I usually write about pedophilia. But in the title of this post I use the phrase "non-pedophilic non-offender". Haven't I just described "ordinary people"?
I am talking about ordinary people, in this case men who would never abuse a child and are more strongly attracted to adults, but feel some noticeable attraction to young teen girls.
There is a story afoot in the land that an adult male attraction to a young teen girl is a horrible pathology. A man who feels such a thing is sick and evil.
One source for this may be a certain brand of feminism that attacks male desire in general, feeling that only in an emotionally close long-term relationship between adults is sexual desire an appropriate feeling. This seems totally ridiculous to me. I wish that moderate men and women would speak out against it more forcefully.
Another source is the desire to prevent adult men from taking advantage of young teen girls. This is a serious problem and efforts to lessen this abuse are a good thing. Along with attacking the behaviors that lead to abuse, it's tempting to pile on an attack against feeling any attraction at all. Why not portray every aspect of the situation as despicable, in an effort to prevent the crime? Maybe this is easy if you are a woman.
For straight men, a sexually developed young teen girl is attractive. Evolutionary biologists would be left scratching their heads if men did not feel a fundamental attraction to fertile females. Early teen pregnancies confirm that these females are indeed fertile. In times and places where girls were routinely married off at age 13, no one ever accused the husband of being sick for having an interest in consummating the marriage.
Along with women, some men may also accept that this attraction to young teens is sick. I say they are not aware of their deeper feelings. We humans have strong cultural factors laid on top of our basic desires, and perhaps they find it more convenient to suppress awareness of the attraction they feel to various classes of females who are not appropriate mates for them. But the attraction is still there.
I'd urge my straight male readers who are skeptical on this point to do a thought experiment. With our continuing dramatic progress in genetic mapping, scientists are discovering more and more specific genetic connections and therapies. Suppose we had a rare ailment in girls that is universally fatal. However, there is one and only one cure: A male who is a genetic match must have intercourse with this girl repeatedly. You are the only match. The 13-year-old girl understands the situation and is very interested in being cured -- what's more, she is taking a positive attitude towards this prospective experience. Medical intervention has made sure she is prepared physically and can participate without pain or damage. Will you accept this assignment? Do you think you'd have difficulty getting it up? Would it be a tedious chore?
When men who are aware of their desires hear them condemned so strongly, it can give rise to serious self-doubt. They deserve to hear a clear message that their desires are normal.
Conceivably this awareness could lead to a few more cases of young teens girls being exploited. But prevention cannot be built on a lie, especially a lie that causes real suffering among ordinary men. It could also backfire. Men who realize their attraction really is natural may conclude that all society's messages about this subject are stupid, and they might as well ignore the prohibition on acting on that attraction as well as the condemnation for feeling it.
There are excellent reasons why society prohibits adult sex with young teen girls. There is great potential for exploitation and abuse. We also have higher hopes for our young teen girls than many past societies -- we hope they can get an education and consider a full range of life choices, instead of becoming mothers at a young age. But our reaction to action must be kept separate from our reaction to desire.
Occasionally men write to us at Virtuous Pedophiles, tormented by these very desires. Yes, they have a full attraction to adult women, but they are also attracted to young teen girls. They're sure they would never act on it, but they wonder what is wrong with them. My answer is: absolutely nothing!
We can also shade the ages down lower than the 13 at the bottom end of "young teen girls". It is common for girls to get their periods at age 9 or 10, and breast development is frequent as well. They generally won't appear fully mature, but they certainly don't look like little girls any more. Biologists know that to a male animal sperm is cheap and the evolutionary benefit to an additional offspring is huge, so males are wired to have interest in matings even with a very low probability of success. There's no reason to think human males are exempt from this. There is a cultural overlay as well. We humans plan ahead. In our environment of evolutionary adaptation, some measure of attraction to a 10-year-old might motivate a man to engage in the complex social jockeying to try to get her as his wife when she does turn 13.
Try that thought experiment again with girls below age 13. If you want to expand the experiment, think of the full range of ages and gender for the person you would doom with your celibacy. You can do a Google image search to find pictures of girls of various ages so you can see in concrete terms who we're talking about. Yes, they are totally off-limits to you in the real world, but in this experiment everything is turned upside down.
None of this involves pedophilia or even hebephilia. All these men are more attracted to adult women than to the younger girls.
A powerful desire to prevent child sex abuse is natural and right. But in its quest to stop it, society has expanded definitions to the point where ordinary men are deeply troubled by the attraction they may feel to 13-year-old girls. Perhaps it's more common among the many men who have self-doubt more generally. They fear they are pedophiles, and with sick dread they contemplate another message they receive: that pedophiles eventually abuse children. They feel ashamed, and they have a secret they fear they must take to their grave. Some won't dare to become fathers for fear of what might happen.
My overarching message for this blog is that pedophiles do not need to be ashamed of their attractions if they do not abuse children. Now, pedophilia is rare and the attraction is not biologically adaptive, and those are obstacles to convincing pedophiles of this point. But here we have perfectly normal men deeply ashamed of a perfectly normal desire.
This is total nonsense. People of good will should make a clear distinction.
Action is bad. Men must not leer or whistle or stare. They must not make suggestive remarks, and they certainly must refrain from any sexual behavior with underage girls.
But desire is natural. Male sexual desire is vital to human survival, and desire for 13-year-olds is the same desire.
Help free ordinary men from undeserved shame and self-loathing.