Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Twitter Pedophile Debate

Breitbart ran an article yesterday trying to get Twitter to ban pedophiles, and without any regard even for what we actually say. As a result, the virpeds Twitter account has gotten a flood of notifications in the past day. Of course Twitter is not a place to resolve much of anything in the brief messages allowed. So I'll try to make sense of the parts I've read.

First, the off-the-deep-end pedophiles who say sex with kids is just fine. From a distance, pedophile haters might see this as part of what "all those pedophiles" want. It isn't, and it's a vital distinction. The vast majority of the pro-pedophile people making tweets are completely clear that we do not seek to legalize or normalize having sex with kids. We're often just as horrified by the consequences of child sex abuse as anyone else.

Next, the off-the-deep-end anti-pedophiles who say all pedophiles should be killed. Child sex abuse naturally enrages people, and I'm sure it feels good to say we should all be killed, especially if you don't understand the distinction above. I think more moderate anti-pedophile voices recognize you can't actually go around killing people who may well never do anything wrong.

So the next anti-pedophile message is, "You're disgusting, so be quiet!" This is an understandable reaction. We were all raised with the idea of sexual attraction to children is disgusting. Many non-offending pedophiles feel the same way, and we hate ourselves deeply. Contemplating suicide isn't exactly universal, but it is very common. Some of the anti-pedophiles get to the point of grudgingly accepting our existence as long as we hate ourselves and empty our lives of any goal other than making sure we don't offend. We accept that the need not to offend is the keystone on which everything else depends, but with that firmly in place we do have lives to live.

Another reaction is, "Stop being that way! Go see a therapist and fix yourselves -- make your attraction to children go away!" Here the vast majority of scientists will agree that it can't be done. Highly motivated child sex offenders have been working with highly motivated therapists for decades now, and the fundamental attraction does not go away. In this one respect it is like homosexuality -- it is set early in life and can't be changed.

Another reason offered for keeping quiet is to not "recruit" pedophiles. No one wants people saying, "Hey, pedophilia -- that sounds new and edgy -- I think I'll try that identity on for size. Thanks for showing me a new option!" If it's ever happened I've never heard of it, and it must be extraordinarily rare. Sexual and romantic attraction is a powerful force, and around puberty all people become aware of who they are attracted to: straight men and women, gays, lesbians, and pedophiles too. All but the most extreme social conservatives recognize that sex education is not the cause of kids thinking about sex. They also know that gay men and lesbians are not recruited by publicity about the existence of gays and lesbians -- but they might recognize what has always been there and feel great relief and empowerment.

One main hope we have is that pedophiles will similarly hear a Virtuous Pedophiles message, recognize themselves and that they are not alone, and feel relief and empowerment. Email to VP reveals this every day. It is not the empowerment to have sex with children -- for many that is a rock our lives are built on, far more certain than who we discover we're attracted to. Instead it's the empowerment to recognize our attractions, recognize that others feel them too, and learn from others how to live a decent life.

Scientists and clinicians have observed that pedophiles are likely to offend for the first time when they are desperate, isolated, and feel they have nothing to lose. Loud, angry anti-pedophile voices suggest society will despise them for finding kids attractive. There is no room left for being further despised if they molest children, so why not give in to temptation? Protecting children requires that pedophiles know society does care -- that they are accepted if they do not molest children, and condemned if they do.

Pedophilia is a condition that is never chosen and that cannot be changed; that is beyond our control. But we do have control over our actions, and take in dead earnest our obligation never to offend against children. But then we also have lives to live, and a path out of self-hatred is a good start.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Lessons from mass shootings for CP viewing

A matter of great concern to many people in the US is the string of mass shootings that goes on year after year. They garner media attention. They shake people's confidence that they live in a good society if such things happen. They motivate calls for more restrictions on firearms.

Surely a key motivation for these shootings is the knowledge by the shooter that they will get attention. Call it fame or call it infamy -- people will notice them. The news stories and gruesome images resonate with certain angry men who realize that it could be their mug shot appearing all over the national news. News organizations give lurid details because they get attention and generate revenue when people view them. What motivates those viewers? Surely it's largely the thrill and horror of it -- a sort of prurient interest in violence.

One vital step we could take to prevent such shootings is to give them less publicity. We don't want to literally suppress the news, but a brief story giving just the location, the weapons, the count of those killed and wounded would convey what the public needs to know. No footage of the scene, no interviews with survivors or bereaved relatives, no mug shot of the perpetrator.

I think it's time to appreciate the gravity of the situation and apportion the blame. People who make such videos or decide to release them are directly responsible for future deaths. But they only do this because it makes them money. So the ultimate moral responsibility falls on each and every person who consumes such videos -- their viewing of it motivates the coverage, and the coverage motivates more perpetrators. The fact that there are millions of other viewers makes no difference -- each one should view it as their personal moral responsibility.

But we need to go beyond moral responsibility to decisive legal action. We should also make it illegal to make such stories, and illegal to view them. Even for viewers, a fine is not enough. A prison term of several years would be a fitting punishment for each act of viewing. Yes, you heard me right -- several years of prison for viewing sensational coverage of mass shootings. Surely I have lost my mind?

Consider for comparison the crime of simple viewing of child pornography. Society treats the viewing of such material as a serious crime calling for years in prison. This sentence is called for even when the viewer hasn't paid anybody, hasn't made anything, hasn't sent anything to others, hasn't made any comments encouraging the production of more, and even if the images in question have been viewed thousands of times by other people. The key rationale is that the viewing fuels a market for making more child pornography. But if you accept this rationale, the justification for similar penalties in the case of mass shootings is stronger.

Most child pornography is made to be traded within a small group of despicable people for their own purposes. Wider attention is irrelevant and often unwelcome, as it increases the chance that someone might recognize the children and get the makers in serious trouble. In contrast, mass shooters are directly motivated by the prospect that they will be famous. The news organizations that would make them famous are directly motivated by the revenue from the views of those who want to see it.

In an open, free society, the government does not interfere in people's lives unless there is a compelling reason to do so. The most common reason is that they are harming others.

Making child pornography is an example of child sex abuse and is rightly criminal for that reason. But the harm caused by viewing it is much less clear. Average people hate the idea of child pornography at a gut level and want to find justifications for stamping it out in any way they can. But if they are committed to civil liberties, they have to find a justification based in harm. People will often say that viewing child porn creates a market for more. The comparison with viewing news video of mass shootings makes it clear how flimsy and preposterous this is.

Other justifications offered for draconian punishment for child porn possession: Victims are harmed every time someone views a video -- this requires spooky action at a distance, as no one can draw a line from an act of private viewing to the head of the victim. Viewing child porn stands in for the crime of child sex abuse -- in fact, the correlation is not that strong and a free society does not punish people for things that are merely correlated with crimes. Viewing child porn will cause people to go on to molest children -- the relationship is far from clear and there is <some evidence in the opposite direction>. In any case, a free society does not punish people for reading or viewing things that might lead them to commit a crime.

There is no justification for the viewing of child pornography being a crime in a free society. It is a crime only because people hate pedophiles. A free society does not punish people it disapproves of if they aren't harming anyone else.

There is legitimate moral concern -- I tend to agree that viewing child porn for sexual gratification is a morally repulsive and disrespectful thing to do.

But there is also a legitimate moral concern about viewing sensational footage of mass shootings -- there a causal link with future violence is clear. Perhaps those who condemn pedophiles for viewing child porn should first look at their own moral failings. Individual citizens who want to prevent mass shootings could organize and lobby the news organizations, threatening to cancel subscriptions and shun the advertisers unless they stop giving such detailed attention to these stories. How many people do?

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>.