Category Archives: Childism

DD/lg as pedophilia and childism.

DD/lg (daddy dom/little girl) is a subset of BDSM which consists of older men doting on, and having sex with, younger women (sometimes actual children) who display infantile behavior and dress like children. Here are some examples of pictures used by daddies or littles (as they are called) on their blogs:

Please note that I have not deliberately chosen the worst or most squeaky images. These are only a sampling taken from a short, arbitrary interval of time.

Many people have been accusing the men involved in DD/lg (the “daddies,” a term I will not use because of its squeakiness) of being pedophiles. The standard reply from BDSM proponents is that, like all BDSM, DD/lg is not actual abuse but simulated abuse. This, however, is as poor of an argument as people who argue that pornography is not “real.” Both arguments assume that any degree of artificiality whatsoever means that nothing is real, either in a movie or in a BDSM scene. And yet this is clearly not true: how could pornographic actresses be raped on set and how could subs experience “sub drop” if nothing is real?

BDSM is not a simulation, as a simulation implies some kind of analogous, but not equivalent, situation (e.g. the car, train, or airplane simulator, used with a keyboard or controller, is analogous for using a real car, train, or airplane, which have completely different controls). Being in a simulation is not the same kind of experience as actually doing the thing simulated. Pornography and BDSM are the same kind of thing as abuse (i.e. actions performed by human bodies onto other human bodies), they are merely “softer” forms of abuse (unless actual rape is performed).

For the dom, DD/lg is about the fetishism of, and fantasy about, sexual activities with children, implemented through adult women (and sometimes actual children). This is literally pedophilia. Advocates will strenuously argue that it cannot be pedophilia because it involves adult women, but that is irrelevant to the issue of sexual orientation and sexual disorders, which we evaluate by looking at a person’s sexual fantasies. A gay man in the closet may have sex with women, but that does not make him heterosexual. Many people have fetishes or kinks that they do not act upon, but that does not nullify their existence. The fact that a pedophile may have sex with adult women does not nullify his pedophilia. It is the sexual fantasies that make him a pedophile.

[A]geplay and ddlg can ONLY be understood in the context of child abuse. the entire point of it is to imitate and act out scenarios in which children are groomed, punished, and sexually abused by an adult– specifically by their fathers or other male relatives in the case of ddlg.

The standard defense of pedophilia nowadays is to argue that the pedophile is a good person as long as they don’t act on their desires. Pedophiles even argue that their basic restraint should be seen as noble. I cannot agree that not raping children is noble or makes one a good person. I would say it is a very basic duty we all have as citizens and human beings, and that fulfilling it merely makes you not pure evil. There is no reason to give cookies for it. A fetish is not a compulsion, but even if it was, it would only demonstrate that pedophiles are innately dangerous and unworthy of freedom, not that they are noble people. If I had any kind of destructive compulsion, I certainly wouldn’t brag about it, and the fact that some pedophiles do so inclines me to believe that they don’t really have the restraint they claim to have.

Pedophilia is not in itself childism, because it is a sexual desire, not a theory, but it lends itself easily to childism. After all, pedophilia, and DD/lg as an expression of pedophilia, is based on the objectification of children as sexual targets. I think the above images explain this well enough. The pedophile does not see children (or children seen through a substitute) as persons with their own values and desires, but as passive receptacles for their sexual desire. The DD/lg dynamic reproduces this by having women dress us like girls and roleplay innocence, a sense of play, and other psychological traits we usually attribute to children, and then having them be used sexually by men who pretend to be their father or another adult male figure. The “little” is at the mercy of the “daddy”‘s sexual desire, like how real children are at the mercy of their abusers (usually their father or other male family member).

Furthermore, it does so by appropriating the language and behaviors of childhood. I know the word “appropriation” is somewhat overused, but in this case it is particularly appropriate. There are many stories of girls who find themselves ashamed of saying the word “daddy” or having braids because of DD/lg participants using them for sexual purposes. This appropriation takes place over the Internet, when girls looking for typical childhood interests see keywords invaded by DD/lg images and messages. It has also been noted that men seem to enjoy sexualizing media meant for children, and DD/lg is a big part of that.

Because children are generally not aware of their existence as a social class, and children are generally not informed enough to formulate a critique of DD/lg or BDSM in general (although I do want to point out that this is not universally true, as some children do criticize DD/lg), it is easy for DD/lg proponents to speak over children and their needs. This is why I identify DD/lg as being particularly childist. DD/lg gives pedophiles an open space to formulate rationalizations for child abuse, rationalizations which can be used by real offenders, just like BDSM supports and abets rapists and violent abusers.

The tendency of modern pornography to infantilize women has been noted a long time ago. This infantilization is mostly used to impose rigorous fuckability standards on women. DD/lg is a whole different animal: it is not only used to control women but also to sexualize infancy itself, and to rationalize that sexualisation. Both represent dangers to girls and young women, but the danger that DD/lg may be used to make pedophilia respectable is crucially important, both from a feminist standpoint and from an anti-childist standpoint.

Some ways in which people use misdirection to erase abuse.


Misdirection is an important method of deception, whether you’re deceiving people as entertainment, like magicians, or deceiving people as a tactic, as in politics. As long as your misdirection attracts, and keeps, people’s attention, you can do whatever you want with the other hand, literally or metaphorically.

I’ve talked about how I think various political issues are hiding misdirections: gun control as a way to hide the use of guns by the State, immigration as a way to hide the effects of neo-liberalist policies, and the minimum wage as a way to hide the control that the power elite has over people’s livelihoods.

Misdirection also applies to prejudice. Take sexism, for example. So we are told by the sex-pozzies that pornography and prostitution lessen rape and sexual assault. As I detailed in my recent entry “The catharsis theory used to defend pornography,” this conclusion is based on a deeply flawed model of internalization, at least insofar as pornography is concerned. But more relevant to this topic is the fact that this equation is a misdirection from the fact that prostitution and pornography are themselves ways by which men can rape women with impunity. Many pornography actresses (13.6%, according to one study, although there was no gender distinction made there), including famous ones, have reported coerced sex taking place on movie sets. A majority of prostituted women (around two-thirds) report having been raped “on the job” (although this conception of rape implies that paying someone for sex is consent, which I disagree with).

This is not to put a number on the rapes in pornography and prostitution, or to debate their relative importance compared to rapes in other areas. The point is that concentrating on these assumed beneficial effects erases the fact that they enable many rapes. Sex-pozzies do not want you to look at the rapes they are enabling, therefore they use misdirection with the “lessening rape” tactic, which is also a clear projection, since they are actually pro-rape. But they support the rape of “bad women” (i.e. women who supposedly get pleasure from violent sexual acts in pornography or prostitution), not of “good women.” To them, the rape of “bad women” needs to remain hidden, and they do so through talking about the rape of “good women,” a standard divide-and-conquer tactic (“we’re not like them so we need to respect their choice, although we would never make that choice ourselves”).

Childism has its own misdirection in the form of “stranger danger,” an old propaganda line which states that children must be protected from strangers trying to kidnap them. Clearly, children getting kidnapped is an extremely bad thing, but the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that only 3% of its kidnapping cases are caused by strangers. The vast majority of children are kidnapped by a parent, caretaker, or acquaintance. So there is another misdirection here: our attention is directed towards people who we can easily imagine as dangerous kidnappers, strangers with candy, while the real danger is the parents and people close to the family.

The same thing is true of assault and abuse against children in general. For instance, parents are far more likely to spank a child than anyone else, but we are told that spanking is not “really” criminal and that it prevents children from becoming criminals later in life. That may be so, although I rather doubt it, but either way this hides the truth that parents are the real danger. By directing our attention to the idea of strangers as the source of danger, they distract us from the fact that the vast majority of abuses take place within the home. In this generation, parents are reported to be afraid of letting their children play outside: I fear for the children who are stuck inside, with the people who are most likely to assault them.

But there is, again, this divide-and-conquer mechanism: we need to “discipline” the “bad children” so they don’t end up as criminals on the street. “Good children,” that is to say, obedient children, have nothing to fear. So the standard story has a “good child” get kidnapped by a sinister stranger with candy, as a way to divert attention to all the abuse inflicted on “bad children.”

Racism has its own misdirection, at least in the United States: we call it the politics of respectability, the principle by which black people need to “clean up their act” by erasing the behaviors and language proper to black American culture in order to gain respectability. According to this principle, it is the people who adopt black culture, meaning that they speak black English, listen to rap, use drugs, or wear their pants low, who are oppressing black people. If these people were to be “reformed,” then black people would be respected and racism would end.

This is another clear example of both misdirection and divide-and-conquer tactics. It is clearly not black culture that is putting millions of black people in jail, segregating their housing, or raising their unemployment rates. All of these points have to do with the massive systemic racism wielded by the power elite (which is 95% white) in order to keep black Americans as second-class citizens, which both affords white people some protection from the worst of the State and, as we’ve seen historically, prevents solidarity between white workers and black workers.

Again we have the division between good and bad black people, the former being those who adopt white culture and are “unthreatening,” and the latter being those who adopt black culture and are “threatening” to white people (such as how police officer Darren Wilson described an unarmed 18 year old who was one inch taller than him as a “demon” and a “Hulk Hogan” who he had to shoot because he was “bulking up”). I think there are two parts to that: one is that it’s easier for the privileged to divide the oppressed against each other, and another is that it’s easier for the oppressed to go after each other than to go after the privileged.

Also, it’s easier to maintain your moral status if you’re going after “bad” people, and I think childism has a lot to do with that. From the youngest age, we learn to associate obedience with goodness, and disobedience with badness. I’ve talked about this in regards to the obedience circuit: we are all indoctrinated to support authority and go after its victims. This applies to everyone; even people like me (and, I presume, you), who hate authority, adopt their position as a reaction to that indoctrination.

Yet another factor is the fact that we all want to believe that we live in a just world, that people who are abused somehow must deserve it. Because if they didn’t deserve it, then it could happen to us, too. And that’s a very scary thought. But the premise that it only happens to “bad people” is satisfying to us, at a conscious or subconscious level (I admit that even I get this sometimes), because we know we’re not “bad people,” and therefore it can’t happen to us.

So while it appears that pornography and prostitution, child abuse, and systemic racism, are unrelated, isolated issues, they do partake of the same impulses within the human psyche, and their supporters use basically the same tactics. All these issues are strongly related.

Being a parent makes you stupid.

A certain blogger, who I will not name, was making some posts about how we cannot “give up” on raising male children so they don’t grow up to become abusers. I raised the point privately to her that by and large parents who try to educate their children against the strong current of mass media (including pornography) and the social consensus generally fail, because the media messages and social consensus are reinforced (and mutually reinforce) in a way that parental messages are not (for more on this, see the last part of Delusions of Gender, by Cordelia Fine). She considered this message to be a personal attack against her decision to raise a male child. While as an antinatalist I obviously object to anyone having children (especially if they are intelligent and well-intentioned, as I believe this woman is), I was not telling her I was objecting to her having children. I was telling her that her belief in raising male children “her way” and against the media and social pressure was misguided.

People taking systemic criticism as personal criticism is nothing new, and not, in itself, particularly stupid. However, there is a particular problem that arises when antinatalists talk about the systemic problems of parenthood. Parenthood comes with a severe case of entitlement: parents believe that they have the right to have children and raise them any way they see fit. They do not just take systemic criticism as a personal attack, but take systemic criticism as an attack against their basic human rights (their right of property over their children). Any sort of antinatalist reasoning is therefore interpreted by parents as an existential threat.

Such an existential threat is not credible, since antinatalists have no political power and (barring overpopulation so great that it entails massive human die-offs, especially white humans) never will. To parents, this doesn’t seem to matter much. They still react rather violently when it happens. I have experienced this many times, and I’m sure other antinatalists who argue online (or perhaps the occasional brave or suicidal soul who dares to talk about this in real life) has their own stories about how arguing against parenting in any way made a parent turn against them.

We already know, from feminism and anti-racism, that entitlement makes people stupid. Since parenthood is an extreme form of entitlement, we should therefore expect that being a parent makes people especially stupid. The only thing that can make people stupider is the sincere belief that one possesses the absolute truth, like fundamentalist Christians. It is perhaps not entirely coincidental that some natalist arguments sound rather similar to Christian apologetics (or, for that matter, that some arguments against Christian apologetics can be transposed to natalism, since procreation is basically a Creation in miniature). The main difference is that Christians start from their (absolutist) conclusion and make arguments to rationalize it, while natalists are defending what they believe to be their human rights (or the rights of parents in general).

I saw a webcomic one day that illustrates the entitlement very well. A guy says to the other that he doesn’t want children because he doesn’t have the money to do so, to which the other replies that “when you have a child, you’ll find a way to get the money.” The first guy points out that this seems rather similar to the way drug addicts think. Once you’re addicted, you’ll do anything to get the money to buy more drugs. Likewise, people whose position as parents depends on their power over children will do anything to justify that power. In our hierarchical societies, power is its own justification: if you have enough power over others (money, political status, or otherwise), everything you do is justified by the existence of that power. And there is no relationship with a bigger power imbalance in our societies than that between a parent and “their” child.

We see the parental stupidity in action when we bring up misanthropic antinatalism. When faced with the risks of procreation, natalists usually just ignore them or argue that they are magically immune to those risks. This is not rational behavior in the face of known risks: it is more akin to how some Lakota people believed that “ghosts shirts” could protect them from bullets (they didn’t), or how right-wing politicians react to global warming (another similarity between extreme entitlement and the belief in absolute truth, maybe).

Having a son means you are raising a potential abuser. Having a daughter means you are raising a potential abuse victim. Some women are also abusers, and some men are also abuse victims, but this does not deny the truth of the previous propositions: it only makes the risk of something going wrong even higher in both cases. Future or current parents do not want to hear this. They want to believe that their children are exempted from those risks, or that they, as parents, somehow confer some immunity to their children (that their own happy lives will rub off on their children, perhaps). This is magical thinking, which is why I am especially miffed when feminists engage in it. We don’t need magical thinking in a movement which is based on evidence and rational analysis.

The only solution to break the cycle of abuse is to refuse to procreate and refuse to use children as guinea pigs for so-called genderless parenting techniques which are doomed to failure. While parents obviously believe that this world is good enough for them to raise children into, but somehow not good enough to expose them to large, commonplace parts of it, that’s not their determination to make. We cannot allow some people to make risk evaluations for other people. What level of risk I am willing to allow in my life is my determination alone, and is not really anyone else’s business (unless I am linked to them in some way). The parents’ opinion is only that, their opinion. It has no bearing on reality.

Pornography grooms boys into abusers.

I’ve discussed pornography a great deal, but mostly to talk about its deleterious effects on women and women’s rights. However, it’s important to talk about its effects on men, too. And not the current discussion of “awareness” of how pornography makes men impotent and pushes them to divorce. I don’t care about that at all, and I don’t know why this sort of discourse about pornography has taken so much importance, apart from the fact that men generally only care about issues that affect them personally and don’t give a shit about women. So it’s a purely pragmatic move. I’m not saying it’s wrong (it is true that pornography has these effects), but I won’t talk about it on this blog.

My point here is not to trot out the old bromide that “gender hurts men too.” While it is true, it is not a relevant statement. Likewise, we can say truthfully that inequality also hurts the rich, but that’s not a good reason to oppose inequality, because the rich are still privileged over everyone else. Gender may hurt men, but it doesn’t hurt their privilege, since gender is the creator of that very privilege. I just wanted to make that clear before I address the main issue.

Pornography grooms girls into self-abusers and rape victims. But there’s another side to that equation: there’s no rape victim without a rapist. Pornography grooms men into abusers and rapists. When men and women see representations of verbal and sexual violence on screen, they integrate it differently. A woman sees another woman receive violence in a medium which is supposedly a representation of sex, and she will believe that violence against women is sexy. The representations of women will make her question her own desirability.

When a man sees these same acts, he sees himself as the perpetrator. He identifies with the men who use verbal and sexual violence against women in what he believes (and has been pushed on him) as a representation of sex. So these children, who are raised on pornography from the age of 11 or earlier, are taught to equate sex with violence. Not only that, but they are taught that women love violence. And they are taught that they should want to have sex with women whose appearance fits a very narrow an unrealistic range, the implication being that those women who do not fit that range are basically worthless.

Some pornsick men argue that everyone is able to make the difference between pornography and real sex, and that therefore pornography does not serve a socializing role. But arguing that children can make the difference between pornography and real sex is silly, because there are no representations of actual sex available to them. Furthermore, as I’ve argued before, this view is based on a bizarre model of socialization which posits that there is no such thing as the subconscious, and that children somehow filter everything they see and hear through their rational faculties and are free to reject any message they wish. Such a no-subconscious model is not based on any studies or observations: it is a make-believe model, with absolutely no evidence or validity, used to support a certain victim-blaming view of the world (if you’ve been socialized in a certain way, it’s because you really wanted it and accepted it consciously).

We already know from an entire generation of young women what the result of this indoctrination is. They report that young men are pressuring them to perform pornographic acts. They report that young women are dressing in a more and more pornographic manner. They are seeing a growing incidence of STDs and injuries caused by unsafe sex in young women. These are all factual things happening today thanks to a generation raised by pornography from the youngest age.

We usually talk about grooming from the point of view of an abuser grooming a young child into accepting sexual abuse. This is what pornographers (and the pornographic elements of the mainstream media), grown men, are doing to young girls. But the grooming of young boys is one of reproducing their abuse patterns. Due to the testimonies of countless pornography actresses, we know for a fact that pornographers abuse and exploit women’s sexuality routinely, and they are teaching generations of boys to do the same in their own way. It is an inter-generational repetition of abuse.

The end result is that, while heterosexual men could have sex lives that fulfill both themselves and their partner’s needs, they end up pornsick, unable to get turned on by their partners, unable to be intimate or have sex, dependent on pornography. And this ends up hurting the people around them. Furthermore, women who complain about the use of pornography publicly are told by “expert” men that they should shut up and watch pornography with their partner in order to save their relationship. Or to put it another way: women should get cozy with the system that pushes for their abuse. This is nothing new for women. But women don’t deserve this shit. What women deserve is a world where men are socialized using models of healthy sexual relationships. Not pornography. Any man who says otherwise is a pornsick asshole who deserves nothing but public ridicule. They are no “experts” at all.

Humans are social animals. We’re born to mimic. We figure out what’s expected of us by observing others in the same role. Our children are taught how to be sexual beings by an industry dedicated to making money by creating and deepening addiction to violent imagery. The end result will be a generation of men who don’t know how to love and a generation of women for whom sexual abuse is routine. The damage is done, but we need to pull the emergency cord right now to prevent this from happening to future generations as well.

The support for pornography is not only anti-women, but it is also anti-children. No one deserves to be stunted sexually because of an industry. No one deserves to grow up to be abused. No one deserves to grow up to be an abuser. If you support pornography, then what you’re saying is that you don’t give a shit about children. You can’t claim to care about children, ensuring that they have the best childhood possible, believing that all children should be raised in a healthy environment, and at the same time raise them to be abused or abusers.

What is “discipline,” and how do we differentiate it from punishment or abuse?

What is discipline, and how do we distinguish it from punishment, and from abuse? From my anti-childist perspective, all pedagogy is harmful, and therefore it is not my place to give answers to such questions. But that doesn’t stop me from analyzing what others have written on the subject. Opinions on the issue of discipline differ greatly. Some people think corporal punishment can be part of discipline, while others do not include it.

Wikipedia gives a general definition of child discipline:

Discipline is used by parents to teach their children about expectations, guidelines and principles. Children need to be given regular discipline to be taught right from wrong and to be maintained safe. Child discipline can involve rewards and punishments to teach self-control, increase desirable behaviors and decrease undesirable behaviors. While the purpose of child discipline is to develop and entrench desirable social habits in children, the ultimate goal is to foster sound judgement and morals so the child develops and maintains self-discipline throughout the rest of his/her life.

I find this particular definition interesting, like some of the others I quote here, because of what it doesn’t say as much as what it does say. For instance, whose expectations are children to be taught about? What guidelines and principles? Do children need rewards and punishments to know right from wrong? If you need rewards and punishments to teach children morality, aren’t you teaching them to deny their own values in favor of your own? Who determines what is a desirable behavior in a child? Who determines what desirable social habits are? If the goal of discipline is to maintain discipline, isn’t it a fundamentally circular enterprise?

There is clearly something missing from this definition, and I think it’s pretty clear what that is: the alignment paradigm. We expect children to align their behavior and thoughts to those expected within their social roles. Children need rewards and punishments to be taught how to align their behavior. Desirable social habits in children are those habits which conform to the habits they should have within their social roles. Children need self-discipline in order to integrate their obedience and turn it into lifetime conformity to their social roles.

The circularity is removed once you understand what’s missing. The goal of discipline is obedience and conformity. The child must internalize that conformity in order to be a “successful” adult. I have previously commented on the horrific nature of this belief in the child internalizing orders. This process can only be described as brainwashing. The goal of brainwashing is to overwrite a person’s personality with one that conforms to a certain model, the goal being that the person voluntarily and actively seeks to conform to that model (by negating doubts, by shutting down the outside world, by confessing deviations, etc). The fact that people aim to brainwash children to “self-discipline” is profoundly anti-freedom. Here is another instance where discipline is described as brainwashing:

Punishment interferes with the development of internal controls by teaching children that it is someone else’s responsibility to control them and decide what behavior is “bad” and what the consequences will be. Children may then conclude that it is OK to misbehave if they can avoid getting caught or if they are willing to accept the consequences.

Discipline teaches children a particular misbehavior is bad because it violates the social order, thus promoting the development of internal controls.

Again we see the alignment paradigm in the use of the term “social order,” and this is linked with the brainwashing in a clear way: the brainwashing happens because of the belief in the “social order” that must be followed. Before you worship, you need a god to worship. A relation to an ideal cannot be established before the ideal itself has been established. So in the process of putting the alignment paradigm into effect, the parent must first impart to the child what it is that they must adapt to: their social roles (gender, race, religion, class, etc) and the punishment that occurs if they deviate from those roles (either from the parents themselves or from society as a whole), in short, the “social order.” The truth of discipline is completely and utterly dependent on the truth of the belief in the “social order”: without that belief, there can be no validity to discipline, because discipline seems to be all about enforcing it.

The definition, however, does not help me establish the difference between discipline and punishment at all. It states that punishment is bad because it imparts to children the belief that they must be controlled by others in order to be moral. But how is this not the case in discipline as well? Enforcing belief in the social order is a form of control as well. Any act against the child can be described as discipline or punishment under these definitions. Ultimately, I think this is just to give pedagogy an “out”: if their children don’t conform well enough, it must have been because the parents used “punishment” instead of “discipline.” The sacred doctrine always works (another attribute of cult brainwashing).

There is another trend in these explanations: the association of abuse or punishment with anger.

Discipline is a parental response to specific misbehavior. A child can expect that if he fails to meet expectations that he will be corrected. Child abuse is often unpredictable. Children who are abused often don’t know what will set their parent off. The rules and consequences are not clear, and children do not know what will result in a physical assault.

But in both cases, the child is being evaluated based on standards determined by the parents, not the child. So both are fundamentally unpredictable, for the child. The social expectations, as mediated by the parents, which the child is supposed to follow are only partially known to it.

Here is another example:

Discipline is an intentional consequence, given by the parent or caretaker, for inappropriate action and designed to be a teaching moment for the child. It is not an emotional or angry reaction.

For example if a two-year-old who insists on throwing food at the table has been warned that continuing to do so will result in the food being taken away, and the child throws the food anyway, taking the food away calmly is both a logical consequence and a disciplinary action. The intent is to teach the child that throwing food is not acceptable and that there are consequences to such behavior. If the child is very young, such as the age given in this example, the parent and child can have a “snack” an hour or so later. This will still teach the child the lesson and also ensure proper nutrition.

On the other hand, if the parent were to scream and hit the child for the same behavior, that is considered punishment. It was administered by a parent who was not in control of his or her emotions and it has very little ability to teach a child about appropriate behavior. It only teaches the child to expect pain if the child throws food.

This definition seems to equate punishment with corporal punishment and discipline with a normal reaction to a situation. I don’t see how taking away a two year old’s food in the moment represents a “teaching moment.” The child is not being taught anything. I agree that it is not an emotional reaction, but “not being an emotional reaction” can describe a lot of unhealthy parental acts, including corporal punishment. In fact, proponents of corporal punishment make a point of explaining that it should not be an emotional reaction, that it should be performed according to the ritual, and so on. The fact that you’re not angry when you do something does not make it rational, or even reasonable.

If the only thing that distinguishes discipline from punishment is the emotional state of the parent, not something about the nature of the act itself, then the distinction is useless. Most parents are incompetent amateurs, and their emotional state is no help in deciding whether their actions are warranted or not, because they simply do not have the instincts of a person who has trained in professional childcare, and done professional childcare, for a long time.

Discipline, punishment, or whatever you call it, is basically a tool to combat non-compliance. The only real difference is whether that non-compliance is directed against the parents’ specific rules, against social rules, or against the parents’ immediate emotional well-being. And I think this is what these definitions may be clumsily attempting to differentiate: “discipline” is done for good reasons, to enforce the parents’ rules or social rules, and “punishment”/”abuse” is done to assuage the parents’ immediate emotional state. From an anti-childist perspective, none of it is a good thing. Of course we should expect parents to get frustrated and to lash out at their children: they are amateurs who have no idea what they’re doing, and are not trained to deal with these situations. What else do you expect to happen?

Freedom and childism are irreconcilable.

The connection between political freedom and the way we treat children is rarely made, although they are sometimes compared in a metaphorical way (i.e. that treating children better is nebulously connected to the way we treat each other). And when the direct connection is made, it is on the grounds that treating children better interferes with the freedom of parents to treat their children like shit. I don’t know of anyone (except other anti-childists) who makes the claim that political freedom and anti-childism are directly connected.

I’ve given my argument as to why enforcing freedom of thought for adults but not for children is contradictory: a person who has been raised for 18 years under indoctrination cannot magically gain freedom of thought when they attain adult age. Their capacity to think freely has been majorly stunted.

But I want to generalize and reinforce the point here, and talk about its political implications. The argument I made about freedom of thought applies more generally to any freedom. The way we are raised, educated, and treated, as well as the social status and economic status of our family, has a direct bearing on how we are able to use our freedoms when we become adults. As a general principle, the more freedom we have as children, the more freedom we have as adults (and, as I can already foresee the objections: no, freedom is not licence, neither in children nor in adults).

This relation is directly due to childism. The fact that a child’s social status and economic status are linked to that of its family is the product of a childist system. The fact that children are raised, educated, and treated in ways which make them unfree is the product of a childist system. It is the result of societies which do not value children in themselves, as human beings, only as potentialities.

People who are raised unfree cannot be free later in life. Political freedom is necessarily, and strongly, curtailed by childism. And, to make the problem even worse, people who are not used to freedom when children will not miss it when they are adults. Not only that, but they will not even know what’s missing.

This is not a small consequence. We have a tendency to treat childism as a background fact, simply because we’re not aware it’s even there (I certainly include myself, up to a few months ago, in that “we”). Atheists have a dim awareness of the link insofar as religion is concerned, but it’s not something you’re encouraged to think about, since we live in a childist society where the right to indoctrinate is basically sacrosanct. Besides, most atheists are liberals, not radicals, so they don’t even have the tools to identify childism, let alone oppose it.

And I haven’t talked about the link between childism and the desire to suppress freedoms. There does seem to be some correlation between people who hate children and people who want to suppress freedoms (conservatives, fundamentalists, and also Libertarians: I’ve written about the latter connection). I don’t think these two factors are necessarily related by causality: it seems more likely that people tend to both hate children and want to suppress freedom because they are more authoritarian. Children are just more easy to exert control over, because of their dependent situation.

We must therefore make explicit that with all political ideologies comes a political theory of childhood, and that the latter has a direct bearing on the freedoms people are allowed under that political ideology. A society where children are raised in an authoritarian manner is an authoritarian society, regardless of what rights are theoretically granted to people. I think this may be why, by the way, many people don’t understand the term “utopia”: because they don’t recognize authoritarianism when it’s applied to child-raising, they think coercing everyone to fit a model, and then granting these uniform citizens freedoms at adulthood, makes a society a utopia, but they also clearly recognize that this is a terrible state of affairs.

I think there are at least three important parts to those theories:
1. What is the nature and purpose of childhood?
2. How should parents behave towards children? What should they be allowed to do and what should they be prevented from doing?
3. How should children be made ready for adulthood? (social roles, education, procreation, etc)

To take a really simple example, you can look at Libertarianism. I’ve linked above to my analysis of Libertarianism and childism. In Libertarianism, all people can be defined as self-owned objects: children not having self-ownership, childhood is therefore the state of being an owned object. The purpose of childhood is whatever the child’s owners decide it is. There are basically no rules that can be made against parents, apart from laws against assault or murder (i.e. children still have “negative rights,” but they do not have “positive rights,” including the right to be fed or clothed by their parents). This is basically ultra-authoritarianism. And we find that the Libertarian ideology, if it was allowed to rule wholesale, would be a system of ultra-authoritarianism (capitalism to the nth degree, coupled with a government too weak to protect anyone from corporate abuses).

Other political ideologies are not as abstract and clear-cut as Libertarianism, and therefore theories may be harder to formulate, but we can at least look at how existing systems treat children. So what is the political theory of childhood in our capital-democratic societies?

1. Childhood serves two purposes: to prepare the child to be a productive member of society and a generous consumer, and to ensure that the child conforms to the institutions which underpin the democratic order (gender and religion for marriage and procreation, race and schooling for class sorting, race and patriotism for supporting the nation-state, and so on).
2. In general, parents are not allowed to assault children’s bodies, but control over those bodies, and the children’s minds, are fair game.
3. Children are prepared for adulthood through a long, rigorous, and pointless process of schooling. They are also indoctrinated by the media, each other, and also, generally, by their parents.

My general theory of childhood in capital-democracies is described as the alignment paradigm of childism: children exist as potential human beings and must be made to align with the needs and values of their society. It follows from this principle that children only need to be protected insofar as this protection ensures they will be aligned with those needs and values: protecting their minds would go against that purpose, but protecting their bodies does not (if one correctly believes that corporal punishment does not produce more obedient citizens or better consumers, and that a maimed or dead child does not grow up to be a good citizen or consumer).

What would a more rational, anti-childist theory of childhood be like? It would have to be based on the premise that children are full human beings. From this premise, much of the rest can be easily deduced, since we already have ethical rules on how to deal with other human beings (i.e. people that we don’t simply dehumanize). Childhood serves one, and only one, purpose: for children to be children and develop naturally. There should be no further objective, no ideal to mold children around, no isolation of children by family units, and nothing else which interferes with the natural development of children. Children are not potential human beings who need to be prepared for anything. They are not objects, self-owned or not. An anti-childist theory of childhood must categorically deny, and stand opposed to, any theory build on childist grounds.

When a child is involved, “no” means force.

On his blog Of Battered Aspect, Dave Hingsburger recounts a story which I think is worth looking at from the perspective of childism.

We were grabbing a bite of lunch at a small cafe, in a mall, right across from a booth that sold jewelry and where ears could be pierced for a fee. A mother approaches with a little girl of six or seven years old. The little girl is clearly stating that she doesn’t want her ears pierced, that’s she’s afraid of how much it will hurt, that she doesn’t like earrings much in the first place. Her protests, her clear ‘no’ is simply not heard. The mother and two other women, who work the booth, begin chatting and trying to engage the little girl in picking out a pair of earrings. She has to wear a particular kind when the piercing is first done but she could pick out a fun pair for later.

“I don’t want my ears pierced.”

“I don’t want any earrings.”

The three adults glance at each other conspiratorially and now the pressure really begins. She will look so nice, all the other girls she knows wear earrings, the pain isn’t bad.

She, the child, sees what’s coming and starts crying. As the adults up the volume so does she, she’s crying and emitting a low wail at the same time. “I DON’T WANT MY EARS PIERCED.”

Her mother leans down and speaks to her, quietly but strongly, the only words we could hear were ‘… embarrassing me.’

We heard, then, two small screams, when the ears were pierced.

Now, I know what the childists will say, this is just a little thing. Getting your ears pierced, all girls have to go through it, it’s not a big deal, and so on and so forth. But if it’s not a big deal, then why even bother coercing the child into doing it? If it’s not a big deal, then why did any of this happen? And I imagine that, as a bystander, I would feel the same way. I would feel like I shouldn’t intervene not only because of parental ownership (“none of your business”), but also because it’s not such a big deal. But that’s indoctrination. The proof that it’s indoctrination is that we wouldn’t feel the same way if an adult was being treated in the same way. But then, an adult would be more able to defend themselves, and would probably not be so dependent on other people’s approval that they would simply give up.

You can say, well, ultimately it did happen so the child must have at least stood still long enough for it to happen. But that’s not consent. The child very, very clearly objected to the procedure. The fact that it was browbeaten into accepting it (if it did accept it) does not mean the act was consensual. It clearly was not. A human being said no to a procedure, was under no obligation or duty to have it done, and it was forced to have it done. This is coercion. This is force. This is an application of power, just like any other application of power in a hierarchy.

Again, I know that there is a tendency to say that children’s values and desires are worthless, and that parents know what’s best. I feel it myself as I write this entry, this feeling that I’m making too big of a deal out of it (and as I do, I keep reminding myself, if it’s not a big deal, why did the mother absolutely need to coerce her own child into it?). But it is a big deal. We repeat over and over that “no means no,” and that this is a basic principle of consent that applies to all of us. But when children are concerned, no does not mean no. No means blackmail, coercion, and control. Like rapists say, “no” means “maybe,” and “maybe” means “yes.” And in any other context, we would call this the credo of a sociopath, a rapist, a monster. But it is the credo of parents, as well.

I am not saying all parents are sociopaths or monsters. I have zero doubt that the mother, in this story, meant well. She wanted her daughter to fit her gender role, as most parents do, because that’s what children must be raised to do (adapt to society’s rules and roles). That is the essence of parenting. Therefore, the mother, from her perspective, did not do anything wrong. Because we are raised to believe that children are not full human beings, we accept, as a normal part of life, that a child’s “no” is meaningless and trivial. We know that when we were children, our “no” was meaningless and trivial, and we know that the same is true for children nowadays. This is nothing anyone ever makes a fuss about.

It is a fundamental principle of all authoritarian systems (of which families are only one extreme example) that consent is always taken, never asked for. War is justified by “future consent.” State oppression is justified by “implicit consent.” Pornography and prostitution are justified by the “consent” of accepting money. Capitalism is justified by the “consent” of contracts. And so on.

What is the blackmail in this situation? We get a hint of it with the “embarassing me” part. The parent’s “reasoning” is something like this: “you are making me look bad, you are embarrassing me in front of other adults (we police each other and evaluate each other’s parenthood based on children’s behavior), therefore you should stop right now before I punish you for doing this. You should act like a ‘good child,’ that is to say, do what I want you to do so you can conform and I can look good for having a ‘good child.'”

I’m not saying she said this at all. For all we know, she may have just said “you’re embarrassing me, stop this tantrum right now,” or something of the sort. But what I’ve said is the reasoning behind it. The punishment and the “good child” role are often kept implicit, because the child has already integrated them in its understanding of its parents’ behavior. If I disobey, I will be punished. “Good children” don’t disobey. “Good children” aren’t sticks in the mud who get in the way of their parents’ fun.

The fundamental premise is that the child must put the parents’ values and desires first, not its own values and desires. This premise is irrational. The only job of a child is to be a child, socialize with other children, and develop in a healthy manner. Parents have nothing to do with any of those things, except insofar as they are ready to support the child in these tasks and otherwise leave it alone. Anything beyond that goes against the child’s rights as a full human being.

While piercing a little girl’s ears is not by far the worse form of the fuckability mandate that is enforced on women, it is still gross and disgusting that a seven year old would be seen by her mother in that way. But this is not the mother’s fault: women do not make the rules. If they did, women wouldn’t have to wear high heels, which deform your feet and spine, makeup, which is impractical and has carcinogen ingredients, or shave their pubic hair, which leads to rashes, infections, and makes STD rates higher.

And piercing one’s ears can cause infections as well, which are wholly unnecessary since a seven year old should not get their ears pierced, and anyone who says otherwise is a fucking lunatic. A seven year old has no social need to look fuckable, unless you’re a pedophile. A seven year old has no social need to look like anything but themselves. What a parent thinks about that is completely irrelevant. If, once fully informed of the risks and the possible reasons why they want to do so, a seven year old wants to get its ears pierced, I wouldn’t object to it. But this is very, very clearly not the case here.

What should the mother have done? She should have apologized to her daughter for going against her desire not to get the procedure done, and both should have left the store politely. That was the only right thing to do. But not many mothers would do that, because it means “losing face”: most parents see parenting as a struggle for control (and they are taught to view it that way, as well), and they hate to lose.

Since most people have no problem coercing their children, what should bystanders do? Well, first of all, there are very few people in our society who would see anything wrong with this situation at all. I read this story in radical circles, which are rather different from the general population. And a radical in this situation would probably doubt themselves like I do. And even if they did speak up, the most that would happen is that mall cops would be called, and then you get into trouble for basically no good reason, because the mother has no reason whatsoever to listen to you. I just don’t see what good intervening would do. What we need is public shaming. And I suppose this story being told is a good beginning, although we don’t know the name of the mother and can’t shame her properly. Even then, the sense of entitlement that parents have is so high that I don’t know if shaming would do that much good.

Answering some Kohlberg Dilemmas (Joe and his father).

I have previously posted about the Kohlberg scale of moral development. Basically, they represent the development of morality in the individual, from obedience to evade punishment all the way to universal ethics based on principles like human rights. Kohlberg believed that we all went through the stages in that order and that, as in psychological development, we could “get stuck” on any of these stages. Basically, even if you don’t believe in these stages as being a natural development, they still provide a way of classifying and differentiating moral justifications and rationalizations.

Kohlberg, by the way, believed that women were morally inferior to men. One of his colleagues, Carol Gilligan, argued that this belief was based on an obsession about abstract ethical principles (an obsession which still exist in the political discourse today), and that the last two stages weren’t necessarily the end point of moral development. One does not have to believe that abstract ethical principles are superior to, for example, a view of ethical problems as a network of relations between individuals. So the top of the scale should be taken with a grain of salt. Abstract ethical principles are one way, but not the only way, to reason about moral issues post-conventionally.

In order to measure moral development, Kohlberg used scenarios and asked open-ended questions about them, evaluating the reasoning behind the answers. I thought these scenarios were interesting, for a couple of reasons. The one about Joe and his father opens some questions related to childism and child rights, which I think is very relevant to this blog. The famous Heinz scenario also opens some questions related to capitalism and property rights. So I want to go through these two scenarios here.

Joe is a fourteen-year-old boy who wanted to go to camp very much. His father promised him he could go if he saved up the money for it himself. So Joe worked hard at his paper route and saved up the forty dollars it cost to go to camp, and a little more besides. But just before camp was going to start, his father changed his mind. Some of his friends decided to go on a special fishing trip, and Joe’s father was short of the money it would cost. So he told Joe to give him the money he had saved from the paper route. Joe didn’t want to give up going to camp, so he thinks of refusing to give his father the money.

I like this scenario because it goes to the core of childism: children’s deeply-held values and desires against parental authority. Granted, this particular scenario is a hypothetical, but it is the sort of conflict that takes place all the time in all sorts of families for all sorts of reasons: parents shutting down their children’s values in favor of their own, whether overtly under the form of orders or outright coercion, or covertly under the form of verbal abuse or blackmail. I think this scenario in particular may have been engineered to make the child’s situation look more sympathetic, although it is not whose side you take that’s important, for the sake of the Kohlberg scale, as much as the depth of your justification as to why you take one side or the other. But as an anti-childist, I am on the side of the child in any conflict between children’s values and parental authority.

1. Should Joe refuse to give his father the money?
1a. Why or why not?

I’m not sure if this question is formulated correctly. After all, we do not know any more about his relationship with his father. If the father is willing to go so far as to alienate his son just for a fishing trip, it doesn’t seem like they’re on good terms, but there could be other factors involved. Whether he should refuse to give the money or not would depend on that relationship, amongst other things. But going on the data from the scenario and nothing else, it seems clear that Joe strongly values going to the camp and does not put a great value on his father going to a fishing trip (and why should he?). So on that basis alone, one would be inclined to answer yes.

As for the place on the scale, the question cannot be answered in terms of principles or rights, because it is a personal matter, not a question of ethics. If the question was “does Joe have the right to refuse to give his father the money,” then that would be a different story (my answer, of course, would be yes).

2. Does the father have the right to tell Joe to give him the money?
2a. Why or why not?

In a sense, this question is trivial: of course the father has the right to tell Joe to give him the money. We have the right to ask people to give us money, but they also have the right to refuse. So I assume that the question really means: does the father have the right to order Joe to give him the money and, as a logical consequence, have the right to enforce that order?

The father does not have the right to give Joe orders on the basis of him being Joe’s father. Apart from his responsibilities and duties as a father, his relation with Joe is one of one human being to another human being, and no human being has the right to simply order another to give them money. Usually this is done as a result of a prior agreed-upon exchange (e.g. of money for services or products, of money for citizenship rights, of money to support some cause or organization), but in this case, we are not told of any prior agreed-upon exchange. Therefore, the answer must be no. There is no justification present for the father to have the right to order Joe to give him the money. Joe is perfectly within his rights to decide what to do with the money, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the father’s responsibilities and duties (and going to a fishing trip has nothing to do with either).

My answer here is not at the conventional level, because I care not one bit whether the law or social standards would be on Joe’s side or on his father’s side. In general, my answers in this scenario are at the post-conventional level simply because I reject the relevance of parental authority and legal authority to moral decisions. Only the fact that parental coercion and legal coercion exist make them important: this importance is not a moral one but a prudential one.

This may seem like splitting hairs, but it is important in this situation. If Joe ultimately decides to surrender his property to his father for fear of retaliation, it is because his context (that his father is an aggressive misopedist, or hates him personally) makes it that moral principles cannot be applied, not that the moral principles have changed. Violence and the threat of violence create a distortion in the moral universe in the same general way that gravity wells distort spacetime. A straight line is no longer straight when distorted by a gravity well, and a desirable action may no longer be desirable when distorted by the threat of violence.

3. Does giving the money have anything to do with being a good son?
3a. Why or why not?

This seems to be a leading question, insofar as it assumes the validity of the “good child” construct, which is related to stage three (social conventions). So let me first preface by saying that I do not believe in the “good child” construct. No child is “good” or “bad”: all children react to the environment and familial context they have been placed in. No child can be blamed for being “bad” or praised for being “good,” because these are all arbitrary standards.

That being said, when we look at what the standards are, we find that being a “good child” ultimately means a child that is obedient, a child that does well in school, a child who follows the social constructs put upon it. Based on this, it seems to me that giving the money has something to do with being a “good son,” insofar as giving the money would show obedience to the father. Since I don’t believe in the “good child” construct, the point is moot anyway.

Like I said, the question relies on the acceptance of the “good child” construct. I reject the premise, and therefore cannot answer the question in a way that would make my answer evaluable on the Kohlberg scale.

4. Is the fact that Joe earned the money himself important in this situation?
4a. Why or why not?

I don’t think the fact that Joe earned the money himself is particularly important in this situation. In order to make the arguments I’ve made so far, all we need to establish is that the money is in Joe’s possession legitimately. If he had stolen the money, then the issues would become completely different (although parental authority would not thereby be automatically justified), but that’s not the scenario we have.

Suppose, for instance, that the money was an allowance given to him for food or leisure. This would not confer upon Joe any more obligation to give his father the money. Actually, it would seem to make the father’s demand even more egregious, since the money was given to Joe to serve an essential purpose. But that still would not alter the arguments I’ve already made. Joe would still value his camp more than his father’s fishing trip. The father would still not have the right to order Joe to give him the money. Joe would still not be a “good son” or a “bad son.”

5. The father promised Joe he could go to camp if he earned the money. Is the fact that the father promised the most important thing in the situation?
5a. Why or why not?

My general answer here is the same as in the previous question. The fact that the father promise Joe he could go to camp if he earned the money has no bearing on Joe’s possession of the money. The scenario is not based on the father no longer permitting Joe to go to camp, but on the father wanting Joe’s money, and the fact that this would entail Joe not going to camp is an incidental effect. Even if the promise did not exist in this scenario, it still would not justify the father taking the money.

Since I see it as an irrelevant factor, it cannot be the most important thing in the scenario. The most important factor in the scenario is that the money is Joe’s money, not the father’s. All arguments have to rest on this basic fact, and the basic principle that no one has the right to order someone else to arbitrarily surrender money. In any other context, we would call that robbery: if it was accompanied by a threat, we would call it extortion. Only the fact that a child is involved clouds our logic.

6. In general, why should a promise be kept?

I think that implicit in the word “promise” is the notion that it should be kept, so the question seems rather tautological to me. A promise should be kept because that’s what a promise is, an assurance that you will do something. So I think a more fruitful way to approach this question would be: in general, what are reasons to not keep a promise?

I think one major reason not to keep a promise would be learning new information which makes the promise undesirable or impossible to keep for one or both parties. Person A’s promise to person B to help them move is made null and void by person A throwing their back, for example, or person A learning that a loved one is sick and that they must go see them at the hospital on the same date. If they had known that information at the time the promise was made, they would not have made it.

Another reason would be if the promise was made under duress, but then it would hardly be a promise, as knowing you put someone under duress would surely tell you that there’s no assurance that they will actually follow through.

I suppose a stage 6 answer would be something like “promises should be kept because it is more just for all to live in a society where we can trust each other or rely on each other, because otherwise more callous people would be able to take advantage of others by making false promises” or something of the sort, but I don’t think that’s the right kind of answer.

7. Is it important to keep a promise to someone you don’t know well and probably won’t see again?
7a. Why or why not?

I think it all depends on whether we empathize with that other person. No one is likely to keep a promise to someone they don’t care about and will never see again. But most of us would keep a promise to someone they did care about, even if they would never see them again. I think that the strength of a promise generally is related to the strength of the relation between the parties: a promise made between two close friends is strong, while a promise made between two enemies is not worth a hill of beans (or any quantity of beans, however small).

Is it important? Certainly I would think less of anyone who breaks their promises to anyone, whether they would see them again or not, simply because that shows they are not a very good person. So my answer would be yes. I don’t think the “won’t see again” is particularly important.

8. What do you think is the most important thing a father should be concerned about in his relationship to his son?
8a. Why is that the most important thing?

I think the most important thing a parent should be concerned about in their relationship with their child (no matter the gender of each) is to support, and not interfere in, the natural development of the child. This means that the parent provides the material and psychological support that the child needs (being on the side of the child), while not indoctrinating the child for the parent’s sake.

It is the most important thing because the child’s sole job, the only thing a child should be concerned about, is being a child, and everyone involved in a child’s life should work towards that goal (either by providing material or psychological support, or by preventing undesired indoctrination). There should literally be no goal higher than this for any parent or caretaker. Any indoctrination, any coercion, any demands or orders which do not accord with this goal are wrong. It is not just the most important thing, it is the only thing.

I’m not sure what stage that would qualify as, but it’s definitely not conventional. I don’t believe that social consensus, laws, or social conventions have any bearing whatsoever on the issue of parents’ relationship to their children. The social consensus is that parents should interfere in their children’s lives in order to make them into good adults, and there are no laws against controlling children’s lives (except for things like assault, rape or murder).

9. In general, what should be the authority of a father over his son?
9a. Why?

My answer to this question is a direct consequence of my previous answer. The only justified authority that a parent can have over their child is the authority necessary to provide material or psychological support that the child needs (e.g. the classical example of a parent yanking their child out of the road so they don’t get hit, or helping them through rough times). No other parental authority is desirable or justified.

10. What do you think is the most important thing a son should be concerned about in his relationship to his father?
10a. Why is that the most important thing?

Again, I have to repeat myself: the child’s sole job is to be a child. Children should not be concerned with their relationship with their parents. If they like their parents, then all the better. But if they don’t, then they should not be the ones who have to cultivate the relationship. That’s the parents’ responsibility. So my answer, as unsatisfying as it might be, is: nothing.

11. In thinking back over the dilemma, what would you say is the most responsible thing for Joe to do in this situation?
11a. Why?

To me this question seems rather similar to question 1, except for the word “responsible,” but I’m not sure what it adds to the discussion. Joe has not done anything that he needs to take responsibility for. If anyone did, it is the father, who should take responsibility for giving orders to his child without justification. The responsible thing for the father to do in this situation is to apologize to Joe and tell him that he (Joe) can do whatever he wants with his own money. There is nothing responsible for Joe to do in this situation, because he didn’t do anything wrong.

Well, I hope you liked my answers. If you disagree with me on one of the questions, then please post your own answer in the comments. Since this entry is quite long, I will keep the other dilemma for another entry.