Well over a year ago, in January 2013, Heretic TOC ran a blog called No wonder women turn against ‘teasing’. A few days ago a carefully argued, information-rich, 1,300-word comment in response, complete with links to numerous scholarly and other references, was sent in for moderation. It seemed a shame to let such a magnificent contribution languish in a place where – because the blog was so long ago – not that many people would notice it. So here it is, below, presented as a guest blog. It is from “A”, which is not the most user-friendly of pennames, being about as uninformative as possible, especially as regards gender; but the person behind it is decidedly a good friend of this blog and she – yes, she – has guest blogged here before: see ‘Protecting’ your property, then and now.                 

You [Heretic TOC] wrote: “If ordinary men can behave so badly, why cannot ordinary paedophiles?” That set me thinking. First, I found this article: in which Dara Kay Cohen points out that female fighters also perpetrate and assist in wartime rape. Second, I had another look at the book Attraction to Children, in which Rüdiger Lautmann writes that most of the MAPs he and his team interviewed were careful and conscientious about ascertaining their child partners’ feelings about sex and did not have sex with children who expressed nonconsent verbally or nonverbally. Lautmann says: “It is my impression that the exceptions to the rule here are no more frequent than in other sexual scenes, for example between adults or married couples.” Is he right?

For the book, Lautmann and his team interviewed sixty men about their paedohebephilic feelings and activities. One man, a university graduate in his forties, said that over the years he had had coital sex with many girls. He told the researchers that he now believed that girls of ten and eleven get no sexual enjoyment out of vaginal intercourse and that it’s painful for them in the beginning, and that the girls knew it was going to be unpleasant the first time. However, he wanted intercourse so much that for a long time he had not debated with himself whether or not to do it. He now felt “like a real scumbag” and that his desires and actions were “dirty”. All of this led the researchers to advise he go into therapy. In addition to this one clear-cut case, there were a few other men whose behaviour Lautmann considered “borderline”. With some it was debatable, and sometimes hard to ascertain, how fully consensual their contacts with children had been. The actions of three of them, however, Lautmann saw as more clearly exploitative.

So we’ve got those four “definitely” guys, which is six and two-thirds percent. Adding in, for safety’s sake, a couple of the “debatable” guys brings us up to six out of sixty, or ten percent: we should probably consider that the maximum estimate. David Lisak and Paul Miller questioned a college sample of men in a wide age-range and found that 6% would admit to acts that met the legal definition of attempted or completed rape of an adult, provided the r-word was not actually used. Using a similar technique with a sample of men in the Navy, Stephanie McWhorter got admissions of attempted or completed rape of an adult from 13% of them. Of each sample of men, 4% and 8.4% respectively admitted to repeated rape. These repeat rapists had committed a median of three rapes each and a mean of six (maximum fifty), plus, on average, eight acts of domestic battery, child abuse etc. Lisak’s Rape Fact Sheet contains a list of the percentage-of-rapists estimates arrived at by other studies: the range is 4.8% – 14.9%.

So, it looks like exceptions to the rule are indeed about as frequent in these two different populations. The similarity is yet another indication that MAPs are no worse and no better than anybody else. It’s also yet another indication that sexual assaults and rapes happen because people commit them: nobody is seriously going to argue that a child could have been “asking for it”, and yet, when children grow up, when they get old enough to start “asking for it”, we don’t see an uptick in the numbers. Funny that.

Lisak also found that the undetected rapists (most rapists go undetected) whom he’s been studying for years tend to hold and rigidly adhere to stereotyped sex-role beliefs. Lautmann came to much the same conclusion about those of his participants whose behaviour was clearly exploitative: “There’s too much traditional male thinking going on here.” It may be significant that while GLs made up only about one-third of Lautmann’s sample, all four of his “definitely exploitive” cases were GLs. Horst Vogt in his 2006 study found that while GLs and BLs both liked much the same kinds of personalities – most wanted a confident, lively, curious and cheerful child, with a minority preferring quiet, thoughtful children – BLs often said they wanted boys who were a bit cheeky or mischievous, but GLs did not say they were looking for the same characteristics in girls. Jan Schuijer and Benjamin Rossen’s 1992 book The Trade in Child Pornography turned up some interesting differences between little-girl mags and little-boy mags:  see Appendix C. Boys were more likely to be photographed either clothed or playing naked, while girls were more likely to be photographed posing naked. Schuijer and Rossen’s general impression was that photos of girls tended to be more what they called “pornographic”, meaning that the focus was on arousing the viewer, while photos of boys tended to be more what they called “sexual”, meaning that the focus was on the child’s own arousal. As Lautmann says, CLs can hardly be singled out for blame if they absorb the sex-role ideas of their own culture: everybody else does too, to varying degrees. That doesn’t mean, however, that those ideas are entirely harmless.

“Everything that I do with the child must be not merely tolerated, but wanted,” said one principled girl-lover in Lautmann’s study, demonstrating that it is possible to arrive at that kind of simple, humane, considerate, common-sense, genuinely sex-positive sexual ethic all by oneself. Some people are just that nice. Others need a bit of a nudge. One of Lautmann’s “borderline” cases was a young man who said he was at his happiest when with little girls aged eight through twelve or so, and yet also described having, at age eighteen, well-nigh bullied an eleven-year-old into giving him a handjob. Intercourse took place for the first time not long after, on her twelfth birthday. Lautmann comments, “This mixture of persuasion, pestering, and resolute action would seem repulsive, if not for the fact that this is often precisely what still goes on with teenagers generally.”

Well, indeed. Some teenagers, and not only boys, do that kind of thing because though they are basically decent, they’re young, they really want sex and they haven’t yet figured out how to treat other people well, especially in sexual situations. They’ll grow out of it, with a bit of luck. In the meantime, talking openly about consent may help some of them be more considerate. It may also mean that the future repeat rapists among them — McWhorter found that they most typically start raping in their late teens — don’t have such a dense thicket of misconceptions with which to cover up their rapes. There really are a lot of misconceptions still floating around: for instance, Lautmann says that some of the GLs he studied took silence, accompanied by no approving reaction from the child, for consent. They seemed genuinely to believe in this supposed consent, but they were almost certainly mistaken: all kinds of people freeze up from shock and panic and fear in all kinds of frightening situations, and that includes being sexually assaulted or raped. The 1986 book Crime Without Victims by the Danish ‘Trobriand’ collective includes this personal account of such an occurrence.

We should be making it clearer to kids as they grow up that if during sex someone is totally still and mute and not smiling you should always stop and make sure they’re OK. Of course the emphasis in an initial discussion about consent, particularly with adolescents, should be informative and respectful, humorous even, rather than accusatory and punitive. I think this article really gets it right. It was crossposted at the wonderful scarleteen.com sex ed website. Incidentally, one of the things I like about this blogger is that she has the honesty and good grace to admit when she herself has behaved badly.