If a 14-year-old came to you, let’s say they’re a relative or a friend, and they are super nervous and say they need to talk to you and tell you something… how would you respond? What would your thought be? They’re obviously scared. You say sure. They look at you and briefly make eye contact, and start shaking. You tell them there’s nothing to be afraid of, and you’re there for them.
They look you in the eyes and say,
I’m a pedophile. I like little kids. I can’t help it and I won’t hurt anyone but I need help.
What do you do?
This may seem far-fetched, but it isn’t. According to a research study involving 1,189 men:
On average, participants recalled that they first realized their attraction to children ages 14 and younger at age 14.24 years (SD = 5.36). They began to suspect that this attraction was unusual, compared to peers, at age 16.11 (SD = 5.24). They knew their attraction was unusual at age 18.12 (SD = 5.89).Bailey, Michael J., Paula A. Bernhard, and Kevin J. Hsu. “An Internet Study of Men Sexually Attracted to Children: Sexual Attraction Patterns.” Journal of Abnormal Psychology 125, no. 7 (2016): 976–88. https://doi.org/10.1037/abn0000212.
This is a very real conversation that many teenagers have, but the reality is, most people with an attraction to children will never tell a soul. Why? Because of hate, stigma, and the automatic assumption that most people make that attraction to children means they will harm a child or have already. Because they have heard stories of people coming out about their attractions, only to be threatened, harassed, kicked out of their home, or worse. Some have been bullied to suicide.
Allyn Walker’s Comments
In this interview, Allyn Walker claims that pedophilia, defined as the sexual attraction to prepubescent children – not the sexual abuse of them – is morally neutral. Many people took issue with this, and understood Walker to be saying that child sexual abuse is morally neutral. This is not what Allyn Walker said nor what they meant.
To blur the line between sexual abuse and sexual attraction is to minimize child sexual abuse by confusing it with attraction. To blur the line in this manner – which many have done intentionally at this point, including Fox News and Tucker Carlson – is to deliberately put words in Allyn Walker’s mouth and attack them with those made-up words. This is a logical fallacy known as a straw man.
That may seem like a nitpick or a quibble, but it isn’t. It isn’t because to that 14-year-old coming to their friend or family member, shaking and possibly in tears, to tell them of their attraction, they are taking a big risk in the hope that friend or family member can help them or help them find help and support. To then be demonized and assume that they have or will harm a child is disgusting and mean. Would you like to be treated as a rapist? A potential rapist? Of course not.
A Vulnerable Group of People
While it may seem hard to think about, the first step to understanding this issue and the current controversy is to understand that minor attracted people are vulnerable. So vulnerable that many if not most of us choose to use pseudonyms and take extraordinary measures to protect our online privacy simply so that we can congregate in supportive communities. Many are scared of being doxxed or harassed for even participating in these spaces.
Old Dominion University’s Official Responses
So far, Old Dominion University, the educator that employs Allyn Walker, has released three statements. In the second statement, they state that minor-attracted people is, “inappropriate and should not be utilized as a euphemism for behavior that is illegal, morally unacceptable, and profoundly damaging. It is important to call pedophilia what it is.”
What Dr. Brian O. Hemphill gets tragically wrong is that pedophilia is not the sexual abuse of children, it is the sexual attraction to them. Minor attracted people are, of course, defined by having… an attraction to children. Imagine that, right? I agree with Dr. Hemphill, it is important to call pedophilia what it is – a tragic attraction that is not volitional and causes much pain to those who have this attraction, especially when we hear people as smart as him conflate abuse and attraction in this manner.
It is clear to any thinking person that attraction and rape are different. Do we say, “Convicted heterosexual rapes woman” in our headlines? No, that would be disgusting and disingenuous. But we do say “convicted pedophile” because this sparks outrage, and outrage sells.
Death Threats and Harassment
The other piece to the second and third statements released by Old Dominion University is acknowledging that safety must come first, and that people have made threats and harassed people as a result of this controversy. However, none of these statements go very far in condemning this repugnant behavior or condemning the false narrative that Allyn Walker is somehow saying that sex abuse is okay, which sparked the disgusting threats and disruption facing their campus.
Instead, Dr. Hemphill states, “Ideally, we would be able to debate even the most challenging issues without disruption or threats of violence, but that is not the world we live in today. Our campus has recently become the target of threats and other unacceptable disruption.”
What Dr. Hemphill fails to realize is that this disruption and unacceptable threats – which I hope he has had the chutzpah to report to the appropriate authorities where they will be met with legal condemnation – are a direct result of attacking Allyn Walker and Old Dominion University with something Allyn Walker never said or intended to say.
It would seem that their approach is instead to actually fuel the attacks by making the same straw man argument of their own faculty member. That is a disgusting abuse of power and is simply an attempt to use Allyn Walker as a scapegoat for the ordeal.
Here We Are – Talk With Us
This blog is entirely dedicated to telling the stories of pedophiles and our experiences with pedophilia. Not sex abuse, our attractions to children and what this attraction has done in our lives – the disruption, the pain, and the problems, sure, but also the positive aspects.
You may think there are no upsides to being attracted to children. You would be wrong. Because of this attraction, I have met a vast and diverse community of very loving and supportive people who come together when things get tough, and I have the pleasure of watching them do exactly that right now, in this moment where academic free speech is under attack and all seems lost.
I have the pleasure of guiding people who were just as ashamed and disgusted by their attractions as you are come to a place where they can accept themselves and live wholesome lives free from harming anyone. To see people go from that place of shame to a place of peace is outstanding and shows how resilient we are.
Stop demonizing us. Stop harassing us. Stop deliberately misunderstanding us. Come talk to us. You can contact us through any number of means. Interview us. Get to know us. You cannot judge us without first doing that much, and to judge us as a monolith rather than as individuals who are just as concerned with protecting children as you are is to make harmful and dangerous assumptions that serves nobody, least of all the children you wish to protect.