they are now redefining sex between minors and adults as “violence”.
France is a police state, with one of the most violent polices in Europe, where the President decides, the government implements, and the Parliament approves without proper discussion.

Zen Thinker

Your discussion of sexual play reminds me of Huxley’s 1932 novel Brave New World:

“That’s a charming little group,” he said, pointing.

  In a little grassy bay between tall clumps of Mediterranean heather, two children, a little boy of about seven and a little girl who might have been a year older, were playing, very gravely and with all the focussed attention of scientists intent on a labour of discovery, a rudimentary sexual game.

  “Charming, charming!” the D.H.C. repeated sentimentally. 

  “I always think,” the Director was continuing in the same rather maudlin tone, when he was interrupted by a loud boo-hooing.

  From a neighbouring shrubbery emerged a nurse, leading by the hand a small boy, who howled as he went. An anxious-looking little girl trotted at her heels.

  “What’s the matter?” asked the Director.

  The nurse shrugged her shoulders. “Nothing much,” she answered. “It’s just that this little boy seems rather reluctant to join in the ordinary erotic play. I’d noticed it once or twice before. And now again to-day. He started yelling just now …”

  “Honestly,” put in the anxious-looking little girl, “I didn’t mean to hurt him or anything. Honestly.”

Now this novel was strictly speaking a dystopia, written almost 90 years ago. I don’t know what it might have to say about today’s society, or about your ideas, but I found the parallels interesting. Huxley evidently included children’s mandated sexual play as part of his dystopia, but if you want to argue that it would actually create a better society, that is an interesting notion. I have to say I agree with children’s private autonomy, but am unsure as to a mandated ‘sexual play’, it sounds a little too Statist.

Zen Thinker

Fiction is intended to disclose a symbolic reality, a figurative reality, which tells us about the human condition and may or may not have a directly factual application. In the case of Huxley, very early sexualisation was linked to an intensely hedonistic society of shallowness, casual sex and drug escapism where books and ideas were banned.

That doesn’t mean Huxley is forecasting these causally, but what is he suggesting? On a symbolic level, that there are links between child and adult cultures of hedonism and abandonment of intellectual pursuits.

In ‘Lord of the Flies’, Golding was using children as a symbol of la bête humaine or original sin, an idea intensely debated by earlier thinkers and rejected by the optimistic Enlightenment (the horrors of the 20th Century put a huge dent in Enlightenment optimism – this is the context in which Golding was writing).

I don’t see anything inherently wrong with the Scandinavian experiment, but a child’s learning should be one of free intellectual enquiry and the pursuit of the highest things. Early sex education is one facet of that, which technology has rendered inescapable in schools, but we don’t want to churn out intellectually stunted, hedonistic children either. That makes for a bad future society. The intellectual advantages you and I enjoy would be lost on an entire generation. So a careful balance needs to be struck. Books did me no harm, and a lot of good – would I have liked more interaction with girls? You bet, but not to the detriment of the formative years of my learning.

Technology is making children more sexually aware than ever before, and schools respond to that with very early relationships education within PSHE (personal, social, health, economic). Forms of more ‘practical’ sex education are already happening. But I still think Huxley is useful in that he made a symbolic link between a society saturated in sex from infancy to death, and theoretical dystopia. I am always happiest reading a book; let’s still give future generations that option. I am all for a sexually enlightened AND intellectually grounded future generation – as long as the former doesn’t collapse into mindless hedonism.

Zen Thinker

>At its best it can “ring true” and be persuasive. But not everything that is persuasive is necessarily true

Which is why Plato banned poets from his ideal Republic, and even restricted certain types of music! But really all of Art and culture is a ‘non-falsifiable hypothesis’, you can’t judge Art by scientific standards. It is totally free, and at its best when free. Symbolism is meant to convey deeper truths, not empirical facts.

Indeed, Huxley engaged in a ménage à trois, and had a complete about-turn regarding drugs, leading to his final novel, Island, being essentially a drug-enhanced utopia.

>It was a model of hedonism like that of the ancient Epicureans, based on a conception of the good life that saw a place for pleasure within reason

Yes but careful here because the Epicureans believed in philosophic hedonism, or the pleasures of the mind and contemplation as the highest good. They thought the pleasures of the body disrupted serenity (this was later misinterpreted in the Renaissance). Really the idea of a bodily hedonism is closer to Julien Offray de La Mettrie, whose Machine Man (1747) is as blunt and materialist as the title sounds; he also believed men were essentially no different to animals. And his ending isn’t too inspiring: he died of gastric illness after a bout of gluttony at a feast!

>Kids of kindergarten age and upwards can be guided and given moral instruction they will take to heart

I think that is exactly what is being done with the Relationships & Sex Education (RSE) starting as early as five, including some controversy around purportedly discussing masturbation with young children:

Protest leaflets claim relationship education teaches infants masturbation – BBC News

But I think State programmes are having to be increasingly explicit in their teachings due to the rapidly changing technological landscape.

Zen Thinker

I’m guessing you’re more of a science guy than an arts & humanities guy by inclination? Lol. Art is an expression of the soul; sometimes it bodies forth truths that are altogether beyond rational or scientific understanding. Even part of our enjoyment of music, as Schopenhauer elegantly put it, is that music embodies an underlying reality itself, beyond rational conception, and our rational conceptions are just representations of that underlying truth, and not Truth itself. Therefore we enjoy music because it tells us something that cannot be put into words. The underlying truth is the ground of being, the thing on which everything else rests. For theists of course, this is God.

In any case, I feel artistic beauty very strongly, more so than human beauty. In that chapter I sent you a while back I said that I believed a symphony was more beautiful than any female, adult or child. The deeper truths of symbolism in poetry, music, painting or other creative media are never ‘false’ per se as long as the form is not one of highly manipulative naked propaganda as in The Eternal Jew (1940), a film by the Nazis, and/or falls below all recognisable artistic standards, such as Piss Christ (1987) by Andres Serrano. Such things are anti-human. But high Art aims at a truth beyond verbal construct and rationality, and as such it speaks its own truth and cannot be wrong. The ‘truths’ of Art are not illusory because they always open up a new facet of the infinite complexity and scope of the human condition.

We enjoy Art for its truth, goodness and beauty yet ultimately entertainment is not the end of Art; art is for art’s sake. Much like Aristotle said leisure is an activity whose end is itself, and is therefore superior to work.

Yes I agree with you about ‘pleasure within reason’ and pleasure has many forms, from the face of a pretty female to a poem by John Milton. The pleasure of eating a packet of salt & vinegar crisps, however, I would submit, is not equal to or as noble as the pleasure in enjoying Beethoven!

You are probably right that RSE is more about setting moral bounds for children, and really I don’t know a great deal about child psychology beyond Piaget so I cannot comment if ‘radically practical’ solutions are the way forward. But it is obvious to any neutral observer that the internet and, more recently, social media, have radically changed children’s capacities and outlook and that the government are desperately trying to address this in their State curriculum.

Christian

Intuition and deductive reason are the two wings of the acquisition of knowledge. Intuition is the fast method for choosing an answer; deductive reason is the slow method for validating that answer. Good intuition depends on experience, as the latter allows to eliminate dead-ends and to suggest a fruitful path towards an answer.

Stephen James

Yes, I thoroughly recommend it!

Stephen James

I know it’s a bit arcane for this blog but I don’t want anyone to be misled by my last comment. This has just appeared:

https://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2021/04/kahnemans-thinking-fast-and-slow-evaluated-in-light-of-the-replication-crisis-in-social-psychology.html

It is much too technical for me to understand in detail, but I think the gist of it is that too many of the studies cited by Kahneman appear to have produced results that could too easily have occurred by chance alone. This relates to the ‘replication crisis’ in experimental psychology which means that we must take with a grain of salt much of what this discipline seems to have discovered.

Christian

Art, like love, is about the subjective aspect of humanity, while science is about the objective world. If I see a painting of a little girl, it is likely that I will find it beautiful. On the other hand if I see a painting of an old man, it will be unlikely. Try to “falsify” me about that, it won’t change my appreciation.
On the other hand, I consider as an objective fact that the paintings of Raphael, Da Vinci and Bouguereau are beautiful, while the daubs passing as “abstract expressionism” (Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning) are just rubbish, and on account of this, amateurs of “modern art” will consider me as arrogant.
Art and literature can inspire beautiful ideas without formally proving them. They can motivate you more efficiently than a rational discourse. In order to live and act, people need a beautiful story more than a scientific theory.

Stephen James

>”I would make a similar distinction between Golding’s Lord of the Flies (made-up dystopia) and a factual account of what actually happened to a bunch of real boys who were stranded on a desert island on their own for over a year, which brought out their best qualities, not their worst.”

No doubt the outcome depends to a large extent on chance factors, such as whether the different personalities gel together. (In The Lord of the Flies, the personality clash between Ralph and Jack plays a major role in the collapse of the boys’ society.) In view of that, Golding’s novel is not necessarily unrealistic.

Incidentally, Golding had paedophilic inclinations, though as far we know, he never acted on them. In John Carey’s biography, we are told he admitted such tendencies in his diary and said he thought sex with a child might be OK. (I don’t remember the exact quote and I no longer have access to the book unfortunately.) This interest is arguably apparent in some of his novels. The description of Ralph stripping off to go and have a swim in The Lord of the Flies is distinctly sensuous. Also the pederastic character in Darkness Visible receives somewhat sympathetic treatment.

Christian

In France, recently, the media and politicians complained that young teenagers (junior high school pupils) did not understand sexual consent, as there were many instances of sexual assault in their games. So they said that these young people needed courses on sexual consent. But one did not consider their ignorance of sexuality and pleasure, and nobody pointed out that under 15 they are legally considered as unable to consent. So it is teaching something for which they are legally incompetent, and may not engage in any practice. It is like teaching people cooking recipes while they are not allowed to taste the dishes: they would certainly not be motivated to learn. As long as you consider some people as inherently incompetent, they will behave accordingly.

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