COMMENT: The magazine tells only part of the truth in a recent statement. And like all half-truths, the omitted part of the truth is precisely the point that needs to be addressed.
The term ‘groomer’ has become a flashpoint in the debate over sex education in schools, particularly over whether children should be told that it is possible to change their body sex.
Social media companies have banned people who use the term “groomers” in this context. More recently, a coalition of sexual revolutionary activist groups issued an open statement in teen vogue“to demand that journalists covering this devastating and misleading rhetoric do so responsibly.”
The Ruth Institute has published interviews with survivors of sexual abuse and their families, particularly on the topic of grooming. Our objection to the teen vogue coalition is that their definition of “grooming” diverts people from a very important aspect of protecting children from predation.
Let me explain.
Here is the definition of teen vogue coalition uses:
“The word ‘grooming’ means something specific and serious: it is a covert process by which someone builds false trust with a child they intend to abuse.”
True enough, as far as it goes. But like all half-truths, the omitted part of the truth is precisely the point that needs to be addressed. Predators don’t just heal the individual they intend to abuse. Often, predators tend to people around their immediate victims, including the child’s parents and other family members or sometimes even an entire community. Predators are adept at winning the trust of everyone around them, deflecting suspicion from themselves, and isolating their victims from sources of support. This “social preparation” is a significant obstacle to getting the support they need, or even to being believed.
When concerned parents refer to self-proclaimed “sex educators” as “groomers,” they are not claiming that these people are trying to have sex with the children immediately preceding them. They say something much more fundamental and serious. Parents say this type of education prepares children not to be protected, but to be victimized. The teen vogue the definition of the coalition includes nothing like preparing the rest of the community. By omitting this, sex revolutionaries divert attention from the issue that is really at stake for parents who oppose the sex education curriculum.
Under the guise of providing worthless information to help some children protect themselves, school sex education programs convey sensitive and inherently value-laden information in a context where children are separated from their parents. The setup itself implicitly conveys to children that they shouldn’t trust their parents, that the people at school are really their friends. This is classic grooming behavior. “Don’t tell your parents about our special time together.”
Convincing kids that they can’t trust their parents, that their parents don’t understand them, or don’t have their best interests in mind: these mind games set kids up for predation. The lame definition of “grooming” that teen vogue coalition does not even recognize that this aspect of grooming is a possibility.
It is particularly vexing for teen vogue leading the charge to misdirect the public in this way. A few years ago, the magazine ran an article titled “Anal Sex: Safety, How tos, Tips, and More.” The article describes its mission as follows: “Here’s everything you need to know about buttocks, no matter who you are, who you have sex with, or who you want to have sex with.”
While presenting itself as a worthless source of incontrovertible facts, the article referred to the illustration of the woman as “anatomy of a non-prostatic owner”. This illustration didn’t even include the clitoris. So much for “science”.
You don’t have to be a Christian conservative to have trouble with this article and its unspoken message to teenage girls. As one (non-religious) commentator at the time observed,
Not only is any potential pleasure a woman can experience during anal sex reduced to the lack of male body parts (she is a “non-prostate owner”), but the clitoris, the true center of female sexual pleasure, has been removed. The absence of a male body part is central to what defines the female body, and what is actually there is not identified at all.
What does this teach the audience of a magazine aimed at teenage girls? This tells them that their identity is not ‘woman’, but rather ‘non-man’. He tells them that if they consent to anal sex, their body is just a hole for the man to penetrate, and the part of their body that is most sensitive and reliable for female orgasm is so irrelevant that it doesn’t even warrant a label. This tells them that consenting to anal sex is not about pleasure, but about their partner’s pleasure.
teen vogue is marketed to teenagers. Their summit allows children as young as 13 to attend, only “suggesting” that they attend with a parent or guardian. The idea of anal sex does not come spontaneously to a teenager’s mind. That thought should be planted there. teen vogue engaged in social grooming: forcing young girls to consent to something that ordinarily wouldn’t even occur to them. There’s nothing a 13 year old girl needs to know about anal sex.
When parents oppose mandatory comprehensive sex education in schools, it is social preparation they oppose. The idea that a boy could become a girl is not a thought that would spontaneously arise in the mind of a child. And if so, it’s most often a form of fantasy born of immaturity. Placing ideas in their children’s minds and normalizing activities that would otherwise not be there: this is what parents aptly call “grooming”.
For sex ed advocates to deny and decry it, to insist that journalists conform to their narrow definition of grooming is a way to weed out opposition they could not otherwise defeat in a fair argument.
The facts are these. The idea that a person can change the sex of the body is NOT “established science”. The safety of these medical interventions is highly disputed. Many school districts have policies that deliberately limit parental involvement or even knowledge of their children’s thoughts and behaviors. Excluding parents is a classic groomer tactic.
Proponents of these aggressive education programs do not like to be called “groomers”. Well boo-hoo. I will not be lectured by them, or by teen vogue on what constitutes grooming.