Pedophile . . . pride? How the Night Breed taught me self-love

Part 1: The Novel

One of the things I am frequently accused of by critics is being proud of my sexuality.  Initially I was taken aback by these accusations. Sure, I talk openly on the web and in media interviews about what it’s like to have this orientation, but I never thought of myself as deriving any particular pleasure from simply having it. These imputations clearly stem from the concept of ‘gay pride,’ which has become a large part of the LGBT identity. I’ll be honest here: though I had no beef with it, I had never really understood the reasoning behind gay pride, or racial pride for that matter. So you happen to be born gay, or black, or white, or whatever. It’s a simple accident of fate, a genetic toss of the dice and nothing more. No, I’ve always taken pride in accomplishments, not in random conditions I had no control over.

On the flip side of that, I was not ashamed of my sexuality either, and for precisely the same reason. I didn’t choose it, so why should I feel ashamed of it? My feeling has always been that you should feel shame for bad deeds, things you’ve done wrong, not for things you had no choice about. I saw pride and shame over identity as two sides of the same coin. But in a discussion I had a few days ago with someone who is deeply troubled by his own sexual attraction to kids, I had an epiphany, what I call a Eureka Moment.

During the discussion, this young man pointed out that he was confused by the MAPs who seemed to view their sexuality through a positive light instead of as something wholly negative. My advice to him was to read Clive Barker’s novel Cabal.  That may seem like a rather oblique suggestion at first glance. What does a horror novel from the ’80s have to do with a much maligned sexuality, after all? In a word, everything.

The novel follows a group of freakish characters called the Night Breed who live in the underground city of Midian. Barker initially sets them up as frightening beings with a horrific appearance, a connect to death, and disturbing powers, all qualities ordinarily attributed to the villains in horror tales. But then he does something astounding: he completely subverts this trope, making the Night Breed the heroes of the story. You see, the Night Breed aren’t Night Breed by choice, but rather by birth or by accident, and what they want most in the world is simply to be left alone by outsiders. This isn’t for selfish reasons. They aren’t a cult doing terrible things away from the prying eyes of “decent” society. Nor do they recruit members. Quite the opposite, in fact: it is difficult to find them, and even if one manages to discover their secret underground lair, there’s no guarantee they will accept you as one of their own.

The Night Breed know from centuries of experience that most people are frightened and repulsed by them, and thus would rather destroy them than learn from them or accept them. If discovered, they would be called witches and demons and be killed, just as they had always been in the past. Indeed, by the novel’s finale the local authorities have invaded Midian, destroyed it and murdered most of the Night Breed, all at the behest of the psychiatrist Decker, who lied to the cops by claiming one of his patients, Boone, is a serial killer when in fact it is Decker himself who is the serial killer.  He tells them Boone is hiding out in Midian, which is true, but Decker has framed him, set him up to take the fall for his own murderous ways by convincing Boone that he is guilty. And because Decker was a wealthy, highly respected doctor and Boone just a working class nobody, Decker’s claims are believed both by others and (at first) by Boone himself.

Now, to understand where I’m going with this, we need to know something about the book’s author: Clive Barker is gay. Cabal is at it’s essence a story about persecution of those who are different and misunderstood. It was written and published in 1988, well before the LGBT community were accepted by a majority of mainstream society and had the rights and protections they have today. But the concept works for any group of people who are despised and mistreated because of who they are rather than anything they’ve done.

When the novel came out, the critics, who had been much more enthusiastic about Barker’s earlier work, weren’t sure what to make of it. Some dismissed it as silly or over-the-top. Others failed to see it as horror because they simply couldn’t comprehend the humanity of the Night Breed, or how tragic their destruction is. How does a critical fandom weaned on Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King process this? Cabal is in no sense a typical horror novel, more a dark allegory that hits a major nerve in the ongoing culture war. Some may even be tempted to dismiss the book’s message as quaint. I mean, it’s not like we live in medieval Europe anymore, where people we’re afraid of can be falsely accused of committing atrocities, tortured and murdered, right? Surely we’ve moved beyond the mentality that gave rise to the Jewish Holocaust, right? Right?

But there’s something else about the Night Breed that may have been off-putting to some readers. Sure, okay, they can accept that there are freaks who can’t help being freaks, but the social code suggests—nay, demands—that the freaks feel ashamed of their differences and be humble in the presence of the beautiful and non-defective. While the Night Breed tend to stay away from “normal” folks, when they are forced by circumstances to interact with them, they aren’t modest, deferential or in any sense apologetic about their peculiar nature. Perhaps they are even (gulp) . . . a bit prideful of it.

Part 2: The Epiphany

But why? Why would such malformed creatures take any pleasure in their own aberration? I think it’s for the same reason that some MAPs, even the non-offending variety, take any degree of satisfaction in something so woefully at odds with society’s mores: there is a kind of power, and a certain peace, in being so thoroughly secure in one’s identity that even in the face of near absolute condemnation, you know without a shadow of a doubt who you are. What’s more, you hold that knowledge with such conviction that you are willing to endure an unceasing storm of insults and abuse to announce it out loud, both as a beacon for others like you and to enlighten the non-MAPs out there who are sympathetic to your struggles. Can this honestly be said of most people? Why else would they be willing to murder perfectly innocent people if not compensating for insecurity in the face of their own doubts about themselves and what they have always believed? In that sense they are no different than the jihadis who are willing to murder innocents to assure themselves their beliefs are the right ones.

The same applies, I think, to the persecutors of the Night Breed, who are simply too dynamic, too cool, too accepting of their own eccentricities to be allowed to exist. For the Night Breed are not outlandish in only one dimension, which is a common problem with many non-humans in horror fiction. And regardless of what others might think of them, the Night Breed know there is an orchid-like beauty, rare and exotic, in all that flagrant, unapologetic strangeness, an embrace of diversity that might frighten even the heartiest defenders of multiculturalism. Love ’em or hate ’em, the Night Breed know who they are, and they don’t run from it.

When I read Cabal in high school, after having read all of The Books of Blood collections and The Damnation Game, it was hands down my favorite Clive Barker story. It resonated with me like no fictional world before it ever had, or could. I always knew there was a reason I’d loved monsters since around Kindergarten age, and Cabal taught me why: I identified with them. Here was a book where the “monsters” not only weren’t depicted as inherently violent, soulless and depraved but were actually being celebrated, shown to have intelligence, sensitivity, culture. Yes, they were stranger than strange, but they could also be tender lovers, wise leaders, adoring parents, brave warriors, passionate musicians, and everything in between. As a shy, bookish teenager born without a right hand, fascinated by the darker side of reality and cursed with a completely unfeasible sexuality, something I could never tell even my closest loved ones about, I looked at the Night Breed and saw my own reflection there.

So, yes, there is a portion of humanity—a small but steady one, to be sure—who fully embrace everything they are, no matter that they’re unlike 99% of the world’s population (and a sizable percentage of that 99% think the happy oddballs to be mentally ill at best, downright evil at worst). I am one of those people. I have never been particularly interested in conforming to other people’s expectations of me. For a time I tried to play it safe in that regard, to the extent I was able. But these various aspects of me—my physical disability, my emotional issues, my creativity, my growing interest in the horror and dark fantasy genres, and of course my pedophilia—were becoming entangled, playing off of and reinforcing each other to the point where they eventually became inseparable. It was inevitable, really. I was playing Whack-a-mole with myself, trying to keep all of these troublesome aspects from popping up at the wrong time, and the strain was unbearable.

It all came to a head one morning before school when I was 16, ironically over this very novel. I had long known my dad to be weirded out by horror fiction and avoided exposing my interest in it to him in any direct fashion, knowing he was likely to voice his displeasure. However, I was excited about Cabal. My sister and my dad were both sitting on the couch in the living room while I stood nearby. For some reason my sister, who had never taken an interest in what I was reading before, asked me about Cabal. Even though my dad was present, I plunged into it anyway, telling her about the scene where Boone’s girlfriend Lori first encounters the little shape-shifting girl Babette, trapped in her animal form under the shade of a bush. Like vampires, the Night Breed cannot be exposed to direct sunlight; it destroys them. So Babette could not leave the shade of the shrub and her mother Rachel cannot retrieve her. Lori, realizing what’s happening, rescues the child, shielding her from the sun, and safely delivers her to her mother. That’s it.

My sister, not a fan of speculative fiction at all, and certainly not dark fiction, thought the scene I described was quite nice. My father, however, had a very different opinion, telling me outright that I was sick for having any interest in such things. His words cut deeper that morning than I could ever have imagined. I couldn’t understand it. I mean, I’d chosen the least disturbing scene in the book, one that demonstrated the basic humanity of the Night Breed and had nothing particularly gory or gruesome in it. The scene had a happy ending, for God’s sake! Yet still he excoriated me for my enthusiasm for these weirdos, my sympathy for Barker’s devils. I broke down into tears and fled to the kitchen, sinking against the cabinets, truly shaken to my core. Could he be right? My sister did her best to comfort me, which helped but did not alleviate the shame and hurt entirely.

Following that, I did some soul-searching. An ordinary kid might have been more susceptible to his father’s opinion of his tastes, might even have taken it to heart and rejected his deep love for monstrosity. I was no ordinary kid, and never would be. At that point I stopped caring about my dad’s opinion of my interests. It was my first step toward full autonomy of thought and feeling. There was no way in hell I was going to stop loving these things. If anything, I doubled down on my passion for the dark and weird. My main takeaway from that experience was not to be so open about it in front of him, which I had plenty of practice with because of hiding my sexuality. But there was no going back. If I recognized before then that I had trouble relating to my dad’s point-of-view, I now understood that we resided on entirely different plains of existence.

Am I a pervert? Am I sick and twisted? Am I . . . a monster? At one time these labels would’ve offended me, but now I realize that, like beauty, they are really in the eye of the beholder anyway. If you want to call me a monster, so be it. I don’t consider that an insult anymore. In fact, I will wear it happily, because it doesn’t mean the same thing to me as it does to you. Is that pride speaking? Again, if you want to call that pride, be my guest.

You see, it is because of my fundamental differences from the fearful, pitchfork-wielding mob that I am the person I am today. Every good thing I’ve done, every child whose life I’ve made richer, every abuse survivor I’ve commiserated with, every person I’ve comforted when they were down, every interview I’ve done in support of NOMAPs, was a direct result of the accumulated experiences of my life and my passions, all of it ineradicably woven together into the curious and unique arras that is my self.

Part 3: My History

I was born and raised in rural communities, where I was constantly bombarded with prejudice of all sorts. Being born disabled, and left-handed at that, I never truly fit in with boys my own age, who pursued sports and rough play. I was an introverted kid from the beginning, and my interests as a small child were very different from that of most boys my age: monsters and sci-fi (which have now become a lot more mainstream but were niche interests for kids in the rural South in the early 1970s), rock collecting, drawing, and of course, reading. My favorite subjects were Greek mythology, stars and planets, aliens, dinosaurs, reptiles, insects—basically anything that was weird and cool to me.

Being rejected by the cool kids at school for my one-handedness, I quickly befriended the other class outcasts: the chubby boy, a born storyteller; the Native American kid, who had long hair and lived up the road from me; and our class’s only black kid, whose artistic skills I envied. Thus, from my earliest years I saw through the nonsense of bigotry against out groups. This would extend into junior high and high school, where one of my best friends was gay before that was ever cool. He wound up being the very first person I ever told about my sexuality.

On top of that, as a small child I was quite keyed into my emotional side, including the horrors of life and death. Because of this, I have always had a strong sense of right and wrong, to the point that I was against capital punishment even as a kid. Once, in my seventh grade math class at the school I attended in Michie, Tennessee, someone came in to do a survey of which kids were for and against capital punishment by show of hands (oh, that’s not biased research at all, is it?)  Every other kid but me and Ruby, the girl who sat behind me, raised their hands in favor of the death penalty. Ruby had an uncle who was executed by electric chair, which explained her opposition to it. But I have never had any relatives executed, as far as I know; I was opposed to it on strictly moral grounds.

Ergo, against all odds, I became a flamboyant liberal in the midst of a culture dominated by hardcore conformist conservatives, and I’ve remained so ever since.  Spending my teen years mainly in Michigan helped some too, as I finally met people who shared my politics, which solidified my confidence in my viewpoint.  But the three things that really pushed me towards it was my birth defect, my sensitivity to unfairness, and the development of my sexuality, all of which were of a piece.

I was molested at age seven, but I never felt particularly traumatized by this, and as I was exposed to the violent feelings of the adults around me towards pedophiles and sex offenders, I was more horrified by these gruesome reactions than I ever was by the actual abuse, which was pretty tame in the scheme of things. This was, of course, before I learned what rape was, and other forms of sexual abuse that were much more horrendous than anything I went through. Nevertheless, the die was cast early, and it slowly began to sink in that I too found children more appealing than adults on every level, including erotically. In retrospect, I realize at least part of that appeal rests in the fact that, as a shy, awkward, sensitive adolescent, I found small kids to be safe company: friendly, nonjudgmental, and most importantly, not prone to horrific violence as adults often were, or threatened to be.

The levels of irony to be parsed out from the feedback loop of self-reinforcement that made me who I am have certainly not escaped me. There may be some innate component to pedophilia—I suspect there is—but if ever there was a childhood tailor-made to turn someone into a pedophile, it was mine: a smart, introverted, left-handed kid with a disability and other health issues that kept him away from peers while simultaneously planting in him an almost gut-level dread and mistrust of most of the adults around him, poorly educated blue-collar types who were prone to outbursts of anger and violence (if not personally then through their adoption of an unseen surrogate, a vengeful and angry God who would set you on fire forever if you disobeyed the rules), instilled in him a sense of his own oddness at every turn whilst also glorifying the healthy, beautiful child he never could be, forcing him to find solace and understanding in his own fantasy world whilst also constantly reminding him that fantasies were the province of children, to be well shed of and outgrown by the time one arrived into adolescence (and yet another thing to be ashamed of if he did not), and then throwing into this mix one of the few adults he could immediately identity with, benign, nerdy and unusual like himself, and having that adult introduce him to sex not in some horrific and painful way but in a gentle and intimate manner, and then having those adults near him tell him that this was wrong and dirty and a thing never to be spoken of again, something worthy of the most hideous forms of torture and murder they could imagine.

How, pray tell, did such a boy ever have even half a chance of developing anything like a normal sexuality in the midst of the esoteric circus that was his childhood? In the end, it doesn’t matter. I am who I am through no fault of my own. I am, like everyone else, a product of my genes and my early environment, as well as whatever it was, whether God or Nature, that saw fit to throw me into this world sans one limb.

Part 4: Conclusion

In the end, all of this has forged and strengthened me, made me into someone who, like Tom Petty, wouldn’t back down from his convictions even at the Gates of Hell. Someone with a love for truth, history and culture the likes of which Donald Trump and his half-baked minions could never comprehend. Seriously, ask any Trump supporter to name three famous American paintings from the nineteenth or twentieth century and watch them fall all over themselves in an attempt to avoid or negate your question. Ask them for three American artists period. Or ask them to name just the first six presidents in order. Or any number of facts about America that happened before their lifetime. You’ll discover immediately how patriotic they really are and how much they care about the culture they claim is worth defending against the encroachment of post-modernism. Hell, ask them to define post-modernism. Better yet, hit them where it really hurts: ask them to give you five quotes from their purported hero, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The supposed patriotism and Christianity of 95% of these fools collapses like the house of cards it is under any degree of real scrutiny.

Meanwhile, I can do all of that. Not because I like to show off, but because I care about these things. I care about these things because I care about the way we have progressed, or regressed in some instances, as a society since then; how American democracy has been perverted over time; what the founding fathers actually intended with the Bill of Rights, and so on. The history of art and literature are subjects that interest me, as is the history of censorship of the arts. Why? Because I want to fully understand my rights as an American citizen and a creative person, and the limitations of those rights. I want to make informed decisions based on facts, not on the opinions of blustering, under-educated loudmouths on YouTube, in direct contrast to what I see from the people who vote and opine, out of fear and hate, against their own self-interests.

Moreover, I have worked many times harder than I ever would have to fight stigma and abuse of MAPs and of kids, and to all persecuted minorities besides. I care very deeply about justice, fairness, tolerance, diversity, freedom and human rights for all. I have cried myself to sleep and lay awake all night worrying over children I will never meet, children in foreign lands and right here in America. Little girls being forced to marry men twice their age, and threatened with torture and murder if they refuse. Little boys conscripted into child armies, made to witness and participate in atrocities that have broken grown men. Children being beaten, starved. Kids separated from loving parents and kept in cages because they weren’t born here.

Despite sometimes crippling social anxiety, I’ve been interviewed by radio and TV stations, newspapers, magazines, blogs and podcasts all over the world. I’ve participated in a documentary about my sexuality, even though I would not call myself photogenic by any means. I’ve spoken to dozens of scholars and researchers, given up hours of my time to patiently answer their questions, and I did it happily and honestly. I suffered severe long-term clinical depression for many years, a depression that nearly drove me to suicide, and yet here I sit, typing this post to share with all of humanity. I do these things because they need to be done, and because I happened to bear the peculiar mix of circumstances and traits that have led me to this virtual mount, where I make myself a target daily to get my message out.

I have written a dark fantasy novel, not to mention various short stories that combine my passions. I wouldn’t dare say I’m the best writer around, or even the best amateur, but I am quite certain I have some degree of talent in this endeavor that most people do not. That comes from years of reading fiction, and writing it for myself. I have now achieved a level of proficiency that allows me to comfortably offer my work for the perusal and critique of all and sundry. I hope it is enjoyed and makes an impact, but I’m fine just knowing I have contributed something to the culture, given back for all the pleasure I’ve received from other authors. I also draw and create other sorts of visual art, as illustration and as graphic design. I have all but mastered Photoshop entirely. Again, I’m not saying these things to boast. I readily admit there are far better creative minds than I, and plenty of them. I point this out merely as further evidence of the degree to which my passions and desires, including pedophilia, have driven me to become a better person.

So is that pride? I don’t know, but if it is, I’d say I’ve earned it.

 

The argument that pedophilia is inherently wrong is . . . well, wrong

In my encounters with Twitter trolls I’ve been seeing the argument more and more that pedophilia is somehow inherently wrong, so I decided to make a post to address this argument in-depth because it has become quite clear to me that most of the people making it do not really understand morality. To be sure, it’s not always an easy thing to grasp, and anyone who believes it is clearly hasn’t thought about it very much.

Unfortunately, there are tons of people who haven’t, and it’s not difficult to understand why: many people want their moral decisions to be simple, which is why they gravitate to preconceived moral codes like the Ten Commandments. Having a few short, straightforward, easily remembered rules to live by makes life soooo much simpler, doesn’t it? No need to deliberate, or cause ourselves cognitive dissonance over a moral quandary when we can just refer to the existing rule book handed down by some ultimate authority, right?

Yet ethical problems invariably butt up against each other, which creates more complex ethical problems. Sure, thou shalt not kill, but what if the person we are faced with killing is trying to kill an innocent child right in front of us? Thou shalt not bear false witness, okay, but what if your government is murdering innocent people and you know you can protect them by lying?

Psychologist Abraham Maslow, perhaps best known for conceptualizing the hierarchy of needs, famously defined a cognitive bias called the law of the instrument, or the law of the hammer. Maslow said that if the only tool one has is a hammer, then one tends to treat every problem he encounters as if it were a nail. Which is to say, our capacity to solve problems—including the problem of making sense of reality—is necessarily restricted by our own limitations.

Children certainly have many limitations compared to adults. For example, it’s well known that newborn babies see in black and white, or at least they only see black and white distinctly while the few other colors they might be able to see (there’s some debate about this) will be fuzzy and ill-defined. By design, they must see the world either fully or predominantly in black and white. Their eyes have not yet developed the nuance to discern sharp colors, and certainly not to pick up various shades of the same color. In their next stage of growth, babies can begin to see red and yellow, or red and green, very well, until they finally are able to pick the full color spectrum around three months of age.

But what’s really eye-opening to me (no pun intended) is that this phenomenon is not limited to individual humans. The most primitive human societies only had words for black and white. Not surprisingly, the next most advanced societies had words for black, white, red and yellow or black, white, red and green. And so forth. The recognition of colors in various societies was studied extensively by Brent Berlin and Paul Kay and discussed in their 1969 book Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution. What they found was that there was a definite evolution in color conceptualizations in the languages of the most primitive extant societies to the most advanced.

Now, this may at first seem completely irrelevant to an understanding of morality, but I beg to differ. I propose that it’s no accident that the most basic (and therefore most limited) form of morality is often framed in terms of colors, namely black and white. Indeed, popular entertainment regularly traffics in it, which is why so many people find such entertainment appealing. In a world of uncertainties, it’s comforting to know exactly who to root for and exactly who to boo and hiss in our favorite movies and television programs.

But that’s the thing: no matter how much we’d like it to be, reality is never as simple as those TV shows with clearly defined heroes and villains. Even as the political landscape becomes increasingly polarized (I suspect in part because this simplistic hero & villain mentality has now taken over the news, and the line between entertainment media and informative media have blurred to the point where in some cases they are one and the same), it’s more important than ever that we come to scrutinize these issues with a critical eye.

Which brings us back round to the matter of pedophilia as a psychological phenomenon and its relationship to morality. Of course, it is first important that we establish in the minds of the public exactly what pedophilia is and what it is not. Pedophilia is, of course, a clinical term, not a legal one, and defines a primary or exclusive attraction to prepubescent children. At the basic level, that’s it. One need not molest children or consume child pornography to be a pedophile; I knew I was a pedophile long before I ever fantasized sexually about children, and even when I did, I knew it would be wrong to act on it. To this day I do not look at child porn, and I do not sexually abuse children, nor do I want to.

I’d say to you that you’d be surprised how many people don’t know that pedophilia and child sexual abuse are not interchangeable terms, but if you’ve followed me so far then you probably wouldn’t be surprised by that at all. Even when the people I’m debating are aware that these are not the same thing, I often see them make an argument which tends to go something along these lines: “Yeah, but you’re attracted to children. That’s just wrong and always will be. So you should be _________ [fill in the blank here: ashamed/arrested/hanged/castrated/stuck in a rocket and shot into the sun/etc.]”

Now here’s the part where we critically dissect this nonsense, and it isn’t all that hard to do, honestly. Pedophilia, whether you consider it a mental aberration or a sexuality, cannot be designated as inherently immoral without rendering the entire concept of morality meaningless. To understand why, we need to understand what moral agency is. Wikipedia describes it thusly:

Moral agency is an individual’s ability to make moral judgments based on some notion of right and wrong and to be held accountable for these actions. A moral agent is “a being who is capable of acting with reference to right and wrong.”

What that all boils down to is knowing what right and wrong are and being able to perform some action accordingly. In other words, for morality to have any real meaning, there must be some ability to act on one’s knowledge of right and wrong. Conversely, assigning a ‘morally inferior’ status to an unchosen condition cannot be right, since there was no moral agency involved.

And yet, that is exactly how a hefty percentage of people approach this issue. Such thinking is dangerous in a number of ways. For one thing, in the past this sort of viewpoint has fueled some of the worst atrocities humans have ever committed against each other. This is the sort of belief that led to most historical genocides, most notably the Holocaust, in which Nazis justified their mass murder of the Jews by first preaching that Jews were inherently corrupt and immoral just by being genetically Jewish, a condition they were born into. American slavery was likewise justified on these grounds: that blacks were amoral savage animals by nature and thus enslaving them was no different than domesticating dogs or cows.

Another problem with this line of reasoning is that it reduces or eliminates the incentive among pedophiles to behave, since they are essentially damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If the moral status of pedophiles in society is largely considered the same whether or not they offend against children and a pedophile takes that message to heart, then the only incentive he really has not to engage is to avoid arrest and/or public shaming. Considering how often people commit sex crimes against kids despite both the powerful social taboos against it and the severe legal consequences, that is not going to be effective enough to significantly curb sexual abuse. Now, some have said that this is victim blaming. It isn’t. Nowhere in that entire point did I mention the condition of victims in relation to rates of sex offending. No, the condition which I’m claiming affects the rates of sex offending by pedophiles is societal perceptions of them as a population.

The biggest problem with the notion that pedophilia is intrinsically wrong, however, has already been mentioned: it essentially renders the entire concept of morality irrelevant, for if one innate, unchosen and unchangeable condition can be deemed immoral, then it’s a short leap from there to deeming another one so, and another one, and another one. The Nazis didn’t just murder Jews after all. They also killed gypsies, lesbians and gays, and yes, pedophiles. And unsurprisingly, the most vicious critics of NOMAPs on Twitter and elsewhere have been members of the far right, many of whom also support treating all minorities as subhumans who are worthy of everything from verbal degradation to execution. You see, this sort of thinking never stops with one unpopular minority.  Look at history.

That’s not all. Over the last two years we have seen Trump and his far right base attack and begin to break down the very bedrock principles of all free and democratic cultures: those of fairness, universal freedom, morality and most importantly, truth. Those of us who care about these things cannot allow that to happen. And so, we cannot let intellectual infants define morality by unchosen traits, for that way lies Orwellian madness. The less evolved among us, who can only perceive morality in the simplest black and white terms, might assure you that no, they only think of pedophiles as bad to the core, but you should know from experience that this simply isn’t true. Given leave to proclaim that this group is naturally evil, they will inevitably gravitate to affirming that that one is as well, and then that one, and that one, until no one is left but those who look, talk and behave exactly as they do.

And what is right and wrong must be defined not by unchosen conditions but only by chosen actions, or morality ceases to have any real value, and we step over the threshold from punishing wrongdoers to punishing wrongbe-ers, and those can and will be determined by whatever faction happens to hold power in the moment.

Best article yet on pedophilia

The South African branch of the Huffington Post just published an outstanding article on pedophilia written by Dr. Marlene Wasserman (a.k.a. Dr. Eve), called It’s Not A Popular Subject, But The Latest Research About Paedophilia May Help Us Protect Our Kids, and I have to say, I can’t find a single fault with it.  That may be a first.  Bravo to all involved!

The modern betrayal of intellect: why the moral panic over pedophilia has no roots

In 523 AD, while in prison awaiting trial for alleged treason against the Ostrogoth king Theodoric the Great, the famous Christian philosopher and logician Boethius penned one of the most far-reaching and well-received religio-philosophical tracts of the medieval age, The Consolation of Philosophy, in which he concludes that human contentment can only come from God, and furthermore, that God must be known through the intellect, the highest and best quality a man possesses, standing in stark contrast to his fleeting passions. This Christian tradition of experiencing God through the mind was the core of medieval philosophy, which itself sprang from the classical tradition. Boethius, highly influenced by Plato and especially Socrates, understood that it was the mind, not the fickle and often treacherous heart, that ultimately led one to God, and thus to true happiness. This was accomplished through study and reasoning (theoreos, to use Aristotle’s term).

This is not to say that medieval Christians were never guilty of falling prey to their passions. Certainly the Inquisition was motivated to a large extent by fear, but I would suggest that the bigger portion of it arose out of politics, namely the need for the Church to augment and reinforce its power and prestige.

Likewise, to a large degree today’s power-hungry—including not only certain politicians but also a particularly vicious stripe of media demagogue—though they did not invent these moral panics, definitely use them to great effect to increase their own popularity and influence in the socio-political sphere. In order to be successful at this, such individuals need to completely break down the appeal of reason, which to some degree restrains them, and tap into pure emotionalism. Thus, you have people like Alex Jones who wantonly, indeed ecstatically, not only eschews logic but outright attacks it. On his internet-based show InfoWars, he has more than once gone into fits of raving lunacy and glossolalia, spitting and raging at the camera. Jones, who claims to be Christian, has violated the entire historical arc of Christian thought by equating his base animal appetites with masculinity and virtue. Of course, by his own admission this is all an act. Or is it?

In any case, it’s no mystery why Jones would spend an entire episode of his show attacking my Salon pieces (in which he doesn’t criticize my ideas so much as attack my name, my face and my imaginary crimes): my first article was essentially a call for society to look at one of the far right’s favorite target groups, pedophiles, more reasonably than they are prone to. Pedophiles are in many ways the star target for fascists. Pedophilia is an easy issue to inflame people’s passions over, especially when those people have been systematically misinformed for decades and the taboo against pedophiles is so powerful that few without a direct stake in the matter are willing to stand up in their defense. It’s also an easy way to make a slippery slope appeal, thus seeming to vindicate their increasingly unpopular views on other minorities: look, if we give rights to gays, then next pedophiles are going to be able to rape your kids and you won’t be able to do a thing about it!

These sorts of arguments have little or no foundation in reason, and that’s why they appeal so much to the might-makes-right crowd. You don’t need to make a long and thought-out intellectual argument if you can bypass the brain and go straight to the heart. Fascism has always been an intellectually lazy form of authority, but in the past it has at least demonstrated respect for and attempted to wear the sheen of reason, to slyly base its moral pronouncements, no matter how skewed they might be, in the science and philosophy of the day (e.g. social Darwinism).

At this point, however, the political right has essentially renounced that long tradition altogether in favor of openly and enthusiastically embracing a new Dark Age, where reason has been entirely divorced not only from spirituality but from rightist politics. The right-wing internet is a veritable breeding ground for deliberate misinformation and thought-terminating clichés. (Yes, this exists on the left as well, but not nearly to the same extent.) The new gray and black propaganda delivered in the form of graphic memes—the internet version of the sound bite, only with even less context and fact-checking—is sometimes even in direct conflict with itself, but that is largely irrelevant in a medium where there is no need or plan for long-term cohesion of thought. Most Americans seem incapable of taking the big picture view of reality these days, a fact which people like Jones and the Russian Trump-trolls readily exploit, feeding right-wing web surfers, many of whom are simply unwilling to properly check facts, or don’t have the time to, a constant stream of new memes.

If this were somehow helpful to the overall situation then it might perhaps be forgiven to some extent, but the thing about reason is, it’s usually on the right track. Faulty reason exists, certainly, but a person who is truly devoted to understanding and solving a problem will almost inevitably arrive at a reasonable position sooner or later. The problem is, once an issue becomes a politicized one in an environment where political rivals have devolved into mortal enemies, then those who take an oppositional stance are no longer devoted to solving the problem. While they may claim they want to do so, in reality they are only intent on creating political scapegoats, which is why we have a culture where something as absurd and spurious as the Pizzagate conspiracy can gain any sort of traction.

In that light we can better understand the recent vote on a child exploitation bill by the House of Representatives, in which the House overwhelmingly supported the bill that hands down a harsh 15 year sentence to teenagers who are caught sexting each other. Child sex laws may have originally been made in good faith and with the actual goal of fixing, or at least curtailing, the sexual exploitation of children, but thanks to the ongoing moral panic we as a society have moved far beyond that point and straight into Bizarro World. There are effective measures and there are ineffective measures, but this spectrum is not a straight line like many may imagine. It’s a circle, and when you push too far in one direction, you’re ultimately going to come back around to the other. This is where we are as a culture, because our methods for dealing with these issues both in the legal domain and the social one have become measurably counterproductive.

Politicians know it too, but they are to some extent now captives of the very moral panic they helped create back in the 80s and 90s, and even Democrats, those bastions of reason and tolerance in most respects, have a hard time justifying to their constituents voting against measures which on the surface may seem to combat the problem but really don’t, so many of them simply pick their battles elsewhere and vote with the majority. I’m certain that’s what happened here, despite the fact that throwing the book at kids who get caught having a little fun with their phone cameras and their own bodies doesn’t punish hardened child porn purveyors but rather the very kids these laws are supposed to protect. It’s a first-class load of Orwellian double-think, but few in Washington are willing to call it that. Instead we’re now facing the substantial growth of a whole new class of thought criminal: the self-exploiting teenager. Congrats! Kids now have even less reason to trust their elders when it comes to sex mores, and like drug use (which is now an epidemic in this country), the very taboo nature of it is only going to give it more appeal to a group already prone to rebellion.

In the social arena things aren’t much better, and may arguably be worse. The constant refrain of anonymous internet trolls to pedophiles of “Kill yourself” and the calls for a pedo genocide (not to mention the legal policy of mandatory reporting) not only do not act as much of a deterrent to sexual abusers, it almost certainly makes the problem worse, for the zeitgeist of heavy hostility simply alienates pedophiles from the mainstream and pushes them further underground, including those who may be facing temptation and could benefit from seeking help before they offend. But again, despite what they may say, curtailing abuse is not the actual goal of most folks who harass and target pedophiles with hate speech. Maintaining a socially acceptable scapegoat on which to vent their rage and frustration is, and even more so now that pedophilia has been tagged to liberalism (nevermind the fact that most of the politicians and cultural leaders who have been caught sexually exploiting minors have actually been conservative).

Now, let us imagine a society where legal execution for child sex offenders was a real possibility. Sexual abuse is still going to happen. Ratcheting up the taboo may deter some, but for others—those who are risk-seekers—it will only provide more temptation, since the stakes are higher. And when they do abuse, what do you think will happen? I guarantee child murder will increase, since a) the incentive to hide the abuse is now much higher, and b) when child sexual abuse and child murder are both capital offenses, an offender has nothing to lose by killing his victim if there’s a chance he might get away with his crime by forever silencing that victim. Executing sex offenders is clearly a wholly irrational response to the problem, not simply because the punishment does not fit the crime but because it severely increases the danger to children themselves.

But, as is increasingly clear, society’s views on pedophiles and sex offenders are not rooted in rationality. Neither in a desire for a proportional reaction to the offenses committed, nor in a genuine aim to help pedophiles better integrate in society and give them the tools and support they need to keep them from offending in the first place. I’ll wager if they were interrogated with a polygraph, the majority of those who scapegoat pedophiles would ultimately reveal that their hatred has little if anything to do with empathy for kids or abuse survivors. It’s no coincidence, I think, that some of my detractors have actually said to me they were happy I was sexually abused as a child (failing to grasp, or more likely not caring, that if I hadn’t been molested I may very well not have developed pedophilia in the first place).

As the left-wing/right-wing divide grows even more . . . well, divided and America continues to be at war with itself, reason, truth and civility have become the most important casualties in that war. Within this new political reality, the non-offending pedophile’s prospects for being understood are poor. Nevertheless, it’s an undertaking of great worthiness, and like Rhode Island founder Roger Williams, though I may be viewed by some as mentally unstable in my own time, I reckon history will eventually vindicate me. So I’ve deemed the risks worthwhile, as I do not judge the current anti-intellectual lapse a permanent state of affairs for a country as resilient and experimental as America. Reason will return here someday, of this I’m certain. When it does, I will be ahead of the game. 🙂

7 reasons why pedophilia is a sexual orientation

This post has been a long time in coming. There is an ongoing debate about the status of pedophilia as a socio-cultural entity. Is it a sexual orientation, a fetish, or a mental illness? Is it like homosexuality or different? These questions are important, because the answers will determine how we as a society treat the issue going forward. While I am not a scientist, a sociologist or a political expert, I am a pedophile so this certainly has a direct impact on me, and I have some unique insight to offer here. Beyond that, I am fairly well-read on matters pertinent to pedophilia, including keeping up with the latest science from experts in the field.

Before I get started, I would like to point out that my friend and fellow virped Ender has already covered this topic pretty well, and I will no doubt be touching on some of the same points he made. I do want to go a bit beyond his article though and get a little more in-depth with the topic. Alright, so the title of this article should make it fairly obvious where I stand on this issue, and now I will spend some time explaining why I have come to this conclusion. I have discerned seven valid reasons why pedophilia should be regarded as a sexual orientation and will outline them all here. So let’s get to it.

(1) Experts mostly agree that pedophilia is a sexual orientation – It’s no accident that the majority of scientific experts who study pedophilia have come to the conclusion that it is a sexual orientation or something very close to it. In a 2011 Canadian parliamentary session, Dr. Vernon Quinsey and Dr. Hubert Van Gijseghem, when consulting lawmakers on the matter, both concluded that pedophilia was, like heterosexuality and homosexuality, something essentially immutable. And shortly after my Salon articles came out, an anonymous expert in criminal psychology made similar comments on Reddit. Among the most prominent of experts on pedophilia—people like Michael Seto, James Cantor and Klaus Beier—have also come out on record as describing pedophilia as a sexual orientation or tantamount to one. All of these experts did not come to this conclusion willy-nilly. I know it’s trendy for people of a certain political stripe to deny science that doesn’t accord with their beliefs, but unfortunately for them, that’s not how reality works. These are legitimate experts, and their opinions have merit.

(2) There are compelling genetic reasons for pedophilia – Setting aside the current lack of definitive genetic evidence for pedophilia (or homosexuality for that matter), there are some pretty solid reasons why a genetic mutation for pedophilia would almost certainly occur in some humans. In all societies up to about the late nineteenth century, children rarely survived into adulthood. If a child was orphaned, its chances of survival decreased even more. Thus, it would have been quite beneficial to those children for an unrelated adult to take them in. Given the costs of raising and caring for a child in societies where resources were scarce, it would’ve been unlikely for that to occur. Barring a desire to do good at their own expense, there are only three basic reasons why an adult would take on the costs of caring for a dependent child that was not their own. One, the adult wanted a surrogate for children they couldn’t have (the main reason people adopt children today), two, the adult wanted a cheap source of labor, and three, the adult wanted a youthful sexual partner.

Now, I am not suggesting that this justifies sex with children. But let’s be honest: genes are not compelled to behave according to human morality. Indeed, nature is, if anything, inherently amoral. Morality is a human invention, which helps explain why it varies from culture to culture and mutates over time. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that nature might have its own reasons for the development of pedophilia. Given what we know about the low chances of children making it to full adulthood in the past, it makes sense that a small percentage of pedophiles would appear in any society of a significant size. It also explains why sexual abuse was not much of a moral issue in past societies. In fact, their genes often had a better chance of being propagated if humans—girls especially—began to procreate early, because even if they survived into adulthood they tended to live much shorter lives on average than adults do today.

There is also another factor of relevance here: neoteny. This is the retention of juvenile traits in a species for a certain period of time. Humans maintain neotenic traits far longer than most other species. In fact, humans maintain some neotenic traits indefinitely (examples include smaller females compared to males and flattened facial features in both sexes), and these traits are often considered to enhance sexual desirability. There are a variety of reasons for this, but ultimately, with respect to pedophilia, it is really no wonder that sexual attraction to children would develop among some human adults. It’s likely a rather small mutation in a species prone to pedomorphism.

(3) Pedophilia has an emotional component – It is commonly understood that teleiophiles, straight or gay, frequently fall in love with their desired partner, but the same thing occurs with pedophiles as well. There is a grave misunderstanding amongst non-pedophiles that pedophilia is only about sex, but this is not true. Yes, there are pedophiles who don’t give a fig about children beyond their sexual attractiveness, just as there are adults who simply are out to get laid and have no emotional investment in their partners. But not all pedophiles are like this. Having encountered hundreds of pedophiles online over the twelve or so years I’ve been active on the internet, I can say that the vast majority of them have confessed to an emotional attraction as well as a sexual one.

I would even go so far as to say that it is the emotional connection more than anything else that keep virpeds like myself from acting on our desires. It may seem ironic, but it is nevertheless true that the presence of real children in their lives has the most desexualizing effect for many pedophiles. It’s much easier to romanticize and objectify kids when you only see the clean, groomed, snappily dressed, well-behaved, pleasant, quiet kids in advertisements and TV shows, but real kids tend to be messy, cranky, hyper, obstinate and so on. Also, forming a real-life relationship with a child assures that pedophiles are more invested in that child’s welfare and less likely to want to cause him or her harm.

(4) Pedophilia usually begins at the onset of adolescence – As with heterosexuality and homosexuality, pedophilia begins for most pedophiles when they hit puberty and first begin to experience sexual feelings. Some young pedophiles may not immediately notice anything unusual if they are attracted to same-aged peers, but they will begin to notice as they age and their preference does not age with them. In my case, I had the first uncomfortable taste of my sexuality at age twelve when a group of my sixth grade peers and I were talking about the girls in our class that we found attractive. The other boys pointed out how pretty the most developed girl in class was and I clammed up because the girl I happened to like was the least developed girl in class. But my real sexual awakening was about a year later when I saw a seven-year-old neighbor girl at my grandparents’ place and realized my preference was for significantly younger girls than I had first imagined.

(5) Pedophilia is not a choice – Like heterosexuals and homosexuals, pedophiles don’t choose to be attracted to children. It’s a truism with gays and lesbians that, given the stigma they face, no one would willingly choose that sexuality for themselves. Well, increase that stigma a hundred-fold at least for pedophilia. We are basically the least popular people in the world. Even serial killers have their fans, and they torture and murder people. You would have to be the worst sort of masochist to be 12 or 13 years old and say to yourself, “Hmm, I think I’m gonna choose to find 5-year-olds attractive. That will make me soooo cool with all my friends.”

Yeah, it doesn’t work that way. In fact, I spent a long time in denial of my sexuality. As a teen in the nineties I even modeled myself on a popular anti-child abuse activist, Andrew Vachss. To be sure, I was also pretty horrified by what I knew of sexual abuse, so it wasn’t really much of a stretch. In fact, I could’ve easily continued down that road if I had been better at self-denial, but I’ve never been much good at lying to myself for long. But that experience taught me something. It is my hunch that many of the most extreme anti-pedophile activists are really just insecure, self-hating pedophiles who hide their sexual insecurities by projecting them outward. I’m certain that some of them are, because I almost became one of those guys myself.

(6) Pedophilia is very likely immutable – The evidence isn’t quite definitive yet, but as the experts mentioned above have pointed out, pedophilia, as with other sexualities, tends to be fixed for life. So one cannot be cured of pedophilia since it is not a disease. Yes, in practice it is incompatible with laws and social mores, but the average pedophile is no more prone to attacking children than the average peer-attracted male is prone to attacking the adults he prefers. This myth has persisted for a long time, and it’s easy to understand why: the only time people really hear about pedophiles is when they have broken the law. So naturally there is an assumption that every pedophile can and will act out at some point. But this is nonsense. Most pedophiles can control themselves just fine and often do, which means they frequently go undetected for the entirety of their lives.

(7) Logic suggests pedophilia is a sexual orientation – Here’s where we get into the essence of the debate, I think. Bear with me because this segment will be long. When we consider what a sexual orientation is, there are at least two different factors that are at play, and where you come down on pedophilia’s designation likely depends on how you feel about those two factors. One of the factors is science; the other is politics. It’s important to recognize that homosexuals have fought a long, hard political battle to get the recognition, rights and respect they enjoy today. It’s remarkable that they have made such headway. Even so, their fight is not over by a long shot, and the critics of gays and lesbians, particularly on the political right, continue to try their damnedest to roll back everything the LGBT community has accomplished. One of the ways they do this is by linking the current fight by pedophiles for their own rights to the LGBT movement and to blame it for what the naysayers see as a future in which child sexual abuse has been “normalized”, to use their term.

To be sure, this fear is not an entirely invalid one. Given that homosexuals ultimately demanded and received the right to sex without legal interference, it is understandable that people might fear something similar happening in the future with pedophiles. However, there are some important distinctions to be made here. First and foremost, gays fought for the right to love each other. For those pedophiles who seek the lowering or removal of age of consent laws, the fight is entirely one-sided. Children are not organizing and demanding the right to love pedophiles in turn. If they were, this discussion would be a very different one. But that is never going to happen. Why? Because children, when they are even aware of it, by-and-large neither desire nor enjoy sex, and furthermore, they lack the psychological development to understand what such activism would even mean.

Which leads naturally to the other important distinction between the gay and pedophile movements: kids are unable to meaningfully consent to sex or romantic relationships. They cannot sign contracts, or vote, or drive either. These are not cruelties inflicted on kids (as pro-contacters will often argue), nor are these restrictions imposed for moral reasons the way laws against gay sex used to be. These laws and rules are in place to protect a highly vulnerable and naive segment of society from being manipulated by people who generally do not have their best interest at heart.

Thus, from a purely political standpoint, it makes sense that some would oppose the designation of pedophilia as a sexual orientation. But the term ‘sexual orientation’ is not merely a political distinction; it is also a medical/scientific one, and for me at least, science always trumps politics. Science has long been considered immune from politics, as it is a way of discerning reality as it is, not as we want it to be, and the scientific method has been perfected over time to be foolproof. It is only quite recently that well-established scientific truths have come under major attack from political factions, particularly from the right but also in some cases from the left. As the science of sexuality continues to be refined, it is important for all of us, no matter where we stand on these issues morally, that we use the correct terminology and understand the difference between a scientific designation and a political one.

Barring a definition which artificially restricts the concept of sexual orientation to refer only to gender preferences, pedophilia ticks off all the boxes that scientists have traditionally used to determine a long-term, fixed sexual preference. That this was initially limited to the single dimension of gender preference does not mean that that tradition is correct. Sexuality is a complex tapestry to which there are several dimensions, including age preferences (chronophilias), and age preference is not limited to pedophiles; it applies to all sexualities. It’s just that in the past, a preference for adults was assumed. But ask yourself this: does my sexual preference have an age dimension? The answer is, of course it does. Your preference for males and/or females, whichever it may be, does not begin at birth and end at death—your preference is almost certainly limited to a particular age range, say 20 to 40 or thereabouts. It may extend up or down a few years depending on the maturity/youthfulness of individuals, but it is not indefinite. For pedophiles it’s the same, only our preference tends to be fixed in the prepubescent years.

Logically speaking, a sexual orientation is best defined as who or what one is sexually oriented towards, and that preference is a multidimensional spectrum. Suggesting that one is simply gay or straight is not really enough information for a full picture of what one’s preferences are. You could be a gay or straight teleiophile (meaning you prefer adults in their prime), a gay or straight pedophile, or even a gay or straight gerontophile (meaning you prefer older people—yes, those do exist too). Ergo, it makes far more sense to recognize age preference as a dimension of sexual orientation since it is built into it anyway rather than designate it as something else. It may be politically inconvenient, but it is nevertheless scientifically accurate, and science trumps politics. Anyway, the moral issues surrounding sex with children are in no way impacted by recognizing pedophilia for what it is, and that is the most important point to take away from this.

Addressing Some of the Fallacies Used by Opponents of the Designation

Now that we’ve looked at the reasons why pedophilia should be labeled a sexual orientation, let’s examine some of the fallacious arguments used by opponents of the designation.

Pedophilia isn’t a sexual orientation because children are not a gender – This one goes right back to my last point, and it is ultimately a fallacy of irrelevance. (There are a lot of those in this debate.) Again, there is nothing inherent to the concept of sexual orientation which requires that it only apply to gender preferences, and there is a solid logical argument for designating sexual orientation as anyone or anything to which a person is sexually oriented.

Children cannot consent to sex, so pedophilia is not a sexual orientation – Yep, another fallacy of irrelevance. While it is relevant to the moral and legal aspects of adult-child sex, whether preferred partners can consent or not is irrelevant to the concept of  sexual orientation. These are very distinct things. A sexual orientation is, or should be at any rate, a scientific/medical designation based on a number of criteria involving the person who experiences it. External moral, legal and political factors should have no impact on the accuracy of a medical diagnosis.

Pedophilia is not found in nature – Actually, this is quite untrue. In fact, our closest genetic cousins the bonobos have been observed engaging in all sorts of sexual practices, including with juvenile females. Another interesting species that has recently been observed engaging in pedophilic sex is the black widow spider. Adult male spiders have learned to mate with juvenile females in order to avoid being cannibalized. They engage in intercourse with the young spider, planting their seed in the juvenile female, where it will remain until the female reaches maturity, at which point the female will then become impregnated.

But even if it was true, setting aside the fact that humans are still part of nature, this would still be a fallacy of irrelevance, not to mention a naturalistic fallacy. It is wholly irrelevant whether other species practice behaviors that we wish to recognize as part of that designated spectrum of human sexuality.

Pedophilia is a fetish, not a sexual orientation – Um, no. The American Psychological Association defines fetishism as a sexual fixation on a nonliving object or nongenital body part (Wikipedia). Maybe you define children as objects or body parts (at which point I must ask, who is the sick one here?) but children are, in fact, a distinct class of people, just like men and women. And, as with males and females, children have appeared in every society since the beginning of our species, so there is every reason to see them as a dedicated group to which a sexual orientation would naturally develop, and that designation would apply and be understood in every society under the sun. Contrast that with, say, an attraction to people with pink hair. Pink hair is neither naturally occurring nor universal to human societies, and an attraction fixated on pink-haired people could be viewed as fetishistic, since it is a nongenital body part (pink hair) that is the turn-on there.

Pedophilia should not be normalized – This is one of the major criticisms used not only against the recognition of pedophilia as a sexual orientation but for pretty much any sort of discussion or research of the pertinent issues that is even remotely sympathetic to pedophiles, even the non-offending sort. It’s essentially a slippery slope argument based on fears of child sexual abuse somehow gaining the same protected status as gay and lesbian sex. While that fear is understandable on some level, once you take into account all the facts, it should be fairly clear that this is never going to happen. The points laid out in reason seven above for why pedophilia is different from homosexuality are quite sound and should be convincing enough to allay those fears.

The problem is, many people are quite cynical and believe that as soon as honest and open-minded discussion of these issues is allowed, it will fling open a Pandora’s Box and we will quickly slide into a society where anything goes, including the rape of children. But there’s a vast difference between presenting an issue fairly and accurately and condoning horrific behaviors. Recognizing pedophilia as a sexual orientation does not automatically imply allowing or excusing the abuse of children. It simply means viewing it in a way that can be understood and classified in an existing medico-scientific model. The criminal and moral status of adult-child sex still would remain quite separate from that.

Indeed, such a classification would likely contribute to the lessening of abuse in the long run, primarily by destigmatizing the concept of attraction itself and making it more likely for those who fit this sexuality to come forward and seek help if needed, or to seek out communities like VirPed where they will have companionship and support in living a legal and ethical lifestyle. Destigmatizing and accurately classifying pedophilic attraction does NOT mean legalizing sex with kids. I know in this current time of “alternate facts” it is easy to be skeptical about truth and accuracy even in the sciences, but society has never morally devolved from a better understanding of an issue. If anything, it is much easier to manipulate a society’s mores and values when fear, inaccuracy and suppression of honest debate take precedence over a clear and accurate attempt to understand a controversial issue.

I’m in love!

Today I am writing about something I never thought I would write about: I have love in my life at last, and yes, she is over the age of consent. First off, I will say right now that I will not publicly identify her, so don’t ask me to do so. There are a few reasons for this. First, she lives in a country (I won’t name it either, but I will say it’s in Eastern Europe) where the status of females isn’t great. That, combined with the fact of who I am, would likely make life pretty difficult for her there, especially as she is still quite young and is currently enrolled in university. Secondly, I wish to protect her from the harassment and guilt-by-association nonsense she would almost certainly face if publicly linked with me, even if our relationship is still presently confined to online communication. Thirdly, it’s what she wants. She has no desire to be in the public eye right now in any capacity, and I completely respect that.

Now that that’s been established, for the purposes of this post and any future post in which she is mentioned, I will call her Zora. A few weeks ago, Zora approached me in Facebook and, though a bit shy and nervous, informed me that she had seen the Barcroft Media documentary about me and that she had developed feelings for me. I admit I found this difficult to believe at first and thought perhaps she was a troll or someone out to sabotage me. But as I got to know her, her story really captured me and I found myself dropping my guard more and more. And then I began to explore her Facebook page and found pictures of her. As soon as I saw her, my heart was captured by her beauty. I can’t explain how or why it happened, but for whatever reason I fell in love with this girl who was half way around the world and could barely speak English. We communicated through Facebook’s message feature, and this is still our primary means of talking to each other, though we have also Skyped. There is no question that she is real and that she truly loves me, as I do her.

What can I say about Zora? She is the most amazing, most beautiful, most awe-inspiring person I’ve ever met. She’s tough and vulnerable all at once. She is into virtually all of the same things I’m into—genre fiction, art, vintage technology, antiques, elephants. She is a pretty good artist in her own right, and I look forward to seeing how her skills continue to develop. She loves the same authors I do, and the same rock bands. She inspires me every day and gives me a reason to wake up in the morning. For the first time in years I am hopeful about my future. Of course, the fact that she lives far away and doesn’t yet speak fluent English are certainly obstacles for us right now; nevertheless, these things are not insurmountable. I do want her to come to America, and she wants this too, but I also want her to finish her schooling. This will give her the opportunity to not only get an education so that she can be self-reliant when she makes it to our shores, but also it will give her time to make absolutely sure she really wants to be here before she takes that giant leap.

Yes, there is a large age difference, and yes, neither of us have had a real relationship before this. These may seem like things that might divide us, but in reality they are the very things that have drawn us together and that continue to strengthen our relationship. As I sit here and contemplate my reality, I am in awe of the miracle that has occurred in my life. Until this point I never believed that true love was in the cards for me. Now I know that isn’t true. And even if Zora and I never even meet in real life or cement our relationship physically, I will be forever thankful to this incredible girl, as well as to John Balson and Rauridh Connellan who made that documentary, because if not for them, Zora never would’ve learned about me and never would’ve come to my virtual doorstep, and I never would’ve had the chance to fall in love.

I don’t know why life is the way it is. I don’t know why I was born without a right hand, why I was sexually abused or why I developed a sexual attraction to prepubescent girls. I don’t know why I have spent so much of my life suffering and alone. But I do know finally why I came into this world. There are two reasons: one is to be a public advocate for people who are stuck with a sexual attraction to children but want to do no harm. The other is to love this girl, and be loved by her in turn. The strange thing is, these two things are not mutually exclusive, for if a guy like me—a 44-year-old one-armed MAP who has long felt unlovable and that many people have mocked for everything from his name to his appearance—can find love in this world, then anyone can. Never give up hope, my friends. Your soul mate is out there somewhere, and he or she is looking for someone special just like you. I know it. 🙂

Great article about my buddy Gary Gibson

The UK newspaper The Sun has published an article about my friend and fellow VirPed member Gary Gibson and his wife. Gary’s humanity and the love between he and his wife comes through loud and clear. Check it out. It’s called I Don’t Think of Him as a Paedo. Please ignore the sensational headline and the horrendous grammatical issues (seems like copy editors are rare these days), and be sure to watch the accompanying video!