Friday, February 10, 2012

Examining The Coercive Devotee's Process of Justification

I recently found a quote by a man on a dev group, both of which I'll keep anonymous. This was posted in response to an article by a girl, who either was abused (if so I believe electronically), and/or became privy to the electronic abuse of the disabled by devotees. What is key to note about her article is that it seeks to call out primarily devotees who steal pictures from social networking sites. As with him, she will remain anonymous.

I want to share and discuss this because here we can see, in the raw, one example of what the process of justification is like for a coercive devotee. It is key to remember that writing of any sort is not a pure record of thought, but rather functions similar to the way the splatter paintings of Jackson Pollock which, many say, provide us with a visual record of the artist's movements. We see emotion and thought processes here expressed only after being presumably filtered through the black box machinery of this man's mind. What we have is the input and the output. What we don't know though is even more.

We are not privy to the context this man was operating in, aside from what he provides us with, and even then that could be flawed information. As a point of due diligence, I do not know if the article I read had been edited, so he could be responding to an entirely different text from what I saw. Moreover, we don't know what of the information he actually absorbed, or how much he read, or how long he spent thinking about it. He may have been under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or have a series of co-occurring “disorders” which in some way remove him from the “standard” model of a devotee we each create in our mind when approaching issues such as these.

This is entry level academic hokum, but I feel it is important to keep in mind when attempting to interpret this. We can spend all day raising hypotheticals, and many of them would be pertinent, but the overall message we should acquire from this is one of modifying our approach to include caution. Normally we could hope to follow the maxim of, “Trust but confirm.”, yet here we have a quote and only a quote to dissect for meaning. All that being said, this is a personal blog, and I'm gonna let myself play it a bit fast and loose.

“I must admit to feelings of guilt about videos and photos taken surreptitiously,
some of them by me. I sort-of justify it to myself by arguing that it's no more
than an extension of a bloke admiring and watching a pretty woman, but I don't
completely convince myself, I must admit. In the end, it boils down to this: I
didn't ask for this quirk in my personality which attracts me to disabled women,
and I can't get rid of it (and believe me, I've tried: I've been through agonies
of guilt and shame when I was younger), and it does nobody any harm, unlike some other sexual - shall we say - eccentricities. I wouldn't dream of harming a
disabled woman in any way, and have had mutually fulfilling relationships with
two: my ex-wife, who is blind and has other disabilities, and with whom I'm
still good chums even though we've been divorced for 21 years, and a friend who
is quadriplegic due to spinal muscular atrophy. The latter knows all about my
attraction to disabled women, and accepts it.”

First let's condense the facts as they are presented.

He says he has felt guilt over the existence of exploitative material some of which he produces. He argues that creating a physical record of what he sees is equal to a mental one. Yet he admits that even this does not work to totally convince him.

Here we see his second justification which goes as follows: 1) I am devoted not by choice. 2) It is  an ineliminable aspect of my personality 3) It doesn't hurt anybody. He then compares it to other sexual quirks, yet hesitates to name them.

He goes on to say that he actually doesn't want to harm disabled women. He adds, as proof that he has had two “mutually fulfilling relationships” with two disabled women, one being his ex-wife, and the other being simply a friend. He clarifies that his friend knows “all about” his feelings and accepts it.

Okay, so while he says he feels guilt over the material, and that he has even produced some himself (perhaps he is still “producing”), I think it is also fair to assume that he “uses” it, if you know what I mean. We have two processes of justification for this, the first of which seems to play the role of a placeholder in his mind. He defends the act itself by equating the creation of a physical, swappable  record (and knowing devs, I think it's fair to assume he's done a bit of swapping) with a personal memory. His rather abnormal behavior is held as equal to a natural even arguably somewhat involuntary tendency of humans in general: to remember a pretty face, etc.

He seems to say it to make himself forget that he feels bad, and it works, at least temporarily. Yet there is something inescapable. He feels that this is an ineffective argument, and it's quite presumable that he doesn't really believe pictures and film are not the same as a wandering eye.

Here we encounter his second process of justification, which is composed of three main parts. Now, unlike the above, the first two thirds of this don't seek to defend the act itself, but rather focus on him. He denies responsibility for his feelings both in their genesis and continuation. Next he claims that he actions taken on behalf of these feelings, “don't really hurt anyone”. He accomplishes this last piece by comparing it to the vaguely worded “sexual eccentricities”.

So, reading into this a bit...

He denies control of his feelings, and, by some degree of extension, his actions. There is a common argument you'll find crop up among men which says, though often in many more well veiled words, that they need pornography. It is sometimes upgraded a level whereby some men will claim they need or deserve sex. This is a very common justification for rape, especially cases of marital rape. We see this argument presented in its infant form  here, though significantly declawed.

The article he was responding to drew a very pointed comparison between devoteeism and pedophilia, and I believe that it is at least this to which he compares his fetish. It is worth noting that pedophilia, despite the findings of Kinsey and other facts pedophiles use to defend their actions, almost always leads to at least a few “bumps in the road” for the child in question (which is not to say that victims are irreparably damaged mind you). Pedophilia, when physically manifested upon a child through any medium, can be understood then as inherently damaging, regardless of intent.

More to the point though, I do wonder what exactly his quadriplegic friend knows. Certainly she's privy to his attraction, but what of these behaviors he has trouble justifying simply to himself? Does she know? Does his ex-wife? If no, how would they feel if they did? Would they feel violated suddenly finding this out about him?

So looking at his distillation of the pertinent facts of his situation, does this justify his behavior? He knows two women he assures us he has never violated, and while he feels bad about his other behavior, he never chose and is unable to alter his feelings. Are his actions beyond harm? Should he be allowed to photograph and film women without their prior knowledge and consent?

As I've said before, actions like these are not harmless. While he may not dream of harm to disabled women, he certainly executes it by blocking out some parts of his conscious awareness. Stealth filming etc. may appear to be initially absent of harm, but these acts still carry potential to be harmful. As the internet continually embraces sharing and becomes more widespread, the potential for harm and potential magnitude of this harm rises even further. With every iPhone and PC produced his justification grows weaker.

Furthermore, as I have said in earlier posts, I believe that this behavior is harmful to him. What he's going through is a process known as cognitive dissonance. That alone is generally identified as “bad”. However, he is also allowing himself to lose sight of the humanity of others and the consequences, or at least potential consequences, of his actions. He is allowing himself to literally dehumanize others, and thus in some ways remove his humanity. He willingly subverts his own capacity for reason in favor of an animal drive.

Still though, he didn't choose this, and he can't do anything about it. Does he then have some right or need for material featuring disabled women?


There is no way around this. Even he knows this, but tries to forget. That he is successful in this task explains why sexual exploitation on the part of devotees is so prevalent. Even those with a conscience are able to hide themselves from it, in the pursuit of greater gratification.

If he lived in a vacuum absent any human contact whatsoever, then perhaps we could take some small measure of pity on him but such is not the case. He clearly has regular somewhat private internet access. There are plenty of resources for him to get his rocks off looking at women and men who are entirely consenting. Thanks to the same internet that allows his exploitation to expand beyond his control or knowledge, he can even get a lot of this material for free.

Though with pornography we do encounter a number of arguments in opposition. I'm saving these for a later blog, suffice to say, there are some, and not all of them are poorly wrought.

Let us be more than fair and assume though that, for whatever reason this relative abundance of dev porn just doesn't work for him. Maybe he's blind or severely visually impaired, maybe he just can't get off without looking at stealth footage, maybe he's too poor to afford stuff priced at roughly a dollar a minute, maybe he is a pedophile and can only get off to footage of girls well below the legal limit. It doesn't matter. Is this poor, helpless dev then left with nothing else but his little old imagination to get off with (a trait entirely unique to humans by the way)?

Actually, no, he's not.

Even pedophiles, those latter day dalits, have the ability to craft intricate and artful fiction to their heart's desire. Actually, I'm not positive about that. Maybe it is illegal for pedophiles unless it's sanctified as art, but with devotees such a provision doesn't matter. Whatever disability or combination of disabilities, or devotee mashup slash fiction you like, you can write it to your heart's content.

In fact, many do. There's already a number of thriving communities built around this exact behavior. Now, not all of them are perfect. In fact I've found more than I would like which are run side by side with picture trading. Some even incorporate pictures into their stories. It might sound ridiculous on its face but you can take even something as banal as the internet fan-fic and turn it into a real life coercive sexual experience.

My, the ingenuity of the human intellect!

The painfully obvious points I am arguing are as follows.

1) There is never a proper justification for stealth filming and other coercive practices.

2) Devotees have a plethora of other options for satiating their desires.

3) I hope this guy and other devotees can one day come to admit to themselves that they do feel bad about what they are doing and that there are other, healthier, ways they can joyously and non-coercively express their sexuality.

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