Proudly sticking out my double CHIN!

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When Dave Riegel kindly offered to host a link to my CHIN paper recently published in Sexuality & Culture, he was more alert than me to the need for an explanatory summary to go with it – a double CHIN, as it were – or an edited highlights version. As he wrote along with the link:

This paper comprises some 15,000 words and 33 pages. While composed with the academic or professional reader in mind, it can be read profitably by the layperson who puts his mind to the task, and who follows the logic carefully. For those who feel the sheer size is overwhelming, it is suggested that they begin at the “An Alternative Ideal” section.

Good advice! And at Dave’s request I am now taking a couple of steps to provide a reader-friendly introduction to the article. One of the steps, for visitors to Dave’s SafeHaven site, will comprise a short piece to go with the link there. The other step, for heretics here, appears below. It aims to encapsulate the paper’s main themes.

Before starting, I will just note that as I write, less than two months after CHIN’s publication, the paper has been downloaded 2,200 times from the official Springer site, a figure that I feel more than justifies splashing out, as I did, to pay for Open Access, making the paper freely available to all. Heretics here have donated generously in response to my appeal aimed at raising funds to cover the fee but I am still considerably out of pocket. So please consider making a donation if you have not already done so: see Donate button near the end text of the right-hand column or email me (tomocarr66@yahoo.co.uk) to ask for my international bank account number.

So, here we go.

It may help to begin with how CHIN came about. This has roots going back seven or eight years to a meeting in a London pub with psychiatrist Richard Green, whose record of pioneering support for gay and trans rights will be familiar to many here and who has recently published a memoir of his involvement in these issues. At Richard’s instigation we were joined for lunch by Agustin Malón, a Spanish specialist in sex education, whose views seemed agreeably liberal. We got on well, and in the years that followed I read a number of his academic papers with growing enthusiasm.

He was never a committed heretic, but his writing always showed understanding and goodwill. Many years ago, he wrote in the preface to his doctoral thesis:

Those who love children – and who very rarely attack them – undoubtedly lead a complicated existence; especially those who are attracted to prepubertal children, since society is not likely to allow them to live out these experiences in relative liberty and tranquillity. We have a lot to learn – as do they – about how to permit them to live out and express those desires through channels that are more acceptable, and that cause fewer problems for both minors and society.

This clearly indicates empathy but it is hardly a radical position. There is nothing to suggest he ever thought child-adult sex could ever be allowed. So I was agreeably surprised when a paper of his appeared in 2015 in a leading academic journal. The introductory Abstract noted that such relationships might indeed be morally permissible under some circumstances, based on his understanding of general ethical principles. What he was saying, in effect, was that the usual “anti” arguments, such as the idea that children cannot give valid consent, are weak: they do not stand up to close scrutiny.

Excitingly, it looked as though Malón was finally getting on board with true radicalism. But that turned out to be wildly over-optimistic. Seeing only a glass half full, I was overlooking the half empty perspective. His article was planned as the first of two. The first would throw out the weak case against child-adult sex; but the second would bring in some new, much stronger, “anti” ideas to replace them! So we would be left not with a radically libertarian analysis but a beefed up conservative one!

This could have been very deflating, but when the second article appeared, in 2017, I soon began to see it as an opportunity. Malón’s new paper was grounded in virtue ethics. And just as he had seen the weakness of the usual “anti” arguments, it seemed to me his “virtue” approach was also full of holes. All I had to do was point them out. Also, without placing any great store on the virtue concept as a basis for deciding whether any sort of behaviours should or should not be permitted, answering Malón’s case appeared to offer a marvellous platform for talking about active child-adult sex as potentially something that could be seen positively, as part of a virtuous adult’s life.

Malón’s appeal to virtue ethics is part of a revival in recent times of a very old sort of moral philosophy, going back to ancient Greece. The person of good character, in this way of thinking, is one who lives life well in the sense that their behaviour tends to promote their own well being and that of their society, and may even be considered good for human flourishing in general. Virtue ethics these days is often referred to as “neo-Aristotelian” moral philosophy, as Aristotle was one of the key figures in the field among the ancients, following Socrates and Plato, and a good deal of his writing has survived.

It makes sense to ask, as these great philosophers did, what sort of life a good life is, and what makes for good character. One problem with this, though, is that you tend to get very different answers depending on when and where the question is posed. Different cultures have widely divergent views. Life could be harsh in ancient times and that was reflected in what was seen as morally acceptable. Aristotle, for instance, defended slavery.

Perhaps that is why Malón doesn’t mention him! His approach may be neo-Aristotelian but the figure he draws on for inspiration is a leading public intellectual of our own times, Sir Roger Scruton, knighted two years ago for “services to philosophy, teaching and public education”. The official citation emphasises his promotion of “freedom and Western values” in Soviet-era Communist Europe, but in Britain he is better known for his love of fox hunting, his distaste for homosexuality and his ferocious hostility towards anything he considers to be perverted or obscene – including, of course, paedophilia. He once argued that gays have no children and consequently no interest in creating a socially stable future, so it was justified to “instil in our children feelings of revulsion” towards homosexuality.

His ideas on sexual morality find their fullest expression in his 1986 book Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation, which is undoubtedly a hugely sophisticated and erudite work, running to over 400 pages. Unfortunately, Malón appears to have been over-impressed by it and uncritically blown away. In my article, as a result, I found that really I had to regard Scruton as my primary opponent. The first part of CHIN is in effect an attempt to demolish Scruton’s thinking, and I hope readers will feel I have succeeded.

After that I found myself gloriously free on the open philosophical road, able to put my foot on the gas, driving the article hard towards my own vision of “An Alternative Ideal”. Dave Riegel is quite right to propose this section as a possible starting point: it avoids the unfortunately necessary negativity of the early sections, allowing the reader to get straight to what I hope will be considered more inspirational material. In fact, with this in mind, you could perfectly well begin and end with this single section.

Those who want to take that advice are free to do so. What I think may be useful in the remainder of this blog is to give a guide to the overall structure and main contents of CHIN.

Abstract and Introduction

The Abstract and the Introduction were written with the academic reader in mind and will perhaps feel rather perplexing and unhelpful to a wider audience. As Dave says, though, a careful, attentive reading should reap rewards.

The Illusion of Sexual Exceptionalism

This section is one to skip unless you are keen on philosophy. It tackles the idea that human sex of any sort is unlike other aspects of morality and needs a different kind of ethics. This view is at the heart of Scruton’s book, which takes a “phenomenological” approach focusing on human “intentionality”, a tricky concept which takes him 15 pages to “explain” in an appendix that leaves the head spinning. Basically, it’s a lot of smoke and mirrors that enables him to claim, unpersuasively, that where sex is concerned the birds and the bees may do it but human sexual desire is on an altogether more elevated plane, such that ethical discussion essentially has to be inward looking:  we must contemplate our feelings for other people without reference to the wider world of nature, or indeed without delving into what science can tell us about our own sexual natures and how best they might be enabled to flourish.

Virtue Ethics and Child-Adult Sexual Relations

Malón’s particular contribution with regard to child-adult sexual relations sets out by identifying three potential lines of argument against paedophilic behaviour made available by the virtue approach. They are considered under these headings: (a) perversion and obscenity; (b) the sexual bond; (c) erotic neutralization and “extended” incest. CHIN responds to each of these three approaches.

Perversion and obscenity

Malón invokes childhood “innocence”, but he does not defend the concept against the charge that it represents a state of ignorance in which children are deliberately kept by adults in order to control them. Instead he seeks to justify the tradition in which a high value has been placed on virginity, a valuation challenged by feminists as being at the heart of patriarchal control of female sexuality.

It has also been put under scrutiny from an evolutionary perspective, and here I draw on the work of psychologist Darcia Narvaez. She suggests that we have been wrongly “projecting onto the past a scenario like today’s of sexual restriction and competition, assuming sexual competitiveness for virginity, and emphasizing the timing of first sexual behaviour”. Evolutionary psychology, she says, has wrongly assumed “mate competition and male desire to control female reproduction to ensure genetic dominance”.  Among the small-band gatherer-hunters of the past, in contrast, “sexual relations are widespread with experimentation at all ages”. Also, “As with our bonobo cousins, individuals do not wait for the right fertile mate. Sexual relations are more about pleasure than control.”

With this in mind, I raise the possibility that it might be beneficial to practise intimate relationships well before the time when there could be reproductive consequences. I note that childhood and adolescent sexual experiences with adults have been reported in very positive terms in the research literature as relationships characterised by warmth, pleasure, affection and humour.

The sexual bond

Malón argued that the child’s capacity for intimacy and to be emotionally connected to another person would be damaged by a sexual relationship with an adult. He did not even claim there was any evidence for this in the case of consensual encounters. I decided to stick with a single really good counter-example, that of the psychoanalyst and theorist Heinz Kohut: he claimed his sexual relationship at age 10 with an admired tutor was life-saving for him when his parents’ marriage was deteriorating.

Erotic neutralization and “extended” incest

It is difficult to argue in favour of sex with children in a nuclear family setting simply because behind closed doors it is hard to be sure kids have real choices: no one wants to see them become sex slaves of their parents. This has nothing to do with the danger of producing deformed or otherwise genetically damaged offspring in an incestuous union, as young children are physically incapable of becoming fathers or mothers. And, despite his use of the word incest, “blood” relations have nothing to do with what Malón is saying. He talks about so-called extended incest, by which he means any adult-child contacts that show some of the same psychodynamics as family relationships, especially via the quasi-parental authority invested in teachers, sports coaches, scout leaders, etc.

His argument is not against such authority, quite the reverse. Rather, he thinks that having a sexual relationship is likely to undermine legitimate authority. Good parents, after all, teach their children good values and try to set an example through their own good behaviour. An implicit assumption is that unless they are firmly in control, they will not be able to keep their children on the right path. By revealing their own sexual needs, by “surrendering” to passion, they become vulnerable to the child’s power; and in a consensual relationship the child can withhold willingness to meet those needs.

The argument is a strong one, but I argue that it puts excessive emphasis on the value of hierarchy. I give examples of role reversals that can be valuable for children and adults alike, where the younger party is in command.

An Alternative Ideal

Please simply read this section: it is easier going and arguably more important than some of the other parts.

Some Further Misconceptions

Intellectually, this section is a minor mopping up operation after zapping all three of Malón’s main arguments but it contains some interesting evidence you are unlikely to have seen elsewhere: use the search terms “Bemba” and “Nyakyusa” for some fascinating material on pre-pubertal consummation of marriage in African tribes – as researched by intrepid female anthropologists in the mid-20th century.

A prudential argument

This short section deals with the argument that child-adult sex may be harmless or even beneficial at the time but damaging in the long term on account of the social stigma attached to such encounters. Some give this as a reason not to permit them. I cite philosopher Stephen Kershnar’s powerful counter-argument.

Conclusion

The paper concludes with a plea to look at the evidence rather than just assuming that child-adult sex is harmful; it is also pointed out that relevant research has been systematically blocked and censored in recent times.    

A crisis that could be an opportunity

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A daring young new breed of heretical activists has been making its mark lately, reaching a wide audience through YouTube, and catching the attention of vloggers through high-profile interviews. Amos Yee has been a trailblazer. Inspired by Yee’s work in Singapore and the U.S., and now making his own distinctive contribution under the “Youth Liberation” banner is a British born and educated BL. His style – direct, frank, unapologetic – owes something to Yee while his content focuses on good, solid well researched information, drawing on earlier generations of pioneers, notably the Dutch trio Edward Brongersma, Frits Bernard and Theo Sandfort. In a guest blog today “Leon” introduces himself at a time of personal crisis. Motivational speakers are fond of saying that in Chinese the word for “crisis” also means “opportunity”. I don’t know about that but I sure hope this blog will provide an opportunity both for our guest writer and at least one other heretic here to take their lives forward in a positive way. You will see what I mean.

 

THE PRICE OF BEING THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE

Dear readers, allow me to introduce myself and to tell you why I am working for youth liberation. I want to thank Tom for giving me this platform. We’ve all come here on different paths, in many cases with personal struggles along the way, for sure. And yet, whatever route we have taken, we have all been driven by an idea we have in common – a prevailing sense that something is wrong with the societies in which we live.

It’s difficult to explain to you who I am, when I’m not quite sure of that myself. In some respects I am an empowered individual; I show qualities of a radical who stands up for the oppressed and advocates freedom for people. And yet, truth be told, I am frightened and still look out to the world from behind the eyes of a lost little boy. Confused, at why things are the way they are; hoping to do good but so often failing.

Have you ever had the feeling that your life’s path is far more out of your own control than would be expected? At this point, at age 25, I can’t shake the feeling that everything has come together perfectly to bring me to this position here and now. No matter how imperfect things might seem. Two major things which keep me going: I believe we all have a purpose, and that deep down, regardless of the pain we cause others or the suffering we endure… everyone just wants to be loved. Sometimes I want to give up; at other times I know I must take responsibility for creating a loving world; to be the change I wish to see.

At this point I think it’s wise to introduce you to what I’m doing now, in regards to activism. I run a YouTube channel entitled “Youth Liberation” – please do take a break from reading this and see the video links below; also take a look at the channel later. As you will see, I began hosting video clips in support of intergenerational relationships between adults and youth. At first with the comfort of anonymity. I contacted the Dutch Society for Sexual Reform (NVSH) to translate from Dutch to English clips of the late Dr. Edward Brongersma speaking on paedophilia. I created videos that explain about cultures around the world with more permissive sexual attitudes than ours, or feature famous men who were boy-lovers.

This was a way to express myself, and to help others learn what I knew. I have now put my face to them, speaking straight to camera. A coming out video, as someone attracted to the young. And other videos which criticise the age-of-consent for sex and what I see as the general oppression of youth as well as discrimination against adults who are youth lovers. In my most recent video I explain this: studies which conclude that sex between youth and adults is always harmful use samples of the population that are unrepresentative of the whole; this includes rape victims, criminal cases and psychiatric patients. Other studies which find correlation with harm use both consensual and non-consensual relationships. Wording such as “victim” and “perpetrator” is used to influence the outcome of these studies. In unbiased studies (see the work of Theo Sandfort and Dr. Frits Bernard) which examine gentle and consensual sexual relationships between children and adults, no significant harm is found but positive results are (as a result of both the sex and the wider aspects of the relationship such as learning and emotional support).

To the logical person, this should make some sense. But the general public react in an emotional, unthinking fashion. Yet I must accept that it’s not their fault. My own life is very strange. If I didn’t have a personal stake in the issue, would I ever have sought truth? It’s not going to be possible in this blog to give you a full overview of my life. I was born in the UK, I went to school where I felt different from my peers; I still managed to maintain some friends. For a while I found fighting and aggressiveness to be an outlet for my underlying frustrations. One day, as a teenager, in short, I witnessed a younger boy imitate my actions. And it broke my heart when I realised I was one of the people who had influenced this boy’s behaviour, particularly when he was later sent to jail for stealing and other crimes. And I felt a deep love for him.

Like many people reading this blog, I’m sure, coming to accept my true nature was a long process indeed. In my later teenage years I isolated myself somewhat (thank God for the internet) – it was on Twitter I first confessed my love for a boy and received an “I love you too” in return. His name was Garrett; we had a shared interest in cannabis, animals and the American counter-culture. And Harry Potter now I think about it. I was around 18 and him 14; he used to send me his poems. I think he longed for someone to confide in. We spoke regularly over a few months; we were even going to visit Scotland together at one point, once he was able to travel there on his own. After those few months we parted ways. He had decided to leave the Twitter community we were a part of. But not before introducing me to Allen Ginsberg and Walt Whitman. I hadn’t realised that Allen featured in the NAMBLA documentary I showed him soon after. Garrett agreed with what I was beginning to figure out: “It’s just another form of love”

Anyway, I must move on. I have known and cared for many boys since then, although now I’m not fortunate enough to be able to associate with any. I have a firm conviction that the men who love boys can have a significant and important role in their lives, and without such boys, these men aren’t able to be half as valuable to the world as they can be. So this is partly what influences my activism. To see such a thing compared to the greatest evil? No. I won’t stand for it. Wiser people than myself have told me what I’m doing is reckless. Perhaps even detrimental to the cause. It will take decades to change they say; let the sexologists, psychologists and policy makers take the lead. Wait until the former loved young people speak out. No one cares to hear the plight of the paedophile.

Others have claimed I am a hero. This I am most certainly not. What I am, is fed up. You see, were the people in the Western world kind to paedophiles and supportive of them but with genuine reason to stop them engaging in sexual activities with the young (let’s say these caused genuine harm). Then I’d be the first to say we must conform to their wishes, meaning never attempt to change age-of-consent laws. In truth, though, the masses are ignorant, and choose to remain this way. And seem to take pleasure in being in the dominant power group. I have confirmed this with the discrimination expert Mrs. Jane Elliott, creator of the blue-eyes brown-eyes exercise. She isn’t for breaking the law, but she is aware that the pendulum of societal change is ever swinging.

Furthermore, were it just me who had to miss out on emotional bonds, or who had to hide his true nature, that would be bearable. But my past is filled with other stories and pain; I have an exceptional ability to see the cause of problems. The anger I felt, when I saw a large 18-year-old boy, who our society labels as a drug-dealing thug… when I saw him break down in tears after all of those years suppressing his homosexual attractions; unable to communicate this to any of the so-called upstanding citizens. Fearful of being treated differently. Using combinations of alcohol and illegal drugs in high amounts with the hope of it killing him because he didn’t have the (in his own words) courage to do it himself. What am I to do when I know that it’s the fear of sex itself, and of all sexual minorities, that causes this type of thing to continue? No matter how many rainbow posters we put up in schools.

What do I do, after I (understandably) denied my own sexual orientation after being asked about it in front of a group of young people, but then later one of the brightest boys, the best artist I’ve ever seen, at age 16 took his own life? In part because of being ashamed of his homosexuality. I don’t presume to know this was the main reason. I believe it was in part because his father died some years before. But his friends reported that he was struggling to accept his sexuality. Critics would claim I attempt to take advantage of these tragedies to advance my own cause. But I’ve read enough to know that all forms of discrimination are connected; as society loses some scapegoats, we just mistreat other people more. And regardless, no-one can deny that there are teenagers who have an attraction to children who feel like they’re living in hell right now. No-one can convince me that homosexuals will be welcomed entirely while paedophiles aren’t.

I can’t live a normal life. I can’t do it. I can’t go to work and pretend to agree with what other people say. I can’t sit back while communities attack innocent people. I have this overwhelming passion to heal the world, and make it a place where everyone can be accepted for who they are. In my attempts, I admit I make mistakes. Sometimes I forget that in the past I was as ignorant as other people. At times I want everything to happen too fast. But one thing that can’t be said is that I do nothing. So I speak to you not knowing what outcome I want or expect. Just hoping that these words can do something to make even the smallest change in this horrible situation.

Because of my choice to be open on this issue, I’ve put people who have raised me at great risk. I’ve ruined any chance of blending in and doing behind-the-scenes work. And I’m unable to support young people, which I could have if hiding my true being. So maybe I am a fool. But then again, is it really so bad to stand up and demand change when I know I’m right? When you strip everything back to basics and acknowledge that consensual sexual relationships between any two people are a human right? I don’t know. I really don’t. But I can’t change what’s happened. I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with Amos Yee. Once I saw this brave and logical young man speaking out, he somewhat inspired me. We are now good friends and in regular communication. I know he is proud of me and that makes me feel good.

Now you know a little bit about me; you’ve seen my work and this text, I conclude with the reason Tom has allowed me to use this platform. I presently have no permanent place to live in the UK. As an emergency measure I will be going abroad for a while to live in cheap hostel accommodation.   My outspoken political opinions are the direct cause of this. I send this out in the hope that someone might consider a house or flat share with me in maybe two or three months from now. All I need is somewhere basic to sleep, shower and prepare food (which I’m able to provide for myself). This would be a huge weight off my shoulders and I hope there is someone reading this who would actually prefer to share with someone like-minded rather than living a solitary life. I would also be continuing to record, edit and upload videos online.

It’s clear that this is a major stage in my life. On the one hand, I might be on the path to great things. Maybe I will be the spark that brings light to this situation which, in truth, is no good for anyone. Too much fear and suppression. Far too much. I think the lack of communication is the main problem. No human capable of empathy is a monster. If we could discuss the situation as a community we could make some progress. Giving the young a voice especially. Unfortunately because of being so vocal I’ve been left in a position where the masses will see me as a threat instead of someone to sit down and talk with. Anyway, I’m pleased to communicate with readers of this blog regardless of what happens.

Please contact me through YouTube if you can help, and support the channel if you want to. If you have a place I can stay, or can put me in contact with relevant people, and if you’d prefer to use e-mail…Tom will be able to provide you with my e-mail address.

Youth Liberator.

 

Children’s Positive Sexual Contacts with Adults

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_So5Y42oLw

5 Stages of Power Loss (End of Persecution)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CBgOSkMdkc

On Adults Who Love Youth

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWMDn0zCUnY

 

CHAMBERS’ DICTIONARY FOR HERETICS

Well, not a dictionary, exactly, but Ed Chambers has given us a splendid new glossary of terms encountered at Heretic TOC, most of them acronyms, many of which may be unfamiliar to newbies and some of them a mystery to all but the more technically minded among us.

For the newest of newbies, I should introduce Ed by reference to his guest blog at the start of this year: A wild ride towards self-acceptance.

The real Chambers Dictionary may not be all that familiar to heretics of the millennial generation, who probably use (as I do these days) whatever comes up online when you Google a word plus “meaning” or “definition”.  Chambers, widely used for crossword puzzles and Scrabble is also noted for its humorous definitions, and our Ed’s contribution continues the tradition, as you will see. Or he might have been inspired by the first great dictionary of the English language, that of Dr Samuel Johnson, which has a number of definitions with a distinctly piss-taking nature, mainly with the Scots as the butt of his humour, such as his definition of “oats”:  “a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.”

Further definitions are invited, for other terms used on these pages that might have been overlooked.

GLOSSARY

 

.onion designating an anonymous hidden service reachable via the Tor network
AOC Age Of Consent
ATSA Association for Treatment of Sexual Abusers
BL Boy lover
CP Child pornography / cheese pizza
CSA Child Sexual Abuse
CSE(OP) Childhood Sexual Experience (with an Older Person)
DDOS Distributed Denial Of Service
DOS Denial of service
DSM Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
FUD Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt
GL Girl Lover
HTOC Heretic Tom O’Carroll
Kind Collective noun for child lovers; also works as adjective, like “gay”
LEA Law Enforcement Agency / Agent
MAP Minor Attracted Person
MOWE My Own Worst Enemy – https://www.myownworstenemy.org/
NAMBLA North American Man Boy Love Association
NOMAP Non Offending Minor Attracted Person
NONCE Not On Normal Courtyard / Communal Exercise
PC Politically Correct
PIE Paedophile Information Exchange
PPD Prevention Projekt Dunkelfeld
PSC Pedo Support Community (TOR website)
SJW Social Justice Warrior
SOR Sex Offender Register
StopItNow Similar to STOPSO
StopSO Specialist Treatment Organisation for Prevention of Sexual Offending
TAILS The Amnesic Incognito Live System https://tails.boum.org/
Topic Links The MAP community hub on TOR
TOR The Onion Router https://www.torproject.org/
Virped Relating to the unenlightened
VOA Visions Of Alice (website)
VPN Virtual Private Networks

 

THANKS FOR SPRINGERING INTO ACTION

Gratifyingly, the appeal launched last time, aimed primarily at recouping the cost of Springer Nature’s fee for publishing my recent paper in Sexuality & Culture on an Open Access basis, has made good progress, with over half of the outlay already recovered. Accordingly, my heartfelt thanks go to those who have donated and to several who have pledged to do so in the near future.

It may be remembered that the fee including VAT came to £2,311. As of this morning, heretics here had contributed £1,357. So at the moment I am out of pocket by “only” £953. As the quote marks are meant to emphasise, this is still a large sum, which strikes me as a good reason to urge those who have not yet responded to please now do their bit.

As before, all you need to do is use the Donate button on the right-hand side-bar (nearly the last item down, between the Follow button and the Search). This will enable you to contribute via PayPal using any major currency.

Some donors, however, have told me they prefer to pay directly, by making a transfer straight from their bank to mine. If you prefer this method please email me ( tomocarr66@yahoo.co.uk ) to ask for my international bank account number (IBAN).

A number of you generously responded to my request for a three-figure sum if you could afford it. For the most part, however, this message unfortunately seems to have been interpreted as meaning smaller sums are not needed.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It is far healthier, in my view, to have many small or medium contributions, rather than just a few chunky ones. I would like to see every regular here pitching in with some sum, however modest: it is in the best interests of our heretical community that everyone should feel they have a stake it, including the very nearly 300 who are signed up as Followers. If everyone could find just £10 each it would see off the remainder of the Springer fee with enough left over for me to carry on working for Heretic TOC for at least another year or so. Without any such surplus I will ultimately need to switch to fee-paying commercial work instead.

Mercifully, though, that decision is not an urgent matter, so let me turn to more positive news about the paper itself, titled “Childhood ‘Innocence’ is Not Ideal: Virtue Ethics and Child–Adult Sex”, or CHIN as another veteran campaigner, Dave Riegel, has dubbed it for short. Dave, who has a number of peer-reviewed papers to his credit, has magnanimously agreed to host CHIN here on his SafeHaven Foundation site. Also, as some will have noticed in a recent comment at HTOC, Thomas Leske has undertaken to produce and publish a translation of CHIN into German for his Thomas Leske Editions publishing venture.

The decision to go Open Access, making CHIN freely available online and with free PDF download is also definitely paying off. There have now been over 1,200 downloads of CHIN from Springer’s site, plus over 100 others at ResearchGate. Furthermore, many influential figures have been made aware of CHIN through a posting I did on Sexnet. The philosophers Peter Singer and David Benatar answered the emails I sent them about CHIN, the latter kindly saying he looked forward to reading the article. Obviously, I hope Prof. Singer, one of the most famous living philosophers in the world, will also read CHIN and at some point find himself able to cite it with approval.

Welcome to the joys of Springer!

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The publication of yet another dry, difficult, boring article in an obscure academic journal may seem no big deal, but I hope heretics will be persuaded that one specific recent addition to “the literature” really is major news for us.

Some readers will have noticed straws in the wind – a hint or two from me in the comments section, even the actual news being leaked at a couple of Kind chat forums – and now the time has finally arrived when I am ready to spill the beans with an official announcement.

Official, that is, because the article is my very own. I like to think the really special thing about it is the content – what it actually says in its 15,000-words – but the most immediate aspect to crow about is that this is the first piece of mine accepted as a work of serious scholarship after going through the process known as peer review i.e. after being read and critiqued in detail by other scholars, who tend typically to be professors and other senior academics.

This in itself would be of no great interest to anyone but me, but when the article in question claims that consensual child-adult sexual relationships could be ethical, or even represent the embodiment of an ideal in human relationships, it does become a bit special. And when that article is written by an activist without so much as a doctorate to his name, much less a chair in moral philosophy, it becomes unique. Even more securely unique, indeed, given that my formal introduction to ethics was acquired while studying an Open University course in philosophy from a cell in Her Majesty’s Prison, Wandsworth.

“Unique”, as it happens, was an epithet used by one of the three anonymous (so they can criticise without inhibition) peer reviewers, who wrote: “The article is unique, interesting, important, and nicely argued. It will be an important contribution to the literature.” Another reviewer called it “stimulating and polemical” while the third said it was “…a great article. Very well researched… Well written and well argued throughout.”

Enough with the fanfare! The title of the paper is “Childhood ‘Innocence’ is Not Ideal: Virtue Ethics and Child–Adult Sex”. It was published online by the journal Sexuality & Culture on 20 April. The print edition will probably come out later this year, from which point it will grace the shelves of university libraries.

Wannabe readers will not need to hunt it down in the groves of academe, though, nor will they need to pay through the nose for it or seek a pirated download (somewhat harder to find now, following a lawsuit last year). No, all they need in order to read the full text free of charge online, or to get a free PDF download, is this link to the article’s page on the Sexuality & Culture website provided by Springer Nature, a gigantic academic publishing corporation.

And thereby hangs an important tale. Springer didn’t get big and profitable by being generous. It may look as though you are being offered a free lunch but it won’t be the publisher picking up the tab. Most of their articles are paid for in the traditional way: the reader has to buy them, just like going into a bookstore and buying a book. That tends to be very expensive for the reader, at £35 or more (around $50 U.S.) for an article of typically only 15-20 pages, unless they are able to borrow a copy from a library. This has been getting increasingly difficult in recent years because the libraries themselves in the UK and elsewhere have been finding it harder to come up with the money for their subscriptions to the journals. This means there is an increasing danger that only a small elite have much chance of discovering the latest scholarship and research.

Determined to reach the widest possible readership for my own pro-Kind paper, I decided this was not good enough. I could have done the same as most authors, which is to transfer the copyright to the publishers, so they can charge for the “intellectual property” (the article) and keep all the money that comes in. Doing it that way means there is no cost to the author. But I decided to put my money where my mouth is by forking out far more than I can sensibly afford in order to retain the copyright and exercise my choice to make the paper free to all readers under a scheme known as Open Access.

I paid Springer’s standard charge. Including VAT this came to a whopping £2,311, or over 3,000 American dollars. The first sign that this was money well spent is shown by the figures: in the first three weeks there have been over 300 downloads from the publisher’s link and more via ResearchGate, which is a networking site for scientists and researchers. This might seem small potatoes compared to the million a minute or whatever it is for cute cat clips going viral on YouTube but it is extremely good for a scholarly site – and unlike the cat clips a good article can have a long-lasting influence on people who are themselves seriously influential – such as public intellectuals (those high-profile profs who tend to be on the telly a lot), or leading bloggers and journalists.

With the help of a single generous sponsor I also made an earlier Springer publication of mine Open Access. This was a book review (which did not itself need to be peer reviewed) titled “Arthur P. Wolf: Incest Avoidance and the Incest Taboos, Two Aspects of Human Nature”. Without me making any significant effort towards publicising this review, it has gained 2,100 downloads since going online in November 2015. I confidently expect my present paper to get much bigger figures, not least because I intend to trumpet it far and wide.

The fact that I put my own money upfront this time around was an expression of my passionate belief in “Childhood ‘Innocence’ is Not Ideal”. It was also an act of faith in heretics here that you will wish to play your part by supporting my endeavours. I trust you will be willing to make whatever donation you can, not just to ensure that I can pay my next electricity bill now that I have taken a big hit to the wallet, but that I can also keep Heretic TOC and other projects going on a flourishing basis. My only income these days is a state pension. Thanks to serial career-busting activism over the years I have never been able to generate more than a sliver of a pittance from company pensions or anything of that sort.

That was my choice of life-style. I do not complain. But looking forward to the next few years I will be unable to keep on giving my time so freely unless I can cover my costs . I might be forced to give up Heretic TOC entirely, along with any further scholarship, in order to supplement my meagre income by devoting my time to commercial work instead – editorial consultancy and research such as I used to do after being recruited by Gordon Wills in the 1980s, in the field of marketing, and in more recent years Bill Percy, assisting with his history writing and research projects. The earnings in both cases were good, and the work was interesting, so it is tempting to go in that direction again.

I would far rather stick with what I am doing now, though, as I feel it is more important. But for that I need your help, your contribution. That is why, as you will see, I have added a Donate button to Heretic TOC. You will see it on the right hand side of the page. It is the last item, after the Follow button. The system uses PayPal, which is a very easy way of paying from accounts in any major currency, either using a credit card or your own PayPal account.

Nominally, your contributions will go to Dangerous Books Ltd, which is the name of the company I set up principally as the vehicle for promoting and selling my book Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons (authored under the penname “Carl Toms”) some years ago. My PayPal account just happens to be in this name but it is not actually a company account. So your contributions will go to me personally and be entirely at my disposal.

I see no reason why the donation system should not work smoothly, but if there are any teething problems with it do let me know.

In making this appeal I am acutely aware that many heretics have faced career disasters and consequent financial limitations comparable to my own, so may not have much to give; others will have been so traumatised by unkindness to the Kind that they have found it tough just to hold off depressive inertia and keep themselves going sufficiently to make a modest living. To these I say, give what you can and you will be doing yourself a favour as well as me: you will feel good for having contributed. It’ll cheer you up a bit!

There are also those who have been resilient; they include skilful, talented people who have done well in life, being wisely alert to pitfalls and how to avoid them. Among them are those who generously came to my aid a couple of years ago when my need was far more desperate than it is now. When it looked as though I would need an expensive legal team to keep me out of prison, this gallant band of stalwarts rose to the challenge stupendously, some pledging four-figure sums. Fortunately, in the end I needed only a tenth of what had been offered and accepted that amount with relief and gratitude.

To these heroes, and to others who are at least modestly prospering, I would now say I have no need for a four-figure sum from any single individual (but of course it would be nice if any millionaire heretics happen to be feeling bountiful!) I would urge you, though, to think seriously about a three-figure one: without a number of donations at this level I could be struggling.

Enough with the funding!

A word may be needed about the paper itself. It is not an easy read, especially the first sections. One of my main targets in this early part is the stance taken by the eminent British conservative philosopher Sir Roger Scruton. Heretics who are into philosophy might enjoy what I hope is a successful demolition job on his enthusiasm for denouncing “perversion” and “obscenity”.

It is in the later part, though, that I feel I really get motoring. This is where, having ditched the negative approach to sexual “virtue” espoused by Scruton and his supporter Agustin Malón, I develop my own, positive, approach.

I might add that I have met Malón a couple of times and downed a few beers with him. He is a very nice guy; so our differences are ideological rather than personal. A Spanish scholar, he is a professor of education, and has written a number of papers pertinent to our concerns that are far more humane and sympathetic than anything I have seen from Scruton.

 

THE BITER BIT: WHAT A HYPOCRITE!

Would you Adam and Eve it! John Woodcock MP, the man who had me kicked out of the Labour Party could be shown the door himself, after being suspended at the end of last month over – wait for it – alleged sexual harassment! It is claimed “he sent inappropriate messages to a former female member of staff”.

In an even more delicious irony, the first thing Woodcock did to undermine my position in the party two years ago, after the police alerted him to my background as a Kind activist, was to go blabbing to the press. And guess what he is complaining about now?

Yes, you’ve guessed it: he is upset that his detractors have gone blabbing to the press! The BBC quoted him as denying the truth of the allegations, and as saying:

“The decision… to place details of my case in the press and then suspend me places a serious question mark over the integrity of the process….”

Oddly enough, he didn’t seem so concerned about “the integrity of the process” in my case, which I blogged about in An Open Letter to the Labour Party.

Can’t say I feel a lot of sympathy for him. As he appears to have made it his life’s mission to undermine Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, at every opportunity, the party would do well to see the back of him.

 

HOT CONTRABAND IN PRISON

Email received this morning from a correspondent in the U.S.:

“I talked with a fellow tonight who was recently released from prison. He told me that someone smuggled a copy of your book on Michael Jackson in by having it mailed to an inmate who was not there on a sex crime, so his mail is less scrutinized and it got through. Then, to allow the sex-crime inmates to read it, someone took the cover from a book by Isaac Asimov that was about the same size, and replaced your cover with that so the guys could read it without the guards knowing what they were reading.”

So, never mind drugs, mobile phones and the rest, it seems the cool item to smuggle into prison now is Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons. Way to go, dudes!

A respected opponent, not an enemy

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Am I my own worst enemy?

I don’t think so, if only because there are so many others!

All I can say with confidence is that Danny Whittaker, who runs a website called My Own Worst Enemy (MOWE), is definitely not the worst. For sure, he has shown himself to be sternly against child-adult sex, but after being interviewed by him as part of his regular podcast series on psychology and mental health, I would describe him as a respected opponent rather than an enemy of any kind.

That is because his interviewing style is fair and honest, which is more than can be said for most of the broadcasters and journalists who have had a go at me over the years. Nor did he selectively edit the recording so as to take things out of context as often happens, giving a distorted and unflattering impression. Instead, he has put our encounter out to the audience in completely unedited form. This is fine by me not least because I felt able to speak my mind without interruption and to present information it would otherwise have been very difficult or impossible to get across.

The result, I think, will be of interest to heretics here and to a much wider audience if it proves possible to attract their attention. So without further ado let me say I can highly recommend his Interview with a pedophile (British site but American spelling), which is available in audio-only at the website and on video at YouTube.

Be warned, though. Some people call us heretics monsters, but in this case the podcast itself is monstrous, a huge beast, a King Kong of a production! Danny’s introduction alone lasts nearly 40 minutes and the interview itself is about two and three quarter hours; so the entire show lasts almost a whopping three and a half hours! Early “critical acclaim” has been good, so this great length may not be as crazy as it seems.

I won’t say anymore about the interview. It’s best just to get stuck in. You may be thinking about skipping the long introduction, which would be OK, but I would also give this advice: if you like the interview you will love the introduction, or at least some its very unexpected highlights: one of them is on the Virtuous Pedophiles (see also second item below), a topic not discussed in the interview itself.

Actually, you might like to stick around on Danny’s site. One reason I agreed to do an interview with him is that I could see I would be in good company, as many of his other interviewees are people of some authority and distinction. Just to take a couple that caught my attention, there are John Cromby, a psychology professor at Leicester University, talking on power and responsibility, and Massimo Pigliucci, a professor of philosophy at the City University of New York, on Stoicism.

Danny’s “show notes”, as he calls them, are good too. This is where he introduces his guests and their subjects in written form. On the page about my interview, he presents a balanced view and gives links and references that I suggested. The direct links include Heretic TOC and two key sources of information on positively experienced child-adult sexual contacts, namely the compilations of personal testimonies produced by Marshall Burns in the Cases in the Research at his Consenting Juveniles website and Titus Rivas in his book Positive Memories.

Also on the page, via a button labelled “Tom’s recommended studies”, is a substantial list of mainly academic sources, which is both a resource for the reader and also backs up my claim that our heresies are well grounded in the research literature.

Finally, a word is in order about MOWE’s ingenious logo, the “o” of which takes the form of a snake eating its own tail. Looking this up, I discover it is a very old symbol, as I suspected. Called the ouroboros, this depiction of a “serpent” or “dragon” consuming itself apparently originated in ancient Egyptian iconography, entering the western tradition through Greek magical tradition and later associated with medieval alchemy. It is said to be often taken to symbolise introspection and personal re-creation, hence highly apt for Danny’s website.

It is also doubly relevant to my blog today, as will be seen from the tail-piece (yes, in both senses: it’s the final item and very much the tale of a tail!), which features some children and a snake in the most amazing wildlife (and that’s just the kids!) footage you will ever see, recently brought to my attention by a friend. I just had to share it.

VIRPED BACK IN BUSINESS

VirPed’s website is back up again.

I am not sure there is much point in saying this as few seem to have noticed it was down for at least a week earlier this month. Have I been missing something? Using Google Advanced Search for a domain-specific search of Boychat and Girlchat, I find no discussion of “Virped” or “Virtuous Pedophiles” in the last month, although I must admit this particular Google search tool seems to be a bit erratic.

Anyway, I was made aware on the 12th there had been a problem when someone mentioned it on Sexnet. Describing himself as “co-founder and co-owner of Virped”, Ethan Edwards replied to say there had been an announcement on the subject (possibly through email to members or on the “unaffected” peer-support forum). “Technical issues” had been cited. On Sexnet, Ethan said the account had been suspended because there had been DDoS attacks and these “were adversely affecting other customers on the same server”.

The DDoS problem seems to have been fixed by using Cloudflare, a company that specialises in DDoS mitigation. When you click on the virped.org link (not that anyone here would want to!) you have to wait a few seconds while Cloudflare somehow checks your browser and decides you are not part of a mass attack. Sounds like a company that might be worth remembering.

CHILDREN OF NATURE

Not a lot to say about this video (the top one of the two on the linked page). Just watch, and be amazed!

Meet Shakespeare’s hot young boys

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My old friend Mike Teare-Williams kindly gives us his second guest blog today, the first being his review last June of Stiff Upper Lip: Secrets, crimes and the schooling of a ruling class, by Alex Renton. Now he is not quite reviewing, exactly, but giving us a flavour of his own MA thesis on boy actors playing female roles in Shakespeare’s plays in the days when they were brand new – hot off the bard’s dripping quill, as it were – and some of the comedies were as torrid as my lurid imagery suggests, full of bawdy gags and seductive acting by barely teenage boys with still unbroken voices: got up in drag they would “come on” to the adult actors in the male parts. Mike’s thesis on these improbable (to the modern mind) provocations has recently been added to Edmund Marlowe’s splendid website Greek Love Through the Ages. So, over to Mike.

 

AS YOU LIKE IT: A BAWDY, NOT BORING, BARD

Shakespeare, sigh — how boring — so many people say?  Long-winded and obscure?  Of course, English has changed over four hundred years and much of what is said upon the stage now flies straight over our heads.  Yet there is one aspect of Shakespeare’s drama that should be forever young and of primary interest to the people of now — to those especially who love young people.  In the playwright’s day, no women were allowed upon the stage, so Shakespeare’s brilliant heroines were played by boys, since only men and boys could then legally perform.

Historical and textual evidence is overwhelming that these boys had unbroken voices and were very young, in order not only to look feminine, but to sound feminine as well.  A case in point of the gulf between modern performances and the original tradition was played out the other day in my seeing a play-bill for a local performance of Romeo and Juliet.  A rather beautiful colourful photograph of the eponymous lovers appeared as an early adult woman and a fully-grown man.  This was not a surprise.  But this is Shakespeare radically re-written.  One could almost say, it is a travesty of the original drama.  In its original form, Romeo was a stripling youth.  Juliet, according to the text itself, in Act 1 Scene iii, in the words of her mother: “She’s not fourteen” and her Nurse: “On Lammas Eve at night she shall be fourteen”. Which makes the idea of even a late teen girl as Juliet absurd.  Much more to the point, this girl was played by a boy and was the subject of the most pointed sexual references and outright bawdry through several of the scenes that follow.

When you also consider that a thirteen-year-old, in the nexus between the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, was probably not as physically mature as a thirteen-year-old of now, you may question how such a young and small person could carry such a dramatic role.  We are left with the unavoidable conclusion that the boy of then was actually a much tougher and more mature individual, mentally, than his modern counterpart.  He might have been small, but he must have been a very considerable actor to have been given this role and his relative maturity would not have been in doubt.  Death was everywhere in the streets of London, with dismembered body-parts displayed in prominent places…  Our gentle child would have fought tooth and nail for his place to watch one of the frequent executions.  The bloodier, the better.

Now, established culture has it that to drop the f-word in a child’s presence is to deeply harm that child.  The words ‘attack’, ‘assault’, ‘abuse‘, ‘molest’ and ‘victim’ are used to describe situations and the passive resultants of those situations where no violence is, or ever was, present.  Fathers now no longer go near bathrooms where their own children bathe.  Men are deserting the teaching profession in droves.  Children now are treated like mindless nothings.  Tabula rasa – without intelligence, discernment, curiosity or even the capacity for love.  In all of these things they are deeply denigrated; made less than they truly are?

Very much at odds with these modern views: in the year 2000, I completed an MA thesis at the University of Western Australia.  It was entitled “Representing the Female Character in Three Comedies of William Shakespeare: As You Like It, Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.  A horribly long title for a horribly long and complex thesis.  The basis of the whole work was that no female actors were allowed to take the female parts in the drama of those days.

But why was the thesis so long and complex?  The simple truth is that I was under attack from the police and the justice-system and I was fighting to maintain my place as a graduate-student at my university for the entire time that I was researching my work.  Therefore, I had not only to lay out my own strong ideas about the boy actors who took the parts of the women in these plays, but I had constantly to reference and to justify my own beliefs with the evidence of other established scholars.  Surprisingly, essential aid came to me in the really excellent scholarship of a number of radical feminist authors.  Tirelessly – some might say exhaustively – I gave reference to their research, knowing that no-one with half a brain would dare to argue with them!

Needless to say, the journey to the eventual granting of my Master of Arts degree was part adventure, part nightmare; but it was a point of pride with me that I spent six months of my four and a half years of striving, while resident in prison.  So, it should also be pointed out that I was bravely supported throughout my huge endeavour; firstly, by my thesis-supervisor and secondly by the Academic Council of the University of Western Australia.  Brave people indeed, given the subject matter.

Throughout the eighteen years since, I have been taxing my brain on ways to turn this monstrous prolixity into a readable book.  Without any success!  So, what I have done is to prune as many of the tiresome repetitions as I could find and clear up anomalies along the way.  Then, I coined a new and much more honest title.  This being Shakespeare’s Boy Actors and Forbidden Discourse.

The reference to boy actors rather than the girls they represented is deliberate in establishing that Shakespeare in particular, and many other authors of his time, simply made the best of the situation of having to use boys as comedic girls and even sometimes as tragic heroines.  In the case of the former, they based most of the double-meaning jokes on the fact that the girl seen by audiences on the stage was actually a boy and everyone knew it.  Often – as in As You Like It and Twelfth Night – a girl character is required to dress up as a boy for part of the action.  So, in reality, you have a boy playing a girl who then plays a boy, who then reverts to playing a girl, but who then finally morphs into real boy again as the lights go down!

This androgyny in double-reversal, allows for some very pointed crudity.  Yet, at times, a more ethereal androgyne was proposed, characterised by sexual uncertainty of a Neoplatonic sort (see Chapter 2 for what I mean).  Touches of this philosophical aspect exist in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but it is mainly the schism between the reality of a boy in the first Elizabeth’s reign and a boy of the second Elizabeth’s reign that I meant to highlight. Back then, a boy grew up quickly or he did not grow up at all.  Children who survived infancy and could walk and talk were set to work or were sent to school.  They were protected neither from the knowledge of sex – many of them grew up in one room with their parents – nor from experiencing it.  The point must finally be made that even the most ignorant person in Shakespeare’s age knew that these brilliant young actors were boys.

Most of us now will need Eric Partridge’s Shakespeare’s Bawdy: A Literary & Psychological Essay and a Comprehensive Glossary (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986 [1947]) simply to have any hope of understanding the crudeness of the bawdry that the characters fire off at bewildering speed throughout the texts that I study, among many others.  What was transparent in the lexis to Elizabethan and Jacobean audiences of four centuries ago is almost completely obscure to us now?

Hence my thesis, which is a decoding of the obscurities and, more to the point, an explanation of the second part of my title. That is to say: Forbidden Discourse.  Why is this discourse now forbidden?  Because it seeks to say that the boy of four centuries ago may not realistically be compared with the boy of now. Then, no boy with an unbroken voice – be he born high or low – was thought to have been harmed or ruined or abused by his taking part in comedic bawdry of the kind that was required by Shakespeare’s very young actors of then.  Though it is historically true that some of the boys went on acting female parts into young manhood; the major part of the evidence is overwhelming that the boy actors of the golden age of Shakespeare were truly boys, in both voice and appearance. Yet an essential part of the forbiddenness of this discourse is that, if you were to try and stage a performance of, particularly, As You Like It or Twelfth Night now – using boys with unbroken voices – the theatre would be closed, and the director would be arrested on the first night.  Yet this is only true if the audience were to understand the jokes!  Me, I think that there would be enough blue-noses in those audiences to close the performance down, were it to be done really well.

Tom O’Carroll asked me to write a guest-blog on my thesis and while this sounds most uncomfortably like blowing my own horn: blow it I will.  Simply because I am committed to the idea that most people in the modern world have no idea about the original tradition of Shakespearian drama.

I must record that, paradoxically, it was the outraged protests of the growing Puritan movement in that age which provided some of the best evidence for the separation of the modern boy from his Renaissance counterpart.  Tracts by such writers as William Prynne, Stephen Gosson and Phillip Stubbes inveighed in extreme terms against not only the action upon the stage, but the perceived immorality that occurred after the performances.  Stage-door Johnnies are not a new invention it would seem and the boys were evidently very popular for themselves, as well as their abilities as actors.  Deuteronomy 22:5 was clarion for the Puritans:

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment,  for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

Cross-dressing in any form; indeed any pretension of a man, woman or child to appear to be something that he or she was not, was a grievous sin to the Puritans.  One such was Phillip Stubbes who fulminated dramatically in his The Anatomie of Abuses, F.J. Furnivall, ed. (London: New Shakespeare Society, 1877-1879 [London: Richard Jones, 1583]), pp. 144-145.

what smouching & slabbering one of another, what filthie groping and vncleane handling is not practised euery wher in these dauncings? … But, say they, it induceth looue—so I say also—but what looue?  Truely, lustful looue, a venerous looue, such as proceedeth from the stinking pump and lothsome sink of carnall affection and fleshly appetite, and not such as distilleth from the bowels of the hart ingenerat by the spirit of God.

Purple prose indeed, but the fact is that these performances were hugely popular, despite this invective.  Or perhaps even, because of it?  The texts themselves were written with the several different levels of understanding in the audiences in mind.  The cruder humour was for those who stood among the groundlings and there were many Classical allusions to flatter the educated in the sixpenny seats.  Who had the most fun though?  Probably those boy actors themselves!

But the 1640s were approaching and the total – though thankfully temporary – victory of the puritans who were to close all of the theatres.  Then, after years of sub-fusc misery, the Reformation saw the return of the monarchy. Charles II issued a royal patent in 1662 to one William d’Avenant, allowing him to use real women in women’s parts.

The age of the boy actor was then over. Indeed, the age of Shakespeare as he wrote it, was then over. What we see now is Shakespeare transposed. Re-written. Modified.

As I mentioned earlier, the boy of then was almost certainly smaller than the boy of now.  I believe Shakespeare used this to delight in reversing the usual power relationships.  Take the role of Portia, in The Merchant of Venice.  This boy-girl trounces the powerful male figures who must physically have towered over the small, but brilliant figure upon the stage – and it is he who appears triumphant in the end.  The author himself appears as a man fighting for a place for brilliant young women in a world where men would normally dominate?  Yet, in everyone’s full knowledge, Portia is actually a boy; as was the quicksilver Maria in Twelfth Night and the tragic Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.  While the role of Portia is deadly serious, Maria is a tiny grinning devil as she bounces about the stage, bullying the adult actors and causing huge amounts of laughter. A contrasting juxtaposition in terms of physical size and actual power was the name of the game.  I have a theory that this echoed the tiny, though very real person, the woman, who paradoxically held such awesome power upon the throne for most of Shakespeare’s life.  Praise for role-reversals would certainly not have been missed by that highly intelligent sovereign!

Barbed humour, sometimes couched in double, or even treble meanings, dominated the comedies, in particular.  And when you consider the possible gestures that would have been added to the words, it is possible to imagine the riotous belly-laughs among the groundlings in the original Globe Theatre.

When all is said and done, Shakespeare wrote immensely powerful roles for women, which is why the drama still works so very well now. Androgyny in the original double-shifted parts is now merely single-shifted, but Shakespeare still lives and is well-loved by many people and rightly so.

Finally, I had the great good fortune to make the acquaintance of Edmund Marlowe when I wrote to him to praise his wonderful book, Alexander’s Choice.  We exchanged occasional emails thereafter and then I discovered his equally wonderful website at www.greek-love.com and later he suggested that I should send him my thesis for publication on the site.

After scratching around for months, I sent it off and what I call The Monstrous Prolixity now sits on his magnificent site: Greek Love Through the Ages.  It is hard to describe the sheer range of both serious and even humorous knowledge of boy-love that is contained within Edmund’s shining demesne.  Richly illustrated, it is full of articles, titles, references, pointers to so many of the people of the past and present, many of whom I have never heard.  It is like a kindly light that shines on a very dark and depressing night.

Yet Edmund, in his last message to me, said that he is not yet satisfied with his site!  I’ll let you be the judge, but for me, I am honoured to have a place in what I see as his Golden Compendium of Boy Knowledge.

 

 

 

 

Give generously to Shag the Children

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“Did the earth move for you?” as the aid worker said to the quake victim after sex in the ruins.

Or maybe this particular aftershock was followed by, at best, a less romantic “Thank you, ma’am” plus a few dollars. Or “Thank you, young lady” if she happened to be a marginally underage 17-year-old in Haiti where the age of consent is 18.

Oxfam staff in that country after the 2010 quake, as the world has known since The Times broke the story early this month, had been involved with prostitutes, according to the organisation’s own leaked internal report, which was reportedly “unable to rule out that some of the sex workers were underage” – a sensibly cautious conclusion, but careful caveats were utterly ignored, of course, by opportunist moral panic mongers, who lost no time in deciding there had been rampant child prostitution and a plague of predatory paedophiles.

Personally, I have little doubt that those who risk life and limb in war zones, earthquakes, and other dangerous scenarios, to help desperate, traumatised people, will tend to end up physically exhausted and psychologically shocked themselves; so it seems mean to begrudge them a bit of R&R, at least at the end of their tour of duty. That was certainly what the American military thought during the Vietnam War, when soldiers were billeted in Thailand for a vacation on their way home, where they were expected to enjoy the services of sex workers, including underage ones, notably in the beach resort of Pattaya. Previously just a fishing village, Pattaya grew to accommodate one of the biggest red light districts in the world. R&R was a military term meaning “rest and recuperation” but the soldiers often called it “I&I”, for “intoxication and intercourse”.

As for the “underage” aspect, this may have been officially frowned upon by the US military, but nothing was done about it and a blind eye was turned to soldiers cavorting with even very young girls and boys in Pattaya, Bangkok, and other R&R destinations such as the Philippines.

There is no evidence whatever that Oxfam’s leadership ignored staff involvement with obviously underage sex workers, or younger children, and there has been no more than a hint that anything went on with underage persons at all. Yet the storm in the British media was immediate, sustained, and so relentlessly thunderous one might have supposed this was the most appalling, sickening scandal in the long history of scandals. It was as if “we murdered babies in their cots”, beleaguered Oxfam boss Mark Goldring lamented in a Guardian interview; but, if he thought his bemused bleating would help, he would soon have to think again. Only days later, after coming under heavy fire for daring to complain about being unreasonably attacked, he found himself forced into a grovelling apology for his remarks, in front of a parliamentary committee.

Why? This level of outrage is usually reserved for cases involving children. But there were no children; or at least there were only imagined, slightly underage, teens in the case of Oxfam.

The hue and cry is to some extent easily explained by the view that people in certain occupations, such as the clergy, and teachers, are expected to set an example to others. When they fall from grace, therefore, they disappoint high expectations. Some media commentators have explicitly made this point in relation to Oxfam, although it is by no means obvious to me why those doing this type of work should have to demonstrate saintly celibacy when the task in hand frequently calls upon them to prove their worth in other ways – for instance, like soldiers, they very often need to show courage and endurance. So are we saying, as we sit at home comfortably doing nothing, that these people – many of whom are volunteers, or very modestly paid local staff in poor countries – must be perfect in every way so as not to fall short of our pampered expectations?

The unreasonable requirement of saintliness has definitely contributed to the outrage against Oxfam and other aid organisations dragged into the scandal, notably Shag the Children (sorry, Save the Children), UNICEF, and latterly the Red Cross, but this is not the half of it. There are at least two further factors. The most obvious one for Heretic TOC’s usual concerns is that victim feminist outrage is no longer confined to concern for child victims, so the lack of evidence that Oxfam staff availed themselves of child prostitutes in Haiti does not kill the story. I will come to this factor later.

A much nastier aspect of all this, sadly, is that not only do we punish other people for falling short of standards we would be hard-pressed to match ourselves, we also rush to engage with a narrative that seems to justify our own hard-hearted, lack of compassion and generosity. Well, I say “we”, but really I mean readers of the Daily Mail and similarly minded elements of the mainstream media, which have leapt onto the Oxfam story, following it up with page after page of reports and commentary all designed to play up the idea that the charities are hopelessly corrupt, siphoning off donated money off into huge executive salaries and bloated expense accounts, while conducting wasteful and inefficient operations in the field. Another element in this narrative, in fact an ideologically even more important one, is that government aid also goes to waste, allegedly ending up in the pockets of “corrupt dictators” and the like rather than the people who need it.

Ian Birrell, in the Mail on Sunday, even managed, at least implicitly, to link these two themes – private charity and government aid – when he took the opportunity to hammer Oxfam over their “flawed” (but he did not say what was wrong with it) recent report on global inequality. On their website, Oxfam said in January: “Last year saw the biggest increase in billionaires in history, one more every two days. This huge increase could have ended global extreme poverty seven times over. 82% of all wealth created in the last year went to the top 1%, and nothing went to the bottom 50%.”

The Mail and other billionaire-owned media outlets hate any such “socialist” hints that the super-rich are not paying their way, with the implication that they should be taxed more in order to finance not just foreign aid but also health, education, etc., at home. Thus hacks like Birrell are hired to stir up public resentment against outfits like Oxfam for daring to think about important issues of politics and finance instead of (actually, as well as) building tent cities for quake victims, distributing emergency food aid and so forth.

A counterblast to this mean-minded, selfish attitude to the world was to be found, though, by those with the patience to look beyond the headlines and in the right places. The distinguished foreign correspondent Patrick Cockburn, for instance, writing in the Independent, said that if we care so much about Haitians we should be asking why Oxfam was there in the first place. It was not as though Oxfam staff were too busy having it off with prostitutes to organise food distribution and so forth in the immediate aftermath of the quake, which was in January 2010. Months passed after that during which UN soldiers, brought in from Nepal to help, inadvertently brought cholera with them, starting an epidemic that killed over 7,500 in two years.

Few recent commentators, said Cockburn, bothered to ask what Oxfam was doing in Haiti at the end of 2010, long after the quake itself, and the beginning of 2011. He wrote:

In fact, Oxfam was trying with some desperation to stem the cholera epidemic, the first outbreak of which was detected in central Haiti in October, from spreading further. By the following month, it had reached Port-au-Prince and Oxfam was trying to provide uncontaminated water to 315,000 people already rendered homeless by the earthquake. An Oxfam statement on 10 November describes how “Oxfam continues to strengthen water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure and activities in the camps/communities where we are working. A cholera strategy is being developed to guide our activities for at least the next three months. At this time, we are reinforcing our water, sanitation and hygiene programmes in camps where we already work in Port-au-Prince, and in Artibonite. We are currently reaching over 400,000 people with water, sanitation and hygiene programmes, and another 100,000 individuals mostly through our emergency food security and vulnerable livelihoods (EFSVL) programmes.”

This work, in Cockburn’s view, “kept a lot of people alive who would otherwise have died”. But foreign journalists and politicians huffing and puffing about the alleged exploitation of Haitian sex-workers did not even appear to notice that there was cholera epidemic raging in Haiti while Oxfam was there, and neither noticed nor apparently cared about the vital work being done by Oxfam.

The clashing worldviews represented by Birrell and Cockburn do not appear to speak directly to our primary concerns here at Heretic TOC and I know that expressing my left-leaning view may serve only to piss off the right-leaning (or toppling over) heretics among us. Nevertheless, the Oxfam aspect of the “predatory paedophiles” narrative is inextricably embedded in a world of politics, economics and human values: to remain mutely agnostic on these big issues would surely be to deprive our discussion of context and depth.

I said I would return to the fact that the absence of child prostitutes in Haiti did not kill the story. Suddenly, this is part of an emerging theme. The entire #MeToo movement in the wake of Harvey Weinstein has been about allegedly exploited and vulnerable women rather than children. As for prostitution, the “social purity” campaigners in the 19th century would dearly have loved to ban it altogether, and this has been an aim of moralistic feminism ever since. The big stumbling block for a hundred years was men’s entrenched political strength; when this came under serious challenge with second-wave feminism in the 1960s and beyond, further headway was prevented by sex workers themselves, who organised and gained a media presence in the UK through the English Collective of Prostitutes and through COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics) in the US.

Now, it seems, their voices are being drowned out by the all-conquering victim lobby. A recent BBC report, for instance, did not mention any such organisations or quote anyone in support of sex work when covering a review of a police deployment, Operation Sanctuary, which saw 18 people jailed for the “sexual abuse” of young women “groomed” in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in northern England. The review concluded that “vulnerable women” are probably being “extensively” abused across the UK and that the government should look at tightening up the law.

The most depressing aspect of this, for those of us who value sexual self-determination at all ages (and personal freedom generally) is the mounting pressure against even adults being allowed to make their own sexual choices. This was made clear in the review’s finding that the authorities did not have the powers to intervene with adults to stop them “making bad choices” or forming “inappropriate relationships” – with the implication that such powers ought to be established in law.

As for how far some feminists are prepared to go in stamping out sex work and “exploitation”, it was made almost comically clear in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s World At One, when host Martha Kearney interviewed a BBC colleague, Gemma Cairney, who had helped raise funds for Oxfam until the present crisis. Asked what could be done to prevent such scandals, Cairney replied, apparently in all seriousness, “We need to change human nature”. Even Kearney, a fellow female and no doubt a card-carrying feminist, remarked that this might be a bit ambitious; but I fear all too many women would be up for the challenge – provided that the target was only men’s human nature.

 

Nothing like Nordic noir to cheer us up!

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Stunning research in two studies, from Finland and Germany, has already been reported this year, both of which give a big boost to the heretical claim that kind people are much kinder – more caring in their feelings towards children and liked by them – than the present, all-pervasive, vilification suggests.

I’ll start with the one that looks at children’s own perceptions, not least because studies of this type are exceedingly rare, and provided they have been well conducted they are pure gold. This is a study based on the Finnish Child Victim Survey. That word “victim” doesn’t sound very promising, does it? But it was a survey with thousands of child participants, carried out in schools, that looked at children as victims of real crimes and mistreatment, such as theft and physical violence, as well as so-called “child sexual abuse” (CSA) by a much older person. Crucially, it was not assumed that the children would think they were victims. Instead, they were asked how they would characterise these contacts.

And guess what? Most 12-year-olds reported CSA as a positive experience. Go compare that with the dogma touted on sex offender courses that no child would ever want or enjoy it!  More about the Finnish findings in a minute.

As for the German research, it is one of those big, prestigious, neuroscience affairs that might be completely wrong – this is cutting edge stuff, after all, looking at the most complex structure in the known universe, the human brain – but which we would be foolish to ignore. It is a paper by Jorge Ponseti, an established figure in the field, along with a team of no fewer than 18 co-authors. The take-away point from it for now is the study’s tentative conclusion that male paedophiles, far from being aggressive and rapacious, appear to have a stronger caring, nurturing response towards the young than other adult males. It is good to see science at last catching up with what many of us have known all our adult lives just by being aware of our own more tender feelings towards kids. In fairness to science, though, nearly three decades ago (and as the paper notes) the Austrian ethologist Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt expressed a similar view, suggesting that paedophilia might in some cases be based on an “eroticization of parental love”.

The implications are obvious and could in future hardly be more profound for how paedophiles are viewed in society if this pioneering study’s findings are confirmed through further research. This is so important that it needs a separate blog, which I plan to bring out in due course.

Turning back to Finland, what we have is a 2018 paper based on the large (n = 11,364) population-based sample of sixth and ninth grade schoolchildren conducted in that country in 2013 and published in 2014 (in Finnish) as the Finnish Child Victim Survey. The paper, by Lahtinen et al., focused solely on the CSA data in the survey. The sixth graders were mostly aged 12 and the ninth graders mostly aged 15 at the time of the survey, which was completed on a voluntary classroom-by-classroom basis in schools across Finland. Respondents’ gender distribution was equal. So-called “abuse” by adults (perceived by some respondents as abusive but not by others) was based on the question “Have you ever experienced sexual advances or intercourse with an adult or a person at least 5 years older than you?” Follow-up questions were asked about the age of the respondent and age of the other person at the time of the events. Over 70% of the reported incidents involved actual sexual contact rather than a non-contact proposition or exhibitionism.

The children, answering the survey on classroom computers, were able to give their responses anonymously, without pressure from therapists or law enforcement sources, and without time for their memories to be overwritten by distorting influences at a later stage, as adults. So this procedure avoided any colouring added by the culturally imposed notion that children are asexual and “innocent”, or by the preconception that any sexual involvement with an adult must amount to “abuse”.

Perhaps the most striking finding, as noted above, is that a majority (54%) of the 12-year-olds who reported sexual contacts with an adult described it as a positive experience.

This finding, being potentially embarrassing to the child abuse industry (which thrives on generating and elaborating victim narratives rather than discovering reasons to be cheerful) was not headlined in the report. Instead, it emerged in an emailed response to questions presented by an independent researcher to Monica Fagerlund, lead author of the Finnish Child Victim Survey itself. The email was sent back in 2016, long before the very recent appearance of the Lahtinen et al. paper. The independent researcher was none other than Filip Schuster, who will be known to many here for his extremely well-informed comments at Heretic TOC.

However, Lahtinen et al.’s published paper contains further data of an inconvenient nature for the victimological view, as will be clear to the savvy reader despite the authors’ attempts to talk the implications down, through caveat and spin.

The analyses focused on the subsample of 256 children and adolescents who reported having sexual experiences with adults or with someone at least five years older at the time of the incident. This subsample amounts to 2.4% of the total sample, a figure some might feel is very low, and indeed reassuringly so on a conventional view, given that a survey of children themselves would appear to be the most reliable method.

For the boys, the experience was often positive (71%), whereas for the girls it was less often so evaluated (26%). Almost half of the girls (46%) said the experience was negative, compared to 9% of the boys. These findings were much the same for the sixth and ninth graders.

The most popular reason for not disclosing the contact to an adult was considering the experience not serious enough (41%). Other options included: “I did not believe that anyone would be interested” (14%); “I did not believe that disclosing would help me” (14%); miscellaneous other reasons (8%) included “I did not want to”, “There was nothing to tell”, and “I enjoyed it”. More negative reasons accounted for barely a quarter of the total:  “I did not have the courage to tell” (14%); “I was too ashamed to disclose” (10%).

The authors commented in the paper:

The small number of answers to the question of whether a sexual incident with an adult was considered negative or positive does not enable testing statistical significance…. Most of the children reported these incidents as positive. This highlights the potentially contradictory views of an incident from the perspective of the respondent compared to that of society and the law.

I posted on Sexnet about the paper, asking specifically for members’ expert opinion on this statistical point. The size of the subsample (n = 256) is indeed small compared to the overall sample (n = 11,364) but to the layman the absolute number looks easily large enough to derive valid inferences in which considerable confidence can be placed.

Having mentioned the authors’ caveat on statistical significance, I should perhaps add a word about their spin. In fairness this is pretty much confined to two sentences in the “Conclusions and implications” section:

These results, taken together with the finding that many of the children did not label their experiences as sexual abuse, indicate that more age-appropriate safety education for children and adolescents is needed to encourage disclosures to adults early enough… Early disclosure is crucial, both for ending the abuse and for preventing perpetrators from moving on to new victims.

Again, I posted on Sexnet about this, writing:

So blinkered has research become that the policy point here (more safety education needed) will probably seem utterly uncontroversial to most people working in the field. That is because, for them, the victimological paradigm has become incontrovertible common sense. But this is zombie science. It lacks an alert appreciation of the data before the authors’ eyes, which clearly indicate that a very significant (in lay terms at least) proportion of the “victims” are only thus designated by convention, not by the evidence. This is not to argue against the goal of reducing real victimisation. It is just to suggest that a bigger and very important picture is being missed.

I am pleased to report that Mike Bailey, psychology professor at Northwestern University, and Sexnet moderator, supported my interpretation of the stats, posting to say “You are correct that size of the sub sample with ‘CSA’ is adequate for statistical tests.” He also said the study was “unusually informative”, thanking me for posting about it and kindly saying “Your take on this study is trenchant and brave”.

This was too good to last, sadly. Before you could say “knee-jerk reaction” my long-time adversary James Cantor had piped up, making a complete snowflake of himself (or of his colleagues) by asserting that my criticism of the CSA industry was offensive and would deter discussion of the paper – as though the 300-plus researchers and clinicians on Sexnet would be scared to challenge me. Yes, that’s me, little me, the sole surviving, vocal, non-virtuous paedo perv on the forum, faced with the massed ranks of the abuse industry’s intellectual elite, including leading lights within the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA)!

But at least Dr Cantor admitted that he agreed “with the basic conclusion of the posted article”, which is something. As is the fact that Dr Bailey was prompted to post again, saying my reference to the CSA industry “raises an issue I’ve been meaning to write about for a while”.

And write he did, at considerable length, in a remarkable post admitting that “in the culture at large, we are biased in a way that exaggerates the harmfulness of child-adult sex, often in a hysterical way”. He proceeded to write his own four-paragraph critique of the CSA industry, saying, for instance, government funding for research on CSA “is extraordinarily biased towards searching for harm” rather than positive experience. Nor were there grants to study why there might be positive experiences, including the possibility that iatrogenic harm is avoided when children and their adult partners manage to avoid law enforcement in their relationship, with its crushing impact on the younger partner as well as the older one.

Bailey’s contribution was wonderful but there were also a couple of tough queries arising from the detailed stats that put the validity of the findings in some doubt. Follow-up emails by Filip to Monica Fagerlund and Hanna-Mari Lahtinen elicited some further information but not enough to settle the key issues. Hanna even sent me a friendly email out of the blue, saying that in order to get good answers to the questions being raised she would need “qualitative data such as written answers to open questions. Unfortunately we did not have such questions concerning sexual abuse in this questionnaire…”

Yes, unfortunate but understandable. There is only so much that can be packed into a single survey.

Not to worry, though, for I soon discovered that the Finnish Findings are strongly supported by the Danish Data! Yes, in this rapidly unfolding Scandinavian thriller series (a Netflix box-set can’t be far off) another study has turned up in the nick of time!

Like the Lahtinen et al., paper, this Danish one was based on a rare survey – vanishingly rare in the US and UK at least – of school students rather than adults. The article, by Karin Helweg-Larsen and Helmer Bøving Larsen, came out in 2006 and appears to have been somewhat overlooked – certainly by me, perhaps on account of its miserablist title: “The prevalence of unwanted and unlawful sexual experiences reported by Danish adolescents: Results from a national youth survey in 2002”.

On close inspection, though, which required a few calculations of my own, it looks very hard to justify any claim that the survey was entirely or even mostly about unwanted sex. Rather, it was about illegal sex below the age of consent, set at 15 in Denmark. The participants in the survey were 9th grade students, nearly all of whom were themselves aged 15. Unlike the youngsters in Finland, they were not asked whether they felt the experience had been positive or negative but they were asked whether they felt it had been abusive or not. Thus the experience may or may not have been perceived as enjoyable and beneficial but it seems reasonable to infer that those who did not feel it was abusive probably thought they had consented to what happened, in fact if not in law.

So how many of these apparently consensual encounters were there? The authors wrote:

“A total of 7.5% of girls and 2% of boys reported CSA where the older person was at least five years older than the child, but less than half of the respondents perceived these experiences as sexual abuse.”

The relevant data were to be found in Table II, albeit without the percentages I was looking for. After working these out, is became clear that fully 60% of the respondents (boys 65% and girls – of whom there were far more – 59%) did not consider they had been abused.

What all this amounts to is extraordinarily good news. The Danish survey strongly supports the Finnish one in allowing us to conclude that when children are allowed to give their own perception of their sexual experiences with much older people, usually adults, a high proportion of them in effect say they consented to what happened and look back on it as something good in their life.

The CSA industry does its best to hide these encouraging facts even as it unwittingly discloses them via surveys aimed at discovering an endless parade of victims for society to be anxious and miserable about. Instead of joyful stories of companionable intimacy, everything has to be turned into bleak Nordic noir. We must not let them get away with it!

 

 

 

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