- child sexuality
- paedophilic desire
- What I defend and what I don’t defend
- ‘Sex’ vs ‘sensual intimacy’
- ‘Moral Panics’ and ‘Witch-Hunts’
- The Trauma Myth
- acting on one’s desires
- The origins of paedophilia
- The origins of paedophobia
- Feminazis, the Religious Right, the Child Abuse Industry &c
- Deep Consent
- Informed and Simple Consent
- child pornography
- paedophile identity
- virtuous pedophiles
- contemporary childhood
- toxic sexuality
- children’s sexual rights
- to a kinder world
- a society that loves its children
- culture and community under stigma
- Islam and paedophilia
I don’t like the phrase but I think it points the way to a useful concept.
The legalistic idea of consent is flawed. We are familiar with criminal cases where the argument turns around the question of whether someone consented to ‘sex’ or not. This implies that ‘consent’ is something exterior to the sexual activity in question, generally happening before it starts.
In reality this is only the case when the sex is part of a financial transaction.
Most sexual consent occurs through a process of on-going negotiated micro-consent – intimacy between two people happens as a kind of improvised dialogue – conducted by means of body-language rather than words – in which one person proposes a slight development or change, and the other person accepts, declines or modifies this proposal.
At no point, in normal intimacy, does one partner ask the other something like ‘do you consent to my tweaking your nipples?’ Consent to such an act is given when the tweakee either expresses pleasure or displeasure at the tweaking. The tweakee has faith that the tweaker will be sufficiently sensitive to pick up on their micro-consent decision and to respond accordingly.
Even when no new activity is being proposed consent is being signalled back and forth – ‘carry on doing what you are doing’ being as much a form of consent as ‘yes/no/stop/start’.
What this means is that ‘consent’ is something that is constantly being communicated on a micro level during a sexual or sensual interaction. And that ‘sex’ is the overall narrative that results from the accumulation of these consent decisions. Consent is integral to every moment of the activity itself.
informed and simple consent
Consent can be ‘simple’ or ‘informed’.
Simple consent is the consent we give in most situations – in non-verbal sexual interactions it is ideally takes the form of the ‘deep consent’ mentioned in the previous section.
For Simple Consent to be valid:
- the situation is comprehensible for the person,
- the participants must awareness that acts may have consequences beyond the act itself,
- the participants must realise that pleasure (or lack of pain) is not a sufficient justification in itself for consenting to an act,
- the participants must be aware of their own capacity to consent, or withhold or withdraw consent, to acts, or indeed a whole relationship.
Informed consent is required when:
- what is being consented to removes or diminishes the capacity to give, maintain, or withdraw consent,
- making a consent decision requires special knowledge,
- when the activity has, or is likely to have, serious repercussions beyond the duration of the activity itself.
Sexual activities that might result in pregnancy, STDS or injury therefore require Informed Consent.
When talking or writing about Informed Consent one should always be specific about what information is in question. When this is left vague it is usually because the idea of ‘informed consent’ is being used as a stand-in for ‘being an adult’.
Granted that a significant amount of information is required for someone to be able to give valid consent to penetration. But how much special information does a child need to be able decide whether to allow someone she loves and trusts to stroke her lower back and bottom? And what if it is the child who is asking the adult to do this, not the adult asking the child?
In a stigma-free context Simple consent would be sufficient for the kind of sensual intimacy that generally occurs between paedophiles and children since light, playful, non-penetrative intimacy requires no special knowledge, has no repercussions outside the duration of the activity itself and the such activities do not interfere with the participants’ capacity to make and communicate consent decisions.
However, we must not ignore the deus ex machina of Stigma.
The Stigma society heaps upon child-adult intimacy is a ‘repercussion that extends beyond the duration of the activity itself’. It is unlikely that a child could be sufficiently aware of the extent and toxicity of the stigma they will be exposed to when they grown up and/or if the relationship is discovered, for them to make a valid consent decision.
This is why an ethical paedophile should refrain from engaging with a child in stigmatised activities, despite that child eagerly consenting to such activity.
This is a tough one. I find the ethics of child pornography much more thorny and tangled than the ethics of actual sensual/sexual contact with children, and I’m aware that my various thoughts around child porn do not coalesce into a consistent position.
I can half-imagine a society where a visual recording of a child’s early expression of sexuality would be no more controversial than a recording of a child’s first steps, or of a child learning to cycle. But we are very, very far from existing in such a society (and I’m not even convinced that such a society would be a desirable).
I suspect that much of the virulence with which child porn viewing and distribution is prosecuted is down to a wish to expunge what is a powerful and convincing witness to the fact that children are sexual, and can enjoy sex and eagerly seek it out from adults.
The argument is often made that child porn allows paedophiles a source of relief, and may reduce actual ‘offending’ with children.
Moreover the idea that children’s bodies are obscene, should be hidden away seems profoundly wrong. Much ‘child porn’ consists merely of the depiction of naked children, and sometimes the footage is made the child by itself, the child engaging in enjoying its own body and sexuality, or that of another child – meaning that no illegal sexual acts are depicted.
However, whilst I believe that a child can consent to the sexual or sensual activities that child porn depicts and, to a certain extent, they can consent to that activity being recorded, I do not think that any consent they might give to the material being published and distributed is meaningful.
As outlined in the above section, informed consent is required for such a decision, since the repercussions of the act being consented to extend far beyond the time-span of the act itself. I doubt whether a child would have the capacity to fully envisage these repercussions.
Moreover – whilst the intimacy depicted can be motivated by love for the child, and the recording of it too (if its purpose is a personal and private record of their intimacy), I do not see how publishing and sharing that intimacy with strangers can be an act of love towards the child.
My own experience of legal porn is that frequent (and vigorous) use can distort one’s perception and expectations of those depicted – something especially likely to happen when it becomes the principal source of experience of children, replacing real-life interactions with children.
In a society which enforces a generational apartheid it is likely that many child porn users will have little contact with actual children – predisposing them to harbouring dangerous expectations based on unrealistically sexualised ideas of ‘the child’.
I propose that, in the context of Western WEIRD society there are three broad categories of paedophile identity: Acculturated, Radical and Virtuous.
The Acculturated pedophile accepts the dominant narrative and integrates its tropes into his or her identity. This can lead to individuals adopting the ‘monster’ or ‘predator’ identity that the media inevitably pegs onto ‘the paedophile’. this can, in turn, can lead to an increased likelihood of psycho-social problems, and illegal and/or unethical actions.
The Radical paedophile engages in a critique of the dominant narrative, questions its assumptions and refuses the paedophile identity it promotes.
The Virtuous pedophile is a half-way house between the two – opting to modify and mollify the dominant narrative rather than radically critique or undermine it.
I have been critical of the group Virtuous Pedophiles on this blog. I think that this is a case of one being more critical of one’s family members than of strangers. My attitude towards VP may have mellowed a little due to the good and courageous work of certain members, such as Todd Nickerson and Gary Gibson.
Virpeds are a ‘paedo-lite’ – ending their philosophical reflections at the point at which these reflections start to throw doubt on the dominant narrative round paedophilia. This compromise with the dominant narrative has allowed them to achieve things which radical pro-choice paedophiles like myself simply can’t in the present climate: they have been able to introduce new ideas to an otherwise impermeable audience, they allow enough truth through to dilute the public’s ignorance a little, but not wash it away completely.
Whilst, ideally, young paedophiles would encounter the ideas of radical, pro-choice paedophilia before those of Virpeds – combativeness being a healthier attitude to oppression than submissiveness – engaging with the latter is by far preferable to being stranded in society with only the ‘monster’ and ‘predator’ narratives from which to build an identity and ideology.
Ultimately both the Virpeds and myself agree that adults should not engage with children in sexual activity. But, unlike Virpeds, I limit this interdiction to those social contexts where such intimacy is illegal and stigmatised. Nor do I think paedophiles should avoid contact with children or refrain from expressing their love and devotion in legally acceptable ways – prohibitions often recommended by Virpeds.
I believe that Virpeds and Radical paedophiles should maintain a dialogue wherever this is possible – broad and inclusive forums and boards (such as, for girl-lovers, Visions of Alice) enable respectful and supportive exchanges between the Virtuous and the Radical and build some much-needed solidarity and understanding between two groups with a tendency to bicker.
Contemporary consumer capitalist society gets childhood badly wrong. It is not for nothing that there is an epidemic of depression, ADHD and suicide amongst children in consumer societies. We are putting our children through toxic childhoods.
Every aspect of childhood has been adversely affected by the commodification of childhood: children’s diet, their physical development and health, their sleep, their presence in the community, their education, their relationships with their parents, their sexuality, their capacity to communicate verbally, their emotional security, the quality of play, the stability of family relationships etc
Marketing and consumerism seek to set children and adults, particularly parents, at odds with one-another. This is most clearly manifest in how everything to do with ‘parents’ is presented to children as being ‘uncool’, and the most ‘cool’ things are the products and life-styles being offered to children by the Marketers.
This creates a sense of anxiety around children and young people, which ultimately fuels paedophobia.
I will be writing about this in the coming weeks.
Sexuality is one of the basic, inescapable drives whose cultural expression the Marketing industry seeks to exploit. We are aware of some of the less subtle ways the marketing industry uses sex to make us adults into more docile and eager consumers. But since the 1960s the same marketing industry has cashed-in to the huge potential of co-opting children’s sexuality.
One of its earliest strokes of genius was the creation of the ‘teenager’. Next came the ‘Tween’. Both are defined by ideas of the ‘Cool’ which forever change according to the products needing to be marketed.
Girls are particularly vulnerable because their identity is more explicitly defined by their eventual reproductive role than as with little boys. The marketing industry teaches little girls that they are attractive in proportion to how much they spend on themselves and how much they have done to themselves.
One way of thinking about this is to consider two archetypes of the ‘sexual child’ – there is the ‘Consumer Child’, perhaps best embodied in the ‘Toddler-in-tiaras’ phenomenon and there is her opposite – the ‘Wild Child’ or ‘Nature Child’.
The Consumer Child’s sexuality is defined by what she wears, by her make up, her hair-styling, by accessories and by pop culture in general – it apes the consumption patterns of adult women and is a sexuality of display and performance rather than of intimacy and relationships.
This commodified and narcissistic conception of the self and the human body is an inexhaustible gold mine for the marketing industry and consumer capitalism, since the attitudes learnt in childhood will certainly be carried over into adulthood.
Examples of the ‘Wild Child’ are the children of the photographer Sally Mann. In Mann’s photos her children are often naked, therefore free from any product or sign of marketing. The children are depicted playing in and exploring the natural world. Their play is independent of adults and of consumer goods, they are often dirty, their nails broken from climbing trees rather than manicured and varnished, and they are at ease with their bodies. One gets a strong sense that these children are sexual but their sexuality is not expressed by the signifiers of pop or consumer culture but through their interactions with the viewer, with others in the photographs, and with their environment.
I suspect that few paedophiles will find the ‘Toddlers-in-Tiaras’ style more appealing or attractive than the ‘Wild Child’.
children’s sexual rights
‘The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child‘ (1989) is an undoubtedly fine and laudable document which has played a valuable role in promoting the well-being of children round the world.
However its every use of the word ‘sex’ (other than when it uses the word as a synonym for ‘gender’) is negative. A search yields one instance each of ‘sexual exploitation’, ‘unlawful sexual activity’, unlawful sexual practices’, and two instances of ‘sexual abuse’.
I entirely agree that sexual abuse is a bad thing that should be eliminated, but I certainly don’t make the assumption that all ‘child-adult sensual intimacy’ is necessarily ‘sexual abuse’ or ‘sexual exploitation’. And whilst I believe in the rule of law (in democratic societies, at least), I don’t believe that everything that is illegal should be illegal.
Children, as sexual beings, should have positive sexual rights as well as negative ones. I suggest that children have the following rights:
– to have their sexuality considered as valuable in itself and not just as some preparation for sexual maturity and adulthood,
– to a sexual education which acknowledges the primacy of desire and pleasure, because pleasure is the first thing a child knows and experiences about sex, with desire following on soon after,
– to a sexual education which furnishes children with the vocabulary and concepts which will enable them to think about, make sense of and communicate sexual feelings and thoughts,
– to a lived sexual education as well as a theoretical one. Children should learn about sexuality in the same way as they learn about all other things: through observation, discussion, play and performance, with their peers and trusted adults, at home and in the community,
– to enjoy sexual pleasure and to agency over their bodies,
– to be listened to and to receive honest answers,
– to privacy,
– that no part of their bodies be mutilated, excised or altered in order to discourage, change or control their sexuality,
– that their ‘no’ be respected, and that manipulation, coercion, or persistence should not be used to by-pass or override that withholding of consent,
– to say ‘Yes’ as well as to say ‘No’,
– to choose with whom they express their sexuality.
to a kinder world
Can one bring about a society that recognises children’s sexual rights?
I’m not optimistic. I think we are very far from being in a situation where paedophiles themselves can effect such a change. We are still firmly lodged at the ‘unthinkable’ extreme of the Overton Window.
I don’t think things can change simply by our arguing our case – the attitudes that underly paedophobia have their roots in societies economic and familial structure (see ‘The origins of paedophobia‘ section above) and nothing can change unless that economic structure changes too.
However, radical and militant paedophiles need to keep active and campaigning: firstly, because truth need to be asserted against error, even if those propagating the errors don’t listen; secondly, because having a radical understanding of paedophilia and being part of a community promotes the well-being and safety of paedophiles living in paedophobic societies; and, thirdly, by continuing to deepen our understanding of paedophilia, child sexuality and related phenomena we prepare and fore-arm ourselves for those occasions when putting our case clearly and convincingly will make a difference – knowledge is power.
a society that loves its children
Can we imagine a society that is free from those factors that contribute to paedophobia? What would such a society look like?
There have already existed many non-industrial societies, including western societies from before the Industrial Revolution, that were remarkable for their lack of neurosis around child sexuality and tolerance for child-adult sensual intimacy (I recommend browsing through the ‘Growing Up Sexually‘ – A world atlas and encyclopedia of cross-cultural practices in the sexual enculturation of children).
But looking to the past only gets us so far – we have to envisage a future society which integrates all the previous technological and social achievments.
Such a society would be one in which the nuclear family would play less of a role in children’s lives than the community; it would be a society in which children and adults were not segregated, in which education was not the preserve of the young and work not the preserve of adults; it would be a society where public spaces were safe for children to inhabit free of parental supervision – i.e. free from cars; where green spaces and nature were not estimated at their financial worth; a society in which the quality of our relationships with fellow humans and Nature served as the index of happiness and well-being rather than wealth, consumption and possessions.
This is a ‘Deep Green’ vision of society: a society that has shaken off capitalism’s growth imperative; a society that recognises that the only meaningful benefit of mechanisation is that it should free humans from soul-destroying work. It is a society whose wealth is found in learning, creativity, in leisure and in the building of communities and relationships.
Such a society, with its increase in leisure and creativity, its rebuilding of geographical communities and its liberation of the human mind from the shackles of consumerism would break-down age-apartheid and the open up of the nuclear family. And this, in turn, would permit the conception of the child as a sexual being, whose sexuality could be legitimately expressed across age boundaries.
culture and community under stigma
I am interested in the idea of a culture of paedophilia that would consist of novels, music, films, painting, sculptures, photographs, dances, songs, poems, jokes, scientific and technological discoveries, histories, philosophy &c that directly or indirectly touch on paedophilia and child sexuality.
I would add to this an awareness of the identity and lives of creative or historical figures who either were paedophiles, or who were sympathetic to, or interested in, child sexuality and/or paedophilia.
The exploration and sharing of such a culture would be a source of comfort, solidarity and self-respect for individual paedophiles and the paedophile community.
I think it is essential that we develop a robust ethics of pro-choice paedophilia. Being a paedophile in a hostile society is undoubtedly a mine-field and an ethical framework would guide us in our interactions with children, with families and with the community.
Hopefully, at some point in the future, the fact that we can demonstrate to society that we are ethical people trying to live ethically may contribute to the progress of our cause. Virtuous Pedophiles have already, to some extent, shown the efficacy of this approach.
Finally, a robust, well-worked out system of ethics will ensure that we will be able to present the case for pro-choice paedophilia as powerfully and clearly as possible.
Islam and paedophilia
It pains me to have to mention islam here. Knowing the paper-thin sensibilities of moslems and islamozombie kufrs, who consider islam should be the one ideology exempt from criticism, I expect this section to draw onto me more flack than all the other sections combined.
I mention islam for two reasons – 1/ its association with a debased form paedophilia – both in the deeds of mohammed, the religion’s inventor, and those of his followers, 2/ islam’s unsurpassed barbarity towards little girls
There should be no need in the 21st Century to have to argue that it is an abomination to slice the clitorises of little girls in order to reduce their capacity to experience sexual pleasure; or to have to argue that the practice of selling of girls, sometimes still in infancy, into marriage is wrong; there should be no need to argue against the practice of infibulating the labia of little girls so that their virginity is guaranteed, and so that only the ‘husband’ who has purchased her can have access to her vagina. It should not be dismissed as ‘islamophobic’ to point out that sharia law does not recognise marital rape, so that once a little girl has been ‘married’ she has no rights over her own body, and can be penetrated at will.
But unfortunately a reluctance to criticise any aspect of islam means that such practices are still wide-spread in the islamic world, and that a polite silence or even approval is maintained concerning them by too many Westerners who should know better.
It’s probably common knowledge that mohammed ‘married’ a little girl called Aisha when she was 6, and ‘consummated’ the ‘marriage’ three years later when she was nine. There is no evidence in the koran or hadith that Aisha’s consent or opinion was at any point sought – indeed she suspected that she’d been married off to someone before she had any idea to whom.
The way mohammed treated Aisha is the negation of any ethical principles a loving and thoughtful paedophile should instinctively advocate. mohammed beat Aisha. When ‘thighing’ Aisha he would place a cloth against her vagina in order that she experience no pleasure. As well as having her labia infibulated it is likely that Aisha’s clitoris would have been cut off. Clearly mohammed considered it fine for himself to derive pleasure from what he was doing to Aisha, but not for Aisha to derive any pleasure from him.
Islam having a ‘Paedophile Prophet’ might predispose some paedophiles to see it as a religion friendly to paedophiles.
But it is not a religion friendly to children, especially little girls. And any paedophile who sees islam as a friend or a model is throwing the very children they purport to love under the bus in order that their desires be fulfilled at whatever cost. They confirm as correct the haters who claim that ‘paedophiles just want to rape children’.
Mohammed’s treatment of Aisha has served as the exemplar for the childhoods of little girls throughout the history of islam. I consider the Western interdiction of child sexuality and child-adult intimacy as infinitely preferable to islamic so-called paedophilia, especially when it comes to the welfare of little girls.