Paedophilia is many things. It’s a taboo and a crime. It disgusts people (rightly so), destroys families and causes unimaginable trauma. Despite this, it is still a big business and an underground market. It’s a life breaker. However, the question that is being asked this time round is whether or not it can be considered to be a sexual orientation.
To start off, we must define what sexual orientation is, and the easiest way to explain it – although, in rather generic terms – is that it is ‘a person’s sexual identity to the gender to which they are attracted’.
In other words, sexual orientation is being straight, gay or bisexual. Being transsexual, transgendered or even a cross-dresser, for example, are not considered as sexual orientations.
But what about paedophilia?
In essence, paedophilia can be described as finding children sexually attractive, and a paedophile is typically an adult who finds children under the age of 13 sexually arousing. The difference between a paedophile and a child molester is that the former is called so because of his or her desires, while the latter actually acts on those desires. It may seem like a subtle difference to some, but while one cannot control one’s desires, one can control one’s actions.
Now, I’m no expert, but when someone had mentioned to me that paedophilia is technically a sexual orientation, I was in disbelief and I was slightly indignant about it. So I did what I do best. I researched.
In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) listed paedophilia as a sexual orientation, putting it on par with being straight, gay, bi, asexual, etc. But after many pointed out that this didn’t make much sense, the APA released the following statement on the 31st October, 2013:
“‘Sexual orientation’ is not a term used in the diagnostic criteria for paedophilic disorder and its use in the DSM-5 text discussion is an error and should read ‘sexual interest’. In fact, APA considers paedophilic disorder as ‘paraphilia’, not a ‘sexual orientation’. This error will be corrected in the electronic version of DSM-5 and the next printing of the manual.”
News Release, American Psychiatric Disorder
Paraphilia is ‘a condition characterised by abnormal sexual desires, typically involving extreme or dangerous activities’.
But what difference does it make whether APA lists paedophilia under sexual orientation or paraphilia? I hear you say. It’s still wrong, and you are indeed absolutely right about that.
It does however make a significant difference to others. This isn’t a question of placing the word tomato under ‘vegetables’ or ‘fruit’, but about placing something that is considered immoral and debauched in the same category as being gay, straight or bisexual, which would of course be unjust.
Paedophilia, although characterised by an innate desire, which could be equated to the same innate desire a woman feels towards her husband, is detrimental to the younger person’s life. Sexual orientation is a desire towards an equal – at least in theory – while paedophilia is a desire towards someone who doesn’t have a say, someone who doesn’t have the knowledge or even the strength to reject it.
So, while in essence paedophilia may not be a choice, it’s the person’s actions that differentiate it from a sexual orientation. In fact, while most experts don’t believe paedophilia to be curable, there are treatments that help lower sex drive, thus helping those who feel paedophilic desires not act up on them.
Well, there you have it.
Anything else you want to add to James’s argument?
Let us know in the comments section below.
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