Friday, August 03, 2007

Nonce Sense

Lots of fuss about Chris Langham, after his conviction for 'creating' kiddy porn, although he got off the charges of actually having under-age sex. As one is obliged to do these days, I must first state my position on this. As Mr Langham once apparently said, I like children, although I couldn't eat a whole one. Actually that's not true. I don't really like children. They're nasty, smelly, annoying creatures who seem to do little except demand things and put sticky wrappers into your hand when you're not expecting it. I have one of my own. I know.

In other words, I'm not a paedophile, and I don't really understand people who are. I would no more want to have sex with a child than I would want to screw my car. This may come as a shock to the powers that be who believe that all men are latent peadophile rapists, just waiting for their perverted lusts to be triggered by a picture, but that's the way it is. I'm just not interested in children.

However, I was swimming this morning at my local pool when my eye chanced on an attractively pneumatic black woman frolicking in the water. Mmm, nice, thought my lizard brain. Not that I would have done anything about it, being happily married and a geek, but any man who says he doesn't look is a liar. Then her mum got into the pool and I realised that she was about 14. I was discreetly leching at an under-age girl. That makes me a paedophile, surely?

Well, not in Spain or Japan, and possibly not in Germany, or a host of other places.

It seems to me that whatever the legal age of consent is, someone who wishes to have sex with someone else who is pre-pubescent has something wrong with their brain. From an evolutionary perpective I can't think of any way in which this would be a useful adaptation*. They're just broken.

This is completely different from someone who wishes to have sex with someone else who is post-pubescent, but below the legal age of consent in their particular locality. That's entirely normal behaviour. Healthy young women are the ideal mate, from an evolutionary perspective. They are strong, fit and fertile. Society recognises this by encouraging females to try and look younger to get a partner. Boob jobs, cosmetics, hair dye are all ways to appear younger, and appeal to a male brain evolved to look for reproductive fitness, i.e. youth.

However, in the eyes of the law, they are just the same. This seems silly to me. I appreciate that we have to infantilise our teenagers in order to educate them sufficiently to be members of our complex western society. And I've blogged about Rousseau and the noble savage before. Even so, lumping people who are normal, but have transgressed their society's taboos in with people with broken brains seems wrong. The former need a slap on the wrist, the latter need treatment.

Fixed age of consent laws will always throw up anomalous cases, but it's generally for the best that schoolgirls get on with their homework without having to fend off men trying to get into their pants, so generally I support them. However, lumping everyone into the category of sick perverted paedophiles just isn't helpful. As with everything else in life, the reality is more nuanced.

* just because I can't think of it doesn't make it true, of course, but until I read otherwise, I'm sticking to it.

** the title comes from the fantastic Brass Eye 'Paedogedden' special.

UPDATE: someone on the cif thread pointed me here, with the statistic that 25% of adult males fancy children. That seems a bit high to me, and I suspect that what happens in the lab doesn't transfer into the real world in this case.

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