bjmuirhead

on writing photography life

Paedophilia, & Respect

I have been planning a new post for some time but simply have not worked up the energy to write anything at all. Even the material I am writing about now has been waiting for a period of time, partially because I have not been sure there is any point in writing about it. In any event, here is my first actual thought in some months.

I was going to send this off to Master Mankowski and the Supremely Heretical Tom for comment and advice, but I decided that I probably wouldn’t end by publishing if I did so, even though it may have been a much better piece of writing. Hence, all rambling and nonsense is entirely my own.

I

The consequences of adult-child sex are subject to a great deal of debate and, until recently, all of my thinking about this issue has been intellectual, without any personal experience upon which to reflect. Recently, however, I came across the comment quoted below. These comments, and the contact we had as a result, are the springboard for what follows. She said:

I was 10 years old when a family member gave me an orgasm I enjoyed it but, when I told my parents, they said it was wrong and bad.

I understand now that my family member (and my parents) didn’t honour me. But I was a very sexual kid, and I enjoyed the experience had my first orgasm. I had no beliefs or point of view about it, but for years I thought I was wrong because I welcomed the experience of climax.

Is abuse only abuse when we judge it so?

The first point to be noted is that she enjoyed the sexual relations with her family member: she welcomed the experience of climax. Secondly, she now wonders about the nature of abuse, perhaps questioning whether she had experienced abuse. At the time, however, she was told it was wrong and bad, and she seems to have experienced all of the negative reactions that have been spoken about by Bruce Rind (1998), and Susan Clancy. (2009)

This is a delicate moral issue in so many ways, and it is an issue which most people do not wish to consider.

A 10 year old girl excitedly tells her mother and father, that she had sexual relations with another family member, and that it was good, really good. Her mother and father, who have had sex at some stage, and quite likely enjoyed it, tell her that her pleasure was wrong, and bad. Is this the right, the moral, thing to do?

The answer to this question is that it is what the older family member did that was wrong, and … Unfortunately, it seems to be human nature that we conflate and confuse the pleasure and the pain; that we say, e.g., You shouldn’t have done that, you shouldn’t have enjoyed that, it was wrong, it was bad… in ways which can be and are taken as personal insults, as statements that someone is bad, and wrong. When adults are upset emotionally by this type of statement, and react with some anger, why should we expect a child to understand that someone else’s evaluation of their behaviour is not necessarily correct?

The point is that we all depend, to differing degrees, on others for our sense of self, for our sense of self-worth, and this is especially the case in respect of children, who depend on the good will, support and teaching of the adults in their lives.

II

P’s sense of self-worth underwent some drastic changes as a result of the sexual relations between her and her relative. These changes depended on at least two issues.

Firstly, she already was engaged in sexual exploration with other girls her age. And, she was enjoying it. Was her adult relation’s response (engaging her in sexual activity) to seeing this (he did see it) wrong?

I have no answer to this question. It was illegal, but many things have been, and are, illegal but accepted by a majority of people. Illegality doesn’t tell us much at all in respect of moral issues: James Cantor’s entire sex life (homosexual, for those who do not know) would have had him jailed, medicated, reviled, not so long ago: his sexuality was a perversion, a crime, an offence against nature and God; everything that he claims paedophilia to be, and more.

More important, because this is what she was taught by her parent’s reactions, is whether or not P’s excited response and climax was wrong; whether or not her pleasure was something against which we, as a society, should rage? Remember that, firstly, our society disowns childhood sexuality, even whilst promoting it in ever more movies and television shows, many, if not all, aimed at children. Secondly, for years, P thought she was wrong because she welcomed the experience of climax.

Of course, P’s enjoyment of climax with an adult relative was not something which she initiated; she didn’t sexually approach him, she didn’t seduce him. He approached her and seduced her after watching her play sexually with other, female children.

That he watched her sex play is important, and not merely because he may have become sexually excited; it is important because he could see that she was interested in sex; he could see that she would be open to his approach. Without doubt, he knew that he could become sexually involved with her. And, on her own account, P not only was not injured, she also enjoyed what happened, and felt a lot of excitement which she wanted to share.

P’s negative experience came quickly enough, but it was the reaction of her parents and all the other adults who told her it was wrong and bad for her relation and her to do what they did.

III

What is at issue here is P’s comment that “my family member (and my family) didn’t honour me”.

This is where it is important not to take her statement as though it refers to issues of trust, i.e., that her trust in her adult relative was misplaced. Firstly, the notion of betrayed trust relies on an existing moral evaluation. Secondly, trust is essentially a one way affair: it makes perfect sense to say that even though you trust Harry, he loathes you, and will go out of his way to harm you, if he can avoid punishment for doing so. Not only is this the case, but it also is the case that a child’s relationship to an adult begins with the fact that a child, as a baby and infant, necessarily relies on adults for food, shelter, care, and everything else. This relationship does not, and perhaps cannot, transform into trust merely because years have passed, although it is something very like trust, in that the child continues to rely on their parents for their needs.

To honour someone is to treat them with respect, which is to say that one holds another in high regard. One’s actions take place in accord with this high respect, and are moral to at least the extent that they produce no harm to the honoured one and, perhaps, no one else.

I suspect that what P meant by saying that her family relative did not honour her, was that he did not treat her as a sexless child. Instead, he treated her as a sexual child, something which she admits to being. Did he harm her? The emphatic answer is no!

What he did was to take her a step further on a journey she already had started, and she enjoyed it at the time, irrespective of feelings which arose after she told, after the family split, after…everything that went with the hysteria at what had happened.

If anyone can be said to have failed to show respect for who she was, it was her parents: they told her it was bad and wrong and in so doing deprived her of the pure pleasure she experienced and attempted to convey to them.

IV

What I have said does not entail any moral position about what happened to P. Rather, it entails a psychological position. Specifically, what is entailed is the notion that one should not hysterically reject a child’s story about their sexual pleasure, even if it is with an older person. There are better, less harmful, ways to deal with it, e.g., talking quietly, and advancing your moral position without causing emotional harm.

That P’s parents almost certainly did not know that she was indulging in “sex play” should not excuse a reaction which turns joy to fear. It is exactly this fear, this uncertainty which cannot be removed, with which P is dealing now, many many years after the event which she still remembers as giving her intense pleasure.

V

There is nothing I have said here that could identify P, but, on the ever so slim off chance that someone could identify her, I hope they keep their mouths shut, and her privacy secure, especially as the opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. My extrapolation has been an attempt to explore and understand, and I would be horrified if anyone could find her.

 

Clancy, Susan A. 2009. The Trauma Myth: The Truth About the Sexual Abuse of Children—and Its Aftermath. Basic Books, New York.

Rind, Bruce, Philip Tromovitch, and Robert Bauserman. 1998. “A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples.” Psychlogical Bulletin 124 (1). American Psychological Association (APA): 22–53. doi:10.1037//0033-2909.124.1.22.

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A spak attack about past uni supervisors and Baha’i

For my amusement, and only for my amusement: I was searching my email for another subject altogether, and up popped the following:

Bruce John Muirhead is undertaking research for a PhD at the University of Southern Queensland under my supervision.  Bruce aims to revisit the subject of the nude in contemporary art after postmodern and related cultural critical assaults on beauty and formalism have left the field with little respect for this art form.  Bruce has demonstrated his willingness to challenge orthodox views and received opinion on the subject of the nude.  His task is formidable.  There is half a century of negative criticism he must engage and yet he appears more determined after six months research that he was at the start of the process.  I have no hesitation in recommending Bruce as a worthy candidate for the ****** scholarship.

The writer was my then supervisor, one David (I’ve never been published and am a junior academic who should not be a PhD supervisor because I only got my PhD 3 years ago) Akenson.

I didn’t realise just how angry I continue to be about the piss poor supervision at USQ until I accidentally discovered this reference again.

It’s not just that he thought my project unworthy, nor that he was  incapable of understanding what I was doing, it’s that he undertook supervision in the first place when he thought these things. In all honesty, it was Akenson and his buddies that convinced me that higher education studies are not worth the effort any more.

Yep, I was bloody pissed off with his intellectual inadequacy. (His personal inadequacy is another matter: the last time I physically saw him, he ducked behind another person and peered anxiously in y direction. Dick.)

But, he is not the only person I have encountered who is intellectually deficient. Just recently an auxiliary board member of the baha’i’s in Australia wanted to talk to me, and arranged to meet with the secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly to which I putatively belonged. They wanted to talk about this very blog, and my writings on paedophilia.

The difficulty presented to me was twofold:

  1.  I had the temerity to state the children have a sexuality.
  2. I stated in one blog post that I was considering the issues of child sexuality, paedophilia, and adult-child sex outside of any moral theory.

That my work is well referenced and researched (though I continue to research), that it is supported by biology, medicine and psychology, what I was saying went against the basic baha’i moral principle that children are chaste and sexless creatures. I was under the impression, having read loads of Baha’i commentary n this, that Baha’i beliefs were to take into consideration the discoveries of science.

This, therefore, is a public statement that I resign from the Baha’i faith. The following is the main text of a pretty pissed off letter I sent to one of the Baha’i people I spoke to.

Despite the fact that this letter is to you, I have sent a copy of the to the Secretariat, as I have a request at the end that only they can deal with.

I have considered what you had to say, and I have read the document you gave me. In fact, I wrote a rather large response which I have decided not to send to you, as I believe you would not seriously consider what I have to say.

You made it very clear that nineteenth century moral beliefs are far more important than the science, the medical, psychological facts which we now know and need to consider.

My work in respect of childhood sexuality, and adult-child sex is read by (and considered quite highly by some) researchers in psychology. I cannot take your rather petty and completely uninformed comments seriously, except for one thing: you have convinced me that members of the Baha’i Faith do not even attempt to follow one of its most important principles. This, of course, is true of the Universal House of Justice also. (I do read what is sent to me.)

It is without any regret, therefore, and with what little respect I continue to have, that I both ask and demand that my name be removed form the rolls of the faithful.


Any contact other than a statement to the effect that I have been so removed from the rolls will not be entertained or responded to.

Yep, I’m pissed with religious stupidity also.

Of course, Baha’i’s really are quite lovely people. They go out of their way to be lovely. I have nothing against any Baha’i personally, but really. Ya’ll need to grow up intellectually and join the twenty-first century. That was what Bahá’u’lláh wanted, you know: keep up with the times.

Ok, my whinge and bitch is over. It is  in no way amusing to my readers, what few remain after my lengthy and unannounced sabbatical. But, for whatever reason, I felt the need to say these things publicly, and perhaps to note that I am currently trying to write something about the role of morality in purely intellectual research. It might be interesting.

Peace be upon you, because: why not? I certainly feel better!

 

 

Domestic Disjunction (photograph)

Finally, and at long last, I am beginning to feel somewhat better physically and mentally, thanks to a dose or three of homoeopathic sulphur. This has resulted in a re-discovery of the urge to take photographs, and I can feel an essay, and a story or two stirring somewhere inside. The first product of this recovery is the following:

Black and White art photograph, interior of house.

Domestic Disjunction (Box)

What I am doing, in fact, is having fun with my camera phone (Huawei P9), clicking away whilst gesticulating with camera in hand. I don’t get half as many shots worth doing something with as I would like, but it is fun.

And isn’t that the point of it all?

From the root

This photograph is from a couple of years ago, and although there isn’t a root in sight… ’tis metaphorical, as I am sure you understand.

from-the-root

From the root

I particularly like this photograph because everything in it, bar one piece of vegetation, is dead, and death is the most fascinating form of life that there is.

The first dead creature I remember seeing was a dog that had been crushed by a car. I was three, or thereabout. I don’t remember much else but the intense bright red of the blood coming from its mouth, congealing on the bitumen.

I don’t remember being shocked by the sight, or surprised, or any other emotion that I’ve heard people express and write when talking about similar experiences in their own childhood. I remember the red, the stillness, the white of its teeth.

This next photograph was taken not long after a road train had done its passing.

Kangaroo run over by truck

An inner road

The dog wasn’t the only animal cadaver I saw in my childhood, but it was formative of my visual and intellectual interests, as were the many human cadavers that began to litter my life around age fourteen. Death, for some reason, pursued me; or perhaps I was pursuing death as I walked around my city. (It always was while walking, and often I walked ten or more miles to get where I was going. I was far too energetic in those youthful days.)

It seemed that wherever I went there was someone killed in an accident, or by a heart attack—or something else. I often didn’t know what had caused the death.

I also managed to see innumerable people attacked, usually between eleven in the evening and two in the morning. These people were rarely badly hurt, but for one young policeman, in the mid-seventies, who thought he could handle one old drunk woman, who managed to stab him several times before she fled, leaving him bleeding on the footpath. I never found out if he died. I didn’t want to know. My friend and I continued to our destination, while his copper mates, who should have stopped him going over in the first place, rushed to his aid.

Perhaps there is some answer as to why, for a period of more than twenty years, I encountered four, five, six, or more cadavers a year; sometimes more. Many friends moved around as much as I did, but never saw the same things. In fact, several friends, age 58 and older, still have not seen a human corpse. One wonders how they could achieve such a thing. But…

Such is death.

Step-flower (photograph)

I haven’t pointed a camera at anything for most of this year. But, at last, here is one that I quite like. Hope you like it also.

wildflowers growng through steps

Step-Flower

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