(the first part of this essay can be found here)
Virpeds’ stance on the morality of child-adult intimacy is indistinguishable from the populist and tabloid stance: all and any such intimacy is not only wrong, but it is intrinsically and unquestionably wrong.
This stance has had a significant beneficial effect for Virpeds. It has allowed them to have a voice outside of the hermetic world of the ‘paedosphere’. They have become the go-to group whenever mainstream media needs a paedophile voice, a voice that is not going to create waves or question the hegemonic beliefs of society.
The Price of Virtue
The price to pay for this is that the paedophile whose voice is being made public has to adhere to certain script: he has to present his desire as exclusively a problem; he must express no pleasure or joy in his love; he must be seeking a cure or visibly taking preventative measures; he has to repeatedly assert that the has no intention of ‘offending’; he must not be a father; he must not work, or have contact, with children; he must never go into detail about what he finds attractive in children; he must present himself as an object of pity; he must give the impression of suffering, of being filled with self-loathing; he preferably will give some evidence of having been ‘abused’ himself as a child (for the lumpen ‘paedophobiat’ this can slightly reduce the culpability of a paedophile); there must be no question that children could consent to intimacy; no examples of or assertions of the existence of, child sexuality; no hint that children might enjoy intimacy; no references to cultures with different attitudes to the contemporary West &c &c
In short they have to embody the nightmare of a paedophobe who wakes up one morning to find themselves attracted to their six-year old neighbour: an equivalent nightmare to that of a slavery-era racist in the Southern States who wakes up one morning to find themselves black.
The public face of Virpeds is, in effect, the paedophobe in blackface.
This is arguably a price worth paying. As previously noted, in a climate murderous with the hatred of paedophiles and the denial of child sexuality, Virpeds have been successful in presenting a vision of the paedophile that the more enlightened in our society can, if not ‘accept’, can at least acknowledge, tolerate and feel pity for.
The consequences of Virtue
What does this do for young paedophiles who come under their influence?
Credit where credit’s due: they could do a lot worse. They could remain culturally isolated and adopt the tabloid identity of the paedophile, which is almost certainly the first one they will encounter, it being ubiquitous in the media, in the culture and in the community.
It paints the paedophile as a monster, someone who is incapable of restraining his lust, someone with both great powers of guile and deception, yet also a low-functioning, anti-social creep. His desires emerge from feelings of inadequacy and manifest themselves in a need to dominate something weak and vulnerable. He uses manipulation and coercion, often physical, to enact adult lust on child victims. His will to dominate can spill over into sadism and even murder. He probably dislikes or feels contempt for his victims and enjoys their distress.
From discussions on certain paedophile forums I get the impression that ‘hurtcore’ child pornography sites are worryingly popular, and many of the comments left on Youtube videos featuring children and, apparently, on child pornography sites have a tone which is sadistic and disrespectful of children. I suspect that this may be a phenomenon arising from people adopting the tabloid the paedophile as ‘Monster’ persona.
The Virtuous Pedophile persona is, or course, a great improvement on the ‘Paedo as Monster’. Virpeds do present a considered and humane vision of what it is to be a paedophile. But it has all the inherent problems of an identity emerging from a group which accepts the premise of its own stigmatisation. There are similarities between Virpeds and those church groups who ‘pray away the gay’: such groups may indeed be very welcoming of gay members, and be effective in making gay members feel themselves part of a community, but only on the condition that they accept their desires as inherently ‘wrong’.
It may be the biased demands of the media I’ve outlined in the previous section which makes so many of the public pronouncements of Virpeds appear to be self-hating misery-fests but I also suspect that believing one’s feelings of love and desire to be inherently wrong can not be conducive to being at ease with oneself. Self-loathing, or loathing of an integral part of who you are, is not a good basis on which to build self-control. It can lead to mental problems, depression, and feelings of worthlessness – all of which devalue life and consequently can lead to increased risk-taking. With a person for whom paedophilia is the central ‘problem’ that risk-taking is likely to be directed at children.
Moreover the efforts of Virped are all dedicated to promoting tolerance for paedophiles. This is akin to those Roman writers (such as Cicero and Seneca) who thought themselves as endowed with ‘humanitas’ and ‘virtus’ for demanding that owners treat their slaves well, whilst never questioning the institution of slavery itself.
A third persona is available to the young paedophile: that of the the pro-choice paedophile.This position radically questions the received and mandatory position of society concerning childhood, child sexuality and the nature of love between an adult and a child. It believes that there is no ineluctable mechanism of harm intrinsic to sensual interactions between children and adults, and that the harm is caused by society’s response to such relationships.
Here we see why the routes by which different philosophies arrive at the same conclusion can really matter: if you refrain from engaging in intimacy with a child because you feel your desires are evil, dirty and wrong, you expose yourself to the psycho-social problems mentioned above; if you refrain because you love children too much to risk them becoming exposed to stigma society shackles onto such intimacy, you are less likely to suffer from problems associated with self-loathing: your celibacy comes out of self-respect, and any anger is directed not at yourself or your love but at the ignorance of society.
To which a Virped could quite rightly object “The universe doesn’t owe us self-justification. What if those desires are wrong? What if 21st Century Western Society is right about the ineluctable and intrinsic harmfulness of all sensual intimacy between adults and children? Should one adopt false beliefs merely because they might make you feel better about yourself?”
To which the answer is, of course, ‘no’. But one cannot determine whether a belief is true or false unless one enters the fray, has that belief tested, unless one risks being offended and having your belief shown to be wrong.
In many ways the Virtuous Paedophile is the easiest position for a paedophile to adopt as it requires the least intellectual and emotional adjustment – one doesn’t have to question society’s values, or the values you were brought up on. Virpeds’ dogged refusal to defend their position either on their site and forum, or on the wider Internet, suggests that they are less interested in the validity of their position than in maintaining the pragmatic and politic convenience of their rapprochement with the mainstream narrative. They seem to fear that simply to engage in a defense of their position might be taken by the media and lumpen public (from whom they are seeking tolerance) as an acknowledgment of radical pro-choice ideas and be seen as a contamination of the purity of their stance.
Virtuous Pedophiles have undoubtedly had some success in educating sections of the general public by means of presenting a version of paedophilia that is closer to the truth that the tabloid Monster myth, and I think that it is better that young paedophiles fall into the hands of Virpeds than be left to construct an identity out of the only persona which the media and popular culture make available: the ‘Monster’.
But the price they’ve had to pay for this is considerable: they foster an image of the paedophile as either being a self-loathing, troubled celibate or a tabloid Monster; their position is intellectually weak, being based on statements of authority derived from popular culture and a refusal to engage in ideas critical of their position (see my comment to Ethan’s blog post Pedophilic Attraction For Squeamish Dummies. His response illustrates Virpeds’ blanket refusal to publicly engage with ideas critical of their position); they consistently minimise the role society plays in the trauma experienced by those who had sensual intimacy with an adult when children; theirs is a narrow and stubborn ethnocentrism which extrapolates the attitudes of a very WEIRD and entirely abnormal 21st century society to all societies and cultures everywhere and at all periods of history; they have little interest in the nature of childhood; they have unquestioningly adopted language of the oppressor and, not surprisingly, have ended up thinking like them.
Despite all of the above, and despite an awareness that for many virpeds paedos like myself (especially now I’ve written this blog!) are pretty much beyond the pale, I don’t personally have any profound bad-feelings towards virpeds and I undoubtedly have more respect for individual members of virpeds than they do for me.
For all my criticisms I’m glad that Virpeds exists. If I believed that this essay could harm them I wouldn’t have published it.
What I regret is the isolation of virpeds. I have discussed and argued with some virpeds in private and I must confess that the experience has always been rewarding*.
Pro-choice paedophiles lack worth opponents – the haters have never felt a need to marshal their evidence and arguments so, for all their bloviation and certainty, they generally make for unprepared and weak opponents in serious arguments; with fellow pro-choicers any points of disagreement tend to be details rather than principals. Virpeds are generally well informed and have thought about the condition of paedophiles more than the hater. This means that when I’ve engaged in a discussion with a virped I have had to really work to defend my position.
This is a good thing – we approach the Truth and Understanding not through a process of protecting our beliefs but through exposing them and having them tested and criticised. The ‘paedosphere‘ should be alive with debate, disagreement, exchange of ideas and polite, but open, criticism. I hope that one day these debates, disagreements and exchanges of ideas will include non-paedophiles. The day that paedophobes dare to challenge our ideas in honest debate will be the day that the world starts to change.
So the beliefs of virpeds should be part of a range of ideas around paedophilia all of which are engaged in a dialectic – much as, say, the political left consists of Socialists, communists, anarchists, ecologists, civil rights movements, organised labour, social democrats, historians, economists, artists, novelists &c &c – all of which bring their perspectives and interests to the table.
This is why I regret the isolationist stance of Virtuous Paedophiles.
*One of the Virtuous Pedophiles with whom I have had very stimulating and challenging exchanges has been Ethan Edwards, one of the founders of Virpeds.
Despite being aware of my critical pro-choice stance he has been very helpful, friendly and cooperative in helping me write this essay. I’m sure that he disagrees with most of what I’ve written here but I hope he doesn’t feel I’ve been unfair or vindictive. He kindly offered to proof-read a draft of this essay and I appreciate the time and attention he gave to it – predictably this led to a very interesting exchange of ideas – I only wish that virpeds would defend their positions as vigorously and courteously in public as Ethan did in private.
My only disappointment is that Ethan didn’t feel it right to post a link to the first part of this essay on the Virped forum. I’d have welcomed comments and criticisms from the members there.