Wednesday, October 13, 2021

a statement about the thing

CW for mentions of child sexual abuse (CSA) and accusations thereof

so basically, it’s a trap. no matter what you do. 

because person X (who you don’t know personally) has threatened that if you (and 65 other people they “follow” on Twitter, the majority of whom you also don’t know personally) don’t immediately “unfollow” person Y, then they will publicly “name” you tomorrow. even though they have already tagged you and all these other people on a giant multiple-tweet public thread as part of said threat.

in other words, you’ve already been named, pre-naming.

so who is this person Y, who you’re supposed to unfollow? well, according to person X, they are “the leader of a whole ass organization that promotes and supports pedophiles.” wow, that sounds totally fucked up! so you should probably unfollow them ASAP, right?

well, it’s not that simple. for starters, you know that person Y is not actually “the leader” of organization Z; they merely do communications for them. and sure, you could unfollow person Y for simply being affiliated with Z. but you also know other people—let’s call them A, B, and C—who are also demonstrably opposed to CSA (at least one of whom is a CSA survivor themselves), yet have expressed support for, or done events with, Z in the past. as of now, ABC are not being targeted by this “unfollow” campaign—likely because they are AFAB, or not in the public eye as much, or not working directly for Z, or perhaps for other reasons. But they very well could be next.

as evidence that ABC could be next, look no further than yourself: you are being targeted right now, as we speak, even though you have absolutely zero associations with Z. other than following person Y (as well as ABC) on Twitter, of course. and even if you were to unfollow Y & ABC (which you’d rather not do, as you appreciate some of their non-Z related work), you just so happen to follow a few of the other 65 people targeted by this unfollow campaign. so if they refuse to unfollow Y, then you will subsequently be pressured to unfollow *them* as a result. that’s how these public naming campaigns work. it’s basically a version of six degrees of Kevin Bacon, only with the specter of pedophilia replacing Kevin Bacon.

so you begin crafting a response. mostly about organization Z, since they’re at the center of this. Z (like X, and Y, and ABC, and yourself, and probably all the 65 other people) is outspoken about wanting to end CSA. some of what Z advocates (e.g., sex education to help reduce CSA) you 100% agree with. other things they promote (such as destigmatizing consensual adult sexualities, including sex work and BDSM) also align with your beliefs, although you think it’s potentially confusing and possibly counterproductive for an ostensibly anti-CSA organization to focus on these latter adult-specific issues too. but your main concern with Z is the so-called “MAP” support group that they are associated with. this is why they are accused of supposedly “promoting” and “supporting” pedophiles.

because you regularly write about sexuality-related issues, you’ve done your own research into these matters. you have found that numerous experts in the field (most of whom have no affiliation with Z) have argued that destigmatizing “MAPs” to a degree may help them seek out professional help, which could ultimately reduce their chances of committing CSA. this is the stated rationale behind the MAP support group, and why Z (and Y, and presumably ABC) thinks it can help reduce CSA. but in your mind, there is a big difference between destigmatizing a condition so that people can safely seek out help, and *normalizing* that condition so that it is viewed as socially acceptable. if the latter came to pass, it could potentially lead to an increase in CSA, not unlike how destigmatizing racism has been shown to result in an increase in public expressions of racism. another (more positive) example of this phenomenon can be found in how the gradual destigmatization of same-sex relationships over the years has led to even more people identifying as LGB relative to the past.

from everything you’ve read, you don’t think organization Z has adequately grappled with this distinction between destigmatizing and normalizing. and while they would likely claim that they are not doing the latter, there appear to be (from what you’ve seen online) some MAP-identified people out there who *are* trying to normalize it. and via the power of “six degrees of pedophilia,” anything these “MAP normalizers” say or do automatically becomes what people imagine MAP support groups must be doing, and what organization Z is supposedly advocating, and what person Y is supposedly supporting, and so on. it’s “pro-pedo” all the way down. 

so you abandon writing your initial response mid-way through. it’s a sensitive and complicated issue, and you strive to write with thoughtfulness and nuance. but there’s no room for any of that here. like, as soon as you even attempt to parse the difference between CSA and pedophilia, or mention the term “MAP,” you’ve already lost, as some people will inevitably jump to the conclusion that you must be a “pedo apologist.” especially given the fact that you’re a trans woman.

oh, did I forget to mention that you’re a trans woman? yes, it’s true: you are a trans woman. and as a very public trans woman, you are routinely (and baselessly) accused of being a “pedo” or a “groomer” simply for existing, or for advocating for gender-affirmative approaches for trans children, or promoting trans rights—in fact, you wrote an entire essay about this! these experiences have certainly influenced your thinking with regards to these matters. it has made you averse to people who hurl such accusations at others without any actual evidence that said individuals have perpetrated CSA, or are planning to.

for the record: if organization Z was forwarding NAMBLA-type positions (i.e., explicitly encouraging or normalizing CSA), or if any of the aforementioned individuals (X, Y, ABC, the 65 others) were discovered to have committed acts of CSA, I would be quick to denounce them. CSA is abhorrent and it should be stigmatized. but what I see here are many different parties, all of whom express concern about preventing CSA, but who have very different ideas regarding how to go about it. some of these approaches may be better or worse than others. it is perfectly fine for people to debate or critique approaches that they believe are problematic or harmful (as I have done here). but I will not be a party to “six degrees of pedophilia” . . .