Police seal of approval for Heretic TOC

20 Comments

To be honest, it would be stretching it a bit to say that a blog described as “distasteful” by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre actually has police “approval”. A recent official statement from the quango, which has police powers and functions, is sponsored by the British Home Office, and is set to become part of a new National Crime Agency later this year, has however confirmed that the blog has been inspected and not found to be in breach of any laws.

The statement was issued in response to a complaint about Heretic TOC by a certain Dr Liz Davies, whose (WordPress) blog website describes her as “a registered social worker who, following a career in frontline child protection social work, is now a Reader in Child Protection at London Metropolitan University. Oddly, her site has a “Gallery”, which is the sort of feature you might expect to see at a porn site (or so I am told!) Sure enough, be warned, the photos exhibited here are very heavy indeed – way too scary and sickening for all but the strongest stomachs. Entirely legal, though: no kids.

Dr Davies says her specialism is “the investigation of child abuse and the investigative interviewing of children, particularly in the context of organised and institutional abuse”. Awarded her PhD as recently as 2010, she is becoming quite a high-profile figure. Tom Watson MP said he relied heavily on her work and advice in his published response to Jon Henley’s Guardian article on paedophilia, covered here early last month (in Finally, a word in edgeways at the Guardian! and It’s all kicked off in the British media ). Aspiring to be an “organised and institutional abuse” crime buster, perhaps Davies sees Heretic TOC as fair game in this light. But why? She says she reported Heretic TOC to CEOP but gives very little indication as to why she felt police action was needed. It would seem there is no distinction in her eyes between, on the one hand, expressing the view that the laws relating to adult-child sex need reforming and, on the other, breaking those laws or inciting people to break them. To the censorious mind it is doubtless all one and the same: “promoting paedophilia”.

Which leaves me wondering, whatever happened to education? Has this woman never, at school or since, learned the principles of free expression and the democratic process?

CEOP’s response to her complaint, which she reproduces on her blog, apparently in full, is mercifully somewhat more sophisticated. Attributed to a CEOP Intelligence Officer, the message quotes a report on Heretic TOC from the Internet Watch Foundation indicating that no abuse images had been found at the site, so the IWF felt unable to act. The Intelligence Officer then adds on behalf of CEOP, “Furthermore, the content of what Tom O’Carroll is writing does not constitute as an offence, he is stating his opinion, and although distasteful he is entitled to free speech. Therefore CEOP will unfortunately be unable to take any further action.”

For a public body which exists to uphold the law rather than to moralise, CEOP here exercises considerable freedom of speech for its own views: Heretic TOC is considered “distasteful”, and it is “unfortunate” that no action can be taken. But at least, unlike Dr Davies, CEOP has clearly accepted that free speech is not just for popular opinions. So, bravo: credit where it is due.

I still think they need to take one further civics lesson, though. The Intelligence Officer grudgingly refers to my freedom of speech as though allowing heretics to have their say is really just another tiresome example of “political correctness gone mad”. Instead of thinking of my freedom of speech CEOP should try thinking in terms of everyone’s freedom of access to information and argument from every shade of opinion and standpoint. When any voice is silenced by censorship the right of the entire community to hear that voice is forfeited.

They should try reading J.S. Mill’s classic text On Liberty, in which the Victorian philosopher advocated an open market in opinion, from which the “buyer” should be free to choose, according to perceived merit. Even Mao Tse-tung once said that “letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend” was a good idea, although his sincerity has to be doubted. His encouragement of free speech was just a ruse. Having “enticed the snakes out of their caves”, as he put it, he had all those who revealed themselves as dissidents locked up! Heretic TOC can only hope CEOP is not being just as crafty as the ruthless old dictator!

The only problem is problematisation itself

9 Comments

What about a 8-9 years old boy or girl who has sex play with children who are 4-5 years old?

This question was part of a post on the Sexnet forum in response to my own posting there of the kindergarten oral sex story. The implication appeared to be that such an age difference would necessarily be problematic. I think it will be worth posting my reply in full. It includes a very telling personal story briefly mentioned in the comments here a few days ago. Here, with slight editing, is what I said:

What’s the problem? As Roosevelt said (or near enough!), “We have no problem but problematisation itself.” Judith Levine copiously demonstrated in her book Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex that problematising children’s sexuality serves only to create victims rather than offering protection. Let me, though, instead of quoting from Levine, give you an idea of what she and I mean in a very up-to-date example that surfaced earlier this month following the kindergarten sex story:

Ashley1988:

“I have experience as one of those kids. When i was 9 I was caught naked with 7 year old half brother. I had no idea what sex was being raised in a Mormon family. We were not touching or anything. Just comparing our bodies because we thought it was funny that they were so different.

“I was snatched out of bed at 2 am and brought to the police station by my step mother. I was interrogated by the police on camera. I got yelled at and called a sex offender and predator. I was even had to take a lie dectector test which I of course passed, but it didn’t matter.

“I was signed over to state custody, and placed in a facility for sex offenders that included men more than twice my age in a distant state. While growing up there I was sexually assaulted and raped. The group therapy sessions consisted of admitting that you are a sex offender or you could never get placed any where better. If I tried to explain it wasn’t sexual they said I was a sick perverted slut justifying my behavior and/or minimizing.

“I signed myself out the very day that I turned 18 and got a cheap apartment. I am now almost 25 and now I refuse to let anyone see me naked. It terrifies me, nobody has seen me naked since that day when I was 9, not even doctors. Other than the 68 year old man that raped me. Therapists also terrify me since they were the ones calling me a horrible sex offender. I would never be anything like those sex offenders I had to grow up with, but had to pretend I was to survive or be allowed to go to a safer place.

”I also have a deep fear of men and so I have only dated women, but still refused to let them see me naked.

“Please don’t ruin these kids lives by making things into them being sex offenders. When adults overreact they end up traumatizing them.” In Jezebel.

If you read Levine you will see that this sort of horror story has become endemic in modern America. You might ask, what about when a kid really is abusive? I would say they have better ways of dealing with things elsewhere. But that can wait for another day.

Back to Heretic TOC, here and now:

This blog’s spies report that Jimmy “the Screamer” Cantori, notorious hit person for the Toronto mob (aka James Cantor), has today been screaming like crazy on Boy Chat of all unlikely places, posting over 30 comments. Dipping into a selection, it soon becomes clear the style is very much the Screamer’s, so it is most unlikely this could be an imposter – as he once accused Heretic TOC of being.  The big question has to be, why BC? Is this meant to be a public “education” exercise? If so, some might feel the Screamer’s bombastic, you-schmucks-know-nothing, style does him no favours. What does him even fewer, if favours can go into minus zero territory, is his refusal to engage with criticism based on a close reading of his work.

“Observer” posted on BC saying “Cantor, Blanchard, and others of the Toronto Centre for Pedophile Pursuit have made up their minds that sexually expressed older male/boy attraction is a mental defect/illness, and the only data they seem to consider is that which confirms their bias. Tom O’Carroll…has a running battle going on with Cantor, and also duels with him on Mike Bailey’s Sexnet mailing list.”

The Screamer replied:

“I’m in a battle with O’Carroll? Mostly, O’Carroll is just in a battle with his own personality. I have nothing to gain (or lose) by communicating with him at all. He merely summons my name up when he needs a purpose.”

Ah, that would be like now, I guess! And thanks, Jimmy, for the free psychoanalysis about me being in a battle with my own personality. If I hesitate to disagree with you, it is probably because my numerous schizophrenic “alters” are battling for who should go first!

He adds that he “stopped participating in Sexnet a while back”.

Yes, that would be right after he had zilch to say in response to my series of detailed critical questions about so-called white matter deficits in the paedophilic brain. He says he has nothing to gain or lose by communicating with me. But unless he is capable of giving good answers to my questions there is one thing he will lose whether he answers or not: scientific credibility. As reported here, the highly rated blogger Neurosceptic, himself a neuroscientist, said he felt my questions were “highly astute” and that he basically agreed with everything I said. The questions I raised in The dubious analogy of the ‘extra arm’  and Hand to hand on handedness need to be answered, and answered well, or the Screamer’s reputation is toast.

The magical age of 10?

17 Comments

Why be happy when you could be normal? Our culture’s stifling obsession with normality and conformity, brilliantly captured in lesbian novelist Jeanette Winterson’s ironic question, has been snapped into focus for us by oral sex in the kindergarten and its shocking abnormality – or assumed abnormality. OK, most little kids don’t do it, but would they if they were not under a regime of constant surveillance and prohibition?

Hard to be certain in the absence of careful observational studies in conditions of true childhood freedom such as we are unlikely to find in the developed world. Studies of that sort would give us a benchmark. We would be able to measure the frequencies of particular childhood sexual activities, noting which were usual and which were rare. Statistically, some would be normal and some would deviate from the norm. And some idiot would seize upon these results to pronounce the “deviant” activities pathological and harmful!

I will say no more here about normality and abnormality, except to say there is a great guest blog in the pipeline titled Show Me An Abnormal Mountain.

For the moment, then, Heretic TOC will proceed with the assumption that there is nothing necessarily wrong with any childhood sexual activity simply by virtue of its being unusual. But studies of what is usual and unusual, or would be in conditions of freedom, would be very valuable in order to tell us more about the nature of childhood sexuality. One key question is whether infantile and early childhood sexuality is really sexual or whether it is just an aspect of discovery and play. Kinsey’s work showed that children of both sexes are capable of orgasm from infancy onwards, and there is a wealth of evidence, especially from less uptight cultures than our own, that children of all ages (including Freud’s alleged “latency period”) exhibit sexual behaviours spontaneously when they are not discouraged from doing so.

There is also evidence that individual children, like the four-year-old boy and his five-year-old girl partner at the Carson pre-school, will consciously desire to repeat experiences they have found to be pleasurable. Belittling this as merely exploratory behaviour is just a tactic to avoid facing the fact that children can indeed be truly sexual. Are such children exceptional? Do most children, as is commonly supposed, only become significantly driven by sexual desire with the hormonal surge of puberty? Or does this frequently come earlier? In my own case I can answer very definitely that I was highly sexual from age 10 onwards, fully three years before any visible signs of puberty.

Remarkably, considering how little has been made of it in “expert” discourse, there is substantial evidence that 10 is a common age for the awakening of distinct and abiding sexual attraction and desire. The silence is even more remarkable given that this awakening has been associated with a physical substrate, the non-gonadal “mini-puberty” known as adrenarche. Sex hormone levels in the child’s body are low in early childhood and remain so until the maturation of the adrenal glands around age 6-8. With increased adrenal activity hormone production begins to increase exponentially until it reaches the low adult range at about 10.  In a paper titled The magical age of 10, anthropologist Gilbert Herdt and psychologist Martha McClintock noted that 10 is the age for initiation into adulthood in numerous quite separate and isolated tribal cultures in New Guinea, with sexual intercourse for boys typically starting around this age.

Freud, as is well known, insisted on the sexuality of much younger children, locating the development of sexual orientation in the resolution of the child’s connections of erotic attraction and rivalry with its parents at around age 5-6. Important as this “Oedipal” period is, though, to the child’s sense of identity and social development, there is no convincing biological basis to suggest this is a key period of children’s sexual development in terms of the strength or persistence of genitally oriented desires.

For that, oddly enough, we might have to go back much further. It has been noted before here at Heretic TOC (search for “The Clitoral Truth” in the comments) that ultrasound evidence has demonstrated the phenomenon of pre-natal masturbation. Kids get their jollies even in the womb! This is not all that surprising when another little known (to the layman, at least) fact is taken into account: newborn babies have adult levels of the key sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen in their bodies. These levels then tail off to a low level. The high level at birth reflects a pre-natal regime in which the sex hormones play a vital role in developing the body of the foetus, including divergent sexual development for males and females of the baby’s sex organs and brain. Just how vital that role is was dramatically illustrated by a finding reported last year from a study of boys aged 8-11 whose foetal testosterone levels were known from amniotic fluid measurements at 13–20 weeks gestation. Higher levels of foetal testosterone were shown to be associated with increased “approach” behaviours, related to the brain’s reward system, all those years later as the boys approached puberty. The official news release from which I have taken this information does not say so, but I am guessing sexual forwardness could well be among the rewarding “approaches” in question!

Drat! I meant to get around in this post to writing, as requested and promised, something about sex in the Swedish kindergartens and how it is viewed by the adults – or used to be in more liberal times – as described in the book The Love Life of The Child, of which I translated parts from the Norwegian edition. Never mind, another day I hope.  I should not finish, though, without mentioning a couple of relevant articles kindly dug out by Dave Riegel. One, a translation from a 2007 article about Norwegian kindergartens, appears to indicate that things have not necessarily changed all that much from the research I described from over thirty years ago. This more recent article has already appeared in the comments: just search down the page for “Pre-school Teacher Pia Friis”. The other is a rather good piece following the Carson pre-school scandal in an online magazine called Jezebel, which promises “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women”. The writer, Laura Beck, teeters near the edge of downgrading children’s sexuality to “play”, but never actually loses her footing in a reassuring article titled Kids Are Going to Touch Genitals. Let’s Not Get Too Freaked Out About It.

Being a predator is child’s play

35 Comments

The father of a four-year-old boy, his face torn with anguish and tears, his voice so choked with emotion he can hardly whimper out his words for the TV interviewer, tells of the terrible fate that his befallen his child.

Kidnapped? Murdered? A sex predator’s victim?

No. The little boy is not the prey. He is the predator. Or at least, thanks to the lunacy that is America’s prevailing sexual culture, this is how a desperately unfortunate and clearly loving father was driven to describing his own child, after kindergarten incidents reported earlier this month in which the boy is said to have received oral sex from a five-year-old girl. The distraught dad said oral sex took place in the classroom, the bathroom and the playground. He said his boy had been given feelings “he doesn’t know how to process” but wanted to repeat.

“I can’t take him to another school and be that parent who let a predator loose,” he said.

Understandably, KABC-TV’s interviewer Elex Michaelson queried this:

“You think of your own son as a predator?”

“How else do you explain it?” he sobbed.

Clearly, it was not the boy, but his father, who was having trouble “processing” the incident.

This kid was just four. The mother of the girl, also interviewed, was just as agonised as the father of the boy. Far from accusing the boy of being a predator, she seemed to think her own child – a year older – had taken the initiative, and blamed herself. She said she had asked her daughter where she had got the idea to do such a thing. From another little girl at the school, said the child.  The pre-school in question, the First Lutheran Church of Carson School, California, was closed down soon after a teacher reported seeing one of the oral sex encounters taking place in a bathroom.

The girl’s mother told KABC-TV News, Los Angeles, she had learned from her daughter that sexual incidents appeared to have been “an everyday thing” at the school. Not oral sex, but the kids pulling each other’s pants down and exposing themselves.

The most shocking thing about all this is that anyone was shocked by kindergarten sexuality. It is shocking it was big TV news. Shocking anyone thought it necessary to close the school, or to inform the police, and bring civil legal actions, as is reportedly happening.

Don’t these people know anything about kids? And with apologies to sensible, well-informed Americans (the sort who read Heretic TOC!), don’t they ever bother to ask themselves how most of the world outside the USA manages to bring up its kids without this all this hysterical angst? The other predominantly Anglophone countries, especially Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, share this malaise thanks largely to American cultural influence, albeit mercifully to a lesser degree. That influence is reflected in writing and research about children’s sexuality, or rather the absence of such work. Not since Kinsey’s heyday, sixty years ago, has there been significant research in the field published in the English language. Larry Constantine and Floyd Martinson were doing fine work around thirty years ago, but not on a scale comparable to Kinsey’s: their contribution was too easily marginalised.

So to find out how they do things elsewhere, we need to turn to other countries, as did Constantine and Martinson themselves. Their book Children and Sex included a chapter by Gundersen et al. on the sexual behaviour of preschool children at kindergartens in Norway, based on teachers’ observations of the children, who were aged from six months to seven years. The results would astonish many Americans, not because Norwegian kids all have oral sex by age five – they don’t – but because the teachers calmly report observing the kids exploring each other’s genitals, masturbating and “coitus training” without intervening to stop it. Nakedness was also permitted, both indoors and out. Not all parents were relaxed about the nakedness but “The teachers solved this problem by seeing to it that the children were properly dressed when the parents arrived to pick them up.”

Swedish kindergartens would have scandalised the Americans in those days, too, and doubtless still would, despite the encroachments of anti-sexual feminist influences. The Swedish pre-school scene was extensively reviewed in The Lovelife of the Child by Gertrude Aigner and Erik Centerwall, published in Sweden in 1983. I remember it well. It has never to my knowledge been published in English but it did come out in Norwegian in 1984, at a time when I was an enthusiast of that beautiful language. The book impressed me so much as a valuable source that I read the whole volume very thoroughly and translated substantial chunks of it – a task for which I was equipped after studying Norwegian at Oslo University.

I have dug the hard-copy out of a dusty old filing cabinet. Once I have gone through it I suspect I will find several revelations and translated passages that are worth introducing here. In the meantime, if any heretics have good information on the present practice and ethos of the kindergartens in Scandinavia, plus the Netherlands, Germany and any other developed countries noted for their relatively liberal attitude towards child sexuality, Heretic TOC would be pleased to hear.

The missing mechanism of harm

41 Comments

The “virtuous” debate over the last few days (see latest two previous posts) has been a remarkably lively one, and genuinely virtuous as regards the courteous terms in which it has been conducted. My thanks to all who have taken part. Much was asserted from the self-styled virtuous side about the potential harmfulness of adult-child sexual contacts. It is very timely, then, that I have just received a piece submitted by Dave Riegel as a guest blog which addresses this issue based on information rather than speculation. A remarkable aspect of this piece which I have not seen formally set out before is that those who are so loud on the subject of harm have no explanation as to how harm could be intrinsic to non-coerced sexual contacts: hence the “missing mechanism” of the title.

Dave started his extensive researches and writing in retirement. He has had a number of articles published in peer-reviewed journals, including the prestigious Archives of Sexual Behavior. He has pioneered the use of internet surveys to reach minor-attracted persons, especially BLs, thus providing a valuable source of information not reached by research based on clinical and offender samples. As will be seen, his guest blog is formatted like an academic article, complete with Abstract and References. Dave tells me he may develop and refine it further for journal publication.

The Missing Mechanism of Harm

Abstract

For decades there have been claims that all sexual interactions between children and older persons “. . . cause harm, [that] this harm is pervasive, . . . [is] likely to be intense, . . . [and] is an equivalent experience for boys and girls . . .” (Rind, Bauserman, and Tromovitch 1998, p. 22). [1] There is, however, no mechanism (anon, 2013) offered as to how these sexual interactions actually cause harm, and, as noted by Bailey, “a surprising . . . lack of scientific evidence” (2011, p. 3) for these claims. Clancy (2009) took the position that at least initial trauma is a “myth,” and as far back as 1981, Constantine described the effects of interference based on this assumed/assigned harmfulness as “psychonoxious” (p. 241). This paper reviews a sampling of the literature in this area, takes issue with these unsupported claims, and argues that, instead, much real damage is done by assuming the existence of intrinsic harm when the only harm that occurs apparently is extrinsic.

One of the earliest proposals for this assumed damage is to be found in Finkelhor (1979), where he presented his research data purporting to show intrinsic harm from boy/older male sexually expressed interactions. However, when this research was shown to have a “near-fatal skew” (Sandfort, 1987, p.9) and to have been based on “a loaded questionnaire . . . ” (Bauserman, 1990, p. 305), Finkelhor abandoned any pretext of scientific objectivity and fell back on subjective “moral issues” as the “final arbiter” of the question:

 Ultimately, I do continue to believe that the prohibition on adult-child sexual contact is primarily a moral issue. While empirical findings have some relevance they are not the final arbiter. . . . . Some types of social relationships violate deeply held values and principles in our culture about equality and self-determination. Sex between adults and children is one of them (Finkelhor, 1990, p. 314).

Finkelhor did not extend his emphases on the above mentioned “equality and self-determination” to juveniles; he instead presumes to impose unilateral judgment on what they may or may not do with their own sexuality. “Victimology,” as his model came to be known, and his principal theme, “child sexual abuse” (CSA), dwell on unidirectional, assumedly traumatic “sex between adults and children.” Ondersma et al. (2001) also asserted that CSA is “a moral and legal term. . . with a sociological [i.e “opinion based”] rather than an empirical [i.e., “fact based”] foundation.” Victimology, which seems to be more concerned with the social control of juveniles than with understanding them as they really are, also largely ignores the documented examples of children willingly seeking out sexual encounters with older persons (e. g. Bender & Blau, 1937; Sandfort, 1987).

As for the significance of “deeply held values and principles in our culture,” it is well to remember that for over 200 years eminent “social scientists” like Finkelhor steadfastly “held” that young male masturbation resulted in everything from acne to lunacy, and it was only in the 1950s that this “masturbation insanity” finally was dismissed as the utter nonsense it had always been (e.g. Hare, 1962; Laqueur, 2003). Finkelhor and Brown (1985, 1986, etc.) have offered an elaborate scheme of “traumagenic dynamics,” but they still failed to provide a valid mechanism as to how a willing sexually expressed boy/older male interaction becomes harmful. Clancy also admitted that she “cannot offer a clear theoretical model as to exactly how and why sexual abuse damages victims” (2009, p. 142).

From a non-sociological and strictly physical point of view, it seems reasonable and likely that most boys would, apart from and prior to cultural negative brainwashing, find gentle stimulation of their penis pleasurable, whether they do it to/for themselves, or they willingly allow/encourage another person to participate. So why and how do such experiences become “harmful?” If the boy is coerced, or if some aspect of the experience becomes emotionally or physically distressing, then the potential for harm exists. But if a willing boy initially finds the incident pleasant and desirable, only iatrogenic outside influence would seem to be able to “reconceptualize” (Clancy, 2009, p. 121) it into “harm.” Kilpatrick also posed a very relevant question: “What has been harmed—the child or the moral code?” (1987, p.179).

Sex is basically simplistic and instinctive, especially for boys. Wilson noted “Priests, doctors, psychiatrists, and others have invested sex with magical powers . . . [but boys] . . . saw sex as being no more than just a game. . . ” (1981, pp. 129-130) whose principal purposes and motivations would seem to be the simple physical pleasures of arousal and orgasm. As such, any requirement for formalized “consent” is irrelevant; simple “willingness” is more than adequate for such initially uncluttered and essentially inconsequential experiences. However, denying this instinctual drive has the very real potential for emotional frustration and social maladjustment (Prescott, 1975).

While the sexophobia that is the basis and fundamental principle of victimology must be learned from an outside source before consensual sex can be twisted into something negative, any unwanted and unwilling sexual encounter has the potential for harm, not from the sex, but from the intrinsic infringement of the victim’s self-determination. This is true with males and females, with adults as well as children, and no attempt is made here to excuse or justify such violations.

It is unpleasant to be reminded, but the social sciences have a long history of getting things horribly wrong, from the hyper-behaviorism of Watson and Skinner through “repressed/recovered memories” (Loftus & Ketcham, 1994), “disassociative identity disorder” (Piper & Merskey, 2004), and “Satanic ritual abuse” (Nathan & Snedecker, 1995), to mention just a sampling. The decades-long gradual exorcism of homosexuality as a harm-based mental illness from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association is well known, as is the previously mentioned depathologization of masturbation insanity. The current victimological assumption of harm in regards to sexually expressed boy/older male relationships has neither objective foundations nor offers any rational mechanism of cause. It is not logically defensible, and needs to be superseded by fact based and empirically supported legitimate science.

REFERENCES

anon. (2013) Mechanism of Harm. Internet posting by “shy guy” 22 January 2013: http://www.boychat.org/messages/1330899.htm

Bauserman, R. (1990). Objectivity and ideology: Criticism of Theo Sandfort’s research on man-boy sexual relations. In T. Sandfort, E. Brongersma, & A. van Naerssen (Eds.) Male Intergenerational Intimacy. Binghamton NY: Harrington Park. 297-312).

Bailey, J. M. (2011). Book Review: Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons. Archives of Sexual Behavior, DOI 10.1007/s10508-011-9842-1

Bender, L. & Blau, A. (1937). The reaction of children to sexual relations with adults. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 7, 500-518.

Clancy, S. (2009). The Trauma Myth. New York: Basic Books.

Constantine, L. (1981). The Effects of Early Sexual Experiences. In L. Constantine & F. Martinson (Eds.) Children and Sex: New Findings, New Perspectives. Boston: Little-Brown.

Finkelhor, D. (1979). Sexually victimized children. New York: Free Press.

Finkelhor, D. (1990). Response to Bauserman. In T. Sandfort, E. Brongersma, & A. van Naerssen (Eds.) Male Intergenerational Intimacy. Binghamton NY: Harrington Park 313-315.

Finkelhor, D. & Browne, A. (1985). The traumatic impact of child sexual abuse: A conceptualization. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 55(4), 530-541.

Finkelhor, D. & Browne, A. (1986). Initial and long-term effects: A conceptual framework. In D. Finkelhor; S. Araji; L. Baron; A. Browne; S. Peters; G. Wyatt(Eds.) A Sourcebook on Child Sexual Abuse. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. pp. 180-196.

Hare, E. (1962). Masturbatory insanity: the history of an idea. Journal of Mental Science, 108, 1-25

Janus, S., & Bess, B. (1981). Latency: fact or fiction? In L. Constantine & F. Martinson (Eds.) Children and sex. New findings, new perspectives.(pp. 75-82). Boston: Little Brown.

Kilpatrick, A. (1987) Childhood sexual experiences: Problems and issues in studying long-range effects, Journal of Sex Research, 23:2, 173-196

Laqueur, T. (2003). Solitary sex. A cultural history of masturbation. New York: Zone.

Loftus, E.F. & Ketcham, K. (1994) The Myth of Repressed Memory. NY: St. Martin’s.

Nathan, D. & Snedecker, M. (1995). Satan’s Silence. New York: Basic Books.

Ondersma, S., Chafin, M., Berliner, L., Cordon, I., Goodman, G., & Barnett, D. (2001) Sex with children is abuse. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 707-714.

Piper A., & Merskey H. (2004). The persistence of folly: a critical examination of dissociative identity disorder. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 49 (9): 592–600.

Prescott, J. (1975). Body pleasure and the origin of violence. The Futurist, IX, (2) 64-74.

Rind, B., Tromovitch, P., Bauserman, R. (1998) A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 22-53

Sandfort, T. (1987). Boys on their contacts with men. Elmhurst, NY: Global Academic.

Wilson, P. (1981). The man they called a monster. North Melbourne, Australia: Cassell.


[1] Note: Some of the evidence and arguments offered in this essay are to some degree applicable to other younger/older gender combinations (girl/older male, etc.), but there is evidence that boys are more forward in sexual explorations (Janus & Bess, 1981), likely to seek out older males for information (Sandfort, 1987), and less prone to experience the assumed/assigned harm cited by Rind et al. (1998).

Will Virtuous Pedophiles do any good?

45 Comments

Will the Virtuous Pedophiles become a force? And, if so, will they do any good? One commentator here took a positive view: “imyarainbowstar”, suggested that heretics should “get behind groups like virped and B4Uact for getting the pedo message out”, as a small step on the way to more radical change.

But doesn’t the value of any such support depend on what the particular “pedo message” is? Such a strategy perhaps makes sense in relation to B4U-ACT, as this organization does not go out of its way to ape society’s contemptuous hostility towards those of us who wish to see cultural and legal change. As we saw in my most recent post, though, Virtuous Pedophiles does exactly that, notwithstanding the very welcome conciliatory comment in response from VP member Max. In considering what impact VP will have, it may help to separate the group’s public profile from the influence it will have on those minor attracted persons it seeks to help.

In terms of public profile, I would not discount the positive potential. With paedophiles universally demonized in the media are predators and rapists, it can hardly be a bad thing if VP can get across the message that many paedophiles are restrained, responsible people who do not “molest” or “abuse” children, and that it is unjust for them to be stigmatized. When I heard many years ago about a Cambridge University research project on “non-contact” paedophiles, I was very much in favour, and actively assisted the PhD student in question, helping her to build a database of paedophiles who had never been in trouble with the law and who claimed – honestly, I am sure, in many cases known to me – never to have “transgressed”. This postgrad worked on the project for several years and built up what her supervisor told me was an “immense” body of information. Sadly, for reasons which remain mysterious, she never completed her thesis. Instead, she transferred to another university without ever gaining her doctorate. Her data remain unpublished. Information of that sort is sorely needed, and if VP can attract publicity for any future research in this area, that will be helpful.

As for the likely impact of VP on paedophiles who turn to them for help, unfortunately I see a rather bleaker picture. They will not be battle-hardened old warriors like some of us here, especially those whose comments clearly indicate they know their own minds and are not shy in proclaiming their robustly held positions. No, they will mostly be young men, some perhaps not even out of their teens. They will probably have no idea about the considerably less dreadful times we knew back in the 1970s and before; nor will they have much notion that society could be different, as copiously evidenced from historical and anthropological precedents. They will be depressed, desperate, at their wit’s end in search of a livable life; and in this sorry state they will be vulnerable to the snake-oil salesmanship of those who confidently point the way towards “happy, productive lives”.

Note that Nick and Ethan, VP’s founders, both have a good story to tell in this regard. They are well educated, professionally successful people; they have each found a life partner and enjoyed a conventional married life; best of all, they have been blessed with children of their own, and have doubtless loved and raised them as well as most parents, or better. What’s not to like about that? The hopeful message is, it would seem, “If we can do it so can you!”

That will be fine, actually, for those pedophiles whose orientation is not exclusive. There are clearly many who have a significant, or strong, level of attraction to children who are also able to relate well to adult partners. If they can go down that road then they surely should, and good luck to them. But what many fail to understand, including perhaps Nick and Ethan, is that this option is not open to all. I know. As someone with effectively zero attraction to either men or women, fixity of sexual orientation has for me been an unwelcome but relentlessly abiding fact of life, and I know plenty of others to whom this applies. The “currently orthodox dogma of fixed sexual orientation” that Edmund spoke of in his comment is not a doctrine for such as me; we do not insist, dogmatically, that fixity applies to everyone; rather, it is simply a reality of our lives.

Without, I hope, being too dogmatic, I would add that quite a lot of people are gifted with a range of sexual response, and in a few cases this extends widely, towards pansexuality. But this is not at all the same as fluidity, i.e. a changing pattern of gender and age attraction over time; still less is it like a voluntary change of desires, as opposed to tastes developing and shifting without being consciously willed. It is also clear that women’s sexual orientation tends to be quite fluid, but among men the evidence for this is slim to vanishing, notwithstanding cultural variations such as ancient Greek pederasty, and significant variations in individual males’ sexual behaviour over time as demonstrated by, for instance, Kinsey’s great survey work. If a man could really choose to find women attractive, would he choose to be exclusively gay, as many men clearly are? Still less, would he choose to be paedophile, especially exclusively so, given the terrible hostility it entails?

It is important to mention the gay experience at this point. Over the years, especially in the U.S. where anti-gay “therapists” (often religious) have been busiest, there has been a thriving but completely bogus “gay reparative therapy” movement. Numerous gay men have claimed to be “cured” of their homosexuality but these so-called conversions to “ex-gay” status have a track record of turning out to be a phenomenon of hope temporarily triumphing over reality as guys manage to delude themselves for a while that their feelings have changed. When finally the truth that nothing has really changed becomes unavoidable, bitter disillusion sets in. My fear is that for many young paedophiles, if they are led up the garden path in this way, by VP or anyone else, their disillusion could break them entirely. It is not that VP necessarily believe they can change a paedophile’s fundamental orientation. It would be unfair to suggest they are saying that. But there are signs they may have unrealistic expectations for getting paedophiles coupled off with adult partners. How else might they propose to enable guys exclusively attracted to kids to live “happy, productive lives”? By becoming monks, perhaps? Might work for a few I guess, but not for most.

Just put yourself in the shoes, for a moment, of an exclusive paedophile who goes along to VP hoping for help and support. He is encouraged to try making it in a relationship with a woman (or a man). He will hear happy stories from those, like Nick and Ethan, who have done so. For one thing, what is he supposed to tell this prospective partner? Should he lie to them about his orientation? Nick and Ethan have both admitted (on Sexnet) to having deceived their own partners in this way and justify it by the outcome: everything turned out just fine. For them, the end justified the means. One might question how “virtuous” such an ethical decision is, given that the result could easily have been different. I am pretty certain that if I had gone through with that policy (I was engaged to be married, as a young man) it would all have ended in tears: my own and my wife’s: she would have been devastated when the truth eventually came out, as it certainly would have done.

And what of those exclusive paedophiles who are left with a truly realistic assessment that an adult partnership is simply not going to work? What can VP offer a young man of this type except a bleakly celibate life with not even the prospect of befriending children, or working with them, still less of having any of his own? Many would consider it irresponsible, unethical and not at all “virtuous” to recommend for the exclusive paedophile any sort of contact with children; and if I shared society’s view that any sort of falling into temptation was necessarily harmful, I would have to agree: the danger would be too great. For these exclusive paedophiles, all that VP can offer, it seems to me, is a permanent requirement of saintly restraint such as is imposed on no one else in society. They are likely to be left feeling even more devastated and lonely in the company of successfully paired off paedophiles than if they had never contacted VP in the first place.

The good news is that I see no present reason to believe the baleful influence of Virtuous Pedophiles will be particularly great. Despite getting excellent publicity in significant places such as Salon and the LA Times, a trend which I expect to continue, membership has not exactly taken off like a rocket. VP recently reported having 72 member accounts, about six months after its foundation. I would expect some of those (many? most?) to be people joining with a view to offering help, rather than receiving it. However, it may be that the members are all helpers, and that thousands of paedophiles have been asking for help. So my estimate of VP’s progress could be completely wrong. If so, no doubt Heretic TOC will be told. At all events, Ethan Edwards has offered to comment here, and I look forward to hearing from him. I hope to comment further in any ensuing debate, but I have an especially busy time coming up, so I might have to leave others to take up the baton.

 

 

 

 

‘Virtuous’ paedophiles burnish their haloes

54 Comments

Practical Ethics, a blog appearing under the auspices of Oxford University, recently carried a piece titled Pedophilia, Preemptive Imprisonment, and the Ethics of Predisposition, inspired by the trio of articles (Guardian, New Yorker, LA Times) discussed here last month in Three reasons to be cheerful. This blog item, by Kyle Edwards, is interesting, but my main focus today arises out of the comment thread that followed, especially as regards contributions made by Kyle’s pseudonymous namesake Ethan Edwards.

Ethan Edwards is a virtuous paedophile. Or at least, that is what he and another guy, Nick Devin, call themselves, based on their resolve never to “abuse”. They even have an organization, Virtuous Pedophiles, founded last summer. The goals “are to reduce the stigma attached to pedophilia by letting people know that a substantial number of pedophiles do not molest children, and to provide peer support and information about available resources to help pedophiles lead happy, productive lives. Our highest priority is to help pedophiles never abuse children.”

Heretic TOC and fellow heretics here are of course also determined never to “abuse” children, but unlike Virtuous Pedophiles we take the view that sexual contact between an adult and a child who is a willing participant is not intrinsically abusive and may be a very positive experience. We must refrain from such contacts because they are currently illegal, not because we think – as Virtuous Pedophiles clearly do – that they are always immoral and wrong.

Fine, we know there are plenty of minor-attracted people who accept society’s low opinion of paedophilia. Doubtless there are many who beat themselves up about their feelings even if they “do nothing wrong”. Responses of that sort should prompt our sympathetic interest. That is one reason why I have personally given what modest assistance I can to a couple of guys in the UK who are developing a British equivalent of B4U-ACT, an American organization which engages with mental health professionals in order to work towards better, less stigmatizing counselling and treatment for minor-attracted people, especially those who are struggling to cope with their feelings. These professionals, it has to be said, include those who have an anti-abuse agenda, but we should not forget that some paedophiles, in their frustration, do give way to coercive tactics, and they do need help to stop that.

I have also enjoyed good relations with B4U-ACT in the US, one of whose members until last year was Nick Devin, who has also been known to me for well over two years as a fellow participant on the Sexnet forum. My contact with Nick was cordial to start with, but I have found it increasingly difficult to sustain this sense of goodwill over time, as it has become gradually more apparent that his views and mine are not so much a bit of a mismatch as diametrically opposed. The problem, from my point of view, is not so much that Nick is a self-flagellating subscriber to puritan sexual ethics. No, it’s more that he has turned out to be rather smugly self-congratulatory, and all too ready to flagellate not himself but those of us who view the relevant ethics differently. His buddy Ethan turns out to be another halo-burnisher. Nor am I alone in this assessment: as one friend put it to me, Virtuous Pedophiles would be better named Sanctimonious Pedophiles.

Their most revealing and charmless aspect, though, is the finger-pointing. Not only do they claim the moral high ground, they have no qualms over bad-mouthing fellow minor-attracted people, including those whose only crime has been to take a reasoned, principled view of the issues that differs from their own. In a website FAQ they say, “We believe that sexual activity between adults and children is wrong. Because some pedophiles have a selfish interest in having child-adult sexual relationships accepted, we think that their arguments should be greeted skeptically.” In the Practical Ethics exchanges, Ethan even used our determination to stick to our guns against us. Whereas some would discern moral courage in taking a stand against the crowd, Ethan says: “I suspect a correlation between how sensitive a man is to the feelings and needs of children and how sensitive he is to criticism and hatred from society around him. A man who doesn’t care about everyone hating him might also not understand the complexities of children and how harm still lurks even if the child doesn’t object.”

My full reply to this baseless and offensive accusation is still there on the thread, for anyone interested to see: you may actually be surprised by my attempt (futile, I now fear), to be conciliatory. At this point I’ll just confine myself to one salient observation: virtue is traditionally seen as the opposite of vice, and Virtuous Pedophiles appear to be defining themselves as directly oppositional to “vicious” paedophiles who do not share their views. That would be all you heretics out there, as well as me. Vicious! Purveyors of vice!  These Virtuous Pedophiles are not merely sanctimonious and holier than thou; their language also reveals them to be virulently, vehemently, viscerally judgmental. They speak of being hated on all sides themselves, while apparently unable to see that they are giving out their own message of hatred against us, a hatred which seems every bit as passionate and forceful as the worst we hear from the most committed anti-“abuse” fanatics. Indeed, with their insistent crusade of Virtue against Vice they resemble the zealots of the old Social Purity movement.

Nick and Ethan both appear to be so heavily invested in their determination to be “virtuous” that they cannot bear to contemplate alternative conceptions of what a good life and a good world might look like. Hence their strong emotional need, if they are to see themselves as virtuous, to cast us radicals as vicious. It looks as though they are caught up in what Freudians would recognise as a classic projection of evil onto the demonised Other.

So much for their attitude, which is deeply unprepossessing, but not necessarily of great importance unless their dour doctrine can gain some traction. Will it? And to what effect? I aim to return to those questions in due course.

 

 

 

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: