I’m going to bring up a VERY loaded topic here. Many people who I have talked to about this – even those who I consider level-headed – have a gut-level reaction to this topic which shuts down conversation as soon as it starts. I’m talking about pedophilia.
I’m going to deal with this topic in a way that is different from how most people deal with it. I do NOT believe that it’s okay to hurt children (obviously?), but I do believe that pedophilia is an unchosen sexual orientation. I believe that most pedophiles do not want to hurt children, and therefore do not act on their desires.
It’s sad that I should have to, but I’m going to make clear now that I’m not a pedophile. I don’t mean that in the sense of “I’m not that awful thing” but in the sense of “I don’t want people to start a witch hunt against me”. I’m privileged in that I can write about this topic in relative safety, being that I don’t have a secret I need to keep safe by avoiding even hinting at the topic.
To start with, I want to go over the most important point in this discussion.
Attraction to children does not equal raping children.
Just because a man is straight, doesn’t mean he rapes women. Just because a woman is lesbian, doesn’t mean she rapes women. Just because someone is into BDSM pain play, doesn’t mean they go around sticking needles into unwilling people.
Being attracted to someone – obviously – is not the same as the desire to rape them. This is common sense, but it’s a piece of common sense that most seem to miss in regards to this topic.
This is the point I find most people can’t get past. Several times, I’ve had conversations with people about pedophiles where I was defending pedophiles as people, and the other person thought I was defending rapists, no matter how hard I laboured this point. They simply couldn’t make that separation in their head.
From my research online, I’d like to suggest that most pedophiles are just normal, everyday people, who are cursed with an orientation that 1) they can’t act on and 2) they can never, ever talk about openly. They deserve compassion, as this is a huge burden to bear.
This topic became particularly relevant to me recently because the moderators of a page I follow on Facebook, “Destroying Cissexism In Feminist Discourse”, explained they were in a relationship: one, a 15 year old, and the other, an adult (of age 22, I heard, though I haven’t confirmed it).
I’m not sure if we can really call this pedophilia actually; in most countries in Europe, this is legal. Perhaps if the page hadn’t been followed so predominantly by people from the US, where the age of consent is relatively rather high, the reaction would have been different.
As it is, however, when the moderators of this page wrote about their relationship, the full force of the internet crashed down on them. They received death threats, endless bullying messages, condescending comments, and people unfollowing their page in droves.
What really blew my mind was that the fifteen-year-old member of the relationship was THERE, and telling xir story, but everyone was apparently dead set on imposing another story onto xe. Xe insisted xe was NOT victimised, and had chosen xir relationship freely, and yet other people continued to label xe a victim. Where is the respect here? How do these people think that they are defending anyone?
Whatever you think about their relationship, I think that the absolute hysteria involved was clearly out of place. “Die pedo die” was one charming message they received. Are these really the words of someone concerned about a teenager’s wellbeing? I don’t think so. I think these are the words of someone who wants to lash out and feels that it is “safe” to do so as the action will be validated by their social circle.
A hundred years ago, I might have experienced something similar for coming out as lesbian. There wasn’t the internet back then, of course, but what if I started openly dating a woman? I’d be vilified, shunned, imprisoned, possibly killed. It’d be the real-world equivalent of this internet shitstorm.
One day, I believe that pedophiles must gain the same rights that people like me have gained. NOT the right to rape (because I have to keep reminding people that I don’t mean that), but the right to be able to be open about their orientation, and not have to hide. The right to be safe, even if others learn the truth. The right not to live in fear of their secret coming out.
As well as a lesbian, I’m a trans person. Did you know that 41% of trans people have attempted suicide? I know what it’s like to be misunderstood and hated for who I am. The societal pressure and stress are so strong that most of the trans people I know (I know many) have mental health issues, depression if nothing else. I’m no exception to that.
What if I couldn’t tell ANYONE about who I was, or only a few very trusted people? What if I knew that my life could basically be destroyed just from my secret getting out?
There are obviously no reliable statistics out there, but I’m certain that more than 41% pedophiles must have attempted suicide, just from extrapolating from my own experience. I think this is unacceptable.
Obviously, pedophiles being accepted doesn’t mean that rape will be accepted (because I have to keep reminding people of that!). A world in which pedophiles are accepted will be one where they are understood, where they receive compassion and, due to not needing to hide, have access to support for their particular difficulties, e.g. therapy, cartoon/CGI porn for release, and the potential to have relationships with each other (see below). Actually, just being able to talk with friends about their problems would surely be a huge weight off their backs.
Something interesting I’ve learnt from my research is that most pedophiles – perhaps all though I haven’t been able to be sure about that – internally feel or understand themselves, or a large aspect of themselves, to be children.
This is not an “excuse” for feeling attracted to children – I’ve been able to rule that out. After all, with internet anonymity the motivation to make excuses is lessened. But it might be an explanation for the phenomenon of pedophilia.
The adult member of the Destroying Cissexism In Feminist Discourse relationship, for example, explained on the page that she felt that mentally speaking, she never really advanced beyond puberty. Some other adults who are attracted to young people seem to understand themselves to be little children, though they usually have to compartmentalise this aspect in order to function in daily life. They might be Adult Babies / Diaper Lovers, a.k.a. ABDL, and experience comfort or validation or other forms of satisfaction by dressing and acting like children or babies in safe settings. (Note: not all ADBLs are pedophiles – again, not in the sense of “they are not that awful thing” but in the sense of “I don’t want a witch hunt to be started against them”).
I believe that it wouldn’t be entirely crazy to suggest that two pedophiles who are internally children could have a relationship with each other. It would be similar to the case of e.g. a straight man being with a trans woman whose exterior hasn’t changed (and yes, this happens). Our society fixates on the external, but with sexuality it’s very often the internal aspect that matters most.
I think this possibility could be a solution to the frustrations of pedophiles and perhaps even help support their legitimacy in the eyes of society. However, it’s pretty hard for this to work if pedophiles are unable to come out of their closet, and thus, very unlikely to be able to find others like them.
I’m certain that this article will provoke some amount of outrage. The more outrage the better as far as I’m concerned, because that means it’s touched a nerve. I doubt I will ever live to see the world in which pedophiles are not driven to suicide just for being who they are, but at the very least I will be able to say I was on the right side of history.
Thanks for reading.