Open Thread: does the US support pedophilia?

This is going to be a rambling post touching on a lot of related topics. Respond to whatever grabs you in comments, because this stuff needs to be discussed too much to fuss over what’s “on topic.”

A winter issue of Vogue Paris featured some photos of 10 year old girls made up and photographed to look like adults. You can see most of them here, but there was one CNN wasn’t allowed to post, and you can see it here. The first question, of course, is: is this acceptable, or a form of child abuse, or something in between? Sound off in comments.

The second question, however, is: can we learn something from this as a society? Jezebel makes a chilling point:

Here are just a few of the models who began working extensively at the ages of 12, 13, and 14: Tanya Dziahileva. Chanel Iman. Karlie Kloss. Lindsay Wixson. Monika Jagaciak. Current Vogue Paris covergirl Daphne Groeneveld. Going back further: Kate Moss. Brooke Shields. Patti Hansen. Niki Taylor. Kimora Lee Simmons. Bridget Hall. Gisele Bündchen. Karolina Kurkova. Linda Evangelista. Christy Turlington. I could go on.

Bold emphasis mine. Those models you see on covers that look twenty-three are twelve. The ones you see that look thirty are, at most, sixteen. Why? I don’t know. The same thing doesn’t happen with male models. Of course, twelve year old boys can’t be made to look like twenty year olds because their bodies develop at a different pace from girls’. But the fact that a young girl can be made to look like a grown women doesn’t mean that’s how the fashion industry should create photo spreads. It’s not like they don’t still need to touch up the photos of prepubescent girls to make them look good enough for the fashion world. And thanks to airbrushing and now Photoshop, even old hags like Julia Roberts can be made to look, well, at least passable! (That was sarcasm: Roberts is beautiful without Photoshop, but it seems Lancome disagrees.)

There’s more from the Jezebel article, which I strongly recommend reading (you have to click each picture to get another “page” of the article):

Girls who get scouted are thrust into a very adult working environment. Suddenly, they become girls who are signed as independent contractors to agencies that may screw them over. Girls who may be asked to do nude work. Girls who in any case have to change clothes at jobs in full view of perhaps dozens of photographers.

And let’s not forget Corey Feldman’s recent remarks in the wake of Corey Haim’s death. He says Hollywood’s big secret and “#1 problem” is pedophilia, and it’s everywhere, and the casting couch applies to kids, too:

“I was surrounded by [pedophiles] when I was 14 years old. … Didn’t even know it. It wasn’t until I was old enough to realize what they were and what they wanted … till I went, Oh, my God. They were everywhere,” Feldman, 40, said.

The trauma of pedophilia contributed to the 2010 death of his closest friend and “The Lost Boys” co-star, Corey Haim, Feldman said.

“There’s one person to blame in the death of Corey Haim. And that person happens to be a Hollywood mogul. And that person needs to be exposed, but, unfortunately, I can’t be the one to do it,” Feldman said, adding that he, too, had been sexually abused by men in show business.

I strongly suggest reading this article too – it’s a short, disturbing read. The uninformed wonder why pedophilia is so common in the Catholic church, and now they can wonder about Hollywood too. But what do these two groups have in common? Power. Lots of it. If you enjoy abusing people, working in Hollywood behind the scenes is the way to go. You don’t have to work around the industry long to figure that out. If you don’t want to support abuse, working behind the scenes becomes difficult. If you don’t like being abused, working before the cameras becomes nearly impossible.

And into that environment, which has chewed up and spat out adults (mainly adult women), we throw children. The fashion industry is at least as bad. The creep factor is off the scale.

What the hell are we doing? Is our culture just really secretly okay with adults sexually abusing kids? Because people sure aren’t bothering to educate themselves. All the clues are there. You can learn most of it from TV shows these days. No schooling or reading of books (just magazines) is required. And yet, people still just don’t seem to give a damn. It’s inexcusable and unacceptable.

If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Ignorance is no longer an excuse.

 

Comments

  1. Dina Bow says

    I almost got into modeling as a little girl, but something about it made me nervous. Now I’m glad my mom didn’t force it on me. After seeing America’s Next Top Model I don’t know why anyone would want to be one, let alone kids. I cannot believe someone thought it was a good idea to take pictures of that girl topless. I wonder how she felt about the photo shoot and where her parents were. Seriously, are they aware of any of this or do they just not care?

  2. Azzy says

    Dina Bow,

    Sadly, her parents probably thought “Well, she doesn’t have breasts yet, so photographing her topless is a-okay!”

    I wonder how much of this rampant abuse has to do wth the belief that bad people can be recognized on sight? How many parents have thought “nobody here LOOKS like a pedophile, so my child is perfectly safe in this environment”?

  3. The Other Anne says

    I’d say kids are being exposed to very sexualized role models at a very young age and told it’s “romantic” and we internalize that that’s how it’s supposed to be. I’m thinking Jasmine, Ariel, that Atlantis princess whose name I can’t remember, and Pocahontas who tell girls that “exotic” means sexy and scantily clad (because “uncivilized” means they’re comfortable in their bodies, but this being a white-privileged and conservative society, we do not think that way, so it becomes “othered” but often mimicked by white persons), we have the other disney princesses with their also very young lives becoming romantically entangled in not-very-great circumstances, plus Barbie, plus everything else…it’s so conditioned into us it’s “normal”. So it doesn’t surprise me AT ALL that parents would be okay with this, that the girls who are these models are doing it (after all, shouldn’t the only thing a girl wants in life be to be desired? /s), it doesn’t surprise me that girls and boys alike are being taken advantage of by older perverts who can get away with it (and they know they can–their role models are Roman Polansky and all the people who will never be named…why should they fear retribution?), none of this surprises me. It only saddens me, disgusts me, and makes me even more contemptuous of the power-hungry pervs and those willing to be ignorant about the effects of all this.

    So, yeah, I’d say the US DOES support pedophilia. It supports it when 11 or 12 year old girls are criticized when they are raped, supports it when the majority of role models given to young people are sexualized (for girls) or hyper-masculinized and violent (for boys) and we adhere to that fallacious dichotomy. It supports it when power goes unquestioned and abuses of power unpunished. It supports it with porn that specializes in girls that are or are made to look underage.

    The weird thing about pedophilia, as well, and when I say “weird” I mean “not very surprising but I wish I could expect better” is how very OMGAWFUL pervs who go after boys are compared to pervs who go after little girls, and how much BLAME people seem to be able to put onto girls. HOW IN THE WORLD can a girl 11 to 13 be BLAMED at ALL for any rape that happens to her?

    Sorry. This whole thing made me all ranty. So very effective article, then.

    As for the Paris Vogue thing, to be honest, I would say somewhere in between. But I am biased by my upbringing, which in the context of US childrearing made me both ashamed of sexuality but thinking young girls should be sexual. THANKS DISNEY. As a kid playing dressup I looked like any one of those girls at some point, albeit with worse clothes and less skilled with the makeup. So, I would not say young girls should never look that way if they want to dress up that way and explore how clothes and makeup can work, and use their imaginations. The poses, the photography, and the fact that this is a spread in a major fashion mag? Much more sinister. On the one hand I could see it as a form of commentary. On the other hand, that would mean I should be seeing something different from normal, but where the male superheroes dressed up as female ones with female poses works, this absolutely does not. It’s kind of like the book The Magicians, to me. In order for it to be a commentary it shouldn’t be saying the EXACT SAME THING of what it’s commenting on.

    Long comment, sorry. Article much appreciated. Rage, less so, but I have society at large to thank for that.

  4. megs says

    I wish that nudity wasn’t sexualized so much. Then we could probably make better commentary on sexuality. But as it stands, even in mocking or pointing out or satirizing sexuality, you are showing something sexual. You can’t not do it by not intending to do it. I’d love to have kids (and adults by extension) feel free to be art by wearing whatever or running around half-naked just like they used to when they were tots, but even now there’s no age so young it’s not sexual to somebody, it seems like. When the idea that National Geographic was porn fodder became mainstream and a regular joke, it made even just pictures of people wearing a totally normal outfit to them into something sexual.

    It’s pretty sad and sickening, but you kind of have to deal with the world as it is. If they really wanted to challenge it, they’d put more effort into every single issue into desexualizing nudity and the human body and would have a range of models of all ages and sizes.

  5. DNi says

    That picture in question, by itself and in a vacuum? Perfectly acceptable. In fact, I think that’s a particularly striking picture. Outside a vacuum, and existing in the world as described by Corey Feldman? That’s could possibly be considerably less acceptable. Unacceptable, even!

    In general, a pet peeve of mine is when nudity by itself is regarded an inherently sexual. I’m also of the opinion that the more taboo a subject of matter is, the worse corresponding deviants will become as they feel like outcasts from society and retreat into the culture that makes them different from everybody else. So when I see photos like that French Vogue spread, wherein the subject matter is not really sexualized, the best thing you can do is acknowledge them as merely good or bad art.

    Of course, there are photos out there of minors which *are* clearly sexual or lascivious in intent, and those should definitely be dealt with.

  6. says

    I wrote an article years ago on how the best solution might be to have a lot of non-sexual nudity (including people who don’t look like actors) to dilute the onslaught of “naked=sexy” imagery. Might give people some perspective. I mean, a 100% asexual person probably gets totally naked at least once a day (changing clothes, showering, etc.). We all undress a lot of times for non sexual reasons to every single time we undress for sexy reasons. But if you were studying our culture from another planet and had nothing but media to go on, you’d think nudity was a purely sexual thing and people somehow showered, shat and changed clothes without getting naked.

  7. Dom Camus says

    Jennifer Kesler:
    I wrote an article years ago on how the best solution might be to have a lot of non-sexual nudity

    Any chance of a link? I’d be very interested.

    I’ve thought about related ideas in the past since when I was training in art I was surprised to discover how having nude models around during drawing classes wasn’t a sexual experience at all. However, I never managed to come up with a way to make nudity more acceptable in society that wasn’t likely to create more problems than it solved.

  8. Anemone says

    I think about these things constantly.

    Children are permitted to perform sexualized content or display nudity in acting and modelling with parental permission, but when it’s prostitution or porn the same parents would be pimps. And yet there isn’t really any real difference between the two situations, except in degree. I tried to talk about this with someone responsible for child safety in the film industry in Vancouver (you can report abuse of minors if you see it on set) and he was not familiar with children performing sexualized content in films. I guess he never heard of Kirsten Dunst’s first kiss in Interview with a Vampire. And there was a Quebec film last year with two kids in their early teens kissing, with lots of tongue, as part of their job. This should be strictly illegal. Any sexualized content or nudity in modelling or film should be treated like prostitution/porn. If there’s an age where it’s legal, then it should never happen below that age. And if it’s illegal it should simply never happen. Surely it can’t be that hard to protect kids.

    Many parents simply don’t know what to expect and trust the directors/producers too much. Anyone familiar with the Milgram experiments??? People defer to those in authority automatically, and often even defer to them when they don’t want to, when it causes them great stress. In part as a result of the Milgram experiments, professionals (lawyers, doctors, researchers, therapists etc.) have professional codes of conduct to keep them from unwittingly (or uncaringly) causing harm to the people they have power over. Producers and directors do not have a professional code of conduct. Apparently they are not worried about being sued. Or hurting anyone. The only use of the word “professional” that I have come across in film is the idea that underlings should show up on time, sober (no problem with that) and do as their told. Because the boss *always* knows best.

    At least in modelling there are activists trying to unionize and protect models better. But I am seriously disappointed with the actors unions I see here in Canada. Apparently they are afraid to apply basic standards to “art”.

    This issue affects people of all ages. (The Milgram subjects were adults.) I can see why people get confused about how much agency adults have (though the Swedish model of prostitution legislation should make inroads here, as it did for me), but surely it ought to be easy to apply the same uniform standards for minors across all industries. And if you’re not sure, play it safe!

    Arggh!

  9. Korva says

    I’m not an American, but: yes, and other countries too. Beside what everyone else has said, one only needs to look at the ubiquitous infantilization of women. The obsession with youth and hairless smoothness of skin, babyteen clothing and accessories, artificially high-pitched voices, feigning child-like ignorance because knowledge and experience aren’t “sexy” and will put men off, “barely legal” schoolgirl porn … These are definitely warning signs to me. Child-like women and sexualized children go hand in hand.

    Children are (generally) easier to overpower, easier to manipulate, easier to intimidate, have less life experience, no financial or legal independence … What’s NOT to like about a real child or a babified woman if you feel entitled to another person’s body, life and obedience? And that entitlement is still damn strong and the backlash against women’s rights has never stopped …

  10. says

    Dom Camus,

    Found it:

    http://thehathorlegacy.com/why-nudity-doesnt-bother-me/

    It’s a VERY old article, and if I wrote it today I’d have added in more context about how it’s sort of impossible to actually achieve non-sexual nudity in the context of a civilization that’s been so thoroughly trained to equate nudity with sexiness. Also, while a Xena discussion brought up the subject, I did not mean to imply that the nudity in Xena was intended as non-sexual, but I wasn’t very clear about that.

  11. M.C. says

    DNi:
    That picture in question, by itself and in a vacuum? Perfectly acceptable.

    I think so too. The girl looks like she’s playing dress-up with her mother’s clothes and shoes (the shoes are obviously too big for her). Actually, I think there’s nothing sexual at all in those pictures. The problem is the mindset of people who look at them and see something sexual.

    Banning pictures like that or banning nudity won’t make pedophilia go away, because neither those pictures nor nudity tempt proper people into commiting sexual crimes. What this world needs is to ban victim-blaming, we need to make it socially unexceptable to be a sexual predator.

    So yes, I think the entire fucking world supports (hetero)pedophilia. But if you take those pics of Thylane Loubry Blondeau out of context of this fucked up world, then I don’t see any problem with them.

  12. says

    M.C.: Banning pictures like that or banning nudity won’t make pedophilia go away, because neither those pictures nor nudity tempt proper people into commiting sexual crimes.

    I agree with your point – that the photos are not the problem. I’m far more concerned that maybe the working conditions young models and actors experience create a situation that looks to pedophiles like a buffet bar. It sounds like that’s really the case, and if so, we as a society are pretty much sacrificing children to get our entertainment.

  13. sbg says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    This. I’m having a time articulating anything today. The pictures alone actually do bother me, though. Something about the girls’ faces is what is pinging me, not the dress-up factor, so even taken out of context I’m bothered by them – but in the context of a society telling young girls to look older and older women to look younger by any means possible, I can only conclude it’s one giant effed up monster of a world we live in.

  14. The Other Anne says

    M.C.,

    The only thing I take issue with is a nitpick (sorry) but it’s not just the mindset of the person looking at the photos–if its in a vacuum, yes, very true, but we are conditioned to see certain poses made by certain genders and other visual cues to be seen as sexual. To place all the burden of mindset on the person looking at them instead of acknowledging a much larger context ignores the fact that we live in a society that teaches us certainthings from the get go. A small nitpick, I think, because otherwise your meaning is clear, but I have a hard time blaming people for seeing something sexual in a picture that has all the cues we always get for “sex!!!” from the media.

  15. says

    sbg,

    I think you’re articulating it well, and you’re right. MC said the photos don’t cause pedophilia, and I agree, and my primary concern is the kids being used as models and actors. BUT you are right – there are elements of these photos that do contribute to rape culture. In fact, there are elements of them that wouldn’t even make sense if rape culture didn’t exist, and perhaps those elements are what is bothering you. Because the looks on the faces, the way in some pictures one child is staring at the other… it’s coquettish, and for anyone unfamiliar with that word, it means “a woman who endeavors without sincere affection to gain the attention and admiration of men.” In a perfect world, where women and men had roughly equal power, responsibilities and opportunities, someone seeking attention and admiration without returning anything would be simply an asshole. But in rape culture, it’s actually expected that women should flirt with and charm men they have no interest in, just in case they develop an interest later, or need some money or whatever.

    The looks on the faces invoke some rape culture ideas, and that is problematic.

  16. M.C. says

    Jennifer Kesler: I agree with your point – that the photos are not the problem. I’m far more concerned that maybe the working conditions young models and actors experience create a situation that looks to pedophiles like a buffet bar. It sounds like that’s really the case, and if so, we as a society are pretty much sacrificing children to get our entertainment.

    True. As far as I’ve read on your blog (and others alike) the whole entertainment industry is a place where people are in grave danger of falling victim to sexual predators. Pedophilia is just the tip of the iceberg.

    The Other Anne:
    M.C.,

    The only thing I take issue with is a nitpick (sorry) but it’s not just the mindset of the person looking at the photos–if its in a vacuum, yes, very true, but we are conditioned to see certain poses made by certain genders and other visual cues to be seen as sexual. To place all the burden of mindset on the person looking at them instead of acknowledging a much larger context ignores the fact that we live in a society that teaches us certainthings from the get go. A small nitpick, I think, because otherwise your meaning is clear, but I have a hard time blaming people for seeing something sexual in a picture that has all the cues we always get for “sex!!!” from the media.

    I understand what you mean. I just don’t see sexual cues in those particular pictures, but maybe I’m just too used to this kind of advertising? I do get creeped out when I hear of child beauty pageants, though…

  17. Raeka says

    I just wanted to say that, like many others, the mere fact of the girl’s nudity doesn’t bother me –but something about the picture does. And I think it’s her expression, and her pose. People keep talking about ‘taking the picture out of context’, but it seems to me that the photographers haven’t actually GIVEN it any context. She’s just standing there, staring at the viewer, with the default model purpose of pleasing/intriguing the viewer –and THAT bothers me. If she looked fierce, like she was playing dress-up as some wild jungle queen, or engaged in actually DOING something, I’d be more comfortable with her nudity –because it suddenly isn’t her PURPOSE. If that makes sense.

  18. says

    M.C.,

    You’re not seeing coquettishness in some of the expressions, and a lack of agency (thanks, Raeka, for helping me put a name to that one) in the others? See my above comment on how coquettishness can’t exist outside rape culture (it would just be “assholishness”) and Raeka for what’s “missing” in some of her expressions.

    Raeka,

    Thank you! It’s that infamous “lack of agency” that you need to be sexually alluring (what Karen Healey called “pornface”). It’s there, and I don’t even know how you get a child to look that blank.

  19. M.C. says

    Jennifer Kesler:
    M.C.,

    You’re not seeing coquettishness in some of the expressions, and a lack of agency (thanks, Raeka, for helping me put a name to that one) in the others?

    No, I think she looks bored. Maybe a bit uncomfortable in the topless pic (look at how she’s pulling up her shoulders).
    Actually, those pics remind me how Empress Maria Theresia (and other monarchs of her time) had their children portrayed in grown-up fashion clothes. Like this one: http://www.turkcebilgi.com/uploads/media/resim/maria_theresia_familie.jpg
    Everything from the clothes to the posing looks so fake.

  20. SunlessNick says

    M.C.,

    As far as I’ve read on your blog (and others alike) the whole entertainment industry is a place where people are in grave danger of falling victim to sexual predators. Pedophilia is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Comparing this with the pedophilia scandals in the Catholic Church, could there be something in common between artistic and religious establishments? They’re the ones that pride themselves on having truths to teach about the world; might that tie into them being friendlier ground for those that prey particularly on the young?

  21. says

    SunlessNick, I think you’re really close to the truth of it. You may recall me mentioning that Roy Hazelwood, former FBI profiler, believes most sex offenders have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I agree, because NPD is the only personality type that would enjoy rape (others may engage in it for other reasons, especially including mob psychology incidents, but they wouldn’t get kicks from it like an NPD). NPDs want glory, and to feel superior. Both the priesthood/ministry and the film industry offer opportunities for glory and a sense that you’re superior.

    And then of course, once you get a pack of NPDs in an environment that allows them to thrive, others pick up on this and gravitate toward it. Because both environments openly and publicly defend known child molesters, I’m sure child molesters are flooding into their ranks these days.

  22. Shaun says

    The Other Anne:
    The weird thing about pedophilia, as well, and when I say “weird” I mean “not very surprising but I wish I could expect better” is how very OMGAWFUL pervs who go after boys are compared to pervs who go after little girls, and how much BLAME people seem to be able to put onto girls. HOW IN THE WORLD can a girl 11 to 13 be BLAMED at ALL for any rape that happens to her?

    Well a man who rapes a girl is still performing heteronormality. What is important to a heteronormative society is that men are active and women are sexually passive and available–consent isn’t a necessary or relevant part of that equation. From any moral perspective there shouldn’t be a difference at a man (or a woman) raping a 12-year-old male or female, but if there’s a stronger reaction to the former you can probably safely chalk it up to an objection to homosexuality. I think you could argue that a man molesting a boy was still performing heteronormality to an extent, because except for the genders of the people involved, the sexual “encounter” is still happening in an unequal power structure.

    Speaking more broadly, is there any evidence that US society views sexuality as anything other than an exchange, where something is “taken” or “given”? Because these pedophiliac interactions seem like a microcosm (with stronger contrasts) for how society views sexuality in adults too.

  23. Shaun says

    Maria,

    I’m not sure. The context the Other Anne brought up seemed to be more about male offenders. As a general rule though boys molested by women are “congratulated” and often addressed as if they scored or “won” something, because heteronormativity/patriarchy dictates the male is always receiving something. Going based on the way society sexualizes people of color I would imagine this attitude is even more extreme when the victim is a boy of color, especially since white women are viewed as a more desirable prize, but I’m not knowledgeable on race politics.

    (The way I’m using the terms, heteronormativity is a facet of patriarchy as it governs sexual relationships within a patriarchy).

  24. The Other Anne says

    Shaun,

    I would definitely agree that that sort of ingrained heteronormativity is a part of it. And definitely a lot of the child victim blaming, in regards to children who are girls, is that they were asking for it by looking older and dressing “like sluts”, so it plays into that idea that the only thing “taken” from them is something they already freely give anyway (by dressing how they want, which APPARENTLY puts them in a perpetual state of consent), so “it’s not that bad” in the eyes of people because, well, that’s just why girls are here, right? To provide something for men?

    And I’d probably say you’re right in regards to the homophobia inherent in the extreme focus on pedophilia with male victims and male perpetrators.

    I went to Reddit the other day, because every once and a while I hate myself enough to want to venture there, and of course I got pissed off right away by a thread about a registered sex offender (an IAMA), in which he coerced a 15 year old girl to lie to her parents, go to his house, where he got her drunk and “had sex” with her when he was 20. Even in his post he was so self-centered, not at all thinking about how that effected HER, and his only remorse was that being on the registry was effecting his life. Commenters were SUPPORTIVE of him and his “plight”. And when a woman spoke up and said she had sex as a 15 year old with a 25 year old, and now as an adult she realizes how she was too young and she didn’t have the real capacity to make that sort of decision well, and she thinks the man was way out of line and really should have known better and how creepy that is…she was argued with, people blamed her because she needs to “take responsibility for her own actions” (and no mention that the MAN needs to take responsibility for HIS), etc etc. Anyway, I’m out of Reddit again for another few months. Urgh.

    Shaun,

    Yup, I was speaking specifically of male offenders, but since I failed to specify, it’s kind of my bad and it’s fair to bring up everything else.

    To bring media into this, in CSI one of the male characters was raped by a female babysitter when he was nine, and it definitely doesn’t take the stance that it’s something he should be proud of, or even that he should just “get over.” It still effects him and it’s kind of the closest I’ve seen to the sort of “character development” that’s often given to women (a sexual victim past that motivates a current heroism, law enforcement job, etc.).

  25. Robin says

    The Other Anne, you are a brave woman, wading into Reddit like that. There is a very good reason that I only look at Reddit articles recommended by people I trust. Sadly, it doesn’t surprise me that so many of the denizens over there were commiserating with the poor, inconvenienced child molester. [::eyeroll:: Ew.] They tend to behave that way in threads about completely unrelated topics, as well.

    re: CSI — Which character? I stopped watching after 3 or 4 seasons.

  26. The Other Anne says

    Robin,

    It’s Nick Stokes. I think they mention it in the first season sometime, or sometime in the first three seasons. And I dont think it’s ever mentioned again.

  27. says

    Maria, what are your thoughts on this? I believe minority children are more likely than whites to be tried as adults, so I wouldn’t be stunned if some racists worked out a way to see a raped boy of color as the monster in the scenario you describe – at the very least, an unsympathetic victim who’s suspect of something somehow.

    The Other Anne: now as an adult she realizes how she was too young and she didn’t have the real capacity to make that sort of decision well, and she thinks the man was way out of line and really should have known better and how creepy that is…

    Interesting, because I’m not hearing a failure to take responsibility or any of the other straw men the commenters heard in this. Obviously, they are just assholes.

    I wonder if an article on child molesting would be appropriate for this site. People don’t realize that it doesn’t have to include sexual assault – just an adult making a child inappropriately aware of her sexuality for the purposes of gratifying the adult’s sexuality is molestation – and that a big part of the damage occurs because kids are normally sorting out their own sexuality at their own pace. Having it suddenly defined by an adult (or another child with power) as something that *belongs* to the adult (or other child) and exists to serve his needs is awfully traumatic. Some kids internalize the whole message and think they are worthless and unloveable. Others just turn off their sexuality in order to preserve their self-esteem in other areas, and then they get to experience all the fun that goes with being asexual in a sex-obsessed society. ( It’s been suggested to me that this sentence might be misinterpreted as meaning that all asexuals are molestation victims. To this I say: learn to think, people. Don’t read an extreme position into every statement you read. That’s “pigeonholing”, and it’s really annoying.)

    BTW, this isn’t meant to imply rape against one group is more wrong than rape against another group. It’s all evil and extremely traumatic. I’m just highlighting a particular issue that crops up when the victim is at a particular development stage in life.

  28. Dani says

    SunlessNick:
    M.C.,

    As far as I’ve read on your blog (and others alike) the whole entertainment industry is a place where people are in grave danger of falling victim to sexual predators. Pedophilia is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Comparing this with the pedophilia scandals in the Catholic Church, could there be something in common between artistic and religious establishments?They’re the ones that pride themselves on having truths to teach about the world; might that tie into them being friendlier ground for those that prey particularly on the young?

    Good point. I think that any organization where one group has a lot of power over another group is ripe for attracting the kind of people that would prey on children (or anyone they perceive as being vulnerable). In organized religious groups, many people put a lot of stock into what a pastor or priest says (I’ve been in churches before where people either have a problem but are too afraid to go to the pastor about it, or will do whatever the pastor says just because he says it). Claiming to be an authority on God, or whatever deity a particular religious group worships, gives one enormous power (I’ve read about some Celtic queens that did this to great effect) over practitioners of that religion. Plus, it’s really easy to feign being a good, pious person, while really being a monster. People are fantastic at hiding things.
    Likewise, Hollywood is the defining voice on what someone needs to become in order to be valued by society. Those who find success in Hollywood are held up as examples for all of the rest of us to follow. It’s not a religion, but it so permeates our world that I wonder if it isn’t nearly as powerful.

  29. Casey says

    Oh dear, somebody on DeviantArt made a joke saying I must have been sexually abused as a child due to my having a differing opinion than his. I told him that wasn’t cool and look what he sent me in a PM:

    ToruKun, just stop now okay? Your emberassing yourself. Sorry if I said something to offend you, but chastising someone over the internet is a waste of time for both of us. Guess what? I make crass jokes. How could you tell? Because I drew a woman with a penis. That’s my sense of humor.

    I’ve known people who have been sexually abused, hell my ex girlfriend was raped as was my aunt as was my friends mother, list goes on. But did they let that traumatizing event ruin their ability to laugh off certain things? Well I can only really speak for my ex, but she didn’t. In fact laughter is a psychological response to something horrific. To say certain things are taboo and hurtfull just give those things more power.

    To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, Everything if funny accept Aushwitz.

    If you think I’m a scummy guy for a joke I made at your expense, well then I guess I am a scummy guy. So be it. Whatever. Your just another person whos face I’ve never seen nor will ever see, so really what you think of me and how I act dosen’t matter.

    So I will leave you with this:

    A man comes home one day to see his clothing strewn across the lawn. As he is inspecting his torn garments, he notices his girlfriend in the process of throwing his television out of the second story window.

    “Honey!?” exclaims the man. “What are you doing!?”
    “I’m throwing you out you perver!” she screamed back as she tossed the electronic equipment to the lawn below.

    “Why? What on earth did I do?” shouted the man.

    “I found out you are a pedophile!” shouted his girlfriend.

    “Pedophile…wow I’m impressed. That is an awful big word for a 10 year old to know!”

    Peace bitch, I’m out. Don’t email me again.

    HOW DO I DEAL WITH THIS!?!?

  30. says

    Casey,

    I just advise people like that, “Go kill yourself.” Those three words, no more, no less. They never seem to know what to do with that, since telling someone to commit suicide is really and truly cruel, but of course they can’t call me on it since they’ve just been saying something really and truly cruel to me and advising me to laugh about it. I’m not arguing this is a good approach – there may be some moral quandaries I haven’t considered. But I strike to win, and it’s pretty effective.

    The whole thing of “accusing” people of having been raped is problematic in so many ways, I wouldn’t know where to start taking it apart. It attempts to isolate you as someone whose opinions on matters of sex and consent are biased to the point of useless on the basis of something that, in many cases, didn’t even actually happen; it implies that the only way anyone could be bothered by crudeness is if they have been rendered irrational by a rape experience; it implies that rape consistently leaves people devoid of rationality (despite his “all my friends were raped, and they think I’m funny!” schtick, it doesn’t make sense to suggest everyone who finds you un-funny must be a rape victim unless being raped consistently robs people of the sort of sense of humor that WOULD find you funny; it implies that everyone who hasn’t been raped would find him funny. I’m sure there’s more.

    A few frustrated commenters have pulled that one on us here, and there is no quicker way to get yourself banned. I usually just don’t even bother with people who would pull that one. It’s just plain hateful.

  31. Casey says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Thanks for the reply. I ended up writing a LONG, LABORIOUS dA journal about him explaining WHY he’s being an asshole and WHY he’s wrong but now he’s just mocking me. I also reported him for hate speech/bullying (not that the mods will do anything but at least I was pro-active).

    He ended up writing a response journal that boils down to “I DON’T MIND IT IF SOMEBODY MAKES AWFUL, CRUEL JOKES ABOUT ME SO IF IT HAPPENS TO YOU SHUT UP”

    The thing is, I’ve never really been able to find a good retort to the meme “To say certain things are taboo and hurtfull just give those things more power”, I feel like that should be 101-level info but I can never find a good way to explain why that argument is bullshit.

  32. Dom Camus says

    Casey,

    Possibly the reason it’s hard to respond to is because it’s an irrelevancy in the first place. Because sure, it’s true that declaring something to be unacceptable gives it more impact, but SO WHAT? Unacceptable is unacceptable and how much “power” a thing has isn’t an issue except for someone who plans to continue doing/saying the unacceptable thing.

  33. Casey says

    Oh BTW, the only reason he “accused” me of having been raped was because of THIS ONE LITTLE EXCHANGE:

    Me: I like [insert pro-wrestler here].
    Him: You like [insert pro-wrestler here]? Were you dropped on your head or sexually abused as a child?

    So yeah, not only did he think my opinion was SO WRONG that it must be because I was raped, but apparently my opinion is SO WRONG it must be because I have brain damage, BUT HEY CALM DOWN IT’S JUST A JOKE YOU TAKE THIS ALL TOO SERIOUSLY YOU’RE MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF!
    Yay ableism. >_>

  34. sbg says

    Casey,

    I’d probably just say, “You are everything that is wrong with this world.”

    And advise him to focus on improving his mediocre (at best) education.

  35. says

    Dom Camus:
    Casey,

    Possibly the reason it’s hard to respond to is because it’s an irrelevancy in the first place. Because sure, it’s true that declaring something to be unacceptable gives it more impact, but SO WHAT? Unacceptable is unacceptable and how much “power” a thing has isn’t an issue except for someone who plans to continue doing/saying the unacceptable thing.

    What Don Camus said here. Also, anything you could say to offend someone like this would also be hurtful to others, i.e., “accusing” him of being gay. (Also, if he really wants to prove “anything goes”, then no matter what you say, he’ll just get away from the computer long enough to calm down and come back and write a response that laughs it off.)

    This is why we eventually learned to just ban assholes, without discussion, without trying to make sure they don’t just need a little education. They have nothing of value to offer, so we kick them out. But, this is our space. That’s why we have it. DA is not your space, so you obviously can’t just ban him.

    My advice: give him as little attention as possible, especially in a space you can’t control. He wrote a VERY long response to you, so clearly he wants to engage in this at length – don’t let him. Make it unrewarding. It’ll bother him more than you know. Basically, anything you say to this lump of meat is going to be used against you somehow, whether it makes sense or not (as demonstrated by his initial outburst). But if you don’t talk to him, when he so clearly wants to talk to you, he’ll be very frustrated.

  36. says

    Casey: The thing is, I’ve never really been able to find a good retort to the meme “To say certain things are taboo and hurtfull just give those things more power”, I feel like that should be 101-level info but I can never find a good way to explain why that argument is bullshit.

    Double commenting here, but this needs to be highlighted. This is basically the “curtailing my precious free speech!” argument, since taboos and censored things are similar concepts. So the counter-argument is: no one’s making anything taboo. No one’s censoring you. We’re just saying that only a worthless asshole who is just a drain on society would say something like what you just said, and therefore you are obviously a worthless asshole who’s dragging down civilization as we know it.

  37. Azzy says

    Jennifer Kesler: Double commenting here, but this needs to be highlighted. This is basically the “curtailing my precious free speech!” argument, since taboos and censored things are similar concepts. So the counter-argument is: no one’s making anything taboo. No one’s censoring you. We’re just saying that only a worthless asshole who is just a drain on society would say something like what you just said, and therefore you are obviously a worthless asshole who’s dragging down civilization as we know it.

    Now see, I’d make a “with great power comes great responsibility” type of response. I’d basically tell the dude that he devalues freedom of speech whenever he uses it as a club to bully others. After all, people are also free to cut in line at the coffee shop, or use insults instead of greetings whenever one meets their neighbor. Being free to do something does not automatically mean that doing it is right, or that there won’t be any consequences for it.

  38. says

    Azzy,

    Those are very good points! I’m not sure I think a dipshit like the one she’s dealing with will choose to “get” any of them, but they might play well to lurkers who are wondering if maybe what this guy is saying is actually acceptable.

  39. Casey says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Considering how the dude in question is standing by the “I MAKE JOKES LIKE THIS AT MY FRIENDS’ EXPENSE ALL THE TIME WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?” defense I doubt he’ll see the light. Most of my friends agree with me though. :P
    I SEVERELY over-estimated his capacity for empathy and kind consideration when I first asked him, “Hey, lay off the child sexual abuse jokes okay?”

  40. Azzy says

    Casey,

    TBH, I think he’s one of those people who think it’s cool to act like an asshole. In his mind, he probably thinks he’s a charming “telling it as it is” House-ian figure that everybody secretly admires and wants to be like.

    He’s not. Feeling free to act like an asshole is not an admirable trait. It’s easy, and convenient, and the mark of someone who is either remarkably lazy or too stupid to understand the social contract. Being a decent person is HARD. Being a nice person, even harder. Being a good person? Ye gods, hardly anyone manages it, at least on a consistant basis. But someone who manages it, or at least tries, is leagues more admirable than some backwards guy who can’t be bothered.

    I remember a documentary on evolution I saw once, where a scientist posited that one of the things that helped our evolution along was the fact that communication enabled the meek to band together and eliminate bullies from the group, thus ejecting the more violent and inconsiderate individuals from the gene pool. Whenever I meet one of these “proud to be an asshole” types, it’s hard for me not to think of them as an evolutionary throw-back, their assholish looking like some sort of social vestigial tail.

  41. Cinnabar says

    Casey,

    :D BTW, if you’re looking for a feminist- and queer-friendly place to blog or share art and stuff, I suggest getting a Tumblr account. It’s different that other blogging sites (a bit like Twitter but with full posts instead) but it’s got a great community and people who post shit like that regularly get piled on. Plus there’s gay porn everywhere, so that’s an added bonus. XD

  42. Casey says

    Cinnabar,

    Oh dear…I have a love/fear relationship with TUMBLR, I’ve favorited a lot of blogs on there (both feminist/social-justice-y things and fluffy fan-circles alike) but at the same time I’m scared to officially join since when I’ve lurked I’ve seen a lot of trolls/assholes who DIDN’T get dog-piled, plus the fact that there’s a Tumblr page called “SHUT THE FUCK UP, SOCIAL JUSTICE ASSHOLES” makes me reluctant (some of my friends who have Tumblrs are contemplating leaving due to unnecessary drama as well). There’s also the fact that I’m lazy and as of yet feel content with just a DeviantArt account.

    I JUST REMEMBERED SOMETHING! Some of my Deviantart pictures were tagged on a Tumblr called “HORRIBLE WRESTLING FAN ART”.[/embarrassed]

  43. Cinnabar says

    Casey,

    Ouch, that is mean! Yeah, it’s not really a “safe space” so you do get douchebags there, but it seems to attract more of the social justice crowd that anywhere else. You’ll never get rid of douchebaggery but you won’t be alone in your hatred of them. :P

  44. says

    Azzy: In his mind, he probably thinks he’s a charming “telling it as it is” House-ian figure that everybody secretly admires and wants to be like.

    Huh. Because a lot of serial killers and rapists think that, too. ;)

    Roman Polanski talked that way as well – “I’m just doing what everybody wishes they had the nerve to do, but they don’t because they’re losers, and I’m a winner!”

  45. Shaun says

    Casey:
    Cinnabar,
    plus the fact that there’s a Tumblr page called “SHUT THE FUCK UP, SOCIAL JUSTICE ASSHOLES”

    I would follow that tumblr if it’s about assholes within the SJ community (of which there are plenty) and not about “mean social justice advocates who won’t let me use the words I want to use!!!!” And also, if I knew how to use tumblr.

  46. Sabrina says

    Casey,

    Late to the party but if I may add one thing: The best way to finish off assholes like your very special “friend” here is 1st have the last word and 2nd block them before they block you. From my own experience it feels so good when you can tell those guys to GTFO and then block them. (It can be quite upsetting though if they got you first…) Anyway, I fear dA will also just tell you to block him and be done with it. :/

    Jennifer Kesler,

    I’m so tired of this “everyone secretly wants to murder/rape/steal/dootherhorriblethings” meme. There’s just so much wrong with it… D:

  47. Casey says

    Shaun: “mean social justice advocates who won’t let me use the words I want to use!!!!”

    Unfortunately that’s exactly what it is, I found it when I was reading the Microaggressions tumblr (which is absolutely fascinating and makes me feel NOT alone in the world), a bunch of people take GREAT PLEASURE in trolling/harassing the SJ-centric Tumblrs and then they get in a big circle-jerk and brag about it.

  48. Shaun says

    Casey: Unfortunately that’s exactly what it is,

    Oh. Well, damn.

    Casey: I found it when I was reading the Microaggressions tumblr (which is absolutely fascinating and makes me feel NOT alone in the world),

    As an aside, do you feel like the Microaggressions blog is… lacking anything? I don’t know what microaggressions you personally experience, but the last time I looked I remember feeling like it challenged heterosexism but didn’t really do anything for monosexism.

  49. Finbarr Ryan says

    Casey: Unfortunately that’s exactly what it is, I found it when I was reading the Microaggressions tumblr (which is absolutely fascinating and makes me feel NOT alone in the world)

    Casey, you follow Microaggressions? :D I frequent the comments there. I totally second the feeling of not being alone in the world from that tumblr.

  50. Casey says

    Shaun,

    Oh jeez…hmm…my memory’s fuzzy, I can’t help but feel that I’ve only read entries about people who identified as bi/pan/omni-sexual with their jerk family/friends/etc. insisting they were gay (or straight)…IDK if that counts.
    However, you just reminded me of an episode of Sex and the City I watched a little while ago that just pissed me off…it was one where Carrie was dating a 20-something-year old man who identified as bisexual and she (along with the other three friends) was all like “HURR PICK A SIDE AND GO WITH IT” or “ARE YOU STARING AT THAT GUY OR THAT GIRL HERP DERP”)…but I’d feel silly posting that as a micro-aggression.

    Finbarr Ryan,

    I don’t know if I follow it per se (since I don’t have a Tumblr account), but I do have it in my favorites folder. :D

  51. says

    Shaun,

    If you click the “sexuality” tag, right now there are multiple from bisexuals on the first page, including one from the organizers of a Pride event (you can only be a positive role model for LGB teens if you’re L or G).

    I do think microaggressions from gays/lesbians often ignore a multisexual perspective (acting as if there’s an either/or switch), but as long as it’s just implied and not outright stated I don’t blame the organizers of Microaggressions for that.

    And yes, I love this tumblr too. :D

  52. says

    Casey,

    Well, did you feel aggressed upon because of that episode? Then I’d say go for it. Not every microaggression has to be earthshattering, it’s the accumulation that counts. And personally I feel the “public” microaggressions from advertisements and TV shows help illustrate that this is a common, connected problem, not just a handful of jerks in individual people’s lives.

  53. Casey says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    Is it weird to feel aggressor upon when technically speaking the thing in question doesn’t affect you? I’m not so much bi as queer-ish (occasionally attracted to the same sex and transgender folks) but it irritated the fuck out of me ‘cuz what they were saying just seemed to be on a 101-level of ignorant.

    I felt SUPER aggressed upon when I watched the episode when Miranda contemplated getting an abortion, I even wrote a DA blog post about it: http://dafeminist.deviantart.com/blog/40045487/
    Be forewarned that there’s some derpy people in the comments section, apparently abortion isn’t a form of birth control. :|

  54. says

    Casey,

    First of all, you’re the only one who gets to decide if you’re queer “enough” to count. If you identify with the queer community, then you’re part of it.

    Secondly, Microaggressions has previously posted micros that were witnessed by people not directly affected by them. They also opened up a thread asking if Whites could submit racial micros about POC, etc., but I don’t know the result of that thread or even if there was one.

    Personally, I’d say if it made you feel icky, then it counts.

  55. Casey says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    Ah, it’s so difficult…I’ve benefited from invisible straight privilege/heterosexism for so long that I thought the occasional fluttery feelings/PSL I’ve had for other women were just one-offs or a result of society, the whole “GIRL ON GIRL IS HOT LOL” meme permeating my brain. I feel unable to refer to myself as anything more than an ally, at least openly in public (with close friends it’s different of course, but even then I’m afraid if I come out to someone about this all kinds of lesbophobia will happen like, “ZOMG EWW DOES THAT MEAN YOU’RE ATTRACTED TO ME LOL WTF” because…y’know…monosexism and all that.

  56. says

    Casey,

    I hear you. It’s really hard to break the mold, and when you grow up inside one, it’s hard to know if this is the real you or if you’re just shaped this way because of everyone around you. Also, I think it might be harder for women precisely because our sexuality is assumed to revolve around men. Hell, some people still believe that sex begins when a penis enters a vagina and ends when the man ejaculates, under which model lesbians are perpetual virgins and women’s orgasms are entirely irrelevant.

    Greta Christina makes a good point in this blog post; scroll way, way down to the paragraph that opens with a picture of a white tank top with the word “Bi” on it. She says that if you take two people who are both Kinsey 5′s, one can identify as lesbian and the other as bisexual, and those are both valid. Even if they both have the same amount of attraction to the opposite sex, that attraction might be important to one and not important to the other. So your feelings aren’t as important as how you as an individual interpret them. Which is, by the way, one of the many reasons I have such a problem with the “born this way” movement. Not all of us were born knowing; some of us had to figure it out along the way.

  57. Casey says

    Sylvia Sybil: Also, I think it might be harder for women precisely because our sexuality is assumed to revolve around men.

    That’s another big thing when it comes to my apprehension about “coming out” to anybody outside my tiny little circle of friends; I’m afraid if I tell a guy about this he’ll either no longer consider me a romantic interest (‘cuz of the whole “YOU’RE PROBABLY JUST REALLY LESBIAN” argument) or they’ll think I’m “attention-whoring” ‘cuz girls only get gay on each other to titillate men.[/sarcasm]

    BTW, thanks for the link, as both a queer person and agnostic/atheist (albeit with a lowercase “a”) it is VERY pertinent to my interests.[/fukken' saved] :D

  58. says

    Sylvia Sybil: First of all, you’re the only one who gets to decide if you’re queer “enough” to count. If you identify with the queer community, then you’re part of it.

    Except that the queer community doesn’t accept just anyone who feels queer. Asexuals, for example, have never been fully accepted by the queer community.

  59. says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Yes, I struggled with how to phrase that part, and after I hit submit I realized it still didn’t say what I wanted it to say. The queer community is slightly more accepting than general society, perhaps, but there’s an entire oak tree of truth in the joke, “The LGBT movement is really the GGGG movement”. In fact, the article I linked to includes a critique of some other issues in the LGBT movement such as race. When people like Dan Savage are respected and lauded as leaders in the queer community, it’s hard to claim the community isn’t biphobic, acephobic, transphobic, ableist, etc.

    What I was trying to say is, if you feel an attack on queers is an attack on you, you might be queer (not “are” queer, like I originally said, because again, you’re the only one who can say that.). I take what the Westboro Baptist Church and Orson Scott Card say personally, even though I don’t think either of them know what “bisexual” is. But identifying with gay people when they’re attacked is a large part of my self-identification as a member of the community – even though I know parts of this community don’t feel the same way towards me.

    Casey,

    I’m glad the link helped. Another thought I had – the U in QUILTBAG stands for “unsure”. :) And a third thought – it’s okay to identify as straight and still feel attracted to other sexes.

  60. Ara says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Heck, there are some facets of the queer community that don’t even like bisexuals. I’ve been very explicitly made to feel like I was appropriating their status as a persecuted group because I don’t have a painful coming out story or feel oppressed by society for my bisexuality. I don’t get that mentality at all– you’d think the more people they have in the movement, the more chance of showing society that they’re here and not going away and want equal rights.

  61. Casey says

    So…I got a response to my ticket from a DA mod about that guy who was making rape jokes. The mod said that she had looked over his channel and comments, and although he seems “a little unnerving”, it would be in my best interests to just block him.

    Well, can’t say I didn’t try.

  62. The Other Anne says

    Casey,

    Definitely do. I don’t use devArt as much as I should, but seriously, if you ever need back up over there just note me! (Annibal, in case you’ve forgotten). I don’t have internet at my place so I’m always a little lagging in getting to things but you know, never hurts to have peeps in your corner. Especially if they’re the sugar kind, and the corner is inside your microwave. Unfortunately I am not a sugarpeep, but I’d still help. :)

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