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Considering the passions the subject generates, there are surprisingly few books on paedophilia. It may be that some 'professionals' – psychiatrists, criminologists and the like – are reluctant to express too great an interest for fear of being thought prurient, or self-interested. Their contribution tends to be confined to articles in specialist journals, or the odd page or two in huge textbooks on 'abnormal' psychology.
Except covertly, in novels and poems, there have been few contributions from paedophiles either, for the very good reason that being an 'out' paedophile in our society is a hazardous business. In any case the taboo against paedophilia has rendered it literally 'unspeakable' (hence 'unwriteable') except when referred to in the most denunciatory terms.
I am a paedophile, and in the chapters that follow it will become apparent why I have felt it necessary to crash through the barriers of societal disapproval by speaking out. The fact that I have been able to do so owes much to the work, described in Part Three, of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), a group with which I have been closely connected, which has been campaigning since its inception in 1974 for the open discussion of paedophilia, and for abolition of the laws against consensual sexual acts between children and adults.
PIE's struggle has been a tough one. There have been threats, and violence, against us. Members' careers have been shattered following 'exposure' in the press, and now, thanks to charges of 'conspiracy to corrupt public morals' levelled against PIE's organisers (including myself), this struggle is about to see us into the dock at the Old Bailey. The writing of this book has been jeopardised on two occasions, in 1978 and 1979, when police raided my house, along with those of other PIE members, and seized a large quantity of research material. By the merest good fortune, the material seized on each occasion consisted largely of papers I had already studied and used in the draft of my book.
Such pressures are the penalty to be paid for speaking the unspeakable. And yet it is arguable that the 'radical' case presented here is not so radical at all. There are elements of our case on which PIE and myself no longer stand alone, and cannot easily be dismissed as a libertarian 'lunatic fringe': the recent report of the National Council for One Parent Families, Pregnant at School, has called for the abolition of the age of consent, for reasons which are completely in line with those advanced in relation to sex education, contraception and pregnancy in this hook, and there are other, equally 'respectable', bodies that now support the abolition, or lowering, of the age of consent. In the Netherlands, as readers unfamiliar with developments in Europe will discover in the coming pages, even major church organisations and political parties are coming to the conclusion that the laws designed to 'protect' children from sexual experiences actually do them more harm than good.
Nor is my aim 'radical' if what is meant by that term is an attempt to 'strike at the very roots of society' by undermining 'family life'. I would be the first to acknowledge that there is nothing warmer, more secure, or more valuable to a child than a stable, loving family, and I can see every reason for supporting the best in family life, not destroying it. At the same time, I see no reason to shrink from the conclusion – a 'radical' and I hope constructive one – that families which deny children their sexual life, including the possibility of sexual contact with adults, are profoundly limited, however good they may be in other respects.
Such a view is not dependent upon scientifically speculative premises, Reichian or otherwise. It does not depend on the belief that sexual repression in childhood has a direct, biological impact leading to psychological and psychosomatic problems: what is much more plainly evident than this is that children learn, by being discouraged from sexual expression, that sex is 'bad' and 'dirty' – a belief that subtly dogs them all their lives.
My qualifications for making what may appear to be an academic judgement on such a matter may he doubted. But this is not intended to be an academic work, pioneering scientific advances by means of original theory or controlled empirical studies. My contribution, rather, so far as academic considerations enter into it, is to present a paedophile's perspective on what is already known – an exercise aimed at the 'expert' and the open-minded layman alike. My approach has been personal, and committed, rather than spuriously 'scientific' and 'objective', but I have made every effort to use my sources honestly, at all times, and to treat opposing points of view with cool, calm deliberation, rather than impatient dismissal A publisher (not my present one) once told me that a radical book on paedophilia should be 'either a passionate tract or an icy rationale'. I believe that, paradoxically, this book is both.
Inevitably, the personal nature of my approach has resulted in certain limitations. As a lover of boys, I find myself tending to write more about relationships between boys and men than other forms of paedophilic encounters, including the apparently far more numerous contacts between girls and men. I have made a determined effort, however, to write a book on 'paedophilia', rather than on 'boy-love. There are already a number of books about the latter which strike me as far too parochial. Some boy-lovers write as though girls did not exist – especially as they fail to address themselves to the all-important question of consent, which can only be fully answered by reference to the impact that adults of either sex can have on children of either sex in sexual encounters. Unfortunately, a book on general 'paedophilia' runs the risk of obscuring important psychological differences, at least so far as male paedophilia is concerned, between boy-love and girl-love – differences which have major implications, especially for feminist critiques of paedophilia, which are sometimes over-reliant on a unitary view of the male sexual psyche.
A further limitation is imposed by constraints of space. Perhaps the most important topic I have omitted is the reason, or reasons, why sex, particularly in 'advanced' societies, generates such powerful feelings of disgust and revulsion – not just paedophilic sex, or other 'deviant' behaviour, like homosexuality, but sex in general. The phenomenon is not to be explained simply in terms of what children have been taught by their parents over successive generations, for this leaves the question of why the relative lack of sexual inhibition that once prevailed was ever encroached upon. The problem is fundamental, and has been insufficiently explored in recent years.
Another omission, that of incestuous paedophilia, would appear to be serious in view of the questions incest raises about power in family relationships; the issue of power is considered in the context of paedophilia generally, but I feel that a chapter on incest would be more of a 'must' in a book on the strengths and weaknesses of 'the family' than in one on paedophilia per se.
A few stylistic points require some comment. I find it irritating to write about 'the penis' and 'the vagina', about 'masturbation' and 'sexual intercourse'. To use the four-letter equivalents of these words – providing it is not done in an aggressive, expletive way – enables one to de-medicalise sex, to talk about it in the enthusiastic way that healthy folk think about it. Such words, though robust and 'earthy', lie more easily with the softer, more tender, eroticism implied in such words as 'kiss', 'stroke', 'cuddle' and 'hug', than do the bloodless euphemisms of the medical textbook. Surprisingly enough, the point has been well taken by at least one group of relatively enlightened psychiatrists, Kraemer et al., in their book The Forbidden Love. Nevertheless, I have deferred to the view of my publisher, who feels that what I have to say is already controversial enough, and that any use of four-letter words could alienate otherwise sympathetic readers.
I have at all points referred to 'children' rather than 'kids'. Personally, I like the word 'kids'. I find it attractive in the same way that it is pleasant to call a friend 'Bill' instead of 'William', or 'tu' instead of 'vous': it implies closeness, familiarity, friendly regard. But I also recognise that the word 'kids' is not a million miles from the idea of 'mere kids', or 'little nuisances'. As readers will discover, this is not an idea I would wish to reinforce. Hence I have felt a formal designation to be appropriate.
In yet another respect I have also decided to override my natural inclinations, linguistically speaking. As a boy-lover, I always tend to think of the younger partner in a paedophilic relationship as 'he'. Since in reality the majority are probably 'she', I have used the female pronoun where appropriate.
Finally, I should point out that, where I have written about particular paedophilic relationships, real names have not, for obvious reasons, been used.
It remains for me to extend my heartfelt thanks to all those who have helped me, especially Dr Kenneth Plummer, Lecturer in Sociology at Essex University, Ms Nettie Pollard of the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty), and D. J. West, Professor of Clinical Criminology at Cambridge University, each of whom read the whole text in draft and made many valuable suggestions. In all but a handful of cases, where matters of judgement were involved, I have accepted the points made to me and made appropriate modifications to the text. In the few cases – it can only have been one or two – where I have dissented, I have only myself to blame for any error of judgement.
Many others read, and commented upon, individual chapters. Dr David Nias and Dr Glenn Wilson, both of the Institute of Psychiatry, London, proved to be my most ego-boosting consultants (though they would disapprove of such a Freudian term!), regarding the two chapters (5 and 10) I referred to them. Close on their heels, in this respect, was Mr David Watson, formerly Lecturer in Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University, whose scrutiny of Chapter 7 left it mercifully unscathed. Specialist comment on PIE's legal proposals was obtained at the time of their formulation by their author, Mr Keith Hose. I have subsequently received informal comment on these proposals from a number of lawyers, and have been impressed by the fact that they have stood up well – in my judgement – to professional scrutiny. Medical issues, especially cervical cancer, were discussed with Dr Robert Stalker, a community physician with the Doncaster Area Health Authority.
My comments on North America were checked by Ms Valida Davila of the Childhood Sensuality Circle, California, and by Mr David Thorstad and Mr Tom Reeves, both of the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Those on Holland were read by Dr Frits Bernard, psychologist, and Dr Edward Brongersma, lawyer and former member of the Senate of the Netherlands. I am also indebted to Mr Frank Torey, for the use of a number of his translations of articles from Dutch.
Help with source material, and useful suggestions, were received from Mr Victor Banis, Mr J.Z. Eglington, Mr Gerald Jones, Mr Warren Middleton, Mr D.W. Nichols and Mr Frederick Vinson.
Special mention should also be made of Mr Ray Thomas, Mr John Moore and Ms Marsaili Cameron, whose support during a very critical period has been of immense value.
I have always found that librarians are exceptionally pleasant and helpful, and never more so than when working on this volume. I am grateful for the help I have received at the British Library and the Radzinowicz Library, at Cambridge University's Institute of Criminology. Most of the references cited in my bibliography, however, have been obtained through the public library at Newport Pagnell, Bucks. The staff there, under the direction of Mr Norman Stone, have been unfailingly helpful over a long period: on several occasions miracles have been achieved, in terms of obtaining really obscure references via the Inter-Library Loan Service, with a despatch that would put some larger libraries to shame.
These remarks would not be complete without mentioning my publisher, Mr Peter Owen, and his directorial colleagues, who have needed both imagination and courage in promoting a potentially controversial project. In my editor, Mr Dan Franklin, I could scarcely have been more fortunate: the working relationship between us has been at all times constructive and amazingly free of the tensions that are sometimes felt at the 'interface' between author and editor.
Finally, my thanks must go to all those in PIE, without whom there could have been no book of this nature, and in particular to Mr Keith Hose, whose guiding spirit has pervaded my thinking throughout.
My thanks to all those mentioned in these acknowledgements should not be taken to imply that any of them agrees with the views expressed in this book.
Discretion dictates, alas, that I cannot credit individually those children who have had an influence on my writing. In any case, great as that influence has been, it would be difficult to acknowledge it without detracting from their total impact on my being.
London, November 1979.
Bibliography : Home : Chapter 1