Shattering three myths about positive voluntary and harmless “pedophile” relationships

Rivas, T.; Jul 03 2011
Type of WorkEssay
Publication LanguageEnglish

 In my recent publication, Positive Memories, I have presented more than 130 cases of memories in former children and teenagers of so-called “ pedophile” relationships and loose contacts, including 4 platonic relationships. One of the things that are clearly demonstrated by my collection is that there are many boys who willingly engage in relationships with an adult man. This means that boy-love relationships really exist and are possibly a lot more common than anyone would have thought. 

First Myth

However, this is not the only important finding in this study. Some boy lovers seem to believe that only gay or same-sex pedophile relationships can be positive, consensual and psychologically healthy. Somehow, they seem to believe in a kind of inversion of society's mainstream straight norms, namely that homosexuality is essentially and in important ways superior to “trivial” heterosexuality. This would be reflected in consensual relationships between men and boys and between women and girls as opposed to real sexual abuse of girls by men and, to lesser extent, of boys by women.

In fact, this turns out to be the first myth shattered by my findings. I do not claim to be the first to discover this, by the way. Similar findings have been published by, among others, Terry Leahy, Paul Okami and Theo Sandfort [Scroll to "Sandfort"].

What my collection shows, is that there really are consensual and harmless straight pedophile relationships, both between men and girls and between women and boys. There is no reason whatsoever to believe these subcategories of (real) consensual relationships are inherently less positive or more problematic than the gay subcategories.

 Here are two examples of such straight relationships:

  • - kimxxxyyy:  “I'm not speaking from ideas or beliefs, I'm speaking from my own personal life experience, being that I as a child of twelve, thirteen, had a relationship with someone much older than me. I never once thought that he or I was doing anything wrong. We had a normal relationship and I still see nothing wrong with it.” (http://www.ipce.info/host/rivas/girls_men/kimxxxyyy.htm)
  • - Sardonicus: At the age of seven, he had a sexual relationship with a young woman - he refers to as 'Liesbeth' - [...] Sardonicus states that his experiences with Liesbeth were by far the most pleasant of his early years. He also states he used to be very proud of his ability to please Liesbeth so much and that this boosted his ego and self-confidence. He calls it a golden age about which he can still feel nostalgic.  (http://www.ipce.info/host/rivas/boys_women/sardonicus.htm)

 Second Myth

Another prejudice that I've often encountered, even among people with a partial or exclusive “pedophile” orientation, reads that a harmless and positive erotic relationship with a minor can only come about after the child has reached puberty. This prejudice may in part be based on medical data, namely that especially sexual intercourse (with an adult) involving penetration is impossible until the body is physically prepared for it. Before that, intercourse would simply cause the child physical harm, which means that such an erotic contact could never be pleasant for the minor.

For this reason, some people have explicitly asked me to limit my project to children who have reached puberty. However, I did not see any good reason to do so. I had already read many positive stories of minors who were younger than 12[1], including reports about preteen children who were still involved in a willing relationship when they were being interviewed. Excluding such stories, let alone rejecting them out of hand, would seem very arbitrary and therefore unfair to anyone involved in such relationships. It would also create an artificial gap between “pedophiles” and “ephebophiles” or “hebephiles”, as in: “the sick” versus “the normal”.

  •  One key to approaching this phenomenon rationally is letting go of the identification of eroticism with penetration or intercourse. To be sure, some minors may be physically precocious in this respect, but as a rule erotic contacts with younger children simply do not involve penetrative sex.
  • Another key is realising that many if not all prepubescent children already have their own types of sexuality, eroticism and of course tenderness. Let us not forget that these things are certainly not created by puberty.

For instance, prepubescent children may masturbate or at least stimulate their genitals at a very young age (including during infancy)[2].  Young children may romantically fall in love, “date” and “go steady” with peers, and all this may mean a lot more to them than some adults seem to remember of their own childhood.

Thus, if we do not focus on penetration, we have every reason to believe that erotic relationships with prepubescent children are at least a rational possibility.

 As it turns out, I have indeed found many positive accounts of relationship that started before the child was 12. In some cases, the relationship was even ended before the child turned 12, meaning that all the positive memories concern a period prior to this mythical age.

 In total, I found 42 testimonies of positive memories of a relationship in which the initial age of the child was below 12.  These concern

  • 24 cases of boys, the youngest boy being only 5 when the relationship started.
  • Of these, 15 cases concern boys younger than 10.
  • There are 12 cases of girls, the youngest initially being 6. Of these 12 cases, 6 concern girls younger than 10.
  • Then, I also found 6 loose contacts between boys and men, in which the boy's initial age ranged from 5 to 11.

 I also found 2 cases of platonic friendships that started before the age of 12.

Two examples of such relationships with prepubescent children:

  •  - Anonymous: “Being 52 now, I got a relationship with a man at the age of eight-nine of whom I was told later that he was a pedophile. The relationship went on until I was about fourteen years old and we were lucky that it remained undiscovered and free of police enquiries. Even today, so many years later, I remember my big friend with gratitude, as he made my coming out as a gay person later on – and many other things in my life - a lot easier for me.” (http://www.ipce.info/host/rivas/boys_men/no_victim.htm)

- Beth Kelly, now mature in years, and a radical lesbian feminist, who, as a 'precocious' eight year old, developed a relationship with a grown woman. She writes:

  • "The first woman I ever loved sexually was my great-aunt; our feelings for each other were deep, strong, and full. The fact that she was more than fifty years older than I did not affect the bond that grew between us. And, yes, I knew what I was doing - every step of the way - even though I had not, at the time, learned many of the words with which to speak of these things.”  (http://www.ipce.info/host/rivas/girls_women/beth_kelly.htm)

Third Myth

A third myth, that is usually seen as a major problem by critics doubtful of the legitimacy of any type of “pedophile” relationship, is that all such relationships are inevitably ended when the child grows older.

This myth seems to rest on the assumption that anyone with “pedophile” feelings is automatically an “exclusive pedophile” who can only feel erotically attracted to minors. More importantly, there is an additional assumption that anyone with “pedophile” feelings is incapable of upholding a warm relationship with any former minor. The caricature of the “pedophile” as cold,  heartless and selfishly obsessed by sexual gratification. 

 My collection demonstrates that all of this is simply not true. If the relationship is not ended by the child or his or her environment, it may be continued as a friendship, sometimes for life, and there are cases in which the relationship leads to an erotic bond between adults, or even marriage[3].

 Three examples:

  •  - Lola: “Eleven years down the line and we are still together. We have proven everyone wrong and we also have one child that we had from a surrogate mother. We are still as happy with each other as we were all those years ago.” (http://www.ipce.info/host/rivas/girls_women/lola.htm)

I do not mind shattering a few myths, especially if these involve negative, destructive caricatures. In this context, it even feels good to be a “myth buster”

T. Rivas, June 2011.

[1]    Apparently, 12 is seen as  the age at which most children reach or have reached puberty.

[2]    Sex play can also be observed in the young of (other) animals before they reach reproductive maturation.

[3]    I even found a case of an erotic relationship between adults that started as a platonic, apparently “pedophile” friendship while the younger partner was still a minor.