Things That Are Not Aesthetic: Pedophilia

It’s that time again – Ella Talks Shit About People Who Sexualise Kids O’Clock.

Or Anti-Pedophile o’clock, which is a punchier name.  I’m sure either way, you’re thinking “yeah! Fuck those kinds of people! They suck and I’m definitely not one of them!”

But are you really?

Don’t worry – I’m not questioning whether you’ve ever molested a child. You (probably) haven’t have done that. But there’s a good chance that you have indirectly, unintentionally defended people who would.

In fact, I know some of you have. I’ve heard it. But fear not. I’m not here to name and shame. I’m no Hannah Baker. I’m just here to gently, but very firmly, tell you why you’re wrong.

Let’s talk about Melanie Martinez.

It’s no secret that the singer/songwriter’s songs discuss fairly heavy themes. And she’s a grown adult, so she has every right to include those themes in her artwork. However, there is an issue with a grown adult discussing heavy themes while holding a stuffed animal, or sucking on a pacifier.

Lyrics like “Blood still stains when the sheets are washed / Sex don’t sleep when the lights are off” is sung while Martinez plays a playground clapping game with a stuffed bear.

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“That basic bitch leaves finally / Now I can take her man”, and “So boy, just love me, down, down, down” is from the aptly titled “Pacify Her”, a music video wherein Martinez sings from inside a children’s playpen, surrounded by kids toys.

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At a certain age, it’s time to climb out of the cot and put the pacifier down. Martinez doesn’t quite seem to understand that.

Essentially, Martinez is talking about very adult themes while portraying herself as a childlike character – literally named ‘Cry Baby’. And the thing that so many people struggle to understand is that this kind of alignment isn’t innocent. In fact, that’s actually kind of the problem.

By juxtaposing adult themes with childish imagery, it directly sexualises childhood and childish items – and consequently sexualises children. That creates an environment where pedophilia is able to flourish.

It even plays right into one of the hottest sexual trends of the moment: DD/lg kink.

DD/lg is Daddy Dom / little girl – a relationship where one person acts childlike, or ‘de-aged’, and the other one controls or dominates them. It shares a lot with the classic Dom/sub relationship, just with more…pedophilia. Simply put, it’s fucking gross.

(Call me sensitive, but there is something distinctly wrong with people who get off pretending to fuck a child.)

The DD/lg aesthetic and the aesthetic of Melanie Martinez are both disturbing and problematic in the same way – they unforgivably sexualise children. Because of the way this ‘aesthetic’ is such a insidious trend, a pedophile wouldn’t even have to search the dark web to find content that validates their mindset – browsing through Facebook, Tumblr, or Instagram would yield enough accounts posting photos of the new ‘paci’ their ‘daddy’ bought them, or imitating Melanie’s little-girl look.

Now don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with a CSA (child sexual assault) victim talking about their experiences through art. All the more power to them.

But Martinez is an adult woman who, by her own admission, has never experienced that particular trauma herself. This is someone who is clearly only interested in making pedophilia into an “artistic concept” for a song.  There’s no way to spin that that makes it OK. No matter how you dress it up, it is a romanticisation of pedophilia, orchestrated by an adult who is happy to profit off of it.

Perhaps the scariest of Melanie’s songs is Tag You’re It. It’s a song about her character – Cry Baby – being sexually assaulted by the “Big Bad Wolf” – an older man. It’s vomit-inducing.

“Rolling down your tinted window
Driving next to me real slow, he said,
“Let me take you for a joyride
I’ve got some candy for you inside.”

Running through the parking lot
He chased me and he wouldn’t stop
Tag, you’re it, tag, tag, you’re it
Grabbed my hand and pushed me down
Took the words right out my mouth”

The lyrics don’t leave anything to the imagination as to what is happening to Cry Baby. In the next song she does eventually kill the wolf and get free, but not before Martinez can fully exploit the trauma of child sexual assault for cold hard cash.

Melanie admits herself that many of the stories she tells are other people’s experiences – and Law & Order.

“Cry Baby goes through all these things, and some of the things I’ve been through, and some I’ve obviously made up because I love writing stories and making stuff up….I can write about something that someone else has been through, whether it’s someone I actually know or a story I’ve made up. I have a pretty good imagination, and I watch a lot of Law & Order [laughs].”

I don’t know about you guys, but I think she might have watched a different show than I did, because Law & Order usually makes me sympathise with the victim, not want to exploit them.

Sometimes, it’s okay to write songs about experiences that aren’t yours. For example, if you’ve never been in love but you’re writing about what you imagine it might be like. Or if your character has siblings, but you’re an only child. That stuff is inconsequential, harmless.

But writing about being sexually assaulted if you’ve never experienced it? Writing about being preyed on, being hurt, being traumatised for life? That crosses a line. She’s not using her platform to speak about CSA and raise awareness; she’s profiting off the traumatic experiences that so many children experience, and making it into some kind of “cute” and “trendy” aesthetic.

The terrible thing is that the effect of Martinez’s “music” is right in front of her nose, but she refuses to see it. When asked the age range of her fans, she answered:

There will be really weird creepy, like, 60-year-old male humans who come [to her shows] and then there will also be 9-year-old girls there and everything in between.”

Let’s run that back again, shall we? There are “creepy” adult men at her show, watching her gyrate on stage with a pacifier in her mouth, sitting alongside children. That’s essentially a singles mixer for potential pedophiles and their victims.

A brave friend of mine (who has asked to remain nameless to protect her identity), recently gave me her own opinion on the exploitation of her rape, and the pastel menace that is Martinez.

“One of the scariest things about having been a child sexual assault survivor is that so many of the people who say they support me turn around and consume media that straight-up objectifies and romanticises that same experience,” she said.

“Sure, you’d never hurt a child yourself, but when you talk about how much you love Melanie Martinez and how her aesthetic is just “so cute”, what you’re telling me is that you’re okay with the sexualisation of childhood and kids – the exact same mindset as the adult man who molested me – and that’s really fucked up.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2012, 17% of women and 4% of men experienced sexual assault before the age of 15. That’s almost 1 in 5 women, and 1 in 20 men. That means when you defend Martinez and her music, there’s a good chance you’re defending the sexualisation of childhood to victims of that mindset.

So there we go. I guess what I’m saying in the end is that awareness is a truly valuable trait. You may not have been aware of the implications of your fave artist’s aesthetic, or you may have been naive enough to think that it doesn’t matter, or – and I truly hope this isn’t the case – you just don’t care about the victims of sexual assault.

Whatever the situation, I hope this was illuminating enough to give you food for thought and to serve as a warning about defending people who sexualise kids.

– Ella

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