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Let me make one thing clear, first: I am NOT complaining about the intent of such software - protecting one's children from "the horrors" of Bad Sites is quite admirable (It's also something I think parents should be doing, not us or any third party!) However....they can, and often do, block sites that should NOT be blocked. Therefore, I have pointedly not listed my site with any site blocking companies/agencies - and if you read Peacefire's blocking FAQ, you'll understand better why I have not done so.

Most of them do an inadequate job at best, and end up blocking perfectly NORMAL sites on, say, cancer info because (in one example) the site contains the word "breast". Duh, talking about breast cancer, of COURSE that word is going to be there. Then there's the attitude some blocking companies have of "Oh, you published something negative about us? We'll add you to our blacklist". (Details in the link above) You can also visit Peacefire's home page to keep up with the ongoing debate about site blocking and read their censorware reports (something I'd consider mandatory reading if you ever plan to install such programs anyway!)

Here are some additional links:

The point being...read and understand the limitation of censorware - what "needs" to be blocked may not be, and you may actually need what it does block.


Sarasvati
Thu Apr 12 21:11:19 2001

UNDERAGE VISITORS: THE ISSUE AT HAND

Sanguinarians "awaken" usually at puberty. Typically, puberty occurs between 12 and 15 years of age... minor age. It is during this time, though, that the information on pages such as mine, and Sanguinarius' and SphynxCat's is most needed. The problem arises in that we are talking about having to cut people, blood drinking, and scarring. Permanent, heavy, stuff. Can people younger then 18 handle this? Should they have to? To the first question, I don't know. To the second, I wish the answer was no. Around puberty, people have enough things to worry about, their body is changing, their hormones are kicking up, and life gets tough. Throw in a sudden craving for blood, and well, it doesn't get much better. Can we honestly say that these people do not need our support? NO! Perhaps they are the ones that MOST need our support. Someone other then Anne Rice and Bram Stoker to point them in the right direction and let them know they are NOT freaks, and their lives are NOT over. The trouble comes, in that on this side of the fence, we can see the need because we have been there, on the other side stand the parents, and they have no idea. They want to protect their child, to keep them safe, and I am certainly not saying that should not be so, nor am I saying we should go against parental wishes. What I am saying is that we need to look at this from both sides of that fence. From our side of support, and from the parent's side of protection, and seek the middle ground.

FROM OUR SIDE

We see that help is needed. A confused person leaves a message in the e-mail "am I crazy?" "I thought I was all alone until...", "I don't know what to do now...", "Thank-you". Anyone who has either ran a vampire/sanguin support site or stayed for any length of time on a message board has seen at least one message to this effect. Usually they are from minors, and this is even though it is usually posted that the information on the pages is NOT for minors. Vindication for what we do comes in those letters that say thank-you. It shows we are making a difference, and reaching the people who need it. Isn't that what a support page is for? To reach out a hand and say "look, here we are, like you, you do not stand alone." The very fact that so many unrelated people that never knew each other before show the same signs, the same needs, says its more than just in our minds. Many diseases start that way, even such now-recognized disease as Lupus and Porphyria were originally dismissed as all in the mind. And would you turn a 12 year old suffering from Porphyria away from a site about it? Away from a support site? No, of course not. Children with diseases are encouraged to reach out and share stories with those with similar diseases. It helps, it alleviates depression, and it makes them feel better. With Sanguinarianism, though, it is a very thin line we walk. For those with Porphyria and Lupus are not encouraged to drink blood, and those diseases are now much more recognized. THAT is were the western worlds taboos and fear comes in. If we had an unusual craving to consume large amounts of broccoli, the world would have much less a problem with it and chances are the medical community would have a much greater interest. But we don't, we crave blood, and for this reason we are shuffled under the rug and placed under that forbidden category of porn and sex for anyone under 18. Parents hate us, the medical community laughs at us, and the legal community just waits for us to mess up. We are torn between giving the hand and support we should, and turning our backs for fear of Big Momma out to ruin us. Maybe we need to show the parents first, the “adults”. True, this is a faster track to being labeled as crazy, but they are the people “in charge”. It is they we need to touch just as much as we need to support the newly “awakened”.

FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE NOW, THE PARENT'S SIDE

We are weird, and weird is scary, and we never want our children to have to encounter anything scary. We protect them from the boogie man in the closet, and the monster under the bed, so what do you do when the "monster" appears on your child's computer screen? You freak, that is what. After all vampires don't exist, and yet here is a group of people who believe they need to drink blood (which makes them vampires in most peoples minds). Vampires are scary, and parents want to protect the child from the scary things. Yes, I can understand this reaction. But does it make it the right reaction? I don't know. To the parent, it is obviously right, and they have the right to restrict their child from seeing the pages, and we have the obligation, to respect that parent's wishes. We have to show we are equally willing to protect their children, and acknowledge their status as parent. But does that mean we have to password protect our sites? No, I don't think so. Parents protect, and that is their job, to watch and care for the child. To be there for the child. So which would the parent consider worse, a sanguin page or a porn page? I'm not sure, honestly. Children usually start learning about sex at around age 13, but parents of course never expect them, or want them, to have sex until much older. Sanguinarianism is unfortunately not that easy to deal with. Sex drive appears at 13-14, OK, nobody has ever died from not having sex (sorry, guys, your cover is blown ;) and true, no one has ever died that we know of from not getting the blood, but sanguins do experience pain, headaches, etc. etc. without. If it appears at 13, it's much more difficult to abstain until 18 or 21.

SO, WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

I do not know. I do not think passwords are the answer though. With passwords, we could keep out many minors, true, but would we not also be blocking non-minors with a legitimate need for the information? It also shows we have something to hide, something that the general population shouldn't know about, and would further our “elitist” label. These are all bad things. Plus, it is not easy to verify age short of requesting a credit card number or photocopy of the birth certificate. So what to keep a minor from asking for the password and saying they are 18+ anyway? Nothing, not to mention most password programs are easily by passed, and most of those who know how to bypass them are minors (after all, who knew how to program your VCR at age 6?) Passwords are not the answer. Blocking software, maybe that is at least a little better. It puts the leash back were it belongs, in the parent's hands. Are we ultimately responsible for the action of every person that reads our sites? No, how can we be? We are responsible for the accuracy of the information, and we are responsible for making sure people know we do not advocate nonconsensual harm to others, but the Internet is not the world's baby-sitter, and parents need to know what their child is up to, and block if they think it is right. We are, then, simply responsible for registering (all free of charge, by the by) with those companies that provide the programs. This is what we can do. And it will still leave the information for those that need it.

That is by no means the solution, it is a Band-Aid, a quick fix, and admittedly not a great one, but it IS something. Do we have a right to post these sites? Of course! Do others have a right to read them? Of course! Should minors be allowed access to them? Isn't that the Great Debate...

~sarasvati


I, SphynxCatVP, have taken the position of leaving this site accessible to all. It is the *parent's* responsibility to listen to their children, and talk to their children about what they see on the Internet. The contents of this site are recommended for those with a mature mind, and I recognize that a person who is 12 can be more mature than a person who is 40, as well as vice-versa.

18 or 21 is not the magic number some people seem to think that it is, having talked to both ends of the maturity spectrum at either end of the age scale. I leave this site accessible because there are people out there who need to know that they are not alone, that they are not crazy. That one, simple statement *can* help them cope. Can make them feel better about themselves. Can reduce the suicide statistics out there. But only if they see it or hear it.

I do not believe passwords and age restrictions are the answer to the problem, I believe proper parenting is the answer to the problem. So, parents, stop dropping your kids in front of the electronic baby-sitter (a/k/a the television) for 8 hours a day, and actually *gasp* interact with your children and be approachable BY your children, show that you love them and TELL THEM that you love them - as well as setting FAIR and EQUITABLE house rules, and you'll be a lot better off. Talk to your children. Talk about their day, talk about their friends, talk about what THEY want to talk about, too. Just because there's an 18+ year age gap between parents and children doesn't mean you can't find things to talk about!

~SphynxCatVP

 

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