Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A strange kind of bravery

Being a pedophile has got to be one of the more brutal burdens a caring person could bear.  Just like with any other sexual orientation (including straight, of course) the sexual attraction to children isn't something people choose.  Even those who see nothing wrong with it morally surely see how difficult and dangerous indulging is likely to be and it must be a thousand times worse for those who know how abhorrent acting on their impulses would be.  You can choose what you do but you sure can't choose what you want to do.  Dan Savage fielded a letter from a pedophile who was determined not to act on his impulses but was very much tormented by them last week and I think it is a really powerful example of how much of a disaster subsumed sexual desires are.

Rick Santorum was pilloried and had his name forever associated with 'the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the product of anal sex' for comparing homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia in 2003.  The thing is, in some ways homosexuality is exactly like bestiality and pedophilia - of course so is heterosexuality!  The difference obviously lies in that people can engage in heterosexual or homosexual behaviour that is consensual, harmless, and joyful while the same cannot be said of bestiality and pedophilia.  The fact that these desires cannot be wished away, nor 'cured' through therapy nor removed in any other way we know of is clearly visible every time a new religious anti gay bigot is found having a drug fueled homosexual tryst.

I am lucky as hell.  I want to have sex with women.  I have a preference for redheads, blue eyes, a curvy shape, and pale skin.  I have the right to marry and have sex with someone who fits those preferences (and the luck to have fallen in love with someone who fulfills most of them) and the rest I can at least indulge through porn if I want to.  Pedophiles have no such freedoms or outlets.  They can never allow themselves to live out their fantasies and even their virtual outlets are banned; rightfully so as clearly child pornography cannot be tolerated.  I don't know how I would behave if my desire for women was considered heinous and unforgivable by society let alone if I considered it so myself and I have a deep respect for those who successfully shoulder that burden their entire lives.

This underlines the fact that we cannot get rid of our sexual desires.  We can only accept that the drives we possess have a tremendous power and that when we prevent people from doing what they want to do we create tremendous suffering.  We have an obligation to allow those with nonstandard desires to act on them whenever they can do so with consenting partner(s).  In the case of desires that cannot be realized morally we should give whatever support we can to the people who have them.  It takes a tremendous amount of bravery and will to live with such a burden and we would do well (and likely have many less cases of abuse) if we were better set up to support people in their trials.

Normal can suck it.  What we need is for people to admit that we are all a bit freaky in one way or another, support each other in dealing morally with our quirks, and acknowledge that for some people it is much harder than others.

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