Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Homosexuality versus Pedophilia

Mark E. Pietrzyk has a quite fascinating article on the alleged link between homosexuality and pedophilia. He examines the question on two axes: The scientific data as to whether homosexuals are more likely to be pedophiles, and the analytic argument as to whether liberal views on sexuality are breaking down the "traditional" norms present in the Judeo-Christian ethos which serve as the primary barrier to adult-child sexual relations. In both cases, he finds that the Christian right has completely abused the statistics and the history to suit its agenda. The scientific data proves the exact opposite of their point, and the history of both Medieval Judaism and Medieval Christianity show a shocking acquiesence to pedophilia, especially regarding the sexual betrothment of pre-pubescent girls. In fact, he argues, the modern taboo against child sexual relations has only recently (past two centuries) begun to solidify, and reflects the enlightenment liberal tradition which places particular emphasis on the ability of children to consent (as well as more modern liberal norms about the automatic power imbalance between adults and children in a relationship, and the physical and psychological harms such relationships can cause).

A brief snippet of the scientific section, because I think that point is really important:
A. Nicholas Groth is a pioneer in the scientific study of sexual offenders against women and children, who has treated over 3000 child molesters over the course of two decades. A former director of the Sex Offender Program at the Connecticut Department of Corrections, Groth is the author of Men Who Rape: Psychology of the Offender, a work widely regarded as a classic textbook on the psychology of sexual violence. In his work, Groth has found that approximately one‑third of all cases of child molestation involve an underage boy and an adult male, a statistic which has been used incessantly by certain conservative activist groups in an effort to prove that homosexuals are disproportionately responsible for acts of child molestation. However, Groth explicitly states that it is a myth that men who molest boys are homosexual.

According to Groth, child molesters can be divided into two types: "fixated" and "regressed." The fixated offender is attracted primarily to children and has little or no interest in adult relationships; such a person is known in clinical terms as a "pedophile." The regressed offender is interested in and capable of adult sexual relationships; however, this person may on occasion regress to sexual encounters with children, often as a result of difficulties and frustration in his adult relationships.

Groth writes that the fixated offender, or pedophile, tends to select boys more often than girls, but for reasons having nothing to do with homosexuality:
In general, fixated child molesters are drawn to children sexually in that they identify with the child and appear in some ways to want to remain children themselves. It is for this reason that the trend for fixated offenders is to target boys as victims. . . . They see the boy as a projected representation of themselves. They feel themselves to be more child than adult – more boys than men – and therefore find themselves more comfortable (especially sexually) in the company of children. . . .

Groth stresses that "these same individuals are uninterested in adult homosexual relationships. In fact, they frequently express a strong sexual aversion to adult males, reporting that what they find attractive about the immature boy are his feminine features and the absence of secondary sexual characteristics such as body hair and muscles." The second type of offender, the regressed offender, is predominantly heterosexual. However, he may temporarily turn to boys or girls as a result of complications in his adult relations. Although regressed offenders are more likely to choose girls than boys as victims, writes Groth, what attracts the regressed male offender to boys are the feminine characteristics of pre‑ pubescents. Groth found no cases of boy molestation in which the offender had an adult homosexual orientation. Concludes Groth,
Homosexuality and homosexual pedophilia are not synonymous. In fact, it may be that these two orientations are mutually exclusive, the reason being that the homosexual male is sexually attracted to masculine qualities whereas the heterosexual male is sexually attracted to feminine characteristics, and the sexually immature child’s qualities are more feminine than masculine. . . . The child offender who is attracted to and engaged in adult sexual relationships is heterosexual. It appears, therefore, that the adult heterosexual male constitutes a greater sexual risk to underage children than does the adult homosexual male.

The religion part of Pietrzyk's article is eye-opening. The science section is just a classic smackdown. The entire thing is worth reading.

H/T: Andrew Sullivan


David said...

I don't know about the science section of the essay - it's plausible, but I don't know whether it's correct.

The religion section on Judaism, however, unfortunately makes use of Dr. Epstein's work "Sex laws and customs in Judaism" as its primary source. That book stands out as an example of sloppy scholarship, and Mr. Pietrzyk's reliance on it weakens his overall argument. Mr. Pietrzyk seems to be unfamilar with the nature of Jewish law, and often quotes opinions from secondary sources which are preserved as examples of rejected opinions - they are NOT representative of Jewish law then or now.

Mark said...

If this is posted in the light of the Foley kerfuffle it should be noted, that it is not paedophilia of which he would be accused but ephebophilia. I'd imagine the correspondence between homosexuality and ephebophila is strong(er?). At the very least it has to be considered separately.

Anonymous said...

The basic problem is that the 'science portion' relies on the notion of 'causes' which are always something beyond science. To know the 'why' is always a problem.
If most molesters are molesting male children the Occam's Razor answer is that it's because that is what they enjoy doing. The simplest interpretation is that there is a homoerotic attraction, just as an attraction to prepubescent girls can be considered homoerotic. And what of men attracted to she-males?
This is not proof that there's a link, only a likelihood.
That said, even if there's a higher link- say 1.1% of homosexual males vs. .2% of hetero males, or some such, the thing to be pointed out is thta the vast majority of gays are NOT molesters.
Also, what flies under the radar is female sexual predation.
Whenever a young girl is molested by a teacher who's male, it's child molestation, but when a female teacher gets stiffed by her 13 year old male student, it's patted on the back.
Of course, there is a diff between male and female sexual quests, but a double standrad does exist.

BLueRibbon said...

"Groth writes that the fixated offender, or pedophile"

A person does not have to be an offender to be a pedophile. This study fails to note that.

Art Durkee said...

Of course the reality is that MOST (two-thirds according to the study cited, but 3/4 according to other studies I've read elsewhere) paedophiles are heteroerotic, not homoerotic. That is. MOST paedophiles are men who go after girls.

So, equating paedophilia with homosexuality is complete and utter bullshit. It's been a cultural myth for some time, but it's never been true.

i think the only reason that homosexuality and paedophilia keep getting conflated is that they are both considered deviant—therefore, double-deviant is worse than single-deviant. The trouble with that argument, of course, is that adult homosexuality is no longer considered deviant by any scientific or psychological criterion. So, let's just paint everybody we hate with a broad tar-brush, shall we? What's next? Jewish molesters of children? Black molesters of girls? Pick a demon, any demon.

Even in the article cited, the focus is still on teh minority, even though the article itself cites homoerotic paedophilia as a definite minority. how about a little bit more rationality? Dan's right when he says that paedophilia, when it's woman-boy vs. man-boy or man-girl, is very much treated as a double-standard.

And anyway, this all bread and circuses, since what we really ought to be focusing on is the hypocritical coverup of Foley's procilivities by his seniors in Congress.

BLueRibbon said...

"MOST paedophiles are men who go after girls."

Men who "go after" girls? That's like saying most gays are men who "go after" men.

Most paedosexuals are able to control themselves. Not all. Most.

If you look at the online paedosexual activism movement, more than 50% of the paedosexuals are attracted to boys rather than girls, so I'm concerned about the studies which have been quoted.

Did they use child molesters or paedosexuals for these studies?

Anonymous said...

I do not agree with your position. Does it mean that heterosexuals could be boys or girls molesters?

David Schraub said...

It means that one's sexual attraction to adults (if one has one) is a separate axis from one's sexual attraction to children. Adult sexual attraction is how one defines an orientation. So yes, an adult heterosexual can molest either boys or girls.

And you don't have to agree with it for it to be true.

TPW said...

Gregory Herek did an excellent job of refuting Dailey's linking of homosexuality and molestation by going through Dailey's sources himself. It's quite enlightening.

Anonymous said...

For the last six years, I've worked in the field of missing and exploited children and our agency helped pass the 1996 federal law that requires convicted sex offenders to register with local authorities(Jacob's Law). With great concern, I've noticed an increased, inaccurate misuse of the word pedophile. Increased attention and resources related to child sexual exploitation (CSE)are greatly needed, yet the heightened hystseria around this issue that drives policy makers, the public & media to seek ineffective, sound-bite solutions is maddening! Why are we avoiding the FACTS to guide our decisions related to policy, treatment and correctional choices? By passing laws and promoting myth-based beliefs in the media, we simply DO NOT use our limited resources in ways that will truly reduce and prevent CSE? We need to include the context for our discourse e.g. convicted sex offenders and pedophiles represent less than 10% of the CSE crimes against our kids. What about the thousands of priests, coaches, teachers, family members who are RARELY reported let along convicted? Until we ALL own the problem of CSE and accept that nearly 90% of convicted sex offenders are first time offenders (2005 MN DOC study), we have little hope of moving the needle in preventing these crimes. I urge each of us to look inside our own lives, homes, places of work and worship and ask ourselves WHERE these predators are coming from. We MUST intervene earlier and more effectively to get help for those "mostly young boys" whose exploratory urges may lead to more harmful behaviors down the road. TALK about CSE to our families, friends and coworkders, then DO something, anything to help curb this societal ill that is victimizing our kids...
Nancy Sabin, Executive Director of Jacob Wetterling Foundation

Anonymous said...

People can say what they want, "Homosexuals are child molestors." because when someone comes off with an accusation like that, it's their own problem!

I'm gay, I'm not a child molestor, I never was, I never will be! The very though of molesting a child makes me sick!

I used to babysit children, and the parents knew I was gay, but they don't believe the false allegations of homosexuality. So yeah, people TRUSTED me with their children!

I think that people need to grow the f*** up and stop making all this crap up about people simply because they have something against them!

I always ask straight people, "What would YOU do if someone accused you of being a child molestor?" Many people would be horrified to be called a child molestor expecially if they are not one!

Anonymous said...

I was around 10, and the other boy is around 15 and my neighbor kid. One day he invited me to his house to play toy, so I went. When I was in his house, and asked me to pull down my pant and told me it is okay. There was no force or anything, but I got scared and rushed out of his house. I never see him again, and I didn't talk to my parent until 20 years later about the incident.
To this day, I have a problem to distinguish between pedophile and homosexuality. He probably was a homosexual and has a wrong approach to seek relationship. Back then, I always mistaken for homosexual with female role.

Anonymous said...

Groth found no cases of boy molestation in which the offender had an adult homosexual orientation.

Oh dear;

The two ringleaders of Scotland’s biggest paedophile gang have been given life sentences for a horrifying string of child pornography and abuse crimes, which included a sexual assault on a three-month old baby.

Convicted sex offender Neil Strachan will serve a minimum of 16 years and gay rights campaigner James Rennie a minimum of 13.

Both will be subject to a life-long restriction order.

The judge said Strachan had a "sadistic and aggressive personality" and breached a family’s trust to satisfy his "base sexual interests".

He described Rennie as a "spider" at the centre of the conspiracy, "weaving an electronic web" in order to distribute child pornography over the internet.

Rennie, 38, the ex-boss of LGBT Youth Scotland, an organisation dedicated to helping young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, was convicted of molesting a young boy over more than four years, beginning when the child was aged just three months.

No classic smackdown, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Then, of course, there was this:

Enter 2009 and the revelation of another person at Duke University offering a 5 year-old boy up for sex and other than he has been arrested, key factors of this crime are left unreported.

Information unreported in this latest case is that the child is Black adopted son being raised by a Gay Couple.

The accused, Frank Lombard, is the associate director of Duke's Center for Health Policy who offered the child up online under the screen name, “perv dad for fun.” Lombard is said to have admitted to molesting the child himself.

Lombard, White, was asked online how he gained easy access to such a young child and reportedly replied, “Adopted, not so hard ... especially for a black boy.”

Anonymous said...

There has to be paedophiles who are homosexual in their adult orientation, as it wouldn't make sense for just one group to have zero incidence. But proof of individual cases of gay people abusing young boys, or individual gay people thinking that if it's okay to be gay then it's okay to be a paedophile AND act on it (or heterosexuals thinking the same), doesn't suggest a trend among such groups for such actions or opinions.

Anonymous said...

I think people are missing the point.
The issue is being convoluted with opinions and mis-match statistics.
There are forms of paraphilias that are aren't being addressed(besides Mark).
The main point is mixing the two terms together. Homosexuality isn't a psychological disorder. Paedophilia, ephebophilia, and many others are considered paraphilias "sexual arousal to objects, situations, or individuals that are not part of normative stimulation", which are considered a psychological disorder. So is transvesticism, but thats a completely different topic.

My point is we shouldn't be confusing the two. All studies conducted on this subject have specified there is no link between the two. They haven't spelled it out for people. That is one of the reasons other "professionals" are using it for their own agendas.

This is my piece. Everyone makes valid points, but using inconclusive evidence to stir emotion is just plain wrong and a hindrance to the evolution of mankind. Lets move forward please.

Anonymous said...

I cannot possibly se why pedophilia would be a mental disorder when homosexuality is not. At a first glance, both are somehow evolutionary "misplaced" because they may result in "unproductive" sex. But evolution is probably more complex than that. These phenomenas are likely to have some part to play (of which I am ignorant), otherwise they wouldn't be so abundant.

Me, I probably have the opposite "mental disorder" than pedophilia, i.e. "oldiephilia". I have always been attracted to older women (a am a man). As far as I can remember, I was sexually attracted to older women already when I was 5 years old. I went through my childhood hoping to be "sexually abused" (as the adults called it) by schoolteachers and my friends' mommies. Alas, it never happened.

Frankly, I cannot really see any moral errors with any kind of sex, be it with dogs, children, grannies etc. What I can se, of course, is a moral error of having sex with someone without her/his/its consent. I can therefore see the need to prohibit adults to have sex with children, since it is much more difficult in that case to know wheter they agreed to it or not. I guess that's a good idea, even though it may lead to some suffering and frustration, as in my own case. But I think that's all there is to it. This whole thing with demonising pedophiles leads to nothing. It would be much better if pedophiles were respected so that they may keep living normal lives, except that they will have to live with the tough reality of wanking through life indefinitely.