Go Milo! The dangerous faggot is coming to town and exposing in its full glory the bias and stupidity of much of our media. I’m talking about the flamboyant gay commentator Milo Yiannopoulos who is soon to embark on an Australian tour bravely sponsored by Penthouse.
No, I’m not insulting him by calling him a ‘faggot’. For the last few years the brilliant British-born provocateur has been conducting what he calls his “dangerous faggot” tours of US campuses, taking on the social justice warriors with their trigger warnings and safe spaces and attacking the identity politics that is stifling free speech. He’s attracted huge numbers of fans – his new book Dangerous immediately hit number two on the New York Times best seller list. Aussies are amongst his most fervent followers.
Yet once again our country, driven by the fascist left, is exposing its dark and intolerant side. Last year we saw Australia disgrace itself by allowing feminists to shut down screenings of the documentary on men’s issues, The Red Pill, subjecting the young filmmaker Cassie Jaye to vicious media attacks.
Now the social activists are targeting Milo – their attempt to have his visa withdrawn has failed but they are now foolishly using the media to attempt to discredit him. You would have thought they would have learnt after the Cassie Jaye saga. The media’s treatment of her resulted in The Red Pill becoming Australia’s best-selling online video movie after her visit here.
But in targeting Milo, these self-appointed moral guardians may have bitten off more than they can chew. Milo Yiannopoulos is a man who gives as good as he gets. Underneath his glitz, diamond earring, extravagantly coiffed hair, is an old-fashioned shit-stirrer who thrives on controversy. He’s ready for the mud the media is throwing at him. Accusing him of being racist – he’s actually married to a black guy. Anti-semitic – he’s part Jewish. White supremacist, Nazi supporter… the list goes on.
Their favourite taunt is Milo is an apologist for paederasts. As I write this, WA Premier Mark McGowan has just announced he’s banning Milo from all of his state government’s venues. “Anyone who defends paedophiles and associates with Nazis I don't think is a rational person. We shouldn't have them delivering lectures and performances to West Australians," Mr McGowan said.
What better way to blacken someone’s name than to suggest they are protecting people who sexually abuse children? The real story is rather different. It started when it was announced last year that Milo was to earn a cool quarter million for his upcoming book. The progressive left went bananas. An old video conveniently surfaced showing him speaking in his usual joking style about the “arbitrary and oppressive idea of consent.” He said that although 15 seemed about right there are "certainly people who are capable of giving consent at a younger age, I certainly consider myself to be one of them.”
He said he was “grateful” for interactions he had with a Catholic priest when he was a young teenager, quipping that it had helped him become talented at oral sex. And he talked about the common gay experience of "coming of age" relationships in which older boys or men help younger boys “discover who they are".
All hell broke loose and he lost the book deal and his job as editor for the online website Breitbart. Milo issued an apology for having offended abuse victims but explains in Dangerous that although he was actually a victim of sexual abuse he never saw himself that way. Milo still argues that in these circumstances he has the right to define how these experiences affected him.
But not in today’s world, as the reaction to this whole saga makes clear. In our blinkered world a gay guy who talks positively about his early adolescent sexual experiences with adult men risks being accused of excusing pederasts.
It just shows the grip the current hysterical witch hunt over child sexual abuse has on our society. No matter that this isn’t even ‘paedophilia’ which is abuse involving pre-pubescent children. We’re talking here about ‘hebephila’ which is about men who have a sexual interest in kids in early adolescence. Milo isn’t supporting paedophilia and in his journalism career has in fact publicly exposed some high profile men involved in abusing children.
But the reality is that sexual experiences involving adolescents and older partners are culturally defined and their outcome quite variable.
He’s also quite correct that early sexual experiences of many gay teenage boys include positive encounters with older males. Research by Paul Gebhard at the Kinsey Institute found that in sexual relationships between boys aged 12-15 and adult men, 70 per cent of the boys had encouraged the sex, according to the boys’ accounts in official police records. There’s a string of other research studies showing young gay adolescents often initiate sex with adult men and most report these experiences as consensual and personally satisfying.
I once heard ABC radio journalist Geraldine Doogue conduct an interview with some researcher talking about teenage males who have sexual encounters with older males or females. The expert explained that the problem was sometimes these young men didn’t define the experiences as abusive – they saw them as positive, valuable, pleasurable. But when Geraldine suggested this might not always be a problem for these older teenagers, the researcher was horrified. She was convinced the destructive effects of these experiences would eventually take their toll.
In our efforts to protect young people from abuse we’re now determined to rewrite people’s sexual histories, so that even relationships that prompt fond memories in the younger proponents are defined as damaging. In 1993, Bob Hawke’s wife Blanche D’Alpuget wrote on lust in the book The Eleven Deadly Sins in which she described her experience as a 12-year-old having a “wonderful love affair” with a neighbour, a 54-year-old District Court Judge.
“I think I was a precocious child and I was a child who certainly wanted to join the world of adults,” she said.
D’Alpuget has always regarded this relationship as a positive experience. “Contrary to the usual pattern of the child feeling helpless, hopeless, disempowered and ashamed, I felt the opposite,” D’Alpuget explained in a foreword to her chapter, adding that she knew that her father would probably kill the man if he knew about the affair, “so instead of seeing myself as a victim I had a sense of empowerment. We were both playing with fire, but he was the one who would get burnt. Inadvertently, the combination of the randy old pervert and my father set me up for life never to feel subservient or inferior to men.”
When her article was published there were outcries in the media with therapists asserting that D’Alpuget had been psychologically damaged but refused to recognise it. Press reports of this incident invariably mention that she was ‘abused’ when she was young.
This doesn’t make sense. Even though we seek to protect young people by establishing strict rules about adult responsibilities, does it follow we must treat D’Alpuget as delusional for defining her own experiences in her own way?
What about the new French President, Emmanuel Macron who, at 15, seduced his teacher, Brigette Trogneuz, a woman 24 years older who was his drama teacher when he was 15. Trogneux explains the determined young schoolboy seduced her. “Bit by bit, he defeated all my resistance, in an amazing way, with patience,” she told the BBC.
Naturally many condemn discussion of the complexities of this issue as somehow undermining efforts to protect vulnerable young people from sexual exploitation. We’ve learnt all too much about institutional abuse of children by adults with responsibility for their care. There are very good reasons for rules about relations between teachers and pupils, which apply in France as elsewhere. Equally we need to protect adolescent gay boys from abuse by adult men.
But the reality is that sexual experiences involving adolescents and older partners are culturally defined and their outcome quite variable. Just look at the age of consent issue. Different countries, different cultures don’t agree on when a young person is old enough to make their own decisions about sexual relationships. In Turkey the age of consent is 12, in South Korea it is 20, even within Australia it varies from state to state. In Victoria, it’s not illegal for a child under 16 to have sexual experiences with someone up to two years older but in Tasmania it's ok for a 15 year old to have sex with someone up to five years older.
Meanwhile, the coming-of-age sexual experiences that are now earning Milo abuse are regularly celebrated in the arts world. British writer Allan Hollinghurst went on to win the Man Booker prize despite the revelations of his earlier novel, The Swimming Pool Library which treats such relationships with none of the current squeamishness. Even back in 1925 Andre Gide was writing in The Counterfeiters (Les faux-monnayeurs) about erotic adventures of various schoolboys and their adult partners.
Next Boxing Day our movie theatres will be showcasing a new movie, Call Me by Your Name. Here’s the plot: A 17-year-old named Elio living in Italy during the 1980s meets Oliver, a 24-year-old academic who has come to stay at his parent’s villa and a passionate relationship develops between them.
Milo Yiannopoulos is no apologist for paederasts. Nor should you believe all other taunts and misinformation the media is spreading against him. Yes, sometimes he says and does stupid things – like the big deal being made about a video of him responding to Nazi salutes from an audience. But listen up and you’ll find this smart, incredibly articulate and entertaining man has interesting things to say, and the guts to say them.