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.
Look, I get that discussion of primitive tribes is meant to demonstrate how humans might behave "in nature" - outside the constraints of laws written by people you've never laid eyes on. I, for one, would like to know more about what you stand for in today's Western society.
No, it's not about a state of nature, it's about one society judging another as though its rules and values are written in the sky, giving it a basis to judge that other culture.
I'm not sure why you feel a need to know what I stand for in today's Western society, although if you'll review my total contributions to this discussion from start to finish, I have laid it out. What is toxic in a society imbued with Christian values that infect even the minds of atheists, and where shame and guilt and basically the Scarlet Letter go along with sexual abuse... In a society like that, these attitudes become partners in the abuse.
Other than that, it's hard to have a firm opinion without discussing a particular case, other than to say pedophilia is wrong, and it's probably wrong even in so-called backward or primitive cultures. Bear in mind, though, that by pedophiia I mean what a clinician means: sex between an adult and a pre-pubescent (=preteen). After that, we're in statutory rape territory, which means it's dependent on legislation. As low as 14 in Connecticut, and with a couple exceptions, 18 almost everywhere else in the US.
Did I leave any questions unanswered?
I wonder if pedophilia is curable or is it as hard wired as homosexuality is?
If it were similar to homosexuality in its psychological origins, would you want to treat it like we treat homosexuality and decriminalize it?
I dont think of pedophilia the same as homosexuality because one of them isnt a danger to children.
maybe I should have said ;
Is pedophilia as hard wired as heterosexuality. That would have been safer.
I agree with you on something (finally!).
Unfortunately, the only way to get a pedophile under control is to wait for them to molest a child.
Hell, in a certain respect, MURDER is "hard-wired". A certain percentage of people will murder. We need to protect ourselves and our families from murderers, fraudsters, bullies, sexual predators, etc., etc. But moral panic should not be prompting our legal systems to draw arbitrary lines where no such lines exist in nature.
" it's probably wrong even in so-called backward or primitive cultures"
Doesn't that contradict your previous assertions? Namely, other cultures don't consider it wrong - so, to them, it's not. Or are you worried about the jurisdiction from whence you are posting? :-)
My assertion is that "wrong" should be defined as "causing HARM to another" - that NO activity should be prohibited in law unless real harm AND absence of consent can be proven. (BTW I believe one "no" is plenty for anyone who is party to any activity.)
"toxic ...that infect even the minds of atheists"
Very nicely put.
I am a prude above all prudes. Hell, I think tattoos are an abomination. But my sense of personal freedom is far stronger than my personal sense of "creepiness".
Okay, it's becoming clear you haven't really read most of my replies.
When referring to sexual initiations in other (what we would call) primitive cultures, those involve young adults, not babies, toddlers, or preteens.
What is regarded as taboo in every culture I know about is what we call pedophilia, sex with babies, toddlers, and/or preteens.
In some tribe way up the Amazon that hasn't been particularly exposed to our culture and is still living according to their traditions, they often include a sexual initiation in their ceremonies of initiation into adulthood. You need to realize that in a society where someone is elderly if they survive to 40, adulthood comes sooner than it does in ours.
If you're concerned about harm, generally there is no harm in those societies because they're completely oblivious to the sexual attitudes that cause guilt and shame in our own culture.
As for consent, I'm all for it in our culture. It's probably a head-scratcher in theirs. Some of these societies are very structured. You do what you do when it's time to do it and become what you become when it's time for that. It's their turf and their rules.
In a sense, we don't at all times require consent for everything even here. Suppose, for example, it's my 18th birthday tomorrow, but I don't feel ready for adulthood yet. Well, like it or fucking not, tomorrow I'm an adult. Nobody is asking for my consent to become an adult. In a way, it's the same as in one of those tribes, except that their youths have been waiting for the adult initiation and are probably looking forward to it.
"What is regarded as taboo in every culture I know about is what we call pedophilia, sex with babies, toddlers, and/or preteens."
Three words: 1) sex - absolutely, sex (= penetration) would, in all likelihood, cause physical harm, leading to anxiety and/or trauma; 2) taboo - I remember back to the early 50s in primary school, we'd hear teacher describe "dirty old men" hanging around just outside the schoolyard in raincoats. "Don't accept candy from him." I never actually saw one, but we all thought it to be very funny.
Times have changed. In the last 20 years or so, moral panic has set in. Every word must now be weighed for the moral absolutists for whom the likes of the dirty old man is no longer "taboo", he is now the epitome of evil. Society doesn't caution citizens against contact. Instead the moral absolutists promote shooting him in the head. And, like the anti-ACA, right-wing, "let-'em-die" crowd, we've become used to cries of affirmation, "yeah, shoot 'em all". What's really disappointing is to hear like-minded people parroting these sentiments in this sanctuary of reason.
3) pre-teen - let's take, as an example, a 10-year-old girl. (I've strayed from my non-sexist words for a reason - girls are sexualized FAR earlier than boys - and NOT by society, by their bodies. (My ex-partner remembers masterbating to orgasms at the age of 5 and every boy knows that girls have cooties until the boy reaches puberty.) So, say this 10-year-old girl approaches a dearly-loved uncle with questions she would never take to her parents. They continue talking over a period of time and she finally succeeds in seducing him. They engage in mutual masterbation. She has NO regrets.
Does the uncle really deserve to have his whole life completely ruined?
I think THIS is where Dawkins is coming from..
So, say this 10-year-old girl approaches a dearly-loved uncle with questions she would never take to her parents. They continue talking over a period of time and she finally succeeds in seducing him. They engage in mutual masterbation. She has NO regrets.
Does the uncle really deserve to have his whole life completely ruined?
A 10 year old? Yes, unless he's a mental defective.
An adult male of normal intelligence should not give in to an underage girl if she makes a sexual play. And she probably wouldn't be making the play if she hadn't been abused by another man.
Her seductiveness is no excuse. ALL children, and especially girls with their fathers (and by extension other father figures), use seduction to get their way. They really have no other power over adults. If they want something and you say no, they play up their cuteness and maximize their appeal. "Oh,please, Daddy. Let me stay over at Mary's. It'll be so much fun and we won't stay up all night" combined with a big hug and looking into his eyes.
I was a dad. I know how it goes.
If seductiveness goes over into the sexual area with someone that young, responsible men say no because (Angela E. will appreciate this) in OUR complex society they really don't understand the implications, so it's the adult's role to protect them..
"in OUR complex society they really don't understand the implications"
What I'm trying to get across is that there would be NO lasting "implications" were it not for the moral panic within our society - any more than if she DID stay up all night. It's the society which (wrongly) introduces the harm (guilt, shame, etc.) where no harm would otherwise have existed.
"ALL children, and especially girls with their fathers (and by extension other father figures), use seduction to get their way."
Why do you suppose that is?
As usual, Dawkins is correct. Rational thinkers should be getting behind him instead of rallying under the "It's Just Wrong" flag of the moral absolutists.