…even for a psychopath
As a psychopath, I believe I have the ability to see with greater clarity issues that most people find fogged-over with emotion. There are opinions which are practically banned from polite conversation. Some of them, such as pro-racism, are banned but, since I agree with the consensus, I don’t mind. But with others, I resent the heavy-handed way almost everyone I know just makes objective discussion all-but-impossible. Psychopaths are heavily demonized, for example, which is one of the reasons I started this blog. With doctors analyzing our “pathology,” and haters saying we should all be killed, it was clear that the world needed to hear from actual psychopaths. I have noticed that a group that’s even more universally hated than psychopaths is that called “pedophiles.” I cannot speak for them but I can give my point of view with is more open-minded than that of most people. I also include links to where they can speak for themselves.
When I started seeking-out other people who identified as psychopaths, one discovery I made about them is how pan-sexual many of them were. I ran into many bisexuals and sadomasochists. It made sense to me since I’m both of those things. I figure that, since we have less rigid identities, and fewer moral hangups, of course we would be free to explore our libidos wherever they led.
That’s why I was surprised to run into instances of thinking that was both rigid and conventional. Some groups I belong to insist on the freedom to transgress the lines most people dare not cross. I think these are sometimes offered as challenges to see how immune each of us is to emotional reactions. In a world where anything goes, one not only has the freedom to be or say whatever. The rest of the group has the same freedom. So, one might say we are free to do anything except judge each other.
Because of this radical freedom, I was surprised, nonplussed, in fact, by what seems to be a fairly stunning exception to the anything goes rule. About a week ago, someone posted the following link: Why I Masturbate my profoundly disabled son. I thought it was beautiful and courageous, if productive of yucky images. But there were a lot of judgements by people I know. Some objected to it because it was gay. If the mother had jerked her son off instead of the father this person would have been more comfortable. A more common objection was that this disabled man was like a child. Of course, since he is unable to speak, how would we know how mature or developed he is? Some of these people likened the father’s act of mercy to child abuse. The fact that this man had erections which his father saw when he changed his diapers and the fact that he showed obvious signs of happiness and gratitude for the relief he was afforded didn’t count with these people.
The exception to the non-judgemental attitude that pervades our psychopathic group is, you guessed it: pedophilia. I have argued for a nuanced approach to the subject. There are pedophiles who forswear acting on their desires for the sake of the children. One would think that these, of all people, would be held blameless. No such luck. Here is a response (not from my group) to such benign people:
People are sexual beings from day one. I remember my own childhood. No, I was not molested but I was sexual. Obviously, there are age differences in what acts are safe and which are harmful. A grown man fucking a small child could physically harm her (or him). But most pedophiles (I’m told) go for acts that don’t involve intercourse. When I tried to make a distinction between consensual and non-consensual interactions, I was told there is no such distinction. If it’s a child, then it’s rape. I notice a tendency for people to rhetorically equate one thing with another thing. Andrea Dworkin was a great one for that. “Pornography is rape,” she declared. Such reductionism is handy when one wants to condemn something by equating it with something already considered worthy of condemnation.
Not all pedophiles take a hands-off approach. They believe they can have a loving, consensual relationship with a younger person. Of course, there’s a difference between sex with an underage teenager and sex with a pre-pubescent child. The former is called Ephebophilia and only the latter is really defined as Pedophilia. One can credibly argue that teenagers are biologically ready for sex and that prohibition of sex between a teen and an adult is really OK and only demonized by an uptight society. As Pat Califia (now Patrick) points out in Public Sex, many of us had our first sexual experience with an older person. I know I did. My first full-blown sexual relationship, at age 17, was with a 38-year-old man. I would call my status at the time I met him “semi-virginal.” In other words, I had been poked and my hymen was gone but I had never really had full-on sexual intercourse. So I think of him as my first lover. Come to think of it, the other abortive experiments I had before that were also with adult males. One of my pet peeves is the way sex between a minor an a major as called statutory rape. The word “rape” is highly prejudicial and not indicative of what really happened. If we must make under-18 sex verboten, at least call it something less prejudicial than rape.
Public Sex defends sex between adults and people of all ages. She (now he) mostly speaks from the standpoint of the gay world. Of course, the gay liberation movement has made no bones about the fact that any underage-adult relationships is anathema. NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association) has been banished from all official (and most unofficial) activities of LGBTQ organizations. The initials, of course, stand for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer. Lots of tolerance for all except pedos. It’s understandable since homophobia used to take the form of assuming all gays were pedophiles. The movement had to protect itself from that stigma. They have been successful. One never hears that kind of attack anymore. However, Califia reminds us of the little-known fact that the original founders of the LGBTQ movement were boy-lovers.
The fact that many of the founders of the gay-liberation movement were (and are) boy-lovers has well-nigh disappeared from the official history of our rebellion. The very term “boy-lover” is rarely heard in gay discourse. True, there have always been political disagreements within our community about the age of consent and cross-generational relationships. But the decade of FBI harassment suffered by the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) probably has more to do with the mainstream gay movement’s drawing away from this issue. It is a serious and terrifying thing to confront such a powerful institution. So perhaps it was inevitable that the Stonewall 25 organizing committee would vote to exclude all organizations advocating the repeal of age-of-consent laws from its June 26, 1994, march. A group called the Spirit of Stonewall (SOS) formed to protest this ban, and has invited NAMBLA to march with them. I was proud to be among the people who signed SOS’s petition for inclusion of all gay organizations in the Stonewall anniversary celebration.
Copyright 1994 by Pat Califia
This reminds me of the way the feminist movement has tried to read sadomasochistic women from the movement. Also, the way we, in the world’s first sadomasochist liberation organization, TES, used to debate how best to present ourselves. Some wanted to stress how ordinary we were. As one member put it, we are just “regular working slobs.” I’d rather be seen as a freak than a slob, thank you. Maybe it’s inevitable that groups trying to get acceptable will want to present themselves as squeaky-clean as possible. Califia didn’t agree with this tactic. Public Sex has a large section dealing with the kiddie-porn scare. “The kiddy-porn panic is one of the biggest con games ever run on a gullible public.” ibid, page 30. One of the architects of the movement is Dr. Judianne Densen-Gerber, director of New York’s Odyssey House. This name is known and not loved by many junkies who have experienced the toxic corruption of this lady. As with the drug “epidemic,” the threat of kiddy-porn was ginned up into a lot more than existed in reality.
Freud is known for the idea that children from 5 to 12 or 13 are in a latency period of development where they are asexual. Califia disputes this claim. I am reminded of a scene in Annie Hall where the main character, Alvie Singer, is seen as a kid in school, getting heat for kissing a little-girl classmate, “Oh, Alvie,” she cried. “Even Freud speaks of a latency period.” “Well, I didn’t have one,” said Alvie. Of course, Woody Allen is now under accusation for child-molestation.
Any discussion of pedophilia needs to address the real problem of sexual child abuse. It happens and it is indefensible. The biggest red flag is the problem of power-imbalance. Children have a deficit of power in relation to adults. That is especially true of parents and teachers. It’s hard for a child to say “no” to these people who have so much control over the child’s life. If we acknowledge the possibility of a consensual relationship between a child and an adult, we must also acknowledge the difficulty of assuring ourselves that a relationship can be consensual where power is so unequally distributed. I would tend to consider relationships with parents and/or teachers out of range of claims that the kid consented. I haven’t seen much discussion of this problem in either Califia’s book nor in any other pro-pedo writings. It’s a serious problem and needs to be addressed for these advocates to have credibility.
Since the arguments for normalizing adult-child sex are framed in an anti-ageism, kid liberation paradigm, it behooves us to see what actual kids in a kids liberation movement have to say. Unfortunately, such organizations don’t usually exist for long. Kids grow up, after all. As kids, they lack the resources to build an organization. I could only find one at this time, The Freechild Project, which is included among the links. (Full disclosure: This organization seems to have adult leadership so it’s not really a complete kids’ liberation organization.) They do address, and condemn sexual abuse, which they define as forced and unwanted contact.
I think the subject of infra-generational sex is complex. I don’t completely agree with those who present it as healthy and problem-free if only the puritans would get their sex-phobic hands off. I also don’t agree with those who demonize pedophiles. Their hysteria on the subject only makes it harder to deal with the complexity of it all. Califia sees the nuclear family as, itself, sick. I would certainly welcome alternatives if they exist. In the meantime, stop the hate and start thinking.
And the crazy just keeps on coming. Now the guardians of childish purity are going after anatomically correct dolls. Change.org now has a petition to Ban Child Sex Dolls. A doll that doesn’t de-sex the human body. As if showing the truth of what we really look like makes a doll a “sex doll.” These dolls are “perfectly legal,” shrills the Puritans. What’s wrong with them? “These child sex dolls can normalize a pedophile’s behaviors, emboldening them to harm children, as is often the case with those who view child pornography.” Good grief. A pedophile is attracted to children without the encouragement of an anatomically correct doll. These dolls are not life-size blow-up dolls. They are made for children.