"No future triumph or metamorphosis can justify the pitiful blighting of a human being against his will." Peter Zapffe
We use terms like “rape culture” and “pedophile culture” to point at the fact that our Western societies, while making rape and sex with children illegal, also cultivate negative attitudes about women and children which enable rape and pedophilia, and makes it harder to identify and fight against rape and pedophilia. As I’ve defined in my previous entry, “culture” in this context means a set of attitudes and rules which are mutually reinforcing and are accepted or thrive within a society and which normalize some undesirable feature of society.
In this entry, I want to talk about another instance: natalist culture. This concept hasn’t been examined very much so far, and the specific term hasn’t really been used. So why not start using it?
As in other cases like this, we must start by pointing to specific attitudes or rules in our societies that are part of this culture.
* Children, especially girls, are socialized to want a family and children. We grow up believing that having a family and children is what people normally do as part of their life progression.
* Parents are basically seen as having the right to do anything they want with their children, including exploiting them for money or fame.
* Childfree people, especially women, are harassed for not having children and being able to do so.
* Most governments give tax breaks, vacations, and other privileges for families with children.
* It is generally believed that marriage (i.e. committing yourself to another person) exists to bring children into this world. People who marry deserve married people privileges because they will have children someday.
* People who have children sometimes report that they feel that the worst parts of having children were never told to them. For instance, some women simply do not have a maternal instinct despite being told that they would. Health risks are also vastly unreported.
The end result is that, despite the incredibly heavy investment needed from parents and the dubious rewards, 80% of people will have children during their lifetime, and most who do not are sterile or alone. Lifetime childfree people are a small minority (not sure what percentage, but far less than 20%, anyway).
We also know that childfreedom heavily depends on education: more educated women have fewer, or no, children. This is not because educated women are “feminazis” or have been brainwashed to hate children (as it has been said), but because their time is worth more. We also know that domestic violence contributes to unwanted births: abusers want women to have children in order to bind those women to them financially. Whether abortion is legal and widely available or not must have a great deal of influence as well.
The term natalist culture does not introduce new data into the equation, but the use of a specific label makes certain causal connections clearer (as most new labels do). Natalist culture explains why people breed unquestioningly and why breeding is considered to be part of the default “life blueprint,” and why people who do not breed are considered to be abnormal at best. Natalist culture is a good way to understand childism and the special status of parents in our cultures. Natalist culture is a partial explanation of restrictions on the rights of women, as women are the reproductive class and therefore are of special concern to natalist institutions.
People often question the use of “culture” in this sense, and say that they do not actually name a singular social entity, but rather a biased interpretation of a number of social phenomena. Can someone give an alternative explanation to every social phenomena I listed above? Sure. But the cumulative evidence of all these phenomena put together strongly indicates the existence of a set of mutually reinforcing attitudes and rules, a “culture.” Even if every point I listed has some non-natalist explanation, the fact remains that they all exist and form a set of attitudes and rules which have the effects I’ve mentioned.
The point in identifying a “culture” is not to say “this is a sinister conspiracy of factors which consciously lead to a planned result.” What we are saying is that these factors do exist and they do lead to a converging result, and no conspiracy or planning is required for this to be true. There is no shadowy cabal that aims to enforce gender roles through rape, or to create pedophiles, and there is no shadowy cabal that aims to promote breeding at all costs. What there is, is a convergence of social factors that leads to these results.
There are very few people who publicly support breeding at all costs or the overpopulation caused by natalism. Does that mean there is no such thing as natalist culture? But that would, again, assume the existence of some conspiracy of people who aim to promote overpopulation, which is not the case at all. If that was the case, we’d talk about “the natalist conspiracy” and not “natalist culture” (and even if such a conspiracy exists, it would be separate from natalist culture). I think the correct stance here is that, while natalism is not widely accepted as a belief system, underlying natalist attitudes are still widely accepted.
Natalist culture influences how people think and act. A lot of people have children because breeding has been glorified and because the negative aspects of breeding are not discussed. It is not that people consciously breed (for the most part, they don’t), but that people naturally see breeding as part of the background assumptions we all make about life. It also leads to other conclusions: if breeding is so good that it’s basically unquestionable, then there must be something special about human life. And you do find that natalists hold to some form of human exceptionalism, whether religious (human life is ordained by God, human life is precious) or secular (human life is inherently superior, humans have the right or duty to exploit the planet).
The expression “natalist culture,” therefore, designates the nexus of intertwining attitudes and rules which emerges from the support of natalism present in a wide variety of institutions (governments, religions, genderism, capitalism, and so on) and implements the desired end results into the general population (children and adults alike). Each institution brings something different to that nexus: very generally speaking, governments influence by rules, religions by dogma, genderism by drives, capitalism by incentives. So for instance genderism makes men and women want to prove themselves by having children, men to prove their manhood and that they are not gay, women to prove their maturity and compassion.
There are some people who object that natalist culture is beyond examination because all societies must be natalist, and any society that is not natalist would go extinct. First of all, natalism is an ethical position (the position that breeding is good), and someone can have children without necessarily being a natalist (just as one can be childfree without being an antinatalist). Natalism is not a requirement for a society to reproduce its labor force. It certainly helps a great deal, but it’s not a requirement.
That being said, even if all societies have had natalist culture, it’s still a topic we must examine in order to understand procreation at a social level. Certainly, as an antinatalist, I am against anything that has to do with natalism. As such, I am against natalist culture and see myself as being apart from it, criticizing it, but I am still a part of a Western society and my positions are a result of my reaction to the socialization I’ve gone through. I am not holding on to any pretense that I, or any other antinatalist, am sitting in a sociological void coming up with criticism of culture ex nihilo. We have to remain conscious that, while we are criticizing aspects of the culture as radicals and antinatalists, we are doing so firmly from the point of view of that culture. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is what it is.
The issue of pedophilia lies at the crossroads of childism and “sex-positivity,” with misogyny added for good measure. Pedophilia advocates are using the “innate sexual orientation” argument that has worked so well for homosexuals, hoping to dupe liberals and other “tolerant” folks into pitying their sad fate.
I have already given some idea of my position about pedophilia in this entry on why DD/LG (Daddy Dom/Little Girl) is pedophilia. Since then, I have had first hand experience with the rationalizations that pedophilia advocates use to defend their position, which is why I wanted to get into this topic further.
As I said, their main argument is that pedophilia is innate, and not a choice. And if it’s innate, then we can’t blame the individual pedophiles for it. While there are pedophiles who assault children, there are also pedophiles who do not. While “bad” pedophiles should be punished for their crimes, these “good” pedophiles should be pitied and helped (but only if they want to be helped, we wouldn’t want to infringe on their freedom).
The first, and most basic, issue with the argument is that we have no more evidence that pedophilia is innate than we have evidence that homosexuality is innate. This is not to say that I am against homosexuality (quite the opposite, actually), but that I see no reason to believe its “innate” framework until it’s been demonstrated. Likewise, I see no reason to believe that pedophilia is innate until that’s demonstrated as well.
This does not mean that I blame pedophiles for being pedophiles. I am a determinist, so I don’t believe in blame. To me, that’s a non-concept. However, not blaming people does not mean I don’t believe in personal responsibility. People are responsible for who they are and what they do, whether they are to blame or not. I’ve used the analogy of a machine in a factory many times before: if a machine is malfunctioning and producing defective products, you would shut it down and repair it, regardless of whether it is to blame or not (granted, the analogy is not perfect).
We know that pornography has something to do with pedophilia (as well as its greater acceptance). Pornographers have always tried to appeal to their clientele’s “inner pedo” (which is now bolstered by pseudo-science) with underage-looking women, or actually underage women with falsified contracts. People who are attracted to that sort of thing naturally “graduate” to actual child pornography, and from there to child assault. So there is some percentage of pedophilia which is not innate but the result of pornographic conditioning. What that percentage is, I have no idea. Pedophilic images from pornography have also leaked into the wider world, contributing to the normalization of being attracted to underage individuals.
it is true that there are pedophiles who do not assault children, but this does not prove that they are “good pedophiles.” While sexually assaulting children definitely makes you scum, we don’t usually praise people’s morality for not sexually assaulting people, because that’s a basic thing that everyone should be doing anyway. The fact that they refrain from assaulting children does not nullify the fact that they are sexually attracted to children.
In my opinion, this whole separation of “good and bad pedophiles” is a form of grooming, because it legitimizes pedophilia as a valid orientation, and that party line is pushed on young girls who complain about older men creeping on them. I’ve witnessed this bullshit many times on social media. Even if the pedophilia proponents are outraged that you’d even suggest that they’re grooming young girls, or would even deny that they support pedophilia (as in the case of DD/lg), that’s what they’re doing. Likewise with the constant insistence that “real BDSM” is nothing like Fifty Shades of Grey, which reinforces the notion that there is such a thing as “good BDSM” based on consent. These are all lies told to young women to get them to accept BDSM and pedophilia as normal and acceptable.
These ideas also contribute to pedophile culture. For more information on what pedophile culture is about, read this article on Feminist Current. The word “culture” in this context refers to a set of attitudes and rules which are mutually reinforcing and are accepted or thrive within a society (e.g. rape culture). Pedophile culture is not only expressed in the standards we set for women and girls, or in the way we talk about children, but also in the way it makes pedophilia itself invisible (just as rape culture makes many rapes invisible). People are simply unable to recognize pedophilia when they see it. And talk about “good pedophiles” and “real BDSM” contributes to that invisibility.
The belief in “good pedophiles” is also childist, because it posits that it is good for people to be sexually fantasizing about children. Children do not deserve to be sexual fantasies, and to say anything else is not only gross but a lack of respect towards children. Likewise, the pornification of children’s media and children themselves contribute to making the Internet a hostile place for children, as well as being highly disrespectful.
Pedophilia advocates have a number of arguments supporting pedophilia, but they mostly reduce themselves to two: the innateness arguments and the cultural relativist arguments.
There are two main innateness arguments, one that pedophilia is an innate orientation, and one that men are naturally pedophilic, which, as I said, is supported by pseudo-science. While it is true that pedophiles are by and large male, there is no evidence that pedophilia is innate and plenty of reasons to believe that it is a result of male socialization and pornographic conditioning. I don’t think there is any definite proof on the subject, but the burden of proof is on the pedophilia advocates.
Cultural relativist arguments center around the role of culture: one holds that past cultures show that pedophilia can be validated, while another holds that pedophilia is illegal in our societies only because of our repressive culture. But this is really cultural supremacism, not cultural relativism, because they are saying that the judgment of pedophilic cultures (e.g. Ancient Greece) that pedophilia is good should have precedence over our (Western culture) judgment that pedophilia as a general concept (if not in all particulars) should not be allowed. But why should we assume that pedophilic cultures are superior to ours? You can only arrive to that conclusion if you start from the premise that pedophilia is superior to the alternative, therefore it’s circular reasoning.
Furthermore, these arguments go against the “good and bad pedophiles” distinction, since they advocate open attraction or outright sex with children, which is in the “bad” category. Promoting pedophilia as innate makes no sense if you’re not also advocating for the expression of that orientation: to take their analogy with homosexuality to its logical extent, people who promote homosexuality don’t do so under the premise that gays should stay in the closet, but rather advocate for open homosexuality. Likewise, cultural relativists argue from cultures which allow open pedophilic expression, and the illegality they decry is the illegality of pedophilic expression (since it is not illegal to be a pedophile, as long as you don’t express it).
So now the pedophilia advocate is caught in a dilemma. If they want to use these arguments to support pedophilia, then they have to accept that they are also supporting child rapists. If they want to use a True Scotsman fallacy and separate the “good pedophiles” from the “bad pedophiles,” then all their arguments for pedophilia are refuted. Either way, it’s not a very good case.