On the Ubiquity of Child Pornography (a Christmas Day gift for a ‘naughty’ society)
In the burlesque of passion, ‘naughty’ is nice. In the grotesque of desire, ‘naughty’ is simply nasty. If pornography is more deeply and precisely defined as the narrowing of one’s humanity through objectification, suppression and the sabotage of agency, child pornography appears ubiquitous in our society. Its sexual aspect is but one instance of the confluence of these three forces, and in no way should an ethical understanding of pornography be limited to an examination of what is in fact a mere skewed symptom. For sexuality in itself is an essential part of the human experience, and from a very early age, as Freud and many others have correctly demonstrated. By reducing our inhumanity as directed upon others to what is indeed an authenticity of being only compounds the evil, which is itself in turn sourced in ressentiment. It is inevitable that an adult will feel a compulsion to absorb the wider childhood of which he was himself robbed when a child; whether this theft is repeated against his own children or those utterly unknown to him. This repetition of a criminal act may be witnessed in a myriad of examples hailing from a variety of sectors in today’s society, and specifically in its institutional cultures, wherein objectification, suppression and the denial of human agency and will occurs together and in a calculated manner.
Private schools emblazon public transit with rows of smiling uniformed girls, well-behaved and no doubt well-disciplined and yet apparently so happy to be forced into the same clothing and the same personality as their desk-bound neighbors who, before being crammed into such places by parents eager to both dispense with their care and ensure that their wealth stay in strictly monitored courtship circles, were complete strangers to them. No matter, as all will shortly become the same thing, and this thinghood is of the utmost: not a person, but a set of objectified roles; dutiful child, chaste daughter, model student, submissive spouse et al. That the ‘schoolgirl’ is an altogether perennially popular staple of the porn industry tells all: it has borrowed from the stilted life of the child the sexualized thinghood already utterly present within its pleats and tights. Just as art mimics the very highest of and in life itself, so does porn mimic the very lowest.
Such schools spend much space on their respective websites outlining with a salacious delicacy their uniforms, including ‘modesty shorts’ for girls. At once this official apparel, from which there may be no deviation whatsoever pending punishment – much anticipated by the adults involved, and the very reason why uniform codes are so picayune in the first place – suppresses any hint of natural sexuality by objectifying youthful charm in a lockstep repetition, not unlike ballet or team sports, two other parental favorites, in which youth appear as part nymph part storm-trooper. Such schools rely on supportive and presumably equally neo-fascist families for ‘discipline’, also reiterative, and in even more authoritarian circles, often still of the physical variety. And yet the malingering presence of corporal punishment in some political regions is completely consistent with other aspects of the suppression and objectification of the child, for it is nothing other than surrogate sex.
The child and the youth become the institutional playthings of adults, chaste yet charming chattel, objects and not persons. Their human rights are denied them, their own nascent wills crushed, their narrowed paths set before them and predefined as the same road to ressentiment. In this dynamic, the relations of an alienated subsistence are reproduced. The child will become the avid consumer, the beleaguered producer, entertained by a sullen mean-spiritedness. They will watch television ads wherein even a teenager’s first kiss is denied by mocking parents, and these latter will chuckle to themselves and glance over with menace at their own adolescent children. We’re not selling you a vehicle, but rather a warning. Those who script such ad campaigns are pornographers, the companies which contract them porn merchants. Buy their products and support child pornography, but that is what you desire above all else. For the truncated adulthood of our mass culture only moves us when we can enact violence, either symbolic or physical or both, upon others. Children are the safest mark, for other adults will generally fight back or have friends who will fight for them. But the uniformed disciplined loveless child is the perfect daughter, the perfect son. And to have one or the other makes you the perfect parent.
We can also rely upon far more than the schools and the laws to support our perfection. All that is sold to children fosters within them an auto-pornography. Shop anywhere, and though you may be of any age group, you are forced to listen to the voices of insipidly ten-year-old sounding pop stars who, in highly sexualized whispers or ululations, sing of youthful desire alone. This the basest most perverse version of any possible Reich, for at least the Nazis had good taste in music. In all else regarding our children, we mirror many of their own desires. The Orwellian character of general child pornography is certainly also indisputable. The children’s athletic apparel designed to provide a source of endless voyeurism for audiences; the television ratings for the competitions that reveal much or most of young women always the most popular attractions. Those few with acrobatic skills and perfect hebephilic figures have graduated from the sexual school uniform to that of theatrical sporting performances, in the process having also been unsurprisingly regressed from a mere pupil to a circus animal.
Children are mocked in entertainment scripts intended for adults, while youths are often violently suppressed and yet objectified, seen as a threat to society but at the same time as being the original source of desire, resented mightily and yet relentlessly pursued, just as we orient ourselves to our own lost youth. And it matters not whether the scriptwriters are simply good old Nazi or fashionable Feminazi; compare ‘Bosch’ with ‘Scott and Bailey’, for instance. In both, teens are berated, threatened with violence, cast as the source of social problems or the bane of parental existences. And these are but two of the more egregious offerings out of hundreds and in all genres. And by contrast, scripts directed at youth themselves are in their vast majority pure fantasy, stating to young people that in order for them to have an agency at all, they must dwell alone in the worldcraft of our adult imagination, formulaic and utterly reactionary as it is. The creators of such fantasies are child pornographers, the young actors sex industry starlets, and the parents who approve of their viewing do so with the low cunning of a holocaust architect. Objectification, suppression, denial of agency: the trinity for the mass murder of all that children authentically embody.
Children who play with one another unencumbered by social role device, who create their own worldcraft bereft of the constant and ubiquitous harping of corporate CGI campaigns, and youths who love one another far outside of parental control and oversight, and who explore their shared world wide-eyed with one another far beyond the panting grunt of the molester’s narrow gaze, these are the experiences authentic to the young human being and which we, as those older and supposedly so much wiser, need to nurture in every child. One stares round in vain for such contexts wherein this utmost task is even attempted, let alone accomplished. And if the apparently enchanted premodernity hung its collective hat upon revelation, we today, disenchanted and modern are compelled to consider revolution as the advent of human freedom. But in murdering our young, we avoid the confrontation with our own culture’s self-imposed slavery. We prefer pornography to authenticity, child porn to mature intimacy. In that, we impale ourselves. But to suffer this same fate upon a child is to move from simple ethical error to evil, as patent and as vacant as are our own embittered hearts.
G.V. Loewen is the author of 58 books in ethics, education, aesthetics, health and social theory, as well as fiction. He was professor if the interdisciplinary human sciences for over two decades.