On pedophilia

Trinity wrote about a Supreme Court case that would render illegal the distribution of simulated child porn (i.e. very well photoshopped) that’s passed off as real child porn. While I have a sort of kneejerk reaction to making things illegal, I don’t have a huge problem with this. Real child porn is illegal for obvious reasons, and if someone buys or sells a photoshopped image that they believe to be real, it’s supporting the same sorts of ideas that are problematic with regard to child porn. If you believe the image to be real, you’re condoning statutory rape and exploitation and muddled notions of consent or complete lack thereof in just as dangerous a way as if the image is in fact real. So I see the logic there.

There are two things that make me concerned, though. One is the slippery slope of legislation like this. As Trinity said, “while it doesn’t seem horrific on its face, I do worry that it may be the beginning of a slide where ‘something that looks real’ becomes ‘and fake things too’ and ‘fake’ slides from ‘shoppery’ to ‘drawings’ to ‘stories about consensual adult ageplay.'” For sure. And obviously there’s a huge difference between adults pretending to be kids and, well, kids themselves. The history of government restrictions involving sexuality (see UK and that “simulated harm” thing) indicates that such a slippery slope is possible.

But the other (possibly far more controversial) thing is, a pedophile isn’t a child molester. A pedophile is someone who is sexually attracted to prepubescent children, but that doesn’t mean that a pedophile necessarily acts on those urges. I don’t have pedophilic tendencies myself, so I can’t say what that’s like, but I imagine it’s very much like having another fetish, one that society condones a bit more. I’d imagine that, essentially, there’s not a whole lot you can do about what turns you on, whether that’s a morally objectionable thing or not. I’d imagine that many people with that fetish are very aware that actually having sex with a child is a morally reprehensible act, and they would never consider doing such a thing. I’d imagine that some people repress that part of their sexuality, and focus on other things instead, while I’d imagine that others achieve their release in safe ways, like ageplay with other adults or like the photoshoppery and drawings Trinity mentioned. And see (here’s where I get myself into deep politically incorrect shit), I don’t think there’s a whole lot wrong with that. Jacking off to a drawing of a child is a much better alternative to going out and raping a child. And if you know it’s a fantasy, and you know it’s never going to be a reality, what exactly is the harm in that?

I know that I certainly share the experience of having sexual thoughts that would be morally reprehensible if acted upon literally. I suspect people reading this might feel the same. I’ve talked about my rape fantasies before. I get tied in knots about their relationship to my feminism and my support of the values of the BDSM community, but I still know that I kink on notions of abusive sexual behavior. Whatever the moral outcome of that, and for whatever reason, it’s part of who I am. I can repress it, I can focus on other things, but that doesn’t change how I feel, and that doesn’t change how central these notions are to my innate conception of sexuality. I have no desire to harm women. I have no desire to rape or be raped. News stories about rape or assault or abuse are just as horrifying to me as they might be to someone who doesn’t share my perversions. I’m a mentally balanced person who understands what needs to stay fantasy, and what the difference is between fantasy and reality. But if I got off to porn, or even to my own fantasies, I think I might choose to get off to something that simulates nonconsensuality. With the knowledge that no one was being harmed, I could use that fantasy for my sexual release, because my entire sexuality hinges on it.

And so I think that must be what it would be like to be pedophilic. I think people who are attracted to prepubescent children might feel as repulsed and yet fascinated by their fetish as I sometimes do by mine, that they might repress it and yet accept it as an integral part of who they are, that they might seek an outlet in fantasy and simulation and sex play in order that their desires not bleed into “real life” and moral reprehensibility. I don’t understand what it is to have pedophilic tendencies, but there is no question that I understand what it is like to feel that way. And so I can’t condemn anyone for it, or have any desire to outlaw their instruments of release—unless, of course, they cross that very solid and unmissable line between fantasy and reality.

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One Response to “On pedophilia”

  1. I honestly think that for many people, pedophilia is more than just a fetish — I think that in a LOT of cases it’s actually the desire to dominate, plus lack of morals, leading to “ah, the easiest way for me to totally dominate is to pick a kid.” I think this from looking at lots of the chatlogs on Perverted Justice.

    And yeah, it could just be that the men on PJ are precisely the sorts to troll for real kids, and they are the sick ones. But I’m inclined to think it may not be just another fetish for most.

    But even if that’s most, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some who do fit that harmless fetishist bill, and like you, I really don’t mind that. And I’ve run into plenty of people online who like loli or shota, and that I really don’t think like kids.

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