Is there no place or hobby left untouched by the ongoing sex abuse hysteria? Is there nowhere, and no hobby, where we entities known as legal adults can interact with those who are legally considered "children" (even if very much adult in appearance and attitude) sans extreme fear of being labeled "child predators"? It would appear that no place and no hobby is safe from the hysteria, case in point...
This may come as a surprise to both the antis and the mass media (there is a difference, right?), but most of us in the MAA/MAP (Minor Attracted Adult/Minor Attracted Person) community are very multi-faceted individuals with a variety of interests and hobbies completely outside of our admiration for underagers in our particular age of attraction (AoA), or even with any political movement connected to advancing the rights of MAAs and/or youths. In other words, we are human beings, not the single-minded monsters of Western cultural mythology and the Walshian aspects of the media. And I am greatly sympathetic of the many non-MAAs in this society who live in almost as much fear as we do because of the people in this world who profit off of the current sex abuse hysteria, and therefore cause most adults to back off from associating in even the most indirect way with underagers as if the latter carry a highly contagious form of leprosy.
Which brings me to the specific point of this essay. One of my many hobbies entirely outside of the MAA/MAP community, and outside of politics and activism altogether, is my enjoyment of the sci-fi and horror genres in books, cinema, TV shows, video games, RPGs, etc. I find much value in these genres since they are both inherently subversive and they can therefore deal with subjects and themes that are difficult to express in non-genre fiction due to the sometimes taboo or sensitive nature of certain subjects. As such, I believe the sci-fi and horror genres are extremely important to popular fiction, and this is especially the case when we are in the midst of a particular threat to our democratic principles (or more than one), and the ongoing sex abuse hysteria and "pedophile panic" certainly constitutes such a threat, as this essay will make abundantly clear.
This brings me to the most recent issue of Scary Monsters Magazine (issue #75) at the time this essay was written (September of 2010). Scary Monsters Magazine, edited by Dennis Drukentis, is one of the best print mags on the shelves today that covers horror and sci-fi fiction, and the terrific column that appears in most issues of the mag, Scare-News by writer and fantasy fiction fan extraordinaire Johnny Scareshock, is one of the best columns in any modern mag dedicated to horror and sci-fi fiction. On page #109 of Scary Monsters Magazine #75, Johnny was talking about the usual stuff for his column, when suddenly he segued into an unsettling experience he recently had on Facebook. Here is what had shaken Johnny so much in his own words:
Facebook is a dangerous place. When people ask to be a friend the normal tendency is to allow it to happen. Well, when one of these friends asked me to join his fan club I had a sobering moment. I did not know who this "friend" was so I wondered why he would have a fan club in his name. I checked the fan club to find him using it to talk about his sexual fantasies. I saw that a number of his "fans" were young girls. I then checked this "friend's" profile to learn that he was only sixteen years old. Do you see what I am getting at here?
I'm an adult, and if I were to join this child's fan club to read about his sexual fantasies that makes me a sexual predator. I quickly removed him as a friend. I then checked all of my other "friends" to make sure they were all over 18 and removed those who weren't. That incident was one example of how you can get into trouble simply by doing nothing.
The first thing I thought to myself after reading this while relaxing was, "Geez, can't I ever get away from this bullshit? Even we activists like a break from the nonsense sometimes!" Let's think about this for a moment, people. Johnny Scareshock, who has nothing to do with anything remotely controversial that I am aware of, and certainly not the slightest involvement with the MAA community, is likewise feeling the fear. He believes he will be automatically considered a "sexual predator" (his words!) simply for reading certain words on a certain socnet page/fan club. Just for reading words! Obviously, he fears that if any legal adult dared to get *gasp choke scream!* aroused by reading about the sexual fantasies of a 16-year-old boy, then he is a most heinous criminal, far worse than the mad scientists who plot world domination by infecting people with zombie viruses or creating artificial monsters out of cadaver parts to kill on command in the movies and books he makes a hobby out of reading! Not that Johnny himself would get aroused by this (I am not certain where his proclivities lie, as I don't know the man personally, but I have no reason to believe that they lie anywhere outside of the "norm"), but he seems to fear that even if he didn't get aroused from reading such fantasies that people would nevertheless assume he did if he was seen listed as a friend on this boy's Facebook fan club. And that would be so indescribably horrible, right? Worse than anything Johnny saw Michael Myers or Hannibal Lecter do in any of their movies, correct? Johnny seems to feel that the rest of society thinks so.
Here is where the problem truly gets bad. The fact that legal adults are so quick to avoid interacting socially with underagers and avoiding them like a human-devouring zombie plague is only adding to the heavily enforced age segregation in this society. If you're not a parent, you need to treat all underagers as if they carry the zombie plague that Scareshock reads about in the course of his hobby, and even if you are a teacher or a coach and regularly work with underagers, you are strongly encouraged to keep your distance from them and to treat them as nothing other than students, and never as friends.
In fact, the definition of "sexual predator" is becoming increasingly broad, to the point that people like Johnny believe they will be considered one simply for reading words on an online page. Or being associated in any way with a "child" (read: anyone below the Magic Age of 18) that is not one of your own kids. And if the "child" in question is doing something as horribly inappropriate as describing their sexual fantasies, something that young people under 18 are either not supposed to be thinking about (after all, they should be concentrating solely on their academic studies, right?) or at least not supposed to be talking about, especially not in a venue like cyberspace, where anyone--including "old perverts" or other "impressionable children"--can see these horrific words, any self-respecting and "normal" legal adult had better clear the area as if it was being sprayed by napalm! Mother of God, what if such fan clubs cause other "children" to start thinking about sex too? They probably never would have known or thought about it in the first place if not for this overly precocious little pervert! Talk about something that is truly scary!
Also note that Johnny was freaked out to learn that several of this boy's fans were young (presumably underage) girls. Hmmmm...could this possibly mean that--and brace yourself for this one, people, because it may come as a major shock to our culture's sensibilities--underage girls actually have sexual desires and are therefore interested in hearing about the sexual fantasies of others? I shudder to think that any of these impressionable and innocent "little" girls may have been aroused by this boy's fantasies, so I am not about to go there! I don't want to risk spoiling these girls' chaste and virginal images. It was kind of Johnny not to participate in this travesty, not only for his own safety but also so that he wasn't contributing to the delinquency of these "children."
Let's also keep in mind that after this shocking incident, Johnny immediately removed any friend he had on Facebook who was under 18. He seemed to be encouraging all of his adult friends and readers to do so as well, and his concern and fear were totally understandable. After all, is there anything worse in this society than being labeled a "sexual predator," i.e., a horrible despoiler of beautiful childhood innocence? We can live with being labeled serial killers, because even they can be considered cool by many despite the gruesome murders they routinely commit, but sexual predators? *Sigh* They are the lowest of the low! Nothing lower on the scumbag ladder than an adult who may read about underage sexual fantasies and possibly becoming aroused by them! I don't even think Anakin Skywalker went as far down into the abyss of the dark side as some vile adult who becomes aroused by the natural beauty of an underager!
So now we reach a point where the fear has become so pervasive that adults en masse are avoiding virtually any type of association with underagers who are not their own flesh and blood, thus denying these youths potentially important networking opportunities and allies on the political field. Countless mutually beneficial friendships and relationships will now never come to be. Even adults who have no particular romantic/sexual preference for people under the Magic Age feel this fear.
And what of adults who may want to read these youthful sexual fantasies simply out of ordinary curiosity? Or perhaps as the subject of serious scientific research? Isn't the subject of adolescent sexuality a fascinating topic that our society really does need to know more about? Wouldn't knowledge of this taboo subject shed much needed light on a topic that our society all too often avoids and wants to hear nothing about due to both fear of labeling and of facing something that we do not want to acknowledge the existence of because of the cherished cultural paradigms it may shatter to pieces in the process? After all, if we accept the fact that underage sexuality is real, and pervasive, and even--dare I say it--normal, do we not then risk opening up multiple cans of worms, including the possibility that it's relatively common for adults to find much younger people attractive? I guess society would prefer to allow fear of reality to rule than the scarier prospect of facing that reality. Is the fear of facing an uncomfortable reality not the worst type of fear imaginable when you consider all of the societal consequences of putting myth before the reality?
While many people who share Johnny Scareshock's hobby huddle under the covers at night out of fear that monsters may lurk under their bed, a far more realistic fear--sadly speaking--is what may lurk outside your front door as a result of becoming friends with an underager or in any way providing evidence that you might be reading about their sexual fantasies. With the current sex abuse hysteria and fear of youthful sexuality--and the systematic age segregation, Draconian laws, incessant labeling, public shaming, loss of employment and community respect that are the natural byproducts of it--one shouldn't be surprised that horror hobbyists like Johnny Scareshock would rather encounter Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees in a dark alley than an underage person on their Facebook page.
When is society going to come to its senses while we still have a semblance of a democracy? How long do people have to keep living in fear? How far is the age segregation going to have to go before adults feel even moderately safe of being saddled with the Ultimate Scarlet Label? How restrictive do the laws have to become before people en masse come to their senses and collectively cry, "Enough is enough!"? How many more rights do young people have to lose and how far does censorship have to go before our society becomes Orwellian enough to satisfy the government? When can older people cease having a fear of establishing social connections with younger people? How irrational is this fear going to get before common sense finally proves triumphant? This topic can spawn a truly terrifying horror movie all on its own. I can see the title and ad campaign of the movie now:
The Underage Friend: Horror From the Depths of Cyberspace--"Can Johnny overcome the most horrifying situation of them all? Can he possibly survive the unremitting terror of being labeled a 'sexual predator'? If you thought Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, and Hannibal Lecter were something to fear, then you have had it easy! Beware all legal adults, for the ultimate horror is now upon mankind!" Cue to a trailer where a legal adult is seen innocently clicking to a page on Facebook to check out the fan club of a person who added him as a friend in the past, only to come across--prepare yourself--the page of an underage girl with a pic of herself wearing a bikini, and then showing the unfortunate man screaming in terror ("Aaaaaahhhh! Underage sexuality! Please stop this nightmare! I swear I didn't know who she was before I accepted her friend request! I swear I didn't get aroused by that pic of her! Please don't label me a child predator! Pleee--aaa--ssse! Give me a month alone in Camp Crystal Lake first, but for the love of God, please don't put me on a sex offender registry!"
Such a screenplay can practically write itself these days. What does it say for horror icons like Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, and Hannibal Lecter when a young teen girl in a bikini is considered a scarier and more nightmarish image than the likes of them? Perhaps a pic of an attractive underage girl in a provacative pose should make the cover of the next issue of Fangoria.
Following the original version of this essay of mine when it appeared on GirlChat, one of my fellow activists, Scotty, mentioned this: "You are probably aware that a man in Ohio [Brian Dalton] was sentenced to seven years for writing erotic stories in his diary about young girls! Who was harmed?"
Another GC poster, Crimson Moon, noted this in response: "I just looked up a blog about that guy who wrote the erotic stories [Brian Dalton], and a line from that blog really stood out.
"'In earlier cases, the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that protecting children from pedophiles is more important than First Amendment rights.'"
That was followed by this response from yours truly:
When the time comes that mere words and ideas are considered "dangerous," and the State feels the need to "protect" any segment of the population from these "dangerous" words and ideas, then we are truly headed towards a police state. Invoking the "protect the children" line of thought is usually a fool-proof, challenge free method for any corrupt, anti-democratic politician for getting Draconian legislation of any sort passed. Who in public office would dare challenge any type of legislation that was backed up by an alleged "protect the children" purpose (even if the legislation in question clearly had nothing to do with protecting children and everything to do with censorship of unpopular speech and ideas, and further encroachment on the civil rights of society in general, or to harrass MAAs in particular)? Not any politician that had a hope for re-election in these paranoid times, or who would hope to avoid being labeled "soft on child abuse" by their opponents, that's for sure. Just who is it that the children--and society in general--truly need to be protected from? Pedophiles and hebephiles, or the State gestapo?