I had a very interesting conversation with someone this afternoon that asked me the very valid question (I will phrase it more politely), “Why does it always end with Hitler for you?” My earlier point was that if we want pedophilia to be removed, we should just gas pedophiles, but that a man in history who tried that is almost universally condemned.
So, here is the long explanation for why that is. Many people (okay, most people) believe that pedophilia by itself is wrong. In other words, simply having a sexual attraction is something that the person with the attraction should hate, try to be rid of, and that the sexual attraction must be removed.
By that logic, we must ask two questions…
Those two questions are very simple, with very simple answers:
Can sexual attraction be changed?
Is sexual attraction a choice?
The obvious answer to these questions is no. There is no science to support the idea that sexual attraction can change (I have covered this, as has someone else in recent memory). In fact, the evidence we have from methods that have tried is that they are very harmful, particularly to children. Some even call the attempt to change a child’s sexuality a form of child sexual abuse. The idea that sexual attractions are chosen parts of our being is very flawed at best. It is safe to say that sexual attraction is not a choice.
So Removing Pedophilia Means…
Yes, exactly. Removing pedophilia from the pedophile means death to the pedophile, that is the only logical conclusion to draw. Unless the person who states that removing pedophilia is not actually meaning that the sexual attraction should change, death is the only logical means by which pedophilia can be removed. Thus, the analogy involving Hitler and gassing people.
Aside From Gassing People, What Other Suggestions Are There?
The next less-drastic measure that people suggest is that pedophiles need to avoid accepting pedophilia. They suggest that people should not normalize pedophilia or accept it. But what does accepting pedophilia or normalizing a sexual attraction look like? What does that mean?
By all rights, pedophiles I have known are not looking for the ability to be sexual with children. They want other pedophiles to know that there are people like them, so that they can reach out for support. On Virtuous Pedophiles, we recently celebrated having 2,500 members, which means we have already been somewhat successful in reaching out to other pedophiles to let them know they are not alone. Pedophiles also want to be treated like the human beings we are, not some monster that is about to rape every child we see. If the 1990’s taught us anything, it is that we can take extremely rare cases of crime and turn it into something that seems more common than it really is.
So, ignoring the idea that pedophiles want to have the right to be sexual with children (because we do not), the argument seems to be that we should reject our sexual feelings and try to ignore them. As in, we should avoid having fantasies involving children. This approach is almost the same as asking people to change their sexual orientation. In fact, many conservative Christians still suggest that Christians with same-sex attractions (homosexuality) should avoid having fantasies of people of the same sex, avoid pornography, and anything that might further having a same-sex attraction (homosexuality).
There is a lot of evidence that these approaches lead to self-hatred and depression and can cause direct harm. While the idea of anyone having a sexual fantasy involving a child is indeed disgusting to most people, if it keeps pedophiles from harming children, I fail to see the innate harm in having the fantasy, provided the person can distinguish fantasy from reality.
Another Suggestion: Professional Help
So, barring these approaches, the next approach people suggest to pedophilia is getting professional help. This suggestion is very ironic to me for several reasons. The first and primary reason it is ironic is that I am a pedophile who sought therapeutic help for having pedophilia, because I stigmatized myself and thought I was going to hurt someone because of having the attractions, and I did not want that to happen. I tried to kill myself, and in the process, I was referred to the University of Minnesota’s Center for Sexual Health, where I have been in therapy for five years now.
My therapist is an expert on pedophilia. I know this, because she helped me through examining what I believe about myself and why, as well as coming to a healthier understanding of my sexuality, the choices in front of me, and has been extremely supportive of methods I use to take care of myself, both in light of having pedophilia, and in having autism. I still go because for me, it helps me take care of my mental health.
That leads me to the second reason that the suggestion to pedophiles to get professional help with pedophilia: The professional help whose expertise lies in pedophilia will usually tell pedophiles that having pedophilia is nothing to be concerned about, and that they need to accept themselves and not be hard on themselves for having pedophilia. Yes, you read that right. The professional advice is for us to accept ourselves, our attractions, and yes, having fantasies of children.
Some pedophiles find the attractions so distressing that they seek out other options, like castration, chemical castration, or sex-drive reducing drugs, but the issue is more often with how pedophiles view themselves and how much they take in from other sources, like the troll on Twitter who calls every pedophile a sicko for having an attraction they never chose.
In short, if you really want to protect children, if that is truly a goal of yours… then put down your hate, stop getting hysterical every time someone mentions pedophilia, and please learn how you can help children by empathizing with someone who has pedophilia and the struggles they go through. Learn what having pedophilia is really like. When someone with pedophilia chooses to share their struggle with someone, they are literally putting their life in that person’s hands, especially if they are doing it in real life. That person has the power to greatly help and also to crush the pedophile who shares what they are going through.
If you are that person, please choose wisely so you do not drive someone towards a suicide attempt or worse.