Category Archives: Childism

Why are many Western societies so determined to ignore children?

When I say that a lot of Western societies, including the United States, ignore children, I am not talking about political rhetoric. People always talk a big game with “what about the children,” when it suits their aims. We call crimes against children “heinous.” We’re good at pretending to care about children. But that’s all it is, playing pretend. Most of the time, it doesn’t translate into actual rights for children or actual policies that help children.

Why has childism remained unidentified for so long? There are some differences between childism and other prejudices which make it harder to acknowledge. For one thing, all adults have been children previously. Childhood is considered to be a “phase of life,” which (presumably) precludes it from being a social status. Prejudice is usually seen as a hatred and an underlying ideology aimed by one dominant group against a subservient group. If we start from the premise that childhood is some tangible thing that exists within all of us, then it makes no sense to say that the group of “everyone” is dominating the group of “everyone.”

The problem with this view is that childhood is also a social status which affects certain individuals and not others. at any time, there are some people who are children and some who are not. Factually, there are people who are oppressed because they are children. and children as a class have an inferior status in society. The fact that they will become adults later does not change that fact, any more than a fetus being able to become a child changes its status of not being a child.

Because of this view of childhood, people refuse to identify childism as a prejudice, but rather as a technical and arcane issue. They analyze child abuse from a pseudo-scientific perspective: “will this or that punishment make them less functional adults?”, even though such questions are totally off-topic. No one asks whether crimes against adults will make the victims less functional or not, and any ideology based on this would be considered pseudo-science. The abusers themselves, of course, see children as their property and don’t care what the pseudo-scientific perspective has to say on the subject at all.

As of yet, there has not been any public, massive movement for the rights of children. There has not even been any awareness raising on the subject. The movement to identify and fight against childism, as a specific prejudice, is still in its infancy (no pun intended). One obvious reason for this is that children are (at least, not yet) a self-identified, politically-motivated group. Children (like women) are isolated in their households, and (unlike women in modern times) they do not have records of a shared culture, or even the awareness of a shared culture. They are fully absorbed by the family unit and by the schooling unit.

From the point of view of childists, the prejudice against children is a natural feature of the world (this, of course, is true of all bigots). This is exacerbated by the fact that children have a natural dependency upon adults for their survival and well-being. This fact alone does not, and cannot, demonstrate the truth of childism (in the same way that it does not prove prejudices against physically or mentally disabled people, for example), but it provides a reality-based rationalization from which childist prejudice can be intellectually defended.

Regardless of whether childism is identified or not, why do our societies fail to support child development and rights? Certainly there has been a great deal of improvement in that regard, but, as for sexism and racism, all that the improvement has done is illustrate how much more way we have left to go. While we should applaud any positive change, we should not equate childism to the narrow band of prejudices which have been eradicated (such as the belief that children are sexual objects). This, by definition, would mean that we modern people cannot be prejudiced, which is a ridiculous basis for an argument. We know very well that modern Western people are still very much sexist and racist, amongst other things.

It is difficult for most people to advocate for children, because we don’t want to acknowledge what has been done to us. Even those of us who were victims of severe child abuse want to believe that our parents were doing “the best they could.” A lot of talk is made of forgiving your parents and empathizing with their own problems. In all cases, the parents are never held responsible. It seems that only those people who have gone through a literal Hell on Earth are able to detach themselves from their parents enough to recognize that they were abused as children. This makes the identification of childism, a hierarchy with adults as superiors and children as inferiors, extremely difficult. It also makes acting on it, and supporting children, equally difficult, because no one (except some child development experts) dares to speak up about what needs to be done. The inability to identify and name a problem precludes the search for solutions. Alice Miller is a notable exception in this, and she has done tremendous work in identifying the aggressors.

According to psychohistory, child sacrifice, child assault, and child abuse are the foundations of Western history. Whether this is correct or not, it certainly seems credible to me, but being anti-childist does not necessarily mean we must agree with such a position. But I think it is undeniable that our societies are built upon the exploitation of women and children: most importantly, that women were exploited because of children. These two forms of oppression have been linked since the beginning of gender hierarchies.

There is also the bare fact that there are far more adults who are parents than adults who are not parents (let alone adults who care about children’s rights). As long as that holds true, parental power over children will never be substantially challenged. Children cannot defend themselves because they have no political power and they have no class awareness (then again, only the power elite has much class awareness these days, so that’s not saying much). Our neo-liberalist societies are built upon “divide and conquer,” and no one has any incentive to cooperate with children. They are widely seen as a means to an end for the parents, for the religion, for the country, for the economy.

Hierarchical paranoia and the hatred of children.

I was trying to think of a way to talk about anti-vaxxers and childism, but couldn’t really figure out how to do it. Frequent reader Kendall has pointed out some facts to me which shed light on this issue. It has to do with paranoia (irrational conspiracy fears, not clinical paranoia, which is an entirely different thing).

It seems that superiors (or wannabe superiors) in a hierarchy often have paranoid beliefs. MRAs and other masculinists routinely talk about non-existent female conspiracies of all kinds. Fascists and other authoritarians are constantly obsessed about government conspiracies and leftist conspiracies. White racists develop all kinds of conspiracy theories about whatever races they vilify. Christians have a keen sense of victimhood, painting every attempt by secular societies to build more just societies as an attack against their religion. I think part of that is the desire to be the victim instead of the oppressor. Another part of it is the common belief that inferiors are really the ones in control. Some people actually do believe that women, bureaucrats, leftists, and other races have the real power, and what else would they be doing with that power but destroy the people in charge?

Parents seem to participate to the same dynamics. Generations of child-rearing “experts” have advised parents that their children are plotting against them and waiting for an opportunity to take advantage of any slip-up. This can certainly develop, not only hatred for one’s children, but also a paranoid state of mind.

This paranoia is directed solely at one’s children. However, recent advancements in the rights of children have also made another kind of paranoia rise in parents’ minds: paranoia against the rest of the world, especially the government and the medical establishment. This is basically a backlash, on the same level as the backlash against feminism: the only reason why it hasn’t been identified this way before (and why it took an anti-childism movement for us to notice) is because we label parents’ decisions as “private” and we assume that children, being part of the same family unit as their parents, cannot possibly be under attack.

Anti-vaccination campaigns have always accompanied compulsory vaccination, but there has been an upswing in the fight against vaccination, accompanied by an upswing in the number of sick children. Measles, mumps, whopping cough, and other childhood illnesses are making a comeback. According to their conspiracy theories, this is a better alternative than the government’s plan, which is to inflict autism, or worse, on all our children (why an autistic child is worse than a dead child remains unanswered, although given the fact that anti-vaxxer nuts tend to be right-wing and therefore to abhor difference, this is perhaps explainable).

One rationalization used against compulsory vaccination is that they have the right to “choose.” Pro-choice rhetoric, no matter the domain, is always nonsensical because our actions never exist in a vacuum. What you do with your body affects other people. Nowhere is this more clear than in the case of vaccination, where the failure to vaccinate children means illness and death for some of them. Besides, the parent is making a “choice” for the child, which is entirely different from a person making a decision for themselves! Of what right does a parent have the “right to choose” for someone else?

The right that parents are most concerned with is their “right” to privacy, which really means: the “right” to maintain the omerta around their family, the “right” to mistreat and abuse without consequences. What makes them paranoid is the fear that their power over children will be taken away. In one sense, this is a simple “don’t take away my privilege” situation. Parents are in control and don’t want to relinquish control.

This, however, does not explain the absolutely (and literally) insane level of paranoia that some parents attain. I think that paranoia becomes heightened when the superiors are keenly aware of having committed atrocities, either in the past or present. Parents must be aware, at some level, that the history of parenting is a history of torture and genocide, which makes victimhood that much harder to attain. Like neo-nazis or Christians, they have to kick up the victimhood to high levels in order to justify their loyalty, which means going to high levels of insanity. Because there is no way that a person could reasonably justify being a parent, given the past of the institution. And yet people feel like they have to be parents, that they have no other choice. This is a formula for raving lunacy.

Of course there are parents who think of themselves as superior to the rest and not tied to the past (just like there are Christians who think of themselves as enlightened and not tied to the past). They see no reason to defend the institution, because they think they can parent “responsibly” and better than everyone else. Those people are less likely to go insane, but unfortunately they also are more likely to adopt insane anti-scientific beliefs (like anti-vaxxers) in their desire to distance themselves from the mainstream. Still, many of them do not, for which we should be grateful. And extreme paranoia doesn’t have to lead to anti-vaccination beliefs specifically. I think a lot of right-wing beliefs are a result of parental paranoia. Still, anti-vaxxers are the most egregiously childist of them all, if only because they rejoice in the deaths of children.

Mindfucking your children instead of punishing them: is that really an improvement?

Much of “expert” advice about parenting, as well as uninformed comments, seem to reduce themselves to this: “either you punish your children in some way, or you just let them do whatever you want.” That’s why, in such a climate, any advice which says you can discipline children without punishment is going to be met with some interest as being “out there” and “groundbreaking” (treating children as human beings, on the other hand, is too whacky to have much credibility, because everyone knows children are not human beings, only future human beings).

This article detailing the parenting ideology of one “expert” called Alan Kazdin is a good example of this. The author is quite surprised at the idea of a parenting ideology that does not promote punishment, even though conditional rewards (which is the old idea that Kazdin is promoting) is a form of punishment. Why? Because praising children when they do what you want, and not praising them when they don’t do what you want, is merely a way to make your love conditional on whether your child is obedient or not. Withdrawing love is a form of punishment as effective as physical violence. It’s just another “formula” meant to keep parents from having to do the hard work of actually being parents.

But first, Kazdin has to dismiss the idea of reasoning with children, because that’s obviously silly:

So you’re really desperate. You shout, you try to reason, you think you’re a wonderful parent. You think that you’re just the greatest parent in the world. You sit down and say, “No, we don’t stab your sister, she’s the only sister you have and if you stab her, she won’t be alive much longer.” It’s always good to do that with your child, to reason, because it changes how they think, it changes how they problem solve. It develops their IQ, but it’s not good for changing behavior.

Ho ho, unconditional parents are so silly because they think they’re so much better than us, but they’re so absurd because they don’t stop their children from stabbing each other! This is such ridiculous reasoning that it’s hard to see it as anything but a bad joke. Reasoning with your children does not mean you try to explain to them why they shouldn’t stab each other. If a child is in such a dangerous situation, then they need to be put out of the situation first, then you discuss with them. This is about as silly as saying that a baby crawling onto the street should be reasoned with. No, you need to remove children from life-threatening situations first. That is your first duty as a parent: to support the child’s well-being.

While the example here is clearly irrational, I think the general message is clear: reasoning with your children is a purely academic exercise which may make more intellectually developed children but does not make them into better children. It is not clear why exactly Kazdin believes that children, no matter the age, are unable to intellectually grasp moral truths, when we all grasped some moral truths as children (while we may not all remember specific moments of this kind, I presume that no one here is moral strictly out of indoctrination or fear). A human being who was moral strictly out of fear of not being loved, which is what Kazdin advocates, would be one miserable human being. Studies have shown that this sort of parenting leads to the future adults not liking themselves and being more likely to be depressed. This is psychological damage done by parents, and yet this is what he’s promoting here.

Also, there is somewhat of a contradiction in what is being said here. How can reasoning with children help them develop problem-solving skills and yet is no good at helping them change their behavior? If by “changing their behavior,” he means “making children do what we want,” then I can see how that would work, since in that case it is the parent that is the problem to be solved. But if by “changing their behavior,” he means “making children more moral beings,” which is what we should want children to be (as we should want anyone, no matter who they are, to be more moral), then it seems to me that problem-solving is a big part of that. Children have to learn how to deal with other people, and they can apply their problem-solving skills to that task.

Parents might start out reasoning, but they’re likely to escalate to something a little bit more, like shouting, touching, firmly dragging their child, even if they’re well-intentioned. The way to get rid of a child’s negative behavior is not to do the punishment. Even a wonderful punishment, gentle punishment like time-out, or reasoning, those don’t work.

He seems to be saying here that reasoning with children does not work, cannot work, and will likely lead to some form of physical force or punishment. Again, there is no evidence of this connection. If you are committed to treating your children like human beings, then you would have no more reason to shout or punish a child any more than you’d have reason to shout or punish anyone else. The way to “get rid” of a child’s negative behavior is to follow some formula, like Kazdin’s, which will condition the child to refrain from doing the behavior. The way to make children be more moral is to support them and help them understand the nature and consequences of their actions. Yes, it’s harder to do this, but only because parenting methods take shortcuts, because violence and manipulation are always shortcuts we use against others to make them do what we want.

So what is the method he advocates?

There are a whole bunch of things that happen before behavior and if you use them strategically, you can get the child to comply…

So what comes before the behavior?

One is gentle instructions, and another one is choice. For example, “Sally, put on your,”— have a nice, gentle tone of voice. Tone of voice dictates whether you’re going to get compliance or not. “Sarah, put on the green coat or the red sweater. We’re going to go out, okay?” Choice among humans increases the likelihood of compliance. And choice isn’t important, it’s the appearance of choice that’s important. Having real choice is not the issue, humans don’t feel too strongly about that, but having the feeling that you have a choice makes a difference.

It’s pretty explicit here that this is about “strategy” and about manipulating the child. Like all other “experts” preaching conditional love or punishment, he wants to teach you these shortcuts, these tricks, which will unlock the child’s good behavior. Basically, the child’s desires, needs, or mood are not relevant to the parent’s attitude: what is important is to push on the right buttons.

We know this sort of attitude in at least one other domain: I am referring to men who see women as nothing more than puzzle games, who seek to press the right buttons, use the magic techniques, in order to unlock a woman’s desire to have a sexual encounter with them. And that is super creepy. But somehow, it’s not creepy when parents do it to their children, because it’s obedience they want instead of sex, and we don’t consider browbeating a child into obedience to be creepy (when it should be).

The two strategies proposed here are nothing new. One is to adopt a gentle tone of voice. Certainly there is nothing wrong with adopting a gentle tone of voice with anyone, although it is generally seen as a sign of condescension (I suppose children probably don’t mind, although I wouldn’t do it myself, as I see no point in talking down to children beyond what’s needed for them to understand you). The other is to offer the appearance of choice where none is present, in short, fooling a child. The only difference between this and outright lies is that a false choice makes the parent feel better about what they’re doing. The fact that you’re fooling a child into doing what you want says more about you than it says about them.

And now the behavior itself. When you get compliance, if that’s the behavior you want, now you go over and praise it … very effusively, and you have to say what you’re praising exactly.

No surprises there. But it’s the example that follows that really got my attention:

I say, “We’re going to play a game and here’s how this goes: I’m going to tell you you can’t do something, but you really can, and you can have a tantrum and you can get mad, but this time you’re not going to hit mommy, and you’re not going to go on the floor. And it’s only game, but if you can do that, I’m going to give you two points on this little chart.”

So the mom leans over and smiles and whispers in this cute way, “Okay, Billy, you cannot watch TV tonight.” And Billy, have your tantrum, and don’t hit mommy or go on the floor.

[After the fake tantrum], the child is probably smiling a little bit and the mom says with great effusiveness, “That was fabulous! I can’t believe you did that!”

Getting the child to practice the behavior changes the brain and locks in the habit. And we’ve only done it once. So now we say to Billy, “Billy, I bet you can’t do it again. I don’t think there’s a child on the planet who can do this twice in the row.” Billy’s smiling and says, “No I can, I can do it,” and I say, “Okay, okay, we’ll do one more.”

Now you do this again and the same thing happens. If the tantrum has many different components, you change your requirement—this time, you don’t do whatever. You practice it, maybe once or twice a day, and you do this for a while.

As you do this every few days, now there’s a real tantrum that occurs outside the game. And that tantrum is either a little or a lot better. Now, you go over there and say, “Billy I can’t believe it, we weren’t even playing the game, and look at what you did, you got mad at your sister, but you didn’t hit anybody! Billy, that was fantastic.”

Now, you may disagree with me on this one, but that horrifies me. If you do this to a child, what you’re going to get is a child who’s totally dissociated from their emotions, because you’re deliberately attacking their ability to tell the difference between a real feeling and acting. If you do this throughout their lives, this is child abuse and can only result in an adult who is utterly unable to deal with any emotions, because they never learned how to do it, only how to play-act. This is mindfuckery on a level I’ve never seen before. Compared to this, punishment seems merciful, because at least a child can be angry about being punished, but cannot defend against mindfucking.

Getting children to play-act and then judge them based on how well they are acting has nothing to do with unconditional love or helping children reason through their problems. Rather, it seems to be engineered to be the exact opposite: it is a trick designed to make children act out of reflex, unthinkingly, and it apportions love based on how closely the child sticks to their acting job. It has nothing to do with making children more moral, more able to express themselves, or more connected to their emotions.

Imagine a man is married to a woman with a mental disability and plays the same trick on her: he gets her to have “fake arguments,” compliments her acting, and then the next time they have an actual argument, instead of addressing her concerns or her feelings, he gives or withdraws love based on how well she “acted.” What would you think about such a man?

You may reply that a child’s tantrums are not reasoned, unlike an argument, and therefore it is all right to steamroll over them. But what if the argument had been an emotional outbreak? Little children have difficulty dealing with their emotions, desires, and impulses. They are not “bad children” who are “out to get you.” There’s no reason to suppress tantrums, apart from the fact that they inconvenience the parents and (if done in public) make them look bad. But parents should sacrifice some of their pride in order to deal with their children appropriately. Children have to learn how to deal with life, and playing tricks on them to get them to shut up is not the way to do that.

The teen may be at the dinner table and just being quiet and not saying negative things. Well, when you’re starting out, one of the positive-opposites can sometimes be reinforcing the non-occurrence of the behavior. And you just say, “Marion, it’s nice having dinner with you, it’s nice that you’re here.” What that does is reinforce the likelihood that Marion will be at the dinner table and not say negative things. Marion might also say, “Can you pass the avocado and garbanzo stew?” And you just say, “Of course.”

This is just a return to the conditional praise technique, so there’s not much else to say here. One thing is that the parent could simply be lying. If they are the kind of parent who constantly tries to trick their child instead of being honest and having open conversations with them, then it’s unlikely that they really find it nice to be with the child (also, an avocado and garbanzo stew sounds terrible).

I didn’t analyze the numerous points at which the interviewer and Kazdin talk about how novel and revolutionary his techniques are. There is nothing novel or revolutionary about these techniques: conditional love has been used for centuries by parents in order to cajole their children into obedience. The idea of conditional love being promoted without any prescription when it fails may be a new thing, but we know there’s really only two possibilities: either withdrawal of love or punishment. And since he explicitly excludes the latter possibility, then only the former remains.

Treating your child like a human being instead of an enemy you should trick, fool, or browbeat into compliance, is harder than using tricks and techniques. In the same way, it is harder to deal with other people as human beings instead of treating them as puzzle boxes from which you can extract time, attention or resources by saying specific lines or doing specific things, and giving the silent treatment to those who do not comply (actually, it is much easier to manipulate children, since children do not have the option of never talking to you again).

“Experts” like Kazdin sell easy ways to deal with children which do not involve taking the time to support their emotional and intellectual needs. In the past, parenting quackery existed mostly because of the hatred against children; nowadays, I believe that this hatred is now only one factor, another important factor being the lack of time. We live in harsh economic times, most couples have two or more jobs, and, generally speaking, people simply do not have that much time to deal with their children. So despite the great strides that have been accomplished so far about children’s rights (the marginalization of child labor, the outlawing of physical punishment in many countries, the stigmatization of severe sexual assault), we have not yet achieved any sort of breakthrough in terms of parenting, with a majority of parents still promoting physical violence, and few people really advocating treating children like human beings.

Talking ’bout pedophilia.

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.

“Girls just wanna have fun” and other infantilizations.

It’s probably one of the first things that anyone who converts to feminism realizes, and so it may be somewhat trivial, but the word “girls” used to designate grown women is pretty infantilizing. Adult females are women, not girls or chicks (newly hatched birds), and they should be called women.

That much is obvious, but there’s a lot more behind these words. There is a whole ideology of infantilization, and this is only the most visible manifestation of it. It is also one of the least significant, especially since these words have changed in meaning over time, like all words do. The words are symbols emergent from a disease, not the disease.

The infantilization of women takes many forms, from BDSM and DD/lg to mansplaining, the association of women with frivolous pursuits like shopping and shoes while serious things are associated with men, the belief in women as emotional and pre-rational beings, and so on. I have commented about most of these issues on this blog, so I will not repeat myself here.

Infantilization doesn’t just mean equating women with children. As I’ve discussed on the issue of childism, children are associated with wildness, and the need to be tamed and pacified so they can fit within society. Likewise, women have been associated with wildness, although in their case wildness means sexual depravity. So we get things like “girls gone wild,” and the association of “savages” with being oversexed and animalistic.

Some women have reappropriated this and have associated wildness with courage, adventure, and independence in general. But liberal feminists still associate women with being oversexed, by calling all women sluts and whores through the use of the terms “slut-shaming” and “whore-shaming.” Men, of course, also love to link women to oversexed terms, even women who refuse to have sex with them.

But infantilization is not strictly a gender thing. Think of Catholic priests, “fathers,” calling everyone “my child.” God being the “father” of all mankind, and humans as “his” property to dispose of as “he” wills, with violence if “he” finds it necessary. Citizens being the sons and daughters of the motherland/fatherland. People seeing pets as their children. The infantilization of people of color, especially indigenous populations. The paternalistic State. “Childish” being used as an insult: to be like a child is to be “immature,” that is to say, to not conform to social norms, to be disobedient, to remain “wild,” to not be serious or responsible. And while, clearly, not all abusive personal or social relationships are infantilizing, most abusive relationships have some elements of infantilization (e.g. “I really know better than you, so just do what I say”).

You don’t really hear anyone talking about any of these things as childist phenomena, or even as specific phenomena worthy of note (except for the infantilization of people of color, which has been analyzed in The Culture of Conformism, by Patrick Hogan, and probably others places I don’t know about). Childism is the very first hierarchy we experience, albeit not completely consciously, and a case can be made that that experience is where we derive our hierarchical dynamics, with the metaphorical father as the strict dispenser of “discipline” and punishments.

I think childism fits well with other hierarchies because there is no doubt in everyone’s mind that children are actually biologically and mentally inferior. Therefore, treating women or POC like children reinforces the belief that women and POC are biologically or mentally inferior, even to people who may not hold this belief consciously. Likewise, being treated like a child by a superior, whether explicitly or implicitly, is likely to make you feel inferior, incompetent, or irresponsible. And there’s the added bonus that, because we are so unconcerned by childism, infantilization most often passes under the radar. Being treated paternalistically may make you feel frustrated or want to escape the situation, but you’re not likely to jump from there to the concept of infantilization or childism.

Child abuse is not just about violence. It’s also about fear.

Deep Dark Fears is a pretty self-descriptive tumblr, where people’s deepest fears are confessed and then put to drawing. Many of these fears are deeply imaginative or evocative. Some, however, open a window into child abuse. We do not recognize it as child abuse because we do not see it as physically or psychologically “violent.” For the same general reasons, our societies do not recognize brainwashing as a form of abuse. If brainwashing, the extreme end of such abuse, is not recognized as abusive, then what hope do we have to point out such abuse in “normal” parent-child relationships?

The fear of Hell is one form of abuse commonly used in Christian families. Also, consider the following two fears from Deep Dark Fears:

It’s easy to dismiss these horrifying fears as “the result of overimaginative children.” But the fact is, it’s adults that put these ideas in children’s heads. The imagination is not the source of the fear, the lies of adults are. The reaction of the children is a natural reaction to the trust they have in their family members. Also note the reason for these lies, including the lie of Hell: the reason is to threaten children into correcting their behavior for the parent’s benefit, into pleasing the parent. This has nothing to do with improving children’s lives. Even if it was, the child’s terror would negate any such improvement.

I don’t know if all adults have experienced these fears as a child. I know I have, although to a lesser extent. It’s a terrifying thing. The terrifying thing is not merely the belief in the horror itself, but the belief that the horror is with you always, every minute of the day. I can’t even begin to imagine what children who believe in Hell go through. That in itself is a form of Hell, a concerted attack against a child’s sense of well-being, empathy, and freedom. No one deserves that.

What could justify inflicting terror on a child? Parents love to defend their right to parent any way they wish. To make such an argument is to consider a child to be an object, a piece of property, to be treated as one wishes, not a human being with their own needs and values. There can be no such thing as the right to terrorize a child.

The parents who inflict these fears on their children probably believe that it’s no big deal. Such people can’t possibly have any sort of kindness or sympathy towards themselves as children, otherwise they would recognize themselves in their children. The disconnection between our adult selves and our child selves is necessary for childism because, unlike other prejudices, we were all once children. This disconnection usually takes place through one’s parents. If your parents rejected your humanity when you were a child, and you still identify with your parents, then you will reject the humanity of your past self as a child.

All children are under tremendous psychological pressure to identify with their parents, and for most adults refusing to continue to do so is extremely difficult. When you ask most adults what they think about their parents, they will tell you that their parents could do no wrong, except for children who were severely abused or who are particularly freethinking in their mental attitudes. Some may say that their parents did some wrong, but nothing really important (“I still came out okay,” as if being raised was supposed to be the equivalent of World War 2 and you’re lucky to get out with all your limbs). A few may say their parents were monsters (and no doubt some parents are).

Likewise, many adults say spanking is no big deal and that they “came out okay.” Well, if they believe that inflicting violence on children should be supported, then they clearly did not “come out okay.” They are severely damaged human beings. So are people who support terrorizing children for training purposes (or for any other purpose).

As far as I know, there is no adult equivalent. The closest case I can think of is extreme cult brainwashing, but even in these cases, the terror is pretty diffuse and alleviated by the presence of other people (other believers) to share the burden with. Partially the lack of equivalent is because adults are somewhat more sophisticated and don’t believe that worms could live in their nasal cavity or grow out of urine (although, to be fair, spontaneous generation used to be taken seriously). Adults tend to fall to delusions more easily when the delusion posits that they’re special or superior, and those terrors are not about making the person seem more special or superior. The main terror that adults still have is the belief in Hell, but that’s because it’s tied to a religious worldview that makes them feel special.

Terror as punishment is based on exploiting children’s imagination. There is also the opposite error, which is far, far less damaging to a child, but is still wrong: not letting children use their imagination at all, refusing to allow children the freedom to make-believe. So you get parents who refuse to let their children play make-believe about Santa Claus, for instance. Sure, one should never lie to children, but children are capable of understanding the difference between make-believe and lies, if you tell them.

Another example with graver consequences is the belief that a child which states that it’s of a certain gender must be of that gender. Again, there is no freedom given for the child to play make-believe. Instead, we indoctrinate it into its “real gender” without regard for the consequences. No word on whether children who play pretend at being a horse or a dragon should be transitioned as well.

The core of the issue, I think, is that people have a lot of trouble dealing with myths or make-believe of any kind, and they reckon that any instance of it that they don’t classify as “play” (within their narrow classification of “play”) must either be true or false. That’s a whole other subject, though.

The intersection of childism and sexual abuse.

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.

Bullying is emotional abuse.

Bullying is emotional abuse.

There is nothing that can ever make you deserve emotional abuse.

Telling people, directly or through your actions, that they’re at fault for being abused is, again, emotional abuse.

I hate the term “bullying” for this exactly reason.

“Stop bullying” programs don’t work because they treat “bullying” like its a unique, child-specific thing you grow out of once you reach the magic age of 18 and It Gets Better ™.

It’s not. It’s just a fancy word for abuse that people coined because they didn’t want to believe their precious little baby could abuse another child and everyone went along with it because NOBODY wants to believe a six year old can intentionally traumatize another six year old to the point where they want to take their own life. Its “just bullying.” It’s not abuse. Only adults can be abusers. Kids are bullies. And if a child DOES do something evil, they’re either mentally ill or an adult drove them to it. Children can’t be bad!

Except here in the land of reality, it doesn’t work that way. Being abused causes the same amount of trauma whether your abuser is 9 or 90. I don’t care if a child has the biggest, saddest sob story in the world, they don’t get to use that as an excuse to abuse other children. Adults don’t (or shouldn’t) get away with that, so neither should children.

If people really want to “fix” bullying, they need to ditch this useless term and start calling it what it is. Abuse. And then, start actually doing something about abuse besides gaslighting the victim and saying “well maybe the abuser had good reasons uwu”.