Recent events relating to my posts about pedagogy, power and pedophilia have elicited an extreme response. Aside from calls for my death; the bashing in of my skull; filming of said bashing; aside from calls that I be burnt alive; aside from Facebook blocking an article, and subsequently banning me from posting for 72-hours, about a pedophile who actively chooses to not harm children while working to help children; aside from the fact that I have been called a pedophile, a “nonce” (UK slang for pedophile); aside from the fact that I am not a pedophile; aside from the fact that because someone was tagged in an academic discussion about pedophilia, the police showed up – at the insistence of a relative – and reviewed their computer and mobile phone data; and all of this is aside from my impassioned argument that openness, cross-cultural awareness and subtle confrontation actually prevents child sex abuse; aside my personal experiences in intensive clinical psychoanalysis (under extreme circumstances), whereby I actually helped prevent further sexual abuse of a child; aside from all of this: I am out. It’s been six months, and so aside from the hate: It feels fucking good to be out of prison.
Prison abolitionists have a responsibility to defend every single prisoner, no matter how odious their crime may be, no matter how disgusted any one individual or society may find them; sadly, I have been called a “nonce” by a British person who “identifies” as a prison abolitionist. One cannot “identify” as a prison abolitionist, one must be a prison abolitionist. Theory must be applied to praxis even, and especially, in the most extreme cases. My work does not consist solely of analyzing adult-child sexual relationships, as anyone can see from my writings. In point of fact, the analyses of these relationships comes after months of thinking about my cellmate, who featured in my last article. Researching cross-cultural adult-child sexual relations, along with different temporal co-ordinates (Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality), I noted (again) that the issue is far more complex than even envisioned in the most speculative of contemporary philosophies.
Notions, signifiers, nexuses of coded speech-acts, realities of fleshthoughts (“the body and its encephalon”), abilities and dis-abilities to inhibit or act upon desire, social organisms and the way via their organization regulates how they pulsate, congeal and transform flesh, thought and feeling depending on categories, assumptions, rituals and possibly long-fused archetypes. From James Cantor’s functional magnetic resonance scanning devices, probing the “pedophile mind,” looking for causes, and discovering some interesting markers; to Dr Michael Seto’s conclusion that pedophilia is an age-related sexual orientation, somehow present, somehow innate. Frontal lobe areas in most pedophiles don’t seem to be affected, according to these scanning devices, so unlike poor Phineas Gage, pedophiles are capable of inhibiting their sexual, and other, desires.
Rejecting the false dichotomy, proposed often in this debate, that I am relying on “biological essentialism,” whereas I should be stating that the human individual is a blank slate, born with nothing other than it’s capability to be socialized; refusing this trap, fusing flesh- thought-(affectivities), and affinities into a meta-analysis, and examining what our words seem to be lacking. And here it is: We have no words or silences that really match these experiences; we have no abstracted enunciation or omissions to grapple with these existential realities . “Trauma” “abuse” “sickness” “sexuality” “deviant” … Say these keywords and you will be praised. “Treatment” “rehabilitation” “virtuous”… Say these keywords and you will be looked at with suspicion, yet disregarded as a real threat. Asking: can children consent, can anyone truly consent, what does consent even mean; why have we added a medical and juridical term to interpersonal sexuality; is consent always and fully informed: does it always come with, “Permission granted in full knowledge of the possible consequences.” Saying “children can, in some places, times and societies enjoy and experience sexual relationships with adults without incurring trauma,” and – from the work of Joseph Campbell – saying “sometimes rites of passage, or other forms of initiation into an older matrix of living via sexual interaction with an older person actually helps, via the enactment of myth and narrative, create a more integrated subject, if the social conditions are right, and if the social organism collectively assents to such acts.” Saying these things will get you banned from Facebook, threatened with death, perhaps even a bashing-to-death that is (ironically) “live-streamed” to an admiring audience. Kill the pedo! Aside for all of that, the questions must be asked, the binaries must be questioned: child/adult (where is the line?), biology/sociology (where is the line?), consent/dissent (line?), (fully) informed/ (fully) uniformed (line?), etc.
Finally, I am writing from a place of privilege, I am out of prison, as I mentioned earlier. My heart is with the millions still in prison. For me today is a special day: it marks six months since I first stepped foot out of the cold dead hands of the State. When I left prison I was nervous, afraid, unsure, and I still am – yet to a lesser degree. I couldn’t have made it without my non-sexual life and afterlife husband and partner, Alexander Verney-Elliott, who has helped me so much through both prison and this transition to the outside. And I am passionately working with prisoners and ex-prisoners to support them in their writings, journeys with bureaucracy, and just being there.
So: Aside from the hate, there is a lot of love.
. . .