Sunday, June 9, 2013

Child Abuse.

"David Cameron's statement said he was "sickened by the proliferation of child pornography." DISGUSTING".

Are you just a regular bod, bumbling along through life? I am, pretty much. And, like me, that statement may cause your brain to judder for a microsecond as you try to unravel its implications. Is someone really complaining that our Glorious Leader is disgusted by kiddie porn? Is this a quote from someone who feels their ability to watch child abuse is being outrageously circumscribed by the State?

I'm not identifying the source, except to say its someone whose official career was dedicated to fighting child abuse. The quote is merely illustrative and a jumping off point for my annoyance and bafflement. He is not – despite the initial impression – annoyed that the PM is speaking out against child abuse.

Unless you are au fait with the politics and terminology of child sexual abuse – "CSA" to those in the know – then like me you wouldn't appreciate the source of this outrage. It turns out that the words "child porn" are a source of angst, objects of pain and because of that subject to a campaign which renders them verbotten from the language. Don't worry, you can still use the words "child" and "porn", but just not together.

Perhaps, like me, you scratched your head and wondered- pour qua?! Because whenever I hear the words "child porn" I know precisely what it refers to. It means pictures of children in a sexual context. And, being children, by both moral and legal definition this is firmly in the category of "abuse". "Child porn" means pictures of children being abused. Is anyone not following me? Do any of you think otherwise when you see those words?

Those campaigning against the term "child porn" are insisting that what we all understand by it is that it is consensual, because of the word "porn". I never have. Have you? What I understand by "porn" is sexual material intended to titilate. It is not a comment on its legality or moral status, anymore than adding the word "porn" to "rape" or "animal" makes it all kosher. No one has sat at their keyboard and thought, "hmmm, because its porn it must be okay"...and then searched for "child porn".

I dislike being told by a group of campaigners what I understand or mean by the words "child porn". I know it means abuse, you all know its abuse. But so wrapped up in their own view of the world have they become that when the PM uses it in the context of denouncing child abuse someone calls it DISGUSTING. Note the capitals. That's the extent of this misplaced attempt to warp our language.

And because these campaigners insist that what WE understand by "child porn" is that its consensual, as if we think abused kids are a succession of Jenna Jameson mini-me's, they take umbrage. Because they are rapidly persuading themselves that what we believe is that "child porn" is okay, they are feeling demeaned and insulted in having their suffering minimised.

I am not persuaded. Everyone knows that "child porn" equals pictures of child abuse. None of us ever thought otherwise. And I dislike any group telling us what we mean, wrongly, and then feeling insulted.

I think this is one of the most specious and manufactured campaigns ever, an outgrowth of some "survivor" ideology and in no way a reflection of reality. In case anyone is in any doubt about the abusive meaning of "child porn", the clue is in the name: "CHILD porn". We are not idiots. Feel free not to tell us what we mean when we know damn well.

And feel free to note the important stuff and not some bizarre lexicological debate. The Prime Mnister is decrying child abuse on the internet. That's quite important, it may lead to significant policy changes. But such is the circular, inward looking view of some people that he is abused because of their focus on the language Cameron used. Talk about wood and trees....

And in case you're wondering, the terms insisted upon instead of "child porn" are – images of child abuse, child abuse images, and variations on the theme. I offer them to you so you can avoid the seminological hole I found myself in – and just in case you were thinking that the words "child porn" meant it was all legal and consensual.

Just in case....


  1. It's pour quoi. Unless you've made up your own language. In which case. Well done.

    1. I'm using OpenOffice, can't work out the bloody Spellckecher...

    2. What's 'seminological'. Is that a new word? Something to do with a seminary, perhaps? 'Seminological hole'? No, let's not go there...

    3. Seminological - to do with the study or examination of semen. Whoops, Dr Freud, your slip is showing... That schoolgirl costume is fraught with risk...

  2. I understand your frustrations to a certain extent, if we get so caught up in language do we miss the bigger issue? But language *is* important and very powerful. Your right in the sense that by linking the words 'child' with 'porn' most sensible people will still realise that it's illegal but the implication in the language is important. Porn is consensual, child abuse isn't. For many victims of the latter, the distinction is vital. One of main destructive emotions linked with childhood sexual abuse for victims is guilt. Guilt that in some way they were responsible, they asked for it, wanted it or deserved it in some way. This unshakable and destructive emotion is what destroys life, causes people to harm themselves or even kill themselves. Using the phrase 'child porn' or worse 'kiddie porn' feeds into that belief for many victims. Victims groups and survivors say they find the expression difficult to hear. They use child sexual abuse images because of that. Whilst I take your point about not losing sight of the main goals, is it so bad to listen to survivors and change our wording slightly to make their lives a bit more bearable? I think it is.
    @BettyGudrun again!

  3. Please excuse all the huge typos in that last post, I'm hungover LOL!


    1. Who decided "porn" equated with "consensual"? I missed that meeting! "Porn" is sexual material intended to titillate. Thats been the definition and understanding since Year Dot. If victims decide thats not its meaning and have decided it means "legitimate", they are wrong and shouldn't impose their misunderstanding on the rest of us. They know what we mean and so the outrage is somewhat ideological and misplaced. Say's I. :)

    2. Look; I say 'child porn'. Actual, living survivor, victim, whatever you like to call it, of child abuse that was filmed and published: Please would you mind not calling it child porn? It adds unnecessary distress to my already considerable burden. Me: No worries, I'll just call it child abuse images from now on. No skin off my nose. I proceed to call it child abuse images. The end. What's so wrong with listening and taking on board what those people say who have most at stake? Why is it the victims who are wrong, and not you? Seems rather fascist to me... Find a battle that doesn't involve fighting victims of child abuse, eh?

  4. @BettyGudrun

    I was involved in a case 13 years ago where a girl put her father into prison by falsely accusing him of child sex abuse. She wanted more freedom (aged 13)as she wanted to smoke and drink - she was sexually active from the age of 11 years.

    When she called SS she complained of (alleged) physical abuse and being grounded. She would visit me with black eyes painted on and red marks on her neck painted on with lipstick. I would tell her to wash her face and hey presto the marks disappeared. When told this was not enough to remove her from the family home she came back a few days later with the allegations of sexual abuse. She got what she wanted and was 'put into care'. This was where she learned that she could make money by selling herself. No grooming involved at all.

    Your words: "Porn is consensual, child abuse isn't. For many victims of the latter, the distinction is vital. One of main destructive emotions linked with childhood sexual abuse for victims is guilt" interest me.

    Her evidence to the police and then later to the jury was that she would never be able to have a family of her own as she would not be able to bring herself to have sex with another man due to 'what her father had done'.

    The same day she gave evidence, dressed in school uniform, minus makeup and high heels, after giving said evidence, off she skipped ready for work, to star in a child pornography movie with two men a tthe same time. Not only had she been starring in 'child pornography' movies of her own volition for the previous couple of years (I believe) before the matter came to trial, she actually procured other girls to do exactly the same thing.

    She had not been groomed into doing the movies, she actively sought this 'work' as she thought it would be her ticket to stardom. Before the allegations, she aspired to be a Page Three girl.

    This was child pornography with consent - she was 16 when the appeal succeeded, 8 months after her father had been wrongly convicted on her allegations.

    I know that in law consent cannot be given under the age of 16 years (unless with a boy under the 18 of 18 years) but she really did consent and actively sought 'stardom' through this 'work.

    False Allegations Happen. More than you would think too.

    1. Even if I knew this case personally, I doubt I'd have the stones to say it. Part of the point of blogs such as this one above is to rail against an attempt to suppress any orthodoxy or ideology that smothers thought and speech. You saw some of the Twitter response to my debates last week.... Seems men cannot even speak about some things, let alone question them. If I'd have written your comment I'd be damned as an abuse-denier, danger to women, a disbeliever, rape-apologist.....

      Oh no, forgot. That's all happened already.....

    2. Hi Helga. I am flummoxed by your insistence on painting as baddies children who, to my view, are damaged, most likely by adults abusing them. What you describe is NOT normal; not remotely. I have worked in the field of allegations management, and I know that genuinely false allegations are very rare indeed. Even when the wrong adult is identified, there is nearly always a form of abuse happening somewhere. I wonder if your work has blinded you to what you are seeing, and making you display an anti-child bias.

  5. Just noticed some typos - my apologies! No hangover to blame!

    1. The quality of the content makes the stitches in its construction invisible :)

  6. Dear Anonymous, I find your whole comment a bit bizarre, to be honest. Ben's post here is about language usage, not false allegations? But ok.

    Whilst I am not excusing a innocent man going to prison for offences he did not commit, the girl you talk about sounds very damaged. It isn't normal for young girls to actively seek out work in the porn industry and if she was doing all you say, I'd guess that she probably was abused by someone, if not the man she ended up accusing. There is a clear link between children who are overly sexual and childhood sexual abuse. You state 'she was sexually active from the age of 11' and then go on to list all her 'crimes'. You sound very much like you're blaming a young, damaged girl for the appalling situations she found herself in. She was responsible for a false allegation, but she also needed support and help. We can be two things at once; a false accuser and a victim.

    I have never stated false allegations don't happen, so I'm unsure why you felt the need to tell me that they did? They do happen, and they are an issue for the person falsely accused. There is an appeal system and proper court processes that deal with that. But it is a fact that most people who state they have been abused / raped have been.

    Frankly, your last comment about consent is quite ludicrous.

    'I know that in law consent cannot be given under the age of 16 years (unless with a boy under the 18 of 18 years) but she really did consent and actively sought 'stardom' through this 'work.'

    um. What?! That's the whole point of consent and the age limit. She was a young damaged girl, under the age of consent. She could not reasonbly consent and the people making films with her in them were committing a crime.

    'Child pornography with consent' ?! She really did consent.

    I'm open to debate but I find those last comments disgusting. The whole point about child abuse images is they're not with consent. being able to give consent doesn't just mean being able to say 'yes or no' it means having the emotionally maturity to understand fully the consequences of what you're about to do.


    1. Ok... So if people under the age of 16 cannot have the maturity to make sexual decisions, why do we attribute them the ability to make criminal ones?

      The age of 16 for consent is a social construct, not a biologically determined one, which resulted from a Victorian scandal over child prostitutes. Your assumptions that this girl could not give proper consent disallows for the varied development of individuals. To follow that with an assertion that she was most probably abused is just specious and ideological. Some individuals are inherently highly sexual and promiscuous - it doesn't follow they were abused.

      I was convicted with society having decreed that 14 year olds DO have the emotional maturity to understand fully the consequences of what you're about to do". As I said, the sexual age of consent is a social construct, which may or may not concur with an individuals actual development and we should not be blinded by an orthodoxy because of a blanket legal determination.

    2. Not sure I agree. I'm actually quite glad that we have this 'social construct' that resulted from a Victorian sex scandal. That makes me even more grateful to the Victorians. I'm also frankly quite pleased we have this hypocrisy about sexual matters because the thought of a 16-year old (or a child of any age) involved in anything sexual disgusts me. The only exception I can admit to that is a situation where two young people decide to marry early, something that was more common in the past than today. But I would submit there is a significant difference between, on the one hand, two 16-year old sweethearts getting married and entering into the solemn bond than implies, and on the other hand a 16-year old involving herself in pornography. The former is unequivocally good for society. The latter is abuse. The reason it is abuse is that, in the situation described, the 16-year old cannot legally provide consent to what is going on. She is still a minor. If the story, as related, is true, and if those involved knew, or should have known, her age, then my view is they should be prosecuted.

      If that involves some hypocrisy, then so be it. You can't have standards without hypocrisy, and to call someone a hypocrite (or make that inference) is not itself an argument. But there is a more substantive reason why people are visceral about sexual matters. The criminal law reflects society's priorities. Sex is an important priority for all of us, because without it our civilisation cannot continue. The reason some responsible people (you probably call them 'conservatives') adopt quite moralistic positions on sexual issues is that these are matters that relate to our potency and fecundity, and thus ultimately our ability to continue our society. In some ways, it would be nice if people could just do as they please and let it all hang, but the problem with that type of perspective is that it also compromises the very thing that keeps our world going. If we just say that men can sleep with other men, that women can abort the foetus when the whim takes them, that 16-year old girls can star in porn films because, after all, "some of them are really mature for their age, like, you know", then we have to consider what the consequences of all these libertine concessions might be for what we know and recognise to be our society. People who oppose these things aren't so much "bigots" or "hypocrites" (though they may, at times, be that way individually), it is more that they have this concern about what kind of world their children are going to grow up in and what kind of family, and thus society, might exist in the future. Something for you to think about maybe? It's easy for metropolitan types like you and me to take a "sophisticated" attitude to these things, but there is another perspective as well.

      Of course, the charge of hypocrisy is not entirely misplaced, for two reasons: first, we see manifestations of pseudo-paedophilia tolerated in our society almost everywhere: Mail Online is an example; second, because our standards on these matters are more prurient and conservative than in the past. But I think most of us 'normal' people would agree it's a necessary hypocrisy in order to protect young people in a society that is more complex and demanding than in the past and requires a longer period of adjustment and maturation. A 16-year old in our society, early 21st. century Europe, does not have the emotional perspective to make important decisions about relationships, and does not face the same issues that a 16-year old in other societies, past and present, might. Our laws, hypocritical and imperfect as they are, nevertheless broadly reflect our ideal standards.

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  7. In short, I believe you lose your whole argument when you state ""porn" is sexual material intended to titillate. It is not a comment on its legality or moral status" Exactly. Neither the word child nor the word porn indicate serious crime. And that's why victims and those that campaign for them request that we change our language. Images of child abuse is the preferred wording, or even as the CPS uses "indecent images of children" though I prefer option one. When we discussed this on twitter you stated that it was quicker to type child porn. Well, I will go for the longer option, knowing that individuals who have suffered by becoming victim of what we consider to be one of the most heinous crimes will not be made to feel any worse than they already do by my words. MAMAAUK

    1. Exactly. Why not make a small linguistic adjustment in order to spare victims added distress? What's so noble about fighting some grand battle against those of us who are most vulnerable? 'You misguided survivor, you won't impose your misguided linguistic amendments on us! We are the Brave, the Free, the Bloody Inconsiderate! We will keep saying child porn until the bitter end, as is our unalienable right! We spit upon your politically correct drivel, you misguided ex-abused-children'.

  8. A couple of very rare nutters were recently sentenced for doing unspeakable things to children. They had also used porn. All right-thinking people are required to conflate the two behaviours and treat them as one.

    It is about imbalance of power ……..beasts using it to do ultra shocking things to children, followed by opportunist authoritarians using what the beasts have done to curtail the freedoms of a whole society.


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