Sutherland Shire Councillor Jen Armstrong has done things that most others have not.
She started a charity handing out beauty products to domestic violence victims. For that she ended up being named NSW Woman of the Year in 2016.
She gives out advice about raising ‘non-binary’ children. For that she ended up in the newspaper waxing lyrical about the importance of pronouns.
And she reckons that a picture of a naked man with an erection touching a boy’s penis is nothing more than a ‘courting scene’. That is why she’s featuring on this webpage.
Like I said, she does things that most others will not.
The story of Labor Councillor Jen Armstrong’s courageous rush to put the P in LGBT starts back in March this year.
Local Sutherland Shire residents found out that Sutherland Shire was loaning the book Gender Queer to children and became more than a little miffed.
Gender Queer, for those who don’t know, is an award winning children’s book. It contains all the usual healthy themes that 12 year old kids should be exposed to like, you know, how its author, Maia Kobabe, wished that she had breast cancer so that they would be removed and how she is fond of masturbating while driving.
Kobabe also drew a picture of herself fantasising about paedophilia, deriving sexual pleasure from it and masturbating herself to that too.
More information about ‘Gender Queer’ can be found here.
In fact, Maia Kobabe spends a lot of time devoted to telling the world about her masturbation habits in Gender Queer. It’s kind of weird.
It’s also disgusting stuff for children. Adults too.
People with morals are unable to comprehend any of the reasons why this book is award winning. If you want to understand them, you’ll need to contact the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association which hands out baubles for the gayest book each year. I’m sure they can explain why pictures of paedophilia in gay books ‘with a special appeal’ to kids are a great thing. I can’t.
Anyway, someone, somewhere near Cronulla found out that their local council used public funds to buy Gender Queer and that other people were now being paid by the Shire to loan it to kids and to keep a record of each one that took the book, including where they lived. If that sounds creepy, it’s because it is.
Somewhat shockingly for our times, this someone also had the stones to do something about it. They wrote to the Sutherland Shire Council and suggested that the book should be removed. Pronto.
Now, I know that I can tend to jump to quick conclusions.
If you ask me if children should be at the Mardi Gras, the ‘hell no’ that escapes from my lips will be a reflex action.
Jen Armstrong has different instincts. For instance, she frequently posts pictures of herself taking her kids to march in the Mardi Gras.
We’re just different that way.
But every sense of my body tells me that the suggestion to remove a book that promotes paedophilia is eminently prudent and justifiable. And I feel confident that if I delved deeper into this thorny problem that my initial judgement would be vindicated in the strongest possible terms.
Councillor Jen Armstrong, on the other hand, has different views.
Very different views.
Now, I have no idea how Jen Armstrong arrived at her views.
They may have been formed from an initial gut reaction based on very little information.
Or Councillor Jen Armstrong may have gazed intently at the imagery of a naked man with an erection cupping his hand below the penis of a boy in the thought bubbles emanating from Maia Kobabe’s head and flushed faced as she fantasised away. Councillor Armstrong may then have pondered deeply the meaning of all of this and arrived at the conclusion that this was love. After all, love is love.
I just don’t know.
What I do know is this.
Jen Armstrong did feel confident enough to make a public statement specifically about this imagery to the biggest daily newspaper in the biggest city in Australia. She told the Daily Telegraph that it was a ‘courting scene’.
Councillor Jen Armstrong wrote back to defend the “memoir”, written and illustrated by the American cartoonist Maia Kobabe.
“Sutherland Shire is an inclusive and accepting place for all of its residents, an ally of gender diverse people and I hope you find it within yourself to accept those who have the basic human right to be accepted for who they are,” she wrote.
Ms Armstrong rejected claims the book contained “sexual abuse” material, say the illustration the resident referred to related to a piece of painted Ancient Greek pottery depicting a “courting scene”.
As for objections to references to sexual behaviour, Ms Armstrong said the library may as well remove Prince Harry’s book given he detailed how he had lost his virginity “to an older woman” and nearly lost his penis
Make of that what you will.
I, for one, believe that if the price of burning Gender Queer would also be burning anything ever written by Prince Harry as well that those terms are acceptable. I’m sold even more.
I also know this: in relation to Councillor Armstrong’s ‘courting scene’, the Australian Classification Board described it this way:
In this pottery illustration, a bearded male with an erection kneels before a smaller male figure, cupping his hand beneath the smaller figure’s penis.
Remember, these words describe an illustration in an award winning children’s book. I can’t emphasise that enough. It’s beyond disturbing.
It’s crystal clear that Councillor Armstrong’s ‘courting scene’ is an image of a paedophile in action. There’s no doubting that. Even the Classification Board recognises that.
It’s more disturbing that the Australian government agency in charge of upholding moral standards has just approved it as an unrestricted publication.
And I know this as well: I’m sure Councillor Armstrong will feel vindicated by the Classification Board’s reasoning:
…the Board is of the opinion that this image does not depict a child under 18 years in a way that offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified.
The Classification Board accepts that Gender Queer depicts a child being touched on the penis by a man. It accepts that this image was drawn in the context of the author explaining her masturbation habits and sexual fetishes. It accepts that this is offensive to reasonable adults. It just says that it’s not so offensive that it should be refused classification.
Essentially, according to the Classification Board, Jen Armstrong may be an outlier in her public support of Gender Queer but she is not on her pat Malone when it comes to pictures of paedophilia in general. They’re starting to get a bit ho hum. Bad, but not bad enough to ban according to our changing moral standards.
And who knows? Maybe the Classification Board is right. Maybe child porn will be the next progressive ‘win’.
Maybe Jen Armstrong is in touch with the moral pulse of the nation. Or maybe there are so many people in Australia afraid of losing their job or so desperate for fame and fortune that they will acquiesce to, then buy and eventually enforce the arguments of the Jen Armstrongs of this world. Perhaps the majority do believe that the images in Gender Queer and the books that will come out after it are ‘nuanced’ or ‘contextually justified’ or ‘complicated’ or all the other words that are used to justify evil things every single day.
I hope not. But my hope is tempered by watching Australians humiliate themselves over this stuff for my entire life. If I was a betting man, I’d have my dollar on Jen Armstrong and not me.
Given that, it’s kind of strange that the out and proud defender of Gender Queer has suddenly decided to embark upon a path of silence. She’s gone into hiding.
I sent the following questions to Councillor Armstrong about her defence of Gender Queer today:
- Can you please explain why you described imagery of paedophilia as a courting scene and do you believe that adults should be able to ‘court’ children by engaging in sex acts with them?
- Are you at all embarrassed that you have defended imagery of paedophilia?
- Finally, why do gender diverse and LGBQIA+ people need a book that shows its author fantasising about paedophilia while masturbating?
Councillor Armstrong read those questions. And then she told me that she couldn’t respond today. Or tomorrow. Or any other day I guess.
Maybe locals in Sutherland Shire will have more luck dragging an answer out of her between now and next council election day.
But this does show one thing: Jen Armstrong may have done things that others will not but she is no different than most when they are caught out.
Those who will defend Gender Queer with generalities, red herrings and deception will still slink away into the darkness when they are directly confronted with the truth of what they are doing.
And let’s state exactly what that is clearly: they are defending imagery of paedophilia which Maia Kobabe draws herself fantasising about while she masturbates in her own weird, fetished way.
Now, the Jen Armstrongs of this world wouldn’t slink away if they had the power to silence me. They might get that power one day. But it’s not theirs yet.
That is why I will speak up now against picture books promoting paedophilia while we still have the chance. And I will call Jen Armstrong out and shame her the way she deserves to be shamed while I can.
Because the way things are going, doing so may be against the law sooner rather than later.