This post, like most of my recent ones, comes in at over 3000 words. I appreciate that not all readers have the time or the inclination to read an essay of this length. Such readers may wish to skip straight to the penultimate section of this essay (with the title ‘I have a dream…‘) and read there the conclusions towards which the rest of the essay leads.
What is it to be a paedophile and act and live virtuously? How do we best integrate our love into our daily lives, given that so many of its expressions are illegal, and carry a huge burden of stigma for those we love?
Monks and Friars
Religious tradition offers two answers to the problem of how to live well in a world that is (if you’re lucky) filled with temptation.
There is the solution of the monk, who achieves ‘virtue’ by withdrawing from the world and avoiding temptation.
Then there is the solution of the friar, who engages with the world and tries to do good, whilst resisting the temptations he inevitably encounters.
Monasticism engenders virtue that is negative. It is a virtue that is visible only to the eyes of a god (or of gods) since it consists of an absence, where ‘sin’ would otherwise be.
The friars, engage with the world and achieve virtue through good acts. Friars make themselves identifiable by various signs (clothing, tonsure etc). This means that their good acts are rung up to the credit of themselves as individuals, their order (Carmelite, Franciscan, Augustinian etc) and their faith. Their virtue is fully witnessed by the world.
A biographical digression…
Right from her earliest toddler-hood through to puberty I shared a special bond with a friend’s daughter. This friend and his wife saw that the bond between us was enriching to their daughter and did everything to encourage the friendship between us.
Some time back, reluctantly, and for reasons I can’t go into here, I came out to this friend.
Because my friend and his family lived in another country, I was obliged to come out to him in the worst possible way: by email.
A dark cloud came to preside over our correspondence over the next year or so. My friend’s most pressing fears and questions were left unaddressed. Our exchanges became stilted and cautious, were filled with misunderstandings, misjudgments and hesitations. We were both concerned by the growing distance and malaise that had established itself between us, but felt that we couldn’t address it via email.
So when his work brought him to my region we somewhat nervously agreed to meet, talk things over face-to-face, and either heal our friendship or deal it a quick death.
So we met. After an age of small-talk, avoiding the subject, I asked him about what it was it that had troubled him that he had not felt happy addressing in an email.
We had a frank and honest discussion that lasted several hours, a discussion that went better than I suspect either of us had hoped.
It was all quite emotional for me. I’m sure that this blog’s readers will appreciate how rare it is for a paedophile to participate in this kind of exchange, with a ‘normie’ who is actually listening and who is taking what you say seriously.
My friend assured me that he had absolute confidence that I had never done anything wrong with his daughter, and that I’d had no underhand intentions towards her.
At one point in the conversation I found myself unable to speak, hit by a sudden emotional surge. My friend noticing that I had stopped speaking mid-sentence looked up at me, saw me fighting back tears and put a supportive hand on my shoulder.
The discussion had turned to the assumption endemic to the dominant narrative: that paedophiles are just seeking power over some smaller, weaker being.
My had friend said that the relationship between myself and his daughter had been the opposite of that: that he and his wife had found it remarkable how their daughter and I related, right from when she was a toddler, with the utmost respect for one another and with an absolute lack of a power-dynamic between us; that I had never acted ‘the adult’ with her, pulled rank or condescended her in any way; and that she had never acted the child, or been difficult or spoilt with me. He affirmed that I had been entirely a force for good for his daughter, and that his daughter truly loved me.
That was what made me break down. It was so beautiful to hear a ‘normie’ so generously acknowledge that the essential goodness of my love had not been invalidated by his knowledge that I was a paedophile.
Later in our discussion I asked my friend if he’d ever suspected I was a paedophile before I came out to him.
He confessed that it had never crossed his mind. He just thought that I was someone who was kind and respectful to his daughter and had brought out the best in her.
He said that he’d never associated ‘paedophilia’ with the sort of relationship I’d had with his daughter.
Love minus sex equals..?
Parents, family friends, grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers etc variously express their love for children in a multiplicity of ways: through care, play, being patient, sharing interests and activities, paying children attention, physical affection, acting as role models, teaching and educating, gift-giving, correcting and punishing when necessary, going to work to provide for the family etc
Society accepts that there are many ways by which a ‘normal’ adult can show love for a child.
However, because the dominant narrative chooses to conceive of the paedophile in exclusively sexual terms Society deems paedophilia and the kinds of actions listed in the previous paragraph to be mutually exclusive.
The word ‘grooming’ embodies this assumption. It systematically sexualises all interactions, no matter how innocent-seeming, when a paedophile engages in them with a child. If the ‘grooming’ does not result in sexual abuse it is not because the interaction did not in fact have a sexual goal, but because the ‘grooming’, for whatever reason, failed to achieve that goal.
But the word ‘grooming’ conceals a half-truth: what distinguishes the ‘paedophile’ from the ‘normie’ is that the paedophile includes within their repertoire of loving gestures the sharing of sensual (or sexual) intimacy with a child .
Of course, Society by making any intimacy between an adult and a child highly stigmatised and illegal effectively removes this particular expression of love from the paedophile’s repertoire.
And because Society defines paedophilia in exclusively sexual terms it assumes that once ‘sexuality’ has been removed from the paedophile’s range of behaviours, that the paedophile will lose interest in the child in the same way that a hungry cheetah loses interest in a gazelle that has irrevocably escaped it.
But this thinking is flawed. And the flaw is so basic that it can be expressed as an equation: if the non-paedophile has a 100 ways of loving a child, the paedophile has a 101. By making child-adult intimacy illegal Society subtracts one way of loving from the paedophile’s 101. Subtracting 1 from 101 does not leave 0. It leaves 100.
In other words, the paedophile who accepts non-offending, still has available to him (or her) all the expressions of love that are open to the non-paedophile.
The murder of April Jones
A week or so ago Libertine posted the following comment:
“Tonight I just watched a documentary about the murder of the Welsh girl ‘April Jones’….Of course the word paedophile was used in the usual sweeping terms; But I was just as horrified at what happened to her as the next man. They started ‘April’s Law’ calling for harder sentences for those that look at CP , Somehow taring all CP viewers (and there are a lot) with the child killer brush; I understand they want to leave a legacy, But its a blinkered one.”
It’s a perennial problem: one word shackles together the best and the worst of us. The popular narrative uses the same word to describe a devoted, nurturing, loving (and celibate) paedophile and someone like Mark Bridger, April Jones’s murderer.
The vocabulary teleiophiles use when they think and talk about themselves admits of finer distinctions – it makes explicit the huge conceptual expanses that exist between the caring, considerate husband or boyfriend and a rapist, a wife-beater, a pimp, a sadist and a serial killer. When some unfortunate woman is raped and left for dead we don’t read headlines proclaiming ‘hetero rapes and murders woman’.
Virpeds, take a step in the right direction. They have a vocabulary for the ‘bad paedophile’: ‘abuser’, ‘child molester’, ‘offender’.
But these words don’t clear much smog: ‘offender’ can apply to someone who has accessed child pornography (maybe something as inoffensive as a drawing), but never interacted illegally with a child; and none of these words take into account the nature of the intimacy engaged in. Whether it is hurtful to delicate teleiophilic sensibilities or not, to fail to distinguish between a doting uncle who, at her instigation, tickles his niece’s bottom when she’s sat on his lap, and a man who forcibly penetrates a struggling, crying toddler.
(An example of semantic inflation – listen to the word Dr James Cantor uses to characterise what offending paedophiles and child do together, 16:06 minutes into the following interview. On the trajectory Cantor establishes here I predict that in two years time respected scientists will be describing the downloading of child porn as ‘genocide’…)
The Man Who Dares to Bring Science & Humanity to the World of Monsters
“First in my series of interviews with psychologist and researcher, Dr. James Cantor, whose work with pedophiles has helped to revolutionize the way we conceptualize this horrible affliction.”
All this semantic imprecision, inflation and obfuscation contributes to the fact that we paedophiles are defined by the worst that can be imagined about us, the worst that can be said about us and the worst that is done by people labelled as ‘paedophile’.
It is not surprising that someone as thoughtful and educated as my friend, prior to my coming out to him, would have readily recognised the acts of Mark Bridger as ‘paedophilia’, but not the years of devotion, respect and love I shared with his daughter. Only the worst about us breaks the skin of public consciousness.
Our virtuous acts are invisible.
Two Cheers for Virtuous Pedophiles
So, what is it to act virtuously as a paedophile?
Virtuous Pedophiles, the most visible paedophile group, emphasises the monastic approach to virtue, that of not offending. And the avoidance of children, along with therapy or ‘professional help’, is one of the key strategies they advocate for achieving this.
This makes for virtue that has the same invisibility as that of a driver who, because he respects speed limits, does not kill a child he would have otherwise killed if he regularly exceeded speed limits.
This, the anchorite approach to virtue, is nevertheless virtue when it results in a person not offending, who would have otherwise offended.
Of course in order to exercise the virtue of engagement, the paedophile (at least in the context of paedophobic society) needs to first exercise the virtue of resisting temptation.
But what about all those paedophiles who would never offend but, because this is the only advice they receive, who follow this advice of disengagement? Is not the net effect that many children are potentially deprived of the benefits of these people’s best impulses?
An emphasis on disengagement, on negative virtue, has the advantage of offering the public what it most wants to hear. This approach, and an emphasis on ‘therapy’, as solutions to the ‘problem of paedophilia’ has won for Virpeds access to the public and a certain respectability.
The therapisation of paedophilia is infantilising and reinforces the idea that paedophiles are so in the grip of uncontrollable lust, on such a tight-rope of self-control, that if it weren’t for ‘professional’ help and medication we’d all be offending against every small human that came within our grasp.
Moreover, are those paedophiles who do seek therapy going because they are unsure of their capacity to resist temptation? Or because they have been worn down by the stigma, the prejudice, the discrimination, the loneliness, the hatred, by depression, the disinformation and the lies?
But the truth is that resisting temptation is no harder for paedophiles than it is for any other sexual orientation.
In fact, resisting temptation might be easier for us: we are much more resigned to celibacy than are ‘normies’; we are not inculcated with a sense of entitlement to sexual and romantic fulfilment; normies, moreover, exist in a culture that constantly seeks to titillate them and tries to harness the resulting sexual dissatisfaction to consumer ends – we, especially exclusive paedophiles, by-and-large escape this; we exist in a culture that presents us with sexual or sexualised images of children of a homeopathic intensity when compared to normie culture; we also have much greater incentives for maintaining celibacy; and those of us who are non-exclusive have ready access to a pornucopia of legal stimulation to keep us distracted.
The REAL Virtuous Paedophiles
I know that if I had followed the Virtuous Pedophile two-point plan and avoided interactions with children, especially children I found attractive or whom I grew to love, those children’s lives would have been much the poorer for my absence, for my aloofness.
I know that I have exercised much positive virtue in several children’s lives. And that this positive virtue, when witnessed by the one parent of these children I have come out to, persuaded him that paedophilia could be a force for good.
We contribute a huge amount to children through our attention, devotion and love, as role models, as respectful adults. But because it is vanishingly rare that we can ‘come out’ to those who have witnessed this virtue, the virtue is not rung up to the credit of paedophiles.
The devoted teacher, the lady who teaches a neighbour’s son how to cook, the writer who pens books that ignite children’s imaginations, the pediatrician saving children’s lives &c &c may all be paedophiles.
But the world will never know it.
Meanwhile every news bulletin, every tabloid has its front-page child abuse story that reinforces the Monster and Predator narratives.
I am proud of the good things I have done for children. As should be all the paedophiles who do good things for children. But we are unable to take credit, as paedophiles, for the good we do, and so long as this situation persists our virtuous acts will contribute nothing to the public’s perception of what it is to be a paedophile.
I have a dream…
It is not enough for us to be privately proud of the good things we do. We need to celebrate them. Publicly.
The World is not going to come knocking, asking us paedophiles about the positive things we do for children. If the World isn’t listening maybe we need to put aside our natural modesty and proclaim the good we do. Maybe we need to shout a little louder. But how?
One possibility is a web-site that would invite paedophiles from all round the world to anonymously share the positive acts of virtue that they do, and have done, for children.
The acts could be small everyday ones – helping a child with her reading, listening to a child’s problems, playing with a child…. Or they could be major acts of virtue – supporting a child as their parents go through a divorce, or saving a child’s life, or a paedophile doctor volunteering for Medecins Sans Frontiers.
I imagine pages and pages of beautiful moments inspired by the love and respect shared by a paedophile and a child they care for – accounts that are varied, surprising, banal, extraordinary, passionate, moving, happy, bitter-sweet, amusing, serious, detailed, long, short, well-written and badly-written…
The site would also be non-sectarian – it would not be a place for arguments between ‘pro-choice’ vs ‘anti-contact’ paedophiles, or between ‘status-quo’ vs ‘reform’. To this end, and for all sorts of other reasons, the site would, have a non-offending policy: no contribution containing, hinting at, or promoting illegal activity would be published.
The site would seek to occupy the common ground shared by most factions and would be something that all paedophiles who put the interests of children first should feel comfortable contributing to – whether they be male, female, Virpeds, Radical paedophiles, girl-lovers, boy-lovers, exclusives, non-exclusives, nepiophiles, paedophiles, hebephiles or ephebophiles.
I am enough of a dreamer to even imagine teleiophiles contributing. Maybe someone like the friend to whom I came out? Or some teleiophilic adult who fondly remembers the love, devotion and respect he or she shared with someone they now realise was probably a paedophile?
Of course, a large proportion of the public is going to wilfully misinterpret such a site and come to the site only in search of the thrill of outrage. These people, I predict, will view the site as little more than a place for paedophiles to share thinly-disguised grooming stories.
This can’t be helped. But if we let the most ignorant and brutish people have a casting vote on our best-intentioned projects then organisations such as Virpeds , B4U-ACT and Project Dunkelfeld would not exist – let alone sites like Pigtails in Paint.
Those seeking outrage will find precious little fuel there to keep that outrage burning – ‘Honey’s wacky smelly pants‘ as the French say.
We need to get truths out there over the heads of the bottom-feeders, truths that have so far failed to permeate beyond the paedosphere. And we need to let those truths do their own work.
It has been pointed out to me that the more extreme VirPeds will have nothing to do with a project instigated by an apparently ‘notorious’ apparently ‘pro-contact’ paedophile.
Well, that’s of course a shame. And I just hope for their sakes that neither Louis Pasteur or Sir Alexander Fleming turn out to have been ‘pro-contact paedophiles’ and that they consequently feel themselves obliged to opt out from the benefits of those gentlemen’s good ideas…
Anyway, since I have already mooted this idea elsewhere on the internet, and since I’ve published this post, the fact that this is my brain-child is probably the only point that is non-negotiable (though any VirPed wishes to take this idea and run with it is welcome to do so, provided that the site is public and done in a non-sectarian manner).
But the site would not seek to compete with VirPeds, or undermine them. It would instead complement the virtue promoted by Virpeds. It would promote a way of life that is doubly virtuous – that would add positive virtue to the negative virtue of VirPeds. It would encourage paedophiles who present no risk of ‘offending’ to take the next step – engage with children, and express their love by enriching those chidren’s lives.
So, over to you, good reader…
Does such a site seem like a workable proposition to you?
Would you be ready to contribute?
Do you think paedophiles in general would be ready to contribute?
Would you want to read this kind of thing this site would publish?
Can such a site be self-sustaining? Or would it need to offer something more to keep people returning?
What are possible pitfalls?
How could the haters and antis and the ignorant mob scupper such a project?
Any and all suggestions, thoughts, doubts, questions are welcome.