Category Archives: Childism

Male circumcision and childism.

So far, the form of abuse I’ve discussed the most has been spanking. I do so because the issue of spanking is much discussed and is very clear-cut. Another similar issue is that of male circumcision. While most Western people agree that female circumcision is repulsive, the opinions about male circumcision are mixed, and there is much hurling of scientific “facts” from both sides, as if science is the way to resolve this issue (unlike female genital mutilation, where the only credible pro argument is cultural relativism).

I have discussed this reduction of childist issues to scientific studies when I discussed spanking. Well-intentioned anti-spanking advocates use the results of studies to try to justify their position. Spanking advocates believe these studies simply don’t matter. In the case of male circumcision, both sides profess to follow where the science leads.

However, I think it’s important that, as in the case of spanking, anti-circumcision advocates do not fall into this trap. The issue of male circumcision in newborns is not a scientific issue, it is an ethical issue. And we would realize this very rapidly if we were discussing something not related to children. If we were talking about cutting off foreskins of male adults while they were asleep, we would be outraged. If we were talking about any form of assault against adults, people wouldn’t be arguing whether the assault continued to have negative consequences for the victim years after the fact. And yet, when we talk about assaulting little children, we just can’t see the obvious falsify of these arguments.

There is only one general principle that is relevant to the issue of male circumcision (and female genital mutilation as well):

Children are human beings. Human beings should not be assaulted by other human beings.

This is the only relevant fact. Supposed medical benefits are not relevant. “Choice” nonsense is not relevant. How good of a parent you are is not relevant. Whether the father is circumcised or not is not relevant. The only factor which determines whether assault, whether it’s circumcision or any other form of assault, is desirable or not is this: should human beings be assaulted, and in what conditions? Should human beings be assaulted when they are harming others? Sure, within limits. Should human beings be assaulted spontaneously when they are sleeping? No.

Let’s be clear about this medical rationale, because it confuses a lot of people. It is claimed that some marginal medical benefits justify assaulting newborns. This argument is complete and absolute nonsense: if it was true, then we’d also be justified in circumcising adults without their consent. But no circumcision advocate preaches this. Instead, they preach the nonsense of “choice,” that famous magic word. “Choice” for who? Not for the child. Then what use is it?

No, we have a good idea of what interventions are permissible to make on someone else without their consent, and the list of such interventions does not include circumcisions. For instance, the NHS (British health care system) states that the following are reasons to perform a medical intervention without consent:

It may not be necessary to obtain consent if a person:

* requires emergency treatment to save their life, but they’re incapacitated (for example, they’re unconscious) – the reasons why treatment was necessary should be fully explained once they’ve recovered

* immediately requires an additional emergency procedure during an operation – there has to be a clear medical reason why it would be unsafe to wait to obtain consent, and it can’t be simply for convenience

* with a severe mental health condition – such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or dementia – lacks the capacity to consent to the treatment of their mental health (under the Mental Health Act 1983) – in these cases, treatment for unrelated physical conditions still requires consent, which the patient may be able to provide, despite their mental illness

* requires hospital treatment for a severe mental health condition, but self-harmed or attempted suicide while competent and is refusing treatment (under the Mental Health Act 1983) – the person’s nearest relative or an approved social worker must make an application for the person to be forcibly kept in hospital, and two doctors must assess the person’s condition

* is a risk to public health (due to rabies, cholera or tuberculosis (TB)

* is severely ill and living in unhygienic conditions (under the National Assistance Act 1948) – a person who is severely ill or infirm and is living in unsanitary conditions can be taken to a place of care without their consent

None of these conditions are fulfilled by circumcising male newborns. Male circumcisions do not save anyone’s life, they do not occur during an operation, they are not the result of severe mental health conditions (apart from the mental health conditions of pro-circumcision advocates), they are not connected to self-harm or suicide attempts, public health, or living in unhygienic conditions.

All whinging or hand-wringing about a higher rate of urinary tract infections or penile cancer falls on its face when confronted with the basic and obvious ethical question. This is uncomfortable for circumcision advocates, and they try to evade the issue as much as they can. For instance, here’s part of one pro-male-circumcision group’s FAQ response to one such argument (“intactivist” is their pet term for people who stand up for the rights of children):

The scientific reason is entirely objective (factual), whereas the moral objection is purely subjective (an opinion). The problem with the intactivists’ stance is that they seek to impose their opinion on others, in the process inflating the magnitude of their moral objections to a level akin to that seen in debates about abortion or euthanasia. Circumcision really isn’t that big an issue….

Circumcision should neither be made compulsory nor illegal. The decision whether or not to circumcise a baby boy is, quite properly, a decision to be taken by the family in the context of their individual circumstances…

Advice given by professionals involved in counselling parents should be wholly factual, free from value judgements…

Campaigners against circumcision should respect the right of others to hold an opinion that differs from their own and should refrain from vilifying those who carry out, research or publish the benefits of the procedure.

All said and done, the moral issue is purely a matter of opinion. It is something that does not lend itself to objective analysis.

You can read the rest of it on their page, but these are the salient points. Their response is basically: “I have objective facts on my side, and all you have is subjective opinion, so you should stop imposing your opinions on me while I should be free to impose my facts on you.” But as I’ve already said, the issue of whether we should assault people should not be based on “scientific facts” or the “choice” of co-conspirators, but rather on ethics. Unlike morality, ethics are not a “matter of opinion.” The points I’ve presented in this entry are not opinions but arguments: whatever you think about them, they are statements about reality (unlike opinions, which are statements about one’s beliefs or feelings) and they are independently verifiable (unlike opinions, which are personal).

Ethics lends itself to objective analysis. When we look at any proposed policy on ethical evaluations, such as “male circumcision is a decision to be taken by the family,” we need to ask ourselves some questions:

1. Is any expected coercion resulting from it rationally justified?
2. Is it based on valid ethical principles?
3. Does it respect human rights?
4. Is the tally of who is reasonably expected to benefit/be harmed fair and equitable?

In the case of male circumcision, the answer to all these question is a resounding no. So it is no surprise that circumcision advocates do not want to argue from a standpoint of ethics. They know they are in the wrong and therefore must ignore it at all costs. They want to portray themselves as “objective” (as opposed to their irrational opponents, the “intactivists,” who are “subjective”), as having “respect” (although clearly not respect for the children), and as being “free from value judgements.” Well, no one is free from value judgments, because to know necessarily requires one to value knowledge and the correct methods to acquire it and use it. Honesty is a value. Compassion is a value. Justice is a value. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge such values is not worth listening to.

Is male circumcision not a big issue? Then why are circumcision advocates even bothering to argue for it? Abortion and euthanasia are only big issues because of religious opposition. From an ethical standpoint, euthanasia is a relatively straightforward issues, abortion less so. In both cases, we argue ethics precisely because abortion and euthanasia are moral and ethical issues, not scientific issues. Male circumcision is an ethical issue, therefore it can only be discussed in ethical terms.

It would be just as silly to argue that abortion puts women at greater risk of cervical cancer, or that euthanizing a family member makes one more likely to be depressed. These issues are dwarfed by the central question of whether abortion and euthanasia are right or wrong. If abortion and euthanasia should be allowed, then the medical risk is part of the personal decision to do them or not. If they are wrong, then talking about medical benefits or risks is irrelevant.

Citing more medical benefits will not change the fact that male circumcisions in newborns do not fulfill any of the existing criteria for medical interventions without consent. If male circumcision advocates want to argue that the standards for medical interventions without consent are incomplete, then they need to argue on that basis (something I have yet to see any of them actually do). There are no other grounds on which one could argue for legalized male circumcision.

The root of the fallacy in their line of reasoning is childism, the belief that children are inferior and must be controlled for their own good. It is the only reason why they fail to recognize that babies are human beings and should not be subject to assault any more than adults should be. Of course, many of these people may be good parents (although I sincerely hope none of these perverts have children, that’s an unrealistic hope), but prejudice does not always entail being mean. Plenty of racists are good people and considerate to people of color. Plenty of sexists treat women “right,” according to their own idea of what’s right. That doesn’t make them any less bigoted.

Most childists are not even aware of being childists, simply because the issue is not publicly discussed. And yet it still exists. Anyone who does not hold to childist would immediately realize that assaulting children (whether in spanking or circumcision) is wrong because assaulting people who are not harming others is wrong. The fact that they are children obscures this basic fact from our awareness, because we are all conditioned to view children as inferior, less than human.

By the way, since the idiots have a cute term for their opponents, “intactivists,” why don’t we have a term for them? What about Foreskin Davidians, from the story where David collected hundreds of foreskins from his enemies? It shows well their obsessive and perverted nature. And it is just as ridiculous. Or what about Babychoppers? Tell me what you think in the comments.

The power of rituals to legitimize violence against children.

Rituals are seen as a benign part of religion and other institutions, and are said to add meaning to our lives. But rituals have been used throughout history to legitimize a lot of horrible things, like torture and to mass murder. So there are two sorts of rituals: some that serve a benign purpose, and some that serve to legitimize something more harmful. Spanking rituals are part of the latter category.

Spanking advocates use the ritual associated with spanking as a line between “discipline” and “punishment.” I’ve previously written about how I see this as a distinction without a difference. Ritualizing something does not whitewash it. The fact that you use violence on children in a ritualistic manner is no better than doing it in anger: actually, it might be worse, because the child may see the ritual as legitimizing the act as well.

The site for TIME Magazine published an editorial on “parenting” under the title Spanking Can Be an Appropriate Form of Child Discipline, written by Jared Pingleton, who works for Focus on the Family. This right-wing nut attempts to justify spanking by appealing to the ritual, and denying that spanking is child abuse because proper, ritualized spanking is administered “out of love.”

Even if you take the hardline, ultra-childist position that children must be punished so they obey their parents, there is zero scientific evidence that spanking leads to more obedience, and there is actually evidence for the exact opposite position. So spanking is not even shown to do what it’s supposed to do. But let’s examine Pingleton’s argument:

Properly understood and administered, spanking is most effective as a deterrent to undesirable behavior for younger preschoolers (but never for infants).

This is an empirical claim. What is it based on? Well, if it’s based on any data of any kind, it is not anything that Pingleton wanted to share, because he doesn’t talk about any data. And then, of course, we must ask the usual questions which expose the childism of the speaker: what is “undesirable behavior” and who determines what that comprises? Why must children be sexually assaulted to prevent this behavior, and what is the connection between sexually assaulting a child and stopping an undesirable behavior?

Is this not rather like a small-scale version of “corrective rape”? In both cases, the perpetrator identifies a behavior which he finds undesirable in someone else (e.g. a woman who is a lesbian, a child screaming), and sexually assaults them in order to change the behavior. Likewise, no study has yet revealed the efficacy of rape in changing women’s sexual orientation.

Generally speaking, we advise parents that corporal discipline should only be applied in cases of willful disobedience or defiance of authority—never for mere childish irresponsibility. And it should never be administered harshly, impulsively, or with the potential to cause physical harm. Along those lines, we caution parents who have a hard time controlling their temper to choose alternative forms of discipline. There is never an excuse or an occasion to abuse a child.

For parents who do choose to spank, the proper philosophy and approach is extremely important. Too begin with, as with all forms of correction, the concepts of punishment and discipline are absolute opposites. Punishment is motivated by anger, focuses on the past, and results in either compliance (due to fear) or rebellion and feelings of shame, guilt and/or hostility. On the other hand, discipline is motivated by love for the child, focuses on the future, and results in obedience and feelings of security.

So here we have another attempt at creating two categories of violence against children, discipline and punishment. I already linked above to my position on the subject, which is that the criteria used are either invalid or useless. If you want to read my refutation of Pingleton’s criteria, I invite you to read that entry, because he offers nothing new here.

There are however some interesting terms in these two paragraphs. For example, you have “defiance of authority” being noted as a higher level of truancy than “childish irresponsibility.” Let me remind you of the age group Pingleton is talking about here, young preschoolers, so let’s assume we’re talking about children between 3 and 4 years old. It is profoundly silly to claim that a 3 year old is “defying authority” or being “irresponsible.” I think this has a lot to do with the stereotype of young children, even babies, as calculating and mendacious (see point 5 of this entry for more).

The aim of stereotypes is to hate or dehumanize a target. The aim of portraying young children as mendacious is to produce the feeling that they’re “out to get you,” that no matter how trustworthy they seem, they are thinking of ways to get what they want. We see in this stereotype an echo of antisemitism. as well as more extreme right-wing bigotry (“if you give them an inch…”) and conspiracy theories (“the conspiracy is out to get us”).

The next expression I find interesting is “parents who do choose to spank.” Portraying spanking as a choice is not just nonsense, but also hides the fact that physical and sexual abuse usually results from the parents themselves having been abused as children. And that cycle of abuse is always impulsive and focused on the past, no matter how much you rationalize it. That means that most cases of spanking cannot, and will never, be “proper discipline,” even by the spanking advocates’ own criteria. That is why they must sweep it under the rug with the label of “choice.” Spanking is a crime, not a choice.

It is furthermore said that improper spanking leads to compliance and proper spanking leads to obedience. These two words are synonyms. All spanking does is lead to compliance and obedience. It does not make the child a better person. It does not even instill any desire to perform the desired behavior.

Finally, there is the expression “focuses on the future.” Childism is always focused on the future, in that it sees a child as raw materials from which parents must mold a future person. This is true regardless of whether you use discipline, punishment, or neither. By definition, there cannot be a pedagogy which is not “focused on the future.” The only way, the sole way, in which your actions towards a child can be anything other than “focused on the future” would be for you to see the child as a full and equal human being. Anything else is necessarily “focused on the future,” not on the present.

Many parents today view themselves primarily as their child’s friend and recoil at the idea of administering discipline. Children, though, desperately need their parents’ love and affirmation as well as their authoritative guidance and correction. Disciplining our sons and daughters is part of the tough work of parenting, but it will pay big dividends in the long run.

Again, we see the future orientation in the expression “in the long run.” All of us live in the present and must demand dividends now, not in the future. Setting rewards in the far future is usually a good warning sign that you’re being exploited in the present time (see for example the religious oppression justified by the afterlife in Heaven). It’s a pretty old game, a misdirection aimed at keeping your eyes looking into the future while people are picking your pockets in the present. Parents who use physical violence are robbing their children of their present in the name of some unseen future which, to the child, is meaningless gobbledygook. Children do not, and should not, live for the future. To say otherwise goes against nature and is about as pointless as such attempts usually are.

The opposing views offered to us, that either parents use violence or they’re solely their child’s friends, are equally invalid. Children do not need violence and they do not need friendship from adults (although there’s nothing wrong with it as such). What they do need is to be supported with the material and psychological means to flourish. This cannot be accomplished as long as they are kept in artificial family structures and prevented from living in community with other children.
But this position is outside of the margins of discourse. What we get is a “debate” between organizations like “Focus on the Family,” which is dedicated to the maintenance of the traditional family structure at all costs, and the more compassionate opposition, who believes in the family structure but also believes that it could exist in many different forms. No one is taking the side of the children.

A child should always receive a clear warning before any offense that might merit a spanking and understand why they are receiving this disciplinary action. If he or she deliberately disobeys, the child should be informed of the upcoming spanking and escorted to a private area. The spanking should be lovingly administered in a clear and consistent manner. Afterward, the lesson should be gently reiterated so that the child understands and learns from this teachable experience.

According to people like Pingleton, performing this ritual will magically bring moral insight to the child. I say magically, because there is no cause and effect presented, or possible, between spanking and moral insights. It is precisely magical thinking. I have nothing against ritual magic (actually, I think it’s a fascinating subject, although I know little about it), but when other people are actively harmed by it, you’ve gone too far.

As such, it is remarkably similar to the magic imbued to prisons and jails. We believe that by inflicting suffering on people labeled criminals, we bring them some form of moral insight. Yet again, there is no explanation as to how imprisoning and torturing people in itself can impart moral insights. While there’s always been ascetics who believe that mystical insights can be achieved by self-harm, this seems rather far removed from the very practical aims of the believers in law and order. They seek not to impart ethereal mystical insights, but rather, like the childists, direct and practical moral truths.

It is rather more likely that the hatred of children and criminals came first, and the bizarre magic-based rationalizations came afterwards. Spanking is not a magical act, it is an act of hatred (however temporary that hatred might be, or however ritualized).

As for the steps of the ritual, they are no more noteworthy than the steps of any other ritual. They say in ritual magic that it’s not the actual steps that really matter but the strength of the feelings you put into it, and that the steps are only means to channel those feelings. That is why spanking advocates are very keen to tell you about how you should feel when you perform the ritual, and why that’s so important. The movements and the magic words (“this will hurt me more than it’ll hurt you”, the spanking advocate’s equivalent of “abracadabra”) are irrelevant.

Rituals are an important factor in another form of sexual assault and physical violence against children, circumcision (both male and female). In this case, we have religious rituals instead of a secular ritual, but the principle is the same. The rituals are used to legitimize the use of violence against children. The goal of circumcision is to consecrate the newborn as a future believer of its religion of birth, to mark its religion on its skin for its whole life, to impart sexual decency, and, in some cultures, to ensure that the child will be “normal.” The goal of circumcision, as for spanking, is to generate servile obedience, nothing more (so-called health benefits are only a rationalization after the fact, and are therefore entirely irrelevant).

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.