pedophilia: a paraphilia of the stigmatic/eligibilic type in which sexuoerotic arousal and the facilitation or attainment of orgasm in a postpubertal adolescent or adult male or female are responsive to and [dependent upon]{contingent on} having a juvenile partner of prepubertal or peripubertal, developmental status [from Greek, paidos, child + -philia]. Pedophile relationships may be heterosexual or homosexual or, more rarely, bisexual. They may take place in imagery or actuality, or both. The technical term for the reciprocal paraphilic condition in which an older person impersonates a juvenile is paraphilic juvenilism. The age and developmental status of the partner distinguishes pedophilia from nepiophilia and ephebophilia. (adjective, pedophilic): the condition in which an adult is responsive to or dependent on the imagery or actuality of erotic/sexual activity with a peripubertal or early pubertal boy or girl, in order to obtain erotic arousal and facilitate or achieve orgasm. A pedophiliac may be a male or a female. Pedophilic activity may be replayed in fantasy during masturbation or copulation with an older partner. See also gerontophilia.

Dictionary of Sexology Project: Main Index

Although some nodes on e2 seem to prefer just joking the matter away, the fact is ignored that there are quite a lot of people out there who are pedophiles or have pedophile tendencies. This writeup is not for them. This writeup is for those of you who are curious about what pedophilia is, and it tries to give some insight into why someone can be a pedophile.

I do realize that this writeup can be a bit "in the face" to some, and I strongly encourage someone to write a writeup that is the opposite of this one. The purpose of this WU is purely to see things from a fresh perspective

How many people are pedophiles?

It is hard to put a number on something like this. Think about it this way: Very many homosexuals have a hard time "coming out of the closet", or admitting they are homosexual, even though statistically as many as 1/7 may have homosexual or bisexual tendencies.

In addition to this, people are naturally protective of children. Because pedophilia is often connected with child abuse, very few people will admit to being pedophiles.

So, what's so great about shagging kids?

Unfortunately, most sexual preferences that are not "normal" (i.e. everything other than heterosexuality) is met with a great deal of skepticism and prejudice. That is all right, it is a natural part of being human. However, if you are not willing to be open-minded about sexual preferences (including pedophilia), you might as well go read something else.

So what is pedophilia is all about?

Unfortunately (for the sake of this node) I am not a pedophile, and I cannot give a firsthand experience / story. I have done some research, however, and most of the things in this writeup will be more or less a regurgitation of the thoughts and ideas I have come across. If anyone knows that I have made any mistakes or omissions, please do contact me, so I can correct.

Pedophilia is a controversial topic, a topic which most people have some kind of opinion about. However, this opinion is often based on hate-propaganda served by the media. I am not condoning (or denouncing, for that matter) pedophilia , but one must never forget where information comes from. The media have an agenda; Even though the media likes to project an image of the illusion that everything they do is for the enlightenment of the public, this is not always true. The media (in particular tabloid media) wants to sell their programs/newspapers. To do this, controversial issues tend to be seen from a politically correct viewpoint. Luckily, E2 is not such an institution, so I will try to let you see the other side of pedophilia.

Couldn't quite figure out where to fit this in, but: Another thing that makes pedophilia so controversial, is the name of the "crime"; Even if a young person consents to having a sexual relationship with someone older, the crime is labeled"statutory rape". Rape has a very strong negative connotation, even though the crime might be a formality.

Young people

Think back a few years. You are 12-15 years old, and are just discovering that there is such a thing as sex. Puberty is a time of insecurity and big changes. For some, these changes are bigger than for others (if you, for example, are gay, you know what I mean). Imagine discovering that your main "thing" isn't boys or girls of your own age. Imagine that your "thing" is other young people. More in particular; People younger than you, say children aged 9-15. The age difference isn't all that big, and nobody really cares. However, as the years pass by, your preference stays at children aged 9-15. That's what's called a problem.

Seen from this perspective, pedophilia is suddenly something very different than your average child molester So, what happens if you are a pedophile, and the only information you get about it is the legal cases that show up in the media every now and then, about child molesters?

Studies

There have been very few (if any) truly objective studies or research done on pedophilia. Reasons for there being no objective reports are:

  • Emotional language. Words like abuse, exploitation, perpetrator, victim, and survivor are common.
  • Failure to refer to studies that disagree. Most studies refer only to studies that agree on the same conclusion.
  • Leading questions. Subjects are asked questions in a way that implies that sex is bad or harmful.
  • Structural limitations. Studies may be structured so that there is no room for reporting positive sexual experiences.
  • All symptoms blamed on sexual abuse. Even symptoms that appeared prior to the sexual abuse or only appeared after disclosure are ascribed to the sexual abuse. The psychological effects of disclosure, police investigation, etc. are not discussed.
  • Sample not representative. Many studies are carried out on psychiatric patients who, of course, will show psychiatric symptoms, whether sex-abused or not.
  • Missing control group. Many studies fail to compare with non-abused persons.
  • Pooling together dissimilar events. Many studies use a very broad definition of sexual abuse, including very dissimilar events. This tends to exaggerate the harmful effects of the less severe forms of abuse, and at the same time dilute the effects of the most severe forms of abuse.
  • Failing to isolate significant parameters. Certain parameters are known to have a large effect on the psychological outcome of a sexual encounter. These include the use of force, the sex of the child, and whether the child is related to the perpetrator. Failure to isolate these parameters tend to muddle the results.
  • Failure to control for confounding variables. Many of the sexually abused children investigated are also victims of broken families, physical abuse, and neglect. Ascribing all psychological symptoms to the sexual abuse, rather than to the other problems experienced by the child, is of course very dubious. In fact, it has been shown that most of the observed symptoms can better be explained by the family background than by the sexual abuse, and in most studies the effects of sexual abuse fails to be significant when family background is controlled for.

Is pedophilia violent?

The politically correct opinion/view is that "pedophilia == child abuse". However, this is (at best) incorrect. When scientists refer to "heterosexual" intercourse, they do not categorize it as a form of rape. The same goes for pedophilia.

A study written by a Mr. C.K Li (Cambridge University, Institute of Criminology) did a study on pedophilia. From his interviews he concluded that "many pedophile are truly interested in the child's world and that affection and a loving relationship represent their ultimate ideal, not just sexual gratification"

It might be about love

If you ever speak to a pedophile (chances are you won't, because the way things are today), chances are that you get a quite different picture of pedophilia, namely that there are two different sides to it, namely sexual abuse of children and genuine love of children.

  • Sexual Abuse: The child feels that it is impossible to withdraw from the sexual activity. The child wants it to stop, but the adult obstructs this. Abuse of power and other intimidation makes abuse over a long period possible.
  • Pedophilia: The child can withdraw at any moment according to his/her desire. The adult respects the child's wish and does not blame the child for his/her decision.
  • Sexual Abuse: The lust of the adult is the only criterion. The erotic needs of the child are ignored. The child is a passive partner and a sex object.
  • Pedophilia: Interplay in personal and (perhaps) sexual level. The sexual activity, if any, is geared to the child's psycho-sexual level. The adult joins the child in his/her sexuality.
  • Sexual Abuse: Secrecy is enforced. The feelings of shame of the child are exploited. If the sexual activity comes out, the child is made to feel guilty, even though in fact being unwilling the sexual activity.
  • Pedophilia: Trying to be as open as is possible in morality and environment. Well-being is verbally and non-verbally expressed to each other during the relationship.
  • Sexual Abuse: Oppressive atmosphere, no feelings of safety and intimacy.
  • Pedophilia: One aims at an atmosphere which is as safe as possible.
  • Sexual Abuse: The relationship is not equivalent. In the respect of upbringing or education, there is repression, authority or manipulation.
  • Pedophilia: The aim is to create an equal partnership. In the case of a continued relation it develops to friendship.
  • Sexual Abuse: The adult is not interested in the child as a person, at the most as an occasional sex object.
  • Pedophilia:The adult expresses interest in the child's world. There is common ground, even if the contact is only a single event.
  • Sexual Abuse: There is little common ground. The child is consciously isolated from others, also from peers. The adult lays a claim to the child.
  • Pedophilia: There is a space for a youth culture and contact with others. Interests are shared.
  • Sexual Abuse: No open communication; all emotional expression is suppressed.
  • Pedophilia: The aim is more space to express emotions. Power is balanced. Child and adult share the power.
  • Sexual Abuse: In institutions love and attention are sparse; in these cases there is a greater chance that the children will become fixated on sexuality by the adults
  • Pedophilia: The adult has a real interest in the sexual feelings of the child. He wishes to join at the child's level. The relationship is a valuable supplement to the child's life.
  • Sexual Abuse: The child has feelings of fear and aversion. One can see the child is asking for help.
  • Pedophilia: Happy feelings are prevalent. Sometimes, however, the child feels unease because of the generally accepted morals. Yet the child tries to express positive feelings to the environment.

    As you can see, the views from the two perspectives (the one of the pedophile, and the other being the view of pretty much the rest of the world) vary wildly. Without speculating too much about who is "right" (the "truth" can only be found by seeing things from at least two angles), it has to be pointed out that writing either view off as delusion is probably not right.

The hunt for the child abuser

(or: the modern witch hunt)

The common belief that child sexual abuse is everywhere has led to many grotesque efforts to uncover the hidden abuse, and many false accusations. In 1983 in California, a psychotic mother noticed that her three-year old son's anal area was reddened and she became obsessed with the thought that he had been sodomized by a teacher at the preschool. The boy denied this, but after repeated questioning, the boy said that the teacher took his temperature. Convinced that the 'thermometer' was indeed a penis, the mother called the police. The police sent letters to two hundred families whose children currently or previously attended the preschool.

All children initially denied being abused, but after repeated questioning by parents, therapists and police under a considerable pressure to disclose sexual abuse, many of the children told stories that became more and more grotesque. They told about animals being tortured and slaughtered and children being kidnapped, abused and mutilated in graveyards, hot air balloons, helicopters, and dungeons under the preschool. As the accusations spread during 1984, seven men and women were imprisoned, including an old wheelchair-bound grandma, and seven preschools were closed.

Police and parents were digging for several years without finding any dungeons. No children had ever been missing, there were no adult witnesses, and no physical evidence of anything unusual. Rather than disbelieving these increasingly bizarre stories, the psychologists came up with the idea that the children had been abused by a satanic cult. It took seven years and many expensive trials before all charges were finally dismissed for lack of evidence.

A final point

Although this writeup is by and large "in favor" of Pedophilia, it was not written to be. The main point against pedophilia has always been (and is still) that children are not independent and mature enough to make choices about love and sexuality. I strongly agree. However:

--- Pedophilia is not per definition child abuse ---

 

*) Danish Pedophile Association, http://www.danpedo.dk/


update: There have been some strong responses to this posting, which is great - it means I've made people think. In any case: I very strongly appreciate the wu by Segnbora-t that follows this one - it puts my writeup into balance, by showing both sides of this very difficult topic.

Yeah, yeah, "writeup does not mean reply." But as a survivor of something I personally consider "child sexual abuse," I've got something to say about the lines SharQ is trying to draw between abuse and pedophilia, and it's not something that only s/he needs to hear. Anyone who has heard the pedophile adult's side of the story (and since the source of SharQ's writeup include such pro-pedophile organizations as the Danish Pedophile Association, at least some of that writeup is from that perspective) needs to hear the other side, the child's side. No therapist led me to believe that I was suffering negative aftereffects -- I came to that conclusion on my own, before I'd ever seen a therapist, when I burst out in tears the first time a guy my own age put his hand on my breast.

"Seen from this perspective, pedophilia is suddenly something very different than your average child molester." What makes you think this isn't exactly the situation that your average child molester is in? The book Transforming Trauma by Anna C. Salter said something that really stuck in my mind, that there were two types of child sexual abusers that often had opposite effects on their victims.

  • There was the type who did things to a child that both they and the child knew the child did not enjoy, and the survivor of that kind of abuse is terrified of being close to and understood by people because it makes them vulnerable, that anything someone knows about them can be used against them.
  • The other type of abuser acted like the child enjoyed what was happening; this can take place whether the abuser really thinks the child is enjoying the events or is only pretending to think the child enjoys themself. Survivors of this type of abuse want everyone to know and understand them, to avoid any such misunderstanding in the future where someone thinks the person is enjoying events they really hate. I think this is the sort of thing that a lot of "pedophiles" are doing; even if they believe the child is not being harmed, they may not really understand what is going on from the child's point of view.
"Pedophilia: The child can withdraw at any moment according to its desire. The adult respects the child's wish and does not blame the child for its decision." Most relationships between consenting adults don't end this sweetly, much less one involving a child who is used to seeing adults and what they want as authority and the way things must be. Adults are in a position where they can be "friends" of a child and still have power over the child merely because they are adults, perhaps role models, and certainly seen as more experienced and knowledgeable about any issue the child is unfamiliar with.

"Sexual Abuse: The adult is not interested in the child as a person, at the most as an occasional sex object.
Pedophilia:The adult expresses interest in the child's world. There is common ground, even if the contact is only a single event."
My grandfather was interested in my world. He was and is a member of my family who loves me and cares about my life, then and now, just as much as the rest of my family who never laid a sexual hand on me do. After the last time he tried anything with me, when I got up the courage to push him out of the room and lock the door behind him, he spoke to me later that day and said "I'm glad you're not scared to be around me." (And the fact that he let me push him out of the room without fighting me obviously proves he wasn't physically forcing me into anything.) Hurting me was not his desire, but it was the result nonetheless. And dealing with how someone who does love you could have hurt you is one of the most difficult things for children, no matter what kind of hurt it is.

"Sexual Abuse: The relationship is not equivalent. In the respect of upbringing or education, there is repression, authority or manipulation.
Pedophilia: The aim is to create an equal partnership. In the case of a continued relation it develops to friendship. ... {In pedophilia} The aim is more space to express emotions. Power is balanced. Child and adult share the power."
Not really possible. Children are smaller than adults; children are used to being in the control of adults; children are less experienced in dealing with people's behavior. An adult may not be aware of being manipulative, but that doesn't mean they aren't having an effect on the child.

And something that is harmful that is never even mentioned: sexual contact with an older person teaches a child that sex is so important that this older person is willing to risk breaking laws, societal ostracism, and possible harm to the child to have this sexual contact. That's something that sticks in the mind and causes all sorts of problems for the child as they grow up, be it pressuring others for sex because it's so important or assuming it will be as important to others as it was to that older person and forming relationships on that assumption. (I wrote a whole essay on this theme at http://www.segnbora.com/harm.html, using myself and the other people I know who had sexual contact in childhood with people substantially older.) Don't read the psychological treatises; read I Never Told Anyone or other collections of stories from those who feel they were sexually abused, and see how many of their abusers didn't think they were doing any harm.

I'm not saying this idealized pedophilic relationship of SharQ's writeup never happens, but I am saying that it's a lot rarer than contacts made by pedophiles who think they are living that harmless ideal but really aren't, and aren't aware of what happens to those children after they've grown out of the pedophile's attraction to them.

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