Bad arguments used against Prostatia, a bad group

cw: pedophilia, child sexual abuse, transphobia

I’m seeing bad arguments used against Prostatia.

Prostatia is morally compromised. At best they have well-meaning former child sexual abusers in their close orbit, at worst they are knowingly providing cover to such people with no regard for actually reducing harm.

Although many advocacy groups change language and encourage us to challenge our preconceptions, they take it far. Their spokesperson seems to have trouble saying things like “adults shouldn’t have sex with children” and instead twists things into obtuse euphemisms like “underage people trading sex”.

Some of their advocacy should be uncontroversial to anyone on the left. Do you seriously believe that locking someone in a cage for 10 years is going to make them not want to commit sex crimes? As with any crime, we should be talking about harm reduction and studying the conditions that create these people and allow them to hurt people. One of Prostatia’s points is that child sexual abuse is often committed by people close to the child. Non-expert advocacy (like responding to every tweet with “shut up pedo”) conjures up a creep in the bushes and makes it harder to catch actual offenders.

Some are criticizing them for their beliefs on child autonomy. CHILDREN CANNOT CONSENT TO SEX AND ADULTS SHOULD NOT HAVE SEX WITH THEM. Prostatia’s completely reasonable point that “trafficking” obscures the realities that sexually exploited children sometimes encounter has been drowned out by gotcha leftists. My friend once worked in a factory with a tank of ammonia above his head. If it broke, he would die. He was in a precarious position, perhaps one that should not exist. He worked there to afford food. But I wouldn’t say he was “trafficked”, and shoving his life through that narrative just makes it harder for everyone to understand what’s going on. “Trafficking” tells us that we need more cops and more jail time. “Unhoused abused teens” might lead us to funding no-questions-asked Housing First strategies, and Food First, and some kind of baseline of existence where you don’t have to make these terrible, coerced “choices”.

Children can’t consent to sex, but many adults don’t let them consent to lower-stakes matters either. Raising kids to “hug auntie”, telling them when and how long they can go to the bathroom, putting them in kid-jail (detention/suspension), not letting them choose what, how, and whether to study, forcing them to join little league or the school play, beating them if they say no (legal across the US), all these things teach our kids that their consent does not matter.

Not only that, but we don’t have a ton of information that the way we raise kids is the best. American test scores are terrible and the non-academic effects are so profound they’re nearly impossible to study. We abandon our duty as adults when we force hundreds of millions of kids through this every year when we don’t even know what we’re hoping to achieve by doing it.

So much of our society is built on hierarchies of violence. I have no consent over what my job does, and if I don’t work, I die. If my job pays well, I can get a nice house far away from highways and power plants and protect my lungs. My desk job is destroying my body and harming my mental health. I can work at a warehouse instead and destroy different body parts. A cop can break the law, illegally search me, and if I run away, they can shoot me to death and probably get away with it. Rape doesn’t stop being a problem once people turn 18, and part of that is the rape culture we create. There should be an ironclad alliance between harm-reductionist child advocates, people who want to prevent adult sexual assault, prison abolitionists, police abolitionists, and socialists. These are different versions of the same problem.

The people gleefully destroying Prostatia are a bizarre alliance of the far left and the far right. Andy Ngo just jumped in the fray. You have people mad that one of their board members has transphobic views that some trans women are really confused gay men. Then you have TERFs and SWERFs mad that they think consensual adult porn is good. If you’re on the left it’s a good chance to check your assumptions and wonder why your views overlap with nazis.

Some people on the right were dunking on people associated with the group for liking ageplay. If it solely involves consenting adults, I don’t care and you shouldn’t care. Criminalizing consensual adult kinks is a backdoor to criminalizing queerness entirely. If they can pull it off, TERFs will ban porn and bring culture back to Christian nanny state moralism. Like drugs, porn won’t go anywhere, but the government will be able to throw you in a cage or kill you if they catch you with it. Autoerotic asphyxiation kills 160 people a year. BDSM often involves the deliberate infliction of pain among consenting adults. But banning other kinks is a mostly fringe belief. Banning kinks is a way to divide and conquer the left until there’s nobody left to oppose a ban on queer content in general.

Even if you think some activities among consenting adults must be stamped out, again we must stand strong that locking people in a cage to do it is counter productive. Without prison abolition, without imagining what utopia looks like, anyone calling for more cops and more people shoved through this system is a piece of shit.

My recommendations:

  1. Dismantle Prostatia or heavily clean house.
  2. Immediately discontinue the cute elephant mascot.
  3. Probably refocus to a group dedicated to harm reduction around sexual abuse of children. This overlaps with much of their current advocacy: for example, two 16 year old teens sexting each other do not belong in jail, and they don’t need Apple calling the cops on them by scanning their images. They especially don’t need their parents notified if they’re gay. However, some advocacy is almost impossible to get right (and really strains the credibility of the group). Minor “MAPs” do not need to talk to “MAP” adults. It’s a great way to get groomed. If there even is some kind of kernel of good idea here (why not therapy??????), go over the plan like 8 times with psychologists and child safety experts, because the current strategy is disgusting.

Some of what they’re doing is good, but there needs to be a better group that has tighter messaging and better screening of personnel. They’re bad for specific reasons around their messaging and certain advocacy, not because the entire concept is wrong.