Luring Children to the Edge: The Panic Over Lost Opportunities

The negative response to safeguarding children that assumes content available to adults should also be available to children—and that it is therefore wrongful censorship to deny children access to that content—already has in mind and conduct the negation of age of consent rules.

From Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Because those rules have been so effectively negated, reasserting them feels to those who have erased the boundaries in their minds and conduct as if something is being taken away. Feelings aside, the norm is being clarified and reinforced. Folks need to take a look at themselves and ask themselves why this feels like wrongful censorship. Also folks needs to ask themselves why the safeguarding of children is portrayed as the stuff of right-wing culture war—that is, who is doing the politicizing?

It is commonplace in history that when a norm has significantly eroded by sociocultural dynamics or concerted efforts to disrupt it, the norm is encoded in law to remind society of its vital importance. Societal reaction that negates exploitation feels like oppression to the exploiter. One feels bad for exploiters because they have successfully portrayed their thoughts and actions as acceptable or preferred. Those who decry the law need to ask themselves how they came to regard exploitation as acceptable or preferred.

Part of the process of restablishing the norm is asking reasonable people to research why we established age of consent rules to begin with. To begin your journey of enlightenment start by reviewing the harm caused to children by adults sexualizing them. But you can also use common sense. Ask yourself, why would an adult be so eager to have children thinking about sexual matters? Why the obsession with sex and gender? Why the desire to get children into that obsession? Are there terms for this way of thinking and acting in the literature on child sexual abuse and child sexualization? How about the term social media is censoring and suspending over? How about grooming?

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Sasha Colby

Entertainment Weekly ran a story about Sasha Colby wanting “Tennessee frat boys arrested for appropriating drag on Halloween.” The magazine frames Colby’s demand as a response to the state passing “anti-drag and anti-trans legislation.” Tennessee hasn’t banned drag. No state has banned or is planning to ban drag. The law bars “adult cabaret performances,” also known as burlesque, overtly sexualized performances, on public property or in places where they might be within view of children. The law resemble laws already on the books concerning strip clubs and other venues of adult entertainment.

In this context, the law bans “male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest.” What does “prurient” mean? It literally means “having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters.” It’s not drag per se the law targets, but drag for that purpose, namely to cause or encourage children to have an excessive interest in sexual matters. That’s the explicit purpose of the drag queen story hour and all-age drag queen shows. This isn’t Mrs. Doubtfire reading a book to children or Dustin Hoffman dressed as Tootsie talking about his role in the comedy by that name. This is a propaganda push by a gender cult backed by corporate state power.

Republican-controlled states are restricting the current practice of using drag as a vehicle for the sexualization of children because proponents of this legislation understand the effects the sexualization of children has on childhood development. Child sexualization, which refers to the portrayal or treatment of children as sexual beings, carries devastating and long-lasting effects on a child’s physical and mental health, as well as their relationships and future prospects in life.

Child sexualization is emotionally and psychologically harmful, associated with anxiety, depress, and trauma. Children experience confusion, guilt, and shame when compelled to obsess over sex and gender. This can affect their self-esteem and developing self-image and detrimentally affect their relationships with others. We have seen a marked rise in mental health problems in our youth. What’s driving the deteriorating in the emotional and psychological well being of our children? The rise of social media and the gender questioning project lie at the heart of this development.

Sexualization involves objectification where a person is treated as an objects for some one rather than a free person on her way to becoming an autonomous individual with thoughts and feelings of her own. In this way, objectification leads to a loss of the child’s developing autonomy, an inability to make decisions about her own life, and a loss of control over her own body—the opposite of what we are told by those pushing the agenda of early childhood sexualization and gender questioning. This is not about ferreting out those suffering from gender confusion to help them. This is about creating gender confusion in order to exploit them.

Personifying stereotypes and edge work

Sexualization of children perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes and encourages children to conform to destructive, reductive, unrealistic, and culture industry constructed standards of beauty, behavior, and sexuality. Consider what children are being exposed to when drag queens, who in these contexts typically present as hyper-sexualized and objectified women, are represented as desirable personifications of girls and women—as representative of proper gender norms.

The reality is that the sexualization of children normalizes sexually predatory behavior, which is associated with an increase in sexual exploitation and the abuse of children, including by those who say they are there to help the children with the emotional and psychological maladies they played a role in manufacturing.

We all know what’s going on with this. The goal of having children think about sex and gender at a young age is to prepare them for a life of reducing themselves to only one thing about themselves—and to have them question that one thing constantly to cause them to seek out experiences to validate themselves. It expands the universe of paraphiliacs—and provides the raw materials for the multibillion dollar industry that markets its business as “gender affirming care.”

We are told that drag queen story hour and all-age drag shows are to build tolerance for sex and gender diversity, to support an alleged marginalized community. Why is that even necessary? The trans community is the most celebrated minority in the United States maybe ever. The movement’s flags are everywhere. The agenda is promoted in classrooms and cultural industry programming. Tolerance for the community is part of DEI training in corporate and public institutions.

Here’s the real point of building tolerance about the minority (the members of which are literally stepping into oppression): asking children to tolerant, to in fact celebrate a group that defines itself on the basis of disrupting normal understandings of sex and gender requires an explanation about what children are being ask to celebrate. The tolerance and acceptance rhetoric is a cover for getting to children so that the members of the movement can then tell them about the wonders of the movement. Children come out of these experiences questioning their gender, and wanting to be like the person who is confusing them.

Again, we don’t have to speculate about this. The organizers of these events are telling us that the goal of presenting drag is to children to sexualize them to encourage them to obsess over gender. Dressing it up in the Trojan horse of tolerance for marginalized groups is a deception that gets them around children to expose children to ways of acting, being, and thinking that the organizers want to socialize. But these ways of acting, being, and thinking are not for children.

This is a social contagion, one that is intentionally spread by the actors pushing the agenda, which, as we can see, involves corporate and government actors. In the latest issue of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, Suzanne Diaz and J. Michael Bailey, report on nearly two thousand cases of rapid onset gender dysphoria reported by parents. They write, “During the past decade there has been a dramatic increase in adolescents and young adults (AYA) complaining of gender dysphoria. One influential if controversial explanation is that the increase reflects a socially contagious syndrome: Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD).”

I encourage you to read the article, but this passage stands out: “Pre-existing mental health issues were common, and youths with these issues were more likely than those without them to have socially and medically transitioned. Parents reported that they had often felt pressured by clinicians to affirm their AYA child’s new gender and support their transition. According to the parents, AYA children’s mental health deteriorated considerably after social transition.”

See how it works? It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Get children to question their gender. When a boy suggests he is a girl trapped in a boy’s body, change his pronouns and begin social transitioning. The resulting deterioration in his emotional and psychological health will not be treated as the consequence of the path he is on but as clear evidence of the need to push him further down the path—into medical transitioning. Hormones and surgeries will break him in so many ways and he will be under a doctor’s care for life. Sterile. Unable to achieve an orgasm. In other words, the process is the manufacture of raw materials for the medical-industrial complex (see Making Patients for the Medical-Industrial Complex).

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You might wonder why corporations are all in on woke. It’s because woke is neoliberal. Where did you think these crackpot ideas come from? Working people? No, corporate elites and the professional-managerial strata that carry out their bidding. Aside from mega-profits, the idea of woke is to keep folks the hell away from democratic-republican populism and make corporate governance appear to be the politics of the people. People are told to obsess over gender and race and they will be celebrated figures in the bureaucracy. There they will enjoy a symbolic politics over a real class-based politics. Progressivism is the ideological projection of these arrangements. See Brendan O’Neill’s latest in Spiked: “Why capitalism loves transgenderism.”

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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