Gray Areas and Myself
December 31st, 2022
CW - Discussions of CSA, grooming, and fictional content surrounding such topics.
Discussions of shootings/violence are also talked about here.
This will cover NSFW topics too.
This is a blog post I'm making in the hopes that I can lay out my thoughts about a subject that has been on my mind all year long. To be blunt, it's about cub/lolicon art, and the implications it brings with the harm it can do, and some nuanced discussion about it.
This is a very, very personal thing for me, so I'll start by laying out some details about myself, since it's important to how I've come to understand and draw cub art.
CW for this section: Direct mentions of grooming, pedophillia, and rape.
I'll try to keep this section somewhat brief.
I've had a very, very complicated teenagehood. Sometime around when I was a teenager, I was raped in the school bathrooms. It's such a traumatic event that my brain has essentially removed most traces of this event from my memory, to the point that I have doubts it happened. It very much did though, and drastically affected how I lived as a teen, and continues to impact me to this day. It essentially erased my teen years from my life, and has left me with a big gaping void in my life, where I didn't get to grow up as a teen, really. I did grow up. But it's almost like, those years never happened.
This is in combination with my abuser, who abused me during my late teens, and introduced me to someone who groomed me during that time too. Unfortunately, I was lead into all of this by both of them with lolicon art and cub art, having this presented to me as "normal". Since then, my abuser died, and my groomer has seemingly vanished from the face of the internet. My abuser has outright shown me real CSEM material, alongside my groomer hinting that they viewed the same kind of material. They both did this to normalize the concept of pedophillia to me.
To put it bluntly, I missed out on a lot of my life growing up. I didn't grow up as a proper teenager, and it's had a drastic effect on how I am today. I mentally matured way quicker than I should have, being faced with lots of traumatic stress. This is combined with me having to reconcile this abuse years after the fact, due to the fact my abuser was able to conceal her abuse from me so well, that I outright refused to believe my own friends who were trying to guide me out of her abuse.
In summary, I didn't have my teen years.
They were taken from me.
And now, this year. In the beginning of April, a dear friend of mine, who was unfortunately abused by the same person I was, started talking to me about being an age regressor. Slowly I started thinking about me being on the same boat, and along with that, engaging with cub art content. I started drawing some cub fursonas to associate myself with, and immediately in the moments I was drawing all of this, I felt pure and utter euphoria. It felt like I was reliving my teen years.
This was further fueled by people who helped me understand that professional therapists legitimately say that "using fiction as an outlet is healthy to cope", which is an actual scientifically studied thing. This is something that legitimately helps. It's better to have an outlet than to have it all cooped up inside of you. At the end of the day, what happens is between consensual adults, and consensual adults only.
With this knowledge I started using this stuff to open up my own inner trauma, in a way that to put it bluntly, was... fun and exciting. Exploring myself from these angles helped me relive parts of my teen years that were lost to me, and it shined a big light in an otherwise dark area of my life. I was essentially reborn, being able to live my life in such a way. And even now, I still feel immense joy being a teenager mentally. I might not ever get to be one physically, or truly mentally, but just imagining myself as one, and partaking in things like one, really helps me.
Something extremely important to reiterate throughout all this is that, this is only happening between me, a consenting adult, and other consenting adults.
But anyways, in all honesty, I've had fursonas in the past I was attempting to design as teenagers, but... ultimately chickened out because of surrounding pressure from people who would find that as "weird". When I became public about drawing cub art, I eventually turned them back into teens. ...in a way, you could say I age regressed them, heh.
This was pretty much something that was a long-time coming, it's just I had a friend and others who finally helped me open my eye to this kind of stuff.
Potential harm and scapegoats
With that said, for as much as cub art has done for me, I have to acknowledge the harm it does. To be fair though, I've already stated a big reason why: it can unfortunately be used to groom impressionable teenagers. It was done on me, and it was done on countless others, which undoubtedly really hurts other artists who might've had a similar story to mine, drawing cub art for the sake of healing past wounds caused by the very fact they were groomed and abused themselves.
This has caused people to call for lolicon and cub to be eradicated, for more reasons than this, but this being one of the top reasons. However, this ideology is incredibly flawed and unnuanced. I hope through a series of analogies and apt comparisons that, if you are on this same train of thought, I can educate you as to why this isn't the right way to approach this subject.
Let's start with the elephant in the room, the fact it has been used for harm. This is the most definitely the case, however, there have been many things that have been used as instruments in harm, however those instruments were not blamed for the reason why such heinous acts were carried out. They only consisted of a small part of the grander picture.
For example, the media often says "violent video games cause real-life violence". This is not the whole picture, as you should all know. In some instances, violent video games are legitimate factors leading up to someone doing unforgiveable acts, however, they are not the key, nor even remotely the full picture. They are only a small piece in a larger puzzle, that could be pieced together without said video games. In their ideal world where violent video games don't exist, the puzzle would find a different piece to put in it's place. It could be a different piece of media used, or it could be different people altogether are the ones who commit to violence. In either case, there is a much larger picture that is being ignored in favor of one insignificant element.
The reason why this is done is because violent video games are used as scapegoats, to cover up the deeper root societal issues that cause stuff such as mass shootings to happen. People don't want to address these problems, ergo, a scapegoat is created out of something that people can be easily convinced is the problem. Fictional media can depict violent situations, ergo, you can convince people that violence in media can lead people to do the same actions in reality!
This is, of course, wrong thinking, we all know that. ...but when the discussion of lolicon/cub art comes around, the exact same talking points are used, swapping "violent video games" for "underaged sexual depictions" and the such. And this works, because you don't need to do any further thinking. Fiction talk about bad thing? Said fiction is bad! End of story! This is a great way to get around having to talk about the deeper societal meanings as to why CSA incidents happen. This is because it's a complex subject, that requires not only critical thinking, but to also acknowledge some parts of society are inherently harmful. And that's not what people want to do!
So, with all this said, you can get the big picture here. Can this be used for harm? Yes, it unfortunately can. However, in the same vein, to say it should be eradicated means you agree with the thinking that violent video games having the potential to cause real-world violence means that should be banned too. Let's go with movies too, that has been blamed before video games! Oh and how about art that depicts violence in general too, why not? Stories shouldn't have violence either. This snowballs very, very quickly.
This also covers other avenues of fictional porn or art in general. There exists NSFW depictions of "feral" animals, called so to make them distinct from "anthropomorphic" animals. They are often associated of being more like animals you'd see in real-life, due to being on 4 legs, maybe sharing the same intelligence, and having the genitalia of said animals. However, the argument of this art being used to promote real zoophillia is one that, while it is had, is often viewed as a weak argument. Reasonably so, since it's very obvious that the people drawing it almost never wish ill intent against real animals. And often times, people draw exclusively fictional creatures such as Pokémon. Regardless of that fact, there's also a lot of people within this group that think porn of anthro furries is also problematic! Some of them don't like the animal genitalia, others just don't like the concept of animals being used at all in any sense!
Whenever people argue against lolicon or cub art, those kinds of art are also in the backs of their mind too for kinds of art that shouldn't be allowed to be made. And yet, I have often seen feral artists argue against cub art as well, not realizing that they're fighting on the same side of people that want to eliminate them next. The overlap between cub-haters and feral-haters is larger than those in the group who are cub-haters and feral-likers, from my perspective at least.
And it's easy to understand why, because ultimately the argument for feral art existing stands up alongside the argument for cub art. It has the potential to be used for harm, but in the end all it does is serve as a potential tool for harm, in which it is not intrinsically harmful or evil. It'd be like saying the baseball bat shouldn't exist since it could be used as a weapon, and has been demonstrated to be used as one in the past. That's obviously non-sense, you've never heard anyone make this argument in the past have you? So why should these rules be arbitrarily placed on art?
The potential harm that this can do is undeniable. However, when faced with the facts, cub art is not responsible for acts of CSA. It can be unfortunately utilized as a tool, but in that view point, everything can be used as a tool for harm if you try hard enough. There's deeper issues that cause for CSA incidents to occur.
Another important argument to be addressed is concerns of people who really, really don't want to see this content, coming across it. For many, many years, communities surrounding this kind of topic has been careful to ensure proper tools are in place to ensure people that don't want to see it, doesn't see it. Take e621 for example. The default blacklist, the one you're given if you don't sign up to the website, and when you first sign up, explicitly blocks... explicit cub art. "young rating:e" is the combined term that's blocked. Meaning that unless someone mistagged an image, you're not seeing NSFW cub art.
Websites such as Inkbunny also give you proper filtering tools to block this kind of content (furaffinity is decades behind and doesn't reflect every art website out there guys, c'mon). And websites like AO3 are designed around people tagging their works properly to not only attract an audience, but to warn people not to click to their story if they don't wish to engage with it. Even Mastodon instances that are centered around this subject are careful to ensure people properly CW their content and have it behind a sensitive image tag, to ensure people who don't want to view this content doesn't see it!
Any way you cut it, if you see cub art... that's your fault. You searched it up. If someone is explicitly trying to show you this kind of content when you didn't ask for it, of course that's bad! And there's no defending that, because, it's bad! You have every right to be mad if someone shoves it in your face like that. But, this isn't the default thing everyone does. People have made sure for many many years that this is properly tagged, properly put behind walls, and has given you the viewer the option to avoid this kind of content.
Being uncomfortable by this content is understandable! But you don't get to complain when you search cub art, and see cub art. That's like searching for porn in general, and complaining you saw porn. That's your fault bucko.
To wrap this all up, cub/loli/shota/whatever is a complex subject, that's in a bit of a grey area. Moreover this is a very nuanced subject that requires a lot of thought to be put in talking about it, and engaging with said content. This subject has been one I've tried to write up on my blog numerous times and scrapped due to it not being something I'm confident posting, since I didn't think I got a full picture of it. And even as I'm typing this now, I'm confident that I missed some talking points that'd be needed to be pointed out, but ultimately can't bring myself to think of.
Ultimately I am not the arbiter of all arguments to do with this, this is simply from my perspective, as someone who's been legitimately healed by this kind of content, after having suffered numerous years of trauma and the fallout of said trauma. I feel I'm really qualified to talk about this stuff, due to my history being something that's often used by people who say cub art is inherently harmful, I am exactly the kind of person that is brought up as being harmed by this kind of content. The reality is much more complicated than a few words from someone looking to farm for clout.
And I hope that if you're reading this and think this way, that you have gotten a fresh perspective that enlightens your path on viewing this stuff. I'm not expecting you to dig into this content and enjoy it, I only want you to come out of this with a new understanding that, while this art has the potential to be harmful, ultimately, it's not at fault for it being used in such a way. Again, much like violent video games, or the baseball bat analogy, there are lots of ways to cause harm that isn't the fault of said subject just existing. It comes down to deeply rooted societal issues that aren't being addressed.
Ultimately, I feel like saying stuff like "lolicon is inherentely bad" is, in fact, more problematic than the said art in question. It brushes aside the societal issues that cause children to be sexually abused in the first place, and props up a potential tool in the forefront, blaming it as the culprit. This does way more harm than the lolicon art could ever do on it's own, in my opinion.
One final thing to address is that some people confuse this for propoganda, as in, this is promoting the idea that having sex with minors is a good idea. By that logic, porn that indulges in taboo kinks like rape or incest would be promoting the same thing, no? And yet, I don't hear people of this sort complain about that. And I hope you'd agree saying such things is not correct.
I hope I've got across all my feelings here in a concise matter, since this has been months in the work. Happy New Year's Eve, to all those looking at this post at the time of posting.