Updated! AST and Child Sexual Abuse

I hate paedophilia, and that is the name for the human practice of adults having sex with children. I know a bunch of victims, some very close to me. When I say something like “sex is nicer than violence,” I don’t mean for human children, and if I say “sex is nicer than violence for children,” then I am talking about bonobos and chimpanzees, or about our own deep, deep past, barely more recently the time when we and the chimpanzees were the same creature. This is about origins. I have a certain insight, that we do what we do for biological reasons, but that the way we understand those reasons, and the way we talk about why we do what we do is upside down and backwards in some very important ways. In fact, I think we are subject to a kind of ‘false national narrative’ at the species level and our origin story needs a closer look. I imagine there are some smart scientists who are far ahead of me here, but generally, humanity at large speaks with a single voice.

 

I followed a train of thought about punishment. I wasn’t really looking to analyze child sexual abuse, kind of the opposite! I was running from thinking about that for personal childhood reasons, pleased to meet you.

 

The theory I came up with seems to explain a lot, though, antisocialization theory, or AST. For one, it gives a new angle from which to view our taboo regarding paedophilia. With it’s focus on punishment and abuse in human life, AST considers humanism to be new and only making a faltering start so that the safety and protection of children only works as the driver of the taboo if the taboo is also new in the world. If the taboo has deeper roots, then humanism is not likely to be the reason for it. If the biologist’s explanation about genetic addition of disease risks is the main reason, then our biology can find other answers too, and doesn’t require that we talk about it, but we do. Of course, our biology doesn’t require that we know everything about our behaviour, only that we do it – but society’s a different story. That’s where what we think about our biology matters also, what we think about our behaviour affects our choices, our policies, public and private.

 

I think our origin story has us at an impasse on both huge issues, the physical punishment and abuse of children and child sexual abuse, and AST can break us out of it. A brief definition is coming up soon.

 

I think probably AST and the associated book is the place to say that humans fuck their kids just like the chimps and bonobos do – I mean, a lot of them – sorry, us, I mean, a lot of us (I’m still running). Enough of us do that if we saw that that percentage of elephants were fucking their kids, there would be no debate, it would simply be listed as an elephant behaviour. Of course, it’s not acceptable human behaviour – but it’s human behaviour. That is not to excuse anything, quite the opposite: if it is not a human behaviour then it may follow that there aren’t victims. It absolutely is and there absolutely are, way too many, so to all the victims yes, this is a human behaviour, this happened and this happens. To make it clear for everyone else: paedophilia and incest are not nearly rare enough to be outside of the ‘normal’ fields of study and they’re not rare enough to be only a ‘personal’ issue. This is a human behaviour, a human problem, and one that we have not yet addressed in such a way as to change much about it.

 

That is true, and true things require some logic to drive them, so there will be some logic to work out here, what effect our modern situation has had on that, how we have somehow turned an act of monkey love into a powerful antisocializing force. Wait for it . . . the definition:

 

Antisocialization theory has it that abuse contributes in a powerful way to the antisocial side of our socialization, that the pain, confusion, and powerlessness associated with abuse and punishment create antisocial feelings and ideation to some degree in those who experience them. AST postulates that a more antisocial member of the troop is a more effective soldier, self motivated and tough, and that perhaps human or proto human troops that did not go to lengths to antisocialize their children were out-competed in battle. This article is not intended to be anyone’s introduction to AST, but this short version is what’s important in AST regarding child sexual abuse: punishment, violence and abuse are antisocializing factors, designed to make us crazy, angry, and violent beyond perhaps what we may have been without them.

 

Perhaps if at some point if we knew, if we were aware that we were perhaps easily killing off the less antisocial apes, or perhaps the more prosocial apes around us, and so if we had instituted a program of abuse for its effects (if we were beating our children to toughen them up and make better troop soldiers), if we were all in for making war and not love so much, then it makes sense that we would certainly also probably put the kibosh on much of our prosocializing.

 

Looking at the bonobos as a view perhaps beyond our early human past, we do indeed see that sex is a powerful prosocializing force in their lives, and as ubiquitous for them as perhaps authority, hierarchy and punishment are in ours, and the young are not left out of the never-ending orgy. It appears that adult bonobos are not antisocialized from their experience, that, in their primate life, sex exists on the positive side of the social ledger.

 

This is one way in which AST makes our previous understanding so clearly backwards: the taboo regarding sex with children, if it is as old as humankind, isn’t any sort of harm reduction strategy at all. The bonobos, they say, have very little violence and pleasure seems to be their social currency; their sex with their children looks like regular sex albeit with bonobos of all size and shape, voluntary and pleasurable. AST says human beings spend far more time punishing their children than pleasuring them (just saying, not arguing), at least today, and it’s my guess that we have made a choice.

 

We didn’t make a taboo of sex with children because sex hurts them – again, unless we only decided this recently. We did it for military reasons, because loving touch spoils soldiers. According to antisocialization theory, I mean. To put it another way, how long do we think there have been advocates for child abuse victims? Do we imagine the protection of children from sex was a cause that took over the world sometime in ancient history or prehistory when protecting them from violence remains a remote and unlikely goal today?

 

Our social injunction regarding incest is only part of the bigger, antisocialist injunction, not the proscription of harmful child rape, or of shallow gene pools, but rather the proscription of a prosocializing behaviour.

 

Of course, it didn’t stop child sexual abuse, and it’s something we will battle forever, probably, especially within the existing narrative about it. It’s a trauma for us, so how can we imagine we stopped it when it wasn’t a trauma, let alone because it wasn’t one? Despite that it looks nice when bonobos do it, when a human adult fucks a child, it is a bad scene, violent, criminal, abusive, ostracizing, all of it, so it’s hard to see the connection, but it’s there, buried somewhere in our past.

 

Trauma is not why we outlawed it in the first place, is all I’m saying, all antisocialization theory is saying. We can’t imagine ourselves making that sort of choice, but if we can look at the bonobos and imagine them making the choice to outlaw sex with their kids . . . then maybe for them, we can see that it would be an antisocial move. Just in case: I’m not advocating for humans to start living the bonobo life, I ain’t advocating for sex with children. My heart’s in the right place and my wick’s dry on this. I am not advocating and I ain’t asking for sex with kids. It’s just that I have a theory and it makes sense of things, that’s all, and that theory has brought me to where our outrage regarding paedophilia seems to be part and parcel of our love of violence. These are emotional, dangerous topics and perhaps that is in part because we don’t quite understand them yet – but AST can help.

 

Right, wrong, prosocial, antisocial, we outlawed child sexual abuse for antisocial reasons, not for prosocial ones, not to protect kids and not to avoid birth defects. At some point, we’ll have to tether ourselves to that reality, because this misunderstanding – that sexual activity, rather than violence, is somehow the greatest cause of evil in the world – simply fails to generate any real progress on either issue. To repeat: do we really think someone was advocating for the children and against child sexual abuse by adults for as long as we’ve been human, or for as long as we’ve been writing? Hardly! But we have been beating our children and so socially engineering ourselves for conflict and war that whole time. Humans have things to do, destinies to achieve, battles to fight, and we don’t really approve of those lazy bonobos just laying around playing swallow the leader all day. That’s the context in which that taboo came into existence and remains with us, as a part of the warrior code.

 

That’s the secret: sex makes you happy and peaceful, and we worry that we’re not mean enough to deal with the neighbors already, so it’s out, except for procreative sex. After all, the army needs soldiers.

 

That’s how taboos work. You’re not allowed to pick it up and turn it over, not allowed to see what’s underneath it. What’s under this one – surprise! – is violence, and our deep love of and identification with it. Not to minimize child sexual abuse, but the exposed core belief was the secret here, the thing that we have an opportunity to learn: our core belief is not a prosocial one. The truth, eventually, will set us free.

 

Jeff

Feb. 27th., 2017

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A Conflicted Society – Rape, Part #3 – Yes Means Yes

I’m examining a few aspects of rape in this series. I know that rape is to a great extent a violent crime and not so much a sexual one, and I do try to deconstruct the roots of violence generally elsewhere, particularly in a series titled “It All Starts . . .” but I am focussing on the sexual elements of rape in these posts, because it seems to be the sexual aspects that make rape so much less prosecutable than other violent crimes.

Here’s the first posts:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/12/09/a-conflicted-society-rape-1/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/01/17/a-conflicted-society-part-4-rape-part-2/

I think this, from Part #2 needs some development:

“My advice: let’s make our lives more conscious, let’s drag sex out into the light. Maybe we lose some of the excitement, some of the mystery, but maybe we also lose some of the rape.”

That sounded good to me – I mean I love the sound of my own voice. If no-one else reads me, I will – but it needs a little more detail to be of any use, so here goes. No means no, of course it does, but if it can also mean ‘yes,’ then that could be part of the problem. Yes, I’m going there. This series is getting progressively less PC. I’m sorry, but if you have reason to feel that the politically correct voices on this subject have it all under control and that this problem is close to being solved, you’d better share it with me. Otherwise, I’m just going to push on. (Good Lord that sounded bad! No evil pun intended, really. Those things keep cropping up, and I’m sorry.)

I don’t think I’ve ever pursued a girl in order to bed her, I don’t think I ever tried to talk a girl into bed, sold myself to a girl – that always seemed humiliating to me. I guess I was lucky, I looked good enough as a young man that there were partners often enough without me having to work for it. I think I’ve had sex with maybe ten girls and women, I mean, I had some lonely years too, when I was no fun and the girls seemed to sense it. If my confidence was abysmal then, I suppose it was never high enough to pursue a girl and risk the rejection. The girlfriends and liaisons I had when young always came about through mutual attraction, naturally – well, I guess a few of the girls pursued and bedded me. (Life sucks – and then you die!) Those relationships didn’t last long; I couldn’t hide my indifference, I guess. But I’m a freak and that’s not the game as we all know it, is it?

The game is, or has been, boys chase and girls choose.

Right?

And Good Girls Don’t, right, so a girl isn’t supposed to say ‘yes’ right away . . . Good girls don’t. That idea is still out there, and it’s part of the problem. The boy is supposed to work for it. I hate to tell you, folks, and it’s a good thing I have no reputation to lose, but unfortunately, that situation, – the State of the Union, if you will – means that sometimes ‘no’ means ‘yes.’ If we can’t see how that is a part of this complex problem, then God help us. Why the male players in the game like this arrangement, I can’t say with any certainty, I personally don’t like it, but maybe it is a natural thing, the aggressiveness of testosterone, the thrill of conquest, or maybe it’s a less natural, more modern, psychological power game, and probably also things I have no idea about. As for women, well, same sort of thing I suppose, a natural priority women place on their desirability, or perhaps some less natural function . . . of course, also, any number of things I don’t understand. I’ll swallow my ego and try to face the possibility that such things exist.

Of course, those possible factors, natural and possibly unnatural power dynamics, for both genders exist on a continuum the far right end of which means rape and the rape culture. If being an object of desire has a positive feeling, if it’s an ego boost (which, I know, ladies, it is if the fellow is attractive enough, not so much if he’s not), and if the uptick in our self-esteem produces a feeling of well-being, perhaps this leads to sexual and/or emotional arousal. Or maybe just the presence of another person’s desire creates some arousal, maybe a pheromone thing. Honestly, that’s my theory, really basic:

Sex is sexy, desire is sexy, simple like that. Another person’s desire is a turn on. Referring back to Part #2 again: this is probably why rape is possible without injury. Carried to an extreme, if another person’s desire can create our arousal, then perhaps there are times when another person’s extreme desire, a desire so strong it will not be denied, can produce a strong response, the sort that makes reporting a rape and believing the victim, uh . . . problematic. Come on – if this stuff was simple, we’d have solved it already. Right?

Oh, I’ve lost track. All of the preceding two paragraphs belong in Part #2. Where was I?

Oh, yes. No means No. I’ll just skip to the end.

The thing is, in the culture of Good Girls Don’t, when a girl knows she’s supposed make the boys work for it or risk being labelled, reviled and ostracized as a ‘slut,’ there really isn’t always the ‘yes’ option for a Good Girl, is there? Fine to say ‘no’ means ‘no,’ but that’s a bit of a setup when there can be no ‘yes.’ I mean, when ‘yes’ is not an available option in the real world, we have left ‘no’ to mean both ‘no’ and also ‘yes.’ That is a foundational element of the rape culture. So here’s my idea.

First, as a child of the sixties, I can’t believe I have to say this, I thought we’d had the sexual revolution already, but the more things change, the more they stay the same: sex is not evil. Rape is, because it’s violent, but unforced sex is natural and normal. This is clearly true, and people should remember it when they’re dealing with their own and other peoples’ sex lives, in their real lives. This is what we should teach our children, and slut-shaming should be a thing of the past.

So, ladies, here’s the thing: say ‘yes’ when you want to have sex. Break out of that bind, reject the idea that good girls don’t. Clearly, good girls do, everybody does. Learn to say yes. I’m not saying fuck every guy who asks. I’m just saying say ‘yes’ to the guys you do have sex with. That would clear things up immensely, and could make some progress for us all in the fight against rape and the rape culture. Now a word for the boys.

When you’re trying to bed some girl, maybe it’s a pick-up scenario, maybe it’s a love story, whatever. If the girls says ‘no,’ let it be no. I mean of course, when it’s really ‘no,’ it means ‘no,’ all the anti-rape folks will tell you that, ‘no’ means ‘no,’ damned straight, but the other times. When it’s the game, when she just feels she must make you work for it . . . hold her to it. Just walk away. It could really mean ‘no’ of course, so leave her alone, but, and here’s the thing: if she’s bluffing, call it, call that bluff and walk away. We have an opportunity to help these ladies break out of the Good Girls Don’t bind, to set our ladies free. We can help bring them out of the game that supports the rape culture and into a more honest life.

We can let them know that if they want it, they must say so. Of course, it’s normal and natural to say yes. Our ladies need to know that, and they need to do that.

It’s good for us, too, fellas. I think we’d all want to know when we’re wanted, wouldn’t we? Are we beasts? Are we happy to leave every sexual encounter not knowing if the girl really wanted us? Well, we can usually know their bodies wanted us, I suppose – but wouldn’t it be nice to know that they wanted us consciously? That they knew that they wanted us?

If that seems like a stretch, at least we possibly agree that shining a light on our sex lives in this way could go a long way in making a net increase in the honesty in all our lives, and so, again, create a dwindling habitat for the scourge of rape.