Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Sexuality of Mr. Rogers

I recently watched "Won't You Be My Neighbor?", a documentary of the life of Fred Rogers, long-time producer and star of "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood". By all accounts, his earnest approach to childhood, with authentic loving messages directed straight at young children, was innovative. I am too old for it to have influenced my own childhood. As a young adult, I like most of my peers thought it was corny and dopey. When my own girls were little, I rapidly came to feel differently. Swimming against the cultural tide, he refused violence, irony, and slapstick. He was saying just what young children needed to hear and what I had never heard as a child. I strove to say the same things to my own girls when I could do so honestly.

It's agreed he was an unusual person, and his persona on TV meshed very well with how he was in real life. He was trained in the ministry, and saw his TV work as a form of ministry. His affection for children was strong and unusual.

Why not entertain the idea that he was a celibate pedophile? Most people will react with horror. Who would suggest such a thing except someone dedicated to smearing and vilifying him? What other purpose could there possibly be? Surely it's another version of fake news, an allegation made without any support. It's true that I don't have any strong support. I'm not saying he was a pedophile. But I ask the question, and the premise of my question is that it's not necessarily a bad thing to be a pedophile. We pedophiles cover the same range of goodness and badness as any other class of people. If Mr. Rogers was a pedophile, he was an outstandingly good pedophile. Pedophiles tend to have very low self-esteem. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could look to Mr. Rogers as a role model?

Another common narrative is that pedophiles seek to be close to children only so they can molest them, and that's a horrifying thought. (I can't say he never molested children, but I see no evidence of that, and I don't think *any* adult can fully convince us that he or she never molested a child.) Even if he never did molest them, all his good work would be tainted by his attractions. What a repulsive idea that he would later entertain sexual fantasies about the children he appeared to love genuinely? But he might not have. We can wonder if Fred Rogers ever masturbated -- some people who take their religion seriously never do. He could even have been a pedophile and not realized it. He might have been a pedophile like me -- I lived most of my adult life without realizing I was one, and speculate that if I had remarried I might never have discovered and labeled it as such. Yet I felt genuine affection for children, and my discovery did not make what I felt any less authentic. Perhaps he lived his whole life without making the discovery. I would actually suspect that if he was a pedophile, he did not know it, as it would have troubled him deeply and led to self-doubt and not his seemingly open and honest confidence. It would be a different world in which he could have been a pedophile with confidence and still done the work he did.

What evidence do we have?

The biggest piece is simply his highly unusual great affection for children.

In the movie the speculation is addressed that he was gay, and that notion is laid to rest. Still, there is something not-quite-typical in his sexuality that warranted the suspicion. His wife does not discuss their sex life in the film.

He did occasionally address the topic of sex. In the version of "Everybody's Fancy" that I can easily find on YouTube his demeanor seems entirely comfortable, but I swear I saw another version when my kids were little where he looked decidedly uncomfortable when telling his audience that boys are fancy on the outside and girls are fancy on the inside. (One adult woman told me that he was too elliptical and she as a young child didn't know what he was talking about -- she figured girls' fanciness was a matter of mind or personality). I myself judge that doesn't really bear on the question one way or the other. Plenty of people are uncomfortable talking about sex with children. His discomfort only stands out against his comfort in speaking about a whole range of other topics that lots of the rest of us could not address comfortably.

He did beget two sons, so he would not have been a completely exclusive pedophile. As we know, non-exclusive pedophilia is very common. Yet he might have been exclusive too. Many gay men through history have begotten children who would not label themselves as bisexual. Managing to perform is quite different from feeling an attraction. If he did feel a limited attraction to his wife, perhaps he viewed it as part of being a better person -- religious people often would feel proud of not being a slave to the passions.

I'm not saying Fred Rogers was a pedophile. But there is somewhat more evidence to support that guess than for the average person. There is no evidence he was a molester. Those (including many pedophiles) who view the idea that he was a pedophile with revulsion can reflect on whether that reflects prejudice on their part.

Why can't we celibate pedophiles entertain that maybe he was one of us and feel good about that possibility?

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Eeeeek! My son is a pedophile!

It is something a parent never expects. By now many parents are prepared for the idea that their son might reveal some day that he is gay. Lately some are perhaps setting aside a little bit of emotional reserve for the idea he'll reveal that he's actually a girl. But a pedophile? Never!

But it's happened. Here you are.

Rule one: Don't do anything hasty. Do not call the police. Do not tell your doctor or anyone at the school. Don't tell anyone at all, even trusted friends. Maybe later you'll want to do some of those things, but once you tell someone you can never "untell" them. There are often grave consequences to telling anyone, especially any professional. You want to think it through carefully.

So now you're not in any great hurry and you're trying to figure out what this means. If he really is a pedophile, it's not something anyone can change.

To get used to this, start with the best case. Maybe there's more to get used to as well, but let's take it one step at a time. This best case really is quite a common case.

Has my son abused children? No.

Is my son going to abuse children? No.

Is the only thing holding him back the fear he couldn't get away with it? No.

Does my son think that children would WANT to have sex with an adult or much older child? No.

Does my son want to change the laws so that it would be legal? No.

Does my son fantasize about raping children? No.

Has my son made friends with lots of other pedophiles? No.

Does my son think it's just fine to be a pedophile? No.

Is it going to get worse -- maybe losing self-control, unable to stop himself, unable to tell right from wrong? No.

Was he sexually abused when he was younger? No.

It is my fault he turned out like this? No.

If I'd done things differently could I have prevented it? No.

Does my son think about sex any time he's around a child? No.

Does he think about sex with his little sister (or brother, or niece, or nephew)? No.

So... Absorbing all that will take time. There's no guarantee all of those "no" answers apply in his case, but they might well, or all but one or two.

After going through what is NOT going on, what's left? What really IS going on?

Maybe you remember that when you got to a certain age, boys (or girls, depending on your preference) started looking really interesting. The right ones would make your heart beat faster and make you feel thrilled. This was a gut-level reaction. If you are straight the culture had told you it would happen, and your friends were going through the same thing. But it didn't happen because you thought it ought to happen or society said it should happen -- it just happened. This is how sexual attraction emerges in people. For your son it happened exactly the same way.

For some ordinary people this emerging attraction might be associated with a warmth between the legs or more obvious physical arousal, for others not. But even if the feelings were strong, you still had control over them. Maybe you got up the courage to approach one of these newly fascinating people, but you weren't seized by an uncontrollable desire to have sex with them. For your son it was the same.

Also notice that your emerging attraction did not contain within it the assumption that these interesting people were going to want to have sex with you. (You actually might not have wanted to have sex yet yourself, all things considered). That was a separate question. If you were straight maybe you figured it would be likely to happen in a few years, with the right partner -- one who you wanted and who wanted you. If you were gay or lesbian, there might be more anguish around it as you realized most of the people you liked just weren't attracted to your gender at all. Your son quite likely realized that not just most but ALL of the children he was attracted to would never be attracted to him in that way. He would never have sex with them. Quite likely the safety of children was never in doubt, even as his attraction flickered into existence and then became strong and clear. You are horrified by the prospect of teens or adults having sex with younger children. Quite likely he is just as horrified as you.

So far I've described the best case. The most common way the case might be worse is if your son has looked at child pornography. The simplest way to think about it is that your son had a strong sexual desire and was drawn to find ways to satisfy it that would not hurt anybody. Ordinary boys are drawn to find pornography involving women. Whether the women were exploited in making the material is unlikely to be of great concern to them. They are aware that looking at the video does not hurt the women. The exact same thing is likely true for your son. Society at large is horrified at child pornography, of course, and there are serious legal dangers. Children in child porn can be deeply harmed by it, and your son was likely deeply troubled by his fascination with it. But once you come to terms with the idea that an attraction to children emerged within your son through no fault of his own, there's nothing evil or monstrous there. A behavioral adjustment is required, but keep in mind all the ways that people hurt each other without meaning to, especially teenagers. With that in mind, it is an adolescent finding a way to satisfy sexual desire without hurting anyone.

There are of course other ways the situation could be worse. But start with the best case.
One step at a time.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Three pedophiles in "Helpless" by Barbara Gowdy

This 2007 book is the story of an exceptionally beautiful 9-year-old Rachel who is kidnapped by a pedophile. His fantasy is to keep her safe from the danger that he has imagined she is in. His plan is crazy and he eventually releases her, and the story is about what happens in the mean time. <Here> is a decent review that covers the basics.

There is a lot to the book, and I found it a very good read overall. As usual, my slant here is how the book portrays pedophiles, how realistic those portrayals are and how they relate to the universe of real pedophiles.

I have heard that most child abductions for sexual purposes consist of a quick sexual consummation and then the child's murder. I will also note that this sort of crime is extremely rare. The abductor Ron has a different slant. He is in love with Rachel and wants her for his own. He does not want to harm her. He outfits his basement to be suitable living quarters for a girl -- though locked quarters. I imagine many pedophiles have a fantasy of this kind, but if you stay in touch with reality and think it through, you realize it will never work. The child will miss her family, be frightened and miserable. Eventually winning her trust is far from likely, though possible if you count on Stockholm Syndrome, and you have to keep her hidden for years. The rapist/murderer has a simpler plan that for all its horror has a reasonable chance of working if the girl's body is never discovered or never linked to him.

"Cognitive distortions" is a phrase professionals use to describe how pedophiles think, especially when they break the law, and Ron has plenty. Along with the ones that let him imagine his plan will work, he sees her sitting on the lap of her landlord and decides she is being abused and his kidnapping will save her from that. (Somehow the sensible alternative of an anonymous tip to child services does not occur to him.) This too draws on a common theme among pedophiles. Why would a child want to have anything to do with a pedophile? Most often, the precondition is that the child is seriously lacking affection, respect and support elsewhere in her life, and the pedophile can provide those things. This actually happens fairly regularly when pedophiles have chaste relationships with children. Tragically, sometimes it also crosses a line into child sexual abuse.

Among pedophiles I have encountered online, a very few would fantasize about abducting a child, having sex with her in a terrified condition and then killing her. A great many would fantasize about helping a child escape from abuse and offering her a good home and life instead. In this respect Ron is accurately portrayed. Where he becomes extraordinarily rare is in actually thinking his plan could work and carrying it out.

To its credit, the story does not give some clear answer as to how Ron became a pedophile, nor does he introspect much on the subject. When he was 12, his 9-year-old stepsister initiated sexual contact with him via make-believe "sexing", consummated by way of frottage. This caused his first ejaculation, suggesting he was well into puberty. He is emotionally captivated as well and vows to marry her when she turns 18. I don't know if all 12-year-old boys would be excited by a 9-year-old who comes on to them, but I am sure that a great many would be who do not turn out to be pedophiles. It is a useful bridge that serves to make Ron's attraction more understandable and less foreign.

Ron resists the temptation to do sexual things with Rachel during the days of her captivity, but it is portrayed as a war between the alternatives of doing nothing and doing something monstrous. Towards the end he comes closest to abusing her. What was it he came close to? Perhaps engaging in frottage to orgasm as he did with his 9-year-old stepsister years before. Rachel's fear makes him stop instantly. If she had continued to find the tussling fun, maybe he would have continued. But stopping instantly when Rachel's fear shows is totally in character for him. Yet it's not clear this all-or-nothing idea is the most realistic. He does have an adult girlfriend Nancy who likes his lovemaking, so he knows something about female sexual response. A pedophile with his values might be more likely to try to engage a girl slowly, getting her used to one thing at a time.

But, to the point in the post title: Ron is not the only pedophile in the story. I am surprised that no one in reviews has remarked that there is at least one other, and quite possibly two.

The girl's mother Celia at one point tries giving piano lessons, and her only student is a man John Paulsen who takes an interest in them beyond the musical. She invites the man into her bed, but he is unable to get aroused and gives as his excuse his concern for Rachel, sleeping in a nearby room. The mother realizes that Rachel is the attraction for him, not her. In isolation, it could be because she is such a beautiful child and his interest is parental. But his inability to perform sexually with the mother strongly tilts the likelihood to him being an exclusive pedophile. That does not mean he is a molester. He rapidly disappears from their lives.

Another likely pedophile is Celia and Rachel's landlord Mika. They meet when they are caught in the rain near his house and he offers them temporary shelter. But after an hour's conversation he also offers them an apartment for free and over a course of years does many other favors for them. Could Rachel's beauty induce this generosity if his perception of it was only parental? It's possible. Nothing sexual happens between Celia and Mika over the course of years, which she dismisses because she quickly pegs him as gay. Yet we never hear of any men coming over or of Mika going out. Occasionally the book takes Mika's perspective and we hear his thoughts, which include great affection for Rachel, but nothing openly sexual or romantic towards her or anyone else. There is once again a missing sexuality that begs for an explanation. He might be a pedophile and not realize it -- which was my situation for the first 50 years of my life. It's possible that Gowdy has written his character totally unaware of this possibility, but nonetheless it exists in what she created. If you resist this idea, perhaps it's because of your natural assumption that pedophiles are horrifying. What's so terrible if he is? -- as we do know he's not a molester and is a valuable adult in Rachel's life.

These two pedophiles are in a way much more interesting than Ron. They never act on the pedophilia in a bad way, but it shows up subtly in the story as an attraction to Rachel beyond what most men would feel. There is no drama around their pedophilia, but that represents vast numbers of pedophiles, who live lives doing no harm to children.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Review of movie "Una"

This is a review of <Una>, a British film from 2016, about a relationship between an adult man and a 13-year-old girl and its aftermath.

This movie is art, of course. It is about the psychological worlds of the two main characters. It deserves evaluation on that basis, and reviews have been positive.

However, it takes place against a backdrop of assumptions about how the world really operates. It is those assumptions I set out to question in this review. All information about the past is conveyed as either brief video snippets or verbal reminiscences, so detail is scanty. The movie also has long silences, punctuated by quick, soft phrases in some sort of British accent. A few of them I just couldn't understand, so I might be missing some important information.

The reconstructed story: Ray (in his 30s, perhaps?) lives next door to a good friend who has a daughter Una, age 13. He gets involved with her. We don't actually see Ray coming on to Una at all, though we can imagine that when he looks at her she can see his attraction. Una is drawn to him too and has a very active role. He works on his car in his driveway, and that is a focus for their early interactions. For instance, she leaves notes under the windshield wiper saying his girlfriend is ugly. She is constantly hanging around the car, and he later admits that he too worked on his car when it didn't need work in hopes of meeting her.

The next step we hear of is the two meeting behind some bushes in a park, where they lie on a blanket together and some considerable degree of sexual activity takes place that stops short of intercourse. The relationship takes place over a total of three months. At the end the two go away to Dover, have an attic room for the night and are due to run away to France. Here they have intercourse for the first time, twice. Una reports being sore but happy. He then tells her he is going out for just a moment, but hours go by and he does not appear. Una thinks she has been abandoned and eventually has to reveal herself as a lost child. She at first says she just ran away and Ray did nothing to her, but she reports that after she resists examination, she is drugged, examined against her will and Ray's semen is found in her vagina. She is called to testify against him by video camera, and asserts her love of him and asks Ray why he left her. We see the entire courtroom hearing this testimony. Ray serves four years in prison and some time on the sex offender registry. Una finds out only in the present that Ray actually didn't (fully) abandon her, but his courage for the elopement falters and after many hours he comes back to find she is gone, looks for her but is picked up by police, probably in the wake of Una's being discovered. Human nature being what it is, it is no big surprise if Ray's courage falters after he has had sex with her and not before, but it does not reflect well on him.

The film's present phase begins 15 years later when we find Una unhappy, having a series of one-night stands. Ray has adopted a new identity. We don't know how long she's been looking for him, but she finds his picture in a newspaper and tracks him down to his job as a supervisor in a warehouse, where she confronts him and fends off his attempts to get her out of the building to talk to her later. After many brief conversations, and after the work day is over, Ray leaves and assigns one of his employees Scott to get Una out of the building. She asks him to join her for one drink, then asks to go back to his place and seduces him (she is very attractive). But at the moment of her orgasm she suddenly breaks down. He is solicitous and comforts her. She then tells him she is in fact Ray's daughter and is staying at his house as a subterfuge to get him to reveal where he lives and take her there. She then starts to confront Ray during a gathering of 20-odd people who have gathered for drinks in the back yard. She knows before she arrives that Ray has been married for 4 years, but wandering through the house she finds he also has a stepdaughter aged roughly 12 years. He swears to Una that his interest in the girl is purely parental and he has never loved any child except her. (I believe him, as Ray knows from experience what a steep price he would have to pay and there is no reason to think the stepdaughter is coming on to him.) As one review states, we can see that Ray's life is about to implode.

That's the story. Now the evaluation:

First, Ray's behavior when Una is 13 is of course inexcusable. Doing sexual things in the bushes is totally unacceptable, trying to elope with her is worse, having intercourse with her is worse still. It takes an astounding lack of understanding on his part to think he can say he is going out for a minute and instead leave her alone for hours while he tries to get his courage up for the elopement. Even if he cared nothing at all for her, he should know she's not likely to just sit there for hours waiting for him and this is very much against his own selfish interest in every respect.

Una in the present initially tries to portray him as a pedophile, by which she means someone who preys on young girls as part of an ongoing cynical pattern. He's met plenty of such men in prison and points out he doesn't fit the pattern. No calculating serial molester is going to risk going for the girl next door and trying to elope with her. She may not believe him but his story is the truth. What's more, he's not a true pedophile. Thirteen-year-old Una has breasts and is well into puberty. Most men would find her physically attractive at a basic level. If he is especially drawn to her in a way most men would not be, he might be a hebephile. If so, he's not an exclusive one, as he has his girlfriend in the early phase of the story and in the present we see him having enthusiastic sex with his wife. Ray is not suffering from pathological attractions, but rather his actions.

Ray is not a man with a plan. He follows impulses and bad things happen. If 13-year-old Una hadn't pursued him with determination, they might never have had a relationship. Men often give in when attractive females pursue them, even when they have other commitments such as a marriage. Twenty-eight-year-old Una says he couldn't possibly be attracted to anything about 13-year-old Una but her body, but she may be suffering from low self-esteem and societal myths. Adult attractions often have a lot to do with bodies and the prospect of sex, and 13-year-olds have personalities. Temptation is laid in front of Ray and he does not resist. It is his solemn responsibility to do so, a deep moral failure when he does not, and it is fitting that he serve a prison term for not resisting. In the present, Ray owes Una an abject and deep apology, but apologies come very hard to some people who haven't achieved a level of emotional intelligence. But in the past there is no cynicism, no grooming, and the evidence on abandonment is mixed.

Where I find the biggest fault with the film is accepting the idea that Una is innocent, that she was on the path to a good life, and that Ray bears full responsibility for ruining it. There are hints that Una's relationship with her mother is not great in the present (they still live together) and perhaps wasn't in the past. Una is quite possibly seeking in Ray the sort of unconditional affection that children are supposed to get from their parents. She had three months to confide in someone about this before it escalated to the elopement. There are other ways Una could start messing up her life at age 13 -- perhaps heavy drug or alcohol use, promiscuous sex with peers, or neglecting her education. For all of those we would blame her, but somehow she is totally exempt from blame when it's an adult man who has sex with her. I am not intending to lessen the blame on Ray here, just adding some on Una. Let's consider another possible scenario. Suppose Una had taken up with a 15-year-old boyfriend who saw her for three months, had sex with her just before his family moves away, and he never speaks to her again. We might think such a boy was a cad, but he would face no legal consequences. The issue of abandonment would be the same. Just how would that have been different for Una?

One way is of course society's reaction, what pedophiles on the web sometimes call "iatrogenic harm". Una complains of being publicly humiliated as a slut, since her time with Ray is public. Let's assume that the police were justified in drugging her and taking a vaginal swab against her will (though it makes me uncomfortable). The forensic science of 15 or even 20 years ago was sufficiently advanced that they could clearly determine that it was Ray's semen. Setting aside today's actual legal requirements (which I don't know in detail), her testimony was not needed. You can imagine Ray's lawyer convincing him to take a plea bargain quietly, he would serve his four years, and Una's privacy would be protected. (In fact, I think the plea bargain would be highly likely even in today's society, and it is just a dramatic requirement to make it a full trial.) We can also speculate that Una might have been able to move forward if she had the chance to communicate with Ray right after the event, even if it was by videos censored by psychologists. If Ray had been willing at the time to make an abject apology, but also say that he did feel genuine affection for her and had not ultimately intended to abandon her, one thinks she might have healed better. It might not have ended up all that different from a 15-year-old boy abandoning her. Una's life would still be burdened by a problematic family and whatever psychological vulnerabilities that fate had dealt her. It might have been just as troubled as the one she ended up living.

I think Ray and Una both borrowed from a pattern that is in our genes. Thirteen-year-old girls have been routinely married off in other times and places, including our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and it is adaptive that they love their husbands deeply and enjoy frequent sex. Conversely, men have often married such girls and it is adaptive that they love them and desire them sexually. Our modern sensibilities disapprove because we have higher hopes for girls now -- we want them to get an education and choose their own life path when they have more maturity. But it does not make Ray's gut-level attraction (or Una's) in any way pathological. They just must not act on it. In Ray's case, the requirement is legal, and in Una's it is not but surely it is what society would urge on her in the strongest possible terms.

Perhaps in a better society, Ray could have confided to some friend or counselor that he was falling in love with Una and known that he would not be condemned for feeling that way. He would have been urgently advised not to let the friendship become sexual, knowing he would be strongly condemned for that, and tragedy could have been averted.

The strong possibility of prison did not deter Ray from sex with 13-year-old Una, but I believe it deters many other men who would be tempted by an Una. The age of consent is serving a good purpose here. I have mused in blog posts that in such a situation, if Una did not come to feel she had been wronged, Ray should not have been prosecuted. She did come to decide she had been wronged (within a few years, I would guess), so by my rule Ray would have appropriately been punished.

The film too readily accepts that Una's life troubles were entirely caused by the relationship with Ray, and too readily accepts society's narrative that she is completely without blame.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Pedophilia as a Minor Secret From Your Partner

This post is directed at pedophiles who have some attraction to adults and would like to have a relationship with an adult. (I'll focus on men attracted to women, but all other gender combinations are also possible).

Perhaps you were never all the deeply distressed by your pedophilia. Perhaps you were but have worked through it. In any case, you're now at a place where you understand that it isn't something you chose and isn't something you can change, but you know you'll never act on it. And all that together makes you a good person.

But it also might make you a lonely person. What are the options for an adult partner? For some, there is just no attraction at all. For others, there is some -- maybe enough.

Several Virtuous Pedophiles members are happily married with children and no fears of abusing anyone. Their lives are greatly enriched. In some cases, their wives just don't know about the pedophilia. In others, the wives found out accidentally and have come to accept the situation. In others, the man came to feel differently about his pedophilia and just had to come out to her, and the relationship survived. But to be fair, the wives in these last two cases typically went through a lot of pain to get to that place.

So what can a pedophile do who wants an adult partner?

One honorable thing to do is just to mention early on when dating that you do have a sexual attraction to children. Most women will put an end to things, but a few maybe won't. Sometimes open-minded women end up on a site like Virtuous Pedophiles. Pedophile/pedophile matches have been made there. But my hunch is that this won't be a promising approach for very many pedophiles.

Another option is to keep a secret. People have different notions of openness in relationships. In some it is understood that they won't discuss the past and might be keeping secrets from each other if those secrets don't affect their shared future. I think pedophilia could qualify if a man is clear that he will never abuse a child.

In other relationships it might be understood that no big secrets exist, and in that case a man who says to himself, "I'm a pedophile, and I'm going to marry this woman and keep it a secret from her" has a big ethical problem, in my view. I'm not aware of any of the married men at Virtuous Pedophiles who saw things that clearly. They might have felt some unusual attractions but not have put the label on themselves. They might just manage not to think about it in any systematic way (see <Comfortably Numb>). There's a lot of murkiness. In all cases that take this path it seems there is going to be some inner turmoil.

Is there a way to know you are a pedophile, be honest with yourself, keep a secret, and ethically get into a relationship where it is understood that there are no big secrets?

I think it might be possible, and the key is to think of your pedophilia as a small secret rather than a big secret. If you are anguished about your pedophilia, if you spend lots of time in online pedophile forums, or if you spend lots of time looking at or looking for pictures of attractive kids, it's hard to see it as a small secret. (If you feel significant temptation to offend against a child, it's definitely not a small secret!)

But if you are comfortable with yourself, quit the online forums, and only fantasize about a kid briefly now and then, maybe it could become just a little secret.

Some other kinds of sexual history and sexual preference could be honorably kept secret. If you're an ordinary guy and some woman broke your heart 10 years before and you still think about her, you might not reveal that. If D cup breasts really turn you on a whole lot but your partner has B cups, there's no need to mention that. You don't need to say which actresses or singers you find really sexy. If you're happy to watch women's figure skating, you don't have to reveal that it's the figures rather than the skating that you find most intriguing. So with that as context, why would you as a pedophile need to admit that you find kids sexier than adult women?

To fully meet my ethical standards, you should also have considerable confidence that you'll be able to keep your attractions a secret indefinitely. In <my last post>, I wrote of the dozens of women who have written to Virtuous Pedophiles, distressed to find their boyfriend was a pedophile. The most frequent path of discovery is finding pictures of kids on his phone. You should make sure that's not going to happen with you.

Just how positive do you have to be that your attraction to children will not adversely affect your relationship and that you can keep the secret? I don't think 100% confidence is necessary. Consider all the other uncertainties that come when a couple commits to each other. We all know the divorce rate is high, and when divorce happens there were often risk factors that you could identify in advance.

I recently read a biography of Thomas Jefferson. His long-term relationship with his slave Sally Hemings has been of intense interest over the years. I learned that Sally was at least 3/4 white, and thus their joint children were 7/8 white. When emancipated at age 21, at least two of them moved far away and lived as white people and were never "outed". Was it ethical for them to keep this a secret from their spouses? If discovered, it could have had dire consequences for them and their children. Yet I am sympathetic. They suffered from unjust discrimination and were entitled to do their best to escape the consequences. The situation with celibate pedophiles seems entirely parallel to me.

What I am raising here is one possibility for a rather restricted set of circumstances. Many pedophiles will feel that they could not possibly get into a relationship without revealing their attraction in advance. Many will decide they could not keep a secret. Many will feel that hiding a pedophilic identity is being untrue to themselves. And a great many just don't feel sufficient attraction to an adult for this to be a live possibility at all. But those who fit the case I have described might consider it.

I touched on some of these issues in <this earlier post>.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

My boyfriend's a pedophile. What should I do?

The Inbox of Virtuous Pedophiles get email from a great many pedophiles, most of them expressing some level of distress. They are the people our organization is designed for.

We get email from another group of distressed people too: women who are partners of pedophiles. Typically they discover images of young girls on a partner's phone or computer (sometimes legal, sometimes not). Based on my tagging of gmail conversations, I would estimate we have heard from 180 such women in the six years of our existence.

Pedophiles are at increased risk of committing a horrible crime: child sex abuse. They are also at high risk of committing another crime which most of society also considers horrible: accessing and viewing child pornography. These 180 women suggest another way that pedophiles can cause distress: by becoming lovers with women who only later find out they are pedophiles. Keep in mind that most pedophiles are non-exclusive, meaning they do have a significant attraction to adults.

The women often describe their pedophile partners, and patterns emerge. Often the man will deny that he uses the pictures for erotic purposes. Other times he will admit that he finds them arousing but doesn't consider himself a pedophile because he's not attracted to actual children, just the pictures. In the face of his partner's distress, a man will often promise to delete the pictures and never look for more, and he often doesn't keep that promise. Sometimes a man will indicate he doesn't really think it's any of his partner's business what pictures he looks at, but far more often he will express great remorse and self-hatred for what he has done. Mostly these men seem to be a bit deficient in self-awareness. Never has a woman reported a man saying, "Yeah, I knew I was a pedophile when we met, but I can't have kids for partners, and I hoped you'd never find out."

Even if you think celibate pedophiles aren't terrible people, it is tempting to condemn such men as having committed a grave moral offense. Many fellow pedophiles will condemn them. I think more compassion is warranted. A very interesting parallel case is gay men and lesbians who have gotten into long-term heterosexual relationships in times and places where homosexuality was fiercely condemned. The parallels are a sexuality that everyone else hates and that they are reluctant to embrace, and a hope that they really aren't that kind of person or that they can change. Some level of self-deception is usually involved. In recent times, you could even fault the homosexual more, because they know they have the option of moving to one of many urban centers where they would be accepted and can have a fulfilling sex life. Pedophiles have no such options.

The next question is what advice we at Virtuous Pedophiles can give these women.

An obvious possibility is to refer them to a therapist. I suspect it would be a rare therapist who would urge them to stay. Like others in society, a great many therapists think almost all pedophiles will molest children sooner or later. They and their colleagues will have heard of men who molested children or step-children, while any relationships where nothing bad happened will not come to their attention. Surely it's safer to recommend they leave, to avoid a tragic outcome. In comparison, the pain and disruption of ending a relationship will seem minor. Therapists must also consider mandated reporting issues, if a woman reports having a pedophile partner -- especially if there are any children in the family or nearby. Those mandated reporting issues in turn weigh heavily on us, we have to suggest extreme caution if such women seek therapy. We are stuck doing our best to give advice.

There are many members of Virtuous Pedophiles who have been married and successfully raised children without abusing them and have found it rewarding just as any other parents do. In some cases the partners never found out. In others, the men have been "outed" (voluntarily or not) and after some painful adjustment, the marriage survives and the children continue in an intact family without any abuse. We know that it can work out.

I suspect that many women who find their partner is a pedophile will never consider staying. They can freely write online about their horrible partner and get support and understanding. Others who aren't so sure what to do are largely invisible and can't get support in most of society. They are the ones who would write to an organization of pedophiles for advice.

From the woman's point of view, there are a variety of issues that arise.

A very common one is that these women, like most people in society, think pedophilic attractions are disgusting and evil. Reconsidering that is a major adjustment. Sometimes they get to the point of accepting it as a malady, but can't accept the idea that a man might actively fantasize about sex with children. Sometimes they accept such fantasizing occasionally as long as the man feels guilty and remorseful, but can't accept the idea the man might not think he is doing anything wrong.

The woman might also feel betrayed that he kept a secret from her, and I point out his likely confusion himself and the limited options pedophiles have.

If the partner is accessing illegal child pornography, I point out the grave legal dangers to their partner. If they live together, I also point out the potential trauma to them directly of a police raid and losing their electronics too when the police seize his.

Women whose partners say they have engaged in child sex abuse are a different case, and we rarely hear from such women. The women who write to us believe no such abuse has happened -- and I tend to believe them too. But they worry about the future as existing children get older and if having children is a possibility. I point to the Westermarck Effect, and the overwhelming experience of Virtuous Pedophiles parents that they felt no attraction whatsoever to their own children. But I certainly don't offer any guarantees. I will often tell them that having children with such a man requires keeping his secret, and it may involve some discomfort if he has any extended contact with his children's friends -- trusting him on behalf of her own children is one one thing, but trusting when someone else's children are conceivably at risk is a further step. But I point out that if necessary it is usually possible to arrange things such that no such situations arise.

I point out that if she can come to accept the man's pedophilia, she may earn his lasting gratitude, and that in any case he will never "trade up" to a 10-year-old.

Such women sometimes report that their sex life is not satisfactory. This makes sense if the man's attraction to children is much stronger than to adults. Even if it has been satisfactory, she may feel upset knowing that she is second best and he finds children more attractive. I point out that most men will find the hottest actresses or models more attractive than the actual women they are involved with. Does it matter if for him the unavailable hotter people are children? I point out that while couples therapists usually encourage openness in relationships, many (most?) will not complain about either partner sexually fantasizing about other people -- but suggest they keep it to themselves. But I will stress that a woman needs to decide whether the man's sexual interest in her is enough for her, and that it's not likely to change for the better.

In evaluating whether a relationship with a pedophile might work out, I also inquire as to the man's character. If he doesn't take responsibility for his actions and always blames other people for his failures, I take that as a negative sign. If the woman is afraid of the man or entirely submissive, that too is a negative sign. If the man actively considers and worries about whether he might abuse children, I take that as a positive sign, while his blithe confidence that there will be no problem is a negative sign.

I never promise that such a man will not abuse children in the future, but also point out that most men have weaknesses, and celibate pedophilia could be considered as one among many and not akin to being a serial killer.

I always stress that the woman must decide based on what works for her personally. I would never suggest she stay with a man because she feels sorry for him.

I'm not a professional and can't give professional advice to these women. But I am convinced that professionals can't give unbiased advice either, and the danger of mandated reporting must also be considered. So I do my best based on my own life experience and many conversations with pedophiles and other women in the same position. Unfortunately, I rarely hear long-term follow-up reports from the women on how things turned out.

I welcome feedback from others about how my messages could be improved. I also welcome tips on where else such women could go for support, perhaps "Partners of pedophiles where the assumption is that SOME pedophiles might be decent partners."

I touched on these issues in two earlier blog posts:

They were written when Virtuous Pedophiles had been in existence for two years. Now we have been around for six years, my opinions haven't changed but I have refined them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

If You Don't Say "No", It's Not Rape

I have always understood the "classic" case of rape or sexual assault. The victim says "no" and the perpetrator continues to do sexual things. It is rightly a very serious crime. I have been a bit mystified by the turmoil in recent years around people (usually women) who had the ability to say "no" to someone (usually a man), but didn't say "no", but have felt they were not only treated poorly but are victims of a crime. The Title IX offices on college campuses seem to enthusiastically support such reports and often find the accused men guilty.

The New York Times published on May 10, 2018 a collection <"45 Stories of Sex and Consent on Campus">. I'm an older guy who never was into the hookup culture, even the 1970s version, that being when I became an adult. I learned a lot from the stories.

The most common situation had these elements: a man and a woman are friendly, in a space where sex and romance are definite possibilities. They end up in private somewhere. The man makes a variety of advances (kissing, fondling, removing clothing). The woman enjoys or at least doesn't mind these up to a certain point, but then decides she doesn't want more and says "no", but after a pause the man tries again and again. Eventually the woman gets tired of saying "no" and lets the sex happen -- but resents it.

I have an idea for what a woman could say in that situation. It's roughly, "Hey, you're a nice guy, but when it comes to sexual things sometimes I want to go only so far. And that's where we are right now. You did that before and I said "no". I really mean it, and I'm counting on you to not make any more sexual advances, OK? I'm not just counting on it, but that's the way it HAS to be." I imagine that speech can be given calmly and with a smile. If a third attempt happens, the next step is to physically get out of the situation. If that's not possible, explain that what he's doing is illegal sexual assault of the kind that can get you put in prison.

In my dating life, I certainly listened carefully for "no" and watched for body language indicating discomfort. If a woman had needed to give me the speech I suggest I would feel embarrassed that she needed to, but I would certainly have respected it.

Perhaps other men would react differently. Maybe they will be hostile in the moment. But it's the longer term that seems most to drive the fear among these women -- that they will be thought of as a tease or a bitch and will get a poor reputation.

This opens up the broader question of norms and expectations. My immediate response is that men who would talk ill of a woman for saying a firm "no" are just not the kind of men that women would want to know. They should limit their attention to the men who would respect that.

But perhaps it's hard to identify such men. Or perhaps they just aren't very sexy? A few of the Times stories were of women complaining of a man asking every step of the way for permission. They found it unromantic. Reading between the lines, it was more than that -- they found the men themselves to be unattractive and perhaps even ridiculous. So it seems that men are called upon to walk a fine line -- and even worse, it's not a known fine line but depends on the woman. Imagine a scale from 1 to 10 of just how explicit a woman should be for a man to stop. Perhaps 1 is where a man should ask permission before each step and also stop if the woman's body language is not passionate and enthusiastic to each advance. Perhaps 10 requires the woman to yell or physically struggle. In an ideally harmonious society, men and women would all have the same value in mind -- let's call it 5. The cases that dominate the New York Times piece seem to be about women who think the right value is 3 and men who think the right value is 7 (or maybe as small a difference as 4.5 and 5.5). But when the woman thinks the right value is 7 and the man thinks it is 3, there is another kind of mismatch. A man could get a bad reputation from having a higher value on the scale than the woman, but also for having a lower value. The one fault is being too aggressive and insistent, and the other is being a wimp. No one is going to file a complaint against a wimp, but it's important to note how much such a reputation could hurt an actual man living in the real world.

There are two ways to make a mistake, and they are not that far apart. For comic relief, see <this XKCD comic>.

People in society can debate the right value on the 10-point scale. Feminist activists will pick a low value -- let's call it a 2. Maybe some women are arguing publicly for a 7, but their voices are far softer than the feminist voices.

What do most women really want? The 2016 US Presidential Election provided telling data. One could not imagine a starker contrast between the candidates with regards to the feminist agenda. An unrepentant pussy-grabber versus the first woman nominee -- one who also had her own strong track record on women's issues. And yet the majority of white women voted for Trump. To be fair, that doesn't mean they preferred his position, but they at the very least found some other issue more important. And for that to be true, one might think that a lot of them didn't think Trump was all that bad with regard to how he treated women. Maybe in contrast to the feminist's recommended 2, they think a value of 7 or 8 is right, and if Trump is a 9, it's not that far off.

At a certain point the law comes in to protect victims (and campus Title IX policies are for this purpose equivalent to the law). But how people relate to each other is a complicated business, and generally society allows for plenty of misunderstanding, hurt feelings and indignation before thinking that law is the proper remedy.

In evaluating the New York Times examples, I felt like very few of them described male behavior that should be deemed illegal. If a woman was not willing to give the speech I suggest, she should have no legal case.

There are exceptions -- one clear one is if someone is unconscious. Perhaps even if they are very, very drunk. But it should be a high bar.

It is relevant how women get into these situations. If you get very drunk at a party where others are very drunk and there is a lot of sexual activity going on, you are putting yourself in harm's way regarding insistent advances. This does not in any way excuse rape, but I think it properly requires a higher standard of proof and a more clear "no". If you spend the night in the same apartment with someone you don't know very well, you're also not keeping as safe as you might. If you're not willing to give my proposed speech, maybe better not to get into that position. "Blaming the victim" is the slogan that may come to mind, but that's not my point -- it is just that legal recourse requires a higher standard of proof and a clearer "no". I will unashamedly say that circumstances are relevant.

If it's important to you to only have sex that you will feel good about and not regret, and you can't tell fairly far in advance whether you're willing to have sex, and you aren't able to clearly say "no", maybe some more old-fashioned techniques are in order. Don't get drunk. Talk about expectations in advance. Go on multiple dates and do not agree to be alone in private with a man until you have established an intention to have a committed relationship. Maybe even hold off sex until marriage.

I think "affirmative consent" is one interesting proposal for where to draw the line -- maybe at position 2 on the dial. I would favor a slightly higher number, but it's part of the debate. But the standard for the law (or college disciplinary procedures) should be much higher. "No" should be what a woman said immediately before something a man did for it to be a crime.

It is also clear that many women do not actually want the number set as low as 2. We can also wonder about women's ambivalence on the subject of sex. It's a common enough idea that people's opinion in the light of day is that they shouldn't have sex at a particular time and place, but that passions and drives being what they are, part of them does want sex. One reason some people get drunk in sexual situations is to lower inhibitions and feel like drunkenness partially absolves them of the consequences of their choices. When a woman sobers up, she could blame herself, but she also may blame the man. Perhaps that blame is well-deserved within the woman's own set of values and expectations. Perhaps he was a jerk. But there is no call for law or a college disciplinary procedure to get involved.

So far we have been discussing adults. But the case of underage partners is also of interest. You would expect underage girls to be more susceptible to the various hazards involved in this situation. They are less likely to be assertive, they are less likely to be astute in judging a man's intentions or the complexities of a social situation more generally. They may be more subject to physical pain. They also will likely have little experience with how the emotional aftermath of various sexual experiences can play out and be more susceptible to regret.

Sex at any age has the potential for emotional turmoil. But for adults, the danger is offset because it is also a vital part of the good life. Feeling good about your place in the world may depend to a significant degree on whether you are having good sex. Young teens may also crave sex, but "I'll get to this when I'm a little older" is a reasonable story to tell oneself. And in any event they have (or should have) the ability to have sex with peers.

That combination of factors is why I favor an age of consent. Men should be deterred from sexual activity with such girls for fear of the consequences. I toy with the idea that if an underage girl does not come to feel that she was wronged, then prosecutors should not pursue the case. But that is not the same as a lower age of consent. Regret matters. Consent can be withdrawn retroactively because it was insufficiently informed and all a man had was "willingness". Legal sanctions are appropriate.

But for adults the situation ought to be very different. If a woman is not extremely drunk, and she does not take the opportunity to object to a man's sexual advance at the time he makes it, then she has consented, from the legal point of view.

Of course the situation can arise in any other pairing of genders of the possible perpetrator and possible victim.