I consider myself an open-minded guy, especially when it comes to the "consenting adults" side of life. I have my own share of kinky interests and can relate to others doing the same. These liberal views have been challenged during the LJ strikethrough days. Part of the 'cause' of LJ strikethrough days was the very sloppy discontinuation of pedophilia 'supporting' users and communities. Strikethrough is now fading into history. I've been left to wonder about some of the reactions I've seen.
One reaction had people who said (paraphrasing), "pedophilia is a natural sexual urge is should not be equated with predatory behavior or stalkers". "Writing and reading purposely erotic material (intended for sexual arousal) containing pedophilia behavior is not the same as performing it", they said.
Other people indicated that they write about pedophilia because they were victims of it and it is part of their own life experience. Often the component of incest is added. The act of writing from their experiences is reflective, processing some part of them that demands introspection. I can relate to this.
I find myself having very different responses to the two reactions. I have distaste to pedophilia when used for erotic purposes. I have compassion for those who explore pedophilia as part of their own healing and coping strategies. The rest of this article will examine why I have these two diverse reactions.
Before starting, I want to say that I recognize sexuality and its expression to be very complex. There are many factors that fall both into the nurture and nature categories. People can find themselves with appetites that are formed by their environment. There is also a difference between desires and action. Lust and fulfilling the urges are not the same. These complexities create a spectrum from fantasy to actual actions. Those things that we want and those things that are put upon us by environment color the spectrum. The result can be unfathomable to others or even to the person feeling the pull of their own sexual tides.
What of consent? I don't believe that children are inclined to consenting sexual acts with adults. If this is the case, and I hope it is, than the child is coerced emotionally and/or physically to engage in pedophilic activities. This is WRONG WRONG WRONG. I cannot abide by sexual congress between adults that is nonconsensual. Those forced upon children are even more heinous. So, nonconsensual behavior is immediately wrong in my book. There is something wrong with the offending adult. I'm not going to say that they are evil, but I will say that they need help.
Full(ish) sexual awareness does occur during the teen years. The late teenage years are a blurred place for definition of pedophilic behavior. Who is to say that a person wakes up one day and is suddenly an adult? People mature at different speeds and have different levels of emotional maturity. There is some amount of late-teen sex that is difficult to categorize as pedophilia. I'll take these occurrences off the table during the rest of my comments.
Let's say that the remaining pedophilic behavior is 'consensual' and is performed with those who the majority of people would agree are children and not young adults. Where does that leave me?
The next contrast I want to make is between those who embrace pedophilia out of erotic lust and those who explore it as a path to personal discovery and healing. I acknowledge the two can blur. I cannot condemn the later, the exploration of a path to healing. Those damaged by a phenomenon are drawn to understand the phenomenon. The why and how of their own experience can be clouded by memory loss or an inability to distance themselves from the occurrence because of who was involved. The exploration through fiction or other people's recollections can dispassionately allow them to view and heal things that cannot be dealt with through their own experience. The sharing of experiences can assure both victims and perpetrators that they are not alone and that there are avenues for healing.
The expression of those desiring healing differs greatly from those who see pedophilia as an erotic outlet. I have seen explanations given that pedophilia is a natural desire, no more perverse than any other. My distaste of people pursuing 'natural' pedophilic desires stems largely from the disparity of physical and emotional development between the two parties. Or perhaps the adults who desire sexual congress with children have some part of themselves that rejects the adult world. I don't know. The point is that the two parties are not equal partners, emotionally and physically, in the act. I find myself wanting to say, "it just isn't natural". I also find myself rejecting these words. I've said on past occasion that everything is natural. How could it not be and still happen? I will instead say that the sexual congress between an adult and a child is not harmonious. There are many issues of development, emotional health, trauma, and such to consider. 'Nature' does not excuse the probable harm done to the child by the act. The temporary sating of lust does not condone the lifetime scarring of its victims. To me, the end result is a sense of unfairness, callousness and misplaced affection in the natural pursuit of pedophilia
There is another explanation to why people turn to pedophilia. This reason is shared by many cases of rape. It is the assertion of power. This expression of sexual power is especially egregious when the victim is a child and the perp is an adult. Disempowered by adults or the adult experience, the pedophile seeks sexual empowerment with those more vulnerable than them. To me, child porn falls into this category. It is disingenuous to think the child "volunteers' for pictures or that the pictures are only taken out of love. Those distributed among people are devoid of love and more clearly represent the taking advantage of children. To this I have to bring out the WRONG WRONG WRONG stick again.
The last thing I want to cover is the concept of "I only look but don't touch". Sigh. This sound good but I have big issues with it. The sexual drive is very strong. Those who only have the outlet of pedophilia will be tempted to fulfill their desires. Will they? In my heart I have to say yes. Part of me really wishes that what I read is true, that people can embrace the vicarious pedophilic life without impacting actual kids. The mere use of child porn in a pedophile’s lifestyle supports those who create the porn and can be indirectly responsible for harming children. Sexuality is strong, often voiding the hopeful "don't touch" sentiments.
This has not been an easy thing for me to write about. I was surprised that I had such a strong reaction to it. I felt I had to condemn the pursuit of pedophilic erotica and simultaneously support those who are seeking healing. Our children are special. They will be adults soon enough. Many adults, including myself, are seeking that spark of life that childhood represents. The spark is not found through sexual congress. The spark is instead embraced when we identify with purity and joy of children. Only love and protection exist here, and that is why I have written about this topic.