It’s Not Pedophilia; It’s Men: The Stupidity Behind Tumblr’s Porn Ban

Somewhere down the information highway

The first time I met a “pedophile” was on the other end of a webcam. No, I was not a little boy being solicited by a lurking monster, the modern-day menace in the bushes with penis in hand. I was a graduate student in social sciences and invited to help assist this group on non-offending pedophiles. I would help create a workshop for clinicians and even members of law enforcement to better understand the complexities and stigmas such people face. It is shocking how little psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers know about these men (almost all are men) but also about human sexuality.

To my surprise, when the person came on screen, I thought to myself, wow, he actually looks like a normal human being.

And you know what, we was.

Whenever we hate a group, regardless of what that group is, we silence that group.

If the reader gets anything out of this article, I hope it is this: Whenever we hate a group, regardless of who that group is, we silence them. This creates what historian Arthur Miller calls the “chain of destruction” (See The House I Live In). It’s important — or I will get hanged from a tree — to distinguish that the term “pedophilia” is very much misused by law enforcement, the FBI, and almost all news media because they have a different agenda. Who cares about these “perverts,” so why care about their rights? However, their rights are your rights. We have to know the population we are discussing, or we end up with a false truth, and, at its worst, fake news.

However, their rights are your rights. We have to know the population we are discussing, or we end up with a false truth, and, at its worst, fake news.

The “Popular-Rage Induced” Definition

In social media, media, and in law enforcement, “pedophilia” means one that has committed a sex offense against a child. They are pieces of trash that deserve no protection. They should be tortured. That is probably what you believe, but that is not only a conflation, it is a lie. Why should we care? I care and I think you should because I don’t want to harm innocent people, people that if they chose to be attracted to kids, they would want to be the most hated people on the planet. I think the news media and law enforcement understand they are misusing the term; they just don’t care. They feel the concern for children triumphs over concern for “creeps, freaks, and perverts.” That is a big mistake.

“The way I see it, you are either for the victim or for the offender.”

As one police officer told me, “The way I see it, you are either for the victim or for the offender.” This is the overly simplistic black and white world that so many in law enforcement function, in part, because they have to shield themselves from so much ugliness. There are bad guys and good guys. Some of this plays out in Comey’s article on truth. Many experts in morality and ethics can easily challenge Comey’s concept of truth as being childish and too simplistic. Keep in mind he was the director of one of the most powerful law enforcement agencies in the U.S.

“When good conquers evil then good becomes evil.”

In the end, such logic fails to see the world the way it really is, complicated. There can be bad cops and good criminals. As one philosopher noted, “When good conquers evil then good becomes evil.” We can just as easily blame Comey for tampering and ruining the election: Clinton’s chances to win diminished after Comey came forward. Was he a good guy or bad guy? I will let history be the judge, but based on a person’s moral justifying, he is probably good or bad to that person. My point is that such was probably not Comey’s intention; he is a complex human being, just like the rest of us and just like those creeps we like to hate.

The Definition According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

Pedophilia has two parts, and even this is way too simplistic and ridiculous. A pedophile (or pedophilia) is a person that has sexual attraction to kids under the age of twelve that show little or no sexual development (secondary sex characteristics). This gets muddy because girls are showing sex characteristics at 8.9 years of age (that, I argue is not really pedophilia), so much so that many medical doctors are worried. By in large, people are attracted to age groups. You can be a pedophile and work with kids, lead a completely “normal” life, and not offend. Experts estimate that there are between 16–20 million minor-attracted people in the U.S.

She notes that the problem with the experts on sex offending and “pedophilia” is that they never study the whole population; they only study those that offended.

In fact, the same expert on child abuse and sex offending notes, most “minor-attracted” people (we will get to this definition in a moment) never offend against a child or look at child pornography. That is a myth. She notes that the problem with the experts on sex offending and “pedophilia” is that they never study the whole population; they only study those that offended.

They are your friends, neighbors, service members, even police officers. It also can harm their children, and I thought children are the ones we want to protect?

This can paint a false picture of offenders and can harm fathers, sons, brothers, and many men you know in your life. They may have done something wrong (looking at CP) though most don’t, but they are not perpetrators or monsters lurking in the bushes. They are your friends, neighbors, service members, even police officers. It also can harm their children, and I thought children are the ones we want to protect?

Even for those that looked at child pornography (CP), they do not pose the same risk that mixed or contact offenders do and show less attraction to kids than some mixed offenders (though keep in mind that many sex offenders are not sexually oriented to their victims). For more, see Seto’s report to the United States Sentencing Commission where he notes that CP possession-only offenders appear low risk to offend.

Liking kids is not enough.

Then there is pedophilic disorder, and this is where we can see sex offending (or mixed offenders similar to Larry Nassar). People with the disorder can also have Anti-Personality Disorder, severe depression, things like PTSD, and other mental health issues that make them at risk or go off the rails. Liking kids is not enough.

Our minds do not distinguish between being shocked by disgust or shocked by being attracted to something the society says is disgusting. That is something that should get our attention.

It’s not sexual attraction that is the problem, it is a series of other factors, often ones that affect all of us: anxiety, depression, not fitting in, and having people continuously stigmatize and humiliate an individual. In following that argument, it seems we have a chicken or egg argument about what came first, the disorder or the stigmatizing of it. The real problem may we the severe stigma placed on a guy that gets turned on watching Dance Moms. He may get so scared and ashamed that such manifests itself into a “disorder.” He will run from the attraction, but it will keep nudging him. Our minds do not distinguish between being shocked by disgust or shocked by being attracted to something the society says is disgusting. That is something that should get our attention.

… sexual attraction is not the driving reason or “smoking gun” to rape or molestation. It’s about power, control, and several other possible mental health factors. If it were, then women should not wear clothing that “entices” heterosexuality.

Though pedophilia is noted as a factor in abuse of children (DSM), such a factor is problematic because we could say the same for homosexuality or heterosexuality: being attracted to a dude or women can lead to a sex offense. Maybe it can, but sexual attraction is not the driving reason or “smoking gun” to rape or molestation. It’s about power, control, and several other possible mental health factors. If it were, then women should not wear clothing that “entices” heterosexuality. I think you see where I am going with this.

In his article on “chronophilia” a worldwide expert on sex offending and pedophilia notes that attraction to age groups is “and orientation of age.” It is not a sickness. You all like what you like, and if you like danger, you have to be a bit more careful. We should help guide these individuals not attempt to kill them off through social or actual genocide or through constant shaming or in naming our police unit a “Pedophile” unit. In reality, that is a violation of federal law because pedophilia falls under the auspices of a mental illness or an orientation. Research is leaning toward the latter (it’s no mental illness, but it can possibly create such through public shaming). I think I can take it to court, but the courts are more political than scientific. Judges need votes after all. They are political animals.

Looking at images of children engaged in sex acts with others or themselves is a crime, but what makes us think that only pedophiles look at such images?

In sum, liking a 9-year old in a bathing suit is not a danger. Attacking one is. Looking at images of children engaged in sex acts with others or themselves is a crime, but what makes us think that only pedophiles look at such images? In my work with child pornography offenders, few were attracted to kids. They were after thrill, and many suffered from PTSD and a host of other disorders and challenges, something never brought up in mainstream media or by police. If you were a Marine walking through liquefied body parts, a naked kid may not seem like a big deal, but it may provide the same intensity that war did. More surprising is that other studies revealed that the majority of “pedophiles,” about 70 percent are not attracted to girls but boys. Only about 12 percent were exclusively attracted to girls and roughly 14 or so were attracted to both. If this is true, then why were (are) so many girls abused and why do preteen CP or erotic websites of preteen girls outnumber boys’ sites ten to one, as noted by sex abuse researchers in the UK? For one, as I noted, girls develop earlier. And …

Should we ban girlhood or boyhood from these platforms because doing a split, eating ice cream, or showing one’s bare feet is seen as pornography? Maybe they are just kids being kids? Maybe we are adults being adults? Where does the nonsense end?

Because “normal men” are doing the abusing and the looking, something our culture does not want to address, so we pick the soft target instead, the most maligned group on the planet. Such avoidance or misunderstanding will do nothing to address what sex really is and will do less to protect children. The Tumblr issue will open this can of worms because platforms like Pinterest and YouTube are loaded with young girls (and boys) images and videos, and while not pornography, they can be suggestive, or one can imagine them as such. Should we ban girlhood or boyhood from these platforms because doing a split, eating ice cream, or showing one’s bare feet is seen as pornography? Maybe they are just kids being kids? Maybe we are adults being adults? Where does the nonsense end?

We have to distinguish between those we are pissed off at and who is a danger to society …

We have to distinguish between those we are pissed off at and who is a danger to society, a statement I often heard from those in corrections. That means having good, sincere, and truthful discussions about sex. No, not just “positive sex” because positive sex may be a coping mechanism, an avoidance strategy, that pulls us away from how we really feel about sexual arousal. Healthy sex is necessary and important, but such does not define us or limit us. That is why when we created taboo almost everyone wanted it (see Adam and Eve for reference).

In the virtual age, especially, such an idea is outdated and even potentially dangerous. We are curious by nature, and the way we act about sex is the same way we act about violence or some major event: we want to see it. That is not criminal; it is human.

Sex is not just about “man and wife” or dude and dude in the bedroom. Most of us want positive relationships and seek intimacy. I know I do, and men and boys want this as much as women and girls want it; however, we are fooling ourselves if we think that we can suppress our darker desires and attractions over the many years we are in a relationship or are alone. In the virtual age, especially, such an idea is outdated and even potentially dangerous. We are curious by nature, and the way we act about sex is the same we act about violence or some major event: we want to see it. That is not criminal; it is human. A criminal act is witnessing a crime and not reporting it or creating the crime. I am guessing that most men and women have seen illegal pornography (child or non-consensual) because how would they know? Laws in the country are not written to be understood. They are written to temporarily sooth the manufactured rage we all feel.

Isn’t using minor-attraction just an excuse to normalize offending behavior of children?

Should we build more prisons and have more offender registries, both of which do nothing to deter crime except for the most dangerous among us? Social media platforms may not distinguish between kids being kids and kids being exploited online. From Tumblr’s point of view, all sex has just become illegal.

Nothing above justifies the exploitation and abuse of kids, because loving a child, having romantic feelings for a child, or even a fantasy about a child is not sex offending. A crime has to exist in order for it to be a crime. There are efforts to change this, and we see it in Tumblr’s response to its users, but this is an extremely dangerous position because the policy does not distinguish between a kid in dance competition or them at home twerking and a sexual act, as noted above. Censorship has never worked. In strict Victoria England, they may have been fond of propriety for suppression of the tantalizing but also had a dark appetite, one of the largest pornography industries in history. Should we build more prisons and have more offender registries, both of which do nothing to deter crime except for the most dangerous among us? Social media platforms may not distinguish between kids being kids and kids being exploited online. From Tumblr’s point of view, all sex has just become illegal.

I call people what they want to be called.

More and more people use the term “minor attracted” because like any group of people, there is much diversity. The guy I spoke with turned out to have attraction to young boys but was attracted to adult women. He was married and had kids, never offended. Some are attracted to adolescent kids (12–14; think braces), others are simply fascinated by girlhood or boyhood. Some are interested in “Daddy-Daughter” DOM that really has nothing to do with pedophilia, but where a man and woman (or a gay couple) consensually role-play, one being the “little girl” (a bad girl or an innocent one) and the other playing the submissive or aggressive dad. These are adults playing consenting adult roles. We cannot use the word “pedophile” to someone attracted to a fourteen-year old because that is not what it is. In fact, “girls in braces” is a major category in adult pornography.

I call people what they want to be called. It shows a person respect. You don’t have to like anyone, but I do think civility over hate and anger makes more progress in the long run.

Sexualized Minors are Everywhere, Just Open Your Eyes

“If the sexualization of young girls wasn’t normal, then there would not be so damn much of it. I say, you dress for success.”

Maybe we have to accept that youth is beautiful, and that is what we all are really afraid of. A top psychologist, one that worked with federal law enforcement agencies, told me this, “If the sexualization of young girls wasn’t normal, then there would not be so damn much of it. I say, you dress for success.” He or she did not mean illegal images. We need to protect exploited children. I know. I read the Statement of Charges in several child pornography cases. They are horrible. The psychologist meant that youth is sought after, but we all deny and get enraged when it is brought up. We need to have the conversation without resorting to censorship. It’s okay to be uncomfortable, but it’s not okay to feel unsafe.

Just like there is no gay virus that makes metal-pumping, football-loving dudes into sassy cooks with pink aprons, understanding what it’s like to be attracted to kids will not make us sexual predators. We like what we like. It will just make us more knowledgeable and humane.

I was afraid that if I spoke to this guy that I would become a pedophile. I felt the same way when I was younger and anti-gay. Just like there is no gay virus that makes metal-pumping, football-loving dudes into sassy cooks with pink aprons, understanding what it’s like to be attracted to kids will not make us sexual predators. We like what we like. It will just make us more knowledgeable and humane. It may just make fewer kids get abused. It can help us deal with our own abuse as children in surprising and life-changing ways. I know it has form me.

These are of kids being kids, but others, often those with hidden or suppressed attraction, or of abuse histories, see something sexual: noting that we have to ban anything that shows any skin because pedophiles lurk, that pedophilia will be enticed, all the while, leaving out who is actually looking.

Places like YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, and Pinterest have millions and millions of images and videos of kids, many getting hundreds of thousands and even millions of views.These are of kids being kids, but others, often those with hidden or suppressed attraction, or of abuse histories, see something sexual: noting that we have to ban anything that shows any skin because pedophiles lurk, that pedophilia will be enticed, all the while, leaving out who is actually looking. Just look at the second Sia video again, nearly 1 billion and counting:

It’s high time we start looking at ourselves and asking why we are so outraged by the word “pedophilia” and how it summons us to rage. I have a feeling that it’s not about them. It’s about us. We cannot give justice to sexuality if we only allow sterile and unrealistic definitions of what sex is. Sexual attraction simply is, and no law or censorship will ever move us toward common sense. It may just get law enforcement’s stats up, news media ratings up, and your blood pressure up, but we will not limit child abuse because those in power don’t really care. They only care about the bottom line and getting reelected. We must think about sexuality intelligently whether we feel such is “good” or “bad.”

Here is a podcast of this essay.

Sources Noted

Under Definition

Grady, M.D., Levenson. J.S., et al. (2018, October 11). “I Can’t Talk About That”: Stigma and Fear as Barriers to Preventative Services for Minor-Attracted Persons. Stigma and Health. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/sah0000154

Levenson, J.S., & M.D. Grady (2018). “Preventing Sexual Abuse: Perspectives of Minor-Attracted Persons About Seeking Help.” Sexual Abuse, pp. 1–23. DOI: 10.1177/1079063218797713.

Seto, M.S (2007). Pedophilia and Sexual Offending Against Children. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Here is another source that tells this story pretty well:

https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.nasw-md.org/resource/resmgr/2018calendarpages/naswfall2018final.pdf (See page 11)

Author: dropoutprofessor

A professor of English and Social Sciences that enjoys writing. Hope you enjoy my posts. All published work on this blog is my own. Pictures are used under license from Depositphotos.com or Shutterstock.com, unless otherwise noted.

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