Friday, April 17, 2015

The political disaster of the pro-contact view

The pro-contact position is inherently wrong -- it is not possible or desirable to transform society to approve of adult-child sexual activity. I have not made that argument yet. But even once I do, it is not going to get most pro-contact pedophiles to abandon their position. Arguments never do.

But we can finesse that issue. Let's take for granted that you are a sincere pro-contact pedophile. What should you say publicly? How do you want to come across in terms of public perceptions -- politics?

This is the argument against pro-contact agitation that I find most convincing: Whether adult-child sexual activity should be accepted rests fundamentally on what's good or bad for children. Ordinary people care deeply for the welfare of children, and large numbers have made it their life's work to study children in detail. Their best judgment is that allowing adult-child sexual activity would be bad for children. This judgment is emphatic and not a subject of serious debate. Now, pedophiles have no special knowledge of what is good or bad for children -- and if anything, having a sexual interest in someone clouds judgment as to whether sexual activity is truly in their best interest. We pedophiles would seem to have a selfish interest in deciding sex is not bad for children. Therefore, pedophiles should have the humility to recuse themselves from debate on this issue and trust society's conclusions on the matter.

Pro-contact pedophiles take a different view. They would like to change laws and societal attitudes so adult-child sexual activity is accepted. This view has been loudly proclaimed by pedophiles online. The most infamous organization holding that view is NAMBLA.

I think the pro-contact view is damaging to the cause of pedophiles at two levels.

First, there is a striking correlation: the majority of vocal pedophiles online think adult-child sex should be OK, and they have an apparent selfish interest in that conclusion. Hardly any non-pedophile thinks that. It is just not plausible that these pedophiles understand the issue better than everyone else. How is the average person going to make sense of those pedophiles?

One is that pedophiles are deluded -- their sexual interest in children has blinded them to the real nature of children. Another is that they are cynical liars, knowing full well that sex is bad for children but agitating to allow it anyway. Both reflect terribly on pedophiles -- the first group is not in touch with reality and the second group is evil. Whichever is the case, you would hardly want such men around your children. No one would want a cynical liar. Even if they are "just" deluded and agreed to do nothing sexual with children and you believed their intentions, could you trust them to understand boundaries of appropriate behavior if they know so little about children?

The other way they damage the cause of pedophiles is by lacking any sense of political reality. Given how deeply hated pedophiles are today, what could you possibly accomplish by arguing that sex with children ought to be OK? (If society was going to give a hearing to children's right to have sex with adults, a large obstacle would be hating the men they would be choosing to have sex with.) If I sincerely believed it was OK, I might agitate for "youth rights", but from my real identity which is not linked to pedophilia. I can't think of any political movement that would like a self-identified pedophile as an ally. I think this argument is obvious and persuasive enough that there really are few astute cynical liars among pro-contact pedophiles online. I think most are sincere.

Why would pro-contact pedophiles agitate, given those realities? Among those who seek to change the world in any respect, there are always those who will espouse a radical view. A few people want to rid the world of war by disbanding the US military completely, right now. A few may want to address inequality by taxing everyone 100% of their income and distributing it equally among everyone else. When we approach the subject of child sexuality, of the two more "idea-oriented" voices on the GirlChat forum that I participate in, one is a radical anarchist, the other a radical socialist. One common view on the board is that adults deliberately oppress children's sexuality to maintain power over them. In one form or another, most people on that forum seem to think society needs fundamental and radical change.

But on most issues, there are along with the extremists larger numbers of people who favor incremental change. The perplexing situation with pedophiles is that until recently, the moderate voices have been far quieter than you would expect -- if you think pedophiles are composed of a few radicals and lots of moderates, like any other group. One moderate view is that while pedophiles recognize that sex with kids is not something they should ever be allowed, they would like recognition that the many pedophiles who never abuse kids deserve acceptance. This is roughly the Virtuous Pedophiles view, which I share.

What makes the radical view so appealing? Most who hold it also concede that pedophiles must not engage in adult-child sex. They envision a future where it is acceptable, but most recognize that it is unlikely to happen in their lifetimes, and that any change that occurs must be driven predominantly by the majority of society and not the tiny minority of pedophiles. They don't even claim much prospect of them personally getting to have happy sexual relationships with children.

As best I can tell, the radical pro-contact view is attractive because it defines a community that feels like home. The pro-contact pedophiles are banded together against the world. "The rest of society is ignorant and hateful, but we pedophiles understand children. We can stick together knowing that our desires are right and true. Come the revolution, we can all have sex with children." Society's hatred isn't a cause for concern -- if anything, it helps the community feel more cohesive. This fortress mentality is sometimes stated explicitly: There's no benefit to working for moderate goals, because you won't achieve them and society will still hate you anyway.

Virtuous Pedophiles is in contrast a moderate organization. Some pro-contact pedophiles accept us as allies and wish us well, feeling that we serve a useful role and might bring about a few changes in society that are in the right direction. But many feel a visceral dislike -- sometimes hatred. I have a hunch as to why this is such a common reaction. We are a challenge to the ideology. If one can feel a loving sexual attraction to children but be against adult-child sex, it is not as simple as "us versus them" any more. As a result, they try to explain us away.

We might simply be police or trolls whose goal is to sow dissension.

We might be cynical "Uncle Toms" who want to curry favor with the power structure so that we can get a few privileges while grinding down the honest pedophiles under our heels. It's hard to see how this would work if it were true. Would there be a loyalty oath, swearing that you do not now and never have favored changing society to make adult-child sex legal? McCarthyesque investigations into the sincerity of someone who takes the oath? And then those who take the oath would be accepted while the others would not? I can't see it. Society draws a clear line in a different place: Are you a child abuser or aren't you?

Finally, we might be self-hating pedophiles. The inner circle of VP is not self-hating. We accept both our attractions and the reality that we will never be able to act on them. (That said, it is true that many VP members do hate themselves. Our message is that there is no shame in an attraction that you did not choose and cannot change but never act on. But to many of our members this does not resonate somehow. We are happy to support them where they are with the beliefs they hold.)

Among pedophiles online, the pro-contact voice is the loudest. I am convinced that most such people have good intentions and do not sexually abuse children. I think their beliefs are mistaken. Even if they were correct, I think espousing them is not helpful to improving the lot of pedophiles.

I am going to continue in a series of posts to argue that adult-child sex is wrong. Yet I've just said that pedophiles ought to recuse themselves and accept society's judgment on the matter. What makes my arguments not a political disaster is that I reach the conclusion that is against my apparent selfish interest as a pedophile.



4 comments:

  1. I think the reason the moderate voice has been so quiet is the stigma attached to pedophilia. Moderates don't want to admit they're pedophiles so they won't argue for acceptance. Radicals are perfectly willing to admit they're pedophiles--they don't really care what pedophiles want. I think self-hate also plays a role. Many pedophiles are so convinced by societal attitudes that they're evil merely because they have pedophilic thoughts, even if they haven't done anything wrong. They may believe that they're not worthy of acceptance.

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  2. Online both moderates and radical have anonymity, so I'm not sure why that makes them less willing to admit pedophilia. I agree that self-hatred surely does play a role. There may be self-hating pro-contact pedophiles, but they are presumably a much smaller fraction of the pro-contact crowd than within the anti-contact crowd.

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  3. I used to be an extreme pro-contact person. I thought everyone had the view, but didn't express it.

    I didn't see the harm in sexual violence against children, and would argue that the age of consent was discrimination on the basis of age. I was about 15, so I could say it was because I liked older women (which was true). But I thought sex with children was nothing but love, and yet I denied that I was a pedophile. I thought most men had such a view...A view that adult-child sex was okay TODAY.

    When I was put on medication, I realized the full nature of having the attraction. I joined VP to rid myself of pro-contact notions. I argue in person the anti-contact message, even though I risk my life and reputation. Not one person assumed I was a pedophile, even when I told them I was. Most people just think I am misguided.

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  4. 3rd paragraph: Who are the people, whose best judgment it is "that allowing adult-child sexual activity would be bad for children"? At the least it's unclear whether you're talking about normal people or experts.

    Experts can be wrong. If they're wrong, it may be that they won't want to admit it. Some may not dare go against consensus. They can also have an interest in there being a problem for them to solve, if they have a job as a therapist or in a police unit. I don't suspect such people to be insincere, but a question could be raised about the their interest in the answer to the question of harm or no harm.

    Experts also have an interest in there being a demand for experts. This can seem silly in a case of parents reading books about child care (get the baby to eat or sleep), when the answers are obvious to the typical pre-industrial or pre-agricultural mother.

    This is also a controversial subject, about which a lot of people will probably not think calmly, rationally, or momentarily alternatively, which can stifle alternative thinking among the experts or ordinary people.

    I don't regard it as such that you are clueless about children, if you think that child could experience consensual sexual activity with an adult positively.

    In other aspects, I wouldn't think it uncommon that adults/parents don't understand kids/teenagers, because they are not themselves that young anymore. Regardless of whether they understand their kids, parents may want to prohibit their kids doing the things they themselves did when they were young.

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