The Return Of The Postmodern Pedophile
As deviant behavior is defined, the law begins to reflect the redefinition and we find ourselves on the road to normalization.
For more than five decades, a small and deviant sub-culture has been lobbying, without much success, for greater understanding and acceptance of those who experience sexual attraction to children and teenagers. Transgender sociologist Allyn Walker’s attempt to destigmatize pedophilia through a new book, A Long Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity, is just the latest attempt to define down the deviance of adult-child love. Walker was a professor at Old Dominion University before stepping down last week.
Beginning in the 1970s with the much-maligned North American Man-Boy Love Association, the LGBTQ community has attempted to distance itself from the self-described “boy-lovers” to affiliate. Although the pro-pedophile group was allowed to participate in the earliest annual Pride parades—replete with their banners proclaiming man-boy love—a group calling itself the Lesbian Caucus boycotted the 1980 New York City Gay Pride Parade because NAMBLA had dominated the organizing committee.
Undeterred, the deviant sub-culture turned to academia—and postmodern theory—for support and assistance in defining down the deviance of pedophilia. It is not a coincidence that Allyn Walker is a sociologist and that The University of California Press publishes a Long Dark Shadow. Like its predecessors, Walker’s book encourages all of us to reject the pejorative label “pedophile” and replace it with the morally neutral “Minor Attracted People” to acknowledge that those sexually attracted to children do not act necessarily act on their impulses. Holding pedophiles “blameless” in terms of their sexual attraction, Walker, who uses the pronoun “they,” suggests that we need to understand those who experience these sexual urges.
As I point out in my Politics of Deviance (Encounter Books), in the 1990s, there began a movement on some college campuses to redefine pedophilia as the more innocuous “intergenerational sexual intimacy.” Drawing upon the language of postmodern theory, those working to redefine pedophilia are first redefining childhood by claiming that youth is not a biological given. Instead, it is socially constructed—a historically produced social object.
One of the most cited sources for this is Male Intergenerational Intimacy: Historical, Socio-Psychological, and Legal Perspectives. Published by the academic publisher Routledge, the book is a collection of scholars, mostly European but some with U.S. university affiliations, providing a powerful argument for man-boy love. One of the contributors, Ken Plummer, writes that “we can no longer assume that childhood is a time of innocence simply because of the chronological age of the child… a child of seven may have built an elaborate set of sexual understandings and codes which would baffle many adults.”
Claiming to draw upon the theoretical work of the social historians and the Foucaultians and the constructionist sociologists, Plummer promised to build a “new and fruitful approach to sexuality and children.” There is no assumption of linear sexual development and no real childhood, only an externally imposed definition. Decrying “essentialist views of sexuality,” these writers attempt to remove the essentialist barriers of childhood. This opens the door for the postmodern pedophile to see such behavior as part of the politics of transgression. No longer deviants, they are postmodern “border crossers.”
In 1990, the Journal of Homosexuality published a double issue devoted to adult-child sex titled “Inter-generational Intimacy.” David Thorstad, former president of New York’s Gay Activists Alliance and a founding member of NAMBLA, wrote that “boy love occurs in every neighborhood today.” The movement continues but has gone primarily underground since NAMBLA was embroiled in a $200 million wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston. The suit claimed that the writings on NAMBLA’s website caused NAMBLA member Charles Jaynes to torture, rape, and murder a ten-year-old Boston boy.
Not so long ago, the postmodern pedophiles had helped in defining down their deviance from the American Psychological Association. In 1998 the association published an article in its Psychological Bulletin that concluded that child sexual abuse does not cause harm. NAMBLA quickly posted the “good news” on its website.
For a while, we lived in a culture in which man-boy sex was not only tolerated but was celebrated in a deviant segment of the gay community. Those days are over. And with the overwhelmingly negative response to Walker’s new book and subsequent suspension and resignation from Old Dominion University, it appears that man-boy love remains contested terrain.
But for many, woman-girl sex is less objectionable because the power of the women’s movement scarcely registers on the cultural radar screen. Recall the popularity of the Vagina Monologues—part of the standard repertoire on hundreds of university campuses not so long ago—which depicts the sexual seduction of a 13-year-old girl by a “Minor Attracted” adult woman.
The movement will likely continue because entire academic departments on university campuses here and abroad are devoted to destigmatizing pedophilia. Professor Ken Plummer taught sociology for more than 30 years at the U.K.’s University of Essex. Professor Walker, who received a Ph.D. from the prestigious John Jay College and specialized in “Queer Criminology,” published a Ph.D. thesis at the premier criminal justice college titled Understanding Resilience Strategies Among Minor-Attracted Individuals. Walker’s thesis argues that pedophiles should be permitted to view child pornography as a harm reduction technique.
The problem with that—for now—is that it is still a federal crime to view, purchase, produce or distribute child pornography because children are sexually exploited in the process of creating pornography. But as we have seen in the past, as deviant behavior becomes defined, the law begins to reflect the redefinition, and we find ourselves on the road to normalization.
Anne Hendershott is a professor of sociology and director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.
Cross-posted from The American Conservative
Notes from the Editor
As a rule, I try to stay off of this topic, except for news articles. But ran an article on this a couple of weeks back, had someone write me, ask why I ran an article that condemned pedophilia; we need to understand it better. I wrote them back and told this person I had no interest in understanding it, as a minor child’s father. If I caught this against my child, understanding is not what I would be seeking, and if the person valued their life, they would be wise to turn themselves in before I caught them.
I will admit, I was so angry when I got the email, I stewed on it for a day, then did some digging on this, found to my amazement that no longer is this a thing hidden in the shadows, we have a full press by academia trying to push this practice into the light, to start demanding acceptance of it. During this search, I found this; I figured I would share it with you today.
When you take away the value of children, make them disposable while they are in the womb, abusing and causing sexual trauma is acceptable to these people; it will never be with me.
It seems many on the left have no understanding of parents; this could be why they are now trying to label concerned parents who speak up at school board meetings as terrorists. Our children are our most precious commodity; they are so special most of us would be willing to give up our health, freedom, even our life for them.
The left and the Government better be careful in the push. At the same time, we are loyal to the Nation; we are set with a task to protect our children. We see that as a responsibility that overshadows our loyalty to the Nation or any other political party. If you want to set off a large portion of the citizens in anger againstGovernmentnment, go after our children, see what happens.
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