Essay:MAPs, Paraphiles and Fascists
Below is a slightly extended and modified version of an essay by Jim Burton (The Newgon Strategic Lead), originally published by Thomas O'Carroll in October, 2023. Spellings are anglicized in line with the blog's editorial. Further comments referring back to the social media controversy are included in O'Carroll's blog. Some controversy followed on Pediverse after this blog's publication, in which the author was accused of equating Paraphilia with Fascism.
Relevant terms used by Paraphiles which are instead described with accessible language include: Biastophilia (attraction to rape), Erotophonophilia (to murder), Zoosadism (to hurting animals) and Aptophilia (a coinage; to grooming).
MAPs, Paraphiles and Fascists: Potential allies, or guilt by association?
The relative merits of associating MAPs with other outcast groups
30/10/23 ◆ Jim Burton
One dilemma that has dogged marginalised people, and civil rights movements for centuries, is who might be a productive or otherwise compromising strategic ally.
In today’s era of online censorship, conspiracy theories and antagonistic “Groomer” and “TERF” smears, the downside risk of guilt-by-association reaches far beyond traditional strategic alliances, and now has implications for any kind of association between particular groups, particularly those with an already tarnished public image, and thus, important work to do.
With the association fallacy firmly in play, there has been a lot of debate recently within the MAP Community about two controversial groups – namely Paraphiles (other people with supposedly “non-normative” sexual desires) and Fascists. This debate has been particularly visible among the younger MAPs on Fediverse social sites.
Fediverse sites, for those unfamiliar, are a series of independent servers (i.e. websites) that selectively link up with and block other such servers, to create a unique (generally Twitter-like) social experience for their users. Touted as the future of social networking, this model intends to eliminate the risk of censorship by central authorities such as Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) and Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook. Naturally, the Fediverse has attracted a variety of marginalised groups, from the zoophiles and paedophiles to anime/lolicon fans and people with multiple “alters”. Even self-identifying psychopaths, rape fetishists, race role-players and unhinged neo-Nazis have found a home on Fediverse, with fresh-faced young activists such as Greta Thunberg awkwardly adjacent.
So, on the fringes of Fediverse, we end up with a strange situation wherein Nazis on their one server, deem the other server of rape and animal abuse fetishists to be, in their time-honoured words, “degenerate”; blocking them as a result. In turn, the rape fetishists respond by blocking the Nazis for harassment, or because they find them offensive or vulgar according to their doubtless refined sensibilities. In this sense, each Fediverse server’s federated content stream (hence the name) is dynamically curated according to the wants of its administrator/s and its wider user-base’s prejudices.
The Nazi Smear
This year, I personally became the target of a similar kind of respectability politics when anti-c MAP/Paraphile activists alleged that conversations taking place on a chat-based MAP Fediverse server I fund (chat.yesmap.net) were “problematic”. In a campaign of malicious and disruptive disinformation, I was accused not only of tolerating Nazis and rampant transphobia, but normalising sex between adults and babies – something my server members were said by the accusers to uniformly relish with gay abandon. After a short internal review (I do not immediately read everything posted on the server), I found these allegations to be unsubstantiated. I also found that my moderators had acted as per my wish – repeatedly removing ethnonationalists on vacation from other servers. Usually, these bans were enacted in response to their insufferable behaviour towards other users, or failing that, when their all-consuming, and off-topic obsession with “race” politics became tiresome or started to rub other members up the wrong way.
It appears the smear was in fact the brain-child of what I can only describe as a couple of permanently online Paraphile MAP Activists who had migrated from Tumblr, via Twitter to Mastodon (itself a Fediverse protocol) three years ago to evade bans. At the point I became acquainted with them (via Twitter), it was obvious, at least in retrospect, they were on a renewed push to disrupt the MAP Community by politicising and dividing it. Both were young, self-identifying as “psychopathic” and anti-c, one an "Anarchist"/"Victimological" Feminist, and the other an "Authoritarian" Communist. Their clique had long been pushing (with sluggish and limited success) for the wider online MAP Community to be curated according to their own radical politics, seeking to expunge any trace of its previous intellectual diversity. Since their criticisms were aired, the two principal instigators have faced controversies of their own, after further information regarding their involvement in malicious conduct (doxxing – sharing of personal information) against other MAPs emerged. But their changed personal situation aside, the argument these two made is still wholly unacceptable, for if we were to submit MAPs to a monolithic model of identity politics, we would be at risk of confirming one of the Radical-Right’s worst misrepresentations of MAP visibility. This is namely the myth that MAP acceptance is solely a project of Liberal-Left, “postmodern” and/or “woke” politics.
During these trials, a few matters raised by MAPs and paraphilia activists on Fediverse forced me to clarify my own positions, which clash strongly with theirs:
- I do not personally agree with the tactic of copying verbatim the model of queer/trans identity politics seen from the 2010s onwards, at least in the case of MAPs. Our situation is one of extreme invalidation, and theirs is one of seeking recognition and validation within an already assimilated identity group. Therefore, a multi-pronged strategy would be more appropriate in our case.
- I do not argue that MAPs are just one small part of a “Paraphilic” spectrum, comprising of perhaps over 500 diagnoses/identities. I’d rather see MAPs treated as a special case; far more numerous, and with a rich history unrivalled by other such groups. A “strong” identity here is key; we will not win by playing the victim forever, nor will we gain considerable ground by validating the outdated politics and imagery of victimhood and trauma that compounded our situation from the late 70s and 80s on.
- Finally, I don't argue that MAPs ought to stay “degenerate”; that liberation is an absolute “false ideal”, since it entails “assimilation” into a norm. This argument would be deemed absurd, if applied, e.g. to the situation of youth or ethnic minorities.
Gallery of Fediverse screencaps
The administrator of a major Paraphile and MAP instance explains his philosophy
More background on his philosophy and personal tastes (taken form various statuses, including a 2018 Deviantart)
Discourse from a supposed MAP on said instance
A coinage supposedly relating to MAPs who like the idea of "grooming" - sincerity unestablished at this point
Flags to celebrate Zoosadism. A further flag (with hard candy) was designed for grooming
No prizes for guessing this was one of the people later chased out of the community for malicious behavior against other MAPs
A poll (on a centrist/nonpolitical instance) concerning the presence of Nazis on Fediverse
A Nazi roleplayer's opinion prior to his departure from childlove.space - another centrist-leaning instance
Paraphiles' scolding of "Assimilationism"
It is a common sight on Fediverse, for MAP-inclusive paraphilia activists to scold some MAPs as “assimilationists”, i.e. marginalized people who attempt to curry favor in society at large by appealing to social norms. A classic example of an assimilationist might be - say, an "acceptable" PG-rated Christian Homosexual such as the activist scholar, John Boswell. Present-day Paraphiles and Anarcho-Communist MAPs are instead using the term in a more inclusive and speculative fashion against MAPs, dismissing their valid concerns about associating with some of the more violently paraphilic inclinations. Any uneasiness about harmful stereotypes such associations might reinforce are dismissed out of hand, and the MAP labeled an "assimilationist".
To me, the "assimilationist" scold, when used in such a way is a premature, lazy and opportunistic attack that says more about the critic's need to project to others a "right on" optic, than the somewhat more complex personal motivations of their target. It should also be added that assimilationism needn't be a dirty word. While there are doubtless strains of it that must be avoided (i.e. explicitly anti-paedophile rhetoric), there are others that might be advantageous if used in the right way, on the right audience - for example, normative historical arguments.
In many ways, assimilationism is an inevitable part of any civil rights struggle whose end goal is social acceptance. When this reality hits home, you will often see younger Paraphilia activists concocting panicked and historically illiterate arguments attempting to criticize its effectiveness. In response, it can be pointed out that homosexuals made early gains using unsophisticated civil libertarian arguments based on privacy, to the temporary exclusion of unapologetic queerness. They made further, and substantial gains appealing to the state, military, nuclear family and corporations while distancing themselves from MAPs - proving (if MAPs didn't already know) that expediency pays dividends.
If bad optics weren’t also a concern for MAPs engaged in real-world activism, the otherwise radical David Thorstad would not have felt compelled to complain about the NAMBLA Bulletin becoming a soft porn rag for paedophiles, nor would Tom Reeves have had to stress the same organisation was fundamentally about teen boys rather than children. Virtuous Pedophiles, a now infamous organisation of the 10s, are the most recent example of Assimilationist MAPs appealing to social norms. While they are almost unanimously loathed by their own kind (arguably, this includes themselves), it still cannot be denied this strategy achieved considerable media exposure for many years.
As proven by the recent paedophobic attacks on Trans people, political adjacency is also a complex and tortured dynamic that may necessitate some degree of self-censorship. It might be the case that both a person who fetishizes rape, and a MAP are harmless, "law-abiding" people deserving of respect. But it can also be the case that if these two invalidated identities are associated to the point where they are seen as inextricable by wider society, social harms may come about for both. Therefore, it must be taken into account that peoples’ situation, perception thereof, and personal safety varies greatly. For example, some non-western societies that tolerate traditional heterosexual MAP relationships might not be so accepting of queer MAPs, and identifying as sympathetic to queer people might seriously endanger a persons' physical safety within such a context.
Even discounting the cultural insensitivity of those who scold "assimilationism", it remains the case that any association of MAPs with other groups can not and should not be by compulsion. Short-sighted attempts to purity-spiral the MAP Movement will at best incapacitate it, and in the long-run, likely open the door for the worst kind of MAP assimilationists - those who like the "queers" before them, would openly distance paedophiles to appease the UN. So, while it is true that "assimilationism" is an inevitable, even necessary tangent during those times when our topic is genuinely in play, Paraphilia activists jump the gun by using it as a criticism of participants in online debates who can only dream of the day when it becomes a serious option. Nevertheless, going forward - when, how and to whom assimilationist arguments are posited is a matter of concern.
Regardless of the above criticisms, the breed of Paraphile activism so described is a considerable and growing online trend. Putting aside the implausibility of classifying attraction to legally defined minors as a "paraphilia", there are apparently individuals in our community who need to feel this way, and will sadly only become mobilised under a mantra of minority, deviancy, victimhood, shared suffering and trauma. Call it placation, but in my opinion, vainly rejecting paraphilia-based MAP and ally activism and radical inclusionism as a parallel strategy would be foolish and counterproductive, as would any considerable investment of time and energy directly arguing against it.
Fascist and Paraphile MAPs: Harm vs Acceptability
One question we have faced on Fediverse, is whether it is ever acceptable to platform Fascist MAPs, or those who identify as e.g. child rape fetishists or psychopaths.
Take the idea of allowing Fascist MAPs to speak, while suppressing the words of an unapologetically “psychopathic” MAP. The rebuke to this is of course that the Fascist has chosen their own path, while the person who finds him or herself attracted to the young and/or nonconsent/violence has little or no control over it. While I do see it as simplistic and glib to imbue political inclination with a dynamic free will not afforded to sexual inclination, this I find irrelevant to the debate at hand. For me, rather than naive ideals and theory, the strategy and optics of the situation are far more important – realpolitik for MAPs, if you will.
When we look at the comparison from this purely pragmatic standpoint, the fact that most people believe the Fascist is expressing free will, takes on a new dimension that makes his or her hypothetical MAP Identity less potentially compromising to MAPs as a group than say the rape fetishist MAP. While the presence of the occasional Nazi in most communities is pretty much a given, and can be easily ascribed to bad “personal choices”, a MAP who identifies as being attracted to the rape of small children is a considerable negative publicity risk, in that he confirms some of the most dangerous stereotypes propagated by the Radical-Right about the "violence and degeneracy" of paedophiles. No equivalent harmful stereotype of the “Fascistic MAP” appears to exist outside of 1980s fictional demonology, with the “normalisation of paedophilia” today being dishonestly cast by the media as a project of the political left.
Of course, as readers here will be aware from years of research, the harmfulness of something within a particular context, does not necessarily correlate with its acceptability therein. Most online MAPs, particularly of the younger generation, strongly reject ethnonationalist ideology and wish not to be associated with it in any way, nor even to share a space with it. At the same time, the often-heard slogan Attraction ≠ Action (attraction does not equal action) provides a rallying point for both MAPs and Paraphiles, meaning that even an abstinent rape fetishist might be a far more comfortable ally than a Nazi – or for that matter any follower of usually hostile ideology.
Still, it remains an obvious irony that most "Attraction ≠ Action" Paraphile Fediverse users cannot acknowledge a person’s ability to hold hateful beliefs while not acting on them, decrying even non-violent white identitarianism as “invalid” freedom of conscience while permitting open celebration of identity for virtually every other group – historical oppressors included. At the same time, the history and present of free speech rights tells us that expression for the Fascist is analogous (if not seen as superior) to expression for the sexual deviant. Whatever trite slogans both groups may hurl around in dismissing one another’s claim to those rights, we can not ignore the fact that paedophile-tolerant Fediverse servers are presently using the same host as the Daily Stormer. Nor can we ignore the fact that the same laws devised to combat the spread of political extremism were used to effectively outlaw a MAP group in the Netherlands.
One last note should concern the fact that until very recently, the anti-c MAPs who rallied around Attraction ≠ Action in the 2010s were also ignorant or wilfully blind to the fact that for pro-c’s, attraction does not equal intention. Instead, in a historically inconvenient moment reminiscent of late 00s queer loathing of bisexuals, they foolishly chose to scapegoat pro-c writers such as Thomas O'Carroll as illegalists, or “pro-abuse”. It was ultimately the work of researchers that put paid to those expedient delusions.
My approach to moderation
In drafting a set of moderation guidelines for social communities I invest in, I have continued to err on the side of outright excluding Fascists, rather than fringe paraphilias – even those that disturb me. This would appear to mirror views in the community as to the unacceptability of platforming ethnonationalist MAPs, despite my views on the relatively harmless optics of allowing conversations with them, and potentially de-radicalising them.
Still, as community builders in an expanding frontier, we must also be on the look-out for those who seek to portray MAPs as rapists and psychopaths by creating false identities, as was the case with FST earlier this year.
In conclusion, while individual Fascist MAPs are unlikely to do considerable harm to our movement (at worst disrupting communities), most of us will doubtless agree that no good has come (or will come) from a strategic association with card-carrying Fascists.
Paraphiles, on the other hand, are a somewhat more diverse group who might some day be interested in a more thoroughgoing alliance with MAPs.
- Balkan (2022). Is the fediverse about to get Fryed? (Or, “Why every toot is also a potential denial of service attack”)
- At the time of writing, Yesmap hosted accounts for Matrix - i.e. a federated chat protocol. What is hosted by the Yesmap domain is subject to change, depending on the present priorities of Newgon Organization.
- David Sonenschein, 1998. Pedophiles on Parade. isbn 9780915289004, oclc 40637993, ol 11413246M
- De Orio, S (2017). Punishing Queer Sexuality in the Age of LGBT Rights. (A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University of Michigan).
- Denizet-Lewis, B (2006). “Boy Crazy”. Boston Magazine.
- Naedele, W (1982). “Boy Love Convention Is Protested”. Philadelphia Inquirer. See also, e.g. The Advocate, 1994.
- Despite many attempts to locate (and politically mobilize) a "gay gene", it appears that genetics are unable to accurately predict homosexuality, since it is a complex phenomenon with social, cultural and behavioral components. See, e.g. Genetics may explain up to 25% of same-sex behavior, giant analysis reveals. Political persuasion (including views on gay rights), has been correlated to some degree with genetics, much like homosexuality. E.g. Hatemi, Peter K., et al. “Not by Twins Alone: Using the Extended Family Design to Investigate Genetic Influence on Political Beliefs.” American Journal of Political Science, vol. 54, no. 3, 2010, pp. 798–814. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27821953.
- Jahnke, S and Malón, A (2019). “How pedophilic men think about adult-child sex: effects of child gender and physical maturity”. Psychology, Crime & Law, 25:1, 90-107, DOI: 10.1080/1068316X.2018.1503665. “Furthermore, participants with stronger liberal attitudes were found to be more likely to defend the sexual act, as were participants with a preferential interest in pre-pubescents. There was no link between attitudes towards adult–child sex and sexual offending, replicating the non-associations reported in previous community surveys.”
- Bailey, J. M., Bernhard, P. A., & Hsu, K. J. (2016). “An Internet study of men sexually attracted to children: Correlates of sexual offending against children”. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125(7), 989–1000. DOI:10.1037/abn0000213. “In contrast, permissive attitudes regarding child-adult sex and frequent indulgence in sexual fantasies about children were not significantly related to offending.”