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. 

Tags: Dawkins, Richard, pedophilia

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I remember accidentally walking next to a woman in a red dress at an airport, thinking it was my grandmother because she was wearing a red dress too. It was a completely arbitrary mistake that was quickly corrected by looking over my shoulder and realizing I was walking faster than my grandmother and was now a short way ahead of her. This was 18 years ago when I was 7. You'd be amazed at the redundant crap that people remember from their childhood, not because it was somehow traumatic or impressive, but because it just so happened to be remembered.

So I doubt that an intelligent man like Dawkins would be traumatized by a simple feel up, especially to an extent that it's still bothering him today.

In my opinion a LOT of the trauma of victims stems from the "therapist" (I was tempted to put a space in the middle of that word). Like lawyers, they live and thrive on animosity and conflict.

I wonder how many Greeks back in the day suffered a lifetime of mental anguish as a result of the SAME activities which, instead of being demonized, were accepted by their society as natural. My guess is that, unless the sexual activity was accompanied by violence or coercion, none.

What is it with people an their mistrust of doctors? My soon to be husband has very little respect for them, but My experience with most doctors tells me that they do their jobs to the best of their abilities. There are a few lazy ones, and I'd be surprised if many of them weren't greedy, but they tend to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, more often than not. I've seen a few therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists in my time, and the only ones that were bad at their jobs were the few christian counselors that my father sent me to, though that may be the fact that God was one of the things actually causing my depression, so I might be an isolated case.

Firstly "therapist" does NOT mean doctor. Pretty much anyone can call themselves a therapist. In our society, replete as it is with sexual guilt, when a therapist is charged with finding the harm done by early sexual activity, the therapist is not EVER going to declare their client psychologically fit and well. Their JOB is to find (or, failing that, manufacture) mental anxiety and conflict. If none can be found/instilled, they're out of a job.

I've always been amused and fascinated by the idea that the mere addition of a space turns "therapist" into "the rapist."

I've always been amused and fascinated by the idea that the mere addition of a space turns "therapist" into "the rapist."

This post might amuse more readers in the grammar nazi thread?

There will always be people facing challenges to fill the waiting rooms of licensed medical therapists. They don't need to "manufacture" problems for their clients to keep the payroll flowing. Just the amount of addiction, inborn mental illness or deficits, and assault that goes on in our society is enough to sustain therapists. Therapists do close cases and they do declare their clients psychologically well.

Do those who close case include the ones who declare prison inmates to no longer be a danger, but who then go out and re-offend?

There's probably some truth to this, but insurance companies won't helping much in that area. For the therapists that I happen to know, the low salaries are not a huge incentive, and their office or institution's goal is to make people better in order to serve others in line who need it, too.

What you're speaking of, I imagine, might be a problem in higher cost markets, like (say) Hollywood? Might there be some enlightening stories about (say) Michael Jackson victims, in (say) some of the gossip rags?

The idea that one must exercise caution in applying present standards to the past is fair, yet I am not certain I agree with all of his sentiment. My mother, though more than a decade younger that Dawkins, has made comments to the same effect, though I gathered copping a feel on children was never acceptable behaviour; speaking too openly about it simply violated a sense of propriety. There wasn't always much to be done, especially when the abuser's reputation was substantially higher than the abused individual's. 

In the latter portion of the twentieth century especially, many cultures had invested a great deal of effort in remedying the fact that children and women were not adequately heard or supported in the face of abuse. Where once we reacted insufficiently, perhaps now we are overbearing (as a matter of personal opinion). 

Abuse occurs along a very broad spectrum from the very mild to the violently horrific. Problematically, you cannot simply cleave that spectrum into neat parcels, as people who work in the field of dealing with abuse probably spend a fair bit of time looking at patterns of abuse and victimization which can stop a the mild end, yet can also start there and run the entire gamut. Through that lens, even if we cast aside moral condemnation, it would likely appear that turning a blind eye to groping children was then and is now a mistake. I do not think there is a softening relativity in that regard as we travel back in time.

The Greeks and Romans remain useless to the conversation until some reliable indicator of child wellbeing can be provided.

I often find myself having to remind people that, unless terminology is to mean nothing, we need to remember that pedophilia, as a disorder, applies to people who lust after prepubescent children. Once a young person starts exhibiting secondary sexual characteristics (starts to look adult-ish), we are in statutory rape territory not pedophilia territory.

That said...

I think our attitudes toward pedophilia are partly cultural and, yes, our culture, even for atheists, has absorbed some cultural values from Christianity. So what? We can NEVER agree with Christians? That's total nonsense, and anyone who believes that is suffering from a prejudice.

That said, various cultures which are wildly different from our own have practiced sex with young men and women by relatives or elders, and not as abuse, but as a way of introducing them to the sexual aspect of adult life. I'm talking about various African, Native American, Pacific Island tribes as well as others. The minors we are talking about are people coming of age, in societies where an adult may only live to somewhere in their 30's on the average and an elder who lives to 50 is regarded as phenomenally old, much the way we might regard an elder in their 90's or 100's. 

Generally speaking, in those societies, there appears to be none of the damage that's done in our society where the abused is to some extent re-abused by a society which tells them that they are marked and will be different because they are damaged for the rest of their lives. 

I might also add that I'm sure there's many an instance of some teen who had sex with an adult and came through it relatively unscathed and, dare I say, in rare cases, the better for it. 

What? You don't know how to use Google? Make it your research assignment, not mine! Prove me wrong if you can. Prove to me, for example, that a teen in an African tribe where teens are introduced to sex by elders ends up with psychiatric problems. Should be easy if I'm wrong.


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