child pornography and pedophilia.

A recent Supreme Court ruling has (again) declared representations of child pornography (drawn, digitally drawn etc) to also constitute child pornography.

Jill from Feministe has a nice post analyzing the intentions behind the ruling.

Whether that’s “really” child porn isn’t a closed subject, I don’t think. No, it’s not using actually children, but it is digitally altering adults to look like actual children. It is banking on the idea that pedophiles or people which pedophilic sexual urges will believe the images feature actual children.

And all of that rests on the premise that what makes child porn child porn is the appearance of it, not necessarily the actual age of the person in it. The actual-age argument is one that Ren and lots of others rely on, and it makes a lot of sense. But I remain troubled by it, especially in light of the fact that a whole lot of people who look at child porn go on to molest actual children. I don’t buy the argument that there’s a big fat line between what people enjoy in their pornography and what they enjoy in real life, especially when it comes to things like this.

The guy who’s looking at naked children is doing it because he thinks naked children are hot. That’s a big problem in itself, and a bigger problem if he decides to seek out some sort of sexual interaction with the kind of people he’s attracted to.

Emphasis mine.

So I haven’t seen any child pornography, but I doubt that the children are happy and “consenting” to the sexual advances of adults in the videos. Thus, child porn promotes the rape of children. And even if the children do “consent” in the porn, it would promote the heavily unbalanced power play of an adult seducing a child. Which would be rape.

But to call attraction to children itself “a big problem” gives me pause. The act of sex with children (rape) is illegal. But should the attraction be condemned? Society reacts so viciously to pedophiles
and convicted child rapists. We declare them automatic monsters, regardless of whether the person in question is a pedophile or not. Very few people would voluntarily choose to become pedophiles, in my opinion, except for those who find that molesting children is a good way to exert power. But to turn to children in the first place – I’m so disgusted by the thought that I can’t comprehend it. And I imagine it is that way for most of the population.

But what happens is that pedophiles find that they are rejected from society. Any mention of “I need help, I find children erotic” brings a reaction of “you’re a monster. Get away from my children!” And then what do they do? Because regardless of how you feel about pedophiles, as long as they haven’t raped a child, they’re still human. And even after they’ve raped a child, it’s arguable, but they’re still human.

So what should they do? If society condemns the act but not the attraction, that sets up for some serious compartmentalizing. So I have no clue on this topic. Thoughts?

P.S. My previous stance on pornography has changed. I now believe that any portrayals of live adults in pornography is exploitive, even if the sex is safe and both parties are enjoying pleasure and nobody is being hurt. It is still putting on display the bodies of one, two, or more people and focusing on specific body parts. However, safe, pleasurable, consenting sex in the form of literature/art is fine by me. As long as it doesn’t promote abuse, misogyny, violence, and the negative gamut of porn.



Filed under feminism

3 responses to “child pornography and pedophilia.

  1. Hey, great post.

    I think you have to consider why pedophiles are attracted to children in the first place. Is it just biological (“they can’t help it”)? Obviously, I don’t think that’s an adequate response.

    Children are a class without power in our society. They lack political power, social power, and economic power. Unfortunately, sexual intercourse being intimately related to patterns of dominance in society, lack of power itself often becomes erotic. This is why I have a huge problem with BDSM (slave/master dynamic), Asian or other racial fetishes (colonized/colonialist dynamic), and pedophilia (child/adult dynamic). It’s also why some radical feminists (Rich, Dworkin) have problems with heterosexual intercourse in general (woman/man dynamic), though I won’t go that far yet. Child pornography, then, is just a specific example of how pornography (or society, the media, whatever) turns an oppressed/oppressor relationship into something erotic. (Twisty calls pornography “the fetishization of oppression” and “the fetishization of culturally-generated (and, frankly, comically hokey) constructs,” two turns of phrase that describe the problem better than my two hundred words possibly can.)

    In any case, one has to question how the inequalities of society influence what is perceived as erotic, and one has to acknowledge that such an influence does exist. Barring drastic societal changes, there is simply no way that a sexual relationship between adult and child can be egalitarian, nor any way that pedophilia can be anything other than objectification.

    End rambling.

  2. Oof. Too many parentheses and links in my last comment. My apologies.

  3. Twisty is awesome. End of story.

    I’m just wondering how much of pedophilia is a lust for power despite the monsterization with which pedophiles are regarded. Perhaps the problem has increased with the Internet age, with supportive groups, websites, forums (I’m too lazy to look up any studies, but it should be easily done. You can compare it to pro-ana sites and anorexia rates, although that has more variables, considering the prevalence of fashion/being thin in the expanding media), but I don’t believe there isn’t a little bit “biological” involved.

    Plus, there’s a whole subgroup of pedophiles who focus on non-sexual relationships. So they become more mentors, it seems. You can read the assumptions of this website ( – Christian Boylove Forum, since boylover/girlover/some variation is their own name for a pedophile) within this post: – but who knows how large this subgroup actually is.

    But of course, the one thing about reading pedophile websites online is that they are all wonderfully ambiguous. I have no clue who is writing them, as is everyone else. Simply because all the writers would be hurt, physically, if any information ever got out. And what little information is revealed is probably wrong too. Plus, there is an obvious bias in the writing.

    Or maybe everything is a construct out of power. Wouldn’t be impossible, either. Why else would people be attracted to members of a specific ethnic group (the Asian fetish example works very nicely)?

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