Purity: or Will No One Think of the Children
So, this has been going on a while in various places, but it’s recently raised its head on Twitter. Sadly, more than once in the last few days, but for Reasons I’m even more pissed off than usual this time.
So, antis. I am not here for antis. Not because I’m blase about the sexual abuse of children, but precisely the contrary.
And in particular I am not here for antis harassing folks, or trying to round up people to help them harass. Which is what folks have been doing for several years now.
So, not infrequently antis will claim that they’re just against the kind of fic that is meant to normalize pedophilia, and/or groom victims. Or the sort that’s just meant to provide gratification for pedophiles or make them feel better about themselves. And I mean, sure, that sounds reasonable until you actually think about it for five minutes.
Tell me, friends, how do you know the difference between horrible pedophile-encouraging work, and the work of survivors working through their trauma? How do you know the bad kind of fic from stories meant to help other survivors deal with their histories?
Yeah, I know, you know it when you see it. It’s just obvious, right?
Hah. No. Let me tell you, you don’t. I mean, just on the most basic level, we all tend to read or view things from within our own context. Your context may very well not be the same as the context of any given writer, and your assumptions about why they did a thing or what they were thinking? Probably wrong. I mean, seriously–I’ve seen some amazingly assured assertions about what I meant or intended with various things in the Ancillary books, for instance, and 99% of them are so off base it’s difficult for me not to laugh when I see them. Most people just aren’t as good at divining the intent of a writer through their fiction as they think they are.
Now, this is not to say that there are no artists (or people influencing the production of art) who are pedophiles, or that no art at all bears the traces of such influence. I’m just saying–how do you know which is which? You’re digging through AO3, or you’ve picked up some other work, you know nothing about the artist except that they’ve included a ship you think is immoral, or if you squint hard enough someone in a scene is maybe underage (according to whose laws? But that’s a whole other can of worms isn’t it). Tell me, how can you be so sure that harassing the author–or going around telling everyone you know the author is a pedophile–is warranted?
Well, you just know. It’s obvious. So you harass the author–you splat triggering, out of context shit up on Twitter, or you go into DMs with horrible, triggering stuff on purpose, to get some outrage going, and you’re so proud of yourself, you’re working against those horrible child rapists! But it’s funny, isn’t it, how great it feels to be that avenging arm of righteousness, swinging that sword, hurting the bad guys. What’s less great is the fact that you’re hurting the very people you claim to be fighting for–survivors of sexual abuse.
You claim you only want to erase the bad stuff, only go after the bad people, but in the end you go after anyone who even mentions the bad stuff, and guess what, a lot of survivors write about the bad stuff, and antis have definitely gone after survivors talking about their trauma. So now survivors can’t even talk about their experiences.
It’s almost like that’s exactly what you want. It’s almost like you’d prefer the abused stop talking about their experiences. Surely it’s entirely, sadly coincidental that when the abused can’t talk about their abuse, abusers can keep on abusing with impunity.
I’ve lived through too many purity crusades to have any patience with this one: crusades against “bad” language, mentions of sex, mentions of same-sex desire– every single one of them did more harm than good, and every single one of them wasn’t actually about the thing they were supposedly about. They were all, in the end, the short edge of a wedge going after way more social control–control of women, control of children, control of families the crusaders didn’t like. This one is no different, for all it wraps itself up in the flag of Saving The Children.
You want to criticize a text? Go ahead. You disapprove of an author’s work? Sure, say so. Is there a problem with the sexualization of children in our culture? Sure is. Is swarming someone on Twitter or Tumblr going to help? Not one fucking bit. In fact, it’s entirely possible you’re hurting actual victims of pedophilia. But, you know, go off, I guess.
Just don’t expect any sympathy from me. Cause you’re having way too much fun trying to hurt people, and maybe you should step back and think about that.