Saturday, September 1, 2012

What Is a Pedophile, Exactly?

I know pedophilia is a very sensitive topic. I think people tend to recoil from the very idea and think of pedophiles as being bad and dangerous to society, but I don't think that's an accurate perspective. I'm not advocating for the acceptability of sex with children. I don't think children are capable of consenting to that. But I think society's view of pedophilia is somewhat blurry and over-emotionally charged due to the misuse of definitions, among other things.

The term "pedophile" is often defined as someone who is sexually attracted to young children, but society often views pedophiles as people who are at risk of molesting children. I think there's a problem here, because the two definitions don't seem to be distinguished from each other, and society lumps all "podophiles" into the second category and labels them as dangerous and bad for society.

I think it's important to distinguish between the idea of attraction and sex. If a person is attracted to a certain group of people, it doesn't mean they're necessarily seeking out sex with those people. I get the impression that there's a certain view in society that underestimates people's self-control. I watch a lot of TV dramas, and there seems to be a general rule that if you're attracted to someone, you're going to inevitably have sex with them if you can, even if you know it's wrong. I don't find that to be true among the people I know in real life. I think people have control over what they do, but I don't think people have the same kind of control over their feelings of attraction, and that's why I think society's view on pedophilia probably causes more harm than good.

I think people tend to feel a lot of shame if they think their attraction to someone is wrong. But I don't think that shame is necessary. You're not responsible for things that you don't have control over, and I don't think people can generally control their attraction. Maybe some people can. But also, I don't think feelings are anything to be ashamed of. We're not held accountable for our feelings, we're held accountable for our actions. Feelings are important, though, according to how they affect our actions and state of mind, and I think feelings that lead to harmful actions and negative states of mind might be better prevented, if possible.

I think it's a misconception that if someone is attracted to children, that feeling will be more likely to cause them to seek out children for sex, and that feeling itself is bad. I don't really know how it works though, because I don't feel attracted to children and no one has ever talked to me about feeling that way. But the way I experience my own feelings of attraction is different from that. If I feel attracted to someone, it makes me want to appreciate them, treat them with respect, and try to impress them. I often feel that way about people who I would never want to pursue a relationship with, such as men who are married.
Those feelings don't make me likely at all to have affairs with people or try to break up marriages. In fact, I care more about their marriages because I care more about every aspect of their lives.

That's just me, but I've heard similar perspectives about attraction, and I don't think it's a bad thing to feel. I know that for some people it can cause conflicted feelings and frustration when they're attracted to someone that they can't be with. Maybe if people could channel their feelings of attraction in more positive ways, we would be better off as a society. I don't think making people feel ashamed of their attraction is a good way to do that. Suppose there are people who feel attracted to children, and their feelings of attraction make them want to protect them from harm and treat them with respect. I think people like that would contribute positively to society, rather than making it more dangerous.