There is a misconception, particularly among feminists, that all child sexual abuse—and indeed, sexual attraction to children itself—is inherently about power. This is flat out absurd. I had planned to write a longer article on this issue, but my friend Ender wrote an excellent piece on this that covers it pretty well, called Demystifying Sexual Attraction to Children. I only want to add that I find it amazing how people who have never experienced it are willing to project some set of motives onto you just to satisfy their own notions of what you are about (possibly to avoid cognitive dissonance). But I’m telling you unequivocally, my attraction is NOT about power. Indeed, in my fantasies children are often at least my equals if not more powerful than me in some respects. That’s why it’s fantasy.
Of course, in real life children aren’t like this at all, but many pedophilic child molesters (as opposed to situational offenders, who sometimes do abuse because they get a thrill from overpowering children) often fool themselves into believing children truly are equals and are able to give meaningful consent. For a pedophilic molester, whose abuse is rooted in actual attraction to the child’s form, they may need to delude themselves into thinking such things before they can comfortably have sexual contact a child. All they need is for the child to willingly engage, and for this type of abuser the consent matter is resolved because they believe kids to be equals at least in this regard.
Seriously, go to one of the pro-contacter boards and read the posts of the people there who are arguing for legalization of adult-child sex. It is chock full of just these kinds of rationalizations. They have a constant need to reassure each other on this issue, and they do it using every argument you can imagine.
Other pedophiles—the amoral kind—don’t give a rat’s behind whether a child can meaningfully consent or not, but that still doesn’t mean their abuse is necessarily about power. Seriously, this myth needs to die. It is so wrongheaded that it ignores something fundamental about pedophilia, which isn’t going to do much good at curbing sexual abuse. Those pedophiles who are inclined to abuse kids may see that argument and think, “Well, that doesn’t describe me at all, so what little Suzy and I are doing must not be abusive, then.”
If you truly want to put a serious dent in child sexual abuse, you need to understand the complexity of the issue and the various motivations of different types of abusers and address each of them. Spreading the myth of a single motive for abuse is not going fix the problem.