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#365471 - 07/05/11 02:31 AM Cuteness and ASA
CruxFidelis Offline


Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 486
Loc: NJ
I can't help but to notice that a lot of victims of childhood sexual abuse often place photos of themselves as their avatars on here. Often these photos are not current photos, but rather, photos of them in childhood. I have seen this trend not just here but in a lot of PSA's, booklets, videos, etc that have either female CSA or male CSA as a theme. The photos are so much more than what they appear--they become powerful symbols of the innocence of childhood, and the pain that ensues when that innocence is taken away. As a father, I can't help but to feel this primordial desire to protect those young faces from the gaze of people who intend to do harm.

I have seen collages of photographs of children who were abused. It can be such a powerful statement of the magnitude of childhood abuse. But what would it look like if a similar collage was made with pictures of ASA victims around the time they were assaulted? I suppose I wouldn't volunteer for such a venture. Heaven forbid, someone comes on here, sees my picture and says "Hey, I know that guy!" Childhood photos are less likely to be recognized.

Physical anthropologists, philosophers of aesthetics, and evolutionary scholars have long asked the question, "What is cuteness?" It is mostly associated with childlike features like big eyes, a little pouty mouth, button nose, short limbs, a bigger head. It is why Mickey Mouse is so irresistable, why women shave their legs, and why people put Hello Kitty on everything regardless of how obnoxious that is. From an evolutionary standpoint, our brains are wired to recognize juvenile features in both children and adults, and these features trigger the human instinct to nurture and protect those who are perceived as vulnerable. Obviously there are individuals whose instincts are broken, because abuse isn't a matter of the child not being cute enough, it is a matter of the adult's thinking being so disordered that instead of looking out for the child's well being, they abuse the child instead.

There's nothing cute about me when I was raped and assaulted. It has nothing to do with handsomeness or aesthetics, but 5:00 shadow, chest hair and other features of a grown man just don't elicit that "cuteness response." And that's OK because I don't need people pinching at my cheeks or saying they could just eat me up. That would be weird! But it's something I think about. Could the fact that ASA gets so little attention from the media, the academic community, psychotherapists, etc... because we weren't cute when we were assaulted? Even if a man is older and grown up, if he says he was abused as a child, I can think of that inner child and it triggers that protective, fatherly quality in me. I don't have an inner child to sympathize with.

Does anyone else wonder about this?

I might not have had the innocence of a child when I was assaulted, but I maintain that I was INNOCENT, as in, I did nothing wrong. I might not have had the irresistible cuteness of a child when I was assaulted, but I still had the right to my own body. We all are here because one way or another, we could not protect ourselves when it happened. We were mature adults, but does that make us any less deserving of support and acknowledgment?

_________________________
“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

- Saint John of the Cross

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#365477 - 07/05/11 08:53 AM Re: Cuteness and ASA [Re: CruxFidelis]
prisonerID Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/17/08
Posts: 1247
Loc: Oklahoma
You bring up some interesting thoughts here. Studies show that attractiveness in general plays a huge role in many areas. I have read so many articles about how it plays a part in hiring and promotions. I myself do not base it on that since I have seen other managers hire based on "boobs and legs" assessments. I hire quality folk and often other departments seek to steal them. I then remind that manager that hiring on the basis of cleavage does not get the demands of the job done.

Race has come under fire for those that go missing - the blonde/blue eyed phenomenon. It does seem that Caucasian women get more air time than those of color.

Then we have gender bias in that young adult men who go missing do not get their faces plastered all over the television sets, online or on Nancy Grace. I recall an article where it appeared a serial killer was targeting college age guys. They were usually attacked when vulnerable - like leaving a bar under the influence of alcohol and walking alone. I never saw much mention after that about it. There were several victims and yet little was really said about it.

Trigger warning:

http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=4742858&page=1

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/24366804/ns/today/t/smiley-face-killer/

I have read many postings here from CSA guys of how they feel, as a population, less recognized or sympathized with in relation to abused girls. That as boys, and now men, they must swallow harder and pull their boots up faster in relation to what was done to them. I guess "move on" at a quicker pace.

I think there are many reasons why the issues of ASA men are not looked at closely. You bring up a pretty valid argument here and what I wrote above would fall in line with your theory. I do not know if you had a chance to read the link I posted the other day but many things in it showed some of the attitude held by those in the service arena for the abused/assaulted.

But if CSA boys are expected to just deal with it more than girls I would say we would have that expectation thrust upon us at a very high level by many. I know I have had therapists for whom I served as a guinea pig. They tried I think but seemed a bit out of their element on many issues that I was trying to deal with at the time.

More than anything your writing has again spurred within me a desire to ask the experts. These past several months I have beat the pavement and the internet highway seeking answers. I got lots of "nos" and "maybe one days". I think it would be interesting to address this to the therapeutic community. Would it not be fascinating to go to a conference that had an open forum? To stand and ask a panel of renowned experts on abuse why this corner is left virtually unattended?

And what if it was a panel of well respected authors and therapists who dealt almost exclusively with male sexual abuse? Might make a ticket to the next conference in New York City a bit more worth it if it was possible to do that.

Thanks for the head scratching.


Daryl

_________________________
Broad statements often miss their true mark.

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#365485 - 07/05/11 12:50 PM Re: Cuteness and ASA [Re: prisonerID]
CruxFidelis Offline


Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 486
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: prisonerID

Race has come under fire for those that go missing - the blonde/blue eyed phenomenon. It does seem that Caucasian women get more air time than those of color.

Then we have gender bias in that young adult men who go missing do not get their faces plastered all over the television sets, online or on Nancy Grace.


I couldn't finish the articles you posted about the smiley face killer, but I see exactly what you're saying. I question the ethics of plastering the faces of victims of violent crime all over the place, male or female. If I were brutally killed by some psycho for his sexual gratification, I would not want my photos all over the place. I wouldn't want my face to be remembered that way. But why would it be any less disheartening for a man to go missing than a woman? Isn't it just as heartbreaking for a wife to lose a husband, than a husband to lose a wife? Does it matter if he is black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Indian, whatever?

You mentioned the fact that many women get hired in the workplace based on cleavage and not brains or experience. It is a fact of life that there are people out there who just go by what they see, and don't think to look beyond. I do think physical attractiveness is different from cuteness. An adult can possess both qualities, I think. I'm not attracted to men so it would follow that I personally don't find facial hair and huge muscles to be attractive. But for gay men and straight women, those are aspects of a man's appearance that can be thought of as physically attractive, even if it doesn't make him "cute" like a baby duck or a kitten. I can look at a grown woman and see qualities in her that are "cute"--my wife has an adorable little heart shaped face, and sometimes she gives me these puppy-dog eyes that I can't say no to. That's called neoteny, which is when an adult retains characteristics that are usually seen in children. It has a lot to do with sexual selection and is generally considered an evolutionary advantage. I have not read much about the subject, but it is interesting to me, the way peoples' brains are wired to recognize certain qualities as cute, and cuteness serves a purpose. I spend a lot of time around women because I live with my wife and two sisters, and they spend a lot of time talking about various anti aging treatments. I could let it bore me to tears, but sometimes it makes me wonder...What's wrong with looking like you're 40 at 40? Or 60 at 60? Why is it that women are so preoccupied with looking girlish well into middle age? Why isn't neoteny as much of an evolutionary advantage in men as it is in women?

You mentioned that many of the men here who have CSA have said that they feel like their experiences are more misunderstood because of our culture's "boys don't cry" mentality. In a sense, I think that mentality serves an evolutionary purpose... it is hard for a young man to be ready to defend himself and develop the skills he needs to provide if he is so easily brought to tears. For women, tears get you what you want. It's why my wife gets pulled over for driving like a maniac but never gets a ticket. I have a 1-year old son so I kiss a lot of boo-boos, probably like 10 or 20 a day. There's going to come a time where he needs to suck it up and take care of himself. But isn't everyone entitled to a breaking point, and aren't some acts just beyond the pale? Sexual abuse knocks you to the ground at any age and you can't expect them to get up and walk when the wounds are too severe.

I cried during my assaults, probably the first time I shed tears in years. I was never a stoic but it took a lot to make me cry, and to me crying in front of another man is the ultimate shame. It was the only way my body could release some of the tension and in the end the tears did NOTHING to change my situation. They only gave the perpetrator another excuse to humiliate me. I was reduced to a blubbering, infantile mess. It confirmed what my dad always told me when I was a boy: "Sure, you can cry. But it won't get you anywhere. It doesn't change anything. Do what you have to do."

I agree with your statement that the therapeutic community doesn't want to look at this issue under the same magnifying glass as they look at CSA and other issues. A grown man being assaulted, stripped of all of his control, is just an ugly image. Lord knows it's an image I'd love to get out of my head. Sexual assault can affect men regardless of whether they are physically considered attractive, but in general we lack the "cuteness" factor that triggers the protection-nurture response in others--including mental health professionals and crisis response personnel. Is cuteness necessary to "redeem" the experience of sexual assault? No, not at all. But it doesn't change the fact that the bias is there.

_________________________
“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

- Saint John of the Cross

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#365486 - 07/05/11 01:20 PM Re: Cuteness and ASA [Re: CruxFidelis]
Still Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 6514
Loc: Terminus
A couple of things: 1) I have a problem wit the concept of "Cuteness." I actually fear it as a topic and a feature of people. I don't really get what it is regarding adults looking at children. That's what scares me. Is recognizing cuteness the first step down a very wrong path? How does an adult man call a boy "cute" without a degree of sexual appeal being involved? When I was a kid, I'd freak when an adult or teen girl would call me "cute." My sisters had lots of girl friends who felt they were allowed to hug me, touch my hair or whatever. All I wanted was to not be cute to anyone!

I'm sure its a survivor/victim thing, but I just don't get recognized cuteness. I'd really appreciate insight on this in another thread. I don't what to hi-jack this thread.

2) As an elder-teen and 20 something, I was very athletic like I was as a child. I forever was fighting-off and avoiding creepy older men wanting to "know me better." I'd be at a nightclub and my friends would say "ahhh..Rob....those guys are gawking at your ass." It would disturb me greatly (like off the charts 'greatly'). I really resented anyone looking at me like that.

I'm sorry if this is not a fit to what responses you seek. I just wanted to throw that in. 1) I don't get the cute concept and 2) People with bad intent ARE in fact drawn to adult men.



Edited by Robbie Brown (07/05/11 01:24 PM)
Edit Reason: syntax
_________________________
We don't need another hero! [Aunty Entity 1985]

The Aftermath Video

My Absolute Hero!

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#365488 - 07/05/11 01:34 PM Re: Cuteness and ASA [Re: CruxFidelis]
pufferfish Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA
post deleted



Edited by pufferfish (06/21/12 12:25 AM)

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#365490 - 07/05/11 02:35 PM Re: Cuteness and ASA [Re: Still]
CruxFidelis Offline


Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 486
Loc: NJ
About your first point:

I could see how as a CSA victim, being told you were cute would just not sit right. As a child, you were introduced to sexual things that no child should have any clue about. A child who was not sexually abused may not interpret the "cute" comments as sexual because they have an age-appropriate level of understanding regarding sex. Seeing life through the lens of CSA might mean you have a different perspective than I do. I am sorry if the topic triggered that fear, but in my mind cuteness and sexual appeal are very different things.

From an evolutionary standpoint, cuteness is associated with children because they are vulnerable and need constant protection and nurturing to get them from infancy into functional adulthood. As a species, humans have a ridiculously long childhood and adolescence seems to get longer with every generation. The more independent children become, often the less cute they are perceived. In my mind, when an adult comments that a child is sweet/cute/adorable, that endearment is a function of that adult's desire to protect and nurture someone who is dependent on others. It should have absolutely nothing to do with sex.

Second point:

I do understand the fear of the "gaze" of older adults who may not have innocent intentions. I also have a huge fear of being sexualized or fetishized as an adult. Not going into that today.



Edited by CruxFidelis (07/05/11 02:39 PM)
Edit Reason: forgot something
_________________________
“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

- Saint John of the Cross

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#365492 - 07/05/11 04:01 PM Re: Cuteness and ASA [Re: CruxFidelis]
Lesser1 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/01/10
Posts: 19
Please excuse me if I've lost the point... was the subject of this thread pointing to "cuteness" as

1) a reason a perp would attack

or

2) a reason there is near non-existent support for ASA survivors?

or

3) both

I DON'T FEEL THIS WAY... (presenting the negative only to make the point) Imagine the response if it were suggested that support (and handling by professionals) for ASA women should be exactly the same as that received by ASA men.

Thank you for this thread,

Les


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#365493 - 07/05/11 04:38 PM Re: Cuteness and ASA [Re: Lesser1]
CruxFidelis Offline


Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 486
Loc: NJ
2.

I don't even think that as a man, I even want the same support as women. Even still, the disparity should be a source of shame for the psychological community.

_________________________
“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

- Saint John of the Cross

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#365518 - 07/05/11 11:40 PM Re: Cuteness and ASA [Re: CruxFidelis]
pufferfish Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA
post deleted


Edited by pufferfish (06/21/12 12:26 AM)

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#365520 - 07/05/11 11:51 PM Re: Cuteness and ASA [Re: pufferfish]
CruxFidelis Offline


Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 486
Loc: NJ
For the purposes of clarity, yes, I was mostly discussing the first definition of cuteness , or rather applying some stuff I have been reading about the philosophy of aesthetics and the evolutionary advantages of cuteness to my own experiences as an ASA survivor. I see definition #2 as more of a slang term to describe physical attractiveness, but it has nothing to do with the type of bias I was describing against people with ASA... A man who is raped could have been "cute" by that definition, or he could have been unattractive, but either way, I'd say that grown men in general are not "Cute" by the standards of definition #1 and that is why I think a low priority has been placed on our cause compared to other causes.

As for #3, that seems like a more informal definition as well, and while I've heard it used that way it isn't what I was getting at.

_________________________
“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

- Saint John of the Cross

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