My life has been dominated lately by dauntingly vast tubs of paint and all the messy apparatus and detritus they inevitably entrain: step ladders, brushes, rollers, furniture chaotically out of place, things hard to find, and paint-flecked everything, with so many stickily discarded kitchen towels strewn about the place you’d think you must be in a teenager’s bedroom after a ten-cum porn binge. But no, the white stuff was just emulsion, not emission, and the only stiffies have been brushes I failed to clean thoroughly after use.
Yes, I did say “I”. Instead of “getting a man in” to do the job far more quickly and efficiently, I made the mistake of feeling there’s no excuse for a retired guy like me, fortunately in good health, to shirk the necessary redecorating after the walls were insulated a couple of months ago by proper men, real men, men skilled in carpentry, plastering and the like (government grant job, actually, so maybe we shouldn’t be too cynical about climate change being taken seriously where it needs to be).
Which is basically saying the dog ate my homework and necessitated an extempore blog. I haven’t been able to focus on a polished, carefully structured single theme this time, but there is loads of significant stuff I can catch up on in a bitty sort of way.
Let’s start with the most urgent matter: not the Omicron crisis, nor the climate crisis, but definitely a crisis: the epistemic one i.e. Can we ever really distinguish fake news from real fact? If so, on what basis? Does the intimate relationship between knowledge and power mean we can never trust authorised “experts”? Aren’t they all bound to be mouthpieces in the pay of hegemonic authority? We know that absolute truth is elusive, or illusory, but what about objectivity? Is everything so subjective that we much settle for what is “true for me” or “true for you”? In that case, if we are all at odds with each other, how can we ever rationally decide anything? Is life just a power struggle of random temporary alliances grounded in nothing more than factional self-interest?
These big questions are obviously worth a blog in themselves, or indeed a book, or the focus of an entire career in philosophy. As for the urgency, it arises out of a discussion in the Comments, starting with a major clutch of posts in response to Where prejudice legally trumps truth, continuing as threads on the next two blogs, here and here. Few will have followed the whole debate closely, as the sequence is somewhat disorderly and complicated, to say nothing of the daunting depth and complexity of the issues. What I can say, though, on the basis of an unrivalled knowledge of Heretic TOC’s history (that’s my own epistemic authority firmly established, I hope! 😊), is that these threads have provided one of the best ever discussions here. This has been in good measure thanks to excellent posts by “Kit”, otherwise known to us as Kit Marlowe, and several others. Anyone wanting to catch up need only use “Kit” as a search term, focusing on his contributions and replies to them, and including any posts to which Kit was himself replying.
As noted above, today’s blog is a catch-up piece, so I will not be continuing the debate today. Rather, I simply feel its significance should be foregrounded in the main blog space. All I will add is that the discussion led me to read a recent book that tackles the epistemic crisis full on. This is The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth, by Jonathan Rauch. The mere fact that it is published in the US by the august Brookings Institution think tank, will make it suspect for some, the Brookings being an elite body of expertise with a bias towards traditional notions of knowledge. We find in its pages a touch of overt disdain for postmodernist thinking. As for Foucault, and his exploration of Power/Knowledge, a veil of silence is drawn: the corrosive, corrupting, cursed Frenchman’s name is not mentioned once.
A rubbish, one-sided, volume we can safely ignore then? Not at all. I recommend it highly, not for its conclusions, necessarily – though they are weighty and important – but for its role in bringing much needed balance to a debate I believe has become dangerously one-sided.
More obviously on the plus side, for heretics here, is that Rauch, a self-described “atheistic Jewish homosexual”, is one of all too few gay intellectuals who came out publicly in support of Bruce Rind and his team during the fabled furore over their finding that “child sexual abuse” (CSA) is not necessarily harmful and that the term itself is unscientific and prejudicial, coercion and force being more likely causes of trauma than consensual encounters. Rauch advocated that researchers should “abandon the practice of referring to all adult sexual encounters with minors as CSA, because they could “perform finer-grained analyses if they used ‘abuse’ to denigrate injurious or unwilling encounters”. Other encounters, Rauch suggested, “could be called ‘adult-child sex’ or ‘adult-adolescent sex.'”
Go, Jonny, go! 😊 (With apologies to Chuck Berry.)
Moving on, for some unfathomable reason children’s sexuality sets alarm bells ringing far more urgently and viscerally than angst over the “epistemic crisis”. The media this year have been increasingly preoccupied with generating moral panic over kids’ sexual interest in each other and their social contacts with older people, especially online. Themes such as “sexting” and “fake news” have been bundled together, though, in the UK government’s Online Safety Bill, which covers a multitude of sins and pleasures – however we regard this measure, we should be keeping an eye on its progress.
A BBC investigation based on information from police forces in England and Wales reported in September that “child-on-child sexual abuse” more than doubled in the two years to 2019. In one in 10 cases, we were told, “the alleged abuser” was aged 10 or under. How much of this activity was truly abusive, and how much was kids simply being sexual with each other (very likely most of it) we are not told. More importantly, no interest is shown in the latter.
Earlier this month, another study, this time based on interviews in the US with around 2,000 children, revealed that kids sharing nude images of themselves are getting younger: the proportion of minors aged 9-12 sharing self-generated nude images online was said to have more than doubled in 2020. Overall, in 2019, 11% of all youth reported sharing their own self-generated “child sexual abuse material”. By 2020, that number jumped to 17%. Surprisingly, in the age of TikTok, YouTube is reportedly still by far the most popular platform for tweens. Some 80% of all minors reported using YouTube at least once daily, and 78% of them said they shared their own sexting images there.
Even more alarming for the moral panickers, was a BBC report early in the year about children exposing themselves on the “increasingly popular live video chat website Omegle”. The investigation found what they said was “prepubescent boys explicitly touching themselves in front of strangers”. During the approximately 10 hours the BBC monitored Omegle, they were “paired with dozens of under-18s, and some appeared to be as young as seven or eight”. Lucky them! On a more serious note, don’t try this at home, folks: if you watch kids fingering themselves, you are positively begging to be fingered yourself – by the not-at-all prepubescent boys and girls in blue.
But if the British government has its way, the days of such Omegle shenanigans are limited. Baroness Kidron, a member of the parliamentary committee tasked with improving the draft Online Safety Bill and making it watertight, reported last week. Committee member Baroness Kidron wrote about their findings at Politics Home:
I am particularly heartened by the recommendations that extend and embed protections for children. The committee argues that tech companies cannot be trusted with developing effective age assurance that protects children’s privacy, but without age assurance, they will continue to turn a blind eye to the 42 per cent of children under 13 who have social media accounts – or the persistent targeting of children with pornography, harmful material or age restricted services. Also crucial is the committee’s recommendation that the Bill be extended to any service “likely to be accessed by children.” This brings it in line with the Age Appropriate Design Code, which has brought in a raft of safety and privacy features.
Doesn’t sound great for children’s freedom, does it? The trouble is, there is much in this huge Bill for which there is a very arguable case. Some have damned it as an Online Censorship Bill; we might loathe it as the Online Stop Kids Having Any Fun Or Friends Bill; but we really do need an Online Make Social Media Giants Put Their House In Order Bill.
We all know that public discourse of all kinds is becoming increasingly polarised and toxic, aided and abetted by social media algorithms that favour messages of extreme anger and hatred because they generate more clicks, thus gaining more attention to the adverts placed on those pages, thereby making more money for the tech corporations that control the platforms. It’s a model that absolutely must change, not least because some websites can genuinely be considered a source of real harm to children, including death, such as those that encourage extreme dieting and even suicide.
Extreme expressions of hatred towards MAPs are of course a significant part of the general toxicity. When debating with Kit in the comments, and in the previous blog here, I was at pains to defend academic freedom; but I entirely agree with Kit that the horrifically uncivil verbal battles presently constituting a large part of the “dominant discourse” are an aspect of “free speech” that does us no favours at all. It is a climate in which, as Kit says:
The paedophile (or the MAP, or what you will) just doesn’t exist as a thinkable subject position, any more than the trans-man existed as a thinkable subject-position in the 1950s. There is no person here – there is merely an assemblage of pernicious, victimising and offensive acts… If “the left” were true to its own principles (and I think they are not at all bad ones), kiddy-perverts would be acknowledged as authorities on their own experience, in much the same way that less-unpopular sexual minorities are. But such subjects are just not imaginable – and, of course, the fact that paedophiles are (mostly) invisible and silent in the public sphere means that the paedophile subject remains unimagined.
In connection with the next bits I have lined up for this bitty blog of mine, I would remind younger readers that there was a time, in the 1970s, when we were being heard, quite substantially, as a result of our coordinated radical noisiness, especially via NAMBLA and PIE in the Anglophone countries, with a number of leading French intellectuals, Foucault to the fore, making a huge impression in their own backyard and beyond.
In PIE’s case, the impact was immediate in terms of attention paid to our existence and our subject position. Within a year or two of PIE’s dramatic baptism of fire in the hostile mainstream media, a clutch of several academic books appeared, one of which featured sociologist Ken Plummer’s paper “The paedophile’s progress: a view from below”, sympathetically featuring what we in PIE were writing and saying about our lives, our feelings, and our proposals. Another was my own Paedophilia: The Radical Case, which came about when a prestigious London publishing house went so far as to contact me out of the blue and ask me to write a book.
Ripples from the shock waves sent out from those times are still in motion to this day. The main difference, though, is that following our long years of comparative silence we find ourselves Othered more and more. Imaginative engagement with our subject position in the academic world has steadily morphed into positionings of detachment and dissociation; or been transmuted through the alchemy of hostile language into that which could no longer be imagined as a human subject position, taking it towards literally monstrous framings that echo rather than challenge popular prejudice.
Take, for instance, a PhD thesis by Nicholas Basannavar, published in 2019. He devotes a massive 48-page chapter (Chapter Three, “Paedophilia Unbound: The PIE Moment, 1974-81”) to the emergence of paedophilia in popular discourse, arguing that “it was angst about the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) that shaped subsequent cultural constructs of the ‘paedophile’ in Britain.” His thesis has been expanded and published in a book out just last month (yours for a mere £89.99), with one chapter called “PIE and the ‘Radical Case’”; another is “Speaking About PIE, Speaking About Paedophilia”. The book is titled Sexual Violence Against Children in Britain Since 1965, which gives a pretty good clue as to the author’s take on paedophilia. His first chapter sets ups the framing nicely with a focus on child torture, rape, and slaughter, via the infamous Moors Murders; his last focuses on the late, and distinctly “cancelled”, TV celebrity Jimmy Savile.
The monster theme is even more explicitly the focus of Disgust and Desire: The Paradox of the Monster, edited by Kristen D. Wright. It starts with a chapter on Vlad the Impaler and moves steadily through a smorgasbord of other historical atrocities before turning to monsters in fiction, including the vampiric Count Dracula, arriving eventually at a chapter by Jen Baker called “Paedophilic productions and Gothic performances: Contending with monstrous identity”. In a comment here today (search for “tracing”), “warbling j turpitude” perceptively notes that outworkings of the term “paedophilia” have “long moved far beyond and out of reach of any etymological tracing”. Originating in pathology (as Krafft-Ebing’s paedophilia erotica), this term “gradually took on another dimension of mimetic life altogether – one more akin to something like ‘vampire’ even.”
We should not judge this book by its Frankenstein-themed cover, though, nor by its chapter titles. Baker’s chapter is sophisticated and well worth reading. It “questions whether a stable monstrous identity might be complicated when the narrative is relayed from the paedophile’s perspective”. Beginning and ending with the work of cultural studies scholar James Kincaid, who proposes that the paedophile in social discourse is a “gothic construction” of Western societies, Baker takes us interestingly through plenty of relevant fiction before turning to non-fiction:
The dual ability to provoke both fear and sympathy has already been noted in relation to Humbert, but is also evident in non-fiction pieces. In Paedophilia: A Radical Case (sic), a treatise published in 1980 by Tom O’Carroll, former chairman of the now disbanded Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), O’Carroll lays out his proposal for changes in the law that would allow consensual sexual relations between adults and children, but also uses it to challenge ‘those people who think I am anything like the vile monster portrayed in the press’. He raises an interesting point about the power of voice…
She alludes to “the often reasonable claims made by O’Carroll”. These claims are “potentially dangerous”, but “in discounting narratives of the villains, a distorted record of history is produced”. As for the child in all this:
Although social discourse often refers to the child as victim, the subject of paedophilia brings the subject of child sexuality to the fore but betrays an inability by the general public to equate theory with their desired reality.
I quote selectively. A fuller reading suggests ambivalence on Baker’s part, torn as she seems to be – like some of the fiction writers quoted – between sympathy for the “monster” and the dreadful reality that some transgressions are indeed as beyond the pale as the horrors attributed to Vlad the Impaler.
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Rind, Bruce (2022): Reactions to Minor Older and Minor Peer Sex as a Function of Personal and Situational Variables in a Finnish Nationally Representative Student Sample
„Felson et al. (2019) used a large-scale nationally representative Finnish sample of sixth and ninth graders to estimate the population prevalence of negative subjective reactions to sexual experiences between minors under age 18 and persons at least 5 years older and between minors and peer-aged partners for comparison. They then accounted for these reactions in multivariate analysis based on contextual factors. The present study argued that focusing exclusively on negative reactions short-changed a fuller scientific understanding. It analyzed the full range of reactions in the same sample, focusing on positive reactions. For reactions in retrospect, boys frequently reacted positively to minor-older sex (68%, n = 280 cases), on par with positive reactions to boy-peer sex (67%, n = 1510). Girls reacted positively to minor-older sex less often (36%, n = 1047) and to girl-peer sex half the time (48%, n = 1931). In both minor-older and minor-peer sex, rates of positive reactions were higher for boys vs. girls, adolescents vs. children, when partners were friends vs. strangers or relatives, with intercourse vs. lesser forms of sexual intimacy, with more frequent sex, and when not coerced. Boys reacted positively more often with female than male partners. In minor-older sex, partner age difference mattered for girls but not boys, and the minor’s initiating the sex (14% for girls, 46% for boys) produced equally high rates of positive reactions. Most of these factors remained significant in multivariate analysis. The frequency of positive reactions, their responsiveness to context, the similarity in reaction patterns with minor-peer sex, and the generalizability of the sample were argued to contradict the trauma view often applied to minor-older sex, holding it to be intrinsically aversive irrespective of context.“
See further Filip30’s post: https://boychat.org/messages/1585268.htm
Thanks, Nada, for this info. I was aware of Rind’s new paper. I had planned to include it as a brief news item under the next main blog, but you have saved me the trouble. Haven’t read the whole thing yet, but it is sure to be important. I did not know about Filip30’s BoyChat post, so thanks for that as well. Filip is always interesting. Hope to read that in a minute.
Think y’all should definitely see this! USA TODAY (no less) posted it (see attached screenshot) on Twitter. It appeared in my feed via the anti brigades (wouldn’t you know), anxious that the dreadful “evidence” would not be lost in the accompanying thread’s apparent subsequent deletion
One must ultimately consider what is the worse sin: to fancy children in the first place, or to be an utter twerp on social media and attack virulently any attempt to lessen the stigma of those who fancy children.
Hmmm…falls to me then to enquire just who this hypothetical “one” might be at any moment? This “one” who has apparently stood astride the yawp of that decisive gulf and become the embodiment of all consideration?
Thanks for sharing the tweet. I wonder if it goes against Twitter rules now, which explicitly forbid users from “promoting or normalizing sexual attraction to minors as a form of identity or sexual orientation”.
Is this an astonishing turn-up for the Daily Fail books or what?
My apologies, i thought this was new as it appeared im my feed today for some reason, and i junped the gun. Still quite remarkable methinks that the DM in late 2018 referred to the (necromantic scapegoating of ) Savile as ‘touchstone for the widesptead belief that…’ etc etc’
Perhaps this could be a concept academically inclined MAPs might find interesting to research further, say for mental health activism. I haven’t seen it discussed before in MAP spaces nor in any MAP research.
“[Sexual anorexia] is a fear of intimacy to the point that the person has severe anxiety surrounding sex in an intimate context. Sexual anorexia is essentially sexual starvation. […] An individual living with sexual anorexia is often terrified of sexual experiences and will go to tremendous lengths to control, limit or avoid sex altogether. […] A qualified sex therapist will establish a treatment goal for sexual anorexics to achieve sexual health, set healthy boundaries and have emotional needs met in direct ways. […] Case Study: Ms. G came to treatment at age 39 because she was still a virgin. […] Over time Ms. G was asked out on a date by a man, and was able to have a sexual relationship with him.”
“The term largely exists in a colloquial sense and is not presently classified as a disorder in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual. […] Treatment is aimed at helping the person see where their fears lie and to see the world in less black and white terms. The patient is encouraged to take calculated risks with social activities and distorted thinking is gently challenged with facts and reality. The goals for both sex addicts and sexual anorexics is to learn to have healthy sex and get emotional needs met in direct ways, and to set healthy boundaries. This is an issue that requires ongoing treatment in planned stages with the end goal of autonomy, independence, and improved social relationships.”
“People who strongly identify with cultural, social, or religious groups that involve sexual oppression, repression, or other negative approaches to sexuality may also be particularly vulnerable to developing the obsessive avoidance of sex that characterizes sexual anorexia.”
“It feels safer to remain isolated, no matter how unsatisfying that lifestyle may be.”
“[This book] enables those suffering from this disorder to recognize that sex need not be a furtive enemy to be fought and defeated but, instead, a deeply sensual, passionate, fulfilling, and spiritual experience that all human beings are innately entitled to.”
“Possible Signs of Social, Emotional, or Sexual Anorexia:
– we may not have had sex or been in a close personal relationship in years
– we may be in partnerships but find it difficult to be emotionally close
– we may have many acquaintances but no one we’re really close to
– we may have close relations with only certain people, our children, say, but keep distance from anyone else
– we may feel overwhelmed in social settings
– we may feel incapacitated by shyness in relationships with others
– we may be emotionally invested in a relationship but remain sexually or socially unavailable
– we may have an overwhelming dread of making phone calls
– we may function well in the workplace where intimacy is not usually valued, but find we are distant with family or friends.”
Very interesting, QF, including this quote from Dr Alexandra Katehakis, Founder and Clinical Director of the Center for Healthy Sex in Los Angeles:
>…sex need not be a furtive enemy to be fought and defeated but, instead, a deeply sensual, passionate, fulfilling, and spiritual experience that all human beings are innately entitled to.
I suspect Katehakis might want to walk this back a bit, if pressed. What we are all entitled to, I’d have thought, or should be in a fair society that respects human rights, is the right to seek to seek mutually acceptable and desired intimate contact with others. It takes two to tango, as they say, so any rights can only really apply to seeking, not to finding.
I suspect she would also rule out the right to sex with underage persons, if pressed.
That said, her underthought turn of phrase speaks volumes as to the casual, unthinking, unconscious discrimination society perpetrates constantly against MAPs.
As John the Baptist declares: “the axe is already at the root of the trees”. The trees of child stifling (preventing their full formation and growth), adult pathologising (seeking to make minor attraction a mental aberration) and societal overprotection (straitjacketing kids) will be hewn and thrown into the fire. The pretence cannot be kept on much longer: children are fundamentally sexual beings – it may be a lesser part of their being than adults, but it is still very much present.
And technology is bringing this to the fore. Even child fashion now (in supermarkets even – it has filtered down so far) has very sexual themes, although people assiduously deny it. Children are entitled to a sexuality too. And all throughout social media children demonstrate mature tendencies; not “adultification”, I hate that word, but their own unique and destined being.
How will this be pushed further by new and emerging social technologies? I truly believe we are nearing a tipping point; an inflection point whereby the sexuality of children is overtly manifest, and this will have an impact on social posturing, and ultimately attitudes and values, which always goes on to shape legislation. And then “every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low” – we will have an equality of sorts.
> Even child fashion now (in supermarkets even – it has filtered down so far) has very sexual themes
Have to say, I’m not seeing kids actually wearing anything that might raise a conservative eyebrow. Rarely, these days, is leg exposed above the knee, whether in girls’ clothes or boys’. Totally different to the 1970s. Kids went half naked then, especially in summer. Or indeed totally naked quite often on beach holidays if they were around 6-7 or under: not now. Girls these days often even have “modesty shorts” under their skirts, or faux dresses that are actually shorts.
So what are you talking about, ZT? Just underwear? Thongs? Or do you mean apparel that would only be seen on older teens who go clubbing?
There were very short faux leather shorts being sold at Sainsburys for ages 3-14 I think, which caused an uproar on social media, for “sexualisation of kids”, but Sainsburys defended it saying it was a popular item and based on customer feedback. And obviously Sainsburys are among the most conservative children’s fashion retailers.
But in Brazil (hotter climate I know, but also much more socially liberal despite the Bolsonaro backlash), children are wearing very “sexual” (in my opinion) or at least sensual and revealing fashion. Maybe this hasn’t filtered down to the UK or US yet (California excepted) but in the UK it’s always miserable weather anyway so kids will obviously dress more sensibly.
I wasn’t talking about underwear lol, I don’t make it a habit of mine to research children’s panties, each to their own I guess. But certainly crop tops, very short shorts, bikinis, and (especially in Brazil) a kind of “cute sexiness” if that makes sense, in much of children’s fashion. And although you point to the 70s as a high watermark for this sort of thing, I would point out that society is a lot more affluent now and at the higher end, much of the adventurous stuff is designer driven. Children want to look “sexy” and their parents buy them these things (again not necessarily UK, but perhaps increasingly so).
An interesting documentary about Lewis Carroll, including some details I hadn’t previously known concerning Carroll’s photographing of young girls. Veteran broadcaster Martha Kearney is duly disturbed:
This is a well-known 2015 documentary that has been duly criticised. The first part gives know facts about LC and shows interesting documents. Then the discussion of the “beggar maid” photograph of Alice introduces an arbitrary sexual element, which exists only in the eyes of the beholder. And the final part about the Musée Cantini nude photograph claimed to be “Lorina by LC” is just amateurish sensationalism. They do not show it to the LC experts interviewed in the first part of the documentary, they just mention that Wakeling considers it as a fake. Then the “facial traits analysis” by Nicholas Burnett is just a caricature: he never quantifies anything, he just says that facial features look similar to those in other photos of Lorina.
For a debunking of this documentary, see the article “Sensationalism, the Two Camps and the Eternal Child” published in Pigtails in Paint on March 14, 2015, as well as the three pages of comments (in reverse chronological order, at the bottom of each page you click on “previous comments” to go to the next one), which give useful arguments and links; in particular my two comments at the bottom of the third page of comments.
Thank you, Christian, for the Pigtails in Paint reference, which I will look at when I get a chance. Yes, this is an old documentary, but I thought it worth sharing, since some may have missed it when it first appeared, as I myself did.
“Is he a licentious lewd Sort of a Person?” Constructing the child rapist in early modern England (2014) <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375676/>
“Unlike the modern paedophile who is understood to have a primary, if not exclusive, sexual interest in children that he is likely to conceal given modern society’s depth of antipathy towards those who are revealed to act on their desires, the early modern child rapist was a man whose immorality and lack of chastity would be clearly visible to those who knew him because he would be known as someone who frequented “lewd women” or who acted in an “unseemly” fashion with other women. […]
[S]uch men were thought to be a particular “Sort of a Person”, but not the sort of person whose identity was defined by who he had sex with. He was, rather, a man who was characterized as immoral, lewd, lustful and loose-living, notable for his debauchery and lack of control over both appetites and behaviour, and therefore inevitably coming to a very bad, and untimely, end.”
Perhaps obvious but someone has to come out and say that there was a discourse before the “P-word” came into existence. The framing can be so painfully unnecessary. I’m not sure I really recommend this author but they might be interesting for some. Her chapter: ‘Unripe Bodies: Children and Sex in Early Modern England’ [https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=EeEFTpdFyJMC&oi=fnd&pg=PP2&ots=L1N9_EUpi_&sig=LDzHPSH6tfXcmyXZLDECuG1wX0Y&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=unripe&f=false] might be better…
Here’s a 2021 article I can’t access on Lewis Carroll that perhaps others can access and appreciate: ‘The Man Who Loved Children: Lewis Carroll Studies’ Evidence Problem’ [https://doi.org/10.7560/JHS30301]
Great stuff as usual, Prue, but extraneous material at end of first link prevents loading. This is correct version:
NOT the sort of peson defined by who he has sex with? Those excerpts seem pretty weird, Prue! Am.i right in observing that they SEEM to be saying that the term “child rapist” has no direct reference to any actual physical violation as such, but is merely how one ends up referring in this “discourse” to one of lewd, debauched character, etc etc? I mean, was this “early modern child rapist” a real rapist at all? Or was that just how an unpleasant fellow might be caricatured?
Newgon would welcome input on the first (Victorian and post Victorian) wave in the article “Moral Panic”, which currently has some insights on the post war sexual psychopath and homo/chomo scare, and the 70s/80s CSA etc.
Is there a way to get in touch with Newgon? I can’t see any e-mail address on their site.
If you have a quick look over Freespeechtube.org you’ll find an account there by the name ‘Strategist’ or v similar. If I’m right, he owns and / or administrates Newgon. His profile picture shows an asian female holding a couple of fluffy dicks (like teddy bears but….teddy dicks….). Hope this helps.
Administrative email for Newgon is currently
This will be replaced with a proper email soon.
Interesting article critical of the dominance of “trauma” stories, posted by Rachel Hope Cleves on their twitter <https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/01/03/the-case-against-the-trauma-plot?utm_source=NYR_REG_GATE>
“The enshrinement of testimony in all its guises—in memoirs, confessional poetry, survivor narratives, talk shows—elevated trauma from a sign of moral defect to a source of moral authority, even a kind of expertise. In the past couple of decades, a fresh wave of writing about the subject has emerged, with best-selling novels and memoirs of every disposition […] Internet writing mills offered a hundred and fifty dollars a confession. “It was 2015, and everyone was a pop-culture critic, writing from the seat of experience,” Larissa Pham recalls in a recent essay collection, “Pop Song.” “The dominant mode by which a young, hungry writer could enter the conversation was by deciding which of her traumas she could monetize . . . be it anorexia, depression, casual racism, or perhaps a sadness like mine, which blended all three.” “The Body Keeps the Score” has remained planted on the Times best-seller list for nearly three years.
Trauma came to be accepted as a totalizing identity. Its status has been little affected by the robust debates within trauma theory or, for that matter, by critics who argue that the evidence […] of traumatic memory remains weak” (ellipsis mine – prue).
The New Yorker ‘piece’ is terrific! A first class, vital essaying without any doubt. Have already spread the news of heem as far and wide as i can. Thankyou for linking, Prue.
Of course it cannot possibly go unnoted though that its author, at the point he invokes Susan A Clancy, momentarily at least falls prey to the very thing his analysis is seeking so relentlessly and brilliantly to reveal. Hence – “the abuse was disguised as a game!’ Twas only later that (Clancy’s subjects) came “to understand what happened”
IOW, when they had been dosed with sufficient jabs of the trauma plot to “understand” (= master the required idiom)
“the abuse was disguised as a game!’
Those devious pedos, making sex fun!
The author of course is not a he but a she, i have now followed her (@parul_sehgal) on Twitter and opened the whole Clancyrian ‘can of worms’ thereupon without a monent’s hesitation. I wonder if she will respond?
A nice recent citation if you want evidence of SVP indefinite imprisonment disproportionately targeting black and homosexual ppl, led by Trevor Hoppe [editor of “The War on Sex”] and listing Scott de Orio as a contributor: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/SVP-Civil-Commitments-Oct-2020.pdf
“The data analyzed in this report suggests:
• Thousands of people are in civil commitment in the United States. There are over 6,300 people detained in the 20 state and federal civil commitment programs.
• In most states, Black men were vastly overrepresented among the population of civilly committed persons. Based on data from 13 states with reliable data, Black residents faced a rate of SVP detention more than twice that of White residents: 7.72 per 100,000 Black residents as compared with 3.11 per 100,000 White residents aged sixteen or older.
• Sexual minority men are disproportionately detained in sex offense civil commitment facilities. In the two states with reliable data about the sex of the victim, New York and Texas, men who had victims who were male were 2 to 3 times as likely to be civilly committed than men with only female victims. This trend was consistent for Black men, White men, and Hispanic men. These patterns suggest that gay/bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are seen as more violent, more dangerous or mentally ill, and more deserving commitment under SVP statutes as compared with heterosexuals.”
New Scott de Orio material!
“Bad Queers: LGBTQ People and the Carceral State in Modern America” (Dec, 2021) <https://doi.org/10.1017/lsi.2021.59>
The war on sex offenders was an American campaign against sex crime that began in the 1930s and is still ongoing. In this review essay, I argue that the architects and opponents of that war engaged in political struggles that—especially during the pivotal era of the long 1970s—produced, criminalized, and hierarchized multiple new categories of “good” and “bad” LGBTQ legal subjects. [Historians’] examinations of the post-1945 period have been concerned primarily with the consolidation of a starker social and legal binary between homo- and heterosexuality. As their narratives get closer to the present, the most stigmatized “bad” queers become more and more tangential. At least in part, this has been because historians have been under the same pressure as LGBTQ activists to distance LGBTQ identity from the stigma of sexual “deviance”—especially sex that violated age-of-consent statutes—in order to promote the political project of LGBTQ rights. Placing bad queers at the center of LGBTQ political and legal history diversifies who counts as a subject of this history and reveals an even bigger carceral state that governed them.”
I hope I’m not ruining a reveal planned for the next blog post, but I see a new issue of Ethos magazine has just come out, carrying an interview with yourself, Tom. It’s great piece about yourself in your own words, and puts in one place some otherwise scattered stories I’ve seen mentioned. In particular, the story about you having [presumably “safe for work”] pictures of boys on your typewriter working as a journalist, where the rest of the office were aware and tolerant of you fancying boys. A great story, though, you’re also quite clear that the past wasn’t a golden age.
There’s one line I have a question about. You say: “In a few decades, some paedophiles might look back nostalgically to the early part of the 21st century as a golden age of online child porn. I guess that would be crudely accurate in a limited way.”
I’m wondering if by this you’re referring to lolicon and shotacon, fictional depictions of youth which are common? Is this a dire prediction that artistic freedom will be sharply curbed and regulated so that only the biggest booba, the widest hips, the biggest peen-sans, will be legal and / or publicly acceptable to represent; anything which could be deemed “too young” is rendered as suspect, with legal risks following suit?
Dystopian, I know, even if many legal statutes essentially mean this situation is already in effect, but, as far as I know, has only been enforced in some high profile and controversial cases so far. It’s a hellscape I suspect will be around the corner, even if it will be controversial, resisted and contested: the law is a powerful force when it’s seriously enforced and has state violence at its disposal. And, as you say in your interview, it took a long time for legislation oppressing androphile homosexuals to be abolished.
Or were you meaning porn featuring corporeal persons, however we define “child” [teens “self-generating” their own “abuse” images by sending nudes]?
Both are quite common and increasingly fearmongered about in the media, at least from what news media I’ve encountered.
Not much goes unnoticed by you, Prue! 🙂 You write:
>I hope I’m not ruining a reveal planned for the next blog post
No, I’m happy anytime for people to be noticing Ethos and its contents. There is a link to this online BL mag in HTOC’s “Hotspots” blogroll. It’s worth remembering this because a Google search mainly brings up a different Ethos mag in its returns.
Perhaps I should also take this opportunity to give another plug for Visions of Alice (with its own Hotspots link), which produces Alice Lovers magazine. These two mags, one BL one GL, are quite similar in style and format. Heretics here may recall that my September and October blogs were also featured in ALM, for which I had been commissioned to write an article. See the current issue, which is here:
>You say: “In a few decades, some paedophiles might look back nostalgically to the early part of the 21st century as a golden age of online child porn. I guess that would be crudely accurate in a limited way.” I’m wondering if by this you’re referring to lolicon and shotacon
Artwork was not what I had in mind, but it is certainly under cultural and legal pressure.
Pornographic drawings or other artwork of a child are already prohibited in the UK. The “child” doesn’t even necessarily have to be human. The image could depict, for instance, the young of an alien species, if they have childlike characteristics. Or they could be fantasy children, with Bart Simpson, say, shown fucking his sister Lisa, even though these “children” have some very non-human physical characteristics, such as being totally yellow and having hands with fewer than the usual human number of fingers.
This comes from the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, 65(6)(b), where “the predominant impression conveyed is that the person shown is a child despite the fact that some of the physical characteristics shown are not those of a child”. See: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2009/25/section/65
What I was actually thinking, though, was that we are presently in a golden age of photographic child porn, by which I mean we are often told in the media that it is readily available in vast quantities on the Dark Web. This is illegal material, or course, and no doubt some of it would far from “golden” in quality, especially if production of the images involved coerced activities. And anyone accessing child porn, even if “ethically sourced”, risks ending up with a very non-golden prison sentence.
When I mentioned looking back nostalgically, I had in mind that the authorities might eventually be able to gain a technical advantage enabling them to eliminate the Dark Web, just as the lawless old Wild West was eventually brought under control.
There are ways to infiltrate the anonymisation of the Dark Web. Nothing is private on the internet.
”Child porn” is a danger to MAPs, not an opportunity. The trap is set and then it is used as a tool of oppression to incarcerate the sexually non-conforming.
There will be nothing safe or good about it until the day it is (with ethical safeguards) legalised.
>There are ways to infiltrate the anonymisation of the Dark Web.
True, as evidenced by the fact that even geekish IT professionals who know all about encryption and possible ways around it sometimes get caught. Trouble is, even guys who are technically brilliant are not immune to thinking with their dicks: they might know there is a risk but allow themselves to be tempted because encryption gives the illusion of safety.
Your mention of the “monster” theme in the December blog post reminded me of the valuable work of John Douard, a New York City defense attorney and philosophy professor. In 2008 he wrote a fascinating article, “Sex offender as scapegoat: The monstrous other within,” which is readily available on-line at:
In the article he shows how contemporary Western society has entered into a state of severe moral panic that ends up making sex offenders into sub-human monsters. Once branded as monsters, they become convenient scapegoats for all types of social disorder.
In 2013 Douard co-authored, with Pamela D. Schulz, a major study, Monstrous Crimes and the Failure of Forensic Psychiatry, which in the course of 200 pages analyzes the historical development of the concept of “monstrous crimes.” Highly critical of the irrational elements in Western society’s treatment of sexual offending, the authors call for a “public health approach to sexual abuse” (chapter 9) and a “criminological paradigm shift” (chapter 10). In chapter 6, “The Child Sex Abuser,” they discuss how that concept came into existence in the course of the 20th century and inevitably brought draconian laws along with it. Unfortunately, the Douard/Schulz text is costly to purchase.
Thanks, Jedijah, for this interesting and informative post.
I have now read the article. Fascinating, as you say. I haven’t read the book but I have seen the Acknowledgements section, in which co-author Pamela D. Schultz discloses a very personal engagement with the subject. She discloses that as a child “a neighbor, a man who was a close and trusted friend of the family” had an illicit relationship with her. This began, she said, “when I was 5 or 6; it ended when I was a young adolescent”.
She describes it in the usual terms, as “abuse” and a betrayal of the trust her parents had placed in him. Why then is she writing a book that challenges the view of paedophiles as monsters?
Because, as is also hinted, this was not a one-sided relationship. “I had known him well, apart from the abuse,” she writes, “and although he took advantage of me, he also had a caring, sensitive, even oddly protective, side to his personality.”
How else, indeed, could such a relationship possibly have lasted so long, if she had not been very fond of this man? All she ever had to do was utter a word to her parents and he would have been toast. Impossible to come straight out and say this, of course. To do so would be incompatible with respectable publication as an academic text.
Good link, Strat.
Incidentally, does the wonderful infographic you posted recently, based on papers by Rind & Welter, have a permanent home anywhere? Newgon, perhaps? Would also be nice to know whose idea it was, but I guess that is Top Secret?
Each research page has its own array of graphics at the bottom. Some of these libraries are shared between pages. The Rind-Kinsey one is in:
There is an experimental project underway to produce graphics for social media:
Memes and Graphics.
Thanks, Strat. This is clearly a massively important resource.
Check it out, everyone!
They’re a bunch of legends aren’t they? I’m very impressed with the dedication of Newgon contributors.
Anyway Tom, I’m wondering if you have a particularly good quote from Nathan Daly you’d recommend? Newgon has the abstract partially quoted here https://www.newgon.net/wiki/Research:_Prevalence_of_Harm_and_Negative_Outcomes but I’m not sure the abstract does justice to Daly’s findings. In fact I’d wager the abstract was written specifically to play-down the findings, esp. since Daly uses the term “survivor” a lot when narrativizing the Rind et al. controversy of all things!
It’s gone midnight as I write this after a long day’s engagement with public service far removed from our present concerns here. I might talk about that sometime. Meanwhile, Prue, I’ll put this one on hold until tomorrow.
Lol no worries 🙂
Prue, you wrote:
>I’m wondering if you have a particularly good quote from Nathan Daly you’d recommend?
I’ve now had a look at the paper again, along with correspondence about it between me and others.
I am reminded that my one problem with Daly is that he is a terrible writer. Sadly, there are no good quotes. It’s hard work, in places, to figure out what he means, much less find anything quotable. The (immense) value of his work is entirely in the quantification.
Thoughts on Ghislaine’s conviction? And the fact she could be put away for the rest of her life?
She strikes me as a decent person who just pushed the law too far, inoculated by a sense of her immense wealth.
Also the paradox: mess around with 13, 14, 15 year olds, very dangerous. A 7 year old is far less dangerous simply because she is remote and inaccessible. And I personally find 5-8 to be the cutest years. But my preferences don’t go beyond fantasy and Instagram.
I think Ghislaine was unlucky, but probably had poor judgement too. Nothing however remotely justifying 60 years of imprisonment! The law is an ass.
The media have been raising questions about Epstein and Maxwell’s connections with people like Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Bill Gates. These connections are thought to reflect poorly on these latter individuals. To my mind, it’s largely the other way round. In a sane world, we ‘d be paying less attention to the wrong-doings of Epstein and Maxwell (no more than relatively minor, as far as we can tell) than to the crimes of those formerly powerful (and in one case, still powerful) men. Clinton’s handling of the Waco cult caused a disaster in which many lives were lost; he deregulated the banks, paving the way for the 2008 financial crash; and he built up the carceral state, making America a world leader in imprisoning and executing people; Bush was responsible for at least two pointless wars and for many acts of torture. Bill Gates poses as a great philanthropist, but has used his influence to prevent the development of generic copies of the covid vaccine, thus making it hard for poorer countries to vaccinate their populations. leading to a prolongation of the pandemic.
If Gislaine is to get 60 years for what she did, how much time should Clinton, Bush and Gates serve?
Fantastic “moral compass” points! Couldn’t agree more!
Tom, may I ask: what is your own overall position concerning all this Epstein debacle?
We need a more equitable society. It is not right that the super-rich can snap their fingers and indulge their every whim while others lack even the basics of food, shelter, security, education and healthcare. This is a real issue. But it is not about sex, or only incidentally so. With the basics in place, individuals have more agency, more capacity for self-determination, whatever their age.
I think, the most concise – and, yet, in the same time the most meaningful – summary of this debacle is given in this blog post by Maggie “The Honest Courtesan” McNeill:
She really nailed it.
Hard to disagree with this, for sure:
>At the end of the day, the one person who could’ve answered all of these questions is dead, and everyone else who could answer any of them is highly motivated to keep his mouth shut.
Yes, it’s always the way that the powerful commit “political atrocities” with impunity and from the safe impersonalism of office.
I don’t think morality is a major factor in the judicial system – it’s an arbitrary designation of punishments based on whatever serves the interests of the powerful, while of course obscuring the crimes of the powerful.
It’s sad but I’ve inevitably reached this conclusion. And “victimology” tends to include politically favourable subjects and conveniently exclude the victims and crimes of the institutionally protected malign actors, who are legion.
Furthermore institutionally mandated injustice, such as the carceral state, is shielded from mainstream criticism under the rubrics of a false propaganda.
The NAMBLA website has this interesting video about Alan Turing:
It suggests that, though Turing is now held in very high esteem, there is a certain lack of candour about his attraction to boys as opposed to men.
The happiest Christmas imaginable to all here and may i say God bless Louis CK, who in his latest special ‘ S O R R Y’ begins with this perfectly realised bit whereby his French girlfriend who’s pandemically stuck in Paris and sending him gifts every week, now sends him a pair of little girl’s panties! (He even says it ‘pan -TEES’ not the abominable Murrkin ‘pannnies’) It’s so beautifully done one truly wants to weep for joy!
And this then extends MUCH further, into a brillant exploration of, and many musings on, the absolute absurdity and pointlessness of the perennial/ default narrative on p-p-p-paedophiles!
*God bless Louis CK*
This is just to apologise for the fact that three posts sent on Xmas Day have only just shown up on my moderator’s dashboard, so I could not approve them earlier. No idea what happened. If Santa was doing the deliveries, I guess he must have got stuck in snow somewhere.
Quite conservative compared to the past. Louis CK is not alone in missing the time when his kids were little.
This was hilarious! Thanks, Nada 🙂
A poor article. There is, by definition of its legality and universality, nothing wrong with legal porn, aside from religious and spiritual arguments, which I can certainly understand.
The woman seems to be suggesting legal porn is a gateway to child molestation, which is self-evidently absurd.
And there is a whole industry of people on Instagram modelling, which doesn’t reach the threshold of porn, but which is about the glorification and even sensationalism of the human body. This of course legally includes children.
The woman authoring this article has no spiritual or wise authority with which to denounce porn, her context and diction suggest a debased platform from which she is speaking.
It’s just part of the current modus operandi, to slam all porn, imitating a kind of “fake puritanism” that isn’t remotely grounded in ethical tradition. In a word, BS.
Yes, I agree. The quote from Andrea Dworkin was particularly mind-numbing. Subjective feelings inflated into delusory, almost metaphysical, nonsense. Appalling stuff!
“The pain of having been exposed, so naked, leads to hiding, self-protection, building barricades, emotional and physical alienation or violent retaliation against anyone who gets too close.” – Dworkin in projecting here massively.
If that’s how she feels after sex (intercourse), presumably teliophilic intercourse unless dworkin’s hiding her MAP tendencies, something was definitely going wrong. “Communication is key” as the liberals (rightly) say! Also, isn’t Dwarkin a lesbian? It makes sense she’d feel this way if she were disgusted by men… Pure projection. And people lap it up because distance, alienation, never engaging with the Other is safer than having an intimate encounter with enough human being, such that you might feel compelled to change or develop as a person; otherwise known as character building.
Nice quote from pornstar Sasha Gray included dismissively and rather bitterly in the UnHeard article:
“I am a pervert,” she told the journalist, rejecting the idea that women enter porn because of trauma. “If I am working out any issues through porn, it’s anger at society for not being open about sex.” She claimed her interest in BDSM dated to her childhood — that what she showed in porn was her authentic, inherent self, and that whatever she did was in the service of her own desire to get off.”
I believe it’s from this article https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/the-dirtiest-girl-in-the-world-38931/
>“Communication is key” as the liberals (rightly) say!
Well, ideally that’d work, but communication doesn’t matter if your partner doesn’t care.
I don’t know if anyone’s sexuality can change because of pornography but I wouldn’t rule it out. Research on this seems to be mixed. It’s possible people’s minds work differently, and some people might be influenced by what they see more than others.
Haha, I hate the way some in modern thought like to raise a dodgy and unsubstantiated notion to a universal dictum of mankind! As if they were seeking to imitate a great wit of yesteryear, such as Alexander Pope: “‘Tis with our judgments as our watches, none / Go just alike, yet each believes his own.” Well, the judgements of some are clearly baffling, but we must try and extend empathy to understand their viewpoint.
A Merry Christmas to everyone on this blog!
Ah, such obligatorily conciliatory dribble there, ZT, surely. Imagine trying to “extend empathy” to the likes of Andrea Dworkin or Sarah Ditum, for that matter! They’d probably call 911. Can one affect to “understand” in another that which has almost certainly been ‘put there’ by god knows how much drenching in the media-trough? Either that or severest indoctrination by way of “women’s studies” or the like? Is such a person reallly in possession of a genuine viewpoint – the fruit of their unique position on the scene?
I reckon that the inanely popular (ever checked out the morass of relevant titles on Amazon?) notion of ’empathy’ only serves to obscure the far more fundamental phenomenon of mimesis//mimetic intelligence, which is what allows us to see ourselves in the place of the other to begin with, and which is thus inextricably caught up in the very generation of human desire itself.
Are you able to offer some sort of explanation of what sort of “understanding” you think to seek? And how “extending empathy” will manage to acquire such?
While i’m at it i think the Pope quote is pretty damn quaint and silly, i mean, as if there was never a chronological reference-point? GMT, anyone?
Well there i go, contentious Turps at play again.. But again, who can possibly forget for one moment – we are up against impregnable walls of amassed hatred, prejudice and contempt.. We need to be able to re-center people with our language, to re-orient their attention with the signs we generate in ways that have not been tried before.
The transcendence//deferral of immediate mimetic conflict will not settle for anything less..
I think a basic understanding (and indeed “empathisation”) of an opponent’s viewpoint helps to recognise their flaws and at the same time disarm them, remove the force of their sting as it were, by reducing this to basic psychological factors. A lot of people obviously overcompensate in their hatred of MAPs, so there is some underlying issue there. I think empathy is important generally in our relation with others and helping us to understand the differing characters of humanity.
Say what you wish, Pope is the clear undisputed genius of eighteenth century Augustan poetry. In this quote he is simply speaking about the relativistic nature of each person’s judgement as well of their conviction that their opinion somehow possesses the “truth”. It’s not quaint at all, but rather profound.
However I agree with you that language is incredibly important, and whoever controls the discourse controls people’s understanding of the issue.
A bit off-topic but perhaps useful. In the unused channel 4 interview you gave that became your “A Decent Life” Movie, you mentioned about mothers’ erotic feelings and even reaching orgasm during breastfeeding. I have just seen a study that’s being considered for addition on Newgon that evidences this.
From Reamy, Kenneth J., and White, Susan E. (1987). “Sexuality in the puerperium: A review,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 16(2), 165-186 <https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01542069>
“Lactating mothers reported sexual arousal, often to plateau levels of response, during nursing. Orgasm was reported on three occasions. Sexual excitement, including orgasm, associated with the suckling of infants has been reported elsewhere as well (Heiman, 1963; L’Esperance, 1980; Newton, 1971; Sarlin, 1963; Weichert, 1977; Weisskopf, 1980).
Although sexual pleasure manifested during lactation (and incompatible with the concept of asexual motherhood) is believed to be uncommon by some (Harnes, 1980; Lawrence, 1980; Waletsky, 1979), it may be more frequent than realized in uninhibited, unrestricted breast feeding (Pion and Reich, 1977; Riordan and Rapp, 1980; Rossi, 1973). Weichert (1977) indicated that 25% of lactaters in a small sample experienced sexual arousal with nursing. There are women who openly enjoy the sexual stimulation that breast feeding may afford (Sarlin, 1963). Others find it uncomfortable, distasteful, guilt producing, and intolerable to the extent that they wean their infants early (Heiman, 1963; Lawrence, 1980; Salin, 1963; Waletsky, 1979). It has been written that if the sensual feelings the mother experiences during breast feedlng “are accepted as a natural, gratifying maternal experience, (they can) strengthen the feeling of tenderness and commitment to her baby” (Riordan and Rapp, 1980, p. 111). Women have reported increased breast eroticism after the nursing experience (Riordan and Rapp, 1980). Anthropologic studies have revealed that attitudes concerning lactation and sensuality show marked variation among societies. The maternal-infant interchange within the Navajo culture is said to show “highly developed sexual innuendoes” including the occurrence of penile erections of the boy babies during breast feeding (Kluckhohn, 1957).
[spaced for ease-of-reading – prue] Penile erections during nursing have been described elsewhere as welI (Newton, 1973; Sarlin, 1963; Weisskopf, 1980). The soft, contented “nursing songs” made by babies near the end of nursing when they are relaxed are “similar to the spontaneous noises sometimes made during coitus” (Newton, 1973 , p. 998). After breast feeding “there is often a relaxation (of the suckled infants) that is characteristic of the conclusion of satisfactory sexual response” (Newton, 1973, p. 82). (One might add that there is often a relaxation of the sated adult after a warm meal.) The psychoanalytic literature reports the presence of “vaginal sensations and contractions in suckled female infants” (Heiman, 1963). Sarlin (1963, p. 797) indicated that “the first stirrings of clitoral eroticism and the similar phallic erections during earliest infancy are associated with the passive mouth-breast stimulation by the erect eroticized nipple of the mother’s breast during actual feeding.” He described the nursing infant as “an active participant in an overtly erotic relationship” (p. 798).”
I haven’t seen [though haven’t looked thoroughly either] explicit evidence of this before, so it’s fascinating to read and I thought you and other Heretics would appreciate it!
>A bit off-topic
Totally on-topic for me! 🙂
Great stuff, Prue. ‘Normalization of paedophilia’ at its finest!
There is certainly a strong technocratic paradigm governing much of contemporary social interaction and social spaces. I actually think, rather controversially, that the mega tech companies are driving through radical socially liberalising change through the operation, development and nature of their platforms. I of course don’t know their precise agenda and how much deliberation goes into their social shaping, but minors are being objectified as desirable and attractive, and this drives a lot of the success of their online presence. Minors are detached, inaccessible, from the body politic and the mainstream so to speak, but at the same time have a strikingly visual presence on social media. This is surely driving ideas of the “sexual” child and the “desirable” child into the mainstream, in a way that hasn’t as yet affected mainstream discourse but does subtly begin to shift attitudes and values. Children are a remote yet ubiquitous presence, and this paradox is driving the idea of the mythical child god/goddess as a potent, desirable, detached yet ever-present force, inhabiting our conceptual spaces with their strong visual presence, and legion multitude, yet existing in a category of their own, segregated from the mainstream. I predict that this may begin to change, and that the voice and discourse of children will come to have a significant role in the social space. Children are growing up with this technology and becoming radically and inseparably acquainted with the online world. They cannot be silenced or removed. Governments will scramble to regulate the safety of children but I think they are irrepressible and will stake out their valid claim to this social space alongside adults. This may in turn continue to drive social change. As I have said, I don’t know to what extent the tech companies are concerned with deliberate social moulding, but it seems children are key stakeholders in the social spaces of the future, including the metaverse, and are building their presence massively in the present online offerings. Remember, MAPs, don’t chat to kids! You’ll get “fingered by the boys and girls in blue”. Having said that, whether the adults’ and children’s social spaces can be permanently segregated, holding the kids in their own “online ghetto” is another matter altogether. However this turns out, minors will have a major role in the social spaces of tomorrow, and this impacts their maturity, social acumen and indeed sexuality.
A few days ago I was notified by an academic friend about Nicholas Basannavar’s recent book, which I have been propositioned to write a review of and will consider taking-up the task in a few months time. I was going to tell you about it but you beat me to it! Glad to see it mentioned here.
What I’m a bit annoyed about, however, is that I didn’t know about the talk he gave with Rachel Hope Cleves [who heretics will remember as author of the incredibly important book on Norman Douglas, reviewed rousingly here http://wapercyfoundation.org/?page_id=1056%5D, Adrian Bingham and Joanna Bourke before it happened https://shame.bbk.ac.uk/events/book-launch-trailing-abuse-considering-historical-representations-of-sexual-violence-against-children/. Apart from noting that it’s nice to see Cleves retains some interest in intergen issues, I would have loved to have the name “Tom O’Carroll” there whilst Nick talks. It would’ve been even better to see Nick forced to have an impromptu convo with PIE’s former chairperson. I don’t know whether he’d be happy or ambivalent to have you there, or if he’d be annoyed, horrified, or mute you / not admit you to the call in the first place. I’m quite surprised he hasn’t contacted you when a large portion of his research discusses PIE…
Bourke has reviewed the book in quite flattering and approving terms here https://shame.bbk.ac.uk/blog/trailing-abuse-book-launch/ but I suspect Have you been able to access it?
You note that “He devotes a massive 48-page chapter (Chapter Three, “Paedophilia Unbound: The PIE Moment, 1974-81”) to the emergence of paedophilia in popular discourse, arguing that “it was angst about the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) that shaped subsequent cultural constructs of the ‘paedophile’ in Britain.”
This seems very reasonable but I recall you expressing to me that the author was insulting to you personally; I take it he frames his writing to paint you personally in a negative light?
I remember being happy to discover some recent academic work about PIE, and then almost instantly disappointed to see the author’s use of phrases like “sexual violence.” This is a trend I keep seeing in recent academic work – Chloe Taylor’s book on Foucault for example http://wapercyfoundation.org/?page_id=1086 – and Basannavar was mentioned to me in part as someone I could criticize for his reductive framing. Do you think he did a good job when discussing PIE in his dissertation?
I’ve now read parts of his PhD. I think he has a good section on “What is ‘Paedophilia’?” in Chapter 1 that scholars and non-scholars could probably benefit from. I’d prefer to cite someone like Diederek Janssen talking about the birth of paedophilia as a psychiatric category w/ Kraft-Ebbing and , but even so Nick’s discussion makes for much lighter reading. There are passages that quite neatly sum-up things I’m already aware of but appreciate reminding of. For instance, he writes:
The Freudian narrative of child sexuality, started with Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), argued that even infants had sexual inclinations that manifested in physical expressions such as thumb sucking. Childhood sexuality, Freud argued, was a natural stage of psychosexual development: humans are sexual beings from a very young age, they desire their parents sexually, and their experiences in this infant, sexualised period impact upon their later development and personality. It came to be widely accepted that children have erogenous zones and sexual feelings. Ever since such discussions, according to Diederik F. Janssen, the ‘sexual child’ has been an ‘idée fixe’. Krafft-Ebing also documented his theories on the ‘sexual instinct in children’. In one cited case, he wrote of an eight-year-old girl from a respectable family who, having masturbated since the age of four and ‘consorted’ with boys, considered killing her parents so that she could ‘become her own mistress’ and seek pleasure with men. Another example described two sisters with ‘premature and perverse sexual desire’. The elder girl masturbated from the age of seven, ‘practiced lewdness with boys’, and masturbated herself with the cassock of a priest who had been sent to ‘reform’ her.” (p. 89)
However, saying that, the use of “abuser,” “victim,” the citing of people like Florence Rush as an authority as opposed to an “abuser” of statistics for her own activist ends, the author occasionally slips back into the unnecessary, “willing” / “consenting” [a la Rind et al 1998] subject-erasing [Angelides] victimological rhetoric.
In the chapter on PIE, he ends with some snide pop-shots at you personally.
He concludes that contemporary media discussions “are anachronistically coloured, with media and politicians both projecting meaning onto, and trying to draw conclusions from, a past where values and language were differently rendered.”; that ” the word ‘paedophile’ was new to common usage in 1974 and […] it was PIE members such as O’Carroll that clearly appropriated an identity for themselves by using the word ‘paedophile’, whereas it later came to be something assigned derogatively by the press and general public.” (p. 183).
But then goes on to say: “These days, O’Carroll writes regularly as ‘Heretic TOC’ on an online blog, presenting a ‘discourse of resistance’. Labelled by a visitor to the site as an ‘idiot’, ‘pervert’ and ‘lunatic’, and asked whether he had become a paedophile because of rejection in his teenage years, O’Carroll replied:
O’Carroll has, though, been able to choose what to do with his ‘orientation’. In 2006 he was convicted for distributing child pornography, and in 2016 convicted for historic instances of indecent assault and gross indecency. In a 2015 interview with feminist journalist Julie Bindel, he bracketed himself with ‘the likes of Jimmy Savile’ in being the target of moralising witch hunters.” (pp. 183-184).
Now, I can tell you for sure Nick is seeing what he wants or wishes to see when he talks about you being called an “idiot” etc on your blog; he would’ve had to struggle to find that among the sea on non-trolling, reasonable and educated comments. So he’s making his selection bias pretty clear there, and probably projecting what he’d prefer to be most comments on your blog.
And then, finally, he very misleading states a conviction history without any detail whatsoever. We don’t hear how, using victimological terminology, you were “groomed” by an undercover cop over multiple years into providing him unlawful material against your better judgement, thinking you were doing a favor for a desperate friend. And he includes no detail about the “indecency” case, what it involved [“non-contact”], and how it divided the two brothers involved.
He includes a pop-shot about Jimmy Saville, again, without any detail whatsoever. Funny enough, I just-now saw a great scholarly piece about Saville on my usual bad-habit scholarship trawling – “The origins of the Jimmy Savile scandal” published in 2018 https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJSSP-03-2017-0029/full/html by a contributor to recent “moral panic” scholarship [https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1t88xwr] which complicates Nick’s snide remark and add support to the comparison he’s maligning you with.
Nick ends by saying you’re “now a solitary voice, detached from any wider movement.” On that note, I’m happy to let Nick and the people who read his thesis to content themselves into believing that! :p
Great stuff, Prue! You’ve been digging deep!
You will see from my first comment, sent just before reading your second, that I let him off rather lightly on the personal abuse thing. Your critique is much more demanding and better than my own.
As for the “idiot” comment, though, there is another reading. I am absolutely sure that, unlike the visitor he quoted, he does not see me as an idiot. That would be incompatible with much else that he says, such as this:
No, I think he was trying to make me seem vain, with that quote about being a bit of a looker – when I was younger, at least! So, yes, there was mischief, but not, I suggest, quite what you had in mind.
You are a homosexual right? Correct me if I’m wrong but I was under the impression that you liked boys.
Homosexuality and pedophilia are completely compatible. Not all homosexuals are pedophiles but some homosexuals are pedophiles. The definition of homosexual is simply someone who is attracted to the same sex. There is no regard to age in the definition.
I am a heterosexual and I am also a pedophile. I like girls. Not women, only girls. But they are the opposite gender which makes me heterosexual. I am a heterosexual pedophile to be precise.
There has been an attempt by society to classify the pedophile as neither heterosexual nor homosexual; to try and dissociate pedophilia from classical orientations. Largely as a way, I think, for the LGBT community to distance itself from men who like boys. I’ve even had people try to tell me that pedophiles have no gender preference which is completely nonsense. There are bi-sexual pedophiles out there but they aren’t the norm. Which is why the online community is strongly split between girllovers and boylovers with each usually having their own separate forums.
Hi GirlLover, good to hear from you. You write:
>You are a homosexual right?
I can’t remember ever being called “a homosexual” or asked if I am one. From about 1955, when I was 10, to 1960, I was attracted to other boys my own age. From then on, as I got older the boys I was drawn to tended to be significantly younger. From 1960 to 1975, it would have been reasonable to describe myself as a homosexual paedophile. Around the later date, though, I woke up very belatedy but strongly to the allure of prepubertal girls.
From that time to this, I have felt a precisely equal level of attraction to both boys and girls.
>There are bi-sexual pedophiles out there but they aren’t the norm.
Count me as abnormal then! – as opposed to all you totally normal homosexual or heterosexual paedophiles! 🙂
>A few days ago I was notified by an academic friend about Nicholas Basannavar’s recent book, which I have been propositioned to write a review of and will consider taking-up the task…
Please do! Can’t wait to read it!
>What I’m a bit annoyed about, however, is that I didn’t know about the talk he gave with Rachel Hope Cleves
The odd one out here is Cleves; the others (Adrian Bingham, Joanna Bourke and the rest of the coterie) are firmly in the “anti” camp.
>I would have loved to have the name “Tom O’Carroll” there whilst Nick talks. It would’ve been even better to see Nick forced to have an impromptu convo with PIE’s former chairperson.
He might have felt uncomfortable, but so would I. Not sure confrontation would have been productive.
>I’m quite surprised he hasn’t contacted you when a large portion of his research discusses PIE…
We tend to think of “right of reply” in connection with newspapers more than books but, the law of libel, and due diligence as regards fair treatment, apply to both. One might expect academics to have higher standards than journalists, who are widely held in low regard, but it ain’t necessarily so. There may be a certain insouciance among historians. Usually, after all, they are writing about people who are long dead. Vlad the Impaler, say, is hardly going to turn up in a libel court yelling “Fake news! I absolutely did not impale anything like the numbers alleged!”
>Bourke has reviewed the book in quite flattering and approving terms
Yes, I read the review this morning. Nothing of interest in it, really.
>[Basannavar says] “it was angst about the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) that shaped subsequent cultural constructs of the ‘paedophile’ in Britain.” This seems very reasonable but I recall you expressing to me that the author was insulting to you personally; I take it he frames his writing to paint you personally in a negative light?
Not really. He does show a real interest in the facts rather than being hell-bent on distorting them. His bias show occasionally but he is far more objective and scholarly than many. I might have bridled, initially, over him saying one of my anecdotes about the Netherlands in Radical Case could be “spurious”. Strictly speaking, though, he is right. I was depending on a conversation with a Dutch informant (albeit a reliable one) for the account in question and its veracity.
>Basannavar was mentioned to me in part as someone I could criticize for his reductive framing. Do you think he did a good job when discussing PIE in his dissertation?
I absolutely agree about his reductive framing, as I think I indicated in my blog. There are also significant inaccuracies in the discussion of PIE. The representation of PIE’s position, and my own, is by no means terrible but is relatively thin when the considerable length of the chapter is taken into account. His main focus is on the cultural and historical context of PIE’s appearance on the scene, which he actually does very well, and on “popular representations of PIE”.
If you decide to do a review, which I hope you will, I would be very happy to point out the mistakes I have spotted, and some particular points of what I regard as strengths and weaknesses of the chapter.