Hi there. This is the direct sequel to another article that I’ve written about grooming. The first part dealt with grooming as it applies to the LGBT community, and some of the recent controversy that’s been going on lately. It also touched a bit on my own person life and my experience with “grooming.” However, that article didn’t really talk about grooming as it’s used against the zoo community, and was meant to address the fact that there are serious real world things happening in relation to this topic. I would highly recommend that you read that first, just so that everyone is on the same page.
Anyway, disclaimer over, on with the article.
I would define grooming, in the more practical and modern sense, as such:
“To expose children to specific situations and information intentionally to try and manipulate them into developing in a specific way.”
For example, the classic example is if an adult starts sending porn to a minor of adults and minors having sex in order to try and convince the child that that kind of relationship is normal, and that it should be something that they want to do. Another example would be exposing your child to only movies, games and other media that features heterosexual relationships, and refusing to talk about any other kind of relationship in order to try and assure that the child ends up straight. Grooming as a concept has existed for much longer than the current term has. There are examples of grooming as far back in history as we can socially remember. An easy historical example would be the infamous Spartans of Sparta. The would take children very young from their families and force them to fight, train and live in a way that would cause the children to grow up strong, and more importantly, obedient. That’s an incredibly hands on way of doing things, but as far as our definition goes, it would still apply.
But for as long as grooming has existed, the accusation of grooming has also existed. And that accusation can be a powerful weapon when used by the majority against a minority. Here’s an example. Gay kids exist. Homophobic parents don’t want their kids to be gay. Those parents worry that having gay kids is going to be a reflection of them, whether that’s because they might have secret “gay genes,” or because they were bad parents and let their kids fall down a dark path. So, instead of accepting that some kids might be gay naturally, they blame society.
“It’s the LGBT representation on the media.” “It’s the normalization of queer relationships.” “It’s celebrities that flaunt their sexuality publicly.” “It’s pride parades and rainbows and soy and all ages drag shows.” “It’s not us, it’s everything in society that’s ‘grooming’ our kids to be this way.”
They say all that because it’s a much easier pill to swallow for someone who doesn’t want to believe that gay people just exist. And to be clear, you don’t necessarily even need to be a parent to fall into using the grooming narrative. There are plenty of childless homophobes out there that just don’t want to see more gay people in society in general.
But, more people have faced the wrath of someone accusing them of grooming than just the LGBT. As zoos, we have to deal with this all the time. It’s an accusation thrown at our community a lot too, for the same reason that it’s used against the LGBT community. Because it’s an easy way to deny the existence of a group you don’t like. Sometimes it’s even members of the LGBT community that are now aiming that accusation at us. And there are few things that make me angrier than when one community gets beat down with a topic, and then turns around to do the same thing to another. And the worst part is, it’s not a rare occurrence. To quote angry people on Twitter:
“Okay, does anyone else find it EXTREMELY concerning that lately, there seems to be more minors supporting or self-proclaiming to be zoo/philes? It’s clear that the “Zoo community” is being predatory - we need to do something about this. We need to talk about this”
-A Twitter user
If you read this at face value, the assumption is that because there are minors that identify as zoos, or support zoos, that means that there are people in the zoo community that are specifically grooming said minors into having that opinion. Now obviously, that’s not true, people have the sexuality they have. Much like any other sexuality, it’s something that develops naturally. Many zoos learn that they’re animal attracted before they even know what a “zoo” is. But the concerning part is that people like this Twitter user are clearly missing the harmful rhetoric that they’re perpetuating. If you take that message word for word but replace “zoophiles” with “homosexuals,” that’s the exact same thing you’re going to hear on Tucker Carlson or from any other prominent right wing voice trying to deny the existence of gay people. And yet the person who tweeted this is a member of the LGBT themselves.
By pursuing this “zoos are groomers” narrative, it’s actually only doing damage to the LGBT. If we as a society normalize calling every alternative sexuality the result of grooming, that gives a lot more legitimacy to the claims that the gay community is grooming kids as well. If you can’t be born a zoo, then that means that there’s more “evidence” to show that you can’t be born gay either. It’s a self destructive cycle that just goes to aid the bigots of the world trying to bring everyone down.
I get it. There are a lot of people out there that don’t like zoos. That’s okay. People have a bad impression based off of what they’ve heard on the news. It’s normal for any weird cultural thing to have a wave of backlash when people are exposed to it. If you go back and look at any of the news reports that came out when the furry fandom was hitting the mainstream, it’s exactly the same thing. But, I think it’s important to recognize when the weapon being used to try and attack a group is going to end up with collateral damage.
Because this isn’t hypothetical. We’ve seen it before. The word is, “Pulling the ladder up.” There was a time in recent history - recent enough that people still alive still remember it - when mainstream acceptance of any and all queer identities was at essentially zero. Zoo, non-binary, LGBT, any and all of the above were unacceptable to polite society. But, collectively, folks under the queer umbrella fought for their rights - sometimes by throwing bricks at cops - and with a LOT of coordinated effort, the mainstream began to accept the more palatable queer identities. At first, just homosexuals. And what happened? A lot of these homosexual men and women pulled the ladder up, sat comfortably in their new acceptance, and left behind the bi, trans, and otherwise queer folks who had helped them to get there, because now those “weirdos” felt like more of a threat to their newly established acceptance rather than the asset that had gotten them there to begin with. It happened again with bi. It happened again - in many ways is still happening - with trans, non-binary, and queer. And it is absolutely happening with zoo. All of the tactics that were used against LGBT, we now see being wielded by the LGBT themselves and turned on zoosexuality. Tactics like calling very natural things unnatural, an outright willingness to look away from scientific evidence, and potently misleading narratives such as grooming. The LGBT are very far from the only offenders, but it is striking to see because they feel like the ones who should know better.
If you’re a zoo out there scrolling through the internet and see this rhetoric being used, try to point out how harmful it can be–or if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, ask a friend that doesn’t mind getting involved to do it on your behalf. Fighting hate is important.
Article written by Tarro (December 2022)
Find them at: https://twitter.com/hereforthezoo
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