There it is, I finally said it after months of trying to make little hints, in context, to challenge or change how we do things. Months of observing myself and other advocates in our community effectively shut down conversation with people because we are so concerned with accuracy that we ignore the emotional concerns of the person we are talking to. Over a year and then some of telling Ender Wiggin – as amazing as he is – that insulting people is not the way to get people to listen (it is also what gets us kicked off of Twitter, whether we believe those suspensions are fair or not, Twitter’s platform, Twitter’s rules). Months of telling people that arguing with trolls does nothing for our cause. Months of being ignored.
Best Practices For MAPs On Social Media
After a certain point, you observe yourself becoming a repetitive, broken record and it becomes time to stop the tape. It was at that point that I wrote a forum post on Virtuous Pedophiles and MAP Support Club, titled, “Best Practices for MAPs on Social Media,” which detailed a number of things advocates must keep in mind. Since that does not seem to have caught much attention in either place, allow me to repeat it here:
This is to introduce methods that do – and do not – work at spreading awareness around the plight of minor-attracted persons (MAPs). For starters, I will talk about the research.
The research says that narrative humanization (storytelling in a way that humanizes the subjects of the stories – that would be us) is the best route to go when reaching people. In other words, it is not arguing or facts that will convince people. Yes, I know, I am terrible at practicing that. I am a great example of how not to interact with people we are trying to convince. I tend to talk to the few in the crowd that favor critical thinking, which in this day and age, is not the majority of people. We need people willing to tell their story (without sharing details which will out your real identity).
For more about narrative humanization, see
For more on stigma, see:
Now, let us talk about how this works practically.
- You will get trolls and haters. Be as nice and polite as you possibly can. Answer their hate with kindness, not in kind. Why? For one, it will irritate them to no end – an added bonus. For another, it will discredit where they are coming from. Other than that, ignore or block them. Most of them are really not worth your time, particularly the people who target you with harassment.
- Do not talk about anything that would be considered creepy, gross, tactless, or otherwise weird to people when it comes to children. We want to break the stereotype of pedophiles being after kids sexually, and paint a different picture. We cannot do that when people in our community make us look bad. MAPs on social media is a public relations game. If you want to have a place to shoot the breeze and have fun, keep it in private communities. There are people who LOOK for things we say to take out of context and use against us. Do not provide them with this.
- DO talk about your mental health. Be real with people. Talk about your bad days, your feelings of isolation and depression. Talk about the good days, too. Just be careful not to share possibly identifying information doing it.
- If you are not comfortable with outing yourself, be wary of what you share in private/public messages with people, and do not consider anything you say with anyone you have not known for a long time as private information that will be kept that way. Anyone can be anything on the internet, and that includes people who appear to be allies. Watch what you share, see point two.
- Search the word “pedophilia” on your platform of choice, and join in conversations on larger posts with a wide audience (on Twitter, look for a large number of retweets). Be polite, tell your story, and try not to argue while doing it. People do not like to be corrected, so do it as gently as possible. People’s worldviews are fragile, and they do not like them being challenged. Look up the backfire effect.
- Take breaks when you need to for real life stuff, or when you are too upset to engage with people. You are human, and you are of more value as an advocate when you are taking care of yourself than you are burning yourself out by ignoring your needs.
- Twitter and Reddit are considered prime platforms, while Tumblr and Facebook tend to have terrible policies in place that get MAPs kicked off. If you like writing, message me and we can talk about you contributing to Pedophiles About Pedophilia, a blog about pedophilia.
- As frustrating as it may be, part of playing a good public relations game is not talking about any work you might do with kids, young friends, or rights you want as a MAP. These will not be perceived in an innocent way, and could possibly land you in real life trouble. Save it for private communities, not the public, where your words will be received as you intend them.
- People will always understand more in private, and most who understand will not say so publicly, if they say it at all. What you receive in your notifications is NOT an accurate reflection of how well people are internalizing what you are saying.
Having a presence on social media is entirely your choice. You should first be in a place where hearing hatred and trolling will not be triggering or upsetting to you, or be willing to block, ignore, or tune it out. Take care of yourself, and remember: The goal is to make sure MAPs can come forward to receive peer/professional support, and the public relations spin is that this is to protect children. We are not in a place where we can go beyond that to talk about caring for MAPs for the sake of them being human beings – yet. We will get there, in time, but we need to do that one step at a time.
And Another Blog Post
That internally circulated piece did not seem to catch much attention or cause much in the way of change. So, last week, I finally put the finishing touches on another blog post. This one was also about how we, as pedophiles, could be more effective in how we reach people, based in part on three different documents around sexual violence prevention advocacy work. I did my best to synthesize the information from those three reports into one blog post.
Despite this, it did not seem to carry any weight at all, either in the responses or in anyone’s behavior. That precipitated the frustration I pointedly expressed in a private group chat, which then became public one night (the 15th) when I reached the utter end of my patience, both because I partially do not know how to communicate all of this except in a lengthy blog post, and because it feels like people are throwing me under the bus for actually caring about the impact we are having on achieving our goals. Gasp. The horror.
We All Of Us Own This
Ender Wiggin, bless his soul, set much of the ground work for social media advocacy. Some of us have followed his method of arguing with people (like me). Some of us have tried a more individual approach. Some of us try our best not to argue, but find common ground. Overall, we have done the former: Arguing as he used to. I have done the same, and I own that right along with everyone else in our community. But the simple reality is this: Most people are not good with critical thinking, and their skill at argumentation sucks so badly that Todd Nickerson created a Bingo game out of them:
The simple reality is, how we are doing things is the very definition of insanity: Trying the same approach and expecting different results. Arguing does not work well, neither does nitpicking definitions. We take one step forward, get swarmed by the internet, and then take a few steps back. What we are all doing is not working well to see the kind of progress we would like. We all own that, and we all need to address it. While there are things we are doing well, how we argue and how we communicate needs to improve.
I have repeatedly heard criticisms about our approach. I might publicly respond (or not) by indicating skepticism about how valid the criticism is (at least a few I am about to list are not valid, but do think they need to be heard). I still listen to the criticisms I hear from others and I ask myself each and every time if people have a point that requires consideration. The resounding answer is yes, they do.
Here is a small sample of what has stuck with me over time, regardless of how valid I think it is:
- Long, drawn out conversations/arguments – make one point, give people information, move on.
- No one cares about having sympathy or empathy for pedophiles for the sake of caring about pedophiles, it is socially unacceptable to express that kind of opinion, particularly while we use the labels “pedophilia” and “pedophile.”
- “Pedophilic grammar nazis” correcting every single thing someone says that is incorrect, regardless of how nuanced or who the audience is.
- Arguing endlessly with known trolls rather than blocking the bad actors and moving on to those who might listen.
- Making conversations about us, not meeting the person where they are emotionally.
- Being on social media rather than going after media interviews.
- Actively refusing to get help, or acknowledge that MAPs might need help. The first reaction to “You should get help,” should not be, in effect, “Lulz, make me, I’m not diseased.”
Those are just seven criticisms I can recite offhand. I have heard many others: Abrasiveness, rudeness, failure to respect boundaries (remember Survivor Culture?), being too flippant, being creepy, etc. I am sure each of us has received a criticism and wondered if the person has a point.
We also have two types of communication that are ruining our ability to effectively change anyone’s minds as long as we use social media as our primary platform of getting our points across. This is not because they are flawed, but because we constantly mix the two both in public and in private, and the end result is that we communicate ineffectively. Those two types of communication are private, internal dialogue (such as the type we express around other MAPs and allies), and public dialogue (when we are talking to others who engage us in conversation).
These two should not overlap to the degree they currently do, because it is to confusing people who might otherwise understand or even publicly agree with what we would like to see once they do fully understand it. Not only does it confuse others, it can also confuse allies, and shut people off to listening. You mention the word pedophilia, and people are already reacting emotionally, then you add the words “not a disorder” and “sexuality” and it is no wonder no one takes us seriously. Someone else’s worldview is a fragile thing and cannot be challenged lightly.
Not The Picture, The Frame
Sexual violence preventionists often talk about reframing sexual violence. Why is this? Because through time, Western culture has gradually made the bulk of society see the issue of sexual violence through a certain lens or perspective (called a frame). The issue is not the picture of what is happening – that never changes – the issue is how people see the picture through their perspective. Most see sexual violence as an issue of individuals who are sexual deviants (perverts, pedophiles, freaks, monsters, you get the idea) who are predisposed to harming people sexually (and can never change). They have an uncontrollable urge, and they will inevitably give in to that urge.
The reason prevention advocates – the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the Coalitions Against Sexual Assault in most US states, the Association for the Treatment of Child Sexual Abusers and so on – talk about reframing sexual violence is because we cannot simply spout facts at people and expect them to listen. It simply does not work well. We cannot walk back a society-wide lens of viewing an issue a certain way by spouting facts. Nobody cares about the facts. We can use facts strategically to address a particular perspective and tweak it slightly, but we cannot be comprehensive (all the facts/nuances) and strategic at the same time. This means we need a strategy for shifting the lens through which we are viewed.
Our goal, if we want to be effective at humanizing pedophiles, is to shift the lens through which people see pedophiles and pedophilia. That includes using language they will listen to and understand. They currently see those issues through the lens of people who sexually abuse children, and likely always will. We cannot change that with all of the facts regurgitated every time someone is wrong on the internet (yes, again, I am guilty of this). That is simply not going to work. We need to be strategic in how we share our facts, and gently direct conversations towards shifting the lens through which people see pedophiles. This document has many specific examples of how we can accomplish that.
I am afraid I do not, sitting here, writing this blog post, have many specific examples of a conversation redirect that is helpful vs. inflammatory. One came up the other day when someone tweeted that pedophiles need help to not offend – I agreed with it, publicly, and asked people not to argue much:
I then slightly corrected and redirected part of what followed from others nitpicking it:
Where much of society believes pedophiles are ill and need help, they may not be aware that help is difficult to come by or why it is difficult to come by. A next step in reframing that specific lens would be to agree that pedophiles need help, state why that help is difficult to get, and then tackle the issue of not every single pedophile needing that help once that lens has been shifted enough. Obviously, in this approach, we need to have some sort of series of goals mapped out so we know where we are at.
Another example is when we talk about – now wait please and take this in context – rights for MAPs and pedophiles. The average person (particularly “antis”) now thinks I am talking about the right to view exploitative imagery and be sexual with kids. You all think I am talking about human rights, the right to decency and respect. So, let me form two lists, and show you which is more palatable to people. I think you can figure out which is which.
MAPs and pedophiles should:
- Have the right to not get fired for their sexual orientation
- Have the right to fictional materials to help manage their attraction
- Have the right to purchase child sex dolls
- Have the right to be around children without people freaking out
Anyone who is attracted to minors should:
- Be able to work and go to school with those around them knowing about their sexual attractions without harassment or negativity
- Have the ability to manage their attractions using materials that do not exploit or harm children in any way
- Have the freedom to manage their attractions using harm-free methods and toys of any kind
- Be able to simply give a child a hug without someone thinking something inappropriate is happening
Obviously, I said the same exact thing in two different ways.
It irks me to offer criticisms without offering some kind of possible solution, so I offer you several options for the pedophile community going forward, which may overlap depending on what we collectively choose to do. I expect some of these possibilities to not work at all for most people, and I expect some to be more realistic. These are in no particular order.
- Form best practices, guidelines, and roles for advocating, and stick to them: In other words, come together, all of us, and form a comprehensive document that addresses how we behave in public (like the earlier best practices suggestions, but formed by everyone and not just me), as well as roles each of us feel we are best at (ie, memes, critical thinking, storytelling, new person orientation, whatever the case may be), such as direct messages vs. being more public, arguing vs. emotion-based stories, etc. This would be a long and involved process that takes time to achieve, and the specifics would need to be worked out.
- Use the recommendations of other violence prevention programs in regards to advocacy: Obviously this would overlap with point two, but each person could find one document and bring out the best points from it to form best practices.
- New community member orientation: Actually taking the time to explain to newer advocates what works well, what does not work well, and bringing everyone onto the same page regarding strategy so we do not have rogue or inexperienced people interfering with the overall goals without realizing it.
- Getting off social media: Yes, you heard me. Get your butt to your local news station or write a reporter, and ask them if they might want to do a story about a non-offending pedophile. Go talk to people. Out yourself, use your real name. None of this can be done without careful consideration and not everyone can do this, but we need to recognize that social media is ripe for allowing bad actors to interfere with our message coming across to people.
- Block the abusive twats: One of our biggest flaws is that we are constantly undermining the credibility of our message by answering the abusive people and discussing things with them. This is like trying to talk calculus or rocket science with a two-year-old, and we look ridiculous trying. It is okay for someone to be wrong on the internet, particularly when they look cruel in the way they do it.
- Communicating better and less publicly about strategy: Twitter has group chats. We should use them, since most of us are now on Twitter, and keep the drama to those instead of spreading it all over the internet, undermining our credibility. Also, when we see someone saying something that is either unclear or seems incorrect, we could clarify privately rather than in public. We also need to have those who are serious about advocating and changing things in these group chats. This is why this blog post is being shared publicly, because those who advocate are scattered and this is the easiest place to reach everyone. This very suggestion is about changing that. Yes, lovely “antis,” you heard that correctly: We currently have no centralized place where we talk about strategy as a group of advocates.
- Stop focusing on differences: We should be meeting people where they are at, and looking for common ground. Right now, the best common ground we can get is wanting to protect children. We are not going to establish that common ground by communicating to people that we are different from them. We do this by defining ourselves by our sexual attractions, among other things. We also do it by making conversations about us.
- Be aware of trigger words and do not use them: We need to know what words are going to trigger a purely emotional response in most people. These are words like: Pedophile, pedophilia, rape, sexuality, sexual orientation, rights, and I am sure there are more.
- Learn marketing strategies and use them: Educating people is a fine and wonderful goal, but most people do not feel they need to be educated on this subject. Yes, this is playing politics. Yes, it means rephrasing a lot of things to be more palatable to the average person.
One final suggestion, for those MAPs out there who are still deciding what to do with your life and want to do something for the MAP community, or for allies even: Get a degree in journalism, communications, marketing, public relations, advertising, etc and use that information to clue in those of us who are horrid or lacking in these areas.
What These Suggestions Do Not Mean
Obviously I have been misheard and misunderstood a lot by friends and allies, and frankly, I need to clarify some of what I have said. Do I believe pedophiles should get help for the sake of being human? Absolutely, but that is not something most can swallow yet. Do I think that requires therapy? Not always, but that is not something most people can hear. Should pedophiles be treated with respect? Absolutely, but we need to be seen as human and not monsters before that happens. Should MAPs have the ability to be out and open with who they are without receiving hate or discrimination? Absolutely, but that is years away at best. Do I think I am always right? Hell no, especially not with social stuff.
These suggestions do not mean we spread myths, it does not mean we ignore nuance, it does not mean we want people to see pedophiles as a risk to kids as our end goal. However, if the first step to shifting people’s perspectives is for people to see pedophiles as risks who need help, but do not have help available and need certain things to change to make that help available… and the second step is to work towards a perspective where pedophiles are people who now have more help available and are just people… and so on… then how does that hurt our end goal? So it does mean that we need to meet people where they are at.
It may have some negative consequences on pedophiles in the meantime in terms of their faith in therapy, but that is a consequence that is already happening according to stigma research: Half of pedophiles in stigma research believe talking to a therapist is not safe, and many believe therapists will try to address their minor attraction where that may not be the real issue they need help with, while we also know that therapists do not feel prepared to handle MAP issues.
I am not suggesting that everything we are doing is wrong. I am suggesting we need to take some serious time and work on identifying how each and every one of us can improve how we communicate with the public not just each other, and that includes myself.
What we are doing is not working, and at the rate we are going, progress will be extremely slow and plagued by troll wars – wars that we are willingly participating in rather than blocking people in the vague hope we might convince a silent majority that refuses to risk social scorn to speak up. We simply do not know if that silent majority even exists. We are also fighting each other every time someone does something unexpected or different, rather than peacefully coming to the table and asking the other person about it.
I have done my best to be the most effective person I can be in Ender’s absence: I have done my best to ensure that MAP Support Club (MAP Support Chat’s migration off of Discord and onto Discourse and Rocketchat) and Pedophiles About Pedophilia continue despite his absence (I support the existence of Pedophiles About Pedophilia and my website financially, and both are ad-free), and I try to continue to be a voice on Twitter besides. Each of those three things is, in effect, a job, and I already have employment full-time, and I am married. I work my butt off to make sure this community is at its best, and I do my best to keep us together as a cohesive family that cares about one another. Lately, it has felt like this community takes me for granted.
I was originally going to conclude this by begging for your help in coming together to make these changes. However, I have changed my mind on that. I have already wasted a ton of energy trying to bring people on board with making advocacy more effective (including this post), and caused myself a lot of frustration doing it. If you want to join me in that effort, great! Happy to have you on board. Let us form a Twitter group chat and get to work. I probably cannot do it without you.
If you are going to come at me with doubts about this or to start an argument, then I will not waste my energy on convincing you, and I will block/mute you if need be. I refuse to burn out because I am attacked by allies. You can believe what you want. I need to do what I think is best for all of us, comprehensively, not just making fellow MAPs and pedophiles happy with an echo chamber that convinces no one.
What I am suggesting, and implementing it, might make me the most hated pedophile among our community.
So be it if that means the general public starts to listen and treat us as human beings.