I received some comments on my story about making sense of the idea that sexuality is a choice which I haven’t responded to. The truth is, I have been thinking about a response for days. And I have decided to write an other story to make my stance clear. Because it’s complex. That is fitting to a complex problem.
I could just continue to ignore the comments made, but that doesn’t feel right. I consider myself sex-positive. Sex-positive in the sense that sexuality is not something anyone should be ashamed of, no matter what form it takes.That means I will have to tackle the complex problems as well as the easy ones.
The complex problem I speak of, is pedophilia. Let me start out by saying that I do believe pedophiles are ‘born that way’ just like any other person is born with a sexuality. It is not something they chose or asked for. They are stuck with their sexuality no matter what anyone, including themselves, thinks of it. So the question is, how do we as a society and they as a sexual person deal with the attraction to children.
I am well aware there is a war brewing. I read Salon. I read Crossing Genres. I follow alto. I know there have been highly passionate ‘debates’ (that’s a nice way of saying straight out fights) over the identities of some of the writers on medium, the legitimacy of their arguments and the harm done or not done to children. Here is my personal problem. I find myself agreeing with everyone involved. If that sounds like a paradox, it’s not. It’s a battle between philosophy, reason and feelings.
First of all, I firmly believe that an organization like Virtuous Pedophiles is necessary and useful for society with the aim of keeping more children save. I believe that it is theoretically possible for a pedophile to never molest a child for as long as he or she lives. It will require a shitload of self-control to do so. And as we can read here, that is a big problem
The authors review evidence that self-control may consume a limited resource. Exerting self-control may consume self-control strength, reducing the amount of strength available for subsequent self-control efforts. Coping with stress, regulating negative affect, and resisting temptations require self-control, and after such self-control efforts, subsequent attempts at self-control are more likely to fail. Continuous self-control efforts, such as vigilance, also degrade over time. These decrements in self-control are probably not due to negative moods or learned helplessness produced by the initial self-control attempt. These decrements appear to be specific to behaviors that involve self-control; behaviors that do not require self-control neither consume nor require self-control strength. It is concluded that the executive component of the self — in particular, inhibition — relies on a limited, consumable resource.
Can you see how pedophiles need -desperately need- support communities where they are free of the stress and negative affects of society’s disgust and hatred of their sexuality, which they didn’t chose or asked for, so they may direct this limited, consumable resource of self control towards the resisting of temptations of committing sex acts on a child? The constant vigilance against being found out society forces upon these people is one of the very things that puts children in danger of these people. We can’t wish them away. They can not wish their sexuality away. Pedophilia will always be among us. Our hatred, our insistence that they not talk about it, not acknowledge it, is not helping. At all.
The problem with this is even though I honestly believe what I just wrote, I can not find the empathy within myself to support the organization. I can not find the compassion to call myself an ally. When I read the comments left on my story my first instinct was to cuss and ban them from my profile. I didn’t ban them in the end, but it was pretty close. Yes, being confronted with someone attracted to children makes my skin crawl. Yes, I was molested as a child. I am also a mother. It just feels so wrong on so many levels. But that is emotion and I am just not sure how fair that reaction is.
Which brings me to my problems with the organization of Virtuous Pedophiles and the writers I have been reading who identify as pedophile here on medium. Since I come from a place of disgust and distrust, this may very well be read as ‘concern trolling’. I just can not say how right or wrong this is. It’s pretty much emotion driven, that much is true. Then again, just because it is emotional, doesn’t make it wrong.
I fear the echo chamber that could be created in a online community like Virtuous Pedophiles. As the research shows, this is a double edged sword.
Individual adoption was much more likely when participants received social reinforcement from multiple neighbors in the social network
So while we ideally want a network where pedophiles support each other and encourage each other to abstain from contacting children, it is so damn easy for a few to undermine those efforts with a whisper campaign about how harmless it is to do whatever the hell is that is that first step on a slippery slope.
I also have a problem with how casually people use “I would never…” -just for the record, I have the same problem with people who are not pedophiles who use it, for instance “I would never cheat” Yes. Yes you would. There are circumstances in which you would. We all would. And if you flat out deny it, you can not guard yourself from these circumstances. It is so easy to convince yourself something is harmless. It is so easy to think of yourself as a good person. A moral person. Someone who would never. It’s a deception. We are all champions at deceiving ourselves. So yes, no matter your good intentions, you would. As the virtuous pedophiles are so keen at pointing out, there are even people who aren’t even attracted to children who would sexually abuse a child. That doesn’t support your argument. That just makes your “I would never” sound more like bullshit. No one is under any obligation to explain to me what they are doing to ensure they wouldn’t do what they said they wouldn’t do. But if you take the word never in your mouth, then I am not going to believe a word after that until we address this deception.
These voices, these pedophiles who are standing up to claim a place for themselves and others like them to be, we as a society need those voices. And I will need to work through my discomfort to think about it if my intentions of keeping children safe are to have any integrity at all. But god damn it, I don’t have to like it.