Is talking about pedophilia the same as normalizing it?
When I published my piece on ‘Lolita’ I expected it to be controversial, but I did not expect a commenter to accuse me of normalizing pedophilia.
In my piece, I write that although the novel contains difficult subject matter, it is still a brilliantly well-written novel, and I am not alone in that belief.
I did not encourage pedophilia, nor does the author. Lolita does not normalize pedophilia, it makes us aware.
This got me to thinking: is talking about something the same as normalizing it?
Although a topic may be difficult to talk about, it does not mean it should not be talked about. A book containing notions of rape, domestic abuse or pedophilia does not necessarily mean the author encourages those behaviours or is guilty of it, themselves.
If that were the case, shouldn’t we boycott Game of Thrones, Fifty Shades of Grey and Outlander? All three involve rape, pedophilia and abuse, yet are widely popular. Are the writers and actors normalizing such behaviour? Should we demand they are ‘cancelled’ and removed from every network or movie streaming website?
There is a difference between normalizing something, and simply being aware of its existence.
I encourage anyone who believes my piece on Lolita normalizes pedophilia to first question whether any of their favourite books, TV shows and movies and depict any of these behaviours (which they undoubtedly will, because let’s be honest, shock and drama sells), and ask themselves whether they are normalizing these behaviours by continuing to read or watch those novels/shows/movies and whether they truly believe the writers, producers or directors are guilty of such behaviour, themselves.
An individual who plays a serial rapist in a movie is an actor. An author who writes about pedophilia is an author.
I will never stop talking or writing about topics that contain difficult subject matter. It is that very notion that prevents us from speaking up for ourselves and others, whether it’s to do with race, or disability, or pedophilia. I am not ignorant that I may lose readers because of it, but perhaps my work may not be for them.
In the end, I will and have to, always, stay true to myself and write about what is important to me.
Thanks for reading.