Twice in the last week I’ve been private messaged about the recent Clovergender hoax by people who believed the meme to be evidence of a societal acceptance of pedophilia and child predators. This hoax, perpetrated by 4-chan, is one I find to be particularly cruel – as it uses as the subject of it’s humor the victim-hood of children, and equates homosexuality with pedophilia. Those who messaged me were surprised to find out that it was indeed a hoax and best I could tell they were glad it wasn’t an actual thing – those who I directly interacted with on public posts? They ignored me pointing out that this was a hoax intended to stir up raw emotion and for many of us – trauma. One of my partners and I ended up having a drunken conversation about this – which led me down a rabbit hole of sorts about societies treatment of pedophiles from the perspective of a victim, about grace for pedophiles.
If you haven’t already, I would suggest you read my account of sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of a child predator.
Since being a victim I have long wondered what made the pedophile tick, I’ve been trying to understand where the compulsion or disorder toward pedophilia comes from – and I don’t believe there is any one answer, but I do know that – among pedophiles there are two major groups (and lots of people who are everywhere in between these two):
Predator Pedophiles – these pedophiles believe, truly, that they are victims of a society that only recently began frowning upon there predilection toward sexual attraction to children. They find reasons and means to justify creating new victims and relationships with children through grooming or reproduction or some other means. These are the people who are members of NAMBLA and they work hard to hide within plain site as trusted members of your community so that they might gain access to your children. They might otherwise be called child predators.
Virtuous Pedophiles – This pedophile is not a predator. He has either offended in the past and has come to terms with his illness (which is what I’m going to call pedophilia for now, until we know more about it) or he recognizes his attraction to children and works to avoid offending. This camp is very small because part of the methodology most commonly used by these sorts is to explain to their friends and families their predilections in order to be held accountable and avoid free access to the children in the family or neighborhood. These men are generally celibate for life avoid child pornography (else they lack virtue and creep steadily into the other category) or seek companionship within fetish communities that will provide access to consenting adults who will role-play the part of children. They use the term Virtuous Pedos (or VP) to describe themselves.
Both camps affirm that they are unable to choose not to feel the attractions they feel.
I’m inclined to believe them. I am certain that no human being would consciously choose to be attracted to children – the choices lie in what one does with that attraction.
Consciousness over Crucifixion
Nearly every day on social media I come across some post in response to a news story suggesting some sort of brutal death for pedophiles. Ideas that are hard for me not to sympathize with considering the amount of confusion and difficulty that being the victim of a pedophile has caused for me. I think our natural reaction is hard to deny; pedophiles hurt children and that’s not OK so they should be murdered. Maybe some should, I try to put myself in the position of making that determination about anyone now – but what if that public and visceral reaction might be counterproductive if what we want is to reduce the number of children who are molested or raped by adults?
Consider this; the virtuous pedophile wants to be held separately from those who actually act upon their attraction to children, but in a society that suggests their murder they are unlikely to ever to confess to another human being that they suffer from this. If the virtuous pedophile tells our society that he’d have an easier time not offending if he were able to safely tell people that he was a pedophile (and our society knew how to distinguish between the pedophile and the predator) – should we not embrace that? Should we not provide the safe opportunity and the accountability that comes along with confession?
I believe that, if we are doing more than simple grandstanding over the well-being of children, we’d focus on recognizing predators in our community and ensuring that pedophiles are not crucified for attractions they never act upon.
A Real Problem
Therein lies the real problem; we are a society stuck on grandstanding – obsessed with it. We pretend to care about the troops by posting memes about their sacrifice, while supporting politicians that continue the tradition of cronyism with the Dept. Of Veterans Affairs (I was a contractor for VA for 10 years so I have some authority in this arena). Certain sects of Christianity pretend to care about abortion while simultaneously opposing comprehensive sex ed, distributing prophylactics, or a social safety net for those who become pregnant during their youth – all things which would considerably decrease the abortion rate. We pretend to care about sick children by posting memes of their maimed and diseased bodies, 1 like = 1 prayer, rather than demanding health coverage for the most vulnerable among our population. We are – in these examples and many more, addicted to the visage of caring rather than the actual work of caring. Paul called that tinkling cymbals and sounding brass.
Our societal approach to pedophilia is no different. Grandstanding demagoguery requires that we display a hatred toward the pedophile, but not a path toward redemption – or a safe way to admit his (or rarely, her) pedophilia. The product of this? Pedophiles hiding with no one who can hold them accountable and provide them with support in fighting their urges. A pedophile you don’t know is a pedophile is far more likely to have access to your children without obstruction than a man who has said to you that he doesn’t feel comfortable around them because of his urges.
One of the chronic memes we see posted about pedophilia is some outrage that the DSM-V lists pedophilia as a sexual disorder. The idea is that, somehow, listing pedophilia as a disorder normalizes and condones it (don’t ask me how those leaps are made between disorder and condoning, I don’t know). The idea being that a liberalized and atheistic society is so removed from reality that it’s now perfectly fine to molest and/or rape children. This, of course, is hogwash – an attempt to understand and diagnose a disorder is far different from condoning a disorder – and if we attempt to identify the sources and commonalities in pedophiles there’s a greater chance of helping them NOT offend. These are attempts at finding solutions and reducing the risks of victim-hood. These solutions based approaches are condemned repeatedly not because of a concern for victims however, it’s because to humanize the pedophile requires work and a realm that is both repulsive to most of us and that is in conflict with our innate need to otherize and condemn.
Caring about the victims, especially the potential victims of pedophiles requires that we care about the potential offender. We must care to ensure that they find themselves in a society that protects their right to be truthful to those who need to protect children from their potentials – by ensuring that it’s safe to wear that label without fear of death. The very last thing we should do as a society is make sure that pedophiles are hidden.
Anything less is just pretending to care.