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Feminism is a belief-system based on a purported anti-oppression point of view as applied to the contemporary situation of women and historical abuses faced by women and other minorities. The feminist discourse is particularly concerned with equal rights, and in some cases, outright equality.
Many of the most influential feminists of the 20th century have made supportive statements about older-minor erotic behavior, including Gayle Rubin, Germaine Greer, Kate Millett, Simone de Beauvoir, Shulamith Firestone, and Judith Butler. Whilst some other sex-positive and/or dissident feminists such as Jane Rule, Camille Paglia, Patrick Califia, Nettie Pollard, Judith Levine, Yasmin Nair, Heather Corinna, Janice Irvine, Sharon Lamb and Carol Tavris, elaborate contrarian philosophies and anecdotes on the issue of adult-minor sexuality, since the 1970s, the discourse has been increasingly used to condemn such sexual relationships on the basis that inequalities render them universally "abusive". Adjacent movements such as pro-sex work (sex-positive) and anti-carceral feminism are more likely to hold positions that pro-choice MAP and youth rights activists may hold, including the recognition that minors choose and want to engage in sex and sex work, and that prisons and public registration for lawbreakers are ineffective strategies for reducing the incidence of unlawful erotic behavior, especially when law makes no distinctions between mutually willing eroticism and unwanted, violent assaults, and criminalizes minors for consensual erotic activity with other minors (Levine and Meiners 2020; Taylor 2018). However, the influence of sex-positive and anti-carceral feminism remains marginal in comparison to the dominance of carceral feminism (Angela Davis et al. 2022). It could be said that the loathing felt by some MAPs, particularly boylovers towards feminists as a group is similar in magnitude to the derision which present day feminists show towards boy-attracted males.
Reasons for loathing of "feminism" among MAPs
A number of reasons can be speculatively offered:
- The role of feminists in the social purity movement of the Victorian era, and their role in raising the age of consent. Perception of feminism as a founder member of the child sexual abuse psychiatry agenda of the late 1970s, 80s and onwards, with the establishment of psychiatric organisations such as The Leadership Council.
- Conflation of pederasty (a practice that brings with it a considerable historical tradition) with the fledgling incest model of child sexual abuse. The perception that this generalization involves a knowing revision of that well-established history.
- Failure of feminists to explain experiences of boys and boylovers that run contrary to those speculated in feminist critiques of intergenerational relationships.
- Failure of feminists to identify with or even tentatively address issues related to masculinity.
- The perception of modern feminism as female elitism ("feminazi", etc) and/or institutionalised model of covertly exercised authority.
- Attempts by feminists to represent (gay) youth and encourage their "rights" and "participation" whilst at the same time infantalizing them and denying their autonomy.
- Alliances between radical feminists (TERFS/SWERFS) and violently anti-pedophile ideologies - particularly those of the right. These alliances have been rejuvenated after the MAP Movement achieved basic visibility in the 2020s.
- Plain misogyny.
For an account of activism against the MAP-youth rights organization NAMBLA, written by a self-identified feminist, see the 1992 issue of Women's magazine Off Our Backs here. Whilst many of these grievances may have more than a firm foothold in reality, it can certainly be said that their airing has done little good for the cause of boylove or MAPs in general.
Pro-choice/pro-youth Feminism Reading List
As mentioned earlier on, some contrary examples exist. A few potential starting points follow:
1st Wave Feminism
- From wikipedia: Emma Goldman (June 27, 1869 – May 14, 1940) was an anarchist political activist and writer. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the 20th century.
- Emma Goldman, 'The Child and Its Enemies', in Mother Earth, Vol. 1: No. 2 (April 1906).
- “When the child reaches adolescence, it meets, added to the home and school restrictions, with a vast amount of hard traditions of social morality. The cravings of love and sex are met with absolute ignorance by the majority of parents, who consider it as something indecent and improper, something disgraceful, almost criminal, to be suppressed and fought like some terrible disease. [...] Some will ask, what about weak natures, must they not be protected? Yes, but to be able to do that, it will be necessary to realize that education of children is not synonymous with herdlike drilling and training. If education should really mean anything at all, it must insist upon the free growth and development of the innate forces and tendencies of the child.”
2nd Wave Feminism
- Beauvoir was a highly influential French public intellectual and a leading voice of 2nd wave feminism. She was a communist, existentialist, feminist author, interested in understanding and overcoming limitations on human freedom (what existentialists call living in “Bad Faith”). In the West, Beauvoir is best known for her life-long unconventional partnership with existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as her book “The Second Sex” (1949), often considered the starting inspiration point of second-wave feminism and a foundational text for social constructionist theories of gender, with its famous opening line: “one is not born, but rather, becomes a woman”. Beauvoir was one of the signatories of the French petition calling to abolish age of consent laws. Below we quote from scholarship below which explains her theories on childhood, and her sexual relationships with her young students.
- “In Beauvoir’s ongoing project to explore the possibility of moral freedom, childhood is repeatedly pinpointed as the moment when the greatest failure can occur. The child remains within the adult as a haunting, ‘dutiful’ presence of the past; furthering the situating fact of birth, childhood sets limitations for the individual. Children are born with a certain body, and within certain sociopolitical and cultural conditions; both condition the emergence of their subjectivity. For Beauvoir, early childhood experiences wound children by instilling in them a belief in essentialism and in unquestionable authorities. [...] In childhood, one is kept under the illusion, carefully created by adults, that universal moral principles exist. (p. 332).
- “‘With astonishment, revolt and disrespect the child little by little asks himself, “Why must I act that way? What good is it? And what will happen if I act another way?” He discovers his subjectivity; he discovers that of others.’ (Beauvoir, Ethics of Ambiguity, 39). Teenage crisis, for Beauvoir, is precisely the shock of finding one’s questions unanswered, of having to accept one’s subjectivity and one’s potential independence from arbitrary adult prescriptions. By questioning the world, teenagers can extract themselves from the behaviours of bad faith encouraged by the ready-made judgements of their families and educators” (pp. 335-336).
- “[C]hildhood itself becomes a space of […] conflict between what is and what could be. Inquisitive, dissatisfied, suspicious: the child, for Beauvoir, embodies the fugitive vision that one can have of freedom and transcendence even as one is carefully conditioned to engage in bad faith. Her portrayal of childhood thus exacerbates a central tension of existentialism: the individual aspiration towards the future, clashing against a quickly solidifying situation” (p. 336)
- Margaret A. Simons, ‘Lesbian Connections: Simone de Beauvoir and Feminism', in Signs, 18:1 (Autumn, 1992), 136-161.
- "Beauvoir's posthumously published journals and letters from 1939-41 reveal that she engaged in sexual affairs with students and former students from her philosophy classes; she often led them to her hotel room to tutor them in philosophy and, eventually, take them to bed." (p. 149)
- Shulamith Firestone
- Chapter 4 - 'Down With Childhood', in The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution (New York: Bantam Books, 1970).
- Germaine Greer
- "In 1975, she wrote of the experience of one of her school friends:
- From the child’s point of view and from the commonsense point of view, there is an enormous difference between intercourse with a willing little girl and the forcible penetration of the small vagina of a terrified child. One woman I know enjoyed sex with her uncle all through her childhood, and never realized that anything was unusual until she went away to school. What disturbed her then was not what her uncle had done but the attitude of her teachers and the school psychiatrist. They assumed that she must have been traumatized and disgusted and therefore in need of very special help. In order to capitulate to their expectation, she began to fake symptoms she did not feel, until at length she began to feel truly guilty for not having felt guilty. She ended up judging herself quite harshly for this innate lechery (cited in Schultz, 1980, p. 39)." (As quoted in social worker Thomas D. Oellerich's scholarship).
- The Beautiful Boy (London: Thames & Hudson, 2003).
- "A woman of taste is a pederast — boys rather than men." From archived interview (2003). When asked about the Beautiful Boy, Greer replies:
- "It's part of the joy of life is admiring the beauty of things that are beautiful. What is important to me about the Boy is that once upon a time his beauty was understood and celebrated by people of both sexes. A boy was allowed to dress in very bright colours, he was allowed to show himself off in the street, he dyed his hair, he wore make-up, [...] he wore tight pants and cropped jackets and so on. And the girls looked down from behind their jalousie and talked about the best-looking boys. Now, that's still evident in rock culture, where a lot of it is just straight sexual display.
- [Interviewr]: "You said that one of the things that attracts you about boys was "semen that runs like tap water."
- [Greer]: "That's not such a bad idea, is it girls? [...] I mean, the recharge time is remarkably short, which is a good thing. If what you want is a high level of excitement"...
- ‘Jazz Lady’s affair was foolish not evil; Falling for a minor is not evidence of perversion or vileness, says Germaine Greer’, The Times (London), September 23rd, 2009.
- Greer defended a UK female teacher, Helen Goddard, who had a lesbian affair instigated by a 15-year old female student at her school. Greer wrote:
- "So how old was she? How old was he? I don’t know and I don’t very much care. I know I’m supposed to care. I’m supposed to think that falling in love with people under the legal age of consent is evidence of deep perversion and vileness, but I don’t. Young people shouldn’t fall in love, you wish they wouldn’t, and yet they do, very often with someone rather older than they. The results are nearly always catastrophic, whether the love is returned or denied. When an old friend of mine was still a schoolboy, he climbed into the bed of his guardian, who he adored. His appalled guardian threw him out of the house. He swallowed rat-poison. I’m not supposed to talk about Helen Goddard’s victim as her lover. She’s not supposed to be capable of being anybody’s lover. She’s still not 16. She has tried to take the blame, she had admitted that it was she who first kissed Goddard, but it makes no odds. As a 15-year-old she was incapable of consent, let alone of seduction. In Shakespeare’s play of star-crossed love, we are told repeatedly that Juliet is 14. We don’t know how old Romeo is. There’s nothing to say he isn’t 27, like Helen Goddard. Yet it is Juliet who instigates the affair and precipitates the clandestine marriage and its consummation. And as for deceiving one’s parents, you can’t go a wholer hog than Juliet did. In a sane society lovers are protected from mutual self-immolation; in a crazy one they are driven to it."
- Kate Millett
- Sexual Revolution and the Liberation of Children: An Interview with Kate Millett by Mark Blasius, in Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia, ed. by Marjan Sax and Sjuul Deckwitz, 2:8 (1992 ), pp. 83-86.
- Beyond Politics? Children and Sexuality, in Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality, ed. by Carole S. Vance, 2nd edn., (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1992 ), pp. 217–224.
Resisting Anti-Porn Feminism
Some feminist thought supportive of intergenerational rights came during what anthropologist Gayle Rubin called "The Feminist Sex Wars," where sex-positive feminists (e.g. Strossen,; Echols) resisted attempts to legally define all pornography as tantamount to rape (see "Porn is the theory, rape is its practise" and West; Linz et al.; Schauer; Fischel) and prohibit/criminalize sex work (such feminists are now called "SWERFS") under the banner of "feminism." Some relevant readings below:
- Nettie Pollard, 'The Small Matter of Children,' in Bad Girls and Dirty Pictures: The Challenge to Reclaim Feminism, ed. by Alison Assiter and Avedon Carol (Boulder, Colorado: Pluto Press, 1993), pp. 105-111.
- Brenda Cossman, Shannon Bell, Lise Gotell, Becki Ross, Bad Attitude/s on Trial: Pornography, Feminism, and the Butler Decision (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997). E.g. In chapter 5, Shannon Bell, The image cannot be seen, Bell begins by writing:
- "When truth-telling is important, I write autofiction. Through a glory whole to eternity: Should I go to jail for sucking a fifteen and three quarter year oldʹs cock and giving her money? Am I already in jail in the shared fate of the men rounded up in the most recent of recurrent sexual/moral panics? Have all the great concerns of humanity – truth, beauty, equality, eros – been reduced to the age of a sphincter muscle?"
Contemporary 3rd/4th Wave Feminism
Other feminist writers of interest are listed below:
- Danielle Egan, Gail Hawkes, and Emma Renold - these 3 contemporary feminists tend to co-author together, criticizing panic discourses over the sexualization of young people that neglect to take account of young people's voices agency
- Children, Sexuality and Sexualization, ed. by Emma Renold et al., (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).
- Danielle Egan, Becoming Sexual: A Critical Appraisal of the Sexualization of Girls (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013) (Book).
- Danielle Egan and Gail L. Hawkes, ‘Endangered Girls and Incendiary Objects: Unpacking the Discourse on Sexualization’, in Sexuality and Culture, 12 (2008), 291–311.
- Gail Hawkes and Danielle Egan, ‘Landscapes of Erotophobia: The Sexual(ized) Child in The Postmodern Anglophone West’, in Sexuality and Culture, 12 (2008), 193–203.
- Danielle Egan and Gail Hawkes, ‘The problem with protection: Or, why we need to move towards recognition and the sexual agency of children’, in Continuum, 23:3 (2009), 289-400.
- Emma Renold and Jessica Ringrose, ‘Schizoid Subjectivities? Re- theorizing Teen-Girls’ Sexual Cultures in an Era of ‘Sexualization,’ in Journal of Sociology, 47:4 (2011), 389–409.
- Emma Renold and Jessica Ringrose, ‘Feminisms re-figuring ‘sexualization’, sexuality and ‘the girl’, in Feminist Theory, 14:3 (2013), 247-254.
- Deborah L. Tolman, ‘Doing Desire: Adolescent Girls’ Struggles for/with Sexuality’, in Gender and Society, 8:3 (1994), 324–342.
- Laina Y. Bay-Cheng and Amanda E. Lewis, 'Our “Ideal Girl”: Prescriptions of Female Adolescent Sexuality in a Feminist Mentorship Program', in Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, 21:1 (2006), 71-83.
- Feona Attwood, ‘Sluts and Riot Grrrls: Female Identity and Sexual Agency’, in Journal of Gender Studies, 16:3 (2007), 233–247.
- Kari Lerum and Shari L. Dworkin, ‘Sexual Agency is not a Problem of Neoliberalism: Feminism, Sexual Justice, and the Carceral Turn’, in Sex Roles, 73 (2015), 311-319.
- Lynne M. Phillips, ‘Recasting Consent: Agency and Victimization in Adult-Teen Relationships’, in New Versions of Victims: Feminists Struggle with the Concept, ed. by Sharon Lamb (New York: New York University Press, 1999), pp. 82-108.
- Michelle Fine, Sexuality, Schooling, and Adolescent Females: The Missing Discourse of Desire, in Harvard Educational Review, 58:1 (1988), 29–54; Cf. Fine, X. Desire: The Morning (and 15 years) After, in Feminism & Psychology, 15:1 (2005), 54-60.
- Lynda Marin, Mother and Child: The Erotic Bond, in Mother's Journeys: Feminists Write about Mothering, ed. by Maureen T. Reddy, Martha Roth, Amy Sheldon, (Spinsters Ink, Minneapolis, 1994), pp. 9-21.
- Carol Tavris, Beware the Incest-Survivor Machine, in the New York Times (1993); Tavris, The uproar over sexual abuse research and its findings, in Society (2000). [Responds to the Rind et al controversy].
- Yasmin Nair, feminist/queer activist and author, co-edited Against Equality  (2014), including contributions from early MAP/Youth Rights advocates including Bill Andriette and John P. DeCecco. On her personal website, Nair published relevant articles, including: Can We Talk?: Censorship, Pedophilia, and Panic, in Wind City Times (2005).; From Queer To Gay: The Rise and Fall of Milo [Yiannopoulos], self-published (2017). In Adopting Difference: Race, Sex, and the Archaeology of Power in the Farrow-Allen Case (published in 2014, reproduced online in 2020), Nair argued that critics tended to avoid or downplay the power Mia Farrow wielded over Woody Allen and their children.
For Nair, Mia Farrow "successfully painted herself as a powerless woman wounded by a powerful and wealthy man. Allen is certainly wealthy and powerful, but Farrow has a lineage in Hollywood that is much older than his, and possesses tremendous political and cultural influence. Much of her power has manifested in the ways that she has managed to even change the law to enable her to satisfy her urge to adopt."
BoyChat contributor, Anacreon:
- "Historically, from what I've read I get the impression that the earliest modern feminism, which got started about two hundred years ago on the heels of the French Revolution, was probably a liberating idea. The early Romantics who espoused it, for instance the poet Percy Shelley and his wife Mary, associated it with free love and equality of the sexes within the context of a generally emancipated state of society. These people were wild radicals, the hippies of their day, and so alienated from mainstream society that they felt compelled to leave their native England.
- Later on something horrible happened. I suspect it was probably Victorianism. Decades after the high Romantic period, when feminism got started again in the late nineteenth century following a long hiatus, it emerged as a deeply bourgeois movement in the worst sense of that term. It was intensely puritanical, and oriented toward controlling male behavior. It became associated with the "temperance" movement and suppression of "vice," meaning chiefly prostitution. In the United States it involved itself in the ultimately successful push for Prohibition, a disaster that brought terrible troubles with organized crime that plague us to this day.
- So I guess you could say that feminism went bad when it became respectable. In this sense it resembles the gay movement, which from the viewpoint of boylovers joined the oppressor when it opted for assimilation and so decided to eject undesirables. Contemporary feminism seems to me to be entirely modeled on the second, Victorian version of itself, not at all on the first. Modern feminists are interested in domination rather than in freedom, obsessed with control through the infantilization of everyone in sight, and fanatically eager to wield the gelding knife. So as you rightly observe their movement operates generally as a viciously regressive force, often the unacknowledged ally of rabid fundamentalism."
- The Feminist and the Sex Offender
- News & Resources: review – Taylor: ‘Foucault, Feminism, & Sex Crimes’
- Abolition. Feminism. Now.
- E.g. Oellerich, Thomas D. (2000), "Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman: Politically Incorrect - Scientifically Correct", Sexuality and Culture, 4 (2): 67–81
- The Beautiful Boy - Ipce PDF
- Strossen 1993
- Echols, 1983
- West, 1987
- Linz, 1987
- Schauer, 1987
- Fischel, 2019
- Fischel, 2010
- SWERF - Wiktionary
- Cossman, 1997
- Children, Sexuality and Sexualization
- New Versions of Victims
- Yasmin Nair: About
- Against Equality