Contact discourse is discourse about sexual, romantic, or occasionally sadistic, discourse-context, social, emotional, platonic, queerplatonic, or familial interactions, contact, and/or relationships between certain demographics of individuals. The term has only been applied so far to discourse about contact with other individuals, beings, or agents whose ability to consent is in contention; or acting on certain paraphilias—and by extension, the behaviors associated with acting on those paraphilias in general, even if the individual performing the same behaviors is motivated by factors other than the associated paraphilia.
There are several debated aspects all commonly lumped under “contact discourse”: whether the aforementioned contact can be consensual; whether or not it is moral; whether or not it is ethical; whether or not it is harmful; how likely it is to be physically or psychologically harmful; how harmful it is likely to be; how physically or psychologically beneficial it is likely to be; whether or not it is significantly likely to be harmful; whether or not it poses a sufficiently high risk of harm as to be unethical; whether or not it is abusive; whether or not it is nonconsensual, unethical, risky, or abusive in some cases but not in others, and if so, in which cases; whether or not it is advisable to engage in contact; whether or not it should be prevented or stopped by outsiders through informational, persuasive, forceful, coercive, legal, or carceral means; whether or not the above conclusions would be different in a past, present, or future environment in which external conditions are vastly different; and whether or not conclusions regarding the above adhere to principles of other political, moral, ethical, or metaethical philosophies.
Most contact discoursers (individuals who participate in contact discourse) label themselves as anti-contact, contact-neutral, contact-complex or pro-contact. Many also assign significant personal, moral, ethical, emotional, social, cultural, or political relevance or value to their or others’ contact discourse labels.
Some contact discoursers find contact labels too vague or rigid to define their own stances. Some apply this universally, and believe the labels are too vague or rigid to define any stances in contact discourse. Some do not believe the labels should exist at all, as they are meaningless, useless, or create or define a discourse which unnecessarily and harmfully divides otherwise-united paraphilia communities. Several of these individuals identify as (contact discourse) label abolitionists.
Youth contact discourse
The most common discourse currently labeled “contact discourse” is discourse about sexual or romantic relationships with youth which involve significantly large age gaps, commonly labeled “MAP contact discourse” because of the common association between mapness and offending against youth, and because anti-contact MAP activists want to distinguish themselves from historical and currently widespread MAP movements which were and are primarily pro-c. For some anti-c’s, this is just a practical distinction, while for others, it is necessary for assimilation and destigmatization.
Its adjacence to MAP discourse
Several MAP contact discoursers disagree with the association of youth contact discourse with MAP discourse, instead deeming it exclusively a youth rights issue. Both anti-contact and pro-contact MAPs have expressed disagreement. Some anti-contacts believe youth contact discourse is an inherently MAP issue because, according to them, MAPs are overly and harmfully stereotyped as pro-contact and/or are more likely to offend. Some pro-contacts believe youth contact discourse is an inherently MAP issue because, according to them, the ability to act on their attractions is also their right as MAPs.
MAP activist and prominent contact discourser Lecter has criticized usage of the term “interactions” in the context of youth age gap discourse for being too broad, and thus potentially including instances which he does not consider relevant to the discourse or which are considered unethical when they should not be; he believes that “relationships” is sufficient, as he believes the defining factor of whether a relationship in such cases is problematic is the presence “pair-bonding” or intimacy.
Pro-MAP activist FinR has emphasized on several instances that “non-contact” is a term denoting non-contact child sexual offenders such as CSEM offenders, online offenders, or flashers, implying that using “anti-contact” to denote being against all of the above is etymologically inaccurate or politically insufficient, as they believe it is optimal or necessary to primarily adhere to technical definitions, and under those definitions the above are not technically considered “contact.” Multiple anti-MAP anti-contact activists adhere to a conspiracy theory that the “anti-contact” label is an attempt to subtly promote non-contact offenses, as it, if its definition is taken at technical face value, might not technically condemn non-contact offending and thus could be a way for secretly pro-c MAPs to manipulate vulnerable anti-c MAP sympathizers into becoming pro-contact while still appearing to outsiders to be anti-c.
At least one person has attempted to redefine the discourse as “anti-offending” versus “pro-offending” for clarity. Several MAPs have criticized such initiatives, as well as other attempts to use “offending” as a relevant or necessary term in contact discourse, because it is even more ambiguous or because they believe the most correct or optimal definition of “offending” in this context is its legal definition, and they disagree with legalism, the current laws’ definitions of what constitutes a sex offense, or the legal system’s treatment of people they deem sex offenders. Most contact discoursers who participate in what they are aware is commonly termed “contact discourse” in certain circles agree that “contact” is the most politically useful and potentially inclusive umbrella term they could come up with for now.
Occasional people have brought up the question of whether queerplatonic relationships should be included in contact discourse. Lecter, to whom it was brought up in a few instances, stated that since he does not experience queerplatonic attractions or engage in queerplatonic relationships he is not qualified to speak on them; no further conclusion has been reached regarding the question by anyone else in any other instances.
Many anti-MAPs consider any nonsexual nonromantic interactions between MAPs and minors at all, such as platonic or social contact, as “offending” and “pro-contact.” MAPs and allies generally agree that this is an inaccurate, over-broad, and entirely useless expansion of the terms, based on blatant bad-faith misinterpretations of their intended meanings when they were initially coined as well as how they are actually used by MAPs and allies.
Many anti-MAPs fell for a 4chan psyop which claimed it believed contact between “clovergender” or “kindergender” chronological adults and chronological children is ethical, harmless, or otherwise acceptable, and proceeded to ascribe that belief to every instance of pro-transage activism. However, actual youth contact discourse almost always takes into account only the individuals’ chronological ages when evaluating whether or not the contact is consensual, moral, ethical, harmful, risky, or abusive. Every known self-identified anti-contact transage MAP believes in only drawing the lines based on chronological age, and every actual pro-contact transage MAP believes all contact in the above cases is safe/ethical regardless of whether or not the individuals involved are transage or cisage.
For convenience, “contact” in this section of this article will be used to refer to sexual or romantic interactions, contact, or relationships, “safe” will be used to mean “has a sufficiently low risk of resulting in physical or psychological harm,” and “risky” will be used to mean “has a significantly high risk of resulting in physical or psychological harm.”
A variety of conflicting opinions exist within youth contact discourse sphere on what constitutes “contact” and what constitutes “youth.” Some anti-contacts take issue with any age-gap relationships, including age-gap relationships between consenting adults; a few wish to raise the age of consent to twenty-five years old. This stance is not popular in many progressive spaces.
Many people wish for contact discourse to be defined based on opinions regarding contact between adults and minors. Some contact discoursers point out that “minor” is an oppressive legal and social construct rooted in morality and not biology which does not even exist in every country, and thus many youth to whom the discourse is relevant and who are not technically minors are therefore excluded by the above definition. Furthermore, in a country where an eighteen-year-old is considered an adult and a seventeen-year-old is considered a minor, for example, a relationship between them would also technically fall under “adult-minor contact.”
Some choose to define the debate as regarding contact between adults and children. Many of the above individuals consider all minors, including teenagers or adolescents, to be children. This is biologically inaccurate. Those who do not usually equate adolescents with teenagers, despite “teenager” being an English-language-based social construct not inherently based in biology either. Some contact discoursers, such as FinR, believe the line between childhood and adolescence nevertheless happens to fall between ages twelve and thirteen by coincidence. Others, such as Lecter, believe the line is between ages ten and eleven. Others believe it is even lower, such as eight or nine, or dislike strict age delineations of developmental stages in contact discourse because every individual begins and ends puberty at a different age, and the average ages thereof can vary across different time periods and locations. Intersex contact discourser Necryssa has criticized attempts to draw the line at physical developmental stages, as they exclude individuals like her who went through puberty much later than average. Others have criticized the excessive and sole focus on physical developmental stages rather than mental or psychological ones, as the latter are likely far more relevant in determining psychological harm.
Varying opinions exist regarding the definition of “adult” as well. Lecter believes the ideal definition is that of biological adulthood, which he states begins at the end of puberty and certain mental stages of development, which according to him conveniently coincide with his local AoC of sixteen. Some other contact discoursers define adulthood as beginning from age eight, age fourteen, or some other age in between. Far more define an adult as someone who is legally or socially an adult by current popular conceptualizations; individuals who believe this believe someone becomes an adult when they turn eighteen, twenty, twenty-one, or twenty-five years old because of USA-like age of consent/age of majority laws or social norms, or the belief that the brain “finishes developing” when one turns eighteen, twenty, twenty-five, etc. respectively.
Some believe contact even between adolescents who are of the same age is inherently immoral, unethical, nonconsensual, harmful, risky, abusive, necessary to prevent, or otherwise wrong. Some believe that all contact between similar-in-age children is risky but no contact between similar-in-age adolescents is. Some believe some contact between similar-in-age children is risky, but the same contact is safe when between similar-in-age adolescents. Some believe some contact between similar-in-age adolescents is risky, but is not when it is between adults. Some make different specific distinctions for infants, toddlers, and children of varying ages. There have been numerous debates attempting to delineate exact ages between which the age gap is sufficiently small so that all parties involved could be considered “peers” and thus their interactions safe.
Some pro-c’s draw the line at age seven, five, or even younger and support contact with extremely young children, sometimes even including toddlers, infants, or newborns, citing body language and indicative of consent and/or harmlessness.
Some contact discoursers, primarily anti-contacts, view support of enjoying, masturbating to, downloading, or distributing CSEM as pro-contact. Some anti-CSEM anti-contacts view CSEM discourse as separate from contact discourse, or as something whose stances should be defined separately from those of contact discourse regarding direct contact itself. Varied opinions among individuals of all contact stances exist regarding whether or not viewing, enjoying, masturbating to, downloading, or distributing CSEM produces tangible harm. Some anti-CSEM anti-contacts view CSEM consumption as unethical, but no more unethical than consumption of any other product of capitalist exploitation. Some law-enforcement-abolitionist anti-CSEM anti-contacts view law enforcement internally viewing, downloading, or distributing CSEM as unethical as well, while the more pro-law-enforcement Some pro-contacts support contact but not the existence of records thereof because of a general anti-porn stance, including porn of consenting adults; some pro-contacts support the existence of recordings of contact they deem consensual/moral/ethical/safe/harmless/non-abusive; some pro-, neutral-, and anti-contacts support viewing, enjoying, masturbating to, downloading, and/or distributing what they deem to be “actual CSEM” as mostly or entirely harmless and only condemning the production thereof as harmful or unethical; a few pro-contacts support all of the above. Differing opinions exist regarding whether or not CSEM of dead children should be allowed to continue to exist, whether or not it is ethical to view, download, distribute, and/or refuse to remove CSEM of victims who retroactively consent for it to be viewed, downloaded, and/or distributed; what is sufficiently sexual to technically constitute CSEM; whether or not nudity is inherently sexual; whether or not an unrelated individual sexualizing a previously-nonsexual photo of a child makes it into CSEM; whether or not borderline-CSEM such as certain family photographs, modeling photographs, films, should be censored; whether or not it is ethical at all to share any photographs or videos of youth without their full informed consent; whether or not youth can consent to being recorded for work or public image purposes; whether or not youth can consent to working under capitalism at all; whether or not sexual imagery taken by youth of their own accord and only kept to themselves or distributed consensually to other youth similar in age can be considered CSEM; whether or not sexual art of an unaware youth kept private constitutes CSEM; whether or not publicly distributing the aforementioned art or directly showing it to its subject retroactively makes it into CSEM; whether or not sexual art depicting youth actors constitutes CSEM; whether or not the aforementioned art is harmful, unethical, should be censored, or should be discouraged; et cetera. Some contact discoursers dislike the term “CSEM” because they adhere strictly to official definitions and current official definitions define as “CSAM” what this article calls “CSEM” while defining “CSEM” to include items they do not consider CSAM or harmful or exploitative, such as self-taken nudes by youth or art of fictional characters. Other contact discoursers disagree with both official definitions as insufficiently broad. Contact discoursers who are against fictional art depicting fictional child sexual abuse often call the art “CSEM” as well.
Some behaviors in contention regarding whether or not they constitute “romantic interactions,” “romantic contact,” “romantic relationships,” or “romantic abuse” include a significantly older individual casually flirting with a youth without intent to pursue an actual romantic relationship, a significantly older individual telling a youth they experience romantic attraction to them, a significantly older individual not reacting appropriately to a youth telling them they experience romantic attraction to them, hugging with or without romantic intent while not explicitly mentioning romantic intent, hugging from a significantly older MAP while having romantic thoughts regarding the youth which they do not mention, hugging from a significantly older individual with intrusive non-attraction-based thoughts about dating the youth, kissing which in some cultures is considered inherently romantic or a romantic gestures while in other cultures it is not, et cetera.
In general contact discourse (not necessarily by individuals who are aware of the existence of the term “contact discourse”), even more behaviors are commonly in contention (even among “radical anti-contacts”) regarding whether or not they constitute “sexual interactions,” “sexual contact,” “sexual relationships,” or “sexual abuse.”
Some statist anti-contacts view one’s stance on AoC laws as the final arbiter of whether or not someone is pro-contact or anti-contact; anarchist anti-contacts who do not support the existence of any state-enforced laws at all have pushed back on this, citing alternatives for preventing and stopping contact from occurring.
Every pro-c identifies as pro-c because they believe contact has a sufficiently low risk of psychological harm to the youth, or would in a future in which adultism has been abolished; no self-identified anti-c holds such beliefs. Many also consider the contact’s supposed ability to be consensual, universal harmlessness, benefit, ethicalness, or adherence to anarchist/youth-liberationist/radical-autonomist ideals, or the unethicalness of attempting to prevent or stop contact, as the reasons why they are pro-contact. However, there are individuals who identify as anti-contact and believe occasionally contact will not produce harm; that youth can consent but will still likely be harmed; that contact does fall under what their own personal philosophical frameworks consider moral or ethical, but still is risky; or that contact is wrong, but should not be resolved through punitive, coercive, legal, or carceral means as they are opposed to the latter on principle as a whole, and there are pro-contacts who believe contact is always harmful in adultist worlds or cultures but would not be harmful in worlds or cultures in which youth are liberated. Thus, when reduced, the fundamental cornerstone or single common denominator among pro-contacts is a belief in lack of inherent harm—that is, harm based on differences that would occur between youth and significantly older individuals regardless of surrounding environment, such as the inherent age/time/number-of-years-in-experience difference (or unless the youth or significantly older individuals were drastically physically altered through technological means we do not have currently available).
Attempts at delineating strict definitions of contact discourse stances that are to be generally agreed upon for purposes of convenience and making the discourse less confusing and messy have never been successful, as each attempt generates several more rounds of discourse, with multiple different people holding different opinions about which definitions are optimal, and many refusing to adhere to the proposed definitions because their own stances do not fit neatly into their recommended guidelines.
Social, cultural, and political implications
Neutral-contact MAPs have expressed feeling alienated by both sides of the debate. Anti-centrist anti-contacts and pro-contacts alike have expressed feeling frustration at neutral-contacts' refusal to fully or properly take a side in what they view as an extremely morally important discourse. Anti-contacts and pro-contacts, particularly if they are radicals, often aggressively exclude or harass people on the other side of the discourse. Social ostracization, shaming, and callouts over contact discourse also frequently occur. Many anti-contacts view opposition to pro-contacts as necessary for their goal of assimilation, and some pro-contacts view opposition to anti-contacts as necessary for their goal of assimilation.
Pro-contact MAP activism, both online and offline, increases motivation to and rates of offending, often directly. Many pro-contact individuals have been arrested for their pro-contact activism and their organizations forcibly disbanded. Some countries censor pro-contact rhetoric. Many former pro-contacts have expressed that they might have offended had they not encountered anti-contact rhetoric.
Incest contact discourse
While incest is not technically considered a paraphilia under most official psychiatric definitions, it does fall under “non-normative attraction,” and paraphiles generally agree that a pattern of knowing attraction to one’s close relatives does constitute a paraphilia. The terms “pro-contact” and “anti-contact” have been used for incest discourse. Incest discourse stances usually specify, or at least specify when questioned, different stances when considering different specific incestuous relationship dynamics.
Bestiality contact discourse
Contact discourse regarding bestiality, particularly bestiality between humans and non-human animals, as well as romantic relationships between humans and non-human animals, is often termed “zoo[phile/philia] contact discourse” because of the association between zoophiles or zoophilia and the aforementioned interactions, contact, and relationships. Some contact discoursers support romantic relationships with animals but not sexual ones. Some contact discoursers believe the former cannot exist, while the latter does. Some contact discoursers support both, but not attractions to what they deem as actually harming or abusing animals. These people struggle to answer coherently when asked about their stances regarding sexual contact between humans and small animals who would be physically harmed by sex. Most or all pro-bestiality individuals are not pro bestiality for all species. Discourse also occurs claiming some specific types of sexual behaviors with animals are okay but not others, or that certain behaviors indicate consent on the part of the animal. Some discourse has occurred regarding whether or not it is ethical to adopt and raise young animals with the intent of having sex with them later.
Many pro-bestiality zoophiles reject the label “pro-contact,” instead opting for “pro-practicing” as it carries fewer negative connotations. Lecter proposed that “contact” labels remain, but that “offending” versus “non-offending” should be reserved for discourse surrounding contact which is nonconsensual, unethical, abusive, or risky, and “practicing” versus “non-practicing” for discourse surrounding contact which is consensual, ethical, non-abusive, safe. Some necrophiles and corpse contact discoursers have also adopted the terms “practicing” and “non-practicing.” Pro-contact MAPs have not however, to date, attempted to use “practicing” to mean engaging in contact with youth.
Sadism contact discourse
Discourse surrounding consensually-acted-upon sadism fetishes, kinks, or paraphilias is not generally labeled “contact discourse.” There is discourse labeled “contact discourse,” however, about the ethics of nonconsensually physically or psychologically harming youth or having certain interactions with them while having attractions to harming them, and about the ethics of nonconsensually physically or psychologically harming non-human animals or having certain interactions with them while having attractions to harming them.
Suspended Twitter user @zoosunited, possibly a troll, made a series of viral tweets arguing for why torturing animals should be considered ethical. Their statements were heavily criticized by both anti-zoos and zoophiles themselves. Others have discoursed about whether or not it is ethical to kill animals, torture animals such as bugs, factory-farm them, consume meat, have sex or other sexual interactions with them even if they do not consent or actively express discomfort, et cetera.
Corpse contact discourse
Some antis and assimilationist paraphiles have “neutral/pro-contact necrophiles” on their DNIs. Some paraphiles identify as “anti/neutral/pro-contact for necrophilia/corpses” or “anti/neutral/pro-contact necrophiles.” Many people, particularly antis, are against contact with corpses for moral, virtue-ethicist, religious, spiritual, or disgust-reflex-based reasons, or because they believe diseases will result and that people do not have the right to harm themselves. Some people are against contact only when the owner of the corpse does not consent, or when people such as the dead person’s family or friends who would be distressed knowing contact took place do not consent or are distressed by it. Some people are against contact only if the owner of the corpse did not consent to it beforehand. This stance also raises questions about whether or not other nonconsensual postmortem actions are ethical either. Contact stances regarding the corpses of dead non-human animals vary as well.
Contact discourse regarding exclusively inanimate objects
Some paraphiles have jokingly labeled themselves as “pro-contact” in cases in which the other item one is dating or having sex with is an inanimate object which was always an inanimate object, such as a plushie. To date, no one against such behaviors has chosen to label themself as “anti-contact” over their stance.
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- Lecter. (2020, May 10). My anti contact manifesto. MAP Science Archive. Retrieved May 13, 2022, from https://wierstamann.wordpress.com/2020/05/10/my-anti-contact-manifesto/