There is a growing and comprehensive attempt to normalize pedophilia in our culture. But it’s important to first define what pedophilia means, particularly because the word is used to mean different things to different people.
At its most basic level, pedophilia refers to sexual attraction to children by an adult or older adolescent—not always the act of engaging in the sexual abuse of a child. However, sometimes the word is used to also refer to engaging in the act. For this blog post, we’ll be using the word pedophilia primarily to refer to sexual attraction to children.
With that in mind, yes, there is an effort to normalize sexual attraction to children. As you can imagine, this is a recipe for disaster. The movement is even going so far as to claim that pedophilia should be understood as a sexual orientation. Their goal is to remove the stigma from “non-offending” pedophiles.
One of the leaders of this movement is an organization called Prostasia Foundation that advocates for replacing the word “pedophile” with “minor attracted person,” or “MAP.”
Prostasia, who label themselves as “a new kind of child protection organization,” state that they aim to reduce child sexual abuse by taking away the shame of being attracted to a minor, thereby reducing the likelihood of someone acting out on their desires.
But this organization’s true colors are revealed by what they actually support: the use and sale of sex dolls that look like children, porn that simulates sex with a minor, and funding research into “fantasy sexual outlets” for pedophiles.
If that isn’t enough to create caution, multiple sources have reported that two of Prostasia’s past staff members, Guy Hamilton-Smith and Jeff White were both on the sex offender registry. Not surprisingly, one of their blogs actually called for the removal of the sex offender registry. Hamilton-Smith was listed for being found in posession of child sexual abuse material (“child porn”) and White was arrested for “criminal sexual conduct with a child under the age of 13.” The flags don’t get any redder than this.
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Prostasia’s logic is clearly unsound. It can be compared to saying we should take away the stigma from the desire of a husband to beat his wife—maybe if he doesn’t feel so bad about wanting to do it in the first place, he won’t do it at all. If the husband could just repeatedly watch a video of someone else beating their wife to a pulp, and fantasize about the act, he’ll have less desire to act out on it himself.
While we absolutely believe that there should be appropriate and improved avenues for pedophiles to seek help and therapy, the approach of normalizing and destigmatizing sexual attraction to children is severely misguided. In what world does normalizing the idea of a criminal act prevent that act from happening?
On the contrary, this kind of thinking works to create a greater demand for sex with children, whether consumed through child sexual abuse material (“child porn”), or in person—both of which directly and direly harm innocent children.
We cannot emphasize enough that the acceptance of pedophilia as a sexual orientation is the first step down a very dark path.
The “minor attracted person” or “MAPs” agenda has been gaining momentum for some time now. In 2018, at a TedX event in Germany, Mirjam Heine presented a talk entitled, “Why our perception of pedophelia has to change.” In the talk, she states, “Pedophilia is an unchangeable sexual orientation just like heterosexuality,” and, “it is our responsibility to reflect and overcome our negative feelings about pedophiles and to treat them with the same respect we treat other people with.”
More recently, the term, “MAP” was brought into the spotlight after an assistant professor at Old Dominion University, Allyn Walker, was interviewed by the Prostasia Foundation, about their book, A Long Dark Shadow: Minor Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity. The interview rightly received huge backlash by students, faculty, and the general public, as many perceived Walker’s words to be condoning pedophilia. Walker has since stepped down from the university but continues to join in with a growing group of educators who advocate for non-offending “minor attracted people,” believing they’ve done nothing wrong.
This isn’t just a fringe topic. Just last week, USA Today published an article attempting to clarify misconceptions about pedophilia, and influencers like Lauren Chen and comic satirist JP Sears have created videos rejecting the notion that it’s a good idea to normalize pedophilia.
We cannot emphasize enough that the acceptance of pedophilia as a sexual orientation is the first step down a very dark path. It’s a path that leads to the abuse of children. And quite obviously, it puts children everywhere at risk.
Associate Professor of Criminology at the UNSW, Michael Salter, recently took to Twitter to address the issue, tweeting, “Sometimes stigma is good. Some things should be stigmatised.” He followed up by saying, “…the compulsion to abuse children is not a morally neutral one, and it should be stigmatised – i.e. attract social disapproval.” We couldn’t agree more.
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Proponents of the “MAP” movement argue that the negative association of the term pedophile causes such people to hide in the shadows which creates the further likelihood of them abusing children.
We know this logic doesn’t actually work in the real world and many studies have found that viewing images portraying sex with children—something Prostasia supports—led to an increase in actual child abuse offenses.
Watching leads to doing, especially with regard to illicit sexual behavior. It feeds the beast.
Watching leads to doing, especially with regard to illicit sexual behavior. It feeds the beast.
In two US studies, the use of sexually explicit material via movies, magazines, and computers was associated, among boys, with sexual harassment perpetration, and the use of violent pornography was related to the perpetration of sexual assault.
A Swedish study found that 70% of high school boys who were frequent viewers of porn, including that which featured violence and the sexual abuse of children and animals, reported that porn made them want to try out what they had seen.
As one sex buyer described, in our film Raised on Porn, his porn addiction quickly escalated to the point where he said, “I need to experience what I’m seeing,” after which he cheated on his wife and purchased a woman in prostitution.
The push to normalize the desire to sexually abuse children comes as no surprise given the proliferation of “barely legal” porn, which is porn that portrays young women as children in sexual scenarios with adults. “Barely Legal” or “teen” porn is among the most searched for porn categories on the internet and, in the name of free speech, these genres that glorify the sexual objectification of children have been able to thrive.
Tragically, in America this kind of porn is legal. Of the 118 countries that have laws concerning child sexual abuse material (also known as child pornography), America is 1 of only 18 other countries in the world that allows over 18-year-olds to portray children in porn.
Sexual abuse as a child is one of the most devastating and traumatic events that can happen in a person’s life and, unfortunately, it’s prolific in today’s world. One in nine girls and one in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult.
Sexual abuse can be crippling to a child’s development, and according to RAINN, victims are 4 times more likely to develop symptoms of drug abuse, PTSD, and major depressive episodes as adults.
To in any way accept the normalization of the desire to sexually abuse a child or try to minimize it through “less offensive” language, is 100% inexcusable.
According to the Internet Watch Foundation, in 2021, there is fifteen times more child sexual abuse material (“child porn”) found online than there was 10 years ago!
The Guardian reported on a study in the UK which found that the majority of child sexual abuse rings were made up of men under the age of 30. That means that the men in these gangs grew up in the age of high speed internet in which, more than any time in history, they’ve had unfettered access to porn that glorifies the sexual abuse of children.
If the push to use the term “minor attracted person” was merely meant to clarify the difference between those who have sexual attraction toward children and those who actually act on it, that would be one thing. But as organizations like Prostasia demonstrate, this is about creating widespread acceptance for thoughts and acts that embrace and glorify the sexual abuse of children. Don’t be fooled by this movement’s cover narrative.
As an anti-trafficking organization, we deeply believe that the use of language is powerful in shaping culture and public perception. To in any way accept the normalization of the desire to sexually abuse a child or try to minimize it through “less offensive” language, is 100% inexcusable.
We advocate for the protection of children from sexual exploitation of all kinds, and that starts with how we think about and talk about acts of sexual abuse.
Later this year, we’re releasing a film that will shine a bold spotlight onto the human rights abuses within the porn industry. Beyond Fantasy will be a hard-hitting 3-part film series that uncovers the industry’s widespread exploitation. The “Barely Legal” episode will expose the genre of porn that overtly promotes the sexual abuse of children, which has become common in mainstream porn. Stay tuned for details regarding its soon release.
Here are three ways you can help protect children from being sexually preyed upon:
1. Join 60k+ others by signing the petition demanding age verification, with ID, on every single porn site. Then share it.
2. Watch Raised on Porn, free on YouTube, then like, comment, and share it with 5 friends.
3. Give here. Your gift will provide critical resources to help fuel the fight against commercial sexual exploitation and the protection of children.