The association between childism and sexual abuse is an old one. Many people have remarked about the absurdity of Freud’s theories about children having sexual drives which push adults to rape them. In that sense, the hatred and objectification of children has always come with acceptance of the sexual abuse of children. The concept that children were objects into which one could pour one’s anger or sexual frustration (as Lloyd de Mause calls it, the “child as poison container” mechanism) was historically a common belief, both in the Western world and in the ancient cultures we revere. In that sense, the idea that children have needs that should be fulfilled by their parents, and are not just objects to be used by the parents to fulfill their own needs, is a very new idea, historically speaking.
As I said, the modern formulation of childism came to us straight from the Freudian belief that young children who are abused are really seducing their parents, that children are the initiators of their own sexual assault, and that therefore the way to resolve issues with the adults who were sexually assaulted by their parents is for them to make their peace with their parents and to forgive them. This is a standard blaming the victim setup that we apply to all exploited people: how did they actually deserve it?
The answer is given to us by the layers of rationalizations. We frame childhood as a form of depravity, which is derived from its wildness (the same general principle applies to nativeness and other “inferior” ethnicities). It is socially necessary to keep children under control because otherwise they would run amok, de-civilize society, and, through their unending needs that constantly need fulfilling, rule over us. Or as a parent once told me, parents are slaves to their children because they are forced to serve them (although there’s no word on how that child somehow managed to force the parents to conceive it despite not existing, let alone being able to cause anything).
The idea of attributing malice to young children, despite a complete lack of evidence of such, is another widespread and bizarre phenomenon. I discussed a couple of examples in this entry. It seems that we automatically associate children with depravity, and that it takes at least some conscious effort not to do so. This is a powerful incentive for people to remain childist.
If we believe that children seduce adults into having sex with them, then the next logical step is pedophilia and its various sub-categories (DD/lg, ephebophilia, lolita, and so on). Children are eroticized because we eroticize infantile traits, such as hairless and blemish-free skin, big eyes, shaved vulva, and most importantly, “innocence” (a false concept that would probably take an entire entry to unpack). Men want to have sex with children because they possess those erotic traits, but they generally cannot do so, which gives rise to fake teen pornography, illegal child pornography, “loli” hentai, and so on.
Nowadays, pedophilia has been integrated within alternative sexualities because it’s “edgy” and “transgressive” (there’s even a push to call trafficked girls “sex workers”). Most heterosexual men are pedophiles, albeit of the mundane kind, and therefore not “edgy.” Mundane in the sense that they are attracted to girls, due to the eroticization of infantile traits, but they are also attracted to women. This is too mainstream, not “edgy,” and therefore unworthy of the attention of the new genderists. What interests them, however, are pedophiles of the extraordinary kind, those who are only attracted to children. That’s where the real transgression is.
The opposite error is to hold that children are “pure.” Children are human beings and have sexual needs, mostly a need to discover what bodies are all about. They are, after all, discovery machines, and preventing children from discovering is an aberration. Their sexual needs, however, do not exist to be exploited by adults.
A child does not become an adult, but is made an adult, by getting the wildness beaten out of them (metaphorically or, in sadder cases, literally). The cutoff age (whether 16, 18, or 21 years old) is just an estimate of when you’ll definitely have been beaten down, when you’ll be “responsible.” And adults are responsible for who they have sex with, children are not. To want to have sex with a child means, amongst other things, to reject their childhood and to demand that they should be seen as adults. But children are not adults, by definition. Children have this undefined, fantasy quality that we call “innocence.” Adults, almost by definition, cannot be “innocent,” as they have been filled by knowledge of, and experience of, the evils of the world.
Traditionally, the child is a container ready to receive the poison coming off of adults who are polluted by this evil. In this way they are themselves filled and are slowly becoming adults. The process of becoming “mature” is literally to be filled with poison, a pollution of the child’s mind and body. The child’s mind is naive, curious, filled with wonder, basically moral and egalitarian. A great deal of poisoning is needed to make it “normal.”1
Sexual abuse specifically introduces a dynamic that goes beyond childism and goes into misogyny as well, an intersection which which we could call something like pedomisogyny, the hatred and objectification of girls (non-adult females). An unwieldy word for sure, that will probably never catch on, but a word that designates a needed concept nevertheless. We know that the subjection of women starts with the imposition of gender on children. Boys and girls must learn their place in society, and girls in particular must be reconciled with their inferior status.
Pedomisogyny is what I had in mind recently when I saw an episode of America’s Supernanny where one of the first things the nanny did was to talk to the oldest girl and ask her how pretty she thought she was on a scale from 1 to 10. Ostensibly, she was trying to measure her self-esteem. Naturally, she made the immediate equation that a girl’s self-esteem was measured through how pretty she thinks she is. No one thought there was anything strange about that.
Sure, this is a pretty tame example of pedomisogyny. I think that most pedomisogyny takes place in the streets and in the schools, not in the home. But any time we equate the value of a girl with her appearance or attractiveness, that’s pedomisogyny. Every time we assume that a little girl will grow up to be a wife and mother, that’s pedomisogyny. Every time parents berate a girl for liking “boy things,” that’s pedomisogyny.
It is not random happenstance that girls are socialized to both be passive and to be physically attractive. Both are about reducing females to the status of sex objects, willing to spend their time to reproduce the labor force instead of pursuing a career or live alone. But pornography takes these two factors to a whole new level. It is little wonder that we are now talking about girls being groomed for sexual abuse, and that pedophiles are saying that “society does most of the grooming.” There’s no two ways about it, we live in a pedophile culture.
1 At least we have improved the process by filtering the violence out, but the end result is the same. If it wasn’t, you can be sure that violence against children would still be legal.