What follows are my current opinions and thoughts on questions relating to paedophilia and child sexuality. This is very much to be taken as a ‘snapshot’. My opinions and thoughts are in a constant, if slow, flux.
This is because Radical Paedophilia is a pioneer subject. And pioneer subjects change and develop rapidly. Paedophiles themselves, the grassroots, are the ones who are breaking the new ground in the comments section of blogs and forums such as HereticTOC. The thinking and discussion to be found in such place is original and often surprising. On the other hand, the scientists and the ‘professionals’, are too beholden to the dominant narrative to dare to stray too far from the errors which they earn their living perpetuating.
There are several reasons why I have decided to make this my first serious post of the 2017 season:
– as a revision exercise for myself after six months off;
– as a reference point for visitors to this blog wanting to get an idea of the blog’s stance, both generally and on specific points;
– as a provocation: I don’t expect there will be any reader who agrees with me on every question and I hope that this might lead to some interesting discussions and debates in the comments sections, and maybe eventually in the actual blog-posts themselves.
- child sexuality
- paedophilic desire
- What I defend and what I don’t defend
- ‘Sex’ vs ‘sensual intimacy’
- ‘Moral Panics’ and ‘Witch-Hunts’
- The Trauma Myth
- acting on one’s desires
- The origins of paedophilia
- The origins of paedophobia
- Feminazis, the Religious Right, the Child Abuse Industry &c
- Deep Consent
- Informed and Simple Consent
- child pornography
- paedophile identity
- virtuous pedophiles
- contemporary childhood
- toxic sexuality
- children’s sexual rights
- to a kinder world
- a society that loves its children
- culture and community under stigma
- Islam and paedophilia
Children are sexual. On a physiological level they experience the same sensations in their erogenous zones as do adults. They also experience and express attraction and desire for other humans, including adults.
Child sexuality should be understood as more nuanced than adult sexuality. Children ‘learn’ sexuality in the same way as they learn all other social and cultural aspects of their development (talking, walking, toilet training, reading, social skills etc) – gradually, erratically, playfully. Sexuality is not something that appears out of nowhere fully developed at the start of adolescence.
Walking, talking, toilet training etc all start with basic physiological impulses whose desired expression are encultured through the encouragement, and discouragement, of their parents, the community and their society. Likewise with sexuality.
Sexual enculturation starts at birth. The baby experiences pleasure suckling, defecating, urinating, and in the touch of its parents. The baby and the growing child will gradually learn what behaviour, thoughts and feelings are approved and disapproved of from its parents responses to its body and its sexuality and change its behaviour and world-view accordingly.
In our society a child will receive nothing but encouragement in its attempts to walk, talk and read.
Its efforts to develop its sexuality will receive nothing but discouragement. Whilst a parent will participate actively and eagerly in a child’s linguistic development, no adult is allowed to participate in a like manner in a child’s sexual play and exploration.
In addition children are actively deprived of the conceptual tools necessary for making sense of their sexuality: how many little girls know what the word ‘clitoris’ refers to?
I touch on the nature of child sexuality in our culture in the section ‘toxic sexuality’ further down.
I believe that, given a ‘normal’ psychology, those we love teach us how best to love them, especially if that love is consistent and repeated – an ‘orientation’.
If we love our spouses in a different way to our new-born babies it is because they reward expressions of love which harmonise with their needs and desires, and punish those discordant with their needs and desires. The intensity of our love determines our responsiveness to their needs.
A similar process also works with sexual fantasy. Fantasy is where, unless you are exceptionally lucky, most of one’s sexual experience and development occurs. Fantasy and real-life experience establish a dialectic whereby one gradually learns how best to act towards the love-object. Fantasy hypothesises, reality provides data and corrects our hypotheses. The accumulation of this learning is what society calls ‘Romance’.
This process applies as much to paedophiles as to teleiophiles, though we have to struggle through the worst possible circumstances within which to develop our sexual identity.
This mechanism which harmonises the desires of the lover with the needs of the loved-one means that the desires and dreams of paedophiles will tend to be ‘child-centered’ – mirroring the child’s stage of sexual play and learning.
The oft-repeated mantra of the ignorant – that ‘paedophiles want to fuck children’ is almost certainly not true of paedophiles stricto sensu (as opposed to hebephiles and ephebophiles, whose loved-ones might want and enjoy penetration). Most paedophiles are not focused on penetrative sex simply because they know that a prepubescent child whom they love would be hurt and scared by penetration. The paedophile’s greatest reward is winning the love of the child, and making it happy and giving it pleasure and any action that militates against this is not pleasurable to imagine.
An illustration of this is the difference between the situational child sex offender and the true paedophile. The great majority of those convicted for the rape of prepubescents are situational offenders: men who don’t normally have paedophilic feelings, but whose act was either opportunistic or provoked by intoxication or mental problems. These men, because they have not spent a life-time thinking and fantasising about how to win and keep the love of a child, simply apply their unmodified teleiophilic sexual habits to the child. And the goal of teleiophilic sexuality is penetration.
A paedophile would be unlikely to rape a child, since they have spent years, decades, learning, thinking and fantasising around the nature of children, and what is likely to make children happiest and most loving.
what I defend and what I don’t defend
I am a pro-choice paedophile. I believe that caring, playful sensual intimacy between a consenting adult and a consenting child, far from being inherently harmful, is salutary.
Of course, social attitudes can be very effective at turning such interactions harmful: heap enough stigma onto anything and it will become toxic. Conditions that are inherently harmless, such as albinism, will become toxic and deadly in the context a society that stigmatises, demonises, and misunderstands that condition.
I defend a child-centered approach to intimacy. The child’s well-being, pleasure and happiness should be the adult’s ultimate priority.
I condemn child-adult intimacy which has been brought about by coercion, manipulation, the use of authority, or which is not informed with ‘deep consent’ (see section on ‘consent’ below for explanation of what I mean by this).
Such interactions should still be considered as criminal under any reformed laws. Nor should reformed consent laws permit an adult to penetrate a prepubescent child – an act that is unlikely to pass the criteria of ‘deep consent’ and is primarily motivated by the adult’s quest for his own pleasure.
‘sex’ vs ‘sensual intimacy’
When writing about paedophilia and child sexuality I find the phrase ‘sensual intimacy’ more accurate than ‘sex’. The word ‘sex’ is too strongly associated with teleiophilia, with businesslike seduction, penetration, conquest, the quest for orgasm.
I suspect that most consensual erotic activity between adults and prepubescents is light and playful – looking, touching, stroking, kissing, tickling – ‘foreplay’ without the goal implied by the ‘fore-‘.
Using the word ‘sex’, especially in a discussion with someone ignorant of the true nature of paedophilia, is to invite one’s interlocutor to maintain, in their imagination, the idea of a ‘man wanting to fuck a child’. Something which, even in a world where children were allowed to choose their sexual partners should, arguably, not be legal.
Stigma defines how paedophilia and child sexuality exist within the social sphere.
A person who is stigmatized is a person whose identity calls into question his or her full humanity – the person is devalued, spoiled, or flawed in the eyes of others.
Experience of stigma can be extremely distressing and damaging, especially as stigma is generally chronic and difficult to escape. Stigma has been shown to predispose the sufferer to mental illness, reduced IQ, social isolation, criminality and suicide.
Nor does the experience of stigma depend on being discovered. Paedophilia is a ‘hidden’ stigma because its identifying features can be concealed (as is not the case with deformity or race).
In a society awash with hateful images of paedophiles, a paedophile who has never offended and never ‘come out’ is akin to that of someone sheltering in the middle of a battle-field, of whose existence the enemy is not aware. The bombs, bullets and mortar fire pass around him and overhead, and mows down his friends and comrades. He knows that if he in anyway betrays his existence that this flack and fire will be turned on himself.
I will be writing about stigma in greater depth in the coming months.
‘moral panics’ and ‘witch-hunts’
A Moral Panic is a feeling of fear spread among a population that some evil threatens the well-being of society. A crucial defining element is that the fear is grossly disproportionate to the reality of the threat.
A Witch-Hunt is the collective measures and acts perpetrated by those in the grip of a moral panic against the Folk Devils or scapegoats who are the focus of the panic.
Moral panics can be long-lasting and include periods of relative dormancy. Witch-Hunts are explosive episodes of intense moral panic e.g the McMartin preschool episode.
The threat of stigma, ostracism, violence and death, and the collateral suffering of their family and friends, renders the groups that are the focus of the moral-panic/witch-hunt unable to speak out when something inaccurate is said about them. This means that moral panics tend to be self-perpetuating because they shut down those voices that would correct errors and moderate the hysteria.
With these voices silenced the public imagination becomes over-heated: rumour, conjecture and fantasy (generally drawing on the worst that can be imagined) become ‘facts’; the worst actions of individual members of the persecuted group become seen as ‘typical’ behaviour for the whole group; the language used around the issue becomes hysterical and no longer fits what it purports to describe.
A positive feed-back loop is established: as the public’s ideas concerning the hated group become more and more monstrous, it becomes more and more dangerous for anyone to say anything that could correct or moderate those ideas.
the trauma myth
The only permissible narrative around any sensual or sexual interaction between a child and an adult – no matter how consensual, light and playful – is that it is inevitably damaging to the child, the ‘victim’.
And indeed there are many men and women who feel their lives have been blighted by such interactions during their childhood – the experience being likened to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Why would the memory of an interaction that was desired, incited and enjoyed when a person was, say, 9, turn so toxic and damaging when that same person is 19?
This question is convincingly and comprehensively answered in Susan Clancy’s book “The Trauma Myth”. Clancy found that when the sexual interaction was consensual the adults remember it as having been pleasurable and/or confusing at the time.
If the relationship was discovered, the would find itself at the epicentre of hysterical family and neighbours, with subsequent intimate examinations by doctors and interviews by investigators, a court case and the punishment of her erstwhile lover – all of which is likely to be highly traumatic in itself.
But even if the relationship was not discovered, when the younger partner eventually became aware of the intensity and nature of the stigma associated with what they’d done, and the dire predictions associated with child-adult intimacy, symptoms of Trauma would kick in.
In other words the PTSD kicked off when the individual became subject to the stigma that surrounds child-adult intimacy.
This would be exacerbated by the fact that the memory of the relationship does not fit with the dominant narrative around ‘child sexual abuse’. This says that the child is a passive, reluctant, suffering victim of an uncaring abuser – but they remember that they maybe had initiated the sexual activity, had enjoyed it, had felt love for their an ‘abuser’ who had treated them with tenderness and love.
This disjuncture between what their memory of what happened and what the dominant narrative asserts of all child-adult sensuality leaves the person confused and ashamed – believing that must have been freaky, abnormal, dirty as a child. Thinking that they were to ‘blame’ for what happened, because they remember themselves as maybe the instigator, or enthusiastic participant.
This explains why many ‘victims’ take so long to admit to what happened, and feel shame about it. The dominant narrative paints them, inadvertently, as having been dirty, freaky children.
The phenomenon of ‘recovered memory’ also confirms Clancy’s theory. One of the symptoms of trauma is that the sufferer is unable to forget or escape the memory that triggered the trauma – the event is too disruptive and disturbing to be forgotten.
When a memory of childhood sexual activity is recovered it has not, in fact, been ‘repressed’, but has simply been forgotten because it was not significant enough at the time to be remembered.
But the adult remembering such a childhood interaction ‘recontextualises’ the memory and imposes onto it the stigma the dominant narrative associates with such interactions. What causes the trauma is the experience of stigma, not the childhood sexual experience itself.
acting on one’s desires
Given the intense stigma that Society currently imposes on all child-adult intimacy I believe that adults should not engage with a child in illegal intimacy – no matter how consensual and desired by the child.
However I have no negative feelings towards those who do engage in loving, consensual intimacy with a child. Love writes its own laws, and a child’s need for affection, love and pleasure can so fill the couple’s hearts that there is no room left for the law, for stigma, or even for the child’s future self. A child is not ‘an adult in the making’ but an entire being with needs, loves and desires in the present which too easily drown-out the hypothetical needs of the adult that they will eventually become.
Some groups counsel paedophiles to avoid all contact and friendships with children. But such advice forgets that ‘sex’ is only a part of ‘love’. A paedophile can express love without there being a sexual element.
Resisting temptation is no harder for paedophiles than for any other sexuality – it might even be easier, since we have lower expectations and are more resigned to celibacy, and have greater incentives for maintaining celibacy. With this in mind I think that paedophiles can love their little friends through their affection and respect, and be role-models, confidants, and a door into a more mature way of existing
I’d also add that a host of factors more banal that than ‘illegality’ or ‘the risk of future stigma’ serve to keep the paedophile on the easy side of the law. These are same factors that prevent teleiophiles going on sexual rampages i.e the adult’s desire not being reciprocated by the child, the paedophile not finding a particular child sexually attractive, the paedophile not wanting to abuse the trust and friendship of the child’s parent, or a professional position…
The origins of paedophilia
Why are some people paedophiles?
A hypothesis that interests me is that childhood experiences of childhood sexuality – either one’s own or that of other children – will predispose one to having paedophilic desires in adulthood. The knowledge that children are sexual beings, gained from personal experience, will challenge Society’s ‘innocent child’ narrative, and make the child a more acceptable recipient of sexual desire.
Another theory, one put forward by the neuroscientist James Cantor is that paedophilia results from a kind of ‘crossed wiring’ in the brain established whilst the fetus is still developing in the mother’s womb.
There are serious flaws in this research which may invalidate his conclusions. I will be posting an analysis of this research, and its flaws, in the coming months.
The origins of paedophobia
I believe that paedophobia (the fear of paedophilia) occurs in societies where the nuclear family dominates. There is no possible sexual interaction within the nuclear family, other than between the parents, that does not violate the incest taboo.
This means that in such societies the legitimacy and stability of the family depends on the ‘the child’ being conceived of as ‘innocent’. Paedophobia seems to have increased since the start of the industrial revolution because families have become more isolated and intense, and because the counter-force of the community plays an ever-reducing role in the lives of children.
With the onset of consumerism another factor has introduced itself to trigger the hyper-paedophobia the West has experienced since the 1980s. This is because society is confronted with two conflicting archetypes of ‘the child’: the Innocent Child and the Consumer Child.
Marketers started marketing directly to children in the second half of the last century. Previously products for children were marketed to their parents. Marketers aim to make children into consumers who desire goods independently of their parents, and this is sets children and parents against each other. ‘Cool culture’ is part of this – a realm of values shared conspiratorially between the marketers and children, defined in opposition to the tastes and values of ‘adults’ and where children are empowered and adults pompous or infantilised.
Sexuality is a powerful marketing tool, especially with little girls. If a child can be taught that they are attractive and popular in proportion to how much they have done to themselves and how much they spend they will establish an intense consumer paradigm in that child’s mind that will serve the market well for the rest of that child’s life.
This has created a situation where parents feel alienated from their children. This situation is compounded with a perception that their children are being sexualised against their (the parents) will. Parents want to think of their children as ‘innocent’ but are no longer able to.
Consumer culture is not readily identified as the culprit for these anxieties. This is because an economic system is something too abstract to shoulder blame for a moral problem. And because adults are deeply entrenched within consumer culture, deriving both pleasure and their identity from it. To blame consumer culture would be to take a share in consumerism’s culpability – which, of course, they are reluctant to do.
The anxieties of parents are instead directed towards the paedophile. The paedophile embodies most closely parents’ anxieties about their children being taken from them through the co-option of their sexuality.
Feminazis, the Religious Right, the Child Abuse Industry &c
These groups are often held responsible for paedophobia. As the previous section should make clear, I do not agree with this position.
Such groups have jumped onto a bandwagon not of their making, and to blame these groups is to make the error of stopping one’s search at the first groups capable of shouldering the blame – and, of course, it is easier to blame people than systems.
We naturally assume that those who persecute us are the instigators of the persecution – for paedophiles to blame feminazis &c is like a cow blaming the abattoir operative for its death, rather than the consumers who fuel and finance the meat industry.
Yes, these groups undoubtedly profit from paedophobia, and therefore fan its flames, seeking to intensify and perpetuate it – but the fire itself comes from other sources.