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Guardian article about paedophilia

(42 Posts)
madamezouzou Thu 03-Jan-13 22:30:38

There's an article in the guardian online today highlighting a number of surveys that state that paedophilia is a sexual orientation and that such [paedophilic] relationships, entered into voluntarily, are "nearly uncorrelated with undesirable outcomes".

I believe children are unable consent to sex with an adult. Therefore it is rape. Rape cannot be a sexual orientation and can certainly lead to all sorts of 'undesirable outcomes'.

Is asking these questions offensive to victims of paedophilia? Doesn't it just make it more difficult for them to seek justice and recognition for their experiences and heal from them afterwards?

Do we really need to ask the questions raised by the article and by the surveys referenced?

StormyBrid Fri 04-Jan-13 12:44:34

What questions exactly is the article asking? So far as I can see it's concerned with two issues: whether paedophilia is innate or learned behaviour; and whether children can consent to sexual activity with an adult. Have I missed anything there?

Answers to the second question are likely to be divided based on whether one is victim or perpetrator. I'm not at all sure about studies showing some children who feel they consented and weren't damaged by the experience, but I can't turn round and say "That's bollocks" because I'd be denying those children the opportunity to speak about their own experiences. That said, I do think it's bollocks, because children don't have the mental sophistication necessary to fully understand and agree to adult sexual activity. If we were to claim that they do, then we're in pretty dangerous territory: a paedophile could potentially use as their defence the "fact" that the child consented, and if rape cases are anything to go by it would then be down to the child to prove they didn't. And that's a horrifying prospect.

As for whether paedophilia is learned or innate, whatever the answer to this may be, I feel the article raises a valid point in its final two paragraphs. If attraction to children is learned deviant behaviour then it requires treatment, and its origins need to be studied so that it can be avoided in the future, but labelling those with that tendency as monsters means they'll likely avoid treatment for fear of the stigma, and are thus more likely to offend. If an attraction to children is innate, then demonising those who feel it is simply cruel, as they aren't able to change their orientation towards children. In neither circumstance is it appropriate or helpful to simply label paedophiles as monsters.

There was a Telegraph article in response to this one, that basically said "The Guardian supports paedophiles! They're monsters!" Now that was unhelpful. The Guardian article makes a clear distinction between having an attraction to children, and acting on that attraction. As a victim of paedophilia, I find this approach remarkably refreshing. All too often, in an attempt to make me feel better about my past, people have referred to my abuser as a monster or an animal. He is neither. He's a human being, capable of making rational decisions and weighing up their consequences. A tiger can't be blamed for biting off your arm, it's just being a tiger and doing what tigers do. But humans are different, we have the capacity to think first and adjust our actions accordingly. When a paedophile is labelled a monster we deny their humanity and so deny the very thing that makes them responsible for their actions.

I don't know whether my abuser is attracted to small children because he was born that way, or because of events in his life. I do know it was his own free choice to act on that attraction. As a victim, I would have found it immeasurably helpful during the healing process to have that distinction between attraction and action widely recognised.

Sorry, that was a bit long and rambly!

MortaIWombat Fri 04-Jan-13 12:56:47

What an excellent and thoughtful comment, StormyBrid.

slhilly Fri 04-Jan-13 17:06:44

Stormy, that was a wonderful comment. I am very sorry to hear you have suffered and hope you have found peace.

LineRunner Fri 04-Jan-13 18:07:38

If paedophilia is determined even by one academic or newspaper to be a sexual orientation, there will follow arguments saying it is unlawful to discriminate, arguments for the end of the sex offenders' register and CRB checks, and arguments citing right to a private life in respect of ownership of certain images.

Just watch.

It's been tried before back in the 1970s.

runningforthebusinheels Fri 04-Jan-13 18:16:43

My thoughts too, Linerunner.

tribpot Fri 04-Jan-13 18:20:08

Following the logic given above, however, the sex offenders' register is not called the paedophiles' register. It is a register of people who have committed offences. Presumably the law would need to change to say that sex with a child was not a criminal offence. That strikes me as unlikely to happen.

hiddenhome Fri 04-Jan-13 19:51:44

I was slated a thread that I began expressing these exact fears. People thought I was nuts, but it's coming. You wait and see sad

LineRunner Fri 04-Jan-13 20:42:41

I don't think a legal challenge will succeed in the European Court, but I think that there will be some kind of legal or cultural challenge and that the 'sexual orientation' arguments are to try to soften up liberal societies for when this happens.

I also wonder if there is a political motivation to 'confuse' sexual orientation issues so that we might be persuaded retropectively to forgive some really nasty abusers of the past.

After all, Roman Polanski is doing ok this week. Maybe Cyril Smith will be culturally rehabilitated next, and perhaps more importantly the political figures yet to be found out.

It's a funny old world.

Pan Fri 04-Jan-13 21:17:39

Stormy - I particularly like your comments about how other people's reactions can lead to a further disempowering of the victim, and perhaps a confusion where a victim may want to say "no, you don't understand". Such cries of 'monster', 'animal', 'give me 5 mins with the bastard' (which is often read on around here) shows to be utterly missing the point of the victim's experience and desire for a sense to be made of it. (ime the thing that victims overwhelmingly wish is it for it never to happen to someone else.)

The sexual orientation argument is a disturbing one (though less so than the 'no damage done due to consent' one). To try to mix the sex of your partner-attaction with the age of your partner-attraction is conflating the two separate categories and results in v weak justification to exercise power over the less powerful. imho.

rubberglove Sun 06-Jan-13 11:15:07

I think this is liberal, intellectual bullshit. Of the kind that sees itself above the tabloid hysteria.

Both extremes are harmful. I find it disturbing, the mere suggestion, that a child can engage in a sexual relationship with an adult unharmfully.

Anatomically, surely a young girl would be harmed by penetration?

Sorry is that distasteful, well that is the reality. Or a primary aged girl/boy consenting to and enjoying oral sex? No didn't think so.

It is not a sexual orientation, it is psychologically dysfunctional. Like rape, it is about power and control. I think there probably are a lot of abusers out there who can convince a child they do like it, that it is unharmful. That the child is consenting. But that is the nature of abuse.

Abitwobblynow Sun 06-Jan-13 21:11:59

The silent majority believe that paedophiles should be killed/hanged/executed. Progressives think that the silent majority need educated from their base beliefs, that people should be 'understood', in order to 'help' them.

Please read Martha Stout's study on psychopaths. Where you see a deep power/exploitation, you will find psychopaths. Stout says explicitly the majority of child sex abuse is carried out by these people who see others as objects for their gratification and this is why the ' cure rate' is so low. They are literally incurable and we delude ourselves as to their true nature.

The instincts of the silent majority are spot on.

CabbageLeaves Mon 07-Jan-13 06:49:47

Great post Stormy and rubberglove. Both fit with my 2nd post. I too share your feelings about understanding it Stormy because they are human beings. It is however dysfunctional and we should fight any suggestion that children are not harmed and its an orientation so therefore a protected characteristic

hackmum Mon 07-Jan-13 09:45:59

I agree, Stormy's post was excellent.

Brodicea Mon 07-Jan-13 11:55:55

Well said Stormy - really thoughtful and though provoking post. I have always been disturbed by the lack of treatment for pedophiles, and have wondered if the underground nature of it adds to the desire.

Also I agree that children can't consent to sexual acts with adults, but it is true that children are to some extent innocently curious about the subject of sex and I do think that the denial of this in culture leads to really damaging sense of shame that results in silence. If children could talk to us more about their questions and ideas about sex, they could also talk without shame about what an adult in their life may be doing that isn't right.

HortyGal Mon 07-Jan-13 17:13:51

Look at thee roots of that wonderful institution Liberty, was NCCL. The left have always been ambivalent over paedophilia.

rubberglove Mon 07-Jan-13 20:22:03

Abitwobblynow - excellent post. I absolutely agree that most child rapists are psychopaths. And Bob Hare, who is one of the world's leading experts on Psychopathy would agree.

Psychopaths lack conscience and yes most experts agree are incurable. Only 1 percent are thought to be psychopaths but the damage they cause is terrible and wide reaching.

I do not believe the tabloid hysteria is helpful no, given the hypocrisy of such papers that regularly sexualise barely pubescent girls. I also do not believe paedophiles are 'monsters' or should be hung.

But this pseudo-intellectual bullshit is way off too. A paedophile that engages in sexual acts with a child is a rapist and quite often a dangerous, predatory individual. Our children deserve to be protected.

Abitwobblynow Tue 08-Jan-13 15:52:41

Most rapist are sociopaths, Rubberglove. Whereever you see a clear wrong (such as rape or sex abuse), you will find a psychopath (Martha Stout, but also repeated to my by a psychotherapist, who included rape).

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