People who have paedophilic drives are born that way or have had childhood experiences not under their control that promote the drive. My starting assumption is that people reach adulthood with a set of psychological challenges they had no control over and that people face a life-long struggle to work with these challenges in a way that will minimise harm to other humans.
Right now Western society ranks paedophilic activity as one of the most pointed issues facing us. At the same time Western society revels in unrelenting sexualisation of children for commercial purposes.
If society exalts images of pre-pubescent people while destroying the lives of people who obsess on them then there’s a contradiction. The more parents insist on driving their children to school and deprive or distort information about sex getting through to their children, the more children are vulnerable to both actual abuse and the psychological impact of abuse when it hits them. If everyone talked openly about sexual abuse then it would decline. It would decline because children would be more open about talking about sexual experiences whether they’re welcome or not. It would also decline because the legally recalcitrant element of the act would be lowered, freeing both victims and perpetrators to talk about the issue. You get the feeling that a lot of society revels in, and is repulsed by, in a mind-stimulating way, the juxtaposition of sexuality, youth and moral indignation.
Modern psychology hasn’t been helpful. There needs to be a movement in psychology that addresses paedophilic urges for people who don’t want to enact them. If Western society were sincere in its purported aims to protect children from porn and paedophilia then there would be things like hotlines and special psych units for paedophiles. The truth is that society doesn’t want to rid itself of paedophilia. Society is enjoying having a panaceaic scapegoat and all-triumphing slur. Sometimes the people who have the least respect for young people are the ones that purport to have the most concern for them. A bit like sexist men purporting to be chivalrous towards women.
I have no sympathy for people who indulge their paedophilic urges, whether it be in reality or through watching media represent paedophilic activities. However there is a clear need for de-mystification if society truly wants to rid itself of paedophilia.
People who are most stridently anti-paedophilic without suggesting or wanting remedies other than life imprisonment have to be worried about. This was evident in the recent Bill Henson hysteria. The people who disrespect and are least interested in the mental complexities involved in the cross-over between childhood and adulthood are more likely to be paedophiles themselves than people that take an empathic, practical approach to addressing child sex abuse. There is something disturbing about both Henson’s works and the face of Henson himself. You don’t focus on a particular subject area without having an interest in it that may exceed the bounds of the ideas presented in your actual work. Henson creeps me out.
It’s bizarre that society considers sexual misconduct with underage people to be worse than murdering underage people. Think: what does this tell you about society?
Another issue is how the internet has helped paedophiles normalise their drives through contact with like-minded people. And another issue is that there are a lot of paedophilic images on the net, that young people in the first part of this century are often developing their sexuality in tandem with input from the internet, and that this can influence their drives. Tom Allard talks about this possibility and the further possibility that looking at child porn could increase rates of actual child sexual abuse. He cites a small study in prison in which 25% of inmates locked up for viewing child porn initially admitted to actualising the fantasy. By the end of the study 85% of people locked up for viewing child porn admitted to actualisation.
Of course there is the issue of whether paedophilic “love” is morally repugnant. I personally find it repugnant but not because of the juxtaposition of innocence and sex. Kids aren’t as innocent as people think. I find it repugnant because of the lack of informed consent, the malleability of children’s sexual trajectory and any fear that is instilled in victims. I’ll note that there is a question of degree (where does the age of consent cut in - other egs such as whether “consent” should factor in things like IQ - eg should the age of consent cut in at 18 rather than 16 for people that have an IQ lower than 80 etc?).
People who are born into paedophilic bodies but who make active attempts to address the issue and who don’t molest children should be admired. Paedophilia is the focus of suspiciously intense focus and supposed disgust in Western society right now. Right-minded, courageous, non-offending paedophiles should be the subject of utmost respect.
The overriding point of my rant is that we have to have empathy for people who are born with or develop child-sex fantasies in their adolescence. And that, if we were truly serious about addressing the problem rather than using it as a McCarthyist demonisation tactic, we would have more psychiatrists/psychologists deployed to help people who have child-sex drives and who don’t want to offend.
The truth is that society loves to hate paedophilia and loves to use it as a tool to demonise others.