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Keeping America’s Children Safe

April 7, 2010

A friend of mine, a radical from the time when radicals burned draft cards, uses the line “keeping America’s children safe” as a running joke to describe the cover that concept provides for bigots, prudes and the power-hungry. As (to paraphrase Dr. Johnson) patriotism was once the last refuge of scoundrels, and as (to paraphrase Senator Roscoe Conkling) that role was usurped by “reform,” people who really want to control what adults can see and do usually try to manufacture a claim of harm to children.

Patrick Califia and I have a few things in common. Among them, we knew we were kinky before we turned 18. But the world was set up to make sure that we didn’t have access to information about how to be who we were in safe and sane ways, with age-appropriate partners, at that age.

At least part of the focus of the personal attacks on MayMay has been the all-ages availability of the information at the KinkForAll conferences. It sounds to me like a flag of convenience, flown by people who would have a problem with the content no matter who it was presented to.

As I look back on my teen years, the least dangerous information anyone could have given me was accurate safety information about how to do what I was starting to learn to do anyway; and social and political discourse about what it meant to do what it is that we do.

In the age of the internet, where kids find ways to get all the worst sort of information as soon as they are of a mind to go looking for it, to pillory someone for advocating access to better, more accurate, more thought-provoking discourse is an argument in bad faith.

There is plenty of conversation to be had about what information is suitable for teens and how to present it. That’s a long conversation. But the people attacking MayMay and KinkForAll are not the least bit interested in having that conversation. In fact, my understanding is that they have been invited to discuss it and have tacitly declined. I think they’re not really interested in protecting children. I think they’re interested in shutting down the conferences and silencing kinksters.

My friend also tends to use the phrase “exercises of power and excuses therefor.” That about covers it. The powers that be in Athens executed Socrates because he was a pain in their collective ass; keeping the children safe was their excuse therefor.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. MitchyChick permalink
    April 7, 2010 8:47 am

    Are you serious? Look, kids aren’t ready for half the stuff they think they are. And “access” before a certain age doesn’t enhance your experiences.

    • April 7, 2010 9:33 am

      The part where I said:

      “There is plenty of conversation to be had about what information is suitable for teens and how to present it. That’s a long conversation. ”

      Perhaps you missed that.

    • April 7, 2010 1:23 pm

      Yeah when it comes to sexuality, it’s best to go with the same attitude that the parents on “16 and Pregnant” employ….since, you know, it’s worked out so well for THEIR kids.

    • firefey permalink
      April 7, 2010 1:50 pm

      i absolutly agree wth you. which is why it’s so important to have open and honest dialoge about it. to confront the half truths and misrepresentations with solid ideas about safety and consent and factual reality. if you (figurative) accept that highschool aged kids are going to do it anyway, then providing them with the ability to make infored decisions INCREASES the likelyhood that they will make healthy choices.

    • Clarisse permalink
      April 7, 2010 5:01 pm

      You keep information about sexuality from your children, then. Don’t go around saying what everyone else’s children need/want/deserve.

    • April 7, 2010 6:04 pm

      Ignorance leads to bad decisions at any age. Remember being a teenager? Kids still do stuff even if adults try to keep them ignorant. Even if parents lock their offspring in ivory towers, the kids invent ladders (and now the curious have the internet). If you want to keep kids safe, the most effective way to accomplish that is to educate them. That way, they’ll be the best equipped to make the right decisions for their own mental and physical well-being. (Right decision is not necessarily the same as Parental Figure’s, and Parental Figure can’t always be there no matter how hard they try to suppress Junior’s autonomy.)

      The right ‘certain age’ varies by person. I think access to information should be there for anyone who seeks it. If they’re interested, they’re already thinking about it and forming ideas.

      • April 7, 2010 7:03 pm


        Also, “Look, kids aren’t ready for half the stuff they think they are.”

        ^ EXACTLY. And that’s where education fits in. It shows kids that they aren’t ready if they aren’t, and it educates them about how to be ready when they decide it’s finally time to do whatever it is they want to do.

    • April 15, 2010 12:18 pm

      So don’t tell kids anymore than the basics of How Babies Are Made, right?

      Then, if kids are sexually abused (as I was), and adults around them refuse to give them any accurate sexual information (as they did for me), said kids will just be forced to either invent their own rationale or secretly go to porn (as I did) to try to understand what happened to them.

      It’s a great plan.

  2. k not K permalink
    April 8, 2010 4:35 am

    Personally, if I have children someday, I’d want them to learn about sex in a safe space like the Kink For All unconferences instead of through internet porn or rumors they hear from their friends (like “douche with Coca Cola after sex and you won’t get pregnant!”)

  3. April 11, 2010 1:48 am

    I’ve noticed that children tend to seek out the information they are ready for. If they’re not ready for it, it bores them. If they are ready for it, isn’t it better to have a responsible source of it?


  1. Freedom of information, kinky and otherwise « Topologies
  2. Maybe Maimed but Never Harmed › My opinions on youth at KinkForAll unconferences
  3. There’s A Reason Why Sex Education is Radical – Sugarbutch Chronicles

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