Minor-attracted people already get a bad reputation, but some of it is historically well deserved. I know, not the opening line you would expect, and I imagine there are many within the MAP community that will be Very Unhappy (TM) that I am writing let alone publishing something like this. Well, I believe that in general, the truth always comes out eventually, no matter how hard you try to squash it, and the MAP community is no different. Because this aims to be a brief historical starting point, and history includes a wide variety of topics, this is by its nature long and has a few side-conversations about significant issues.
A Brief Note On Terminology
As always, I use the term ‘pedophile’ to mean someone with an attraction to children and ‘pedophilia’ to mean the attraction to children itself. This attraction can be sexual, romantic, and/or emotional. This is entirely separate from child sexual abuse, child pornography (I prefer the term ‘sexually harmful imagery’), and other sexual crimes against children.
Anti-contact and pro-contact refer to the positions MAPs take on the morality of being sexual with children and what they think society should believe. Anti-contact MAPs take the position that people should not be sexual with children, while pro-contacts believe there may be some circumstances where it would be okay. Contact-neutral refers to people who do not have a strong opinion. You can read more about contact ideology here.
Starting Points The General Public Remembers
This is a throwback to years upon years ago, before the advent of technology and the internet. It used to be there were magazines – yes, magazines you could subscribe to – that had images that today are considered to be child pornography, and rightfully so. So, already, what the general public will remember is that from their perspective, “pedophiles had acceptance then and look what happened.” The thing is, we were not accepted then either. This is because people confused us with people who molest children, and still do.
Two main groups formed during this time PIE (Pedophile Information Exchange) in Europe and NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) and their focus was primarily on making sexual activity between adults and children legal and acceptable. When most people think about pedophiles, this is what they remember – even though these were products of around 1975 through roughly 1995. NAMBLA lost any influence in the mid-1990’s and is effectively defunct, and PIE was defunct by the mid-1980’s and disbanded in 1984.
With the advent of the internet and personal computing becoming affordable and easily accessible, these magazines eventually became websites, which led to what we now call the ‘dark web problem’ or the issue of illicit and illegal images and videos of real children being easily available if one knows where and how to look, and the sad thing is, it is not that hard to find even today. I am, as always, unwilling to go into any detail on the ease of access because that information can easily be misused or worse, construed as encouraging people to access illegal content. That is the part the public remembers about us, and it requires acknowledging those facts for both the public and the MAP community to move forward in seeking actual acceptance.
Sidebar: What Is Actual Acceptance?
You could call it a ‘No True Scotsman’ but it is really the acceptance of someone for who they are, acknowledging that they cannot control or change it. Well, in this case, I am referring to the attraction only as being part of ‘who someone is’ not their behavior, though to some extent, some behavior is reasonable when you accept that attraction to children is not changeable or controllable. I mean behavior like seeking out ethical, non-harmful, law-abiding methods of managing any sexual aspect of this attraction like shotacon, lolicon, and fictional materials in general. I mean behavior like spending time with children in positive group settings that demonstrate we aren’t a risk to children. I mean behavior like talking about our attractions to better understand ourselves and the world around us. Behavior like creating and joining MAP communities that are law-abiding and there for support. These are all normal behaviors that should not be stigmatized.
I would say that actual acceptance is not the acceptance of children being abused, nor the acceptance of using nude/pornographic images of real children, but the acceptance of our attractions and the burdens and struggles that attraction can cause us. We can complain about the stigma and how the stigma arises from the public not understanding us, but we must also be willing to take the time to adequately educate the public and prove to the public that we do care about children enough to protect them in our current endeavors.
A Brief Note On Drama And Its Absence From This History
The more recent history of minor-attracted people is nuanced and full of drama, both from an insider and an outsider perspective. Much of the drama is not centered around illegal behavior, but drama that just looks suspicious. These are incidents that law enforcement was no doubt made aware of due to social media, but it has been years since and anyone involved in these drama incidents have continued to be heard from in various spaces, so it is reasonable to assume that they were never charged/convicted even if they were ever investigated (if they were in the first place).
A great example of this is the Wert situation. In early 2018, we had an individual named Wert in our communities that co-led a MAP server on Discord. This person ‘discovered’ that an account that another MAP followed on Twitter was ‘posting child pornography’ or so they claimed – but it turned out that the account in question only shared images that were dubious in terms of ethics, not images that a judge would rule as child pornography. It is questionable what jurisdictions the content on this Twitter account would have been considered illegal in. Yet Wert went around accusing anyone and everyone of ‘covering up child pornography’ – including the very antis he enlisted to help him in his ‘righteous crusade’ against the evil conspiracy of his own invention. Wert is just one example of such a situation I call ‘drama’ because there is no evidence that he was reporting anything illegal in reality, and lots of evidence that he was having a mental health crisis of some kind. Many tried to help provide him with resources, including myself, to no avail.
So, for those reasons, I will not get into drama incidents because it is irrelevant to the purposes of this article. I give detail on just the one to demonstrate why the drama is less relevant to this article and its purposes.
A Brief Note About Prevention
Prevention, in the world of minor-attracted people, is a controversial word. This is partly because there are organizations that have a primary focus on prevention, meaning that they aim to stop sexual abuse, and treat MAPs poorly because of it. However, prevention in its truest sense encompasses a wider variety of things than just sexual violence when talking about preventing harms. Prevention, more broadly, refers to both primary and tertiary prevention, or the prevention of a harm before it occurs and reduction of harm after it occurs. Examples of primary prevention would be a vaccine, where a tertiary prevention would be washing your hands and wearing a mask. So what harms does prevention seek to… prevent?
In one word, lots. Primary prevention of harm in the MAP world would mean preventing parents, teachers, coworkers, employers, and the general public from having the willingness to harm MAPs simply for being MAPs via a reduction in stigma. It would also mean MAPs having the support they need to not act out in any kind of maladaptive way, not just with child sexual abuse (substance abuse, image-based rabbit holes, suicide attempts, etc). Tertiary prevention in the MAP world would mean assisting MAPs who have been doxxed, outed, and harassed to have support they need to become stable again, assisting those who struggle with image-based rabbit holes cease struggling, and more. In other words, prevention of harms generally is good for both minor-attracted people and the general public – which just so happens to include children, yes, but that isn’t the entire focus when organizations like those that follow use the word prevention.
A History of Recent MAP Organizations
More recently in MAP history working towards the present day:
- B4U-ACT, an organization founded as a non-profit in the United States in 2003 that aims to educate health care providers and the public before they act towards a minor-attracted person(s) so that minor-attracted people can be understood and therefore supported. Since they were founded, they have expanded their activities to include collaborating with and assisting researchers, publishing original research and scholarly reviews, and hosting workshops which bring together MAPs with professionals in various fields, though they started with – and still carry out – the mission to help minor-attracted people find professional support that best fits their needs.
- In 2012-2013, Virtuous Pedophiles joined the space of MAPs working to support other MAPs, fully launching in 2013 as a public internet forum directed at adults who wish to remain law-abiding, the first major support platform to take the position that sexual behavior between children and adults is wrong. Today, Virtuous Pedophiles boasts roughly 6,450 accounts (active and inactive) and has a public-facing website to help explain the concept of a virtuous pedophile to the general public.
- In 2015, Gary Gibson and his wife started a non-profit organization called Association for Sexual Abuse Prevention International, a group aimed similarly to B4U-ACT at educating therapists and helping minor-attracted people connect with mental health professionals who can help support them. ASAP has a list of about 500 therapists who provide services for non-offending pedophiles.
- In November, 2016, MAP Support Chat (now MAP Support Club) was launched on Discord by Ender Wiggin and PedoViking (who sometimes goes by OliverViking), a chat-based support community for minor-attracted people aged 13 and up. Presently, MAP Support Club uses Rocket.Chat software and partners with the child protection organization Prostasia Foundation, who assists with fundraising and safeguarding policy.
Acknowledging MAP’s History And Culture
To anyone who spends the amount of time in MAP communities as I have, it becomes obvious that some of the terms, values, culture, and beyond that are present in current MAP organizations like those I just mentioned. MAP communities have a long history of hiding in the shadows and using very stringent security/privacy practices to remain safe from people who would possibly do them harm.
The biggest cultural aspect of MAP communities is the general ‘paranoia’ in and around them, since we are often targeted with hate, slander, libel, harassment, and even death threats. Because of these risks, MAPs will often hide their real identities so that they can still access support. MAPs have created many guides to protecting anonymity, like this one. This can inadvertently lead to other issues, such as sock puppets, lack of trust and trust-based communities that do not tolerate mistakes or infractions, and other issues.
However, most public-facing MAP organizations present today have one big basis: The fact that long before them came NAMBLA and PIE. You can see these historical trails in the terms used by some elements of the MAP community: Young friend, which can both mean an innocent, platonic relationship between a MAP and a child, and a child who is being sexually abused. Boy lover/girl lover/child lover, all terms that have the connotation of someone who actively ‘loves’ children of one gender or multiple genders, without defining how love is meant. A clean, clear cut between the MAP organizations that face the public today and the kinds of communities that many of us wish did not exist is therefore not entirely possible, no matter how much anti-contact organizations would like there to be such a clean, clear line.
The fact is, some members of our communities are not who they say they are. This ambiguity exists because of our culture of general ‘paranoia’ and the anonymity of the internet. The fact is, some of our members are who they say they are, but hide their beliefs. The fact is, some of our members are who they say they are, do not hide their beliefs, but then their beliefs change over time. The fact is, a MAP community, like any community, is complex and can be both capable of good and bad things – not even necessarily bad things that are sexual in nature. Things like bullying, or failing to properly support someone, or even two close friends having a falling out but who otherwise would not have met without the existence of that community.
With that said, I believe there is a dire need for more MAP communities that are anti-contact in nature. As it is, many anti-contact MAP communities are plagued by pro-contact leaning individuals who seek to undermine anti-contact values, and this ideological warfare, while inevitable, should not continue within anti-contact communities. If I have learned anything from chats that seek to incorporate many ideologies, it is that the ideological contact issue simply causes too much tension for many within mixed-contact communities to be a viable structure for any large community.
An Aside About Fictional Materials
As you may have heard, recently the German law enforcement authorities busted up several communities where sexually harmful imagery was being hosted. What is striking about this bust is that of the 400,000 accounts associated with these communities (singular? plural? it’s unclear), they arrested only four people. As a minor-attracted person, I ask myself why this was a good use of human resources. It took money, time, and people to investigate and execute this bust. For a whopping total of 4 people arrested, I am very certain that more than just those 4 people were risks to children. So working with that assumption, I have a hard question to ask about fictional materials. Hard to hear, and hard to put this out there as a question.
Why is there so much more sexually harmful imagery than fictional material out there to find? Why is it, even if one such as myself is only looking for fictional materials – lolicon, shotacon, CGI art, ships, etc – it is still easy to find places where sexually harmful material is shared? With such large sites that host illegal material, why is fictional material that harms no children illegal in several notable countries like Canada, Australia, the UK, and France? Surely our resources could be better spent investigating the relative gains to be had by improving the accessibility and availability of fictional materials depicting children so that people who do lack a creative imagination can ethically benefit from those who do have such an imagination. And if these fictional materials were more plentiful and easier to access, would there be fewer communities that host sexually harmful imagery?
Looking Towards The Future
Sorry, I do not have a crystal ball. I cannot tell you what the future of minor-attracted people will look like. I can tell you what I hope for. I hope for a world where minor-attracted people can go to their school counselor, tell them they are a pedophile, and get appropriate resources and referrals to peer support. I hope for a world where a teenager can tell their parent they are minor-attracted, and that parent knows how to be supportive to that teenager. I hope for a world when we all know a minor-attracted coworker and we treat them with the same dignity and respect we treat anyone else with – not because the law requires it, but because it is the right thing to do.
But most of all, I hope for a world where minor-attracted people can come together until we have that reality. That requires us to put aside our differences over non-essential issues, and get to work on showing the world that we are worthy to be treated as human beings that do not inherently want to harm children. I hope for a world where people who are not minor-attracted can help support us in that endeavor.