Friday, May 16, 2008

Unfairly Villainized? (Or: My Most Controversial Blog Ever)

Note: there may be offensive content ahead. Nobody ever accused me of being politically correct or shy about flirting with controversy! Also, a good deal of the thought processes in this blog were influenced by Judith Levine's book "Harmful To Minors: The Perils Of Protecting Children From Sex".

I always get a little suspicious whenever an individual or a group of people receive almost unanimous hatred and condemnation and nobody seems to want to discuss the issue whatsoever, at all. To me, it speaks more about our own discomforts, psychological hang-ups, and tendencies towards mass hysteria than about the presumed evilness of said person(s) or groups. It's certainly possible, after all, to appropriately condemn something even as you discuss and debate it and take a look at both sides.

That's why I get so upset about the hubub about pedophilic erotica.

I have always been, and I know that I will always continue to be, against the practice of sexual relationships between pre-pubescent children and post-pubescent individuals. I would say simply that I am "against pedophilia", but I in fact have no problem with pedophilia itself, that is, with the sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. Whereas many people hate any and all things related to pedophilia, I find only offensive pedophilic actions.

And why is that? In evaluating anything, there must be a reason for the final evaluation, and it must be logical. How do we measure "wrong" and "right"? I don't know about others' moralities, but I define that which is wrong as violating the rights of others (to life, liberty, property, and equal treatment under the law) and enacts force against another, or causes non-consensual bodily harm. I do not define "wrong" in terms of "unnatural", "disgusting", "against God", or anything like that. And so when I look at pedophilia, like when I look at any issue, I wipe my mind of societal viewpoints, biased opinions and prejudiced judgements, and instead evaluate it on my own terms. Why might pedophilia be wrong? Well, it certainly doesn't take away life, property, or equal treatment under the law. In many cases it doesn't cause non-consensual bodily harm. Does it enact force against another? Well, that's an interesting question. "Force" implies non-consent. What does it require to give consent? One must be in good mental health, obviously. But can we say that children can give consent? As they are often lacking in fully developed/matured reasoning skills and necessary world information, we might say that they are not prepared to make educated decisions or be free from coercion, and that therefore any consent that they give is dubious. When, exactly, though, do children or adolescents suddenly gain this knowledge and these abilities? The law may designate it as 18 years of age, but the law is arbitrary- have there been any studies to show that at 18 years the brain suddenly springs into an "adult mode" of thinking? (No, as far as I know, it does not). So that question remains- and continues to plague- those of us who instinctively know in our hearts that willful sex between a 17 and an 18 year-old is not statutory rape. But that aside, we all know and understand that pre-pubescent children are certainly unable to give real consent. And that, in a nutshell, is what makes performing the act of pedophilia morally wrong.

Fantasizing about pre-pubescent children may be statistically rare and therefore raises our heckles, suggesting loaded words like "deviant", "perverted", and "sick". But unlike the actual act itself, fantasies do not even involve children or anybody else. So why does it get such a bum rap?

I recently submitted this Myspace blog as its own article to my account, and found that it had been rejected- on the basis of showing a sexual relationship featuring underage participants. Well, that was news to me. I took a look back at the piece and realized the only thing they must have been glomming onto was my description of the completely scientifically observed fact that female fetuses at 32 weeks have been seen touching their vulvas. Child porn, this is not.

It was a bit of a wake-up call to me. What would cause sensible folks to suggest that this was underage erotica and worthy of being banned as prohibited content? Is Literotica simply covering its bases in terms of offensive content, the literature that depicts illegal and immoral acts?

Well, no. Literotica has a healthy and thriving section dedicated to "Non-Consent/Reluctance". Last time I checked, rape and non-consensual molestation were neither legal and most certainly not morally upstanding. So why exactly is that allowed on Literotica, but pedophilia is not? Why do we have these knee-jerk reactions to pedophilic fantasies, deeming anyone who has one to be sick and disgusting and a pedophile, whereas we are quick to reassure slightly guilty men and women that rape fantasies are healthy and normal and don't necessarily mean the person wants violent sex in real life?

It's a lot of things, really- time and the dictates of society whitewash the realities of childhood sexuality into an idealized golden time that never truly existed, where children don't explore their budding bodies with games of doctor and don't practice kissing in slumber parties and don't masturbate. It's become quite politically incorrect to even admit that childhood is just as sexually complex- if not explicitly so- as adulthood. Just take a look at Jocelyn Elders- shunned for saying that masturbation for young folks might be a good thing. Sensationalist media promote this innocent-child Shangri-la and then exploit parents' deepest fears about abduction and molestation of their children, that we can no longer think about pedophilia, and by extension pedophilic erotica and virtual/CG/animated pornography- in a logical way.

I cannot find anything sexually arousing about pre-pubescent children- their undeveloped bodies hold no erotic appeal and I'd much rather be with someone of my own age, with whom I have things in common and can relate to. But I maintain that the veritable witch-hunt against pedophilia in erotica is the product of gut-instinctual, hysterical, and irrational fears- it is neither principled nor reasonable.

So that's it for today. Literotica has deemed my writing to be underage sex written for erotic purposes even though it is not . . . or if it is, all studies on and published survey results of teen sex rates are also sexy pedophilic literature. The more I look around- not only in sex-related issues but political and social and educational and every other issue as well- people seem to be thinking less and relying on prevailing attitudes, political climates, traditional mores and social dictates, and their own [often irrational] fears to guide their judgements.

And that makes me worry.

EDIT, 5/18/08: Interestingly enough, I just read
this news article, as linked from Literotica's adult headlines section. Funny how the exact things you're talking about seem to crop up, eh? Anyways, for those too lazy to click and read, Karen Fletcher wrote and posted her own erotic stories about children on a members-only website that she owns . . . and she's undergoing an obscenities trial brought by U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, because " . . . material like Ms. Fletcher's could embolden a person to commit sex crimes on children.". Once again, I'm brought to the same conclusion- where are the prosecutions on writers of texts that portray, say, rape and torture, and could similarly "embolden" people to rape and torture others? At this point in time, I'm not even that upset about the concept that erotica and pornography can incite others to mimick it (although it is a pet peeve of mine)- no, all I'm looking for right now to soothe my soul is a little consistency. At least the Brits have a consistent, if ridiculous and antiquated, view of sex.

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