Essay:The Greatest Horror Of Them All--Being Labeled A Sexual Predator
Special thanks and appreciation goes to the people at GirlChat [GC] for helping me edit my initial draft of this essay, and this 'thank you' particularly flows to the following fellow GirlChatters of mine who contributed to this essay: Joey Bishop, Scotty, Crimson Moon, and Dante.
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 [Minor Attracted Adult] community are very multi-faceted individuals with a variety of interests and hobbies completely outside of our admiration for underagers in our respective 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 sometimes have to live with 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 that can be contracted even across the breadth of cyberspace.
Which brings me to the specific point of this essay. One of my many hobbies entirely outside of the MAA community—and mostly outside of politics and activism altogether--is my enjoyment of the sci-fi and horror genres in books, cinema, TV shows, video games, RPGs [role playing games], 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 topics. 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 accompanying "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 (circa September, 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 among its many popular features is a terrific column that appears in most issues of the mag, Scare-News by writer and fantasy fiction fan extraordinaire Johnny Scareshock. In fact, Scare-News is probably 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 (copied verbatim in bold face):
- 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 we battle 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 that one would think should be limited to MAAs alone. He believes he will automatically be 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 watching or 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, though he is married to a woman in his age group and 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 would think 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. Even if you’re 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 more 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) who 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 even thought about that awful aspect of nature 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' socio-politically enforced 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" in a by-proxy manner.
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 [note the great popularity of Showtime’s series Dexter], but sexual predators? *Sigh* They are the lowest of the low! There is simply 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! In fact, Anakin’s mass slaughter of children (young Jedi knights in training) after being re-christened Darth Vader by his new Sith lord in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was far less abominable in our culture’s eyes than if Anakin had been attracted to any of them in a sexual manner, or had become aroused after viewing nude holograms of them. If that had happened instead of the murders that we saw onscreen in the above film, fans of the franchise never would have found Vader redeemable—as he proved to be at the end of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi—and he would have been viewed as being even more vile by far than the Sith lord who initiated the downfall of an entire interstellar democracy, and who cajoled Anakin into embracing the dark side of the Force in the first place!
So now we reach a point where the fear has become so pervasive that adults en mass 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 unremitting pressure to give underagers a wide berth, and to therefore deepen the already huge amount of age segregation in our gerontocentric society.
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, not to mention pervasive, and even--dare I say it--normal, do we not then risk opening up multiple cans of socio-political 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 the myth before the reality? The ongoing sex abuse hysteria and the maniacal obsession by the government and parents alike to suppress virtually all instances of sexual expression by youths under 18, along with stifling and preventing virtually all social contacts between underagers and adults whom they are not related to or authorized to interact with (e.g., teachers, coaches, pediatricians), would certainly seem to qualify as highly unfortunate consequences, along with the worsening of an already widespread negative and generational-divisive social phenomenon.
While many people who share Johnny Scareshock's hobby huddle beneath the covers at night out of the 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, and the potential 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 from being saddled with the Ultimate Scarlet Label of the modern age? How restrictive do the laws have to become before people en mass 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’ve had it easy! Beware, all ye legal adults, for the ultimate horror is now upon mankind!" Cue to a trailer where a legal adult is seen using their laptop and 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! This is followed by a scene showing the unfortunate man screaming in terror ("Aaaaaahhhh! Underage sexuality! Please stop this nightmare! I swear I didn't know who she was or what her fan club was all about 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! Please don’t drag me away to the clink or put me on one of those online registries! Please don’t take away every bit of community respect I spent the last 20 years building! Please don’t make me lose my job! Pleee--aaa--ssse! Give me a month alone in Camp Crystal Lake first, or even a year being tortured by the Cenobites in Hell, 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, more nightmarish, and more repulsive image than the likes of them? Do they have their work cut out for them when it comes to the hordes of underagers expressing their natural sexuality? Perhaps a pic of an attractive underage girl or boy in a provocative pose should make the cover of the next issue of Fangoria. Then again, as horrible as such an image is in the eyes of our our society, every regular adult reader of the mag would be afraid to pick up a copy of that particular issue lest the cashier at the store report them to the police for "abusing" children by looking at their underage images on the cover.
Following the original draft of this essay of mine when it appeared on GC, 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 foolproof, 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, dropping a further encroachment on the civil rights of society in general, or to harrass MAAs in particular? Certainly not any politician who 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 that flourishes when a “witch hunt” mentality is thriving?
Lastly, my fellow GC activist Dante had this to add about the above situation:
- "I'm not terribly surprised at a lover of 'taboo' and 'horror' having swallowed the moral panic without questioning it. Those who push the envelope validate the envelope. The truly transgressive go where they please nonchalantly. They aren't drawn towards taking a stand on an invisible line because they know that the line is a fiction. You can't be the Anti-Christ without having a relationship with Christ (even in the negative).
- "And much of Western Horror is actually moral reinforcement.
- "Friday the 13th teaches us that teenagers who don't abstain will be hacked to death.
- "Poltegeist teaches us that ignorance of the law is no excuse when it comes to violating zoning codes.
- "The apparent chaos of occult evil almost always resolves into, 'the wicked are punished, the moral survive.'
- "Contrast that with Japanese Horror or with tales from Celtic folklore.
- "'They hate you because you're good,' and 'Once you come to the attention of the fair folk [read: Authorities], you're f**ked no matter what you do,' are lessons more conducive to a challenge of moral panics than to their validation."