Archive for 2012

Another Good Reason to Support Same-Sex Marriage

by Jason Stotts

In case you needed one more reason to be on the side of freedom and individual rights:

 

CollegeHumor’s Favorite Funny Videos

On Pedophilia

by Jason Stotts

A friend of mine (@oleMMoen) recently posed a question on twitter about pedophila, then an interesting conversation ensued:

@oleMMoen: “What percentage of 13-year-olds are pedophiles?  I would guess at least 20%.  Does anyone know?

@jstotts: “The question is confused, “pedophile” means an adult who is sexually aroused by prepubescents.”

@oleMMoen: “Well, if you define “pedophile” that way, then of course, that’s a no-brainer.”

@jstotts: “That’s its precise definition. Certainly you want to work with the real concept?”

@oleMMoen: “Aren’t both precise? “Pedophile” means “child lover.” Psychiatric manuals add the “adult” clause because they deal with pathologies.”

@michaelcaution: “but concepts aren’t reducible to etymology that’s rationalism. The adult-child distinction is objective b/c it…”

@michaelcaution: “distinguishes btw child-child relations which is a different legal distinction.”

@oleMMoen: “Sure, only adult pedophile practice is legally prohibited. How does that exclude children form being pedophiles?”

@jstotts: “When children love children, it is love simpliciter; pedophilia is more than simply the object of love.”

@michaelcaution: “I believe that gets into what @jstotts is saying regarding child sexual development and arousal in conjunction w/ the legal distinction of what an “adult” means regarding the exercise of rationality”

@oleMMoen: “Yes, I understand that you think so. But why do you want to add the adult clause?”

@oleMMoen: “That’s a rationalism accusation, a curious use of “objective,” and appeal to “the exercise of rationality.” Jesus!”

@michaelcaution: “my guess would be that the adult was implicit already in forming the concept and that you are trying to add child in b/c”

@michaelcaution: “prepubescent children aren’t sexually developed to have sex w/ each other so it would be ridiculous to classify”

@michaelcaution: “something that doesn’t exist in reality”

@oleMMoen: “Yes. But lots of 13-y.o.s do have sexual desires. Should we have a separate concept for 13-y.o.s who like 11-y.o.s?”

This got me thinking about the question of how you define pedophilia.  Is pedophilia always an adult oriented to children?  Can a child be a pedophile? Are people born pedophiles?

Let’s start with the DSM and the APA definition of pedophilia.  The current DSM (IV-TR) defines pedophilia as (link):

The paraphilic focus of Pedophilia involves sexual activity with a prepubescent child (generally age 13 years or younger).

The individual with Pedophilia must be age 16 years or older and at least 5 years older than the child. For individuals in late adolescence with Pedophilia, no precise age difference is specified, and clinical judgment must be used; both the sexual maturity of the child and the age difference must be taken into account.

Some individuals with Pedophilia are sexually attracted only to children (Exclusive Type), whereas others are sometimes attracted to adults (Nonexclusive Type).

The disorder usually begins in adolescence, although some individuals with Pedophilia report that they did not become aroused by children until middle age. The frequency of pedophilic behavior often fluctuates with psychosocial stress. The course is usually chronic, especially in those attracted to males. The recidivism rate for individuals with Pedophilia involving a preference for males is roughly twice that for those who prefer females.

Diagnostic criteria for 302.2 Pedophilia

Over a period of at least six months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger).
[And:] The person has acted on these sexual urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies caused marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.
[And:] The person is at least age 16 years and at least 5 years older than the child or children in Criterion A.

Note: Do not include an individual in late adolescence involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 12- or 13-year-old. (p. 571-2)

This definition has been criticized and a paper addressing the changes in the concept and recommendations for DSM V by the APA can be found here: link.

Before we proceed farther, we need to recall a very important distinction between pedophilia and ephebophilia (my definitions):

Pedophilia: attraction to children who are pre-pubescent (not sexually mature).

Ephebophilia: attraction to children or young adults who are pubescent (sexually maturating) or post-pubescent (sexually mature), but below the legal age of consent.

This distinction is important because pre-pubescent children are not sexually mature or sexually viable.  On the other hand, pubescent and post-pubescent children and young adults are sexually mature and capable of full adult sexual intercourse. Now, whether they’re psychologically mature enough to handle this is a separate question.  It’s important to note, too, that ephebophilia is bounded on the upper end by the legal age of consent, after which the person is a legal “adult” and no longer under the umbrella of any paraphilia based on age (chronophilia).  Thus, the upper bound for ephebophilia is dependent on time period and culture.  If that seems strange to you, remember Juliet Capulet was only 13 and the age of menarche was later in that time period than it is now.

Another question is whether pedophiles are born or whether pedophilia is developed.  Right now, there is little evidence that pedophiles are born.  The APA notes that pedophilia usually begins in adolensce, but sometimes as late as middle age.  No mention is made of pedophilia being an innate condition.  This conforms to literary accounts such as Lolita, where Humbert Humbert doesn’t develop a fixation on young women until his girlfriend died when he was young.  Afterward, he develops a fixation on a young girl who he nicknames Lolita and who looks just like his dead former girlfriend.  He attributes his fixation on her to wanting to continue his childhood romance.  In short, there seems to be widespread agreement that pedophiles are not born pedophiles.

Now, a question can be asked whether it’s conceptually possible for a prepubescent to be a pedophile, even though we know that this is quite uncommon.  I want to say that, no, a prepubescent cannot be a pedophile.  This is because pedophilia involves sexual arousal for prepubescents and prepubescents cannot experience actual sexual arousal as their bodies are not ready for this.  This is not to say that children never engage in play involving the sexual organs, obviously they do.  But this seems radically different as these children are curious about their bodies, about others bodies, and about sensations they receive from their bodies.  Of course, they may find that sexual touching of their own self (masturbation) or of others is pleasurable, and this is perfectly natural, as our sexual organs have some level of functionality since birth and our nerve structures are in place.  So, a child might find some enjoyment in masturbation or being touched by another.  However, this is very different than adult sexual activity which involves sexually mature bodies driven by hormones and having robust sexual responses including orgasms.  A child stimulating himself will feel pleasure and then inexplicably stop feeling pleasure as the orgasmic response is not ready for his body.

Sexual play between prepubescents is simply different in kind than sexual activity between an adult and a child.  Moreover, sexual play between prepubescents is a healthy way for them to learn about their bodies and other bodies and this should not be a source of shame.  Indeed, much more psychological damage is done to a child by preventing them from learning about their sexual bodies and shaming them for their sexual interests than would ever be done by letting them explore their bodies.

Now, a question can be asked, when we talk about pedophilia, are we talking about sexual arousal for prepubescents, sexual activity with prepubescents, or both.  It seems to me that sexual arousal and desire for prepubescents is the primary concept here: no one would normally engage in sexual activity with a child who was not sexually aroused by them.  Consider, in contrast, barbarians in Africa who rape infants and virginal children in order to “cure” their AIDS infections; this is not pedophilia as their object is not to have sex with a child, their object is to cure their AIDS infection.  Thus, simple sexual activity with prepubescents is not pedophilia, but desire and arousal for prepubescents is pedophilia as well as desire, arousal, and action.  Of course, having desire and arousal for prepubescents that you never act on has a very different moral status than having arousal and then acting on it.  The first we might think is sad, but it is not immoral. The latter is clearly immoral.

This, of course, raises the question: is pedophiliai immoral?  Certainly our first inclination is to say it is.  However, our feelings or intuitions are not moral criteria.  If we are to call pedophilia immoral, we need to point to some harm done to the child.  Luckily, this is not particularly hard as it’s incontrovertible that peodphilia causes harm to the child, both bodily and psychological.  A separate question might be asked if that harm is socially constructed: that our worry that harm will happen creates the harm with the child.  Those who raise this objection often point to ancient Greece where older men had sex with young boys.  The problem is that this is vague to the point of meaninglessness.  In ancient Athens, for example, the erômenos (the young boys) were usually 13-25.  At best, the practice is an instance of ephebophilia, although even that is confused, as the practice was legal in Athens and even encouraged by the law.  If we relax our definition of ephebophilia to mean something more like “attraction to teenagers,” then it would fit, but even the concept of “teenager” would be foreign to the Greeks who had children and adults, but not that strange area between.  Thus, the objection that the ancient Greeks practiced “pedophilia” is factually false.

Yet, I think we still need to be more explicit about the wrong of pedophilia.  After all, pedophiles have their lives ruined or taken from them for their crime and because pedophilia is immoral.  We must, therefore, be clear about exactly why it is wrong.  We said before that pedophilia can cause physical damage to a child, but it is true this doesn’t always happen.  We also said before that pedophilia causes psychological damage and a quick survey of the psychological literature easily confirms this.  But, is this all that’s wrong with pedophilia?

In addition to the harm to the child, pedophilia is a kind of rape.  Children cannot provide real consent to sexual activity and nonconsensual sexual activity is rape.  This, too, is the worry about ephebophilia depending on the ages of the participants as the wider an age gap, the less likely true consent can occur.  Of course, sometimes real consent can occur with ephebophilia, so it cannot be considered categorically immoral.  On the other hand, in the case of pedophilia, real consent is impossible because even if the child might wish to consent to sexual activity, their body is physically not ready for such.  Moreover, their psychological development is not to the point where they can really understand the situation and what it would entail.

Thus, at the end of the day, we must say that pedophilia is immoral and that it is also categorically different than two children who sexually interact.

Such Good People

by Jason Stotts

A friend of mine is an independent film maker and is looking for funding for his next movie.  Check out the link and show him some love if it sounds interesting:

Filmmaker Stewart Wade (Margolis), who previously challenged ideas about sexual identity in “Coffee Date” and “Tru Loved” is working on a new independent feature called “Such Good People.” Starring Michael Urie (“Ugly Betty” and the new “Partners” on CBS) and Randy Harrison (“Queer as Folk”), the movie also features Sandra Bernhard, Lance Bass, Jon Polito, Alec Mapa, Bree Turner, and Drew Droege. It’s a fun screwball comedy like they used to make in the 1930’s — but with a twist. The couple at the center of the zany action is two men, rather than a man and a woman.

If you’d like to learn more about the project and perhaps help Stewart get the project made, check out the movie’s Kickstarter site: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1873187344/such-good-people.

I think it’s great the the movie will feature a gay couple, but that that won’t be the focus of the movie, that being gay will be treated as just something normal about the couple.  To me, that seems like the next step in the progression of making homosexuality something normal and not aberrant.

News

by Jason Stotts

1. California Bans Gay-to-Straight “Therapy” for Minors

I don’t usually support laws like these, but “reparative therapy” is so obviously just religious indoctrination that it should not be allowed to be called science or legitimized in any way.  All studies dealing with gay to straight conversion have identified it as bunk.

2. We May Be Starting to Really Understand Breast Cancer

A new study has identified four different genetic strains of breast cancer.  This research should lead to much more effective treatments in the future.

3. Showtime’s Polyamory is Casting for Season Two

If you’re interested in being on a Showtime reality series about polyamory, check it out.

4. Marty Klein’s Recommendations for Rational Sexual Policy

This would be a really great start to rational sexual policy.

 

Ménage à 3

by Jason Stotts

I just got done reading a really great webcomic called Ménage à 3 and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a comic more!  It’s funny, sexy, and has a really playful and fun tone.  I recommend you go and check it out!

Also, I kind of wish I had roommates like Zii and Didi.

I hope the artists don’t mind, but here’s a small taste of the goodness:

Assorted News

by Jason Stotts

1. A new law designed to prevent rabbis from fellating infants who they have just mutilated and potentially giving them herpes  might be taking effect soon in New York City.  The rabbis protest that it is their “freedom of religion” to fellate these young boys they’ve just mutilated.  I think that freedom of religion stops at the point where it involves mutilation of the human body, including both male and female genital mutilation, and sexual abuse of children, including the fellating of freshly mutilated boys by rabbis. In case you’re wondering why such a law would even be necessary, two children have died from this practice recently and others have gotten herpes. (Link)

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2. Did you know that in 31 states a rapist can claim paternal rights?  Frankly, I think that’s sick.  Paternity is so much more than simply transmission of biological material. Moreover, to shackle a woman to her rapist for the rest of her life is depraved and indicative of a culture where “she must have deserved it.”  On the other hand, I think it would be right and proper for a woman who is raped and impregnated to claim child support from the man and for him to be forced to give it while never having contact with the woman or child.  Rape is a moral travesty and one should never benefit from evil. (Link)

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3. More people are talking about “asexuals” now than ever before.  I recently have written about it twice in Asexuality and Asexuality Revisited. There I said, and I maintain, that asexuality is not a valid sexual “orientation” and asexuals should be considered a damaged case.  This article, in attempting to prove asexuals exist, actually serves to confirm my own point:

Joshua Hatton, 23, a language student from Birmingham, agrees. “Three years ago, I came across asexuality – it explained everything. I no longer had to lie to myself. Young men are expected to have some sort of casual sex; it’s all around. Now I feel more comfortable.”

This young man completely misunderstands the proper role of sex in a good life and it’s no wonder why with 2,000 years of christianity’s hatred of humanity and sexuality poisoning the waters.  Unfortunately, instead of wanting to reconnect values and sexuality, he simply throws out the baby with the bathwater and then is pleased with his “solution.” Some asexuals suffer from this moral confusion, some have psychological trauma from early sexual experiences or shame, and some have little to no sex drive because of hormonal problems.  But, these things can all be rectified and they do not establish the validity of asexuality as anything proper to a good human life and anything other than being a damaged case.

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4. The Book of Mormon is now running in LA and I’m going to see it.  This isn’t so much a real news item as it is me gloating about getting to see it. I’m more than just a little excited about it!

Early Porn was Intense

by Jason Stotts

io9 has an article up called “One of the earliest adult cartoons was gonzo even by today’s standards (NSFW)” that features  the very first animated porn video ever produced.  I recommend you check it out, but don’t be too surprised if it’s raunchier and funnier than you expected.  Oh, and it’s very NSFW.

Review: The Ultimate Guide to Kink by Tristan Taormino

by Jason Stotts

I recently got a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play, and the Erotic Edge edited by Tristan Taormino and after having read it cover to cover, I have to say that it’s up to Tristan’s usual standard of excellence. This book is a little different from other Tristan books in that it’s not written by Tristan herself, but rather is a collection essays from different experts on different subjects in kink.  The result is that you get a lot of good advice and opinions on a wide range of subjects. The book is split into two halves, the first half is practical sexual techniques like impact play (Ch. 2), vaginal fisting (Ch. 4), and CBT (Ch. 6), while the second half is more theoretical on subjects like feminine dominance (Ch. 13), submission (Ch. 14), and sadism (Ch. 16).

My three favorite essays:

1. “Making an Impact: Spanking, Caning, and Flogging” by Lolita Wolf.  I really liked how this author (I can’t talk seriously about an essay and call the author “Lolita”) intertwined a story about impact play and instruction on how to do it.  The effect was to see action in a story, then have it explained so you understood what had happened and how to do it yourself.  It was very well done and the information in the essay was very good.

2. “ForteFemme: The Art and Philosophy of Feminine Dominance” by Midori.  I really liked how Midori broke down the idea of feminine dominance into something that people could understand.  Sometimes the reason we can’t get started with something new is simply our own ignorance.  We don’t know what we don’t know and we don’t even know enough to ask the right questions.  By breaking the idea of feminine dominance down into understandable parts and then explaining how to build this into a “fortefemme” persona cuts right through the ignorance and will certainly be helpful to those wanting to learn more about female domination.  I particularly liked this line: “The ultimate power is that of persuasion.  To get the submissive or bottom to want to do for you what you command of them–that’s dominance.” (292) I think she’s right on the mark about this and this shows me she understands the essence of dominance.

3. “Enhancing Masochism: How to Expand Limits and Increase Desire” by Patrick Califia.  Patrick’s essay does a good job discussing terminology and drawing some clear lines to help people understand masochism and sadism.  The real gem in this essay is in the section called “consensual nonconsent,” where Patrick says: “I recommend a no-fault attitude for BDSM players.  As long as both partners respect each other, make a good-faith effort to abide by each other’s limits, and are open to feedback, I think that missteps ought to be understood as part of the price you pay for being on the edge.” (330) I totally agree with him.  To approach kink play, especially S/M, with reservations about accidentally hurting someone or going too far is to go about it all wrong.  You absolutely should be respectful of your partner and their limits, but if you’re going to engage in edge play, you can’t expect that nothing bad will ever happen.  You just have to try to prevent it, but not at the cost of enjoying yourself and your sexuality out of fear that something bad might happen.

Overall, Tristan delivers with another excellent book on sex and I recommend that you check it out if you’re interested in learning more about kink.

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