Friday, November 14, 2008

Pedophilia?! What's LOVE got to do with it?

copyright 2008, by Julian Real. All Rights Reserved.
An alternate title for this piece is "When Love is Hate".

The above photograph is of child rapist Kevin Smith. For more about his crimes against humanity and for the source of the image, see here.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I can tell you from experience that "love" (in any form) didn't have anything to do with the intentions, feelings, desires, and actions of those who abused me. To call my abusers "lovers of children" is, well, a tad off. And yet this is the term many English speakers have settled on as the most accurate or responsible term for such perpetrators. Bear with me through the next bit: I promise you, this post is not entirely a lesson in etymology!

Let's contemplate and compare the following Greek-rooted U.S. Anglo-English terms such as Philadephia, anglophile, misogyny, misanthrope, and philanthropy. The ones beginning with "miso" mean, varyingly, showing hatred for, or the hatred of. "Phile" means one who loves or a lover of. "Pedo" is the Greek root in English terms meaning child.

As is known well by now, in the West, it is white heterosexual or "sexually conflicted" men who are the vast majority of perpetrators of incest, child molestation, child rape, and other forms of gross sexual exploitation and assault against children by adults, incidents or acts of the misnomer "pedophilia". This is confirmed in and by police reports, Internet news and online predation/pornography/sexual slavery networks, and in criminal and civil trials.

A recently "outed" group of offenders has been white European-affiliated Catholic priests and other Christian clergy-men. They are but one population of heterosexually-identified men who are child-rapists. Such clergy-men have begun to carry the stigma of of being child sexual abusers, with institutional support for them doing this serially going right up to the Vatican, in the case of Roman Catholic priests. What is less often reported is priests' abuse of girls and women. For more, see here and here.

Those of us who are out as gay are not off the stigmatic hook, however. Many non-gay people still think "gay" is synonymous with "child molester". This is, how to say, curious, given the statistics. (This is not to say that being a gay man means one cannot sexually abuse a child, only that there is no social, historic, or statistical reason to conflate the two terms.)

Heterosexual men do not want to be caught or stigmatised as child-rapists, so they have conveniently scapegoated gay men as THE perpetrators of children. But if you want to probe the mind of a serial child-rapist, by all accounts the heterosexual father knows best how to manipulate and force young children into being part of traumatic and scarring sexual acts that are done only for his pleasure and satisfaction. The rape of daughters and other girls under the age of five by heterosexual fathers, or straight step-dads or father-figures, is THE most common form of young-child sexual abuse: children age zero to five. If you see a heterosexual dad out with his daughter, you would be more likely to be correct in thinking he's a "child molester" than if the girls is out with a woman of any sexual orientation, or a gay man. (It's well past time for the stigma to get closer to its source.)

As we know, mis is a prefix meaning "hatred of"; philia (or philos) is a prefix or suffix meaning "love of". Gyn refers to women; anthro to humans; "adelphos means "brother". Philadelphia, alas, is the supposed City of Brotherly Love, even as white man systemically and historically, often with the help of a racist police force, hate on African American men (and women) there.

With both terms, Philadephia, and pedophilia, we can see that terms do not always mean what they say.

A "pedophile" "ped·o·phile (pěd'ə-fīl', pē'də-),(or in UK English, paedophile), according to the American Heritage Dictionary*, is a noun, meaning "an adult who is sexually attracted to a child or children".

The same source presents the following information:
ped·o·phil·i·a (pěd'ə-fĭl'ē-ə, pē'də-)
n. The act or fantasy on the part of an adult of engaging in sexual activity with a child or children.
ped'o·phil'i·ac (-āk) adj. & n.

*The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

The Online Etymology Dictionary describes the origins of the term pedophilia as dating back to
1905, from Gk. pais (gen. paidos) "child" + philos "loving." First attested in Havelock Ellis. Derivative noun pedophile is first recorded 1951.

The most obvious question is this: why aren't we calling incest perpetrators, child molesters, other child rapists and sexual abusers, including Internet child pornographers and pimps, the term "misopedics? Misopedia is THE term that means the hatred of children.


hysperia said...

I've just discovered your site and am busy reading. This is SUCH an interesting question. I think I'll use "misopedic" from now on.

Julian Real said...

Thanks for your interest, hysperia.

This has been a kind of "pet peeve" of mine ever since I realised what the term pedophile actually means.