In one of the interminable threads that devolved into endless discussions of pedophilia a couple of months ago, I raised an academic question about whether those who were commenting could come up with a reason why pedophilia was "wrong" without relying on a Judeo-Christian cultural context. The history, I argued, was that in Greece and to a lesser extent in Rome, pedophilia in some forms was culturally acceptable; only those pesky Christians managed to radically change the culture.
For me it was just an academic speculation, but apparently I was much closer than I had ever considered possible.
In a recent interview with the Times magazine, Richard Dawkins attempted to defend what he called “mild pedophilia,” which, he says, he personally experienced as a young child and does not believe causes “lasting harm.”
Dawkins went on to say that one of his former school masters “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts,” and that to condemn this “mild touching up” as sexual abuse today would somehow be unfair.
Child welfare experts responded to Dawkins’ remarks with outrage — and concern over their effect on survivors of abuse.
I'm just curious what people think? Even in the midst of the groping, fondling, and raping of kids, and hiding/covering up of the crimes which occurred among clergy of my faith, it was exceptionally rare that anyone actually tried to condone it as being harmless.
I've re-read all your posts on this subject. (I recommend them to all.) You've managed to mollify my views to some extent.
However I remain sad at the treatment of pedophyles, a treatment I see as virtually identical to the treatment of homosexuals until a few short decades ago. Pedophyles are no more responsible for their own sexual orientation than homosexuals are. Both are the victims of the same moral panic inflicted by those who desperately need someone to whom they can feel morally superior.
As one with no frame of reference for female victims (I fathered only sons), I'm still not quite ready to accept that an underage girl could not possibly have rewarding sexual contact (without repercussions) with anyone they choose. And I'm not willing to draw a line under any particular age.
I've concluded that, unlike homosexuals, pedophyles must learn to accept the fact that their sexual orientation can never realize an outlet without unbelievaly serious consequences. Who would choose THAT sexual orientation?
Pedophilia is a difficult subject for people to discuss logically. And here I AM talking about true pedophiles, not some guy guilty of statutory rape with a pubescent teen of 15 or 17. That is a different issue, and the guy who's guilty of that may not (and probably is not) attracted to prepubescent children. Pubescent teens can meet the normal standards of physical attractiveness that we apply to adults. However, as a society we believe that people of that age aren't ready to have sex with full adults.
Let's assume that pedophiles are born not made. In that regard, if that's true, they resemble homosexuals.
But pedophiles want sexual contact with children, which is different from homosexuality. It's not just that we want to protect children, it's that we need to and have a duty to do so. Since in some cases the children give consent or even may initiate sexual contact, this includes protecting them from themselves because at that age they really are clueless what they are getting into.
In that pedophiles can do damage to others if they let themselves go, it is like alcoholism. If someone is an alcoholic who gets into the system through some infractioni, but gets their drinking under control, we let them get out of the system. We don't have them registering in their community as alcoholics for the rest of their lives.
Pedophilia has certain aspects of an OCD, because pedophiles certainly obsess about sex with children and feel a compulsion to act out, which they sometimes cannot resist. While, no doubt, some pedophiles qualify as predatory creepozoids, some are just sad cases with a compulsion they are powerless to resist.
So, the challenge is for the community to approach pedophilia in a non-hysterical, logical way that both maximizes the protection of children and yet isn't draconian in terms of cosequences for the offender.
Let's also bear in mind what I heard Bill Maher say once (and I'm sorry, but I have totally forgotten the context). I paraphrase, but I know the gist is right: "When they come to take your rights away, they'll say they're doing it to protect the children."
So, let's hear some alternative ways to treat pedophiles that doesn't amount to branding a big letter "P" on their foreheads.
How about this: In exchange for not molesting children, we (the Government) will keep your condition secret and we'll give you unfettered access to high-resolution, computer-generated pedophilic images and videos.
This would not reoffend children, which would be the reason for not giving them access to real kiddie porn, and it would help both prevent child sexual victimization and murder, because a certain small percentage of pedophiles end up murdering the children they molest in an attempt to keep their crime from becoming public.
Anyone got a better idea? The Ludovico Technique?
I think you have a point, in that pedophilia as a tendency is understudied and not understood owing to the knee-jerk reactions stirred by emotion and horror. To put it another way, take a look at this artificial scenario:-
Your son, or a very close family member, comes to you with a terrible anxiety. He cannot fathom why, but he has realised he has an 'unnatural desire' for pre-pubescent children. He knows it's wrong, but he cannot help the cravings. He asks you for help.
What do you do? What system exists to help him? How do you proceed?
Right now, reactions tend to be of the hysterical variety, and how to dispose of the pedophile is pretty much the 100% focus. If we could take them out back and shoot them in the head, that would satisfy a lot of people. The public refuses to see it as a mental disorder and insists on treating it as criminal behavior pure and simple.
As you point out, in our contemporary context, what is the motivation of a pedophile to seek help? I believe in a lot of areas, a therapist may have a legal obligation to report the pedophiles to the authorities. Consider this quote by Dr. James Cantor, a psychologist, associate professor at the University of Toronto, and editor in chief of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment:
“One of the recent regulations in the United States is mandatory reporting,... These regulations vary by region, but in general, if a client has children or provides care to children and admits to experiencing sexual attraction to children—any children—the therapist is required to report the client to the authorities, regardless of whether any abuse was actually occurring.”
The goal is to protect children, of course, and that is a goal I fully support as a parent and a human being. But broad mandatory reporting policies have an unintended consequence: People like CWIA—people who need help to avoid acting on their attraction to children—are cut off from mental health professionals who can give them the tools, insight, and support they need. Mandatory reporting policies, designed to protect children, may be making children less safe. (source)
Your son, or a very close family member, comes to you with a terrible anxiety. He cannot fathom why, but he has realised he has an 'unnatural desire' for pre-pubescent children.
I hadn't thought about that excellent scenario. That would be an ideal way to start trying to solve the problem, and (having only daughters), I have no clue.
I would suspect that any such histories in therapists' files are held confidential. So I wonder if there's been any attempt to compile such files in an anonymous fashion, or if the current, state legal systems make it impossible.
Luck would have it, or perhaps just the opposite, there are plenty of female pedophiles too, so only having daughters makes you in no way immune to the conversation.
There are gay and lesbian pedophiles as well, though the lesbians are probably few and far between.
Irrespective of orientation or gender, the question remains unanswered. The real issue is whether it even has an answer, and if not, what do we need to do to create a solution.
Good point, but priority-wise, I'm really only concerned with the male perps. I'll bet that even treatment-wise, they should be in a different category, but I admit I don't know that for certain.
As far as violations go, I'm guessing that males initiate 95% of the incidents, but real statistics might prove more interesting. In fact, perhaps the cultural abhorrence to female perps is not nearly as damaging, to so-called "victims"?
Luck would have it, or perhaps just the opposite...
(Ha, I missed that phrase, until just now.)
And in some of those famous/infamous female perp, male victim cases, don't some of them actually get married, later?
It's the same lack of consent and the psychological harm facing girls and boys, regardless of who molested/raped them. I don't think we should de-prioritize the female perps.
Who cares if they get married later---that doesn't make it ok.
Who cares if they get married later---that doesn't make it ok.
I don't think the male, purported victim in those cases would agree.