I guess that as a paedophile who believes there is nothing intrinsically wrong with adults and children sharing sensual intimacy I’m as far out of kilter with society and conventional norms as one can be. When you find yourself in such a position you have to do some hard thinking to keep yourself balanced and sane. You have to assemble for yourself an emotional and intellectual survival kit. Sometimes things get really bad and you have to know how to build yourself a metaphoric life-raft.
The more I understand society’s mechanisms of stigmatisation and misinformation the less effect they have on me (humour also has the same salutary effect): the hysterical mob, the therapists, the victimology industry, the dishonest media, with all their untruths, misrepresentations, stigma and ‘no-debating’ strategies, become as rats in a maze whose observation and study – predicting their behaviour, understanding their functioning – I can almost take pleasure in. I have, if you like, mastered them in my mind, neutralised their venom.
Moreover I have an advantage over them: I understand them, whereas everything they think about me and my fellows is mistaken, and often the inverse of the truth.
These are a few ideas which, I suspect, had I not been a paedophile, I would never have stumbled upon, or been much interested in if I had. They form part of my ‘survival kit’.
Regression to the mean
A few years ago I came out as a paedophile to a trusted, open-minded, intelligent long-time friend who was visiting from abroad. We had some long talks in which I was able to share my experiences and feelings as a paedophile and discuss the politics and true nature of paedophilia.
One day my friend looked me in the eyes and said “Leonard, I think I’m with you on this. It appears that society has got it wrong on paedophilia. But please don’t tell anyone that I think this way”. Understandably worried about his safety and security he also asked me not to bring up the topic with him other than in person.
Anyone who is a paedophile can imagine, I’m sure, what his support and understanding meant to me.
Then, a year or so later, I sensed from our email correspondence that he’d grown to be uncertain about my stance and appeared to no longer be supportive of my love.
I felt that it would be wrong for me to push things and insist on addressing doubts he clearly wasn’t keen on exploring with me. To try to badger him into agreement risked giving the impression that I considered his earlier agreement as a ‘ticked box’, a ‘trophy’, that I considered him as a ‘convert’ – someone ‘signed-up’ and ‘committed for life’, that I had a right to his opinions on this matter…
In short, I decided that his friendship was more important than his agreement on this issue, and decided to avoid the topic unless he himself brought it up…
My friend’s drift towards a more conventional, ‘normal’, stance after having held a ‘deviant’ opinion is an example of the statistical phenomenon of ‘Regression to the Mean’.
An abstract statement of this is that if a variable deviates greatly from the average on one measurement, it will tend to be closer to the average on the next measurement.
This is a phenomenon clearly illustrated in sports such as athletics and golf: a sprinter who breaks the world record will probably run closer to his average time the next race; a golfer who sinks a hole-in-one is unlikely to do so on the next hole.
Of course opinions are more complex than the outcomes of sports and are certainly harder to measure. But an extreme or unconventional opinion takes more effort to arrive at and maintain than does a commonplace or popular one. The chances of a non-paedophile being exposed to pro-paedophile ideas are vanishingly low – and for him to be able to think at all clearly about the issues he first must set aside his gut-reactions, and a life-time’s-worth of conditioning and unquestioned assumptions.
Once my friend had returned home his sole source for the pro-paedophile case (because he was unhappy about discussing this topic over the internet) was his – presumably fading – memory of our discussions. His gut-instincts about childhood innocence, nurtured in him since his own childhood, and his own lack of sexual interest in children would mean that whenever he saw children he would be seeing them through the emotional lens of a society hell-bent on eliminating childhood sexuality. The anti-paedophile case, and the concepts and vocabulary that bolster and support it (assumptions about the social status of children, the nature of the nuclear family, the ideal of childhood innocence &c), would be ever-present in the media, the public discourse, and the general spirit of our times.
Given this imbalance of information and influence it is not surprising that my friend has started to have doubts. He’s not actually said that he’s rejected the ideas and evidence that emerged from our discussions – merely that he’s confused on the matter.
I have several non-paedophile friends who know I am a paedophile – a few are militantly supportive, but most are critical of my stance. Whether they are ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ I realise that I am quite lucky in having such friends, for even those who are ‘anti’ refuse to see me as the monster which society would paint me as, and acknowledge that my being a paedophile doesn’t annul the friendship, affection and trust we share.
Deviance is normal
Jesus, when he said “for ye have the poor always with you,” could have also added “and the deviants too”: in a very basic sense, ‘deviance’ must always be present wherever a phenomenon exhibits variability.
If one were to take a large, random sample of people, measure their IQs and plot the results onto a graph one would get a ‘Bell-Curve’ distribution:
The significant majority of people (just under 70%) will fall within 15 points of the average (which is an IQ of 100). These are the ‘Normal’. However a tiny percentage of people will be found at the extreme ends of the curve, at its feet – the geniuses at one end and those with severe cognitive disability at the other end. Both these outliers, the genius and the cognitively disabled, are in a sense ‘deviants’ because they are defined by their small number and their distance from the norm. Any large population, when measured for a variable characteristic, must have those individuals who find themselves furthest from the norm.
When what is being measured is as value-laden and emotive as sexuality these outliers, become stigmatised as ‘deviants’, ‘perverts’ and ‘freaks’.
The sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858–1917) claimed that deviance was in fact a normal and necessary part of social organization. He stated four important functions of deviance.
- Deviance affirms cultural values and norms. Any definition of virtue rests on an opposing idea of vice: There can be no good without evil and no justice without crime.
- Deviance defines moral boundaries, people learn right from wrong by defining people as deviant.
- A serious form of deviance forces people to come together and react in the same way against it.
- Deviance pushes society’s moral boundaries which, in turn leads to social change.
I think that Durkheim’s analysis is pretty spot on, although it’s unfortunate when you happen to be the group that society currently wants to most vigorously define its morality against, especially when that morality is an erroneous one.
Durkheim’s last function can maybe offer us some hope: he acknowledges that as societies change people, behaviours and ideas once considered as deviant can contribute to the creation of a new morality.
An example of this is how, when Western Capitalist society changed from being based on manufacturing and heavy industry to service and consumption, a concomitant change in values was demanded of the workforce. The job market no longer required men to be physically strong, have great endurance and not too much education, but instead required of both men and women enhanced interpersonal skills, adaptability and caring.
The homosexual, till recently vilified for subverting the manly virtues required for heavy industrial labour, came to embody many of the ideals of a society in which gender demarcation in the job market was increasingly disappearing. It is no coincidence that the successful campaign for the acceptance of homosexuality occurred in societies whose economic structures were changing from industrial capitalism to consumer capitalism.
This change in the economic structure of society was aided by there being an existing (but previously rejected) set of values ready to be adopted – values more appropriate to that new economic order. What had previously been considered deviant “pushed society’s moral boundaries” and facilitated the transition to that new economic order.
This (the role of economics in morality) is something I intend to return to and write about in greater depth.
The frequency which a phenomenon is reported in the media is no guide to the frequency of that phenomenon
What with Westminster Paedophile Rings, Celebrity Paedophiles, Paedophile Priests and a constant stream of arrests and court cases for child porn or child abuse offenses, the Man on the Clapham Omnibus could hardly be blamed for thinking that paedophilia was a phenomenon invented in the 1970s, whose incidence has since grown to epidemic proportions.
The truth is more likely to be that since the 1970s, children in the West have been increasingly isolated within the nuclear family, and the surveillance of children has increased; add to these factors the immense stigma associated with child-adult intimacy and the draconian penalties for those who engage in such intimacy (legal penalties for the adult, social and psychological ones for the child) it seems likely that in no society, nor during any period of history, has there been a lower incidence of child-adult sexual intimacy than in contemporary Western societies.
So how is it that we so often don’t just come to a ‘wrong’ conclusion, but we come to the conclusion which is the
It is in the nature of the media, and especially the news media, to be interested in events which are unusual or exceptional and to ignore commonplace and unremarkable ones.
For example – ask yourself how often a car crash is reported in the national news media and how often a plane crash is reported. A car crash will probably not get far beyond the second or third page of a local newspaper, whereas a plane crash, irrespective of where it occurs in the world, is likely to make the front page of national or international news.
The World Health Organisation estimates that
“an estimated 1.2 million people are killed in road crashes each year and as many as 50 million are injured.”
In 2013, according to the International Air Transport Association (Iata) there were eighty-one accidents in total. Sixteen of these resulted in a total of two-hundred and ten fatalities worldwide.
Of course if the national and international news reported every car crash, as they do every plane crash, there would be room for no other news, even on a 24-hour news channel. So someone who based their ideas concerning the relative frequency of plane crashes and car crashes on the frequency each was reported in the media couldn’t be blamed for thinking planes crashed more frequently than cars.
Probably the most troubling example of this phenomenon is the impression the media creates of the relative frequency of sexually motivated child murders committed by strangers as compared to non-sexual ones committed by a child’s parents.
In the UK there is roughly one sexually motivated murder of a child by a stranger every ten years. However every seven days a child dies at the hands of its parents (p9 http://www.dewar4research.org/docs/chom.pdf). The former will remain in the news for years. The latter might make the regional or national news (if it was particularly horrific or committed by the mother) but be forgotten after a couple of days. The former enters the national consciousness, becomes part of the fears of parents, whilst the latter is like water off a duck’s back – society is impervious to the idea that parents are the number one danger to their children’s lives.
Readers from the UK will remember the sad case of April Jones who in 2012 was the victim of a sexually-motivated murder. But who now remembers Mary Shipstone, shot dead by her father, or Ayesha Ali, killed by her mother and her mother’s lesbian lover? The media long ago lost interest in the latter cases. There was no sexual motive in their murders.
However, in the case of the murder of children the inverse relationship between the frequency of the events concerned and the attention the media gives them is only part of the story – a lot also depends on the differing values and meanings Society ascribes to parenthood and stranger-hood, and to good old plain simple murder and sexual acts with children.
I hope eventually to write in greater depth about this issue.