I have been on Twitter for a long time, and I have seen a range of arguments being presented to pedophiles. Chances are, if you are arguing with me, I have addressed what you have said before. Some of your points are logical, some are not, and some are based in a misunderstanding of the topic in general and what my goals are. I am also very familiar with critical thinking, and having seen many, if not most, of these arguments, I cannot say they make much sense to me.
Because a lot of these arguments are based around an unclear idea of what pedophilia is, and most importantly, what it is not, here is a long list of arguments that people make against pedophiles (those with the attraction), pedophilia (the attraction), and why those arguments do not make sense.
1: Pedophilia Is Immoral
This is probably the most common argument, next to “go kill yourself,” and “pedophiles should die,” which of course are not arguments at all, and so they will not even be addressed. Pedophilia, of course, refers to the sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. As a sexual attraction, it is an unchosen characteristic, and as such, is not really subject to morality. Think about it: Do we believe Down’s Syndrome is immoral? ADHD? Homosexuality (the attraction)? Of course not, it would be ridiculous. This is why I sometimes compare pedophilia to autism: Both are not chosen characteristics.
2: You Want To Have Sex With Kids
This is more an accusation than it is an argument, and as I have discussed here (discussing risk), here (discussing my history as a sexual abuse survivor), and here (discussing attractions and child protection), no, I do not want to have sex with kids, no matter how vulgarly you state that. So, this is actually a straw-man argument for anti-contact pedophiles. Being anti-contact means we recognize that being sexual with children is harmful to them, and that sexual abuse/exploitation in all its forms — imagery or otherwise — needs to end.
3: Pedophilia Is Gross/A Mental Illness/A Sickness
Actually, this is a misconception that is perpetrated by the media as well as well-meaning psychology groups: Sexual attraction does not give someone a disorder, and a disorder is defined as something that significantly interferes with someone’s day-to-day life. That interference can happen in a variety of ways: Difficulty with social interaction, with learning, with basic function, etc. A disorder in the mental health world means that someone is having troubles.
It is possible to have a sexual attraction and not have those troubles. It is very possible to have the attraction, and not view yourself negatively for it. It is even more possible to choose not to act on the attraction by harming a child. It is possible to have a sexual attraction and form age-appropriate relationships with adults. My point here is that a mental illness, or disorder, is not the same as attraction. While that may be a nuanced point, we need to be accurate in how we understand this issue.
4: You Need Psychiatric Help
This argument is more nuanced, and partly based off the previous point. However, the fact of the matter is that the sexual attraction to children cannot change. No level of medication, including chemical castration, can change the primary attraction. This begs the question, why does any pedophile need medication? Will it mysteriously help their ability to recognize (as most do) that behaving sexually with a child is wrong?
Psychiatrists are people that prescribe medication, so perhaps what is meant by this argument is that pedophiles need to somehow stop being attracted to children. Given that the attraction itself is not immoral (see point number one), and that there is no way to change the attraction, whatever help that professionals can provide, like the help I received, will usually revolve around accepting and not stigmatizing the sexual attraction to children, finding ways to manage sexuality in healthy, legal ways, if that has not already been done.
As if that is not enough, I should also point out that most pedophiles do not struggle with sexual attraction and not molesting children. That is the easy part, see, because we care too much about children to harm them (mostly). More often, pedophiles struggle with self-hate, depression, anxiety, drug addiction, and a range of seemingly unrelated issues. For more on this point, see here.
5: Pedophilia Is A Behavior
No, it is an attraction. Attraction and behavior are two separate things. No expert on this issue views pedophilia as a behavior rather than an attraction. More on this in a similar section.
6: You Are Defending Pedophilia
I am not quite sure what that means. Do you think you could explain it, without it ending up at point number 2 (erroneously assuming I want to sexually abuse children)? Are religious conservatives who hate on those with homosexuality “defending” heterosexuality? Do you suppose that pedophilia, being an attraction that affects less than 10% of the population, will magically get more prominent if we recognize the facts about this issue? I do not defend child sexual abuse, I seek to prevent it. Yes, I think child rapists need to be caught and adjudicated, but I also think we need to prevent abuse before it gets to that point.
7: You Are Not Actually Attracted To Children
Usually, this takes some form of denial: Implying that the people I am attracted to just somehow… look younger, and therefore I just think I like children. This argument is typically applied to younger MAPs, though I have heard it once myself. So, let me ask you: Do you suppose the two boys to the left are adults? No, of course not. The reality is, yes, I am attracted to children. Both boys are within the age I am attracted to. And no, I do not want to have sex with them, because that would be harmful to them.
A large part of this argument is that young MAPs do not really know that they are attracted to children, they just think they are, so joining MAP communities is not really appropriate for them. I disagree, and so does Ender Wiggin in his recent post on the subject. Sexuality is somewhat fluid when you are a teenager, but that does not mean we should sell the false hope that a 13-year-old attracted to five-year-old children will somehow “grow out of it.” Another vein of thought is that people are attracted to children because [some nice-sounding psychological garbage, ie, afraid of adult intimacy, easier to relate to children, daddy was not in the picture, etc.]. However, no one knows why pedophiles are attracted to children, and being sexually abused is also not a reason.
8: You Are Harming Children
This argument usually implies that by merely having non-sexual, perfectly appropriate contact with children, a pedophile is somehow harming them. In other words, the idea that thinking about children, or having fantasies about them, is somehow inherently harmful to children. Pedophiles do not have psychic powers (no human does). The best information we have from experts is that fantasy is a perfectly healthy outlet for most people, and does not increase the risk of acting on them absent other mental health issues:
Thoughts do not harm children, any more than making eye contact, a pat on the back, a hug, or simple interaction harms children. We should not minimize sexual abuse by inferring that one can abuse a child merely by looking at them.
9: You Will Inevitably Molest A Child
Now, of all the arguments, this one is by far the most ridiculous. Believe it or not, the majority of those who harm children sexually are not attracted to them. In fact, one study showed that one-third of sexual abusers of children have pedophilia while two-thirds do not, a Dutch study (p. 65–66) found that 20% of sexual abusers of children have a paraphilia (not just pedophilia), while Michael Seto’s estimate is that 50–60% of those who sexually offend against children (any offense, whether predatory or not) have pedophilia. While determining precise numbers is difficult due to underreporting, it is clear that a significant number of sexual crimes against children are not perpetrated by someone with a sexual attraction to children.
So, the idea that just because someone is attracted means that they will inevitably rape a child is preposterous. Does your attraction to men or women (or both) mean that you fantasize about raping them? No. Does it mean that adult-attracted people are inevitably going to rape adults? Of course not. The ticking time-bomb idea is not an idea that holds water when put to any kind of scrutiny or critical thought.
10: You Are Normalizing Pedophilia
This has to be one of the worst arguments I have encountered. How do you make a sexual attraction that affects less than 10% of the population… normal? I am still waiting for an answer, so if you think you have one, by all means. Let me know.
Now, if you mean to say my goal is to make sex with children acceptable… I really am not sure how I could make it clearer that this is literally the opposite of what I am trying to do. I hate abuse. I was abused. I have a website dedicated to preventing sexual abuse. So, no, I am not trying to justify anyone having sexual contact with children, and yes, that includes child sexual exploitation material.
11: You Are A Disease, Sucking Kids Into Pedophilia
Another transparently terrible argument, this one suggests that pedophiles can somehow turn children into becoming pedophiles themselves. Given that no credible scientist on the face of this planet believes that sexuality is contagious, I do not think this is even possible. Nevertheless, having pedophilia or minor attraction is not something I or most other pedophiles would wish on anyone. In the communities I am involved in, we actually question new members in asking why they think they are attracted, and mention the possibility of Pedophilia OCD (obsessively worrying that someone is a pedophile, despite no real attraction to children).
12: Fantasies Mean You Are Likely To Abuse Kids
This argument is actually perpetrated by people in the mental health profession, such as Stop Abuse Campaign (at left) and Stop It Now! UK (see also here) who are either unfamiliar with how sexual attraction works, unfamiliar with the facts about who perpetrates child sexual abuse, or rely on tropes like those of Gene Abel (also at left). Usually, it involves implying that a pedophile’s attraction to children is somehow “reinforced” by having fantasies of children, and that fantasies will eventually lead to abusing a child.
So, let us work backwards in debunking this argument. Gene Abel is a persistent blight on science (to put it mildly). He asked a few thousand people some questions, and from that questionnaire — in which he does not verify any answers or control for bias — forms opinions on who perpetrates sexual abuse, why, and what should be done about it. He has an entire treatment method based on this, which some organizations swallow without even looking at what they are swallowing. Not only is his premise flawed, his methods cannot even be called science. Imagine if I did a Twitter poll, and then used the results to write a scientific article. Right. Exactly. I would be laughed at, and rightly so. Now, imagine I used the same poll and article to treat an entire group of people with a specific problem.
Not only that, attraction cannot be reinforced. It is present, whether you have fantasies or not. While attractions are somewhat fluid, there has never been a confirmed case of someone’s attractions changing as the result of therapy. So, the idea that fantasies reinforce attractions is blatantly illogical, and the idea that one’s attractions will inevitably be carried out the more one has fantasies, at best, is a slippery slope fallacy.
In addition, we have two different sources showing that most abusers of children are in fact situational: They are attracted to adults (see here (p. 65–66) and here). In short, fantasy is not the same thing as reality, and to suggest that one’s private thoughts can somehow make someone more or less likely to act on them in real life is preposterous absent other mental health issues. Additionally, repressing sexuality has been shown to increase sexual thoughts, rather than decreasing them.
13: Pedophilia And Molestation Are The Same Thing
This argument is also easier to counter. While some might pull blogs or dictionaries that use non-clinical definitions of pedophilia to imply that behavior and attraction are the same thing, the research says otherwise. In fact, so does Interpol (p. 86, citing the WHO and DSM-5). Pedophilia is the sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children, not the sexual abuse of children Note that even Wikipedia notes the distinction, and the reasons for it, and that the DSM-5 differentiates between pedophilia, the attraction, and pedophilic disorder, the psychiatric disorder.
14. Pedophiles Hide, Therefore They Are Evil
Pedophiles DO hide: This is because of the conflation between being a pedophile and being a child molester. The stigma that comes from that conflation is enough to make anyone hide their sexuality. It happened with the LGBT community until recently, and even now, it still happens in some places. Their hiding is for their own self-protection. There have been instances where pedophiles have been outed, reported to the police, lost careers, jobs, family, and more because of the strong stigma and the fact that the information that they were a pedophile did not stay private.
So, it is no wonder that pedophiles hide their pedophilia, even from people who care about them. We hide behind pseudonyms, not because we have things to hide, but because of the consequences if we do not. Those consequences are well-documented: See here, here, and here.
15. Only Pedophiles Defend Pedophiles
This is in fact not the case. I have several followers that consistently tweet, retweet, and respond to me when I am arguing with trolls on the subject. One such follower is the mother of a sexual abuse survivor.
Another is the survivor of sexual assault. Another is a random person on the East Coast of the United States. We have many who support our cause, many of them abuse survivors, scientists, and abuse preventionists. Not only is this argument fallacious, it is demonstrably false.
There are, of course, a variety of other arguments that are usually blatantly fallacious. “Pedophiles should die,” (generalization), “pedophiles are sick fucks,” (ad hominem), “pedophiles belong on and island somewhere,” (dehumanization/trolling), etc., are all arguments that are just blatant attempts to troll and upset. Most pedophiles, like myself, see through this disturbing attempt at bullying pretty easily, and decide to block you, or show everyone watching just how stupid you look when you bully us (some, like Ender Wiggin, will directly tell you just how stupid you are, though Ender and I disagree on that point).
If you think you can come up with a convincing argument that has not been covered here, find me on Twitter and let us have a chat. My DM’s are always open.