Press article: Abusers will be the ones to benefit from ‘sex-positive’ advocacy

Here is the text of an article from The Scotsman that criticizes Prostasia’s approach, written by a journalist who argued with us on Twitter. We disagree of course, but for the sake of balance we are reproducing the article without comment. Feel free to add your own comments, though!

Abusers will be the ones to benefit from ‘sex-positive’ advocacy

By Vonny Leclerc @vonny_bravo Columnist

Children - mostly girls - will lose

IMAGINE you are a 16-year-old girl. Things have been rough for you lately, and staying at home is no longer an option. After spending some time on friends’ floors, you have exhausted their hospitality and need to move on. You’re out of money, ideas and luck. You need to eat, you need some way of making money until you figure out your next move. As you are a young woman, your body is in demand. Selling it to strangers becomes the only real option to earn some cash while you figure out your next move.

Now pause for a moment. Ask yourself – how free would you feel in this situation? How much choice do you have over your environment? How primed are you to make judgements about your life and your future? Are you making decisions based on experiences and desires, or more out of circumstance?

I’ve watched in stunned horror this week as one organisation, Prostasia Foundation, has mushroomed up into the space left by the latest NSPCC fiasco, offering “sex-positive” child advocacy. After some investigation, as well as advocating for comprehensive sex education – agreed – this also appears to mean having statements about age play on your website, talking about “survival sex work” for teens and engaging with those who have branded themselves as “minor-attracted” as part of a prevention strategy.

However liberal a parent you are, that can’t all be easy to swallow. You don’t have to be a pearl-clutching moralist to raise an eyebrow at this unorthodox approach, because this approach does nothing to challenge the circumstances of exploitation.

It’s unconscionable that we might be asked to turn a blind eye to a 16 or 17-year-old whose body is being purchased for sex by an adult male. Regardless of whether the young woman in questions feels she is exercising her agency in choosing to do this, we should have serious concerns about who is buying and why. As adults, our job is to safeguard young people, not to validate all of their choices. That is why they are young people, with guardians, and not independent adults. No self-proclaimed child protection charity should be putting their energy into upholding a minor’s right to commercialise their sexual freedom.

Whether the young woman in the scenario above has been “trafficked” as used in the common idiom by a third party or is “trafficked” as a result of being bought by adult men, the problem of exploitation remains. This is a choice borne of limited options, not an expression of liberation and sexual equality. Child sex “work” – even if labelled survival sex work – is a fiction. A fiction that serves the interests of buyers, not minors. Adding in caveats that provide exonerating narratives to potential perpetrators is not a direction meaningful policy should move in. Children – mainly girls – will lose. Again. I’ve been increasingly disturbed as I’ve watched the steady erosion of good judgement that has for many years served as frontline protection for young people from those with predatory urges. Rinsed through some post-modern academia, a more sexually tolerant society and internet culture, the discourse around sex and minors has distorted so badly it is unrecognisable. There is a consensus among some that being “minor-attracted” is benign if not acted upon, and that words like “sex offender” and “paedophile” are social constructs and discriminatory to those labelled by them. Minds are now so open that several brains have clearly fallen out.

“A drawing or written text that depicts an imaginary child exploits nobody.”

This organisation has also spoken in favour of not censoring cartoon paedophilic imagery, or banning the sale of child abuse dolls. They consider the former “art”, rather than child exploitation material, and the latter a prophylactic that prevents abusers from raping real children. Never mind the reams of evidence to suggest these behaviours reinforce these impulses and after a while will cease to provide the required “high”, leading to escalation.

Drawings, texts or any “creative” depiction of child abuse harms all children, as it sends a message that in some scenarios their bodies are up for grabs. It normalises abuse fantasies within certain parameters, making it easier to make the psychological leap from fantasy harm, to real harm.

The most frustrating thing about this type of pseudo-advocacy is that it asks the absolute bare minimum of those who claim a desire to protect children from exploitation. It allows “woke” individuals to get the warm fuzzies from supporting a cause, but one that in no way challenges the oppressive status quo. It satisfies the egos of males who don’t want to change in any way and validates harmful behaviour.

It sustains the gender hierarchy by demanding the least from those who hold the balance of power in a patriarchal society. Don’t want to feel bad about being attracted to kids? No worries – let’s change the language to save your feelings. Afraid of what happens if you watch child abuse images online? Just watch cartoon child abuse instead.

Instead of raping a child, buy a child-like doll to satisfy your urges instead. Instead of demanding that those who ruin lives and minds adhere to a long-held moral norm, the society is instead shape-shifting to accommodate them.

It is unconscionable that a child protection charity is pandering to those who wish to see their interest in minors as misunderstood. They are actively engaging with “diverse stakeholders” – including paedophiles rebranded as “minor-attracted persons” – to devise intervention and prevention strategies. For those who have missed out on this growing movement of linguistic trickery, MAPs or NOMAPS (non-offending MAPs) are a group of people who want to destigmatise attraction to children. Repackaging a paraphilia as a sexuality, it dulls the senses and lowers the guard against potential harm.

Blurring the boundaries around what is considered harmful to children’s safety creates fertile ground for feigned ignorance and plausible deniability. It hands power to those who cannot be trusted with it. Who ultimately benefits from this disintegration of meaning?

Abusers do.

In regards to necessity, it really depends on the country. Some have stronger welfare systems to help those who need it most, they have been abused on occasion, but they provide a useful safety net.
Societies also seem to either have low crime rates or high ones. As crime in general trends up, as does exploitation. In a way, this is a reflection of a troubled society.

Japan for instance, where lolicon content is produced and is the most popular, seems to have particularly low crime rates compared to the West. It’s strange that these rates aren’t higher, if it truly encourages someone to go rape others on such a great scale.

The West on the other-hand indirectly encourages people to seek out real CP, as they likely don’t know that any other option exists and the endless hysteria in the media gives it more publicity as an outlet for this than anything else.

Some types of CSEM are particularly dangerous, as watching people suffer endlessly could hardly be healthy for someone’s mind. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they might assault others, but it could cause a host of mental issues. There is no such problem with fiction, as most people can distinguish the difference between fiction and reality.

And this should be obvious, but a large majority of those who look at these cartoon images are actually kids, not pedophiles. They sometimes like to look at pornography of people their own age rather than someone a decade older, but for many obvious reasons, they can’t look at child pornography.

There are also people who look at it for the art and those who are attracted to the cartoon images, but not real kids (schediaphilia).

Japan also tried to ban lolicon (as part of the law criminalising the possession of child pornography in 2015. Distribution and production had already been banned for 15 years, if I recall), but many spoke out against it and the law was passed without that part.

This has to be one of the most nonsense things about the article. The status quo, for those of us who are actually familiar with the issue from a research perspective, is that we react to sexual harms to children rather than taking any steps to prevent them. The status quo assumes that people with a sexual attraction to children perpetrate most sexual abuse, where the opposite is true, only one third of CSA is perpetrated by people with that attraction. The status quo does nothing to help those with the attraction and assumes they are just ticking time bombs.

If they want to talk about the issue, then they need to familiarize themselves with the nuances. I have not seen anything from this organization that would indicate to me that they promote harm. This is a propaganda piece and a smear job that fails to raise valid concerns based on what we currently know about child sexual abuse and exploitation.

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A good proverb for things like this: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Fundamentally, I can understand why someone would want to take a tough stance against crimes like this, especially if it as some would suggest prevents poor children from being traumatized, but a lot of the logic is fatally flawed.

Turning a group of people into a set of cartoon villains may be politically convienient, but does nothing to solve a problem.

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