Monday, December 7, 2015

Why Words Matter: Pedophile

Background

Earlier, I wrote a post on the words "pedophile" and "pedophilia", where I assert that the two words are misused when people use them to refer to someone who has abused a child, and the abuse of a child. I explained how using those words to talk about abuse is minimizing what was done to the victim, and how the terms should be used. I assert that they should be used to refer to people attracted to prepubescent children, and the reality of being attracted to young children. I have talked elsewhere about how pedophilia is different from ephebophilia and hebephilia (the interfering attraction to 15ish-19ish year olds and 11ish-14ish year olds, respectively). I know I am beating a horse here, but it is not at all dead yet, so I shall beat some more: Incorrect terminology minimizes child sexual abuse.

Stigma

What I did not discuss is the stigma with which the word is used. People throw around the word "pedophile" like it is a dirty, filthy word and the ultimate insult. Somewhat akin to how faggot, nigger, and retard were thrown around prior to people finally taking a stand against their usage. The stigma with which the word is used increases the likelihood that actual pedophiles, or those attracted to young children, will never seek help. It should be noted that most child molesters are not pedophiles, and most pedophiles do not hurt children, even if underreporting is accounted for by estimating these statistics.

Just like the myths and stereotypes that people believe in reference to sex offenders and child sex abuse, the stigma that the word "pedophile" carries interferes with efforts to eliminate child sex abuse and get potential abusers help before they ever harm a child. In fact, the group Virtuous Pedophiles was formed largely because of this stigma and because they recognize the need for pedophiles to support one another in seeking help for the disorder. It is not just pedophile groups either: Big research names like James Cantor and Ian McPhail write about how non-offending pedophiles exist and deserve support.

Correct Terminology

I often speak of pedophiles and sex offenders as if I were not one because of that stigma. I am extremely hesitant to describe myself in those terms because of how loaded with stigma, shame, ridicule, insult, and condemnation those terms are. While technically accurate- I am attracted to children younger than adolescence, and I did in fact abuse a child sexually- these terms do not define me. I believe the very existence of this blog thoroughly establishes that fact. I have put countless hours into developing a resource where people can go to for information on the topic of child sexual abuse, ultimately to ensure that it is prevented before it happens.

What point and purpose would I have in posting what I have, and advocating as I have, and repeating the real facts of child sex abuse as I have, unless I were an advocate for its prevention? To gain the trust of some community? I do not use my real name. To manipulate people into thinking I am not a threat? Again, I do not use my real name. For money? Find me a donation button, or an ad that I put up to get money from your clicks. There is literally no point to me doing this unless my goal is what I state it is: The primary prevention of child sexual abuse.

Consistency In Usage

The word pedophile needs to always be used, by reporters, by the media, by the government, by law enforcement, and by the general public to refer to someone with a pedophilia diagnosis. Otherwise, those who use those terms are no different than those who have thrown around the words faggot, nigger, or retard- or any other stigmatizing, derogatory word. They are ignorant bullies, much like internet trolls that just post garbage to rile people up.

The next time someone uses the word pedophile, ask what they mean and watch how they react. Then simply say this, "Pedophilia is a disorder recognized by professional psychologists to describe someone with an ongoing sexual attraction to children who have not yet hit puberty. Is the person you are referring to diagnosed with pedophilia, or did they rape a child?" If their jaw does not hit the floor, chances are you are dealing with an informed human being with a brain in their skull.

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