Friday, May 8, 2015

Transforming society to allow adult-child sex?

Central to the pro-contact position is the idea that if only societal laws and attitudes would change, adult-child sex could be reasonably common and a happy experience for all.

One strong hunch I have is that if such a transformation did occur, there still would be virtually no prepubescents interested in sex with adults. Social attitudes do not create the strong upsurge in sexual interest that occurs around puberty. In relatively open societies today, young boys and girls do not typically spend much time giving or receiving sexual pleasure with each other. Pedophiles might be happy in theory, but hardly any would ever actually get any sex.

To counter this, some pedophiles claim that sex feels good, so why wouldn't a child be interested in receiving pleasure? I note that adults care deeply about who their sex partners are. Women's vaginas are optimized to provide the physical stimulation necessary for male pleasure, but gay men typically feel active revulsion at the prospect of sex with women. Many straight men love to get oral sex from women but far fewer would want to get it from men. How one could believe that children should not care about who their partners are when adults do is a mystery to me.

Returning to transforming society so adult-child sex is accepted -- obviously it would be possible to change laws if elected representatives decided to change them. But what would motivate such a change? It would have to be driven by some combination of children agitating for the right to have sex with adults, and society coming to feel compassion for pedophiles to the point of allowing willing children to have sex with them. I see no sign of either one.

But if we found the motivation, what are the prospects of changing society so children are willing, even if they're not particularly interested?

Compare this to other sexual restrictions we have today. Today, it is considered polite to respond if someone says "hello" to you. There's no law requiring it -- it's up to you -- but there is an expectation that you will. You can imagine a society where if someone asks you for sex, it is only polite to agree to it. It would make them happy, and sex is just sex. I suspect most people will share my revulsion -- we don't want to live in a society like that and have no desire to move society in that direction. I also think it would be going against the grain of human nature. Women in particular seem wired to want sex only under particular circumstances -- typically a relationship and commitment, or else someone they find notably attractive. This same dubious transformation could be applied to include children as a special case (assuming some means is found that is not physically damaging or painful), and the revulsion is only amplified.

Let's consider a society that is not quite that extreme. There is no social expectation to have sex just because you are propositioned, but there is no shame around sex, and it's entirely up to everyone to have sex if they feel like it.

In that context, consider adult prostitution. Society has mixed attitudes about the subject today. In some places it is legal and regulated. Even where it is not legal, it is widely tolerated. I personally tend to think it should be legal and regulated everywhere. Now let's combine this with our "no shame, individual choice" society. To the extent social attitudes are what make prostitution unpopular as a career choice, it would become more common. Suppose (to my surprise) we found it became much more popular.

This imaginary scenario is where I think pedophiles could get their big break. For many an 8-year-old girl, the offer of her own pony if she lets you play with her private parts on a regular basis would be a very tempting offer. She may find it tedious -- she might even dislike it -- but it would be worth it to have a pony. In this brave new world we will assume parental advice and consent (I suspect that many girls would accept the deal in TODAY'S world if they could get parental consent). In this new hypothetical society, I suspect so many girls would be willing that the price would drop. Perhaps such sexual access would then only buy some fancy clothes.

Could one "cook" society to make that change so that everyone would be happy, and no regrets? I have my doubts, because I think sex is special. There's no reason for me to think prostitution would be more popular among young boys and girls than adults.

Even if it is possible, I have a "yuck" reaction against it -- and I'm a pedophile. I think of myself as mostly libertarian on social issues, but I can't quite manage it for certain rules around sex. I'm OK with public nudity -- and apparently going topless is legal in New York City. From the point of view of violating others' rights, I can't think of a good reason why there are criminal penalties for partner sex in public, or public masturbation. Yet I have the same "yuck" reaction that I do to children choosing prostitution.

I see no motivation among anyone other than pedophiles to make adult-child sex accepted. But even if the motivation were found, I see no path to the pedophile paradise -- where large numbers of prepubescent boys and girls like affectionate non-commercial sex with men. If we were somehow to shake up society enough to make this even possible, I predict we would get undesirable consequences such as our newly unashamed children choosing prostitution. One thing that no change in social attitudes can produce is a strong sex drive in prepubescents.

In a society that was willing to go to great lengths to insure freedom for all, I can imagine a scenario. A rare 8-year-old girl says she wants to receive oral sex from an adult man. Perhaps after extensive interviews with 3 different psychologists, the prior permission of both parents, social worker investigation to rule out quid pro quos, and a waiting period, a judge could give permission with some confidence that her freedom outweighs any residual risk of harm. Such extensive measures would be appropriate because the baseline probability of a child being inherently interested is so low. We can imagine it -- but the procedure would also sit almost entirely unused.

There are apparently a very few adults who crave to become amputees because that is what matches their self image. There are probably a few children who feel that way too. If we have a radical commitment to human liberty, including children's liberty, perhaps we could set up a similar procedure for a child who swears she is at war with her own self image unless she has an arm amputated. The baseline probability of such a genuine desire is so low that the idea of setting up such a procedure is bizarre.

Many posts back, I said that pedophiles would do well to recuse themselves from the discussion on whether adult-child sex should be accepted, because it was about what was good for kids and society had ample people who cared about children. Within today's societal norms, they have judged it is harmful and not appropriate. The motivation to change society to have different attitudes would have to be much stronger: a significant number of prepubescent children who really want to have sex with adults. That is conspicuously lacking, and I see no prospect of any change in that basic fact.


  1. Don't feel bad about having a "yuck" factor around adult prostitution. The sad truth be told, most streetwalkers are "yuck" worthy, if not downright scary, and many of them started out as child prostitutes.

  2. I don't think the arguments you refute here are the best arguments for the “pro-contact” view. Human societies are complex so the main way to know whether a big change is feasible is to look at whether it already happened somewhere. Otherwise, there are too many moving parts to figure anything out. Adult-child sex has often been legal in history. For example, in America the age of consent in most states was originally 10. In some places (such as Iran and Saudi Arabia) sex with young girls is still legal, but the reasons why have nothing to do with advocating for pedophiles or with children organizing themselves politically. People in these (past and present) societies might instead argue it is God’s law, or that sex within marriage is okay or even that sex with slaves is okay. Is there a reason you skipped these historically-based arguments?

    Maybe you are trying to engage with typical pro-contact pedophiles in the West, which unfortunately I think are way off-base and deluded. But the plausible arguments are rooted in history and in real evidence. So you have not convinced me!

    1. Such societies have existed, but my impression is that the welfare of the girl has never been given much importance. Today we rightly have high expectations for girls' development, and a chance to choose their own life path instead of getting married off early. So if we're going to look at historical examples, I'd like to look at ones in which girls' lives were valued highly.

    2. It sounds to me like you think that not having high expectations for every female's development is inconceivable in today's Western world, so there is no need to make an argument. Is that right?

    3. @americaboy. I like to think I'm open-minded. If you would like to argue that high expectations are sometimes not a good idea, I'm listening.

    4. I am not that interested in making those arguments myself since people can find the reasons used by folks in those societies online. Making arguments that are tailored for America today would also be a huge task. The closest I am able to get right now is someone like Donald Trump, who definitely isn't advocating denying women the vote, sharia law or chattel slavery but he is advocating a moderate agenda of lowering the status of certain groups. That is a kind of really watered-down version of what would be necessary.

      Your style is rigorous and I like that. I am just trying to understand what led you to think that a "pro-contact" society would mean pedophiles advocating for themselves or children organizing politically and not what we actually see in real existing and past "pro-contact" societies. What kind of discussions motivated your focus? Again I am guessing they were with "pro-contact" pedophiles. Do you find it odd that these folks seem to have no consciousness of any real societies where "contact" was permitted? I do!

    5. I focused on those arguments because they were ones I had heard. I have little interest in arguing against societies where women's rights and well-being are curtailed. I trust that good-hearted people will make sure that doesn't happen and that reaction needs no defense.