When I caught a whiff of uproar over the self-published The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover’s Code of Conduct, I admit I had to take a few digital steps back and collect my thoughts. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I didn’t even want to open the links flashing through on twitter. But, I’ve worked my way through some chatter and here are some thoughts.
On the face of it, I can’t deny that I detest that a book like this exists. Phillip R. Greaves should not be able to call himself an author, let alone show his face in public as an admitted “pedosexual.” The idea behind the book is to offer a so-called “code of conduct” for “pedosexuals” to engage in what Greaves considers a healthy sexual relationship between adults and children. I had to pause after writing that sentence. Give me a minute… And it turns out Greaves himself was introduced to oral sex at the age of 7 by an adult woman. So it is possible that Greaves’ involvement in pedophilia stems from a cycle of abuse that dates back to his childhood, as some experts from this Broadsheet post posit. In fact, some sexual abuse experts believe that 40% of sexual abusers were sexually abused themselves.
And regardless of Greaves’ meritless claims that “kissing and fondling” can be harmless fun with children, in fact the opposite is true. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, children do not have the coping skills to handle sexual stimulation.
No child is psychologically prepared to cope with repeated sexual stimulation. Even a two or three year old, who cannot know the sexual activity is wrong, will develop problems resulting from the inability to cope with the overstimulation.
The Broadsheet post brings up some interesting points about villainizing Greaves and pedophiles in general. We could look at books (and websites) like this as a cry for help, as a way to not only discuss this issue but to look at ways to help pedophiles. These are good points, albeit hard ones to see when you are someone who had to heal from such devastating victimization.
Since the initial uproar over the book, it has been banned by Amazon. And this is where I feel the most conflicted. I cannot stomach a book like this but it is even worse to me that a book be banned. Like being a sexual abuse survivor, being a champion of the Freedom of Speech is central to who I am. How can I be a writer and not be at least in part a crusader for the First Amendment (or, indeed, all of our rights)? As much as it turns my stomach, I have to defend Greaves’ right to speak his mind. I hate what he has to say, but he has the right to say it. This is what it means when people say Democracy is not easy. This is what it means to be a patriotic American; to fight for the liberty of all. And on this day, it is very hard for me to feel this way about Greaves.
Maybe it’s a part of my own healing process to see someone like Greaves as a human being and fellow American, worthy of a Bill of Rights that protects him. Maybe it’s just that the writer in me is over-riding the survivor in me. Either way, I can’t fully embrace the call to ban this book. There has to be a more productive way to deal with books like these (and the racist ones and the sexist ones, et al).
*And if you are a sexual abuse survivor and need help or someone to talk to, you can contact RAINN for resources.*