Pulling together a few different threads from different forums I want to tackle the subject of brand and how we go about building a better public image.
Today as a community we're misunderstood by the public which has resulted in five distinct groups.
1. MAPs which I define as adults with a love and affection for children and that love can lead to a platonic or non-platonic interest. The law dictates a platonic relationship as the only relationship permitted but there can be a mutual longing for a non-platonic relationship.
2. Anti's who I define as people with a hate for MAPs and often a desire to do harm to MAPs. That hate means they're often blind to any discussion or counter argument, will lie, will threaten, will intimidate and will generally be nasty people publicly.
3. Non's who I define as people who don't necessarily hate MAPs but don't understand then and when you don't understand someone you can be afraid or distrusting. You don't necessarily think MAPs are bad but they're not someone you'd trust or want to be associated with.
4. Allies who are people that already recognise and support MAPs, at least the rights to live with respect and dignity.
5. Kids who I define as people under 16 who often haven't developed an opinion of MAPs, have no hate, will have a healthy distrust because they've been educated to be wary of strangers.
The three smallest groups I'm assuming are MAPs and Anti's and allies. I'm assuming MAPs are no more than 10% of the population but could be higher or lower and I'm assuming Anti's are a similar proportion but could be a higher or lower. I would expect could be higher but I have no data to back that up.
So if we say the objective is to win the two larger groups to be tolerant or even caring towards us, siding with us more than the anti's then we need to look at how we market ourselves. How do we present ourselves? what's our public image? What terminology are we using? How do we appear next to anti's?
There's an interesting thread on brand which I find interesting since it forces us to look at the heart of the problem using the tools and lessons of industry. What is a brand and how do you use it to win people to your side?
There's a common misconception that you build a brand and sell it. We make the same mistake, lets come up with the logo and names and tell people these mean "good caring people" and expect people to accept that. That's not how branding works.
Branding works by taking actions that get people to associate a group with what those actions represent.
Want a brand that says "we listen to our customers?". Go to events and ask people what they think, invite people to work with your team to develop products, ask people to contact you and respond and take action. You're now building a brand that says "we care for our customers".
It doesn't happen by itself, you still have to set out ahead what you want your brand to be and you then fit your activities around that brand. You live it and you keep living it and yes you will get push back but you push through. Every successful business, charity or group has done this.
So we need to start by defining our brand, what we as a group of people want to be known for. I'll make some suggestions.
1. MAPs understand kids
2. MAPs care for the feelings of kids
3. MAPs are not law breakers but they do point out where the law is wrong or applied unfairly
4. MAPs are ordinary people. Being a MAP doesn't make you a better or worse person.
5. MAPs are fun good people.
6. MAPs are numerous and bring much value to society
We then define what activities we can do to underpin those values and our brand.
Everything we do we measure against that brand. Does it support the brand? If it does then we should do it. If it doesn't then we shouldn't.
Some example actions would be these.
1. Speak out on issues that are important to kids. School pressure, suicide, relationships, education, poverty, children struggling as carers for adults, empowering kids to improve their own financial or general situation. Be at the table talking sensibly and calmly on issues. When you have non's debating and learning to respect MAPs in other contexts it breaks down barriers and makes the screams of anti's less powerful.
2. Support charities and come up with programs that helps kids. I like the UNICEF drive to empower kids in third world countries to learn finance and to bring themselves out of poverty.
3. Engage with people away from MAP discussions. Talking about sports or work or careers. You don't have to add that you're a MAP to every conversation but you don't have to hide it. Engaging with the world is so important, it can't just be about sexuality.
4. Do good in different areas. A map helping an old lady to get her house repaired or helping the local council to raise money to fix a hospital challenges this idea that MAPs are bad self serving people.
I do think we need to be more coordinated in this. It would also help to swell the ranks as other people struggling with their own sexuality see MAP groups doing good, drawing them to get involved. A growing community and a positive image while building networks and friendships outside the community. Patience is needed, it takes years but it does work. We could create a task force to drive this forward, work with other MAP communities, hold ourselves accountable to do activity, fund raise and to measure against our brand values.
Another interesting thread is what do we call ourselves? Pedophile is a tarnished name, MAP is too clinical. Brands do have logo's and names but they're there more to create a flag that people can start to associate with the values of a brand. Take the rainbow flag, it wasn't the flag that made people accept that community but it was there actions but the flag became a symbol that people learned to recognise as the community and what it stood for.
Well we have a logo and there is value in having a name. I don't like LGBT because it's just an acronym but then they're a bit of a confused brand. The gay movement made massive bounds and it was only after it had made sufficient gains that others started to fold in to create a brand that now stands for many groups. Collectively, respect sexualities with the exception of MAP since we're still too tarnashed to be welcome. I'm certain that with some clever branding through action that would change and we'd be welcome to that community in the future.
So what should the name be?
I actually think we shouldn't choose it because we want the non's group at the top of this message to warm to it so we should ask the non's to choose it.
We do that by running a series of questions to understand better what people thing of us now, what would change their views, what do different words make them think of or feel. I said a series of questions because they shouldn't interfere with each other.
We could run a survey about MAPs and have questions, particularly multiple choice understand where we're at today. Questions like these.
1.The word pedophile means. a) sexual predator b) someone solely sexually interested in children c) someone who has loving feelings towards children
2.The word MAP means, a) sexual predator b) someone solely sexually interested in children c) someone who has loving feelings towards children
3.What percentage of society are MAPs? a) 0.1% b) 1% c) 10% d) 25%+
4.Do you feel that MAPs are. a) Bad people who should be locked up b) ordinary people with a sexuality that isn't their fault c) ordinary people with a sexuality they choose d) Good people
Basically a short set of questions to measure people's perceptions because right now we're guessing. We need data, we need to understand where we're at and so what we need to get to our brand goal.
Another survey could be totally unrelated to MAPs but about terminology.
If a sexuality was described to you as the following, what would you feel about that sexuality from the name alone?
I don't think parents always want their kids to be around people who are soft or just happy. Parents want their kids to be around good role models, people who will teach them to be strong and courageous and respectful and successful. In Sparta I'm sure young boys weren't paired with men because they were seen as warm and fuzzy but because they would instill the values that they wanted.
So I think we should start with data. Collect data from non's and understand the challenge and what things have a positive impact on non's. Then we build actions that build a brand and we stick at it, bringing more people in and so it becomes a movement and force for good.
We should always be thinking about kids as well because today's kids are tomorrow's law makers and leaders. I think we start with non's because we need them to get to a comfortable point but we should then start to build our messaging to kids so they take that with them into adulthood and further bring about change. Kids are really our allies in this since I believe if left to their own devices they would want the same thing as we do which is love and empowerment and respect for kids with the freedom for platonic and non-platonic love but they are barred from that and will be until we start to change the perceptions of adults.
I do think this is too important to not think about, I don't want more lost generations of kids and adults denied respect or love unfairly.