Appellations of evil about the priests’ sexual abuse within the Catholic Church confuse cover-ups and denials of deceit with an even more pernicious evil based on a delusion about ordinary human beings: namely, that our sexuality can be suppressed, subordinated and submitted to some nebulous notion of a better, and maybe even, holier purpose. The shroud of silence enveloping the human need for sex engenders salacious, sordid and sickening sexual abuse, not just within the Catholic Church et al as exposed by the Australian Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, but seems inherent in so many countries around the world where homosexuality is a crime with the death penalty, adultery is equally criminal to be met by ‘murder’, pregnancy out of wedlock is similarly punishable, virginity tests on young female prisoners introduced by the Taliban in Afghanistan are now routine et al. The list of sex ‘crimes’ is apparently unlimited; not just in supposed non-secular countries, but even in Australia, where it’s reported that parents are having to contend with their adolescent children’s smartphone use and pervasive ‘sexting’, seemingly concerned about their vulnerability to paedophiles, pornography and other prurient, online activities. Should they be monitoring their children’s use of these phones?
There is no doubt young people can be impressionable and gullible; but the ‘criminalisation’ of sex per se between mutually consenting adults seems so universal that it behoves us to break the code of silence about sex that affects us all. Research illustrates that even in western, secular and so-called democratic countries, young people are not engaging in conversations about sex with their parents. Sex education is still not understood as a human necessity and a current furore about the Safe Schools education program focusing on LGBTI young people as encouraging paedophilia, pornography and stripping the young of their innocence as conservative Christians and some MPs are alleging, reflects we still have a long way to go in Australia to focus on sex in a sensible, sane and safe manner that inspires sex itself to ‘come out’ of the closet for the sake of our humanity at whatever age. It too often seems that any discussion about sex per se is tantamount to treachery of our precious social norms, so that sexual abuse flourishes behind closed doors in suburbia instead of rational dialogue about the issue. If parents cannot talk to their children about sex, their children, normally curious and interested, will obviously go elsewhere for their information. Furthermore, another newspaper article claims LGBTI people in Australia have the highest rate of suicide and same-sex-attracted young people are six times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. The sexual repression of LGBTI people, especially the young, is no less evil than the sexual abuse by priests et al. The reality is that the code of silence about sex in our society is maintained not just by religious hierarchies of diverse beliefs, but non-believers of supposedly more ‘mature’ years who we naively believe are no longer adolescents and have grown up about sex. The fact is they are no more able or willing to engage in discourse about sex than adolescents who are often too embarrassed or shy to talk to their parents about it. Maybe these non-believing parents are concerned about their children’s internet use because they too, as young people, deceived their parents about what they were doing, reading, or finding out about sex in the way they could pre-internet. You have to have confidence and faith in your own child-rearing (and trust yourself) to enable you to trust your children, and if you lied and mistrusted your parents, chances are you’ll mistrust your own children, too. Patterns repeat themselves generationally, all too sadly about so many things.
During my adult years, it is has been difficult to engage in intelligent conversations about sex with both females and males; the latter often inclined to ‘feel’ and/or think my conversation is an invitation to sex with me. I have had very few really enlightening and rewarding conversations; moreover, I am also very aware that when I’ve written about sex, suggestively, but with subtlety, in letters to the editor or in more personal articles, they have not been published. I’ve written before about how so many ‘sex’ issues are headlined with ‘taboo’. Most of my interesting exchanges about sex have been with gay men; a couple only of straight men, but even these couple ended up with me in bed with them, not always what I wanted when I was younger. Saying ‘no’ wasn’t always easy; not that I was unwilling, just uninterested and essentially, I didn’t ‘fancy’ them for a sexual encounter. I learned pretty quickly how to decline and if they were hurt, upset or disappointed, it was their problem, not mine. The prevalence of sexting among adolescents is what fascinates me; in the biggest survey of sexting in Australia by the Australian Institute of Criminology involving 1200 teenage boys and girls, half said they had sent a sexually explicit image of themselves. Why? The article I read today doesn’t say or attempt to answer that; suffice to say readers are left to assume about it. Moreover, academic research has revealed that more than 90 per cent of boys and 60 per cent of girls aged 13-16 said they’d seen pornography online. Surely, these issues should be talked about openly and honestly within families and more broadly, in a social context; clearly, they are not. If there is a concern, we need to discuss it, not hide it behind statistics and surveys that appear in newsprint with regular monotony but nothing seems to be happening about it. The surveys etc are confronted with shrieks of ‘fear’ and anxiety from parents, but there’s no public conversation with young people about these issues and the perils that perhaps lurk beneath the surface. Certainly, I can only hypothesise about sexting; is it that both boys and girls are just normally curious about ‘arousing’ and/or ‘titillating’ their friends without really wanting full-on sexual engagement, though for me what’s more concerning is do they think ‘sex’, and being nakedly alluring, is a pre-requisite for friendship? We live in a society where appearance dictates so much about how we’re perceived, liked, befriended, ignored and/or rejected with its implicit assumptions about both males and females. Is their nakedness just another ploy of play in the game? I’m unclear about it; I’m glad sexting wasn’t around during my adolescence; so, too, porn. I’m not in any way advocating censorship or internet filters, but having recently seen some ‘sickening’ sadistic porn where women were portrayed as loving ‘pain’, I’m grateful I didn’t see this as a teenager. I don’t know what effect it would have had on me, but I was discussing it with a young, gay friend of mine and he thought it wouldn’t have affected me necessarily. I can’t address that in hindsight, but at least if parents who have really grown-up about sex can talk without shame or embarrassment about sex with their kids, then maybe sexting and porn will not be significant causes of distress. And parents won’t have to worry what their kids are doing online. The pertinent reality is that sex is still a ‘taboo’ as a topic of conversation, not just in newspapers, but behind closed doors in suburbia. That reality encourages a multiplicity of distorted and disturbing images online, catering to the evil that is intrinsic to sexual repression. Many articles are published in newspapers about sex, but not one has really explored or investigated what and how our society believes or adheres to and the reasons thereby. With the public fury about sex abuse in the Catholic Church, no article I’ve seen has raised the issue about sex per in our society and the evils inherent in its human denial. The priests per se are evil; not the society or church that prohibited the human expression of their sexuality in a mutually ‘moral’ and acceptable way. It may be thousands of priests around the world in different countries (ala the Oscar winning film Spotlight), but even that film does not look at the system of sexual repression, just the system of cover-up. The Catholic Church is not the only culprit; the BBC in Britain also ‘covered-up’ the sexual abuse of adolescents by celebrity TV star Jimmy Savile (it didn’t become public until after his death), Australian Rolf Harris now sits in jail for sex abuse of young children and American TV star and comedian Bill Cosby is allegedly also culpable as well as the actor in the Hey Dad TV series. Do the ‘names’ matter anymore? And it’s not just male perpetrators; Australian actress Maggie Kirkpatrick was recently found guilty of paedophilia too, and a Yeshivah (a Jewish orthodox school) female teacher in Melbourne fled to Israel to escape ‘trial’ for sex abuse, too. The list of the rich and famous involved in sex abuse seems to increase on an almost daily basis.
The sad reality for me is there is a cover-up on a massive international scale of sex itself, and until we expose this conspiracy of silence, sex abuse will continue ad nauseum against not just young children, but metaphorically, against us all as human beings. Our silence makes us complicit in the conspiracy. At least I try on my blog to write about it, hoping whoever reads this might think about it, too.