Silence does not betoken consent

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Well over a year ago, in January 2013, Heretic TOC ran a blog called No wonder women turn against ‘teasing’. A few days ago a carefully argued, information-rich, 1,300-word comment in response, complete with links to numerous scholarly and other references, was sent in for moderation. It seemed a shame to let such a magnificent contribution languish in a place where – because the blog was so long ago – not that many people would notice it. So here it is, below, presented as a guest blog. It is from “A”, which is not the most user-friendly of pennames, being about as uninformative as possible, especially as regards gender; but the person behind it is decidedly a good friend of this blog and she – yes, she – has guest blogged here before: see ‘Protecting’ your property, then and now.                 

You [Heretic TOC] wrote: “If ordinary men can behave so badly, why cannot ordinary paedophiles?” That set me thinking. First, I found this article: in which Dara Kay Cohen points out that female fighters also perpetrate and assist in wartime rape. Second, I had another look at the book Attraction to Children, in which Rüdiger Lautmann writes that most of the MAPs he and his team interviewed were careful and conscientious about ascertaining their child partners’ feelings about sex and did not have sex with children who expressed nonconsent verbally or nonverbally. Lautmann says: “It is my impression that the exceptions to the rule here are no more frequent than in other sexual scenes, for example between adults or married couples.” Is he right?

For the book, Lautmann and his team interviewed sixty men about their paedohebephilic feelings and activities. One man, a university graduate in his forties, said that over the years he had had coital sex with many girls. He told the researchers that he now believed that girls of ten and eleven get no sexual enjoyment out of vaginal intercourse and that it’s painful for them in the beginning, and that the girls knew it was going to be unpleasant the first time. However, he wanted intercourse so much that for a long time he had not debated with himself whether or not to do it. He now felt “like a real scumbag” and that his desires and actions were “dirty”. All of this led the researchers to advise he go into therapy. In addition to this one clear-cut case, there were a few other men whose behaviour Lautmann considered “borderline”. With some it was debatable, and sometimes hard to ascertain, how fully consensual their contacts with children had been. The actions of three of them, however, Lautmann saw as more clearly exploitative.

So we’ve got those four “definitely” guys, which is six and two-thirds percent. Adding in, for safety’s sake, a couple of the “debatable” guys brings us up to six out of sixty, or ten percent: we should probably consider that the maximum estimate. David Lisak and Paul Miller questioned a college sample of men in a wide age-range and found that 6% would admit to acts that met the legal definition of attempted or completed rape of an adult, provided the r-word was not actually used. Using a similar technique with a sample of men in the Navy, Stephanie McWhorter got admissions of attempted or completed rape of an adult from 13% of them. Of each sample of men, 4% and 8.4% respectively admitted to repeated rape. These repeat rapists had committed a median of three rapes each and a mean of six (maximum fifty), plus, on average, eight acts of domestic battery, child abuse etc. Lisak’s Rape Fact Sheet contains a list of the percentage-of-rapists estimates arrived at by other studies: the range is 4.8% – 14.9%.

So, it looks like exceptions to the rule are indeed about as frequent in these two different populations. The similarity is yet another indication that MAPs are no worse and no better than anybody else. It’s also yet another indication that sexual assaults and rapes happen because people commit them: nobody is seriously going to argue that a child could have been “asking for it”, and yet, when children grow up, when they get old enough to start “asking for it”, we don’t see an uptick in the numbers. Funny that.

Lisak also found that the undetected rapists (most rapists go undetected) whom he’s been studying for years tend to hold and rigidly adhere to stereotyped sex-role beliefs. Lautmann came to much the same conclusion about those of his participants whose behaviour was clearly exploitative: “There’s too much traditional male thinking going on here.” It may be significant that while GLs made up only about one-third of Lautmann’s sample, all four of his “definitely exploitive” cases were GLs. Horst Vogt in his 2006 study found that while GLs and BLs both liked much the same kinds of personalities – most wanted a confident, lively, curious and cheerful child, with a minority preferring quiet, thoughtful children – BLs often said they wanted boys who were a bit cheeky or mischievous, but GLs did not say they were looking for the same characteristics in girls. Jan Schuijer and Benjamin Rossen’s 1992 book The Trade in Child Pornography turned up some interesting differences between little-girl mags and little-boy mags:  see Appendix C. Boys were more likely to be photographed either clothed or playing naked, while girls were more likely to be photographed posing naked. Schuijer and Rossen’s general impression was that photos of girls tended to be more what they called “pornographic”, meaning that the focus was on arousing the viewer, while photos of boys tended to be more what they called “sexual”, meaning that the focus was on the child’s own arousal. As Lautmann says, CLs can hardly be singled out for blame if they absorb the sex-role ideas of their own culture: everybody else does too, to varying degrees. That doesn’t mean, however, that those ideas are entirely harmless.

“Everything that I do with the child must be not merely tolerated, but wanted,” said one principled girl-lover in Lautmann’s study, demonstrating that it is possible to arrive at that kind of simple, humane, considerate, common-sense, genuinely sex-positive sexual ethic all by oneself. Some people are just that nice. Others need a bit of a nudge. One of Lautmann’s “borderline” cases was a young man who said he was at his happiest when with little girls aged eight through twelve or so, and yet also described having, at age eighteen, well-nigh bullied an eleven-year-old into giving him a handjob. Intercourse took place for the first time not long after, on her twelfth birthday. Lautmann comments, “This mixture of persuasion, pestering, and resolute action would seem repulsive, if not for the fact that this is often precisely what still goes on with teenagers generally.”

Well, indeed. Some teenagers, and not only boys, do that kind of thing because though they are basically decent, they’re young, they really want sex and they haven’t yet figured out how to treat other people well, especially in sexual situations. They’ll grow out of it, with a bit of luck. In the meantime, talking openly about consent may help some of them be more considerate. It may also mean that the future repeat rapists among them — McWhorter found that they most typically start raping in their late teens — don’t have such a dense thicket of misconceptions with which to cover up their rapes. There really are a lot of misconceptions still floating around: for instance, Lautmann says that some of the GLs he studied took silence, accompanied by no approving reaction from the child, for consent. They seemed genuinely to believe in this supposed consent, but they were almost certainly mistaken: all kinds of people freeze up from shock and panic and fear in all kinds of frightening situations, and that includes being sexually assaulted or raped. The 1986 book Crime Without Victims by the Danish ‘Trobriand’ collective includes this personal account of such an occurrence.

We should be making it clearer to kids as they grow up that if during sex someone is totally still and mute and not smiling you should always stop and make sure they’re OK. Of course the emphasis in an initial discussion about consent, particularly with adolescents, should be informative and respectful, humorous even, rather than accusatory and punitive. I think this article really gets it right. It was crossposted at the wonderful scarleteen.com sex ed website. Incidentally, one of the things I like about this blogger is that she has the honesty and good grace to admit when she herself has behaved badly.

 

 

Should we publish and be damned?

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We’ve seen it before, haven’t we? Those who start wars on terror end up behaving like terrorists themselves. The virtual ink dry was barely dry on Heretic TOC’s warning last week that British paedophiles are to be treated as terrorists when news came through that in Germany the police have begun their own reign of terror.

For what else can it be called, really, when 150 police officers – that’s right, one hundred and fifty – are deployed in an operation to arrest a handful of people peacefully enjoying a Spring day out, including a trip to a zoo with a little girl? In effect, indeed, they arrested the child, who was reportedly “taken into care”. She was aged just five. One can only imagine, with dismay, the shock and distress visited upon the poor mite, and the lasting trauma as she comes to understand how comprehensively her world has been shattered.

A brief report from Germany reached us in the form of a Heretic TOC comment posted by “Ovid” i.e. the German blog of that name. Further details have now been gleaned from the blog itself insofar as the vagaries of a Google translation allow: the grammar may be rough and ready but my experience suggests the substance is far more trustworthy than mainstream media reports based on police propaganda.

Ovid told us 11 girl-lovers were arrested, supposedly on suspicion of belonging to a child pornography or paedophile ring: the police appear to have no idea which, saying it is “early days” for the enquiry. In other words, they piled in with no evidence, hoping to find some. The 10 men and a woman were arrested in the city of Aschersleben, Saxony-Anhalt, and were released soon after without, as yet, any charges. Some houses were searched. Ovid’s comment also linked to an English-language news report which played up lurid police claims of major criminality – claims which the police would of course have known would look dramatically real if they went into action like a military unit, as they did, complete with over 20 vehicles. It was though they were likely to encounter armed resistance – as though, in other words, they were dealing with terrorists!

The suspects, Ovid informs us, had all known each other from an online forum, girlloverforum.net. They were having a get-together, just to have a nice day out and a chat in person, including a planned barbecue later on. The little girl was the niece of one of them. The news reports speculated that she was being used in playgrounds to lure “more victims”. More? Who then was the first victim? Not the niece, it seems: the group were under surveillance all day in the town, including visits to a flea market and a zoo, without any criminal activity being seen. If there had been direct evidence of this sort, presumably those responsible would have been charged, and probably kept in custody.

Interestingly, only the initial press reports made the “luring” claim: later accounts backed off. The little girl had simply been playing with other children, although even this was given a sinister twist: now she was said to have been “abused as a decoy”, whatever that meant. Perhaps it loses something in translation.

Ovid’s blog pinpoints an investigative journalist “from RTL”, the massive pan-European broadcasting conglomerate, as a police informant. This investigator had been invited to the Aschersleben gathering after pretending to be a paedophile. One supposes RTL and the police shared the common presumption that simply being attracted to children of either sex amounts to a good reason for thwarting any attempt to meet others with similar feelings. The civil right to freedom of assembly is not for paedophiles, it seems.

As for the police, once a reporter from a big media outfit was involved, they had to be seen to be doing something, hence the great display of a major operation, regardless of whether there was any evidence to justify it.

Another comment on Heretic TOC, by “A”, noted that this German development comes hard on the heels not only of the British “treat them as terrorists” move but also soon after the pro-paedophile Martijn association (Vereniging Martijn) in the Netherlands was banned by a ruling of the Dutch Supreme Court. Unless the case is fought in the European Court of Human Rights, it could be the end of the line for Martijn after a long legal battle. The Supreme Court ruled last month that Martijn be banned and disbanded because its activities were “contrary to public order”.

The prosecuting authorities had originally tried to use the criminal law against Martijn. This failed because the organisation had broken no laws. But then there was a petition to parliament demanding the banning of the association, with 70,000 signatures. When a parliamentary debate failed to lead to further action, the public prosecutor took the matter before the courts in 2012, using the civil law. The prosecutor won the first hearing but lost in the appeal court, which took a more liberal view, declaring that society should tolerate unpopular beliefs. Now, this appeal verdict has in its turn been overthrown in the country’s highest court.

Heretic TOC has been told by a well informed Dutch source that the Supreme Court found “Martijn downplays the dangers of sexual contact with young children” and “even glorifies such contacts”. If that sounds familiar it could be thanks to your knowledge of British anti-terrorism legislation or because you read Heretic TOC’s prediction last time that a new crime of “glorifying” paedophilia will be next on the statute books.

But the Dutch have beaten us to it via this civil law pronouncement. The court said: “Although in general great restraint should be exercised in the banning and dissolution of an association, in this very special case a democratic society requires that the association must be banned and disbanded in the interest of protecting the health and rights and freedoms of children.”

That would presumably be their “right” to do as they are told and their “freedom” to be unable to engage in sexual contacts of their own choice.

In the view of my very reliable Dutch source, Martijn was the author of its own downfall because the association failed to separate its dialogue with society from “titillating stories written for members”. Any such policy may well have hastened Martijn’s demise but Heretic TOC notes that girlloverforum is said to be cautiously moderated. Thus, appeasing hostile opinion apparently does not help all that much! In these circumstances it is tempting just to “publish and be damned”. There is something to be said for going out in a blaze of glory, or “glorification”, but whether it is really worth doing so must be judged against one’s objectives. If the aim is to educate ourselves and a wider public we should struggle to keep our voices heard in an unimpeachably temperate and rational way. If even then we are silenced, at least we can be sure we do not have ourselves to blame.

Forgive the “we” in all this. We are individuals. Between us we hold a range of views. We include those who have posted here dozens of times, others just once, and in the case of “lurkers” (who may include both sympathetic and hostile readers) not at all. And it is an “I”, not a “we”, who carries legal responsibility for the contents of Heretic TOC as its host. The unfortunate German experience demonstrates, though, that formal responsibility for web content is not the only thing that counts.

Nor is prosecution or civil action in the courts. Yet another factor adding to the pressures upon us is official harassment of the “We’re watching you!” variety. Registered sex offenders get it all the time, of course: constant monitoring by the police, including home visits at which all manner of personal questions may be asked. In the case of a convicted person, there is at least a clear and lawful rationale for such intrusions, even if we do not agree with them. In yet another sign of our oppressive times, though, and an indication of their thoroughly global nature, New Zealand blogger Peter Hooper found the police on his doorstep recently even though he has no convictions and their hostile interest in him owed nothing to illegality, either his own or that of others.

Peter, whose name will be familiar to many here as a commentator on Heretic TOC, has his own blog called Take-A-Risk-NZ (see Blog Roll, right). The name might suggest a certain recklessness but those who know Peter’s posts would hardly accuse him of that. On the contrary, his thoughtful, painstaking, style and unfailing courtesy suggest an irreproachable figure, a man of integrity.

On his blog a couple of months ago he said two plain clothes police officers came to his apartment complex. They had taken an interest in an image he had used on his blog and his Facebook page of a boy pointing a gun at his head. It had appeared on Peter’s blog in connection with the possible effect of the American Psychological Association’s policies. The photo had a caption: “Each day 30 to 150 American teens realize they’re attracted to younger children. Almost half will consider suicide. APA’s response: ignore them or threaten prosecution as child molesters.”

Ring any bells? Once more, there is a Heretic TOC connection. This blog ran the same photo last November, and for exactly the same reasons as Peter’s. There was nothing illegal about it, or even controversial except that it was used in a hard-hitting campaign to challenge the APA. So why did the police take an interest? They said they knew the image had appeared on Tumblr, so anyone could have seen and published the image without having any connection to the boy depicted. So there was no pretence of investigating possible abuse of the boy in the photo. They also said they understood Peter had not broken the law and I had a legal right to express his views.

They were there, evidently, solely because anyone reproducing such a photo constituted “a person of interest” to them. In other words, if you are interested in radical sexual politics, you are a suspicious character. You are not necessarily suspected of doing anything. Just being what you are – a troublemaker at the very least, no doubt, in their eyes – is sufficient for them to let you know they are taking an interest, and watching you. They actually said that just before they left: “We’re watching you.”

Speaking of watching, I have not been paying close enough attention to my word-count and the time available for my blogging. I meant to catch up with unfinished business from last time, about the new Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act in the UK, but again it will have to be deferred to another occasion. If there is one, that is. With Big Brother watching, it cannot be guaranteed!

Paedophiles to be treated like terrorists

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Guantanamo Bay here we come! Brace yourselves, oh heretics of Britain; pack away your remembrance of freedom to the size of a crushed dream; it’s the only personal property we’ll be left with when they take us away: a war against paedophilia has now been officially declared, along the lines of the war against terror in the wake of 9/11.

Paedophiles are to be treated like terrorists. In his forthcoming legislative programme, prime minister David Cameron “wants to close a loophole that allows sexual predators to produce and possess ‘manuals’ giving tips on how to identify victims, groom them, and evade capture”, according to the Guardian. In future, they will face the same kind of sanctions as extremists who download guides to bomb-making. The issue came to light, we are told, after GCHQ and the National Crime Agency found examples of the guides online in the “dark web”. GCHQ, it will be recalled, is the UK’s electronic spying headquarters, whose Big Brother surveillance of entire populations has become globally notorious thanks to the work of Edward Snowden.

The new law is expected to be in force by the time of the general election next year, and could be implemented in an amendment to the Obscene Publications Act 1959, the Guardian said. The Terrorism Act 2000 outlawed terrorist training manuals.

Now, “virtuous” paedophiles of the “nothing to fear if you are innocent” persuasion, or delusion, may believe the measure targets only those who are up to no good. If you show people how to become engaged in illegal acts don’t you deserve whatever is coming to you? Why oppose such a law and thereby identify yourself with the “bad guys”?

Nothing could be more dangerously naïve. The proposed measure is a threat even to those of us who are not denizens of the “dark web” and have never seen the alleged “manuals”. I can say this with some authority, having personally been collaterally damaged in a previous attack on a so-called “how to” guide. Some here may remember the fuss over a book briefly listed on Amazon in 2010, called The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover’s Code of Conduct, by Phillip R. Greaves II. Amazon quickly withdrew it after taking flak for allegedly facilitating child molestation.

I do not know the author and have not read his book, which may or may not have encouraged readers to break the law. But I do know what happened next. Under pressure from a mounting campaign against selling books that had anything to do with paedophilia, Amazon caved in, withdrawing several other titles, including my own Paedophilia: The Radical Case, despite the fact that it has scores of citations on Scholar Google. Other writers of entirely legal and scholarly books who found their works de-listed were David Sonenschein, once a researcher with the Kinsey Institute, and David L Riegel, whose papers grace the peer-reviewed academic literature.

My suspicion is that even Greaves’ book was falsely demonised as a molester’s charter. Interviewed by CNN, he reportedly said: “True paedophiles love children and would never hurt them… Penetration is out. You can’t do that with a child, but kissing and fondling I don’t think is that big of a problem.”

What’s not to like about that? As an opinion it is fine, I think, and one many here would share, provided the author was describing what would be OK if it were legal, rather than recommending anyone to go and do it. One has to wonder whether some of the supposedly evil material on the ominously named “dark web” is really that different to Greaves’ rather charmingly artless – innocent, even – candour.

Not that it was deemed innocent in law. The unfortunate Greaves, based in the United States, was charged with “distributing obscene material depicting” (merely in words?) “minors engaged in harmful conduct”. He pleaded no contest and was put on probation for two years.

So, if writers can be silenced and punished even in the land of constitutionally protected free speech, how much more threatened should we feel in the UK? Much will depend upon how tightly the wording of the proposed new law is drawn. Previous legislation aimed against paedophilia affords scant cause for optimism, especially in view of the present enfeebled state of civil liberties campaigning in the UK: there will be little public pressure to amend any clauses that could be applied too broadly. At least Spiked has come good on this occasion, though. I blasted Frank Furedi recently, but his latest piece is positively excellent: The war on paedos: grooming the public’s fears.

Maybe my “open letter” to him had the desired effect!

Even somewhat overbroad legislation against “how to” manuals ought not to impact Heretic TOC legally, as this blog definitely does not incite law-breaking. Indirectly, though, it would have a very chilling effect. What worries me far more is the potential for yet another measure, because they never stop coming, do they? And what would it look like, this further laceration in our slow death by a thousand cuts? Now that we are to be firmly yoked together with terrorism it’s obvious, isn’t it? Glorifying terrorism was made illegal by the Terrorism Act 2006. So logically the next step would be to ban the glorification of paedophilia – a “crime” that could well be framed to include saying anything whatever in its favour. This could spell trouble for Heretic TOC, and possibly for any advocacy aimed at lowering the age of consent, even by only a year. Now, that would really be a scary prospect for democracy.

Overshadowed by the sensational terrorism rhetoric, meanwhile, another appalling measure crept under the radar recently. How many, I wonder, are aware of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which is now the law of the land, having received the Royal Assent a couple of months ago? The Act both covers and commits a multitude of sins, and our interest in the latter takes us to Part 9, Protection from sexual harm and violence, sandwiched between Part 8, Firearms, and Part 10, Forced Marriage. This measure has an important and complicated history, though, so it will have to wait for another time. If there are any lawyers here who would like to do a guest blog on this I would be mightily relieved!

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