Sometimes we exercise control over our actions, but our thoughts are out of control. An alcoholic may be able to remain on the wagon, but they say that the desire for a drink never abates. We may be able to refrain from violence despite the involuntary desire to knock out someone’s lights. If we could be jailed for our thoughts, most of us would be wearing stripes.
Earlier this week, one of my readers contacted me about a small number of pedophiles who are sexually attracted to children, but choose not to act on their desires. Yet society, in its hatred of the pedophilic act, reacts to these unfortunates as if their actions have already crossed the line, as if their commitment to “doing no harm” never existed.
How many of them are there? A 1989 study of about 200 male college undergrads found 5% admitted to masturbating to pictures of children, and 7% said they’d have sex with a child if they could get away with it. A 1991 study found 3% of some 600 college men reported having had a sexual experience with a child when they were 16 years or older. Although mostly documented in men, there are also women who exhibit the disorder (about 10% of males), but researchers assume available estimates underrepresent the true number of female pedophiles.
No cure for pedophilia has been developed, but there are therapies that can reduce the incidence of persons committing child sexual abuse. But therapists typically discourage pedophiles from becoming their clients, and the surest means of keeping the incidence of pedophilia to a minimum is supporting the restraint of the pedophiles themselves.
Yet, as I have said before, such a reasonable and tolerant reaction is the rare exception, and not the rule. It is an attitude which needs to change, and I will return to this subject periodically with the goal of reducing the sexual abuse of children by many means. If this involves treating pedophiles with respect and as a part of the solution, so be it.
In the interest of using this blog as a soapbox for people with an authentic personal stake in this goal, I am reprinting here a portion of a post on another blog, so you can see for yourself the experience of one young man who has made a commitment to living a celibate life:
I am a young adult, 26, and I am exclusively attracted to boys approximately between the ages of 8 and 14. I don’t know particularly why I am this way. What matters is that at this point in time, regardless how I got here, this is who I am and who hundreds of thousands (if not more) are and will be. I do not believe any one thing biologically or environmentally is responsible for any one other thing. I am who I am because of bidirectional influences of nature and nurture. I had a completely sexless childhood (to my knowledge) and I agree with my current therapist who says that is quite uncommon. I go so far as to say that has contributed to my sexual orientation.
Many people believe being molested as a kid turns them into child molesters or pedophiles (not the same thing), and “research” likes to make the same conclusion of cyclical “offending” because it is so convenient. Researchers can frame their research to say anything they want. This is what made me realize the true problems with research on pedophilia and child sexuality. In fact, the laws we have on the books about age of consent and anything to do with sex and kids is founded on nothing. The laws prevent research from being done that would either prove or disprove the correctness of those very laws! It is a catch-22 that is designed as such. I am involuntarily celibate as nobody I have liked has liked me back. And, I obviously refrain from any sexual activity I desire due to the legal ramifications, both to me and to the hypothetical younger partner.
My beliefs fall in line with the works of Bruce Rind (et al.) and Theo Sandfort to name a very few. I believe the majority of traumatization from childhood sexual activity with adults spawns from social disapproval of the sexual activity, not necessarily the activity itself. I believe things like rape, violence, coercion, extortion, drug abuse, exploitation and non-consent are characteristic of true child molestation, not a consensual, loving, positive sexual experience. Of course, trauma can and does occur when the things listed above occur in a sexual interaction between an adult and a child, but I do not believe trauma results from a child’s desired sexual interaction with anyone, including adults. It is assumed that because adults are older and more powerful that they, without question, will take advantage of a younger person, but this simply isn’t always the case.
If you think about it, the child has more power because they have the ability to destroy the life of the adult by reporting to parents and authority figures, even if an adult has done absolutely nothing to them. Many people do not buy this perspective, but it is incredibly real when you understand just how smart and powerful some kids are. No, not all kids can consent to sexual activity just as I believe not all adults can. We have literally retarded human development with the creation and sensationalization of childhood. We oppress the learning process and keep kids “innocent” and ignorant as long as possible, raising the age of legal permissions higher and higher. Ignorance is not knowing something one should know while innocence is not knowing something one shouldn’t know. Who is to decide what one should or shouldn’t know? Parents want their little ignorant angels as long as possible, stunting their psychological, social and sexual growth.
My “sexual neglect” is, I believe, partially responsible for my sexual orientation. I believe in the zone of proximal sexual development where the zone of proximal development refers to a person’s ability to solve a problem or puzzle as far as they can until they need intervention from a more knowledgeable person, whether or not they are older. I believe this can fit into comprehensive sexual education, tailored to each individual. Some kids may just need conversation, others might desire contact. This is a very scary thought for many because people simply cannot be trusted and our fish nets catch dolphins (metaphorically, hopefully you understand).
The first time I masturbated was my first sexual experience at 14 years old after asking a boy I had a crush on how to masturbate. The week leading up to this fantastic discovery I was at a church beach camp with a new church I had found because I was attracted to the boy who invited me to attend. There was a running bet among the boys in the youth group who could go the longest without masturbating. So I thought “I gonna win this thing. I have to! I’ve never masturbated before so I don’t even know what I’m missing out on. I’ll win for sure.” The thought of me missing out on this incredibly tempting and widely practiced thing was eating away at me and made me feel quite isolated, out of the loop and lame. So after asking my crush how to do it the day after the bet started, I was the first one to lose! Lol! If I had had a man I loved and trusted help me with my sexuality, emotionally and physiologically, through discussion and sex play, I would have been such a happy kiddo and probably might have a more socially acceptable sexual orientation today.
Unfortunately, about a week after having masturbated for the first time (and all week long) I realized I was thinking about my crush and that meant I was gay. The thought of me being gay and, therefore, unacceptable to my church and my family made me severely depressed. I went to therapy which helped me to love myself no matter what, but a few years down the road I was still severely depressed and anxious. By the time I turned 17 I realized my attraction wasn’t growing with me and if I didn’t have sex with a boy I liked before I turned 18 I was screwed for life having missed the boat to legally act on my innate desires. Up to that point I thought I was (merely) gay, but then I realized I was a pedophile.
Everything I had known about pedophilia was that is was evil, sick, wrong, disgusting. I top-down processed it, attributing all the negative characteristics to me, the sweet, kind, old-soul, loving pudgy little boy. I was now a monster who had to live a double life in hiding and without the greatest pleasure of life, forever. I immediately became suicidal.
Going into college I decided to shoot the moon and dedicate all of my research papers and everything I did in college to shedding truth and critical thinking on pedophilia and child sexuality. Upon graduating university with a B.S. in psychology, I had outed myself to nearly 140 people through interpersonal interactions (friends and acquaintances), research papers and presentations, and a monologue/Q&A with about 60 people at a sexual minorities event at the university’s LGBTQIAA club.
Also, I was assaulted with intent to be murdered by a group of 5 skinheads 5 to 6 years younger than me because they heard that I was gay. I wouldn’t tell the police why they attacked me because I was afraid and ashamed. They documented it as a hate crime (even though I don’t believe in hate crimes. I believe in punishment or correction of an action, but not particularly because of the motivation behind it. I suppose correction couldn’t avoid dealing with motivation). I was slapped with a minor in consumption of alcohol even though I was months away from my 21st birthday and they let the assailants go free.
I found out 2 days later at the hospital my left eye socket was shattered. That event left the biggest scar on my life to date and reinforced my will as an activist for queer youth. I moved to a suburb just south of San Francisco after college to immerse myself in the queer community. I found it quite the bubble of gays who display just as much if not more ‘groupthink’ than conservative communities. Almost every gay man I met out there was either a boylover (homoephebo/pedophile), a loved boy as a kid or both. But, not one of them was out about it. They had only come out of the closet about it when I walked into their lives and opened up about myself, but they absolutely would not be open about it in public. That is a hugely disappointing secret I found out about the gay community. Because all of these gay men are fortunate enough to have a more acceptable attraction to men, they are able to throw their attraction to boys and those who are exclusively attracted to boys under the bus to gain their own rights to love men. They’ve created a common ground of hatred to share with conservative communities to gain their own acceptance. “We think they’re sick and wrong too. We’re not like them so now we’re on the same team.”
I was a private percussion instructor and a program leader at an after-school “club” that everyone knows about, but shall remain nameless, and a roady and drum technician for a rock band of tween boys. The band of kids was getting rather big so the manager wanted to start a reality show about us on Cartoon Network. He gave the parents, roadies and everyone involved a sort of autobiography to fill out in which he wanted is to each give a bit of dirt on us to create some necessary drama. This is where I went way overboard, yet somewhat on purpose. I came out in this autobiography as a celibate, virgin homoephebopedophile or boylover. This scared the shit out of the manager (who is actually a tyrannical child abuser himself) and the parents. I knew what could potentially happen and it did. I was kicked out of the group and given absolutely no understanding or sympathy. My place of employment was notified and I was illegally let go from being a program leader as well.
About a year later after I got a gig teaching drumset and marching percussion at a local mom-and-pop music store, I had a deep conversation with a parent I’d known for a while who I thought I could trust with coming out to. Nope. She freaked out, printed out the online conversation and spread it around the community. There were no incriminating things in it, but just labeling myself as a boylover was enough to get me illegally fired from my teaching position.
Boy, when will I learn!? My prefrontal cortex still isn’t fully developed so my ego still trumps the superego on occasion. The printed out conversation made it into the hands of local law enforcement who asked me to meet them at the police station for discussion. They basically lectured me on how acting upon my desires is illegal (as if I didn’t already know that) and refused to release the 40-page conversation to me as it still sits in that evidence room today (in case they ever want to fabricate a serial molestation story and pin it on me, brainwashing kids to think I had inappropriately touched them).
I looked for several lawyers to help me out with all of this, having lost three jobs over simply stating my sexual orientation and no illegal activity. I could not find one lawyer who would help me (what lawyer wants to say they helped the pedophile go back to work with kids?). All of this actually spilled over into my professional drumming career and cost me two bands.
I tried to commit suicide a third time by hanging myself. I hung for a few seconds before I chickened out and got myself down. I had posted to Facebook that I had gotten the supplies to kill myself and a friend had notified the police who, shortly after the attempt, 5150ed me, taking me to the loony bin for three days. I managed to get out of there by showing them I could overcome my depression by playing music. I decided to move back to my home state and city after all this.
Pedophilia will not simply go away. No pedophile holocaust will rid the world of kids being born pedophiles or becoming them through the bidirectional interaction of their biology and their environment. I am not an activist about the critical understanding of pedophilia and sympathy for pedophiles for myself anymore. I do this for the countless KIDS who are or will realize they are attracted exclusively to kids. How many kids actually kill themselves because they aren’t merely gay or lesbian, but because they know they are only attracted to kids? I do what I do because no kiddo should EVER have to feel the way I did a go through what I did.
If only there were a more direct way of reaching those kids to tell them they are perfect the way they are and that while we most likely won’t gain acceptance in our lifetime, it is up to us to fight for future generations, and that they are loved for who they are (and by pedophiles). Pedophiles do serve a purpose in society and that is to help kids (particularly queer ones). Heteronormativity and sexual neglect during childhood absolutely crushes queer kids and traumatizes them (I would know, I was).
The main messages I try to get across to anyone and everyone are these:
1. Pedophiles are not child molesters. Just as homosexuals are no more likely to molest kids as heterosexuals, the same goes for pedophiles. Most perpetrators of child molestation are power-hungry people who do not necessarily have an attraction to minors.
2. Celibate pedophiles deserve sympathy and understanding. How many people can say they know what it’s like to not be able to partake in one of life’s greatest pleasures/gifts and be aware of that every single day of their life!?
3. Not all kids are incapable of sexual behavior or knowledge of sex. In fact, as I have stated above, sexual exploration and play can be critical to the healthy development of some children. Just because you developed into a heterosexual teleiophile without sexual interaction as a kid doesn’t mean everyone else will. Or, just because you didn’t know about or have sex as a kid doesn’t mean you can apply your experiences to everyone else and say all kids are immature.
4. Everything the queer community endured is what the pedophile and other -philia communities are putting up with now.
5. Objectivity is moral, but morality is subjective.
6. Kids aren’t our future. They’re the present.
Groove of the Day