Aspects of adults' attraction to minors
Various aspects of adults' attraction to minors in contemporary western society, with a focus on the Netherlands, as seen from the perspectives of minor-attracted adults.
I will use the descriptions "minor-attracted adults" and "adult-minor attraction", since they are non-judgmental. It should be kept in mind that "minor" and "adult" are only arbitrary designations, and that one does not need to have reached the age of majority in one's particular jurisdiction in order to be especially attracted to the young or the very young. I have been attracted to all ages and genders, with a distinct preference for boys up to my own age, ever since the age of thirteen: before that time, I was attracted mainly to girls around my own age. I am now twenty. It should also be noted that by "attraction" I mean the entire package deal of emotional fascination as is found in all humans, which includes a sexual component.
Not surprisingly, there are elaborate web communities of minor-attracted adults; such as the Free Paed Cooperative, Boy Chat, and Girl Chat. There can be found debate on all aspects of society, sexuality, human psychology and physiology. Stories of love and hate, real and imagined, are shared and are often very intense and touching. There is a great deal of frustration to be found there, but also pride and joy, and most participants call themselves boy lovers or girl lovers (so-called boy lovers being in the majority). The label "pedophile" is more commonly used by European than by American minor-attracted persons. I have not seen much representation on the Internet from other continents but these. A continual issue of debate mainly among Europeans is whether to embrace or to reject the demonized label of "pedophilia". Arguments in favor of rejection include the notion (which I tend to agree with) that the term is either totally useless or useless unless it is rigorously defined whenever one uses it, because there is no consensus as to its meaning, and interpretations throughout society are shockingly contradictory, ranging from "the rape and murder of children" to "the urge to love and help children always".
In society at large, the term "pedophilia" is over-sexualized, and among so-called "experts" it has been made into a pathological classification that you wouldn't care to associate your sane self with. Even if one were to provide a clear definition whenever one uses the word, which is impractical, the emotional bias attached to its mention is devastating. Arguments against the rejection of the label "pedophile" include the element of pride, reference to its etymological meaning (which is love of children), and the notion that any label would be prone to demonization. My strategy and message is to avoid categorization as much as possible, and for me this extends to all sexual phenomena. (This means I don't like to go around calling people pedophiles, gays, heterosexuals, et cetera.) The mere existence of adult-minor attraction movements might be considered to be a counterproductive form of categorization, but following that philosophy, the ultimate way to gain acceptance would be to hide one's essence and to twist one's intentions so as to conform to the pressures exerted by the majority. Nobody would have a bone to pick with you then.
Apart from the web, there are not many organized communities of minor-attracted adults. The few legal initiatives that can be found are constantly attacked and depicted as rings designed to encourage and facilitate illegal activity. NAMBLA in the US are currently being tried on this. The Danish Pedophile Association are under media attack and government investigation. MARTIJN, the only independent movement in the Netherlands devoted entirely to adult-minor attraction and operating beyond the Internet, of which I am the current chairman, mainly has a support function, and has published an attractive, relevant magazine (in my opinion) ever since the early 1980s.
Cultural and political mobilization
I will now focus primarily on the Dutch situation, since I am best able to judge this country. If you want to see cultural mobilization of the adult-minor attraction movement, switch on the television and wait for a commercial featuring a minor (I suppose a third of all commercials do). Do you see how pretty the minor is? Do you notice how pretty they always are, no matter whether it's babies, infants, pubescent persons or adolescent persons? Unless they specifically need to portray ugly ducklings (and even they are the prettiest of their kind), minors in commercials - and in films, too, and soaps - are selected, among other things, for their beauty. If it were true that only a fraction of one percent of the world's population are freaks who have the repulsive ability to see, and the even more repulsive desire to see and touch the physical beauty of children - these freaks being the so-called pedophiles - then there would be no more handsome children on television than you would expect from a random selection. Look at department store catalogs, in particular the sections on children's clothing that the freaks like to cut out. Why are the cuties there in the first place?
Look at the entirety of commerce. The physical beauty of minors - of all ages and genders - sells! It is being marketed every day. The cultural recognition of the beauty of the young, indeed, the commercial addiction to it, is wide-spread and firmly established. The snag is that people do not want to admit that minors can be attractive in an erotic sense. That's where we freaks step in, because for us the erotic attractiveness of minors is overwhelming. And we like to order our catalogs and we like to watch television, so we step into the cultural and commercial fold along with the rest of you. The big unwritten law is that the appreciation of the beauty of minors must not be admitted to be erotic. Ours is a culture of denial.
What other unexpected and unrecognized "mobilization" is occurring in the cultural field? Museums regularly hold exhibitions with photographs or paintings of minors. Books come out by the score with beautiful and often half-naked prepubescent and pubescent boys and girls on the covers. Just glance at a selection of book covers and jackets in any Dutch bookshop and you will find a noticeable quantity of images of minors. Theaters bring productions starring pretty minors. In October I saw a small theater production featuring five teenage boys who did all kinds of erotic things to themselves and to each other. It would likely have created quite a stir had it been a nationwide production. If you have an eye for it, there are a lot of references to the beauty of minors in art. Last October an English translation appeared of the first known novel about the attraction between adult males and minor males. This novel appeared in Italy around 1650. When a particular event or a publication concerning the attraction to minors receives wide coverage and attracts much attention, a public outcry is imminent, and when a fine line is presumably walked between legal and illegal, the law is tempted to intervene. Last year an Amsterdam prosecutor seized nude images of minors from a well-known exhibition, and forced the organizers to mutilate their catalog. Ironically, the images were reproduced in all the national newspapers and the judge, seeing no harm in them, ordered them to be returned.
Politically, little to nothing is happening in Holland as regards the liberation of the sexuality of minors and of affectionate and intimate relationships between minors and adults. Occasionally a letter of protest, or a critique of a proposed amendment, is sent to The Hague, never to receive response or much attention from either politicians or the media. The media do cover some of our movement's moves, but most goes by unnoticed. (By movement I do not just mean MARTIJN, but the entirety of activism.)
What are the political positions on the issue? The Liberal party, which is big here, favors economic liberty rather than moral liberty. It's a party of businessmen with stiff upper lips. Christian parties embody everything I find ethically repugnant; one of them is quite big but currently in the opposition. Socialist parties sometimes take good ethical positions, but very specifically in relation to child-adult contacts, it is a utopian dream to expect a single word of defense or a single good proposal from any party, including the most progressive ones. The big socialist parties form a coalition with the aforementioned "liberal" party. The Minister of Justice is a "liberal". He is dropping the principle of complaint, which implies that the absolute age of consent will once more be sixteen in the Netherlands.
Two large organizations that occupy themselves with sexual reform; the COC gay movement and the Netherlands Society for Sexual Reform, are internally divided with regard to the sexuality of minors. Groups for young gays limit themselves to teens and twens, and are customarily hostile to age differentiation: they embrace "age apartheid", as I have come to call the cultural phenomenon of separating minors and adults. There is a general trend extending to so-called liberals, such as gays and other minorities, to cover up the sexuality of minors, and to do nothing to promote awareness, responsibility and pleasure in that respect. Sex education curricula in secondary schools are still absurdly marginal and technical. Primary schools do not touch sexual issues at all.
Social relations between majorities and minorities
What can I say? They like to break our windows. Seriously: I suspect that most minor-attracted adults do not make their existence known to anyone, with the possible and subtle exception of intimate friends, beloved family members, and persons with similar feelings, if these can be found. The Internet has opened a huge can of child-attracted adults. Prior to the Internet era, one had to join a non-electronic organization, or go to non-electronic meetings in order to meet and communicate with people with similar affectionate and sexual fascinations and capacities.
How does the adult-attracted majority relate to the minor-attracted minority? Firstly, there is overlap inasmuch as to my mind, a majority of human beings have the potential to be attracted to at least teenagers. The age of consent threat is what makes most people deny this and claim that their interest is in persons over sixteen only, or you name an age of consent in a specific jurisdiction. The braver souls who do not deny their interest in teenagers simply refuse, or find it impractical, to act on it. Consequently, the effect of coming out for your preference for teenagers may not be so dramatic when the circumstances are right, and such circumstances are not overly exceptional. Think of the sex industry with their "barely legal" slogan. This industry is aimed at majorities, not minorities! We're all hot on teens, if you'll excuse my slight exaggeration.
Those who are sincerely interested in prepubescents, socially, sexually, et cetera, form (and recognize themselves as) a minority chiefly due to their sexual proclivities. Prepubescents may be considered cute and sexy by everyone from book designers to stage producers, but serious passionate relations and consensual sex with prepubescents are only defended by a minority of people who have these feelings, liberal but silent people worldwide, and some experts, sexologists, educationalists and scientists.
Meanwhile, most hostility between opponents and proponents is impersonal. Say, Joe Average learns about yet another "child molester" in the media. His disapproval or outrage is impersonal, and he is not likely to meet the so-defined molester in person, or to be aware of others who fall into a similar category. Likewise, the minor-attracted adult probably hates the repressive and oppressive trends in society, but this too is impersonal discontentment or frustration with society. One cannot tell from an impersonal crowd who is on what side, if on any side. The arguments are communicated via the media, not vis-à-vis. The exceptions of course are those who are in any way connected to minor-attracted adults whose attraction is revealed.
The production and denial of differences
A factor that stimulates some within the movement to feel different is the common ability of minor-attracted adults to be excellent friends to minors; to have what it takes, such as patience and spontaneity, to socialize with minors, or to instruct them, as in a teaching capacity. Some minor-attracted adults use the term "mentor" for this: an all-round teacher, guardian and companion. This special ability to relate to the young will be better understood if it is remembered that "attraction" is the entire package deal of deep fascination, in which sexual fascination may or may not be one of the factors (although it usually is).
Another factor stimulating the idea of being different is the level of persecution and condemnation that minor-attracted adults are subjected to. This persecution and condemnation is often perceived as being so vile and irrational that it is compared to, for instance, the persecution of witches in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and the persecution of Jews in WWII. Articles and books have been written outlining the similarities between these forms of mass hysteria and moral panic in different ages. I recently got my hands on "Sex Abuse Hysteria: Salem Witch Trials Revisited" by Richard A. Gardner, M.D. Gardner does not approve of adult-minor sexual activity; he states that he has written his book for people who have been falsely accused. Mass hysteria and moral panic are not exclusively American or British phenomena, and books and articles have been written concerning Dutch excesses. An example is "Zedenangst" (Moral Panic) by B.R. , a thesis that analyzes a Dutch case from the 1980s where children playing sexual games with one another led adults to believe in the existence of cunning, child abusing clowns and underground basements built under schools, in which sexual abuse was taking place. The allegations have been entirely refuted.
Especially when one is operating within the movement, one is persistently faced with reports of tragedies, such as vigilante posses attacking the homes of so-defined sex offenders, and suicides among minor-attracted adults, which are fairly common. It is not even uncommon for minor-attracted adults who socialize with one another to have known someone who has committed suicide. One also hears about, or knows, minor-attracted adults who are detained or who undergo mandatory therapy. Often, all it takes to lose one's job, friends and freedom, is to have an intimate contact with a minor while not putting one's cards on the table before the minor's parents (or while doing exactly that). There are cases where minor-attracted adults are murdered. In Holland one was stabbed to death by a father last September.
This situation of being in the same boat, and a leaky boat at that, may stimulate a sense of uniqueness, promote solidarity, and enable identification with victims of hysteria and dogma from other ages, but it may also lead to the denial of being in that boat; specifically, the denial of being attracted to minors. This denial is often unconscious, and a good place to investigate the phenomenon, apart from psychology books, is the assortment of web communities and online bulletin boards where minor-attracted adults experience their coming out by the score. As is the case with same-gender attracted persons, these can be older people who have been married and have children. Since the conscious or unconscious denial of an attraction to minors is very understandable in today's social climate, it is hard if not impossible to estimate how many adults are in part or in whole attracted to minors, and especially to prepubescent minors.
The fact that humans crave acceptance is grimly illustrated by many same-gender attracted persons, who are going through a phase of wanting to look as much like ordinary human beings as they possibly can. While they are unable to let go of the obvious difference between same-gender attraction and opposite-gender attraction, what they can do is act conservative, marry (gay marriage has just become legal in the Netherlands), and condemn all those whose attraction does not comply with the age of consent, or even with the popular dogma that partners should be of roughly the same age. Both MARTIJN and NAMBLA used to be in ILGA, the International Lesbian and Gay Association, but were cast out in 1994, when ILGA was threatened to be deprived of its consultative function within the United Nations. A popular foundation for gay youth in the Netherlands, "Hoezo/Expreszo", which is part of the COC gay movement, warns young gays against "pedophiles" on its website. Society also seems to think that there is an iron curtain between same-gender-attracted persons and minor-attracted persons. As a teenager I was in a talkshow on national television, and my attraction to boys up to my own age was considered a sickness, since the show was about "pedophilia" and I defended adult-minor relations. I was considered an offender, even though I have never been convicted. The same talkshow later did a feature on gay and lesbian teenagers, and these poor victims of straight society received all the love and support they could want, since age-differential relations were not a topic that time.
I walk in the street and I am not harmed or noticed. No one yells "Nigger" at me, nor do I wear a star of David saying "Jew". But when I come to a newsstand and I pick up a foreign paper like "News of the World", I might find a page filled with mug shots of convicted persons: some of whom were at one time jailed for fondling, or for having sex with a minor who was approaching the age of consent, and others who were jailed for having committed several lust murders. The heading will read something like "Beware of These Sick Paedophile Monsters". Now this is an example of a British tabloid, and in Holland the media have not gone quite that far. (Note that Holland does not have a similar system of tabloids disguised as newspapers.) But it's only a coincidence that I live in Holland. The example is actually about a failure to discriminate rather than about discrimination. On the issue of the adult attraction to minors, all types of people are continuously lumped together and labeled molesters, pedophiles, pedosexuals, offenders or predators. The same trick is played by governments who keep sex offender registries that equate kissing with murder because both acts happen to be illegal.
Here is another example of the different positions of same-gender attraction and minor attraction in contemporary Dutch society. A few years ago, the chairman of a radical Christian congressional party gave an interview to a weekly magazine. He asked why the practice of homosexuality should be less reprehensible than stealing. Now in my idea of freedom of speech, people should have the right to say this. The chairman did not commit slander as he did not mention any names; he just gave his moral position on two general phenomena. All of Holland expressed their outrage as a reaction to his statement, and he was sued for having made it. (I do not remember who sued him.) Fortunately for our principle of free speech, he was acquitted. Last month, a columnist of a national Dutch newspaper wrote that all "pedophiles" suffer from grave emotional disturbance. The columnist apparently included the attraction to teenagers in her definition of "pedophilia", since she called the late Dr. Brongersma, who was attracted to teenage boys, an emotionally disturbed pedophile. I defend her right to say what she said. But her statement is so transparent and offensive that social correction (in the form of indignation and admonition) should be self-evident. I sent a letter to the paper stating that it was unjust and irresponsible for the columnist to generalize and group together a large number of people whom she does not know personally, declaring all of them to be sufferers from some kind of grave emotional disturbance only because they are, in part or in whole, attracted to people the law decrees are minors. My letter was not published, nor did anyone else in the country make a stink. Statements similar to that of the columnist are made with great frequency in the media, and it is sickeningly bitter for minor-attracted adults to realize time and again that such discrimination is the undisputed social norm.
I hope to have raised some awareness here. The demonized movement of minor-attracted persons who advocate affectionate and sexual freedom combined with responsibility, and who take a stand against age apartheid and governmental as well as societal persecution, needs and deserves support.
source: 'Aspects of Adults' Attraction to Minors' by C.C.; Martijn.org; Amsterdam, November 2000