Saturday, February 11, 2012

Creating Good Lives

I came across something rather interesting in light of yesterday's post.

I was doing some reading about human sexuality and Abasiophilia, the technical term for devotees of non-amputation related mobility impairment, when I came across a few fleeting references to an interesting, and allegedly successful theoretical approach to helping sex offenders. The interesting thing about the “Good Lives” model is that while it was designed initially for sex offenders it has shown success in helping a diverse array of non-traditionally coercive populations, transvestites for example, appropriately manage their feelings and accomplish their goals while not hurting others OR themselves. I'm still getting acquainted with it, and, as with every theory, it does have its detractors, though I feel the general principles of the model are in line with what I've been discussing.

The devoted are, to put it gently, exotic. We definitely deviate from the norm. I'd argue that this is very likely true cross culturally as well. The common argument coming from a layman's perspective on evolutionary psychology raised by academics, the devoted, and the disabled alike is that humans have a hardwired tendency to seek healthy mates who display a capability for child bearing, and that the physically disabled are thusly disadvantaged in pairing and mating. This has led to a number of theories, some slightly more ridiculous than others, regarding attraction and mating.

As sexual minorities we're presented with our own set of disadvantages, a few of which surely overlap with those of the disabled. We all feel the pressure to meet a mold that does not fit us. It is one which ignores and in some cases works against us. The notion of a disabled sexuality, or a sexuality which appreciates the disabled is treated as a joke. Despite this, the devoted of every stripe and fancy are not condemned to a life of sexless banality. There are other healthier, safer, non coercive options available.

There is something interesting to consider in light of this though.

If we are to assume that there are outlets for devoteeism some of which are “better” than others and which do not promote coercion, then we naturally also assume that some are “bad”. Just as we do not yet know what causes paraphilias, whether coercive or otherwise, or what exactly leads someone to become a sex offender, we also do not know how to stop it. We can run as many episodes of To Catch A Predator as we want, but child sexual abuse will, sadly, still occur. Further, people will continue to fantasize about the sexual abuse of children. The same applies to devotees and literally every other possible sexual preference or turn-on. You can not stop it, you can merely change how and where it flows.

If we assume sexually coercive or exploitive behavior is wrong, then we must also assume behaviors which promote sexual coercion to be wrong as well.

So let's take your average dev. I assume that they A) have a given set of sexual desires and that B) they will seek an outlet for these desires. Generally here I'm assuming a generic person with abasiophilia. The sparse academic literature on Abasiophilia and related “disorders” points out, as anyone could have told you, that these primarily afflict men. While I certainly agree that it's silly to divide the world into only male and female, most of the population identifies as one of these two and it is a decent starting point for looking at human sexuality. Computational-Neuroscientists working within the paradigm have produced some interesting initial findings regarding the differences between male and female sexuality.

Assuming this generic dev though, there are a number of options they are presented with. There are many obvious sources for satiating this desire, and some of those involve coercion, or taking advantage of material obtained through coercion (I call this indirect coercion). There are though some factors mitigating where a given devotee will go to satiate these desires.

By now most everyone on the internet is familiar with with the “troll”, that person who engages in disruptive or outright anti-social behavior often simply because they can. Trolls are everywhere, and sexual minorities are no stranger to their presence in their communities. What I find interesting is that trolls are in a unique position to affect the behavior of devotees. They are, in some ways, like dogs herding cattle, nipping at their heels to keep them in groups.

Trolling is a latter day pass time which generally involves finding idiots, and the internet has plenty of those, and mocking them relentlessly, sometimes treading into morally and legally questionable areas. Though really anyone can be trolled. I think though it is possible for there to be, in the parlance of 4Chan (and I cringe saying this) “trolling for moralfags/great justice” This isn't really anything new. Anyone familiar with the internet at large can tell you about infiltrating websites like Stormfront. Indeed, Anonymous recently hacked a white supremacist group disrupting their operations and conclusively linking Ron Paul to his despicable history of racism.

Regarding devoteeism, trolls have the ability to provide incentives for various behaviors. Consider the following...

If you troll devotees everywhere, that means on fiction sites, picture sites, video sites, discussion groups, really cool blogs (wink wink) then there is really no difference. Sure, men will probably still gravitate toward visual media, but by and large they're going to get trolled equally no matter where they go. However, if you troll unequally, then some areas will inevitably become preferable to others. In effect there is an ability to help guide devs away from coercive behaviors and toward non-coercive ones. Again, this applies to really every sexual quirk. 
I'm trying to expand on a point I raised a while ago. When we are treated like trash, it is ridiculous to expect us to behave any other way. We are still responsible for our own actions and by all means ought to place a concern of others suffering over our own sexual gratification, and indeed, some devs do. Though just as we must be careful of the consequences of our actions, so too must trolls and literally everyone else. 
There is some evidence coming out now which finds that treating juvenile offenders on an individual basis is rarely successful compared to approaches which involve treating the entire family. This works to help alter the environment the offender is operating in, and help provide more incentives to improve.

Food for thought. 

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