In writing this statement, I struggled with a tendency to dwell on details that aren’t significant because to skim over them or take anything for granted would run the risk of someone getting the wrong idea. And with something like this, that’s not really a risk I want to take. My intention is not, after all, to upset anyone.
Still, I don’t want to waste anyone’s time “defending myself” either. There’s enough of me up on this website for any interested parties to get a pretty good idea of what kind of a person I am.
I wrote this statement months ago, but spent the last two hours trying to find the right balances concerning caution, brevity, honesty, and intention.
Pedophilia is a mental illness characterized by sexual attraction to prepubescent (undeveloped) boys or girls. People can’t control whom they’re attracted to. It’s a mental disorder. I don’t suffer from pedophilia, but I have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I understand what it’s like to have a brain that causes a person to think in ways that they’d rather not. However, just as it’s not okay for me to let my thoughts or feelings control my actions to any extent that would cause harm to another person, it’s not okay for anyone else to do so either – regardless of their specific mental disorder. Being attracted to someone doesn’t give you the right to have sex with them. And since a child isn’t capable of intelligently consenting to sex, it’s not ever okay to have sex with a child.
Shit gets a little bit less clear-cut when we’re talking about adolescents though. An adolescent is a person that has reached physical maturity, and that’s the point when, by nature, others (regardless of age) will begin to find them sexually attractive. Sixteen is the age, in Florida, at which people are (legislatively) deemed to have hit puberty and are thus legally capable of consenting to sex.
Personally, I’m not particularly interested in talking to a sixteen year old, let alone having sex with one. Physical maturity doesn’t equate to emotional maturity and any kind of intimate interaction with someone who’s still emotionally a “child” is nothing I want to experience.
The phrase “sex with children” is interesting to me. Because the word “children” is ambiguous, because teenagers are marketed as sex objects, because statutory rape laws are inconsistent between the states (and are sometimes totally fucked), and because there’s nothing in the world that can spark feelings as intense and hateful as pedophilia.
And because when I was eighteen, I started dating a girl two months before she turned sixteen. So – according to Florida law – I could have been convicted of statutory rape and – had that happened – even now, nine years later, everyone in my neighborhood would have gotten a notice in the mail to inform them that I, a sex offender, was now living in the area.
Adolescents are adults physically, but children emotionally. If two of them have sex with one another, it’s absurd that one should be convicted of a crime. Especially when that conviction (and mandated registration) carries the same stigma as being branded as a pedophile or a rapist.
I’m not eighteen anymore though so that part of this is no longer personally relevant. And while it’s possible that I could still potentially see or meet a sixteen year old that I found attractive, as soon as I found out her age, that would totally overpower any physical attraction that I felt and kill every shred of my interest in her. Still, despite the fact that I live in a culture in which girls that age are marketed to adults, as adults – with sex – to sell [whatever]… it’s still uncomfortable for me to acknowledge. That (and that it’s such a delicate issue, generally), I feel, makes it worth examining.
The decision to paint something with a swastika came as the result of a really silly conversation (earlier on the day that I painted this) that got me thinking about context and symbols (or statements) that evoke powerful emotional responses.
A piece of art communicates a lot of different messages (whether intended or not) and the nature of art is such that the intentional messages aren’t always immediately clear. For that reason, while I understand that art can upset a person for any number of reasons, it seems pretty unreasonable that anyone should ever become angry (or, specifically, angry with the artist) on the sole basis of their interpretation of a piece. So I wanted to play with that, using the most powerful symbol of hate that I know: the swastika.
Since I was already plotting to paint something as prima facie controversial as “Sex With Children,” I figured it made sense to do this all in one blast. By putting that phrase and this (totally unrelated) symbol together, I thought I could accomplish everything that I wanted by bringing these things to the surface in a way that is so absurdly offensive that no one could possibly walk away from it thinking that it was created with malice of any kind. To believe otherwise would be to think the piece is a declaration that I support (and enjoy!) the fucking of children BUT HATE JEWS. I’d like to think that it’s totally implausible that there exists in the world anyone who’d feel the need to paint something with that communiqué as his or her end.
I would be really upset to find out that anyone was personally offended by this. On the other hand, anyone who has a problem with it because “it’s [potentially] offensive [to someone else]” (and hasn’t themselves been the victim of pedophilia or anti-Semitism) can fuck off.
On the other hand, anyone that has a problem with this because “it’s stupid” – well, that I totally understand. I’m not sure that I’d even disagree with you. Everything I’ve written is true but also, admittedly, I probably painted this just to fuck with people a little bit. I might enjoy making people just a little uncomfortable.