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 has 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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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.

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.

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.

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

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 14 days 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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