Playing Doctor

I was asked to comment on an article titled “Kids Are Going to Touch Genitals. Let’s Not Get Too Freaked Out About It.” So I read it. And oh sweet Jesus. Adult people demonstrate such depths of ignorance about child development and human sexuality that it’s scary. Here is the story that the article tries to discuss in its strangely impotent manner:

A preschool in Carson, CA. is under fire because a 5-year-old girl was caught with her mouth on the genitals of a 4-year-old boy. The school has since shuttered — although they’re saying it’s because their director is leaving — and the community is baffled and outraged.

Here is the author’s response:

In a culture that thrusts adult sexuality onto children — ones who are often too young to understand it — it makes sense that people are freaked out by one child putting their mouth on another’s genitals.

Whenever I read something this stupid, I feel really hopeless. Cultures that do thrust adult sexuality onto children – by marrying them off at a very early age, for example – have nothing whatsoever to do with the US culture and it makes zero sense to discuss them in this context.

Of course, it is normal for small children to experience curiosity towards each other’s genitals. This is where “playing doctor” came from, which is a game that people of our Western civilization are all familiar with.

However, curiosity about genitals is one thing and imitating an adult sex act is a very different thing. Any psychologist worth a dime would recommend that the little girl’s family be investigated. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that everybody – the school, the girl, the boy, the culture, the television, the Santa Claus – will be blamed for this except the kid’s parents.

Small children are, indeed, hypersexual. However, their sexuality is completely self-referential. This means that it is all about gratifying oneself. The desire to gratify others (and administering oral sex is the definition of such an act) is, indeed, a cultural construct that appears much later in life. To put it even more bluntly, when children masturbate, that is supremely normal (as long as parents manage to teach them not to do it publicly). But any interest in less self-referential sex acts is evidence of deep trouble at home.

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9 comments on “Playing Doctor

  1. The little girl’s family should be investigated, especially the father, older brothers, or uncles. Sorry gentlemen out there, but when it’s a case of a little girl doing something like this, it’s usually because the dad (or an older brother or an uncle) has asked/forced her to do it at home. More often than not, it’s the dad. At least, that’s what I hear from my people who have been abused. Thankfully, my dad was a good guy and didn’t do this stuff to us. If you look at the website Project Unbreakable (http://projectunbreakable.tumblr.com/), MANY of the people pictured on there were sexually abused by their fathers.

    • “The little girl’s family should be investigated, especially the father, older brothers, or uncles. Sorry gentlemen out there, but when it’s a case of a little girl doing something like this, it’s usually because the dad (or an older brother or an uncle) has asked/forced her to do it at home.”

      - This is exactly what I’m suggesting. This is not a normal situation and the fact that the girl is acting it out at school is a cry for help.

    • Just because you don’t hear about it doesn’t mean it’s implausible. If the girl in this story is being sexually abused, the odds that there is a female perpetrator is, at the very least, significant. I don’t think there are benefits to being selective about whom we investigate as perpetrators of child abuse.

      http://www.female-offenders.com/

      • “If the girl in this story is being sexually abused, the odds that there is a female perpetrator is, at the very least, significant.”

        - Only if the woman has a penis. Look at the nature of the sex act she is playing out.

  2. Thanks for covering this. It literally hurts my brain when I try to imagine mental gymnastics the author had to do in order to give this story a positive spin.
    Articles like this give conservatives of all kinds arguments to bash liberals with.

  3. Absolutely right, the whole idea of oral sex is not going to occur to 4-5 year olds.

    I’m too squeamish and easily depressed to read the accounts closely, but… are they absolutely clear which direction this originated from (was this the little girls initiative or the initiative of some other kid there?) But this is obviously behavior some kid brought to the school and there needs to be some investigating (followed by time in prison).

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