Monday, April 14, 2014

My Nightmare

Here's a bit of worst case scenario planning.  What I fear would happen should my identity and sexual orientation become widely known in the same circles.

1) Loss of friends.
I'm an introvert who doesn't make friends easily.  I build my social relationships slowly over time, and invest deeply in every relationship I have.  If those friends reacted typically to the revelation that I am a pedophile, I can expect to have them all systematically reject me and cut me out of their lives.  Additionally, even the ones who might otherwise be sympathetic might cut me off for fear of how their continued association with me would make others see them. 

2) Loss of family support.
Being blood doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things.  Sure, they say you can't choose your family, but the fact of the matter is, family can disown you almost as easily as your friends can.  I've seen my family react to a child porn charge.  Admittedly, there were other negative feelings about that individual which pushed things over the edge, but I can't just pretend I didn't see what happened, and that I didn't hear the words they used when talking about the situation. 

3) Loss of employment.
Seriously, why would anyone willingly accept the public relations risk that comes with having a pedophile on staff, regardless of whether the job involves kids or not?  It doesn't even matter if the boss is personally prejudiced or not.  It's simple economics that unless what I can do is completely unique and indispensable, and the business will literally fold without me, I can't expect to have a job of any sort after this gets out. 

4) Loss of freedom.
It doesn't matter that I haven't molested a child.  Charges can be trumped up, and a jury will find it easy to believe any negative story told about me with my sexual orientation known.

5) Loss of life.
There are vigilantes who want me dead.  Some have openly expressed such a desire to me personally, with my safety being guaranteed by my anonymity and their incompetence at  finding me.  Others have simply expressed a desire to hurt or kill anyone like me they come across.  I am a socially acceptable target, and of course, any attempt I make to defend my own life will just lead back to worry number 4.

With these very real concerns, some of which I can see others living out in front of my eyes, it's a minor miracle that there have been three human beings in my life that I have deliberately trusted with this information, because I trust both their good intentions, and their competence. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Staring

Okay, this one's been bugging me for a long time.  Staring is not a form of assault. 

The concept of assault rests on the basis that people have an inherent right to control what goes on with their own bodies, and that doing anything to another person's body without their consent is wrong.  Rights conflict in the real world, which is why we need to establish rules.  The classic example is "your right to swing your fist ends at my nose".  

I have a right to control my own body, and that includes what direction my eyes face.  Since my eyes are devices for detecting radiation rather than for emitting it, what direction my eyes face impacts no one.  In the conflict between my right to point my eyes where I please, and your right not to have someone point their eyes in your direction, the right to control one's own body trumps the right to force someone else to do something with their body you don't like. 

I don't live in a society where we worship god-kings who can demand I downcast my gaze when they grace my presence.  I will not live in such a society. 

The last time someone tried to treat my gaze as an assault, I was quite ready to meet their explicitly threatened violence with violence of my own.  I have no regrets about my actions in that incident.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

The History of the Age of Consent

I see it over and over again.  The idea that the age of consent must be there for a reason.  That whoever put those laws in place must have known what they were doing. 

The law is not a divine commandment.  The people who write laws are not unknowable wise men with inscrutable wisdom far divorced from the ability of the common man to understand.  The entire point of studying history is so that we can follow the progression, the whys and wherefores that lead us to the world we live in today. 

The age of consent came into being in the days of women as property.  Marriage was a business transaction between the groom and the bride's father, with the groom paying a bride-price to her father.  A virgin bride commanded a high price, and thus anyone who had sex with a man's daughter was literally diminishing the value of his property.  The age of consent was a way of protecting the investment, not protecting the person. 

Come the turn of the 20th century, a group of religious conservatives, terrified of the idea of women in the workplace, lobbied hard for the age of consent to be raised to its current level.  Their writings are still around explaining their concerns.  To summarize, they were afraid that women working outside the home might meet men and want to have sex without getting married.  They used the age of consent to push their social agenda.  That's why to this day there are still states which have exemptions in their ages of consent if the parents consent, or if the couple are married. 

After that, the age of consent was fiddled around with to discriminate against homosexuals.  Ages of consent were made different for different depending on the genders of the partners and the acts performed.  It was a way of hurting gays where legislation couldn't be passed to ban such activities entirely.  The famous Stonewall riots were partially a response to this kind of discrimination. 

The age of consent has never been the well-reasoned compromise between the twin noble ideals of individual sexual liberty and the protection of the vulnerable that its supporters claim it to be.  The age of consent is a historical accident built on a foundation of social mores our culture rejected long ago, and discrimination that even the bigots of our day at least pretend to be ashamed of. 

It's long past time we wrote a law that reflects what informed consent actually means.  Long past time we actually had the reasoned discourse that everyone who blindly accepts the age of consent as it stands assumed happened at some unspecified point in the past. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Origin of Pedophiles

Let's start by defining our terms. A pedophile is an adult who is sexually attracted to prepubescent children. For those of you just joining us at this blog, I am a pedophile.

People have been putting forward ideas about why we exist for ages. Usually with the idea that if they know our origin, they can get to the business of snuffing us out of existence once and for all. Still, we can't just halt the advancement of human knowledge because genocidal monsters would attempt to make use of it. Better to just recognize that's going to be their intent and press forward with science aware of that risk, in my opinion.

The reason we know as little as we do about pedophilia's origin ties into the fact that there is a vocal minority intent on murdering us in the streets. It's the same reason that the interesting theories on the origin of homosexuality have come about only very recently. Because it's only very recently that homosexuals could participate in such research without putting their lives in danger.

All the current science relating to the origin and nature of pedophilia is hindered by the fact that the samples are heavily biased. Even when researchers take care to utilize phalometric devices in an attempt to confirm that the child molesters they've got in their prison sample are actually attracted to children, they're still dealing with individuals with complicating differences from the general population, and unknown sample biases that will differentiate them from the general prison population outside their sexual response. Of course, that's when the researchers bother to notice that pedophiles and child molesters aren't the same thing, which is not as common as you'd expect for people explicitly conducting research in this area.

Lay psychology using terms like "cycle of abuse" is a particular bad offender in terms of conflating pedophiles with child molesters. One can make an argument for or against "cycle of abuse" as an explanation for some child molesters, but acting as though it has anything to do with the origin of pedophilia is misguided at best. For those of you fond of anecdotes, I'm a pedophile, and was never molested.

Identifying a genetic connection is difficult with current sampling techniques, given all the noise involved with trying to tease out closeted sexual orientations and using prison samples. One of my family members is in prison on child pornography charges (though given what counts as child pornography, no guarantee that has anything to do with pedophilia). Might be coincidence, which is why anecdotes aren't data, but it is enough to make me lean in that direction in the absence of good evidence.

But really, the bottom line is, we'll likely never have good answers as to why pedophiles exist until it's safe enough for us to come out en-mass. At that point, science can get to work doing the research and answering the interesting questions.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Correct Time For The Sex Talk

I'm a big fan of comprehensive sex education. I think it's deplorable that so many people are left to fumble in the dark, relying on instinct, cultural osmosis, and at best a smattering of pornography to  inform their decision making process around sex.

I see so much hand wringing about "the right time" to breach the subject. It's become a cultural meme that parents spend their time hoping that they can delay this conversation long enough that their kids will find out the answers on their own rather than face the embarrassment of talking to them about the subject. There is far too much truth in that meme for my taste.

So often, the time people settle on is, essentially, when it finally becomes impossible to put it off any longer. When the physical changes of puberty begin to set it, frightening and confusing the child, only then will the parent manage to overcome their embarrassment in the face of their child's panicked reaction to their own body. Waiting so long to even discuss the physical changes that accompany this stage of growth disgusts me in and of itself. Leaving them to wonder if there is something physically wrong with them when the time comes smacks of neglect.And of course, in the midst of this discussion about what's happening to their own body, that's when so many people think it might be time to talk about sex.

Why do people think the correct time to open a discussion about sex and consent is AFTER the child gets that initial rush of hormones that change sex from a potentially enjoyable activity into a drive and imperative? Because the other option is to tell them about this activity that feels really good, give them all the tools and information about how to stay safe and ensure everyone is enjoying themselves, then recognize that forbidding this activity you've just explained to them will make so little goddamn sense that a five year old will see through it.

The fact is that people have sex earlier in societies where sex education comes earlier. The sex that people have in those societies is safer, and the rates of unplanned pregnancy and STDs is much lower even accounting for this, but horror of horrors, they're having sex younger. The people who can look at this trend and say we shouldn't have this conversation "too early" are saying that they'd rather their children be sick, be parents before they're ready, even end up having nonconsensual sex if only they can keep their kids celibate for a few more years.

My policy, is if a child is old enough to ask the question, they're old enough to hear the truth. The whole truth. Not just this bullshit of explaining as little as you can get away with until they pick up on how uncomfortable you are and give up asking. If your child asks about their origins, the relevant answer to that question involves sex a hell of a lot more than it does microbiology.

You give them the full explanation they're capable of listening to, you ask them questions to make sure they understood you, and you invite them to ask followup questions both immediately and in the near future after they've had a chance to think about what you've said.

And if I can turn people's culturally ingrained hatrid for pedophiles to something that can motivate you to have this conversation, I'll share something of my background. There were gaps in my sex education down to the level of basic external anatomy. Knowing that I would receive no help from those responsible for my education in other matters, I realized the easiest way to get the information I was looking for was during a diaper change. That was the earliest time I can recall associating young children and sex in my mind.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Affirmative Consent

Since this concept has been making its rounds on the various boards and blogs I read, it feels appropriate to weigh in, in detail, on this subject.

Affirmative consent is the idea that avoiding a "no" in a sexual encounter is insufficient for true consent. That only a verbalized "yes" to each and every act performed is sufficient.

I'm actually quite fond of the idea.

The biggest stumbling block I run into when quietly contemplating a better legal situation than the current age of consent, or arguing for its abolishment in open forum, is the fundamental fact that our current system of consent for adults is fundamentally broken. We let adults abuse and manipulate one another in ways that should rightly horrify any human being of good conscience. Thus the idea of exposing children to those culturally and legally sanctioned abuses rightly causes us all to recoil from the idea.

I don't like recoiling from ideas. When I get that impulse, I choose to dig deeper. To find out WHY that reaction strikes me. Because if I recoil, I can't learn specifically what about the situation is so inimical to me, and I can't examine if those distasteful parts can be excised.

The way I figure it, if it isn't acceptable to do inflict something on a five year old child, it isn't acceptable to inflict it on an adult either. If you think we need an age of consent to protect children from predatory adults who would lie their way into bed with them, there is no valid justification for treating those same predators as harmless or even admirable just because they're doing the exact same thing to other adults.

Now, that isn't to say there aren't serious flaws with the concept of affirmative consent. Firstly, like all aspects of sexual consent in this culture, it's gendered, in that males need to get consent, and females need to give it, never the other way around. Not a problem specific to the concept itself, but a problem inherent in our culture and one that rightly needs to be called out whenever the subject of changing the standards of consent come up.

Second is that how far it needs to be taken is never sufficiently defined, nor will its proponents ever submit to limiting cases, always shreaking about their "better safe than sorry" nonsense. Under reasonable standards, this practice could force better communication between sexual partners, make everyone take accountability for their own agency in deciding to participate, and reducing the tragedies that currently result from our current standards of "implied consent". If stretched beyond reasonable boundaries, however, it becomes a standard no one can ever live up to, and thus redefines every sexual interaction as rape, with all the gendered and ageist asymetries that go along with rape accusations in our culture.

Some claim that this standard infantalizes women, because it denies their ability to speak up when something is bothering them about a sexual encounter, and instead relies on the man to ask for confirmation. Aside from the obvious sexism in the idea that only a man would need to be held to this standard (not that it isn't an objective fact of our culture that this would be the case), I actually agree that it's infantalizing. That's why I like it so much.

Maybe if we can get the level of discourse and behavior of the general population to a place where a child would have no difficulty navigating it, why would we need the age of consent or anything to replace it?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

You Need Help

Identify yourself as a pedophile online and the title is certain to be one of the first things you get in response. Unfortunately, it might well be true, just not in the way the person saying it means.

Being attracted to young people is not illness, and not evil. You are absolutely not sick or wrong for having the feelings and preferences that you do. I want to make that absolutely crystal clear.

But this society is hard to live in for even the most normal, conformist members of the citizenry. Stress builds up and we are none of us immune to any number of traumatic experiences and losses. In short, everyone needs help from time to time, and that is the entire point of having the psychiatric profession in the first place.

Unfortunately, with all medical issues, trust is an absolutely essential element. Doctor-patient confidentiality exists in order to facilitate a relationship of trust with your health care provider, so you can give them enough information for them to help you solve whatever problem is troubling you. And doctor-patient confidentiality has a pretty big hole in it where our kind is concerned.

Psychiatrists are mandatory reporters. Not only is their professional ethic accepting of them violating confidentiality in cases of suspected child abuse, they are, in fact, legally required to do so. For the intelligent and sane among them, simply acknowledging your attraction to minors is not going to be enough to trigger this requirement in their minds, but unfortunately, we have no way of knowing if this individual psychiatrist is that intelligent or sane until we've already placed ourselves in his/her power.

Setting aside the risks of involuntary commitment and the unfortunate role members of this profession have in getting minors to "acknowledge" that they were abused, there is the simple, but very real threat of being forcibly outed. And the more psychiatrists you shop around for looking for one that fits, the more times you have to put your life and future in the hands of a total stranger.

There are times I really want to take my critics up on their advice to get help. The general stress of living life, combined with the added dose of living mostly closeted and constantly bombarded by negative messages about my kind, seasoned with some comparatively minor stress tied to gender role conformity, and I'd very much welcome the assistance of a competent, trained professional to help me sort out the parts that are actually a problem. I'd even be willing to keep shopping around until I find someone willing to not treat my orientation as something that needs to be cured, if I could just be assured that there is something meaningful actually holding them back from telling others what I've said. Unfortunately there isn't. At least nothing credible.

Having no one to turn to, having to deal with all of our problems ourselves, and within our own hidden, isolated internet communities is hurting us. I have zero concern I'm going to snap and rape someone in a fit of sexual frustration. I am concerned occasionally that I might be driven to self-harming behaviors or that the stress might build up in me to the point of having me snap at my friends and loved ones and isolate myself because I don't know how to deal with the stress well enough.

I care about other people, especially those suffering through the dark place of believing society's lies when they're called monsters. But even I get tired. Even I reach a point where the stress gets to a breaking point. I'm not a perfect person, and I've got plenty of unresolved issues. I may have gotten past the self-loathing that comes with the fear that society is right about me being a rapist just waiting to happen, but I'm still vulnerable to burnout and some days the constant barrage of hatred still manages to get to me even when I know it's nothing but ignorance and lies.

For those sane, competent psychiatrists out there, who feel I'm being unfair, please recognize this comes from a place of fear. Let us know you're willing to keep this particular brand of secret, and we'll come and be grateful for the opportunity to try, even if we don't click.

For everyone who's run that gauntlet themselves and found someone who knows the difference between a pedophile and a child molester (in potential or otherwise), please don't keep this person a secret from the rest of us.