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#1 Michio

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 07:05 PM

I was chatting with Paulus concerning lolicon, and that quickly turned into a discussion about pedophilia.

A big problem with a discussion about this is a confusion of definitions, so the first thing to do is establish the vocabulary. What is pedophilia?

www.b4uact.org is an advocacy group to help pedophiles, and it has its own definition.

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What do you mean by minor-attracted people?

We use this term to refer to adults who experience feelings of preferential sexual attraction to children or adolescents under the age of consent, as well as adolescents who have such feelings for younger children. It is important to realize that these sexual feelings are usually accompanied by feelings of emotional attraction, similar to the romantic feelings most adults have for other adults.

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Are you talking about pedophiles?

Yes, but not only pedophiles. The American Psychiatric Association defines a pedophile to be a person at least 16 years old who is sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children and has either engaged in sexual activity with a child or feels distressed by the feelings of attraction. The term “minor-attracted person” includes not only pedophiles, but also adults and adolescents preferentially attracted to children but who have not interacted with them sexually and do not feel distressed by their feelings. It also includes adults who are preferentially attracted to adolescents (rather than pre-pubescent children), and who may or may not have engaged in sexual activity with them.

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Aren’t minor-attracted people child molesters?

Non-criminological researchers note that many minor-attracted people live within the law (see our fact sheet). Such people are involved in the work of B4U-ACT, and more are known by people who work with B4U-ACT.

Important points to note.

"Minor-attracted person" could be an adult sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children, an adult romantically attracted to pre-pubescent children, or both. A pedophile is specifically someone at least 16 years of age that is sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children. However, we have to distinguish between adults who have a "preferential" attraction to pre-pubescent children, and those that may have experienced a brief attraction at some point in their life. Presumably, there are many shades of preferentiality.

Of course, all these definitions are arbitrary, but it's helpful to establish the language so we can meaningfully discuss this without talking past each other.

The fact sheet they link to is interesting.

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Evidence suggests that many adults may have some feelings of attraction to minors, but these feelings are subordinate to their feelings for adults (Fedora et al., 1992; Freund, 1981; Freund & Costell, 1970; Hall et al., 1995; Quinsey et al., 1975).

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However, some adults are preferentially attracted to minors. Most of those who have been identified are males. Experts estimate that 0.5% to 7% of all males are preferentially attracted to minors (Abel & Harlow, 2001; Farella, 2002; Feierman, 1990; West, 1998), although there is no solid data to support these figures. If these experts are correct, then between 600,000 and 8 million men in the U.S. are preferentially attracted to children or adolescents.

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No one chooses to be emotionally and sexually attracted to children or adolescents. The cause is unknown; in fact, the development of attraction to adults is not understood. A large number of theories involving hormonal influences, genetics, evolutionary processes, negative socialization, poor parental relationships, and childhood sexual experiences have been proposed, but most have not been tested scientifically, and none are supported by reliable evidence. In particular, there is no evidence to support the common belief that attraction to children or adolescents in adulthood is due to childhood sexual abuse (Freund & Kuban, 1993; Garland & Dougher, 1990; Hall, 1996; Li, 1990a).

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A large number of studies show that a majority of child molesters are not preferentially attracted to prepubescent children or adolescents, and therefore are not pedophiles or ephebophiles (Ames & Houston, 1990; Freund, 1981; Okami & Goldberg, 1992).

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Studies of personality characteristics on average find low levels of aggression among pedophiles. Other than the attraction to minors itself, studies fail to find any abnormal or pathological characteristics. In particular, people attracted to minors have not been found to exhibit narcissism, psychosexual immaturity, low intelligence, aversion to adults, psychopathology, neurosis, or any personality disorder any more than people attracted to adults.

Important points to note:
  • We do not accurately know how many pedophiles with preferential attraction to pre-pubescents exist.
  • You do not choose to be a pedophile, the same way someone doesn't choose to be a homosexual.
  • Human sexuality is extremely complex, we do not know why humans become attracted to pre-pubescents. We do not even completely understand why adults become attracted to adults.
  • Pedophiles, in general, do not have abnormal psychological problems other than being attracted to pre-pubescents.
  • These studies assume we understand what it means to be "sexually attracted" or "in love" with a thing.
  • The American Psychiatric Association assumes that pedophilia is abnormal, but ephebophilia is normal.
  • Many stereotypes placed on pedophiles have not been tested scientifically, have been proven false, or the results are inconclusive.
  • Child molestation is not necessarily correlated with pedophilia. Child molestation is a violent act, not a sexual one. Rape in general is violent, not one born out of sexual passion.
So, there are so many interesting issues here that I find fascinating.

I would also like to discuss lolicon, especially with Paulus since he sort of understands what it's all about. Even though I constantly argue that lolicon does not necessarily have anything to do with this thing we call "children", I assent to the fact that it could. I remember reading about a sex offender that said he started looking at lolicon as an alternative to real children. But do people with a preferential attraction to lolicon eventually develop an attraction to real children? This is a tough one, and I will also assent to the fact that my own anecdotal evidence is useless here.

(Bear with me, you'll see why I'm bringing this up.)

We could discuss pedophilia and lolicon in a number of ways.
  • The nature of pedophilia. What is pedophilia? What does it mean to be attracted to a child? Is the word "child" culturally defined? Is sexual attraction to a child different from sexual attraction to someone in your age group? What's an age group?
  • The social problems/morality of pedophilia. Why are pedophiles vilified so strongly in society? When did this vilification begin? Have social attitudes toward pedophiles changed the way pedophiles act? Have social attitudes created more, or less pedophiles? Why do people make child pornography? Why do people view child pornography? Is having a sexual relationship with a child wrong? Is having a "love" relationship with a child wrong? What does popular media portrayal of pedophiles say about society? What happens when we compare pedophilia cross-culturally?
Now would be a good time to talk about lolicon, and you'll understand why I'm bringing this up in a thread about pedophilia even though I get frustrated when lolicon gets lumped in with child pornography.

A simple definition of lolicon is simply drawn or animated depictions of children in sexual contexts. For me, this definition is not satisfying, because it rests on a huge number of assumptions concerning what a "child" is, the ontology of animation etc. The definition is more political than it is based on a sound philosophical/aesthetic foundation.

From wikipedia concerning the origin of lolicon:

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The use of the term "Lolita complex" in Japan began in the early 1970s with the translation of Russell Trainer's The Lolita Complex. Shinji Wada used the word in his Stumbling upon a cabbage field (キャベツ畑でつまづいて, Kyabetsu-batake de tsumazuite?), an Alice in Wonderland manga parody in 1974.

The "lolicon manga" genre closely related to manga media began with Hideo Azuma's works, such as The machine which came from the sea (海から来た機械, Umi kara kita Kikai?), in the early 1980s. Azuma had been publishing some sexual manga featuring girls in his own self-published magazine Cybele before that time.[23] Azuma's works became popular among schoolboy readers because most of the pornographic manga up until then had featured mature women influenced by gekiga, but Azuma's works are not pornographies in a strict sense though they contain many sexual elements. Following Azuma's success, some pornographic manga magazines, such as Manga Burikko and Lemon People, began featuring prepubescent girls. Throughout the 1980s, notable lolicon mangaka who published in these magazines include Nonki Miyasu, Kamui Fujiwara, Yoshito Asari and Aki Uchida.

More definitions if you're not familiar:
  • Manga are Japanese comic books.
  • Anime are Japanese cartoons.
  • Doujinshi could be magazines, comic books, even video games, etc. that are basically fan works based on existing copyrighted material. Doujinshi are often openly sold in Japan because the anime industry that these copyright infractions are actually making them more money since it becomes free-advertising, despite fans making money off it.
  • Hentai has become a blanket term that refers to pornographic anything in the 2D medium, it could be manga, pornographic anime, video games ... whatever. Hentai is actually a Japanese word that means something like "pervert", and an abbreviate of the word hentai is simply "H". If you pronounce "H" like a Japanese person, you end up with "ecchi". Ecchi outside of Japan usually refers to somewhat softcore 2D pornography, basically anything without intercourse, the characters depicted could be nude, or not. I've actually heard "ecchi" used in much the same way as "hentai" in conversation, meaning pervert.
  • Lolicon can refer to hentai featuring young girls, or it can refer to a person that enjoys that type of material. This is another annoying word because in Japanese, I've heard lolicon refer to a pedophile. From now when I say lolicon, I don't mean pedophile, I mean lolicon, like the actual material featuring young girls. A lot of people use the word "loli" to refer to young girls.

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Sexual manga featuring children or childlike characters are called lolicon manga.[14][19] These are generally legal in Japan, although child pornography was outlawed in 1999.[20] Lolicon manga are usually short stories, published as dōjinshi or in magazines specializing in the genre such as Lemon People, Manga Burikko, and Comic LO. Common focuses of these stories include taboo relationships, such as between a teacher and student or brother and sister, while others feature sexual experimentation between children. Some lolicon manga cross over with other hentai genres, such as crossdressing and futanari.[14] Kodomo no Jikan is an example of a series that, while not pornographic, draws on lolicon themes for its plot.

I don't like the rest of the wikipedia article on lolicon, and I would advise against reading anymore than I quoted, if you have a question, ask me instead. The article isn't netural, and I don't find it very informative either. I didn't even like the paragraph I just quoted, it's misleading.

The current dialogue concerning lolicon is often simply silly. The reason is because there are so many philosophical and aesthetic issues that must be addressed, otherwise we're going to be affixiated on this ridiculous political controversy that goes in 99% of discussions. I don't think I've been in a single helpful or enlightening discussion about this matter, ever, other than briefly in a thread Paulus recently made.

My biggest contention is that lolicon doesn't have anything to do with children at all. That's why I don't like the definition that lolicon is "animated art featuring children or characters with child-like characteristics", because I would argue that lolicon is lolicon, and children are children. The 2 do not necessarily have any relevance to each other.

I sort of bring this up in an old thread Exploring the 2D Complex. Essentially I argue that the 2D world is an entirely different universe. When people are sexually attracted to lolicon, they aren't attracted to child-like depictions, they are attracted to a subcultural archetype created by a discourse between artists and consumers. Anime subculture is characterized heavily by this discourse, and a lot of anime (projecting these archetypes) that was produced after the rise of the internet are products of an intricate and on-going discourse between the creators and consumers and the archetypal outcomes. If anything, lolicon is simply another archetype on the same level as all the other archetypes that have been created.

Unfortunately, it is somewhat difficult to explain this concept to someone who has never been exposed to it due to the insular nature (and the relative newness) of the subculture. It's like trying to discuss pedophilia with someone who doesn't know what a child is, and has never seen one.

Anyway, I am simply attempting to drive a wedge between lolicon and child and showing that this controversy surrounding lolicon is a mere misunderstanding, the biggest misunderstanding probably being a linguistic one, since we are constantly tempted to employ the word "child" in the context of lolicon, when child has nothing to do with it.

My next point following this, is concerning what it means for a pedophile to be attracted to a child. For example I just made the point that a "loli" is a thing with certain characteristics that have been defined through a cultural discourse. Is it possible that a "child" is also a thing with certain characteristics that have been defined through a cultural discourse in exactly the same way? We all think we know what a child is, but is "child" a thing that can be defined outside of a culturally influenced context? Obviously, age groups across cultures have widely differing responsibilities and roles. A child in our culture is going to have different expected roles at certain ages. Is it possible that society has created a "child" and minor-attracted persons have fallen in love or become sexually attracted to this conception? This brings up other interestings thoughts about all of our relationships. Do we ever really interact with actual people? Is it possible to become attracted to a person, the actual person? Or just the many projections of socio-cultural discourse?

But of course, someone will bring up the ethical issue that a child doesn't know what they are doing, and they are more likely to be emotionally damaged by the experience if we look at it from a medical standpoint (an undeveloped brain?). But this point seems somewhat dubious to me. It seems there is definitely a line to draw at a certain age, but that age could be very young (toddlers). Just think of how many people (both men and women) who end up "emotionally damaged" as a result of sexual relationships. When people say that children are more likely to be emotionally damaged, this usually is not based on any scientific analysis, but is a mere assumption. We forget how many adults are emotionally damaged from sex.

Not only that, but ageism is very prevalent in this society. Children simply do not have a lot of rights, not much is expected out them, they're often seen as straight up stupid and too inexperienced to handle anything. It seems obvious that the stereotypes and oppression imposed on children will affect the way we view adult-child relationships. Medical studies on the developing brain are dubious because many medical researchers assume something called a "teenager" actually exists. The results of the study are significantly afflicted with confirmation bias just because it's socially acceptable to openly criticize and vilify younger people for no real reason. Perhaps there a period where the body experiences many changes (during puberty), but I doubt there is much difference between young people and older people. The brain is extremely elastic, and is developing right up until you die of old age. Society's conceptions of the expected roles and capabilities of teenagers and children will certainly have an impact on what we view as socially permissible sexual practices.

It is interesting that the American Psychiatric Association classifies pedophilia as an abnormality, but not ephebophilia. Why? Often people will either bring up the point that children are emotionally harmed from sex with adults (and I just pointed out that may be dubious), or they will point out that children are not sexually ready (pre-pubescent), so having sex with a pre-pubescent child doesn't make any practical sense. They can't get pregnant, or they can't impregnate anyone. But look at all the things that humans are sexually attracted to that do not necessarily have any practical function (think of all the fetishes), or what I just discussed, hentai, which is very popular, although most people will not admit openly that they get off to that regularly. So, would having a preference for hentai (no matter what archetype you like) be an abnormality? Why would being into bondage be helpful to procreation?

That's all I have to say for now, just throwing out loads of ideas there. Most of the discussions I've seen about pedophilia have honestly been extremely stupid, I trust we can act differently.

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#2 Geoff

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 11:38 PM

Michio,

There's enough point in there to keep anyone going for months, but this stood out:

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A large number of studies show that a majority of child molesters are not preferentially attracted to prepubescent children or adolescents, and therefore are not pedophiles.

Most child molestors are not preferentially attracted to children?  The conclusion must be that most child molestors, as is often said about rapists, aren't primarily motivated by sexual desire but by something else...the desire for power or revenge against society, presumably.

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Most of the discussions I've seen about pedophilia have honestly been extremely stupid


I'd agree with that.

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#3 Big Blooming Blighter

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 12:25 AM

What do you mean by 'preferentially attracted'?

Is this a case of them finding other adults primarily attractive, but taking children as sexual partners because, say, the lesser attraction is easier to satisfy, or brings other gains, or somesuch?
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#4 Michio

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 01:33 AM

View PostTheBeast, on 07 April 2010 - 12:25 AM, said:

What do you mean by 'preferentially attracted'?

Is this a case of them finding other adults primarily attractive, but taking children as sexual partners because, say, the lesser attraction is easier to satisfy, or brings other gains, or somesuch?

I guess preferentially attracted would just mean an adult would rather go for kids instead of other adults. Interestingly you say "other gains, or somesuch", which could imply that some people harbor sexual attractions for reasons other than wanting to have sex, if that makes sense.

It's possible that preferential attraction is just another way of saying "fetish". We all have some thing that makes us tick in particular, perhaps for the pedophile, they just have a fetish for kids.

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#5 Parody of Language

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 03:28 AM

One thing that has me wondering is from one of your excerpts: "The American Psychiatric Association defines a pedophile to be a person at least 16 years old who is sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children and has either engaged in sexual activity with a child or feels distressed by the feelings of attraction."  So--is it correct to say that a pedophile isn't just someone who is sexually attracted to children, but one who acts on that attraction, or who finds his or her inability to act on that attraction stressful?

Having sex with children--is it any secret why this would be villified?  I don't see anything particularly wrong with liking cartoon drawings of children doing whatever, as long as it isn't real and doesn't affect real children.  Fetish is a strange thing, and the vast majority of men share the same fetish, so we see other fetishes as abnormal.  No, I don't care what kind of porn you're into.  An it harm none, do as ye will :)
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#6 Michio

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 04:08 AM

View PostParody of Language, on 07 April 2010 - 03:28 AM, said:

One thing that has me wondering is from one of your excerpts: "The American Psychiatric Association defines a pedophile to be a person at least 16 years old who is sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children and has either engaged in sexual activity with a child or feels distressed by the feelings of attraction." So--is it correct to say that a pedophile isn't just someone who is sexually attracted to children, but one who acts on that attraction, or who finds his or her inability to act on that attraction stressful?

Oh, nice catch, I read that differently. At first I thought that said something like "has NOT either engaged in sexual activity with a child or feels distressed by the feelings of attraction."

So yes, you're right. I guess we can just say a pedophile is someone who has had sex with children, or is stressed out by it. I think by "distressed", they mean, they find the feelings strong enough to impede on their life; the feelings are hard to ignore. B4uact noted that there are pedophiles that want to "change", become unattracted to children, but because of the how strongly pedophilia is ostractized, they don't know where to turn to, even psychiatrists and therapists reject them.

Minor-attracted person is a more broad term, that I find more interesting. :)

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I don't see anything particularly wrong with liking cartoon drawings of children doing whatever, as long as it isn't real and doesn't affect real children.

The problem with this is that many argue that masturbating and indulging and producing this stuff is going to inspire pedophilic behavior. A human rights organization cites an instance where a Japanese man obsessed with anime followed an elementary school girl coming home from school and raped and killed her, so the anime must have had something to do with it. Horrible evidence, but there you go. People always bring up isolated incidents like this as evidence.

It is a valid point though, and who knows, it might be true, it's just that people assume this without any real evidence, and it's causing governments all around the planet to make lolicon illegal. Essentially governments are just extending the definition of "child pornography" to include lolicon.

The legality of lolicon is confusing in the U.S. There's been a number of court cases, but as of now, it's legal to possess, but transporting it or trying to import it from abroad is another matter... but that's a discussion for a different thread.

However, I think the focus on lolicon says something about society's views on pedophilia. A lot guys (and girls) are also into shotacon (little boys), but I've found from my own experience that shotacon often takes the form of gender-bending, i.e. girls with penises, or boys trying to look like girls. A lot girls seem to like yaoi (boy-boy relationships) for whatever reason, there's a huge fandom surrounding this.

But again, just stressing that these are all arbitrary archetypes, and I do not see any good reason to correlate these archetypes with other things like pedophilia or whatever. I'm just stressing that a lot of governments are worried specifically about "lolicon" even though shotacon is fairly popular as well. This says something... We all assume that men are always the ones going after little girls, and women don't go after little boys. And that's true as noted here:

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However, some adults are preferentially attracted to minors. Most of those who have been identified are males. Experts estimate that 0.5% to 7% of all males are preferentially attracted to minors (Abel & Harlow, 2001; Farella, 2002; Feierman, 1990; West, 1998), although there is no solid data to support these figures. If these experts are correct, then between 600,000 and 8 million men in the U.S. are preferentially attracted to children or adolescents.

But, is this social expectation that minor-attracted persons are often males the reason why so many minor-attracted persons are males? Or is there something inherent in males that makes them more likely to become minor-attracted persons (it's probably both)?

It's safe to say that when someone says "pedophile", we automatically conjure up this stereotypical 40 year old male... you can fill in the blanks for his characteristics.

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#7 DeadCanDance

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 04:13 AM

This notion of the so called "age of consent" will, perhaps necessarily, have an element of arbitrariness regarding it, though, I wouldn't think it justified to render this notion completely arbitrary, as there are neurophysiological factors and perhaps psychological elements and even emotional maturity that can and are taken into account.

I do not think it unfair to assume that a child would be psychologically and emotionally ill effected in being molested by an adult; should we not, particularly as involves our most vulnerable, (perhaps this could, and often does, apply to those of geriatric age and those with developmental disabilities) err on the side of caution?

The negative/harmful psychological, emotional, even sometimes physical effects of sexual child abuse seem pretty well substantiated, here is a good general resource, with interesting links to various websites regarding the issue: http://www.nlm.nih.g...abuse.html#cat2

The cultural/temporal relativity of the subject is interesting. That is, a society that favors so called parental rights and allows for less participation on the part of the child in the larger societal context as opposed to one in which children take on more "adult" roles earlier may certainly have different views regarding this matter. I think, in an ethical context, this is important to take into account. In this way, it may rightfully be deemed more wrong, more condemnable, for a 15 year old to engage in sexual activity with an adult in the former society, than a 13 year old engaging in such participation in the latter society.

Edited by DeadCanDance, 07 April 2010 - 04:15 AM.

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#8 Michio

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 04:35 AM

DCD,

I just think the age of consent is way too high. A 16 year old girl or boy knows full well what they are getting into as much as your average adult. And there are 40 year olds who could be considered too immature to be having sex.

I do assent to the negative effects of child molestation, but having a love relationship or sexual relationship with a child doesn't necessarily mean they are being exploited or raped. What about when the 2 parties are both in agreement? The popular conception is that adult pedophiles will just deceive children, and so it's nonsense to be talking about a consensual adult-child relationship. My argument is that, at the least, teenagers know full well what they are getting into, despite society assuming they don't know what they're doing. When you start getting down to probably, 12, 11, it gets hazy.

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I think, in an ethical context, this is important to take into account. In this way, it may rightfully be deemed more wrong, more condemnable, for a 15 year old to engage in sexual activity with an adult in the former society, than a 13 year old engaging in such participation in the latter society.

I really don't know much about morality, but I'm often of the opinion that "when in Rome, do as Romans do", but only to some extent. In other words, I acknowledge cultural relativity, but not wholesale. It's narrow-minded to justify your actions by pointing to another culture and saying, "They do it, and they're okay with it, so I'm fine." The reason why this is bad thinking is because you cannot look at cultural elements in isolation. There are reasons why it's okay for 12 year olds to be sexually active in one culture, and there are reasons why it's not okay in another culture. In order to make light of the situation, you have to look at many other factors.

For example, I think a 10 year old in our culture would generally be too immature to understand a sexual or love relationship with an adult. The reason is because of the way 10 year olds are raised and viewed in this society, thus creating what they are, persons that are too immature to understand a sexual or love relationship with an adult. This may be different in another culture where a 10 year old is raised and viewed differently, and thus their social development may be advanced enough for them to develop a healthy sexual or love relationship with an adult.

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#9 Parody of Language

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 04:46 AM

I agree that the "age of consent" is arbitrary, and exists as both a legal convention and a social guideline.  Perhaps a better social guideline is the so-called "perv rule" that a man shouldn't date a women younger than seven years older than half his age (so I'm 27, I shouldn't date a women younger than 27/2 + 7 = 20.5 yrs).  Here, we're setting limits much stricter than the age of consent, and we're not even approaching the area of pedophilia.

But what does the perv rule tell us?  First, it says that a man can date a woman younger than him, and that a woman can date a man older than her, but it doesn't say anything about the other way around.  Okay, so I don't find that much interesting.  But the second thing it says is, I think, more interesting, and that is that the older you are, the wider the allowable age range.  An 18 year old is allowed a 2-year gap. A 30 year old is allowed an 8-year gap.  A 50 year old is allowed a 28 year gap!

For me, I'm not interested in any of these kinds of rules, but I look for a certain level of maturity.  If someone gets involved with me, would it be for the right reasons?  Am I able to unduly influence her?  I think that's the main thing, it needs to be equitable.  For a lot of 19-year olds with me, it wouldn't be equitable, I don't think.

When you talk about children, I think this is even more the case.  A child trusts an adult because he or she doesn't know how to distrust, and doesn't understand the many different levels of harm and suffering.

But to tackle the more philosophical question, whether our concept of a child is really a social construct, and whether it is possible to have a different concept by which adults and children can have romantic and sexual relationships in a healthy and respectful way, perhaps in a different form of society.  I have to admit, I could only argue against such a possibility by rather dishonest rationalization.  But, to be clear, we're talking about a very different social order, and a society with it's own history that has learned many of the ins and outs about how such relationships can go badly.  Even if such a society could exist, which I think it very well could, I would certain not encourage any path that takes us from here to there.  It's the inequity in such a relationship that I would find most disturbing, and the most difficult to overcome.
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#10 Geoff

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 09:11 AM

View PostTheBeast, on 07 April 2010 - 12:25 AM, said:

What do you mean by 'preferentially attracted'?


I took the term from Michio's quotes and presume it means what it says on the can: prefers minors, but is attracted to other people/things also.

Parody of Language said:

Fetish is a strange thing, and the vast majority of men share the same fetish, so we see other fetishes as abnormal.

Oh no they don't...and I won't go into the details.

#11 Geoff

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 09:16 AM

Michio said:


I just think the age of consent is way too high.

In the UK:

Age you can get married/consent: 16
Age you can buy pornography in a newsagent: 18
Age you can enter a casino: 21
Age you can join the army and die for your country: 16

All arbitrary, and not much consistency.   If you are old enough to join the army, you're old enough to enter a casino... If you're old enough to have an 18-month-old child, then you're old enough to buy pornography.

#12 Paulus

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 02:54 PM

That was a big introduction michio! :)

I will write here, broadly, about children, consent, harm, disgust.

The main problem with discussing pedophilia is related to what it is censored for, children. What is a children? Although the World Health Organization says of pedophilia A sexual preference for children, boys or girls or both, usually of prepubertal or early pubertal age.   :blink:, that is, a human not capable of reproduction yet. So, there is no problem with having sexual intercourse with a human in its puberty stage (presumably between 11-13)? Yes there is, because pedophilia means, generally, child sexual abuse. But wait, abuse? Here my doubt, is any sexual behavior towards a child, no matter the form (emotionally and physically harmful or none of these), an abuse? Medline Plus says Sexual abuse is one form of child abuse. It includes a wide range of actions between a child and an adult or older child. Often these involve body contact, but not always. Exposing one's genitals to children or pressuring them for sex is sexual abuse. Using a child for pornography is also sexual abuse.

I find the part aout exposing your genitalia weird, because what if you are a more "liberal" parent? Say, you think to be naked or taking a bath with your kid is no big deal, and you have no respect for this victorian pudor (of not being naked and showing your sinful body), are you sexually abusing your child? Or is it the intention that matters? If the father shows its genitalia to his son because of sexual desire, rather than because he is going to take a shower and does not mind being seen by his son?
Pressuring someone for sex is abusive no matter the age I suppose and the part about pornography, I understand it as being an abuse too, because it may go against the child wishes and it can exploit his/her weak body too (constant sexual intercourse).

Where are we now? I have not advanced at all.

If we see the so-called age of consent, wiki says While the phrase age of consent typically does not appear in legal statutes,[1] when used in relation to sexual activity, the age of consent is the minimum age at which a person is considered to be legally competent of consenting to sexual acts.

Legally, but that can be open to discussion. What makes it legal to say at what age can you have sexual intercourse, what are the bases and arguments for that position? IS it just a rule of thumb?

Yemen for example dictates that when the person is sexually mature (able to reproduce) the consent is relevant.

But is it consent all that matters? If I consent lazily when you propose to me "Can I kill you?", are you then allowed to kill me? No, the consent cannot be merely that, a consent. It has to be more sophisticated, I cannot be in a state in which my mental capabilities are confused, weak and any other mental disturbance; I have to be informed too.

Then, to say that it is legal to have sex when you are x and not when x needs reasons to be so. The most common reason is that persons between an age x are not able to give a competent, informed consent (rather than merely consent). But what are the requirements we make to label something competent and informed and label another to be not competent and not informed? Merely citing the orbits around the sun are not enough, that is, when you finally reached the orbit number x, you became rational, competent and educated is weak (just joking with this orbit thing).

I suppose we say someone is making a competent, informed consent when he/she knows the consequences (potentially bad and potentially good) and the circumstance he/she finds in, knows what is best, assumes complete responsibility of his/her decision, etc. Wiki says An informed consent can be said to have been given based upon a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications, and future consequences of an action. In order to give informed consent, the individual concerned must have adequate reasoning faculties and be in possession of all relevant facts at the time consent is given.

When do we meet this requirements, at what age? Is it based on unjustified assumptions on what a person at an age x can do and cannot do?

It is obvious that a young person, from 1 to, even, 10 hardly will be able to meet the requirements. Although I am not sure we can apply the rule to everyone, are all 10 year olds equal in reasoning abilities, intellect, education? We could say that in general this is the case and that is a more powerful rule of thumb, because we avoid possible wrongs.

What about older persons, 11 to 16, are they not capable of giving competent, informed consent? Maybe they can, but we assume they cannot, can we justify this position?

I want to know what is wrong with having sexual intercourse with a 13 year old, not because I want to have sex with a 13 year old and this law impedes me to do it, but because I want reasons, good reasons.

One, that DCD claimed, is disgust. He asked me, Paulus, might not this disgust with pedophilia be a sign of moral progress, in that, those who are most vulnerable are seen as worthy of protection?

The problem with disgust is, one, that is has a bad reputation, Homosexuality, sexism, racism, antisemitism all have been victims of this tyrant (although not the only reason, probably the major one). Two, disgust might be an evolutionary trait and a kind of social conditioning (custom or tradition). For example, in evolutionary context, disgust was useful for avoiding potentially harmful behavior, like cannibalism, incest (which now with contraception things become interesting :D), etc. Social in the sense of forming the image, in our minds, that a member or a group are undesirable and repulsive (prejudice, we do not know about him or them, we just create a fictional characters), but more clearly, we extrapolate from a small number, say we come to know of some homosexuals to be promiscuous, or see a wild gay parade in tv, and imagine all homosexuals to have this character not to our liking.

That is why disgust must be backed up by argument, to avoid an injustice to others. DCD could say that the disgust reason is that children are vulnerable and we feel disgust that others do not care at this vulnerability, and seek to satisfy their sexual desires irrespective of it.

I agree that a vulnerable person is to be protected, but  what is a vulnerable person, when is the person vulnerable and when does he stop being vulnerable? That is the problem.

Harm is another reason, a children can be harmed by sexual intercourse with an adult and that is a reason for not allowing this. I agree that an adult of 20 trying to have intercourse with a young person of 5 is harmful, because the genitalia of the 5 year old is not ready yet for that. It is an obvious physical harm, that can have consequences for life (a grave lesion for example).
But what about that 20 year old with a 15 year old? The physical harm there is not obvious as much as it is with any other person of any age above 15 having sexual intercourse. Emotional harm? What do mean by this and why do we assume that there will be a harm, rather than a wonderful experience, especially if they love each other?

Pederasty was widely practiced in Ancient Greece and was deemed to be a practice fruitful for both, the teenager and the adult; although it was not exaclty sexual intercourse, more of a platonic love.

#13 DeadCanDance

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 07:43 PM

I disagree that disgust must always be backed up by argument. I remember reading, in one of those casual, haphazard readings, in Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate a quote from I think whose source was the science advisor to George Bush, but I am not sure, it read something to the effect of:

Woe unto the soul that has forgotten how to shudder.

Of course, Pinker didn't take too kindly to what he deemed the "shudder test," and brought to light historical realities in which lots of things now accepted were once shuddered at. So be it, I do not think, wholesale, this discredits such a test.

Some things must be valued axiomatically, otherwise, in the realm of morality, absent of foundations, perhaps God, (Euthyphro Dilemma? The only possible answer to this that I have seen is what has been deemed "divine essentialism" and it goes back to Aquinas) we end up in infinite regresses. I think it safe to assume, 90% of our life is lived not based on argumentation, on some kind of evidentialism.

Perhaps one such value, accepted and valued in contemporary Western culture, though not without hypocrisy and admitted degrees of arbitrariness, is respect for the vulnerable, and a willingness and disposition to protect the vulnerable.

I do not think a blanket assumption of the inability of "children" to "properly" take into account the realities associated with sex unwarranted. It is, per our cultural respect for vulnerability, even if ultimately unjustified, justified- at least, as I see things.
"Mankind can keep alive thanks to his aptitude for keeping his humanity repressed. And now for once, you must try to face the facts, mankind is kept alive by bestial acts." - William S. Burroughs

#14 Paulus

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 04:36 AM

View PostDeadCanDance, on 08 April 2010 - 07:43 PM, said:

I disagree that disgust must always be backed up by argument. I remember reading, in one of those casual, haphazard readings, in Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate a quote from I think whose source was the science advisor to George Bush, but I am not sure, it read something to the effect of:

Woe unto the soul that has forgotten how to shudder.

Of course, Pinker didn't take too kindly to what he deemed the "shudder test," and brought to light historical realities in which lots of things now accepted were once shuddered at. So be it, I do not think, wholesale, this discredits such a test.

Some things must be valued axiomatically, otherwise, in the realm of morality, absent of foundations, perhaps God, (Euthyphro Dilemma? The only possible answer to this that I have seen is what has been deemed "divine essentialism" and it goes back to Aquinas) we end up in infinite regresses. I think it safe to assume, 90% of our life is lived not based on argumentation, on some kind of evidentialism.

Perhaps one such value, accepted and valued in contemporary Western culture, though not without hypocrisy and admitted degrees of arbitrariness, is respect for the vulnerable, and a willingness and disposition to protect the vulnerable.

I do not think a blanket assumption of the inability of "children" to "properly" take into account the realities associated with sex unwarranted. It is, per our cultural respect for vulnerability, even if ultimately unjustified, justified- at least, as I see things.

But I did not said stop shuderring, I said do not take shuddering as the ultimate test or proof for your moral assesment, why? Because of the history of disgust, is utterly bad.

I do think too that I am not always rationalizing everything, but I think that in the moral realm this is necessary because of the damage it can cause. For example disgust to abortion is not prefferable, because it rules out entirely projects like stem cell research, which have immense benefits for people with diseases like Parkinson. The abortion debate is helped by thought, to clarify points which may be based on wrong or inconsistent assumptions.
That is why, in the vulnerable part, I speak on where do we draw the line; childs from 1 to 10, or more, are in physical danger, but a person of 15, 16? It is harder for me to accept that a person would get the same condemnation (legal penalty) for sex with a 15, as the one that engages in sexual intercourse with one of 5.

Edited by Paulus, 09 April 2010 - 01:09 PM.





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