Alex's post about an "ex-gay" children's book is disturbing and involves illustrated child molestation.
Wow. Just... wow. The implications here--that childhood sexual abuse *makes* people queer, and that being queer is obviously bad--are pretty horrifying. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse *and* as a queer person, I'm definitely disturbed by this book concept.
I'd also like to take a moment to comment here on how a disturbing amount of the conservative literature I've seen about sexual abuse--even literature that is not ex-gay literature--often seems just as pornographic as it does educational.
A disclaimer: I'm not anti-pornography by *any* stretch of the imagination. When I say pornographic, I mean "made with the intent to turn people on," which, by itself, is not a bad thing in my book.
But I am pretty troubled by how much I see the "titillation/revulsion/attraction" dynamic at play in books about abuse--and especially in books by conservatives about childhood sexual abuse. I doubt I'm the only person who notices the weird sexy titillation element in a lot of supposedly "not erotic" abuse media.
Another example of this phenomenon, also from a conservative and somewhat mainstream religious context: I read a by-Mormons-for-Mormons book when I was a teenager that was supposedly written as a response to rampant sexual abuse of children by elders within the church. I was surprised to even see anything on the subject of child abuse from a Mormon point of view. Like, wow, they were admitting abuse even existed?
But the book pretty quickly revealed itself to be stroke material for folks who were fantasizing about children and young adolescents. At least, it seemed like it. There were long, very graphic, and very sexualized descriptions of child abuse, written... Well, kinda like elaborate sexual fantasies. Not really like stories of abuse and/or recovery. The book was way past the point of gross to me--and mostly because of how it was framed by the authors. It felt like the book had a big "This isn't porn because it's Mormon! This is okay!!" disclaimer around it--but something about it read like it was written with the intent of turning people on, and that felt fundamentally creepy to me.
It's the fact that the writers/producers of this kind of media often seem either completely unaware of the titillation factor--or maybe just unwilling to admit the titillation factor--that squicks me the most. An unintentionally pornographic book about abuse is much, much, MUCH creepier to me than "barely legal" porn, or someone writing about rape fantasies, or what have you.
I guess I just feel like, if someone is going to fantasize and write about "scary" and taboo things, why not just be honest and call it what it is--erotica, pornography, a fantasy? Even if it's a fantasy about things that a lot of other people find distasteful? I know that, at least in conservative circles, a lot of this silence and willful ignorance has to do with sexual repression in general. But if you're going to be writing about it anyway, why, why, oh why, couch it in terms of "not porn"?
And especially--why couch it in terms of "helping people"?