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Dancing boys of Afghanistan
April 1, 2008 4:22 PM   Subscribe

An ancient tradition or despicable exploitation? As in ancient Greece and Shakespeare's theatre, boys dress as women to entertain men. A hint of Afghan homosexuality was included in the movie The Kite Runner. An Uzbekistan theatre group is presenting two plays on this theme in Seattle this month. The homosexual element of Afghan culture has waxed and waned depending on who is invading their country at the time.
posted by binturong (109 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Incredible.
"Militia commanders and other men of substance buy and sell good-looking boys, using the bacha baazi parties as marketplaces.

'Commanders and wealthy men arrange parties in order to select a bacha bereesh,' said Nek Mohammad, a resident of Baghlan’s Andarab district who frequently attends dance parties, although he does not own a bacha bereesh himself. 'Many of the men make their boys dance at these parties, and other men choose one and pay for him. By the end of the party, the boy has acquired a new owner.'"
posted by ericb at 4:34 PM on April 1, 2008


An ancient tradition or despicable exploitation?

Both, by the sound of it.
posted by jack_mo at 4:41 PM on April 1, 2008


An ancient tradition or despicable exploitation?

Very often part and parcel, no?
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:53 PM on April 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


An ancient tradition or despicable exploitation?

Thank god we have this Metafilter thread to finally sort this issue out, once and for all.

Seriously, I had never heard of this boys dressing as women thing ever before until today. Seriously.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:56 PM on April 1, 2008


There was recently a campaign against this kind of thing:
Afghans from other regions joke about the high incidence of pederasty among Kandahari men. They say that when crows fly over Kandahar they clamp one wing over their bottoms, just in case. One of the first things the Taliban did—a popular move—was to punish mujahideen commanders who were accused of rape or pederasty. Homosexuals who were sentenced to death faced a particularly grisly end. Tanks or bulldozers crushed them and buried them under mud walls.
posted by ibmcginty at 4:57 PM on April 1, 2008


Metafilter: ancient tradition or despicable exploitation?
posted by stenseng at 5:00 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The homosexual element of Afghan culture has waxed and waned depending on who is invading their country at the time.

They're just playing hard to get.
posted by ornate insect at 5:18 PM on April 1, 2008


(Just for the record, boys cross-dressed in Elizabethan plays because The Theatre was not considered a reputable vocation for women.
Actors in general were regarded as low-caste, despite being occasionally feted or "warranted" by Royals and other members of the Upper Classes.
Women were not allowed on public stages until the Restoration.
Please note that this is much different than "Masques", a form of private costumed parade/fashion show/review, given under the protection of the King and often including noted female Royals and consorts.
Just so we're all on the same page about that.)
posted by Dizzy at 5:34 PM on April 1, 2008


You guys sure know how to take all the fun out of something. Anyone who thinks boys aren't sexual creatures has never spent much time around them. While I agree that it's wrong to _force_ someone to do something, I'd guess that a lot of these boys don't have a whole lot of other prospects, so if one of them chooses to be a "kept boy", let him. It's his life, and his decision. I'm not sure how this is any more wrong than the wage slaves of the United States, who are "forced" to work in dehumanizing little cubicles for overbearing managers, and be yanked around by clueless, power-hungry "human resources" people in order to feed and house themselves and their families.
posted by Death by Ugabooga at 5:37 PM on April 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


remember when the Kite Runner came out and they actually delayed the release of it because of the (male on male) rape of one of the young boy characters and the percetion and concern that that scene would actualy potentially cause harm to the male actors who prtrayed this in the film if they were still in Kabul when it played. I still have a hard time getting my head around that. Thanks for the post.
posted by jessamyn at 5:44 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I must respectfully disagree, Death by Ug---
I cannot equate entering into an exploitationally sexual relationship, even if compensated, with our Western notions of taking a shitty job.
"De-humanizing" is such a slippery construct, yes?
posted by Dizzy at 5:51 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how this is any more wrong than the wage slaves of the United States, who are "forced" to work in dehumanizing little cubicles for overbearing managers, and be yanked around by clueless, power-hungry "human resources" people in order to feed and house themselves and their families.

Working is the real injustice, man!
posted by Snyder at 5:51 PM on April 1, 2008


This could be the start of an interesting party game:

marriage: ancient tradition or despicable exploitation?
circumcision: ancient tradition or despicable exploitation?

Carry on.
posted by binturong at 6:02 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


if one of them chooses to be a "kept boy", let him. It's his life, and his decision.

Ditto, smoking, alcohol, drug use, labour for pay, labour without pay, etc, etc, etc.

We've reached the point where we've pretty much had that conversation regarding decision-making for minors, down to the arbitrariness of any given chronological age, exceptions of maturity or immaturity, and on and on.

Shall we carry on the conversation from that point, or do you really want to start all over?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:08 PM on April 1, 2008


so if one of them chooses to be a "kept boy", let him. It's his life

Chooses. Yeah. 'Cause 14 year olds are so mindful of all the repercussions of their choices.

It's awesome when a 14 year old "chooses" to be bought and sold. And beaten with sticks. And shared with your freinds for sex.

If only at some time in US history we allowed black children to choose to pick cotton for no money.
posted by tkchrist at 6:09 PM on April 1, 2008 [13 favorites]


cat declawing: ancient tradition or despicable tradition?

snark: awesome, or awesome?
posted by dismas at 6:10 PM on April 1, 2008


I'm not sure how this is any more wrong than the wage slaves of the United States, who are "forced" to work in dehumanizing little cubicles for overbearing managers, and be yanked around by clueless, power-hungry "human resources" people in order to feed and house themselves and their families.

There's less involuntary sodomy, believe it or not.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:11 PM on April 1, 2008 [17 favorites]


There's less involuntary sodomy, believe it or not.

Not if you work for me Blazecock.

And you DO work for me, Blazecock. SO GET BACK TO WORK!
posted by tkchrist at 6:13 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


That sure is a fancy nickname, but call me Durn.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:20 PM on April 1, 2008


Death By Ugabooga's coment: eponysterical, or watered-down NAMBLA rhetoric?

In truth, I can almost see what you're getting at, if we take awy the "slavery" element and, oh, yeah, the "children" element. Yes, 14-year-olds have raging sex-drives. They also don't know what to do with them yet, and likely even less so in a sexually backwards and repressed region of the world. This isn't a career choice, this is the 120 days of Sodom, except that it lasts a lot longer.

I'd guess that a lot of these boys don't have a whole lot of other prospects, so if one of them chooses to be a "kept boy", let him.

Methinks you might not understand what we mean by "exploitation," which is entirely to do with people essentially enslaving others by taking advatnage of financial circumstances (or mental incapacity, etc.) You can make your wage-slave metaphor all you want, but a fry-cook or data-entry worker has a choice of where to apply, where to choose to work, etc. Their options may seem to suck to a lot of us, but the options for unskilled labor are still out there, and aren't on the same playing field as being an uneducated teenager sold to a mujahadin commander for dancing and anal-rape. There's seriously no comparison.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:35 PM on April 1, 2008


APRIL FOOLS! SUCKERS!
posted by tkchrist at 6:46 PM on April 1, 2008


Just to clarify the "exploitation" business and deter people from projecting our own time and place onto others, I quote from the original article:

"Allah Daad explained how the boys are enticed into the arrangement. “First we select boys in the village and later on we try to trick them into coming with us,” he said. “Some of them stay with us for money; they get a monthly allowance, and in return we can have them any time we want. They don’t stay with us all the time - they can do their own jobs and then just come to parties with us.”

If a boy refuses to become a bacha bereesh, he said, there is little a man can do to make him.


That's a little different from either wage slavery or arranged marriage I think.
posted by binturong at 6:47 PM on April 1, 2008


Navel, I'm pretty sure 14 is considered old enough for consent in more than a few countries, and doubtless a few states. Of course, the issue of slavery changes things completely, as you point out, but the idea that a teenager has no sexual agency or autonomy seems to be neither a provable fact nor a cultural universality.
posted by kid ichorous at 6:52 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also from the original article:
"Late in the night, when the dancing is over, the boys are often shared with close friends, for sexual abuse."

"Only the very powerful can have boys with them all the time.”

'I kept him for three years, then left him when he matured."


posted by tkchrist at 6:53 PM on April 1, 2008


After reading the above, I was struck by a parallel with the US military, who strive to entice teenagers into the exciting life of warfare. Yeah, there's a difference between 14 and 16, but maybe not so much in cultures where people typically start doing adult work very young.
posted by binturong at 6:55 PM on April 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


God, this is an exciting thread...I am all worked up.
posted by Postroad at 6:59 PM on April 1, 2008


but the idea that a teenager has no sexual agency or autonomy seems to be neither a provable fact nor a cultural universality

Are we gonna have this sickening argument again?

That they have sexual agency (what ever the fuck that is) is immaterial and irrelevant. They are being fucked by adults — over 44 years old in the article. It's not like they arer fucking other teenagers. This is the very definition of exploitation.

If it's okay for adults to fuck 14 year olds because they have "agency" then 14 year olds should:

get the vote, get drivers licenses, be allowed to drink, have jobs, live on their own, join the army, fly planes, pass the bar, be doctors, and...

... oh never mind.
posted by tkchrist at 7:00 PM on April 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Related
posted by mullingitover at 7:02 PM on April 1, 2008


Dizzy is right -- boys played women in 16th and 17th century London because boys had always played women in medieval and Tudor productions.

There's considerable perdastic interest in boys -- from both men and women, surprisingly -- but boy actors weren't being sexually exploited, although there's lots of nervous jokes about "players' ingles" in the plays and literature of the period.

The position of a boy apprentice in the theatre was about as bad (or good) as the position of a boy apprentice in any other business: most of them didn't go on to be adult actors, but many had surprisingly long careers playing women.

Aristocratic women danced in masques, but any speaking role would have been taken by a cross-dressed male actor. This changes slightly under Charles I's queen Henrietta Maria, who was French and was used to female performers: she and her ladies staged a play (not a masque) in 1626, and this horrified the English -- their queen was speaking lines like a common player, even though it was staged at court and in French.

And even though the 'common players' were supposedly infra dig, they made good, substantial money: Edward Alleyn founded Dulwich College, and Shakespeare bought the biggest house in Stratford -- and a coat of arms for his father.
posted by jrochest at 7:06 PM on April 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


mullingitover

Jesus Christ. That is some fucked up NSF-anything type shit right there.
posted by tkchrist at 7:06 PM on April 1, 2008


Jeeze, the things that get posted while I'm picking away at my post...
posted by jrochest at 7:07 PM on April 1, 2008


Yeah, holy shit I kinda got shocked reading that essay again and forgot my whole point in posting it. Basically the author of the article takes a dim view of anthropologists who are apologists for pederasty in the name of ancient tradition. He argues that the pederasty is responsible for the low level development of the cultures wherein it is predominant.
posted by mullingitover at 7:12 PM on April 1, 2008


[put the NSF-anything content back behind the link, don't turn this thread into a torture-fest, please.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:14 PM on April 1, 2008


I wonder if it's relevant that Death by Ugabooga's username is a reference to a joke about butt rape.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:18 PM on April 1, 2008


don't turn this thread into a torture-fest

... there was this one time, at Librarian camp...
posted by tkchrist at 7:19 PM on April 1, 2008


I wonder if it's relevant that Death by Ugabooga's username is a reference to a joke about butt rape.

Can't be. Becuase the actual punchline of the joke is "Unga-BUNGA." Which is funny. Obviously.

"Ugabooga?" Pfft. What-the-hell? That doesn't even make any sense.
posted by tkchrist at 7:23 PM on April 1, 2008


mullingitover, that is one fucked up essay.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:26 PM on April 1, 2008


I'd guess that a lot of these boys don't have a whole lot of other prospects
posted by Death by Ugabooga at 8:37 PM on April 1


What? That makes it worse, not better.
posted by joannemerriam at 7:27 PM on April 1, 2008


What? That makes it worse, not better.

Your not seeing the bigger picture. Better prospect might bring with them corporate exploitation. Those poor kids might have to work in cubicles for a Microsoft phone bank or something. And with higher pay will come all the capitalist consumer trappings like running water and electricity. Plus health care. God we don't want these poor kids to get dental. How can they perform fellatio on 44 year olds with teeth in the way?

Really. The old buggering being bought and sold ways are the best. They do it out of love.
posted by tkchrist at 7:34 PM on April 1, 2008


KokuRyu writes "mullingitover, that is one fucked up essay."

It definitely doesn't hold back in the graphic descriptions, but it's thoroughly researched and does provoke a lot of thought about childrearing. It certainly takes Jared Diamond to task for failing to account for rampant, breathtakingly horrible child abuse as a cause for New Guinea's stone age-level of development. It's relevant in this case because it shows that perhaps some Afghanistan tribes are creating a cycle of abuse which is hindering cultural advancement.
posted by mullingitover at 7:41 PM on April 1, 2008


mullingitover... I think the essay was interesting, minus the shock porn, but I'm not sure the thesis can really hold. The west was pretty awful, abuse wise, for a very, very long time. America in particular exploited (exploits) children egregiously until historically quite recently.
posted by tkchrist at 7:47 PM on April 1, 2008


rampant, breathtakingly horrible child abuse as a cause for New Guinea's stone age-level of development.

So Victorian England was in a stone-age level of development?
posted by binturong at 7:51 PM on April 1, 2008


So Victorian England was in a stone-age level of development?

C'mon, binturong. Did you even read the article?
posted by moxiedoll at 7:57 PM on April 1, 2008


binturong I think you should read the New Guinea section of the essay.

I'm pretty sure the Victorians didn't regularly and ritually eat their babies and force the older children to eat the flesh of siblings. Nor did they—as a matter of just-hunky-dory cultural practice—rape their children. (Sorry Jessamyn. No more torture I promise)

But yea. I agree the missing connection is how poorly the west treated their children when the industrial revolution was occurring. Though said treatment was not as bad as is common in New Guinea. Damn.
posted by tkchrist at 7:58 PM on April 1, 2008


binturong writes "So Victorian England was in a stone-age level of development?"

I guess you don't have to read the essay if you don't want to...but comparing childhood in Victorian England to childhood in New Guinea is like comparing Disneyland to Auschwitz.
posted by mullingitover at 7:59 PM on April 1, 2008


First off, haven't read mullingitover's link, so I'm not going to comment on that

Another MeFi knee-jerk fest about sex and "minors." Ah yes. I debated posting at all, as I'm sure I'll get some, "you sicko perv, stay away from my kids! i hope u go to jail and get assraped lol!!!1" comments, but whatever.

If it's okay for adults to fuck 14 year olds because they have "agency" then 14 year olds should:

get the vote, get drivers licenses, be allowed to drink, have jobs, live on their own, join the army, fly planes, pass the bar, be doctors


Ah yes, because all those things are equivalent. Driving involves putting a 14 yr old behind the wheel of a multi-ton vehicle made of glass, steel, and plastic, that can travel over 100 miles per hour. Most of us aren't hung that well. And it doesn't require seven years of intense training and internship to fuck someone, although given some of my ex-girlfriends' performances, maybe they should.

Anyway, why is it that we think that being sodomized is the most absolutely horrible traumatic thing that can happen to a boy? Do we really think that Aristotle needed therapy because Plato fucked him in the ass? When you live in a culture that infantilizes everyone under the age of 18 and treats sex as a super-dangerous and traumatic experience, then, yeah, people are going to be unprepared to deal with sex and they will get traumatized by it. That's not the way it has always been, and we can't just assume that all peoples in all times would react the same way to certain things as we do. If pederasty is an institutionalized part of a society, then individual experiences are very different. That's not to say that sodomy in other cultures was hunky-dory, but that age is not the sole determining factor, nor necessarily the most important one. It isn't about an old guy and a young guy, its about power, and being the younger party in a sexual relationship, even a much younger party, does not mean by necessity that you are being abused. There are so many more complicated issues, but by all means, let's get oooh icky pervo grossed out by it. Also, I notice that people's dander really gets up when it's homosexual pederasty that is discussed. Not that people ignore, say, the experience of 13-14 yr old females who were married to 40 yr old men and having their children, but what really pisses people off is the idea of an older guy porking a younger one. Could it be our own insecurities about our masculinity, our own fears about our sexuality that inflect our rage? Also, we shouldn't ignore the dehumanizing effects of wage slavery just because you usually don't have something physically put in your butt. There are many forms of exploitation, and their effects on different people and in different cultures can be profound, and for some people the oppressive effects of modern capitalism are no doubt more traumatic than other things.

boy actors weren't being sexually exploited, although there's lots of nervous jokes about "players' ingles" in the plays and literature of the period.

Sexually exploited, no, but some (many?) boy actors no doubt engaged in sex with male and female audience members, perhaps wealthy patrons, and perhaps for money.
posted by papakwanz at 8:19 PM on April 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


Oh dear, this seems to be getting way off the posted articles. Regarding the New Guinea stuff, I did read the link and also noted the inflamatory language and the source of it -- an American "psychohistorian" born in 1931 who also wrote The History of Child Abuse in which he declares, among other things, that
In America, the most accurate scientific studies, based on lengthy interviews, report that 30 percent of men and 40 percent of women remember having been sexually molested during childhood--defining "molestation" as actual genital contact, not just exposure.

And I have concluded that the real sexual abuse rate for America is 60 percent for girls and 45 percent for boys, about half directly incestuous.

Forgive me if I don't take his articles as the best authority on the subject. And, yes, a child in Victorian England, the most wealthy country on earth at the time, could be starved, beaten, imprisoned, and worked to death so the comparison was not facetious or trivial.
Can we please keep to the Afghan thread?
posted by binturong at 8:33 PM on April 1, 2008


Ah yes, because all those things are equivalent. Driving involves putting a 14 yr old behind the wheel of a multi-ton vehicle made of glass, steel, and plastic, that can travel over 100 miles per hour.

Really? So it about OUR safety. Really.

Why don't we allow a 14 year old to drive a car or pilot a plane of do surgery then, papkwanz? I want more detail than this canard that they are not equivalent. becuase it's not about equivalences of the responsibilities and action of adults.

Somewhere there has got to be a 14 year old that is mature enough to subvert all your objections and pilot a plane or do brain surgery.

Or at least if they can fuck they can vote, right? Voting isn't piloting a plane. It's safe. Adults vote in dipshits and demonstrate no more grasp of complicated political issues than most 14 year olds—so it isn't that.

If it was only about safety then we would open op tests to drive, to fly, to vote, to be doctors to ALL ages, EVERYBODY, and if they passed they could do it. We can always use more doctors and pilots, right?

Could it be that since Platos time we have found most 14 year olds are not biologically or emotionally equipped to handle certain things? Could that be it?

Yes. I think it is and you know it.

And we have determined that children fucking adults by-and-large end up being exploited. And then end up fucked up. Because in our time, not Plato's time—our time, there are a whole host of repercussions that sexually active 14 year olds are not prepared for that in a large society cause extreme problems. Not emotionally. Not financially. Not legally. There is pregnancy. There is AIDS. Etc.

Yeah. Maybe your right. Maybe child prostitution ain't a big deal.

papakwanz I am going to bring my 14 year old fuck-toy to the next meet-up. Since it's cool and all now.
posted by tkchrist at 8:39 PM on April 1, 2008


tkchrist: Are we gonna have this sickening argument again?

I wasn't aware we'd had it before, tk.

tkchrist: That they have sexual agency (what ever the fuck that is) is immaterial and irrelevant. They are being fucked by adults — over 44 years old in the article. It's not like they arer fucking other teenagers. This is the very definition of exploitation.

This particular case also sounds a lot like slavery.

But where's the general solution? A sliding scale that factors intelligence, age, income, and social power, to decide whether a given pairing is inherently exploitive? Shouldn't low-income 18 and 21 year olds be kept away from the same wealthy 44 year old, then, since he/she outscores them in experience and wealth? For that matter, shouldn't the poor and the powerful be kept apart entirely?

As I see it, once someone becomes mature enough to decide what to do with their own body, they're mature enough to decide what to do with their own body. Period. It doesn't matter who their partner is. It doesn't matter if they want to have sex, or go hang-gliding, or have elective surgery, or take a drug. When it comes to activities that only affect one's own body, a (mature, sound-minded, and un-coerced) owner should have sovereignty.

You are of course free to argue that 14 is too young for self-ownership, and I would probably agree offhand, but only based on generalizations. I have seen no data to overwhelmingly suggest 21 over 16 as a drinking age, or that powers of judgment nonexistent at 17 appear spontaneously at 18. Were I to attempt to throw out an ideal age, based on patterns of responsible behavior and risk management, we'd probably be looking at accountants in their late 30s to early 50s. Bald, boring people, really, but good with risk.

The fact that so many countries construct different thresholds of consent should key us in to the fact that this question, while some may find it "sickening," is nontrivial.

tkchrist: ...then 14 year olds should: get the vote, get drivers licenses, be allowed to drink, have jobs, live on their own, join the army, fly planes, pass the bar, be doctors, and...

Well, you need to draw a distinction between actions that impact oneself and one's own body (drink, have sex, have plastic surgery) and actions that imply consequences for others (vote, drive, practice medicine, become president). While certain consequential actions require more advanced training and screening (law, medicine), some cannot be constitutionally denied (voting).

But, yes, 14-year-olds are allowed to drink in the UK, provided they do it in their own home, and with parental consent. And, while on the subject, I think it's extremely stupid that no 34-year-old can ever become president of the US. Jesus Christ is wise enough to supposedly inform the president, but not wise enough to sit in his chair?

posted by kid ichorous at 8:41 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


binturong writes "Can we please keep to the Afghan thread?"

I honestly wasn't attempting to derail.

The argument comes down to whether or not you subscribe to cultural relativism. Do you think that the action should be examined through the lens of the culture in which it takes place, or do you think there are absolutes? Lloyd deMause seems to argue the latter. I'm pretty heavily influenced by Maslow, and I can't help looking at things from his perspective. If children grow up in an environment where their safety needs are not met, and I interpret "freedom from sexual abuse" to be a safety need, then I think they could very well have pathological behaviors in adulthood that could perpetuate the cycle.
posted by mullingitover at 8:53 PM on April 1, 2008


Everything is relative. Women in Afghanistan of all ages are forced into marriages with men old enough to be their fathers - sometimes starting as young as pre-pubescent 11 or 12 year olds. They are treated as chattel and spend their lives in conditions similar to house arrest.

From what I understand, these boys are often compensated with gifts, and get to hang out with the men, smoke hash, drink, etc. Once they grow up they are treated as normal men who get to own their own women / chattel, and their past is not held against them.

So yeah, it kind of sucks, but growing up as an Afghan sucks in a lot of ways and I don't think this is the worst injustice going on there by a long shot.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:57 PM on April 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


The fact that so many countries construct different thresholds of consent should key us in to the fact that this question, while some may find it "sickening," is nontrivial.

The US is hardly a paragon of virtues nor does it have the final say on these judgments. However other some countries allow clitoral circumcision and honor killings. What other countries "thresholds" are is irrelevant. There is always outliers and fringe examples we could both bring up.

Well, you need to draw a distinction between actions that impact oneself and one's own body

Why? Look. The point it we KNOW, on average, a 14 year old is different emotionally and biologically from a 16 year old and from a 21 year old. Otherwise why would it matter if a given activity effected themselves or others. And why should that matter anyway. We know certain behaviors are riskier for kids to engage in than adults. No matter if the harm is to others OR themselves. I mean what kind fucked up thing is that? Well. It doesn't harm me. So why should I care?

Yes. There are studies. 14 year olds are far more impulsive than 16 year olds. And 16 year olds are far more impulsive than 21 year olds. This is pretty conclusive.

In fact there are studies that suggest we should actually RAISE the legal age to consume alcohol from 21 to 23 or 24. As the younger people are that begin consuming alcohol generally the higher the mortality rate. And no I'm not posting a link, you find this shit if you want to.

We know that adults fucking kids usually ends badly. C'mon You can't possibly believe otherwise? by and large Kids don't make careful considered decisions as well as adults and they can be easily manipulated by adults. Nor do kids have years of acquiring wealth and power to adequately support or defend themselves in an adult world.

Adults fucking 14 year olds is exploitation plain and simple.
posted by tkchrist at 8:58 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not emotionally. Not financially. Not legally.

Oops. Take out the "not" there.
posted by tkchrist at 9:00 PM on April 1, 2008


*scanning his comments*

Nope... don't see where I said that "child prostitution ain't a big deal." Oh, wait, I see, you're just projecting your own freak-out on to what I said. OK, cool.

If it was only about safety then we would open op tests to drive, to fly, to vote, to be doctors to ALL ages, EVERYBODY, and if they passed they could do it. We can always use more doctors and pilots, right?

Sure, why not. I wouldn't mind if my doctor was Doogie Howser, M.D.

Could it be that since Platos time we have found most 14 year olds are not biologically or emotionally equipped to handle certain things? Could that be it?

Yes. I think it is and you know it.


First off... biologically equipped? Uh... most 14 yr olds, male and female, are, technically speaking, "biologically equipped" to handle sex. And as for the emotional aspects, as I said, in a culture that is as fucked up about sex as ours (and many others) are, then yeah, people don't learn how to deal with it. They are fucked up by it. In cultures where kids are taught about drinking, hey, guess what? They tend to handle it better than the non-stop binge drinking we see at universities today.

there are a whole host of repercussions that sexually active 14 year olds are not prepared for that in a large society cause extreme problems. Not emotionally. Not financially. Not legally. There is pregnancy. There is AIDS. Etc.

Teach them about safe sex. Teach them to use condoms. Hell, teach people in their 40s about it.

I am going to bring my 14 year old fuck-toy to the next meet-up. Since it's cool and all now.

Well, I don't really live near you, so you may want to check with the people attending your local meet-up first. They are the ones who may have reason to object, not me, since I won't be there.
posted by papakwanz at 9:01 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wonder if it's relevant that Death by Ugabooga's username is a reference to a joke about butt rape.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:18 PM on April 1 [+] [!]


Hey!

Can't be. Becuase the actual punchline of the joke is "Unga-BUNGA." Which is funny. Obviously.

Whew!

"Ugabooga?" Pfft. What-the-hell? That doesn't even make any sense.
posted by tkchrist at 7:23 PM on April 1 [+] [!]


Besides, it's obviously inferior to the double-o variety.
posted by ooga_booga at 9:04 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


There are studies. 14 year olds are far more impulsive than 16 year olds. And 16 year olds are far more impulsive than 21 year olds. This is pretty conclusive.

In fact there are studies that suggest we should actually RAISE the legal age to consume alcohol from 21 to 23 or 24. As the younger people are that begin consuming alcohol generally the higher the mortality rate. And no I'm not posting a link, you find this shit if you want to.


And all these studies take place within a culture that infantilizes 14 yr olds (and 16 yr olds, ane even 21 yr olds) and treats alcohol as both a horrible taboo drug that will turn you into a crack head and the best fucking thing that makes you a totally cool adult. Who da chicken, who da egg?
posted by papakwanz at 9:04 PM on April 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Also, concerning the Kite Runner - in that story, is the Taleban portrayed as contributing to a culture of pederasty?

It's a cozy, brightly-lit, Lifetime-ready fairytale with child rape as a metaphor for the innocence of an entire country bulldozed repeatedly by twin world power molesters until all that's left is this rubble that, thank the gods, Amir is able to recompense through his rescuing of boyhood pal Hassan's (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada) child from the evil, pederast clutches of the Taliban. [Filmfreak]

Because the IWPR article paints the Taleban in opposition to this element of Afghan culture at large:

The tradition of older men maintaining adolescent boys is by no means restricted to the north of Afghanistan, but the custom is in abeyance in the south, where the Taleban and their strict moral code act as a deterrent.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:05 PM on April 1, 2008


kid ichorous - The villain of Kite Runner is the least believable character in the book, imo, from the Mein Kampf to the pederasty to the european connections. I got the feeling like the author was trying to place the origin of the Taliban disaster outside of Afghanistan or something.
posted by BinGregory at 9:24 PM on April 1, 2008


What other countries "thresholds" are is irrelevant. There is always outliers and fringe examples we could both bring up.

But, at least as far as drinking age goes, we're the outliers. Doesn't that make you wonder if the problem isn't that teens are mentally incapable, but rather that American teens are mentally incapable? This would be consistent with their disadvantages in math and science, after all, and would indict our culture, not their biology.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:27 PM on April 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Weirdly enough, I was putting together an FPP about a closely related subject - homosexuality in Afghani/Kandahari society - a couple of months ago but lost it when my laptop fan went kablooie and I never got around to recreating it.
posted by ooga_booga at 9:28 PM on April 1, 2008


Interesting read ooga-booga -- thanks. It's pretty obvious that homosexual identity is a social construct and male-male sex is not nearly so traumatic in most places as it seems to be in US and UK.
posted by binturong at 9:48 PM on April 1, 2008


And all these studies take place within a culture that infantilizes 14 yr olds (and 16 yr olds, ane even 21 yr olds) and treats alcohol as both a horrible taboo drug that will turn you into a crack head and the best fucking thing that makes you a totally cool adult. Who da chicken, who da egg?

Oh now. We can certainly argue a nature nurture thing here and I won't defend the infantiliziation of of American culture. But nor will I defend the over sexualization of our culture (duplicitous attitudes aside).

But it's irrelevant and quit dodging the issue.

The fact is (and you know it too) 14 year olds are not biologically the same as adults (Hell, you essentially admitted it earlier). Adolescents are more prone to impulsive behavior and quit trying to obfuscate this fact.

This is why they make such good ruthless ganstas and Child Soldiers all over the world. And why they make ideal passive low cost prostitutes.

Let stop pretending that this is not a fact. Ok. It's not just in bad ol Amurika.

Look at it from another point of view. Why do certain adults want to fuck 14 year olds? Why do they find them more sexually appealing than say a 20 year old? The power dynamic maybe have something to do with it? You think?

And sense you argue there are 14 year olds that are "sexual agents", well somewhere there are eight year olds that are sexual agents, too? Right? Statistically there has got to be. Why can't 44 year olds fuck them? Or do you think that's okay? I bet you don't.

It has less to do with the sexual rights of some imagined sexually stable adolescents out there and more to do with the dynamic and motives of the adults. It's pretty easy to talk a fourteen year old out of wearing a condom. You know. Just this once. And if you pay for it? Fuck it. No condom only $5 dollars more!

And though sex is not a 5 ton piece of steel hurtling at 100MPH ( though with me it is, baby) there are repercussions JUST as, if not more, dangerous to that analogy. Or perhaps you have not heard of AIDS? Which runs rampant through out the child sex parlors of South East Asia and Africa.
posted by tkchrist at 9:50 PM on April 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


and male-male sex is not nearly so traumatic in most places as it seems to be in US and UK.

Can we please dispense with this idiotic straw man once and for all. Nobody is claiming male-male sex is especially traumatic.

Adults enslaving and or exploiting children for the purposes of sex IS.

And PAH-LEASE don't argue that gay sex is somehow MORE stigmatized in the west. It's been weeks since we had a legally sanctioned public execution for sodomy.

One day we might even have TV shows with gay charachters in them like they do in Kabul.

Oh. Wait.
posted by tkchrist at 9:56 PM on April 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


get the vote, get drivers licenses, be allowed to drink, have jobs, live on their own, join the army, fly planes, pass the bar, be doctors, and...

Wait...what's this about flying a plane? You can fly at any age, fly solo in a balloon or glider at age 14, fly solo in an airplane at 16, and have to be 17 to earn a recreational or private pilot's license (16 for the balloon or gliders). Some of the info at wikipedia

Also, you can have a job at 12 to 16 depending on the type and location. again.

I personally tended to myself living alone at age 16. In a dorm, but I'm quite certain that there's legal emancipation with signature of guardian, marriage, pregnancy, etc...which happen at 16.

driver's licenses are moving up, but I recall Florida at least used to be 14 for a permit...which DOES legally allow one to drive a car even if accompanied.

My dad went in the marines to Vietnam at age 16. And when I was young enough to care, you could still be in at 16 with a guardian's signature.

These are American laws, and all of these are different cases with laws made by corrupt and incompetent politicians...but what does any of this have to do with underage boy-whores in Afghanistan and New Guinea (I presume the age restrictions on the above things aren't the same outside of western culture and that was what you were speaking of right)? Admittedly I didn't watch the youtube video since I can't have sound on at the moment. Did I miss something?
posted by kigpig at 10:15 PM on April 1, 2008


tkchrist, i wish you would stop applying the standards of your culture to those of another. You weren't born in afghanistan, you don't know what it's like to live their lives. Yes, these boys are being exploited. It appears that they are also prized, and not especially overworked or underpaid. The exploitation angle, and your moralizing, are irrelevant.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 10:17 PM on April 1, 2008


Would it help you to think "American Idol" with sex thrown in?
posted by gorgor_balabala at 10:20 PM on April 1, 2008


tkchrist, i wish you would stop applying the standards of your culture to those of another. You weren't born in afghanistan, you don't know what it's like to live their lives. Yes, these boys are being exploited. It appears that they are also prized, and not especially overworked or underpaid. The exploitation angle, and your moralizing, are irrelevant.

So as long as you treat your rape victims well otherwise, rape is okay?

Noted.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:26 PM on April 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


The fact is (and you know it too) 14 year olds are not biologically the same as adults (Hell, you essentially admitted it earlier).

No, I didn't.

sense you argue there are 14 year olds that are "sexual agents"

No... I didn't.

PAH-LEASE don't argue that gay sex is somehow MORE stigmatized in the west.

Hmm... I didn't do that either. Didn't see anyone else doing it.

Nobody is claiming male-male sex is especially traumatic.

I wasn't saying that you explicitly claimed that, I was saying that for many people that seems to be an unconscious assumption of many people who freak out at the idea of male-male pederasty.
posted by papakwanz at 10:28 PM on April 1, 2008


gorgor_balabala writes "tkchrist, i wish you would stop applying the standards of your culture to those of another. You weren't born in afghanistan, you don't know what it's like to live their lives. Yes, these boys are being exploited. It appears that they are also prized, and not especially overworked or underpaid. The exploitation angle, and your moralizing, are irrelevant."

I don't see the problem with criticizing the culture. He's as entitled to his point of view as you are. You're saying he shouldn't condemn exploitation just because it's prevalent in the culture? How do you feel about cultures that practice slavery?
posted by mullingitover at 10:28 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wasn't saying that you explicitly claimed that, I was saying that for many people that seems to be an unconscious assumption of many people who freak out at the idea of male-male pederasty.

People freak out at the idea of adults fucking children? I am shocked, shocked!
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:29 PM on April 1, 2008


Pope Guilty: Way to intentionally misread what I said.
posted by papakwanz at 11:12 PM on April 1, 2008


papakwanz, he's just talking about your unconscious assumption.
posted by Snyder at 11:55 PM on April 1, 2008


It appears that they are also prized, and not especially overworked or underpaid.

Not accounting for bias on the part of the author, or in the translations, the article does mention that these prostitutes are "beaten with sticks," otherwise "abused," and that their employers buy and sell their contracts. It does sound like indentured servitude, where the initial decision to become a prostitute might be made freely and without coercion, but they may not be allowed to quit.

It seems like everyone would agree that this in isolation, where and when it occurs, is rape.

What I can't understand is the sentiment that, when faced with the fact that France's age of consent (15) and drinking age (16) are lower than New York's, we must cling to the numbers 18 and 21 as if they were scientific fact rather than political guesswork. I see no data indicating that Americans live any better than the French on account of these laws.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:24 AM on April 2, 2008


If there wasn't an assumption that male-male buttsex was a qualitatively horrific thing, why would this example of poorer people prostituting themselves to those with more money and power even be notable?
posted by gregography at 1:31 AM on April 2, 2008


What does the assumption that male-male buttsex is qualitatively horrific have to do with organised, coercive, abusive pederasty being a bad thing?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:42 AM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


And even though the 'common players' were supposedly infra dig, they made good, substantial money: Edward Alleyn founded Dulwich College, and Shakespeare bought the biggest house in Stratford -- and a coat of arms for his father.

Not to derail the sodomy discussion, but Alleyn and Shakespeare are two of the big exceptions, though, especially Alleyn--he inherited property from his father and later married into money (Philip Henslowe's stepdaughter), and later became a sharer in several playhouses. Shakespeare was a sharer in the Lord Chamberlain's Men, and there's some evidence that he invested in both grain and real estate.

The majority of players were either apprentices or hired men, the latter making something around (as near as I've been able to determine in a quick search through the pile of books I have downstairs) a shilling a day--not starvation wages, but nothing to get rich on, either.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:25 AM on April 2, 2008



These two quote highlights the problem with cultural relativity:

"I am going to bring my 14 year old fuck-toy to the next meet-up. Since it's cool and all now.

Well, I don't really live near you, so you may want to check with the people attending your local meet-up first."


How about checking with the child? It is extremely easy to say that people of a certain time period were cool with a less enlightened mindset, and therefore we shouldn't judge them by our own standards, but that is assuming everyone in that time period believed and accepted the standards of the day.

In your haste to excuse an entire generation of wrongs committed against it's own members by claiming "no one objected", you are forgetting to ask the people who were victimized through economic and psychological coercion, because if any of the anthropologists had bothered to ask them if they would choose a different lifestyle (if different options were open to them) then those being exploited would have said "hell yes get me the fuck out of here".

Cultural relativism is nothing more then a willingness to excuse the wrongs done by our ancestors; a way to say it "wasn't that bad". It's also a way to justify current harmful practices in our own time period, that "as long as the exploiters agree that something is acceptable, then it is!"
posted by bravelittletoaster at 8:15 AM on April 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


"I'm pretty sure 14 is considered old enough for consent in more than a few countries, and doubtless a few states. Of course, the issue of slavery changes things completely, as you point out, but the idea that a teenager has no sexual agency or autonomy seems to be neither a provable fact nor a cultural universality.

This is fascinating to me. The instinctual response to the subject of exploitation is to reply with the subject of free will, as if the possibility of free will excuses the potential for exploitation.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 8:34 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


In your haste to excuse an entire generation of wrongs committed against it's own members by claiming "no one objected"

Why are you putting something in quotes that I didn't say? Is it, perhaps, because you don't attempt to understand what other people are saying but instead just want to get on your soapbox?

Cultural relativism is nothing more then a willingness to excuse the wrongs done by our ancestors; a way to say it "wasn't that bad". It's also a way to justify current harmful practices in our own time period, that "as long as the exploiters agree that something is acceptable, then it is!"

Hmm... Again, two quotes that no one actually said! Amazing, this ability of yours to put words into people's mouths!

In any case, "cultural relativism," if you want to call it that (I don't) is not about saying anything goes. It is about saying that one cannot blindly project your own morals/ethics/values/beliefs/whatever onto other cultures/historical periods. Instead, you must make the effort to understand the complexities of that society on its own terms before you start passing judgment on it. To my mind, it also expresses a belief that outrage, like the kind expressed in by many in this thread, is often a self-aggrandizing tactic, allowing the outraged to feel morally superior about themselves as advanced, evolved, whatever, and is often an excuse not to look at the problems of one's own society.

What does the assumption that male-male buttsex is qualitatively horrific have to do with organised, coercive, abusive pederasty being a bad thing?

Well, first off, the blanket assumption that "male-male buttsex is qualitatively horrific" could be construed as a bit homophobic.

Anyway, my point, which you willfully ignored, was that when the subject of pederasty or sexual child abuse comes up, people (usually male people) often seem to get way more bent out of shape about homosexual adult-child sex rather than heterosexual adult-child sex, something that suggests to me a particularly modern anxiety about masculinity and sexual identity. This is, however, just a personal observation, not supported by empirical research but my own impressions.
posted by papakwanz at 8:40 AM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


In Afghanistan, getting beaten with sticks is a fact of life. At the girls' school I worked at in the spring, the lunch monitor teachers walked around with nice big sticks, and if any girls didn't get out of the way fast enough they got the stick. So I don't think it's something these boys would see as particularly unusual or brutal.

Using words like "exploited" is bringing your own cultural bias into the discussion. Everyone except the Big Man gets exploited in Afghanistan - this is the social model. It's the Milgram experiment on a national scale.

For a single man, gay sex is the only sex that's on offer. That's the way it goes there. Please understand that the boys involved aren't like the precious little flowers you raise in the States - they get beaten with sticks, they are underfed, they go barefoot in the middle of winter, they rarely get a bath or a change of clothes.

Some kids spend their day lying in the middle of traffic (because it looks more pathetic than standing) begging for handouts from passing traffic. Some kids pull carts, like mules.

So again, I want to say that these poor exploited anally raped victims really don't have it so bad - even if you ask them, by my guess (no, I have never spoken directly to one). Being an ashna is a pretty good gig - hanging out with powerful men, being given presents, getting access to drugs and alcohol, and getting sex are all plusses compared to what regular kids get. Honestly.

There are plenty of things to be outraged about in the Third World, pick your battles people.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:48 AM on April 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


What does the assumption that male-male buttsex is qualitatively horrific have to do with organised, coercive, abusive pederasty being a bad thing?

I don't think papakwanz mentioned that assumption in order to somehow reduce the badness of organized, coercive, abusive pederasty, but rather as a comment on people's reaction to the badness of it. Something along the lines that if, instead of middle-aged male warlords, the exploiters were buxom Amazon warrior-queens, then the general reaction in the public at large would probably be different. A lot less "Ew, horrible" and a lot more "Lucky bastards...".

Anyway, I'd originally wanted to comment on this:

papakwanz: Teach them about safe sex. Teach them to use condoms. Hell, teach people in their 40s about it.

Educating teens and empowering them w.r.t. sexual health is all well and good generally speaking, but it's very unlikely to work in an exploitative scenario, be it this Afghani one or child prostitution elsewhere. Lots of guys hate using condoms, even in countries where "condoms are a Good Idea" is a dominant message.

It's really doubtful that someone who's just bought, rented, or been loaned a 13yo will go along with the kid's request/demand of condom use. "But, sir, the kind people at the UN health mission say it's important to use this barrier which will decrease the pleasure you'll experience with me!" would probably be met with a firm smack and a "Shut up, bend over."
posted by CKmtl at 9:08 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wasn't quoting anyone, papakwanz, I thought it was obvious. But it's not so much a soapbox as it is to observe the broader implications of a thing. I'm sorry if that makes you uncomfortable.

The question isn't "do they mind", but "how quickly would they stop their current activity, if other options were open to them". The first question is simply what an exploiter would ask, to ease his/her conscious.

And of course, any person who exploits others for hiz own benefit would prefer that we use a kinder, gentler word. I see no reason to become complicit with their minimization strategy.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 9:10 AM on April 2, 2008


Thank you, Meatbomb. It helps to have someone cite the actual realities of life sometimes.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:27 AM on April 2, 2008


The question isn't "do they mind", but "how quickly would they stop their current activity, if other options were open to them".

I never asked, "do they mind" or insisted on using "a kinder, gentler word." What strawman are you responding to anyway? I suggested a more complex thought process than knee-jerk moralism (which does not "observe the broader implications"). I'm sorry if that makes you uncomfortable.

Educating teens and empowering them w.r.t. sexual health is all well and good generally speaking, but it's very unlikely to work in an exploitative scenario,

CKmtl, that was in response to tkchrist's statement that 14 year olds in general are too immature to handle sex. My point was that the 14 yr olds that he is likely referring to (American ones) are taught and trained to be immature, thus training them in something else would likely make a huge difference.

And I would argue that the reason why many men don't like to use condoms is because "condoms are a good idea" is actually not the dominant message in a culture like the US, or at least it is secondary to the message that "male power and sexual pleasure is the most important thing."
posted by papakwanz at 9:42 AM on April 2, 2008


The question isn't "do they mind", but "how quickly would they stop their current activity, if other options were open to them".

Would you like to be this warlord's sex toy, or grow up in cloud-cuckoo land?

Would you like to work in your office cube, or hang out in the park smoking dope all day?

Would you like to commute for one hour to work every day, or surf the Internet in your underwear at home?

By this reasoning, we are all being exploited.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:55 AM on April 2, 2008


By this reasoning, we are all being exploited.

We are. All we can do is choose the form of exploitation we are most comfortable with, within our range of choices. It's what we all do. Some people want to restrict the range of choices for other people.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:18 AM on April 2, 2008


"Some people want to restrict the range of choices for other people."

The pro-exploitation folks would have us all believe that only their point of view is allowed. Their constant denigration of people with other points of view are typical, obvious, and boring.

The "choice" to exploit -- how do you defend this? I'm curious. If it were me, and I were trying to justify the potential to exploit others, I'd probably argue for free will and say "it's their choice to be exploited" -- which it is, but only up to the point where the system itself is constructed to make any other option difficult. And then we have to look at the broader system; who built it and who defends it.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 12:07 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, that was intended as a general "you".
posted by bravelittletoaster at 12:08 PM on April 2, 2008


CKmtl, that was in response to tkchrist's statement that 14 year olds in general are too immature to handle sex.

I never said that. God you are possibly the on the list of worst offenders at obfuscation on this board. I said they are too immature to have sex with adults — as in the case of the article in the post, specifically the 44 year old mentioned. Having sex with another teenager is not the issue. Though there are still many of the same safety and health issues.

And if there is no biological difference between a 14 year old and an adult then why dont we let 14 year old do the same things adult do. I realize there are different ages of consent in differnt places. But the fact is, and forgive the caps but you seem to constantly and willfully dodge the point and I want to make sure you can actually read this, THERE ARE RECOGNIZED AGES OF CONSENT FOR CERTAIN ACTIVITIES IN ALL INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES. becuase every contry realizes that there is a demarcation between adult and child— there may not be strict agreement of where that is... but it is. And it is biological.

MRI's of a 14 year olds brain are much different than that of a 24 year old. This is fact. Clinical and objective cognitive testing of teenagers has conclusively shown vastly different levels of conceptual development between only slightly different age groups.

Papkwanz. let me suss out where you, personally are coming from.

Are you for legalized prostitution? Should it be regulated? And should there be an "age of consent" for sex workers? What is that age?

If there is an age of consent for sex work (which remember will involve johns that are adults of all ages) why not for consensual sex.

And finally. Not sure how old you are but assuming your over 25 years old, would you fuck a 14 year old? Or. Why are you not currently fucking a 14 year old. Are you open to the idea if somehow love blossomed between the two of you? Could you unashamedly bring your hypothetical 14 year old to the next Mefi meet up? Would you not worry about the judgment of your peers?

And if not. Why not?

And would it be okay for me, a 44 year old, to fuck your 14 year old son or daughter if they "consented." Why? Or why not.

Essentially your logic so far is untenable and consistently dodge the central point about the adults involved with having sex with 14 year olds and that biologically and emotionally speaking the majority 14 year olds are NOT god damned adults. Not in this society, nor in any other. It is scientific god damned fact. And that adults that enter into these relationships do so largely BECAUSE they can exploit kids much easier than they can adults and that is a large part of the attraction itself.
posted by tkchrist at 12:24 PM on April 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Some people want to restrict the range of choices for other people.

I think that's reasonable. Different forms of exploitation come with different costs. Most exploitation comes with no payoff, while at least the exploitation of some mindless jobs provides some security against going without food, clothing and shelter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:26 PM on April 2, 2008


And I would argue that the reason why many men don't like to use condoms is because "condoms are a good idea" is actually not the dominant message in a culture like the US, or at least it is secondary to the message that "male power and sexual pleasure is the most important thing."

And your argument is idiotic.

AIDS is not near the problem in the US as it is in places where children can be easily exploited. We don't have NEAR the problem of condoms not being used as they do in Thailand or parts of Africa.

Jesus Christ. I don't understand how an intelligent person like you can be making such terrible facile arguments and still never address our main points. WTF? I can only conclude it's on purpose or that you have never read a newspaper or a single news item on the sexual exploitation of children in the last 20 years.

So Papkwanz I leave you to embrace this twisted little lie your telling yourself. Good luck.
posted by tkchrist at 12:30 PM on April 2, 2008


Re: the themes of cultural relativity and absolute objective values and exploitation. Quite a handful. Much of the heat above comes, I think, from the fact that these abstract concepts are being discussed without a context and yet they are only meaningful in a very circumscribed way which is how people actually live. People in different societies undeniably live in different ways. Thus, is a person being exploited if they don't think they are? Some will say, yes of course if they don't have freedom of choice etc. But as meatbomb pointed out freedom of choice is not only absent but literally inconceivable in sections of Afghan society. Was a typical American housewife of the 1940s unhappy and exploited before the consciousness-raising feminist conversations of later decades changed her environment and allowed her to feel so? BTW I think freedom of choice is a mixed blessing and not the universally desirable state that most of those who grew up with it and take it for granted seem to think. Many people would swap the unending lifelong competition for status for a comfortable, defined, secure role in society. What is the difference between the idea of objective and universal values and cultural imperialism? "See, objective universal values are just like those we currently espouse in our advanced society -- what a coincidence!"
posted by binturong at 1:04 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


... "condoms are a good idea" is actually not the dominant message in a culture like the US, or at least it is secondary to the message that "male power and sexual pleasure is the most important thing."

OK, I meant 'a dominant message when it comes to safer sex practices' and should have said it as such. What you're saying is pretty much the point I was trying to make though.

Even here*, where "condoms are a Good Idea" is a dominant sexual health message, it's not uncommon for guys to refuse to use them or try to talk their way out of using them. Pleasure/convenience trumps health concerns an awful lot.

Over there**, the "condoms are a Good Idea" isn't or might not be even on the spectrum of possible dominant sexual health messages. Sometimes it's a popular belief that one can't catch STDs from a child, because they're all clean. In these cases, condom use would have an uphill battle against both the pleasure/convenience thing and whatever local crackpot sexual health theories exist. And also against the power mismatch that ultimately puts the decision about condom use mostly (solely?) in the hands of the john or boy-keeper.

*Insert the industrialized / First World / highly educated country of your choice.
**Insert the non-industrialized / Second-or-Third World / less educated country of your choice.
posted by CKmtl at 1:32 PM on April 2, 2008


“when the subject of pederasty or sexual child abuse comes up, people (usually male people) often seem to get way more bent out of shape about homosexual adult-child sex rather than heterosexual adult-child sex, something that suggests to me a particularly modern anxiety about masculinity and sexual identity” - papakwanz

And

“instead of middle-aged male warlords, the exploiters were buxom Amazon warrior-queens, then the general reaction in the public at large would probably be different. A lot less "Ew, horrible" and a lot more "Lucky bastards...".”

Agreed. Heterosexual males do get more worked up about pederasty.
I’d suspect heterosexual males have more empathy towards the children in this particular scenario, since they can place themselves in the position of the child and they have some revulsion to the idea.
Perhaps the children in question are - at least some of them - heterosexual as well.
So I’m unclear on why (circumstantially forced) anal sex should be - or how it can - be enjoyable for heterosexual males.
I myself find it disgusting.
On the other hand circumstantially forced sex with a buxom Amazonian, while unpleasant because of the coercion, would likely be - solely considering the act itself - otherwise pleasant for a heterosexual.
For someone exclusively homosexual, probably not so much. They would probably find it disgusting.
Indeed I’ve seen (on t.v. and personally) some homosexuals wince at the very idea of vaginal sex.

Why is their core reaction any more healthy or less disturbed than a heterosexual revulsed at the idea of anal sex?
Why would it not be indicative of anxiety about their homosexuality and sexual identity?

“Everyone except the Big Man gets exploited in Afghanistan - this is the social model.... So again, I want to say that these poor exploited anally raped victims really don't have it so bad -”

Well, let’s just be clear here - folks are saying the human rights activists are full of bullshit for deploring ‘bacha baazi’ and forcing impoverished children to dance and have sex and beating them if perform poorly?

Folks are asserting that others here are imposing Western cultural mores and values on the situation when the head of the prosecutor’s office - within the culture in question - is saying he’d like to stop children being sexually abused because it’s against the law - within the country that we’re talking about here?

And the only reason he doesn’t is because the local warlords have too many guns and men on their side for the government to take action?

Am I clear that the opposition argument here is that the head of the Afghan Independant Human Rights Commission (the country in question) saying that poor underage orphans being forced - because of their poverty and dispair - into having sex with adults who flaut the law because they have money and firepower - is a pig-headed westerner?

The idea I - and others - are missing here is that it’s not at all shocking and the kids won’t grow up into ashamed and frustrated adults, angry with their impotent government and seeking revenge on the world?

That we are disillusioned and have anxiety about our own sexual identities - but forcing someone into fucking you because they’re poor and maybe not homosexual themselves - that does no damage to someone’s identity or sense of self?

Am I to understand that we should allow this to continue unabated, unaddressed, because it’s not as serious as some other problems in the third world - despite the head prosecutor for Baghlan province’s statement that “If the United Nations and the government don’t take this issue as seriously as they do child-trafficking and drug-smuggling, and punish the offenders, it’s going to be almost impossible to prevent it”?

So when I destroyed an outfit organized to rape women and children and murder their families I was in fact a phobic sexually disfunctional cultural oppressor interfering with and restricting the range of choices for otherwise sexually liberated ten year olds to hang out with powerful men and get sex? That despite the threat to their families they choose to have sex freely or at least as a sort of concessional plus?

Well, my choice was to put bullets in their heads.

But hey, that’s ok. I’m from the U.S. We’ve been violent gun toating assholes for a long time. I was just chosing to be true to my own cultural traditions.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:56 PM on April 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Anyway, my point, which you willfully ignored, was that when the subject of pederasty or sexual child abuse comes up, people (usually male people) often seem to get way more bent out of shape about homosexual adult-child sex rather than heterosexual adult-child sex, something that suggests to me a particularly modern anxiety about masculinity and sexual identity.
posted by papakwanz at 11:40 AM on April 2


It suggests to me that people (usually male people) take the sexual exploitation of women/girls for granted, especially in societies considered inferior to ours, and consequently aren't particularly shocked or outraged when they encounter it.

Also, people (usually male people) do not consider adult females to be powerful enough to truly subjugate somebody, so in the Amazonian example, the "lucky bastard!" response essentially disbelieves there's anything non-consensual going on.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:16 PM on April 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


tkchrist, i wish you would stop applying the standards of your culture to those of another. You weren't born in afghanistan, you don't know what it's like to live their lives. Yes, these boys are being exploited. It appears that they are also prized, and not especially overworked or underpaid. The exploitation angle, and your moralizing, are irrelevant.

What are you talking about. I don't pass frigg'n laws in Afghanistan. I'm entitle to nay opinion I want. Just like you.

I am inclined toward disgust when confronted by obviously barbaric traditions and practices. Like slavery. Or clitoral circumcision. Or, as in the case of the New Guinea example above, frigg'n baby eating. These are all cultural traditions. And yes I judge them. Harshly. It should be obvious to any thinking person what is civilized responsible behavior and what is not. 44 year olds sexually exploiting, buying, and selling, 14 years olds is fucked up. Sue me.

Now I wish the rest of the word would get off our backs about our cultural traditions of invading other countries and stealing their resources. I mean fuck. How dare you apply your standards. Can't you let me live my life exploiting other people? Our hand picked parliamentary stooges in Iraq have said they want us there. So. It's consensual. Right?
posted by tkchrist at 2:53 PM on April 2, 2008


Holy shit, you guys, reading this thread nearly blew my mind. Honestly, I can't believe that people could actually consider this type of arrangement consensual or compare it to working in a cubicle. No one ever got HIV from their word processor.

Tkchrist, thank you for having the energy to continue the argument that rich, old men using their money, power, and influence to have sex with poor youngsters (be they male or female) is exploitation and it's wrong. I see it as just another manifestation of rich taking advantage of the poor....do you think these rich old guys would think it's ok to fuck each other's sons? No, it's something they only do to the underclass.

Meatbomb, just because it might be lesser than some of the over evils of growing up in Afghanistan doesn't mean that it still isn't pretty fucking evil.
posted by emd3737 at 3:00 PM on April 2, 2008


er. over = other
posted by emd3737 at 3:00 PM on April 2, 2008


What i don't understand is you who honestly think it's worse to get fucked in the ass and party most of your salad days away and get paid for it than to starve on the street. Personally, I'd be way more pissed at the impotence of my government for subjecting me to the latter. Albeit far less capable of doing a damn thing about it. What "human rights" are given to a starving child? None.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 3:04 PM on April 2, 2008


I'm not arguing that dying of starvation is worse than earning enough money to survive by getting fucked in the ass. I'm saying that the very fact that one is the direct alternative to the other invalidates arguments like "14 year olds are very sexual!" and "they're doing it by choice, so it's okay." They're doing it because it's a way to survive, which surely doesn't excuse the actions of their exploiters.
posted by emd3737 at 3:19 PM on April 2, 2008


oops. worse = better. i need my afternoon coffee.
posted by emd3737 at 3:20 PM on April 2, 2008



“It suggests to me that people (usually male people) take the sexual exploitation of women/girls for granted,”

True, many people do. And that’s all the worse.

There’s always that kind of (and often that specifically male/female) dichotomy that is utilized by exploiters. It often doesn’t occur to people (males) that - f’rinstnace - paying women less for the same job as a man hurts men as well.

It’s a basic facet of human psychology that often people overlook what is qualitatively good in favor of some sort of competative standard - arbitrary or not. So “hey, I’m not doing well, but I’m better than that guy”- sort of thing.

But I think the outrage here isn’t mere sanctimony. I think many people are speaking what they feel, not what they think they ought to say.
I’d suspect were it girls the outrage would be the same.

But I’d grant there’s a depth and facet there that is overlooked. Indeed - in the giving of gifts one might expect such a thing to be done with a female and not a male.
And yet - they are equally deprived of a life, a livelyhood, an education. Anything useful.
I wouldn’t want clothes or a car or any material thing. I’d want - and I could not articulate this at that age - a livelyood. A tool set. An education and moral guidance such that I can stand on my own two feet.
I’ll gladly cede that in women’s affairs this is a vastly overlooked idea. That women world wide are not expected to provide for themselves and are often not expected to have the tools - and so aren’t given the tools - to do so. That giving a girl gifts and trinkets no matter how extravagant is to deprive her of her own life - certainly.
And the same is being done to these boys.
And it does happen to girls, often as a matter of course. And that is a very wide and far ranging truth.

But again, that’s not at all the vibe I’m getting from the comments here.

And indeed, it hasn’t been addressed that these young people are being deprived of guidance and of a future in exchange for some baubles. Nor has the inevitability of the disaster being made. No person grows up and becomes evil all of a sudden.


“What i don't understand is you who honestly think it's worse to get fucked in the ass and party most of your salad days away and get paid for it than to starve on the street.”

I think the idea is that the folks doing kids in the ass and throwing the parties are limiting the choice menu there to “fuck me or starve” rather than, y’know, opening up other options.
See the crime here isn’t on the kids for having to get fucked or starve.

The crime is that people are not only preying on kids who are poor in order to fuck them, but maintaining it as an ongoing system.

I like sex myself. Weirdly, if I found a young person (girl, let’s say, ‘cause I’m so insecure in my sexuality) who was starving in the street I would not force her into a life of bondage and then release her once I’ve tired of her to, y’know, *then* go and starve in the streets.

I wouldn’t - yes - for many of the Western ideas I have - but also, and primarily, because I know there are consistient and practical ethics that lead to a more productive good than exploiting others for one’s own sexual pleasure.

Perversity doesn’t enter into it. I’d rather teach a young poor person than have my dick inside them - if I’ve got them completely at my mercy. Although perhaps that’s the perversion, yeah?
(I understand McCain is such a pervert he adopted one)

And people recognize sexual exploitation of the young, poor, and less powerful as culturally self-defeating behavior.
That’s probably why it’s against the law (there and here)

In fact, one of the strongest criticisms (and one I strongly agree with) of our little excursion there into Afghanistan is that we didn’t beef up infrastructure and build schools and create dynamics like educational systems and augmented policing.

If you can give a kid a Mercedes or a Rolex, you can teach them to read. The trade off there is obvious. Ongoing sex for a short term and purely one-time material gain vs. investment in a future.
And if it’s not starkly obvious that this is where the pattern reiterates I don’t know what else to say.

Hell it’s exactly the same systemic oppression many of the women in the world are subject to in a variety of ways more gross and subtle.
We oppose that on the same ethical basis. Why not this?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:52 PM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


A 44 year olds desire to fuck 14 year olds is not equivalent, nor comparable, nor in any way relevant, to the right of said 14 year old to not starve. The sex acts involved are irrelevant. The oppressive nature of American society is irrelevant.

The only relevant facts are: Do you guys get it yet?
posted by tkchrist at 4:05 PM on April 2, 2008 [8 favorites]


God you are possibly the on the list of worst offenders at obfuscation on this board.

funny, I was going to say something similar about you
posted by papakwanz at 10:10 PM on April 2, 2008


Worldwide ages of consent! Good to know yes?
posted by WalterMitty at 1:28 AM on April 3, 2008


APRIL FOOLS! SUCKERS!

Pretty sure that was a joke. The account has been around since 2007. tkchrist can be weird, but not like that.
posted by jessamyn at 12:09 PM on April 3, 2008


That “are you ready for sex ” questionaire, pretty handy as well WalterMitty.

11) Will having sex get me a sandwich?

It’s natural to feel a little embarrassed and awkward the first time you have sex with someone for a sandwich because it’s not something you’ve ever eaten before. Your 44 year old warlord boyfriend will probably feel the same. About the sandwich.
But if you don’t trust your partner enough not to give you the sandwich or you don’t feel you can tell them you’ve never had a sandwich before, then it’s far better to wait until you can get a pickle on the side, coleslaw or some chips as well.

And if you think you’ll have to drink a lot of alcohol before you do it so you feel relaxed enough, or you only find yourself thinking about having sex when you’re drunk, then that suggests you’re not that hungry.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:33 PM on April 3, 2008


APRIL FOOLS! SUCKERS!

If you have to explain it...


The guy, to me at least, was trolling.
posted by tkchrist at 3:15 PM on April 3, 2008



funny, I was going to say something similar about you


Obfuscate? In this thread? Me. Hardly.

I may have been rude becoming annoyed by your constant dodges and strawmen. Your very first post in this thread was rife with "pre-emptive" strawmen.

Any way I went to your deliciously ironic call out and saw how it backfired on you and you stormed off. Still never once addressing a single point we have made.

You others kept wanting to argue a more subtle "cultural differences" point, or that "young people are sexual beings" or that, or that "male on male sex" is un fairly stigmatized. The problem is nobody is contending those things. THIS thread had evolved into a discussion about sexual exploitation of children before you entered it.

When you came into this thread, swinging, you preemptively and ham-fistedly attempted to derail it with strawmen nobody cares about.

Your first and most obvious mistake is the stubbornly refused to directly admit ( though tacitly you did) that 14 year olds are different than 44 year olds. Which is a fact.

Secondly you refused to address the central point that 14 year olds are far more vulnerable to sexual exploitation than adults. And that 14 year olds are not emotionally or materially equipped to deal with the aftermath of this kind of exploitation.

When people start pro-pederasty arguments with the chestnut that 14 Year olds can handle sexual relationships with adults (which we know - in general - is proven to NOT be true - in the US or anywhere else) it sets off peoples alarms. Becuase it's used time and time again by people who ARE exploiters.

This made you look like a complete idiot. Or. Somebody with an agenda. Like it or not.

And you know what? I don't think you ARE an idiot. I think you're a smart guy papkwanz. I LIKE YOU.

Which is what makes it so frustrating that you obfuscated the points so intensely. Could you not see that? Seriously. You must not have. Or you wouldn't have done a lame call out. A blind man could see that you were gonna get reamed. Why I stayed out until the end when you proved you were not going to admit you were wrong.
posted by tkchrist at 4:34 PM on April 3, 2008


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