Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 3, No. 4, 2004

  Current Issue  
  Back Issues  
Robert J. Lewis
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dube
Phil Nixon
Mark Goldfarb
Robert Rotondo
  Music Editor
Emanuel Pordes
  Arts Editor
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
Mady Bourdage
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Contributors
  Noam Chomsky
Robert Fisk
Michael Moore
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Mark Kingwell
Arundhati Roy
Naomi Klein
Jean Baudrillard
John Lavery
David Solway
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein


by Josey Vogels

Josey VogelsJosey Vogels is the author of the nationally syndicated sex and relationships column My Messy Bedroom and the dating advice column Dating Girl . She has published five books on sex and relationships – the most recent is entitled Bedside Manners: Sex Etiquette Made Easy.



Lianna McDonald is sitting across from me at a restaurant in downtown Winnipeg telling me about, a citizen watchdog site created by Child Find Manitoba, and designed to expose kiddie porn online.

Still, I have to question whether it'd be more effective to have sunk the $600,000 in federal and provincial funding for this pilot project into creating better resources for cops and experts who know where to find this stuff. You know, rather than using it to sift through dozens of potentially false reports by over-reactive citizens to find one or two real sources of kiddie porn.

McDonald doesn't bite.

"How can you say don't do it, or that it's not good enough because you're only catching 20 out of 150 million people involved?" McDonald counters. "If you catch the people who manufacture this stuff, you've at least stopped the victimization of a handful of children who were being violated."

I appreciate her point.

But I was still uneasy.

"It's like trying to kill a flea with a nuclear bomb," offers Dr. Marty Klein, an American sex therapist, lecturer, and author of the Sexual Intelligence newsletter ( when I raise my concerns with him over the phone. "The truth is, the amount of child porn that's available is very, very small when you think of everything's that's available to everyone all the time. And it's not that easy to find. You have to really want to find it."

Fact is, in the nine years I've been writing this column and researching sexually oriented material online, I've never come across anything that fits the legal definition of child pornography. So, I ask McDonald, how is it that the average person even finds child porn to report it?

"People who are into this stuff are using programs children use, file sharing programs like WinMX," she explains. "Let's say I was searching Destiny's Child and I'm a 12-year-old girl. All of a sudden, I'd come across some of the most horrific child pornography you've ever seen."

I don't download music but my boyfriend does. Granted, he's not a fan of Destiny's Child, but he's never reported any such horrors.

Even as horrific as this stuff might be, though, I'm not convinced mere exposure is enough to turn us all into pedophiles.

By that argument, McDonald -- as well as the law enforcement guys looking at these images -- should be out buggering children.

"There is this idea that adults look at these pictures and it motivates them to have sex with children," says Klein. "I'm here to tell you that if an adult is going to have sex with a child he's going to do it whether he looks at a picture or not. It's not like most of us can resist ice cream as long as it's not in front of us. The internalized psychological barriers that prevent adults from having sex with children are enormous."

McDonald sticks by her argument. Even if cybertip's efforts are just a drop in the bucket in terms of ferreting out Internet kiddie porn, she says, it's better than sitting back doing nothing.

"Just because we have the technology and it's here to stay, doesn't mean we just throw up our arms and say, 'oh well, that's too bad, just grin and bear it,'" argues McDonald who insists her organization is adamantly pro-Internet.

Klein's not so sure. He thinks groups like this actually do more harm than good.

"If, in our attempt to protect children, we wind up scaring the hell out of them about sexuality, I don't know that we've gained very much," he says. "If the price children have to pay to be safer -- not safe, because no one is 100% safe from anything -- from exploitation and manipulation is to be turned into frigid beings, I don't think we've done children any favor whatsoever."

Besides, he adds, most sex between adults and children doesn't involve strangers who are offering kids candy, showing them music videos or pictures of kids having sex with adults. "Most of the sex that goes on between children and adults goes on between family members: stepfathers, stepmothers, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.," says Klein. "So all the hysteria about child porn is really hysteria based on emotion rather than fact."

Obviously, says Klein, there are people out there who do things that are not healthy for themselves or for the people around them. "There are a certain number of adults who are coercing children to have sex with them, and I don't think that's good for anyone."

But while eliminating images of children in a sexual context might be a commendable goal, Klein believes that, "Children are beautiful sexy beings and it's unrealistic to think that nobody ever looks at them that way."

Unfortunately, in North America, we've always fostered the idea that childhood eroticism is dangerous and must be suppressed. It's been like that since the days they used to clamp spiked metal rings around young boys' penises to stop them from having erections and masturbating.

"There is a belief in our culture that children are not sexual unless they're sexualized by adults and that is simply not true," says Klein. "It's healthy to see the beauty and the eroticism of the people around us. The question is what we do about it."

Obviously, it would be better if our culture were sexually healthier in general. And, yes, it'd be nice if people were able to feel turned on without necessarily acting on it, or felt able to access their own sexuality without hurting anyone else.

We're clearly not there. But in the meantime, I don't think the answer is to create more misguided hysteria around children and sexuality.

Further reading:
-- Not in Front of the Children: "Indecency," Censorship and the Innocence of Youth
by Marjorie Heins
-- Erotic Innocence: The Culture of Child Molesting
by James Kincaid

-- Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex
by Judith Levine

E-Tango: Web Design and lowest rates for web hosting
Care + Net Computer Services
Available Ad Space
MCC Marchande d'Art at:
Valid HTML 4.01!
Privacy Statement Contact Info
Copyright 2002 Robert J. Lewis