Many times during the past year or two, I have read the words “rape culture” online. I have understood this phrase to mean tolerance, condoning, or even encouragement of the act of rape. If I am mistaken, then please feel free to correct me in the comments. The reason I mention this is because reading Dylan Farrow‘s post about her experiences got me to thinking about another disgraceful culture we live in.
The definition of child abuse has shifted significantly during my lifetime, and in my opinion for the better. When I was very young, child abuse was not child abuse unless you were turning up to school with bruises all over your face. Over time, however, both the authorities and the media have conceded that child abuse can be delivered just as effectively, if not more so, with words and culture.
Yes, culture. Unlike the simplistic definition, every world, every society, consists of multiple cultures. Children have several of them. There is the culture that they have at school, the culture that they have at home, and the culture they have when they are surrounded more or less entirely by peers. The extent of the marked difference between one and the other two would be very difficult to overstate.
Children are not born knowing how to see themselves. Children, by extension of that statement, are not born evil, angry, or lazy. It has to be taught to them. And the place where children, and even adolescents or adults, get this information is (you guessed it) from their culture.
The way this works comes in pairs, both of which feed right off one another. Children are taught through action or omission how they should see themselves. A parental unit who thinks his child is not worthy to defend before abusive teachers, as follows naturally, teaches his child that they are bad and deserve abuse. And in the little space that the child has to himself, he begins to gravitate towards media that reinforces or speaks to the culture he sees himself as part of.
As examples like Dylan Farrow make evident, our media has a child abuse culture. This goes back much further than just the Baby Boomer, shit out children like there is a shortage, era. Judy Garland began a career as part of a song-and-dance act with her sisters on Vaudeville. So obsessed with making money from Judy‘s childhood image was Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer that they made her consume amphetamines. Whether the side-effect of childhood amphetamine use of stunting growth was known in those days, I cannot be certain, but it had that effect, and that of keeping her weight very childlike in the bargain.
It is a real paradox. During the early to mid twentieth century, media had a nasty preoccupation with keeping children children forever. And just as the cycle of political minds shifting back to the idea of robbing the poor to give to the rich, the media is taking a noticeable shift in that direction, too.
Only this time it seems more that the audience is the overt target. There are a lot of reasons for this, primary among them being that whilst media deregulation is still in a chaotic frenzy, children and adolescents working in the media are still carefully watched in an effort to deter exploitation and/or abuse. But exploitation of the actors was never really an overt goal in the first place. It was just something that, until the monopolists were shaken out of their Scrooge McDuck fantasies, naturally happened. No, the real goal of filmed entertainment has always been to put a message into the minds of the audience. And the message as almost a rule in those days was that childhood was perpetual.
I will never back down from this. Perpetuating childhood is in and of itself abuse. It is abuse because no matter how one thinks of their growing (or grown) child as a child, and no matter how one manages to make the child see themselves that way, the rest of the world sees (and will treat) them very differently. This has the effect of creating an adult who is vulnerable and readily exploitable.
Nor is it acceptable to cut a child or adolescent off from all supports and just leave them to sit on their own near to twenty-four seven because they are “too difficult”. I am still unable to go outside without an e-reader, an iPod with enough music to keep the ears going for more than two weeks, a portable games machine, or combinations. And more besides. All simply because rather than properly address the problem, those in positions of authority chose to throw me away like rubbish.
We do not just tolerate the abuse of children. We condone it. We encourage it. And there are some entertainment companies, such as Blizzard, who even celebrate it. In one sequence, the Alliance player is tasked with several missions that entail attacking the Horde inside a base that happens to more or less be parked right on the edge of a village. The Alliance player is tasked with retrieving the children from this base. The manner in which this mission is structured and phrased cosmetically is, do not kid yourself, deeply upsetting to folks with issues regarding abduction and false imprisonment.
It is common knowledge among people who play World Of Warcraft that Blizzard expect players to worship and bless the Horde’s cotton socks. They still persist in this, in fact, with a brainwashed bunch of fanboys telling us the Horde are the good guys. The environmental devastation wrought by one Horde group aside, no. What you assholes are doing is not merely condoning child abuse. You are celebrating it. If one expects me to join in the rah-rah-rahing, well, I have a default answer to that. One that involves a big baseball bat.
It is enough to make one wonder exactly where this tolerance and celebration of child abuse comes from. Well, I have a very serious suspicion that the majority of adults in our world do not really even see children as Human beings.
Whether it is a natural instinct or an aberration, Humans tend to show contempt for anything that cannot fight back. Whether this has always been the case or just something that has arisen in the past decade, I am not sure, but I have lately been reading a preponderance of news stories concerning abusive behaviour by police officers in America. Some of the stories truly make me sick to read, and I have little doubt that they are the tip of the iceberg. Which makes me wonder what would happen if the police were obligated by the fear of force to behave like decent Human beings.
This is one reason why I never want to have children. Because the society we live in not only condones and encourages child abuse, but genuinely thinks it is a natural answer to any problem one has with a child.
I lost count of the number of times I was threatened with this or that really severe “punishment”. But I can promise this much. Knowing what I do now, there is a reason why I believe that missing the fact that a child is autistic or otherwise neurologically divergent for twenty or more years should give rise to both civil and especially criminal action. The amount of injury this causes the child, adolescent, and adult is such that the only reason it is not a criminal offense is the inherent disregard for children in our society.
Disregard, we hear you say, Dean? Whatever do you mean? Well, this is one example where disregard of children and abuse of an autistic individual combine. If we held children in the regard that bullshit songs about believing the children are our future would have us believe, then this would not happen.
(It is also said that for every case that gets reported, twelve more do not. That means thirteen incidents like this one are likely to have happened on that day alone.)
There is a biblical quote stating something like “spare the rod and spoil the child”. But when we look at how we define spoil, we find that this could be one of the most idiotic statements of biblical times (and that is saying a lot). Well, get a good look at the video linked above. That is what people who repeat that saying are really like when their position of power is not challenged. Think for a minute. If seventeen year old me had encountered this principal, said principal would be wearing her face on the opposite side of her head thereafter.
Tony Spencer, the father of one of my childhood friends, said it best once. Bullying is a weakness, a sickness of the mind. I wish I had understood him then as well as I do today. I wish I could tell him to his face how profoundly his words influence me today.
Look at the video in the page I just linked above again. Tell me that you disagree with me or Mariana Holmberg when I quote what she sings repeatedly in the song Fevered. “The world is sick and life is the disease, feverish we breed.”
By the way, folks online who moan that there is a sharp increase in child abuse or abuse of the disabled whilst gasping in horror about my statements that the overpopulation problem needs to be dealt with now. Scientists have done experiments in artificially inducing situations of overpopulation amongst rats. The results were interesting to say the least. They found not only that rats murdered one another and their own children in situations of overpopulation, but they did so at a rate that increased in escalating proportion with the extent of their overpopulation.
This might not mean much to you by itself. But guess what all scientists consider to most closely model Human behaviour under laboratory conditions? The dog? The monkey? The ape? Nope. The closest model to human behaviour in other species is, you guessed it, the rat.
So then next time you feel like telling me “the world isn’t overpopulated” like your word is law, apologise to the boy in the video I linked above, then come to my place so I can give you the kick in the arse that you deserve.
Is overpopulation the sole reason why there is so much child abuse in the world? Well no. I say again, if we did not so blatantly disregard the rights and wellbeing of our children, especially in times long past, we would not be having this problem today. But the propensity of some families to have children like there is any real incentive to do so is exacerbating the problem.
We also have a considerable problem in terms of societal priorities. The process of birthing children is romanticised and idealised to such a degree that it beggars belief. But word is getting around to all corners of the world that the arrogant assholes who encourage women as young as twelve to push out babies like the world has a shortage of them do not give two fukks what happens to them after birth. Some of us have actually lived that. And it would not be inaccurate to call that another form of child abuse.
It is for these and many other reasons that I would sooner die than father a child. Holding a child in my arms and knowing that he is my son would make me pledge that no matter what else might happen to him, I will not make the same mistake my male parent made and make him grow to despise the very sound of my voice.
I do not want to tempt the child abuse culture of the world I live in to try making a liar out of me.