Lauren Rowello, a self-described former sex worker who is married to a trans woman, autistic, and raising two “neurodivergent” kids, wrote a piece in the Washington Post late last month as a prologue to this year’s Pride Month titled: Yes, kink belongs in Pride. And I want my kids to see it.
This year seems to be filled with more controversy surrounding Pride Month than in the past, or perhaps we are just paying more attention than in previous years.
There is a lot to unpack in Rowello’s article, and fortunately, I’ve done it for you.
Let’s start with what “kink” is and Rowello’s argument that children should be exposed to it. But a fair warning, some of this stuff is graphic.
Rowello describes a scene that includes her family attending a Pride parade in Philadelphia. Their elementary school-aged child, upon seeing a bare-chested man with suspenders clipped into a leather thong getting spanked with a flog, asks, “What are they doing?”
Now, I would’ve been more curious as to what precisely the utility is behind the suspenders. Still, I’m well into my 30s, so my curiosity isn’t going to align with that of a child.
For those readers who don’t have kids, let me break down the probable age range of an elementary-aged child. We are talking about a kid somewhere between the age of five to ten years old.
Rowello explains to their child that they are “celebrating who they are and what they like to do.”
“Sharing the language of kink culture with young people provides them with valuable information about safe sex practices – such as the importance of establishing boundaries, safe words and signals, affirming the importance of planning and research, and the need to seek and give enthusiastic consent.”
Is it age-appropriate for five to ten-year-olds to be learning about kink culture and whatever ‘enthusiastic consent’ is? Or perhaps a better question is “age-appropriate” even a thing anymore in our society?
I’ve never been the type of mom to ‘talk baby talk’ or name private parts cute nicknames like ‘cookie’ or whatever those parents call penises. My kids know the scientific terms for their private parts, and I’m probably a bad mom because I allow them to watch movies like Jurassic Park and Mission Impossible.
Age-appropriate used to mean something. In response to the uproar over a Texas gay bar hosting a ‘Drag Your Kids to Pride’ event, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said:
“It used to be kids would be off-limits. Used to be everybody agreed with that. Now it just seems like there’s a concerted effort to be exposing kids more and more to things that are not age appropriate.”
Video from the Texas gay bar showed children tipping drag queens with dollar bills, a nod to a common practice at strip clubs. Because making sure our kids are adept at math principles like counting back change correctly isn’t nearly as important as understanding this cultural phenomenon.
No doubt Rowello would be in favor of this activity given their assertion:
“We don’t talk to our children enough about pursuing sex to fulfill carnal needs that delight and captivate us in the moment.”
This statement implies that understanding self-control and restraint aren’t as important as satisfying impulses regardless of possible repercussions. This brings up an alarming possible next step in normalizing sexualized children.
Last year Old Dominion University took heat for not firing assistant professor Allyn Walker. Walker, who is non-binary and transgender, argues that pedophiles shouldn’t be ostracized, claiming they can’t help who they are attracted to.
Walker was being interviewed at the time about their book ‘Long Dark Shadow: Minor Attracted People and their Pursuit of Dignity.’ Is your head about to explode yet?
Minor Attracted People, or MAPs, are as you guessed, people who are “attracted” to minors.
The organization Primary Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse helpfully points out that MAPs are not necessarily pedophiles: “In case you are unaware of the distinction between a pedophile and a minor attracted person, a pedophile is someone with an attraction to prepubescent children, while minor attraction is an umbrella term for someone attracted to minors in general.”
Dictionary.com defines pedophile as “an adult who is sexually attracted to young children,” so there’s some disagreement there.
We’ve seen this kind of re-labeling before. After all, I’m no longer a mother; I’m a “birthing person.”
What Walker essentially is trying to do is replace the term ‘pedophile,’ which has a historically negative connotation, with a new and more “acceptable” identity. No doubt an identity that would want the same rights as all the other identities and the right to be their ‘authentic selves’ at parades.
Walker is no longer employed at Old Dominion University, but recently got picked up elsewhere: the Johns Hopkins University Center for Preventing Child Sexual Abuse.
Luke Malone, who is a reporter for the Washington Post, celebrated Walker’s new position at Hopkins.
Between Drag Queen Story Hour and drag queen shows geared for children and families to kink at Pride parades, there is no drought of salacious material for parents to sift through. As if the world of social media isn’t enough of a heavy lift for parents to police these days.
But, if you are a parent like Rowello, I guess it’s not so bad. Rowello says in their article about kids at Pride parades:
“…we should hope that they’ll encounter kink when they attend.”
I have a hard enough time explaining why bad people exist in the world to my five-year-old and what the word ‘interesting’ means to my three-year-old. I suppose that’s just me admitting my parental heterosexual fragility or some such thing.
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