Something that disturbs me

So…… I think most of us can agree that:

(1) Backstabbing your way to the top of the social ladder, so you can grab it for yourself, and killing a few thousand people in the process is wrong.


(2) A teacher/master getting his younger student to sleep with him, while evoking their teacher-student relationship, etc., is wrong.


There was a time when people winked at these things, when might made right…when the “Great Men” were above common, ordinary, “slave morality”. But we got over Nietsche and all that. I thought.

Now it is just morphed. If you were a woman, then let us celebrate your back-stabbing your way to the top–suddenly–oh joy–it’s empowerment!! And if that imposed relationship was homosexual–then, oh, they were “pederastic lovers” (as wikipedia used to say), and people look wistful, oh, the delicacy, the sweetness (it’s not pedophilia), they were just misunderstood….


When will the people of the world just say that ALL bloodthirsty power-hunger and ALL pedophilia are just damn wrong? No matter who? As long as we romanticize part of it, it will keep happening–because it is harder for those tempted to fight something they can romanticize. Now, as long as you are the “special” gender/color/orientation, it’s romantic.


Even in the places that should be defending holiness, it is like this.


So who will protect the children?


10 thoughts on “Something that disturbs me

  1. A couple years ago Lawrence of Arabia’s wikipedia page had a long speculation on his relationship with a young (13? or 14?) Arab boy who was his servant. Regardless if it was true or not, it was very sympathetically portrayed, and at the time, there was a category on wikipedia (which he was part of) that said “pederastic lovers”. I didn’t save the webpage, but was startled at the time–not so much over Lawrence, but over the tone of the article.

    Other pieces of data are just off-hand comments. And:

    Also, there was a front-cover article in The Economist a few years back about America’s ‘draconian’ statutory rape laws. And at Penn, there was a published letter in a campus publication (I think it was the Daily Pennsylvanian) about how we were “bigotted” for summarily condemning a Penn professor who was found to have a number of child porn of boys from the 3rd world that he had taken while overseas. If I recall correctly, the letter was written by an Anthropology PhD student at Penn.

  2. Ugh. Yeah, I had known about NAMBLA, but I assumed that they were very, very fringe. What a terrible organization. And the story about the Penn professor is awful. : (

    That said, I can understand complaints about statutory rape laws involving couples who are respectively 17/18 years old and having consensual sex (calling that situation rape seems unfair to me).

    Do you think that it’s romanticized outside of a tiny fringe group, though? I feel like it’s one thing that pretty much all groups, regardless of political or religious affiliation, can agree is horrible.

  3. I hope it remains so. There have been things that made me wonder if we were on the edge of another paradigm shift though….

    Like the spirited defense of Child Porn, by members of the supreme court a few years back…and in my own individual experience, a hip 30-something white manager at a BORDERS bookstore outside of Philadelphia, defending “erotica” with very pre-pubescent looking models (it was on the bargain shelf, which is why me and my sister saw it). Certain ‘norms’ in society are built up over generations of suffering (and generally a few sacrificial victims) …and then they get undermined slowly and collapse like a pack of cards. I think that may be happening now. But I should be wrong–my siblings tell me this is my paranoid pedophilia-will-take-over-the-world rant. I’m probably just paranoid.

  4. PS While I’m ranting, the sugarcoated “sex tourism” speak of men at elite educational institutions (they are talking about women in third world countries, in cultures with very high levels of pressure/economic disparity), and National Geographic’s article on it a few years back that seemed kind of fishy. And in Penn’s own alumni magazine, an article defending “sex work” as empowering for women….

    and these women are so often…from impoverished villages, underage, worried about their families…

    I just have this sinking feeling I might know what these open-minded elites were doing on their ritzy/humanitarian tours in the third world.

  5. Yeah, I think your second point particularly is a good one. Sex trafficking especially is a huge problem, and it’s really sad that it don’t often get much attention. I don’t know if it’s fair to think that all the open-minded university elites on global tours are hiring local prostitutes, though.

    I believe in theory that sex work could be empowering in a few specific instances, but I also think that in practice that’s very rarely the case. Particularly if economics/poverty is a motivating factor.

  6. You are right, I guess I am too quick to suspect/distrust people. I’m sure not all elites do. But I have met alot of elites who did not give me good vibes. After all, if they treat girls on campus like that and see nothing wrong with it, how far is it for them to treat locals overseas like that either? Yes, it is just my (probably paranoid) intuitions, but on the other hand, better safe than sorry. I’ve heard things (word of mouth, through persons who knew persons etc), about the US Military, about the Peace Corps, and the UN. The last two are particularly troubling, as there appears to be far more trust and far less oversight/prosecution/checks/controls.

    I don’t think ‘sex work’ can ever be empowering, but that I suppose depends on how one defines “empowering”. I define “empowering” as in “something that does not damage one’s dignity and deep, inner sense of self-worth,” though I suppose if it is literally defined as “something that gives one power”, than yes, some have been able to gain power through selective distribution of sexual favors. But to defend such an institution, seems for the most part, to come back to square one (abuse of women, sexual exploitation, might-makes-right, etc.), now under a different name. (e.g. disabled people used to be killed for being ‘useless breadgobblers’, and now they are eliminated in utero for ‘having a low quality of life’, and while the rationale is no longer cold modernist but now warm postmodernist caring…in the end, its the same thing being done). Just with new words, all the old taboos and dykes and barricades–meant to protect–are gone. Which means, those who just want to trample over it all have no taboos, because all taboos are out of the way. So its back to Viking/Spartan morality, where if one can get away with it, it’s golden.

    I remember reading an assigned article in my African Studies Class in undergrad, about how the Dahomey’s slave-harem was actually empowering because, through sexual favors and personal influence, the slavewives probably had an political influence on the king. By the end of the article, the author was framing it as a senate body, quasi-democracy. So those Dahomey warriors who rounded up the girls by force were actually empowering them. That is a tendency among postmodern historians/sociologists…. I think they lose touch with basic human reality. They set out to defend the weak and oppressed, and get so muddled that in the end they are championing the very social institutions that exploit and degrade the oppressed the most. 😦

  7. No, I think you’ve definitely got a point. I’m not sure it’s an elite academic thing, though – I think it may just be an issue of power in general. I would imagine it’s at least as much an issue with corporate elites traveling overseas. I’m not sure it falls easily into a particular cultural/political/social category. (It also may just be a difference in personal experience – most academics I’ve get have been very kind and honest with me, but obviously that doesn’t mean it’s universally the case).

    I knew a girl for a while who started to work as a stripper when she turned 18. She wasn’t forced into it by anyone and didn’t have to do it for economic reasons – she just thought it was fun. I didn’t totally understand the mindset, but if she felt that it was empowering and something that she wanted to do, then I don’t see anything that’s wrong with it. When people say sex work can be empowering (with the emphasis on can) I think it’s cases like this that they’re talking about. I think that certainly can be true, but I also can see how it could (in practice) wind up just elevating the special cases and glazing over the majority of sex workers who are not at all happy with what they’re doing.

    I think that you’re right on the last point – it’s a very fine line between saying people in terrible circumstances can use their agency and will to affect change in their own lives (and those around them) and saying that they’re not actually victims. Do you think it’s possible that the author of that article thought that the institution itself was bad, but that the people trapped within it were able to make the best of their situation? If not, you’re right, he/she seems to have gotten a bit carried away. 😦

  8. Hm, I guess I should go and dig out my old coursepack and look it up. It’s been a few years since I’ve read it.

    I guess I think there are certain choices whose most visible primary victim is oneself, (e.g. prostitution/abortion/porn/suicide/etc) but that it nevertheless should still be outlawed, because even if someone thinks it is what they want, it isn’t a valid choice–because of the collateral damage to society as a whole, others (including those who love them), and themselves, in the long run.

    Hmm. These thoughts are still a little incoherent, but I was thinking that most morality should not be legislated because an inquisition is a bad thing, but when violence (or the instigation of violence—e.g. child porn inflaming individuals to actions of child abuse) is involved in a particular deviation from moral norms, then legal intervention is inevitable and necessary.

    I don’t know why I’m hashing this all out here….it’s not like I’ll ever be president of the United States…. I guess typing helps me think. Thanks for discussing this with me, I appreciate it.

  9. Hmm, I see what you’re saying and I would agree with the idea that suicide is not a valid choice. But I think a lot of that springs from the fact that suicide very frequently stems from mental illness, in which a person’s ability to make effective and healthy decisions becomes physically compromised. I don’t know if you can really compare that to a group of consenting adults coming together and making a pornographic movie. That may be a completely valid choice for them, and I don’t see how it would hurt themselves or society. I think it all comes down to choice – if people are free to make a choice, they aren’t being (openly or more subtlety) coerced, and they are not harming anyone else, I don’t understand why their choice isn’t valid. If coercion is involved, that’s a whole different story, and I agree that legal intervention is a good idea.

    I think that thinking about things is good! I like that you hash it out explicitly on here, it makes me think too. Thanks. : )

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