Reviews > Culture

Tossing the last taboo

Culture | Psychologists hail the benefits of pederasty

Issue: "Kosovo: What's next?," April 10, 1999

First, the culture began to see premarital sex as the norm. Then homosexuality became culturally respectable. The next taboo targeted for overthrow by our sexual revolutionaries evidently is sex between adults and children.

Kiddie porn is now available not only on the Internet but at Barnes & Noble. Children are being sexualized in movies, in the music they listen to, in the clothes their parents buy them, and in their ever-younger patterns of dating.

But now influential elements of the intellectual establishment-and the psychology profession, no less-are openly sanctioning sex between children and adults. The leading journal of the American Psychological Association published an article maintaining that sex between children and adults is not harmful and, in fact, can be a positive experience for the child.

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The article, titled "A Meta-analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples," was published in the APA Psychological Bulletin ([1998], Vol. 124, No. 1, pp. 22-53). The article was written by Bruce Rind, an adjunct instructor at Temple University; Philip Tromovitch, a graduate student in education at the University of Pennsylvania; and Robert Bauserman, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan.

The authors did not conduct any new research; rather, they examined 59 other studies that collected data on how college students coped with sexual abuse. Forty-two percent of the male college students actually viewed their abuse as "positive" when looking back at it. Twenty-four percent to 37 percent of the men saw their abuse as having a positive influence on their current sex lives. Significantly, only 11 percent of the abused girls reported that their sexual experiences with an adult was "positive."

Even in their own terms, of course, such numbers are bogus: If 42 percent of abused boys thought their experience was positive, that means 58 percent did not. As for abused girls, 89 percent considered the experience negative. Such numbers are heavily skewed toward homosexuality. If so many of the men considered their abuse to have been a good thing and "a positive influence on their current sex lives," this is simply more of the abundant evidence that child molesting turns its victims toward homosexuality.

Nevertheless, the study concluded that "the vast majority of both men and women reported no negative sexual effects from their child sexual-abuse experiences." Although there was what they characterized as a slight association between childhood sexual abuse and psychological harm, they attributed the damage to negative family factors rather than to the sexual experience as such. As long as the sexual contact was not coerced and was enjoyed, concluded the authors, sex between children and adults may not be harmful at all.

We should therefore not be so judgmental. "Classifying a behavior as abuse simply because it is generally viewed as immoral or defined as illegal," they say, "is problematic." Science is supposed to avoid value judgments. The great science of psychology, therefore, should stop using negative terms like "child abuse," "molestation," and "victims." The study suggested, "A willing encounter would be labeled simply 'adult-child sex,' a value-neutral term.... A willing encounter between an adolescent and an adult with positive reactions ... would be labeled scientifically as 'adult-adolescent sex.'"

To speak of "willing," "non-coerced," and "enjoyable" sexual encounters between children and adults ignores the very nature of seduction. According to the statutory rape statutes-which, though seldom enforced today, are grounded in a far wiser worldview than contemporary psychological theory-it is impossible for a minor, being below the age of consent, to consent. An adult who has sex with a minor is therefore committing rape. Even if the child, seduced by the adult's greater experience or greater power or greater wiles, is "willing," it is still rape.

That it is morally wrong for adults to use children sexually should be self-evident. The desire to be "value-neutral" about the subject is simply an attempt to rule the moral issue out of consideration. But debates about moral issues are often battles over the language we use to think about them. The insistence on "value-neutral" terminology for sex abuse is not neutral at all, but advances the ideology that children are fair game for sexual predators.

And this is coming from the American Psychological Association. During the reign of modernists, natural scientists-such as chemists, physicists, and biologists-were the cultural authorities. During our postmodern times, the social scientists-with their incessant talk of "culture" and "self"-are our authorities. Having lost our vocabulary of moral virtue, we speak of people who are evil as if they are "sick." We defer to psychologists to tell us what behavior is "sick" and what is "normal."

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