It’s like watching Cyanide poured into the town drinking water because two rats were seen at a dripping tap. Watching… and keeping your mouth shut and sitting on your hands. Rats carry plague… And whatever the cost, you don’t want to chance being identified with the rats, not even to save the people in the town.
Increasingly we seem to do this. Make rules, decisions, take steps which… actually rarely affect the rats, but ruin our lives, our society, our hopes for a future, our past.
The hell with it all. I daresay this post, misquoted and/or selectively quoted will come back to haunt me for the rest of my life. Nothing dies on the Internet.
Shrug. It needs to be said.
I like children. No, let’s go further, and be honest. I love children, especially my own. In any group, I’m the one you’ll find being mobbed by dogs and kids. And yes, I am a man. Let’s be clear here. I love liver and onions too, and yet no-one assumes I want stick my personal Polyphemus into a steaming hot plateful of it, or that I might keep pictures of it on my computer to quiver over. There almost certainly is some freak out there who does this, but no-one makes that assumption about every bloke who enjoys the dish. I’m heterosexual, but really sexual immaturity has about the same appeal as eating the liver while it’s still part of the live sheep. I like women to have all the bits fully grown (And not being a gay fashion designer, who likes androgynous women if he must put up with women, I like them to look like women.) and know what those bits are, and how they work, and what to do with them. Trust me, unless my own youthful disaster areas were atypical in the extreme, the first time is not likely to be the best, unless it really got dismal after that. Experience is good. (Okay, my own take on this is that a male who wants a lack of experience, is a weakling terrified of comparison. But then I look at old men with young trophy wives and think – ‘what a loser you are, and what a slag she is’. Yes, my wife is two years older than I am.) I’ve no sympathy for those who sexually abuse children, and that drops away to less than none at all when you’re talking about pre-pubescent kids. On the other hand I believe and think the evidence is overwhelming that male affection, care, nurturing, mentoring… of both boys and girls has enormously beneficial outcomes for kids. AND MOST OF IT HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH SEX. The Greeks — who had some mighty odd ideas — said there were many kinds of love (they even had different words for it, which maybe is what we need). Assuming they’re all ‘sexual love’ is to destroy all the others too.
I wonder if anyone ever did the maths. Look at that child sex offenders register. Assume that the capture rate is rotten. 1:100. Hell, say 1:1000, or even 10 000 -over generations. Look at the population – and even just the population to which this refers – where such statistic would exclude rural tribal societies etc… and you’re looking at what sort of percentage of the conservative 1.5 billion males it could apply to? Yes. We’re poisoning the entire water supply to destroy two rats, who probably won’t drink the water. It’s like the stupid rules about pen-knives etc on airliners. So tell me: A bunch of nutbars who think sex with transparent virgins would be better than what they can get otherwise (yes really. Old Mo’s description was not inspiring to normal men.) gets up on tomorrow’s flight to NY and threatens an airliner of passengers with box-cutters (or even machetes) — how many seconds do you think they’ll last? I’ll tell you: slightly more time than they would if most passengers hadn’t been subjected to this idiocy, but not very long. The nutbars worked it out, and they’re stupider than pig-dung, so there have been no more attempts. But it still hasn’t got through to the authorities… And the same applies to ‘all men are pedophiles’. If we were, pedophilia would be a lot more ‘normal’ than homosexuality. It isn’t. We’re excluding so much of value to the kids, often in circumstances where this could be avoided. One of the best ways to my mind anyway, would be to have more men involved with child-related situations, so there would be a group of dads with the camp, rather than making it something where you only get one male who is prepared to jump through the hoops required to teach etc.(odds increase then, that he’s the clever rat). It needs thought, and takes, however, more than the knee-jerk ‘no knives on airliners’ reaction.
Look: I’m not saying that the problem is to be ignored. I’m all for rat-poison in the holes, and rat-traps and cats and terriers. I’m all for keeping things rats like in rat-proof containers. Hunt down and destroy without mercy or tolerance those who make and put this noxious filth on the Internet. Humiliate and jail the users. Be sensible about sending your daughter – or son, off with a solitary man, or woman (yes, it’s less frequent. It happens. Women do abuse boys, and women do abuse girls, even their own kids. I’d guess it’s going to rise for reasons of our changing society. It will still be a minuscule proportion. But, if you’re a woman, thinking ‘so what: what they lose in male contact is worth their safety’ – down this route in time you’re going also get treated like a criminal for a picture of your baby Jimmy playing in the bath, never mind how often you changed his diaper).
As a writer, the part that worries me is that I’m seeing this creep into writing too. Books like Margaret Mahy’s excellent ‘PIRATE UNCLE’ (where a young boy and his sister are sent off to live with their bachelor uncle, much to the benefit of the kids, the uncle, and the parents) are conspicuously absent in the current generation of books. Solitary men, in fact men, are seen as ‘the bad guys’. And it does spill through. Men not wanting to be scoutmasters. Men avoiding teaching… It’s curious to have sat on the sidelines while a group of (female) YA writers were discussing sex in their books. Mine are terribly dull, as the Kirkus reviewer who (judging by her ‘rave’ reviews) wanted kinky teen sex for her titillation found, and don’t actually have any. The writers posited that as 50% of girls of, I forget, barely past puberty as far as I was concerned, certainly still immature in mind if not body, were sexually active, it was the norm, and the question was just how much gay, threesome, S&M and/or other variants there should be and how much detail, and explanations on condoms, rubber gloves and dental dams… after all, it was important for these young people not feel left out, isolated and strange… Several things went through my mind (beside my feet, as I landed hard). The first was well, what about the other 50%? And I bet they’re the 50% who read (and, um, I’ll bet most of these writers were in that group too, as teens.) What about that sector feeling left out, isolated, strange because they’re not? You’re not pressuring young, socially insecure humans into accepting your adult norms are you? The second was: unless the world has changed very abruptly, an age gap has always existed in the male choice of post-pubescent girls who haven’t finished maturing yet. When they grow up, partners their own age, or even a little younger are just fine. But judging by my own experiences growing up, and more recently my sons’ and their friends at a co-ed school, girls found enormous status in older boys. 2-5 years was the hunting range, largely, I think because even there, the peer pressure on boys was such that chicken-hawking is seen as the behavior of weaklings (and rightly so IMO). To pull a boy who was at college when you were a scrubby school-brat was a major status symbol, and for a girl to date a younger boy… well, she had to be brave or desperate. So: while some countries have statutory rape provisions excluding relationships between minors or where the age gap is close (South Africa was IIRC 2 years), and taking the 50%… by accepting this 50% as a norm you’re green-lighting child abuse, because a lot of the 50% will be minors, role modelling on what you write, with the sort of partner who likes chicken-hawking. Eugh!
So: here’s my position, what I write and what I’d ask you to think about writing yourselves, or if you’re buying books for younger readers, to target.
1) Adults, regardless of gender, can be decent human beings. Not have to be, but can be. Men or women behaving that way are to be admired and liked.
2) Partners / lovers of more or less your own age are pretty cool. (And yes, if you’re going to get graphic, how to put on a condom, use a dental dam etc… is important. But for heaven’s sake try to insert the concept that if the fancy already knows all the intimate details of these things… they’re probably not exactly your maturity age, and taking advantage.). Mental and maturity parity is important. It’s actually about more than just sex. (It’s why Eric and I sent Goth back in time to where she was older than Pausert in SORCERESS OF KARRES.
developing a respect for each other, and the values of the other, and finding common ground. (Yes, and a grave shortage of angst and sex. Sorry. That’s me.))
3) The sort of ‘target’ (male or female) who will respond to someone a lot younger than themselves isn’t a sign that you’re sexy and mature, it’s a sign that they’re a weakling and a loser, who can’t cut it with their peers. It’s not much of a prize.
Crossposted in Coal Fired Cuttlefish