Sitting on a park bench
Eying little girls with bad intent
Snot is running down his nose
Greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes
Drying in the cold sun
Watching as the frilly panties run
Feeling like a dead duck
Spitting out pieces of his broken luck
—Jethro Tull, Aqualung
For the most part, society has given up the conception that the amarso is a monster, an homme armé to be feared as he travels about the countryside, leaving a trail of terror in his wake. Rather than being relieved, however, that it has ridded itself of its bête-noire, society feels even more uncomfortable. The monster it has long reviled has not gone away. Instead, the wolf has donned sheep’s clothing and entered mainstream society; the evil, supposedly once readily identifiable, has become invisible. Worse still, the evil has become familiar; the childlover is a highly-respected member of the community, the last person you would expect to be one. Worst of all, rather than fearing him, the children in the community love him.
Authors writing to warn people about the threat posed by childlovers and how they can be spotted rarely cite the highly publicized abductors and rapists of children, nor do they cite the ranks of priests who have brought disgrace to their profession and their church by abusing their position to prey on the youth entrusted to their ministry. Instead, they paint a picture which in any other context would be considered admirable. They admit that the childlover is good with children and that he is loved by them. They admit that he is a respected member of the community. They often even admit that he often does not even act upon his sexual attraction, and that when he does, he rarely uses force. Indeed, the ‘experts’ on amaros create for us an image of somebody that every family would like to count amongst their friends.
From whence, then, arises the loathing that society heaps upon the amarso? How is it that the childlover is unable to capitalize on the good will he has fostered in the community and gain acceptance for what he is? Firstly, the secrecy in which the childlover purportedly carries out his relationships with children is alarming. That which cannot be seen is always more terrifying than that which is visible. Secondly, the fact that the amarso is an ordinary member of society forces it to look into the mirror when looking for the amarso.
Most importantly, however, society is unable to allow an emotion as powerful as love to be left in the hands of children. To do so, to allow children to have romantic and sexual feelings too early would be to abnegate the absolute control society prefers to wield over its youth. Society, in its role as the guardian of its heritage and guarantor of its posterity considers itself uniquely qualified to manipulate and coerce its youth. It fully understands that love is a force more powerful than the tools it has at its disposal to ensure obedience and loyalty: patriotism, duty and responsibility. Therefore to allow children to love before they have been molded into compliant citizens is to risk losing their loyalty and respect. This makes the childlover, in the eyes of society, a subversive: the person who, in the words of King Solomon, “stirs up and awakens love before it pleases”. Society must therefore employ the more reliable tools of intimidation and fear to quell this threat. As Machiavelli wrote in The Prince, “While it is better to be both feared and loved, it is safer to be feared than loved.”
Before amarsi, therefore, have any chance of being considered as anything but dangerous elements of society, they must address all three of these primary issues. They must have the courage to take their relationships public, show society that while they are a part of society they do not define it, and prove that they will not corrupt and subvert society’s youth, but reinforce and affirm its positive values.
Know Thy Enemy
“Do you think you could detect a pedophile in a police line up simply by the way he looks? Maybe you picture him as a dirty, old man or a young scar-faced man. Pedophiles or serial child sex abusers come in every age, size, race and social class. They may be the hard-working father and husband next door. They may be the Professor at the local University or the pastor of a youth group. You cannot tell a child molester by his looks.”
Source: Susan Marie Jeevens, ‘Profile of a Pedophile’
Strictly speaking, a childlover is somebody who loves children. More specifically, the childlover is a person who is romantically or sexually attracted to children. Quite often, the childlover is open about his general love for children, and is often encouraged and appreciated by the parents whose laughing children are delighted by his stories and the attention he gives them. The childlover communicates well with children because he appreciates the pure, untainted nature the child, not yet corrupted by the conditioning of socialization, possesses. Unlike other adults, he is less likely to try and suppress this original nature, instead quite happy to allow it to manifest itself as it will. The child gravitates to the childlover not because he is funny or entertaining, but because he is genuine. Children can quite easily distinguish between those who pretend to like them and those who actually relate to them.
The ability to relate to children well, of course, is not exclusive to the childlover. Many people who are not childlovers also possess this gift. What then, distinguishes the childlover from any other person who is good with children? Why is one person able to work with children his entire life with no romantic feelings towards them whilst the next person is beset with butterflies in his stomach every time a particular child enters the room? When does the platonic love many people have towards children cross the line into romantic love? This quantum leap, between ordinary love towards children and a very extraordinary love towards them occurs when a person not only relates to the young person, but respects him to the point that he treats him as an equal partner in the relationship. Only when the young person and the adult can see eye to eye can true romantic love blossom.
Regrettably, there are many cases when adults do use children for their own selfish aims, exploiting them and forcing them into situations they do not wish or for which they are not prepared. At the same time, however, there are many cases when a true and edifying love is demonized by society and the child is traumatized firstly by being rent from his lover, and then by being forcefully conditioned into believing that the positive feelings and sensations he experienced with his lover were wrong, improper and dirty. Yet the reason that society chooses to perceive these relationships in this light is not, as many might conjecture, because of its negative experiences with child molesters any more than it condemns consensual relationships between two adults because of its negative experiences with rapists. Instead, society looks dimly on romantic child-adult relationships because they take place in secret.
Most childlovers would argue that the romantic portion of any relationship with a minor must be carried out in secret due to the perception of society to such relationships. Yet in this they are only partially correct. True, society, for many reasons, is very resistant to such relationships, but I would suggest that many such relationships could gain acceptance by the parents of the young person involved if the two involved parties were open about their feelings for each other. Certainly, admitting the attraction to the parents is fraught with risk; still, there is the chance that the parents will realize the depth of the attraction as well as appreciate the courage it has taken to be honest with them about the true nature of the relationship.
This is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Consider for a moment the normal friendships a young person has. Those friendships, even with peers, that are conducted in secret are generally looked upon dimly by parents. Parents like to know who their children’s friends are, and resistance on the part of the young person or the friend to be open about the friendship raises suspicion. In the case of friendships with adults, parents are often quite happy for their children to have adult friends so long as the adults in question are known to the parents and do not attempt to hide the relationship from them. It is the fear of the unknown that is greatly responsible for parental opposition to any sort of relationship. To be sure, openness is not the only factor involved in determining parental consent for a romantic relationship between their child and adult. But parents confronted with an adult openly requesting their blessing for his romantic attraction to their child are likely to at least consider the possibility. Let me clarify here that I am speaking at this point about a romantic, not a sexual, relationship.
What does the childlover achieve by openness? Firstly, he obtains a degree of separation from those who would harm and exploit children. Secondly, although he may be denied the opportunity to pursue his romantic attraction to the young person he loves, he gains the respect of the parents. Lastly, and most importantly, he emphasizes to the young person that their love is nothing to be ashamed of.
The Enemy Within
“Though there is no hard and fast profile of a pedophile, here are some general characteristics:
- Popular with both children and adults.
- Appears to be trustworthy and respectable. Has good standing in the community.
- Are primarily (but not always) male, masculine, better-educated, more religious than average.
- Are usually family men, have no criminal record.”
Source: Tammy L. Ruggles, BSW, MA, ‘Profile of a Pedophile’
Society would be happy if the amarso did look like Aqualung. It would be easier if the amarso was a loner, socially maladjusted and lurking on the edges of acceptability. Yet as this example proves, even those opposed to amaros recognize that the childlover is often just the opposite of the stereotype. Indeed, he is often the pillar of society, a person looked up to and respected within his community. While not all childlovers in fact fit the profile I have presented, the fact that society perceives that they often do presents it with a difficult dilemma. It is very likely for this reason that society has chosen to emphasize cases of stranger abductions and of evil, coercive relationships perpetrated by child molesters. It is much more comfortable to castigate the person who clearly violates society’s mores than to condemn the person who, in many ways, embodies the ideal to which many aspire. In order to validate its own morality, society needs to excise the elements it finds distasteful in such a manner that it does not directly relate to them. Therefore, it attributes to them characteristics that emphasize their differences. Criminal elements emerge from minority and immigrant populations and childlovers are drawn from the ranks of those unable to adjust to the mainstream.
When it becomes clear, however, that the childlover is married with children, has a university education, attends church and is a member of civic organizations, society is unable to cope. To cast such a paragon out is tantamount to admitting that society itself is flawed. How else can it explain that one of its favorite sons possesses a sexual orientation it considers anathema?
Yet no matter how much society denies it, it is evident that amarsi, far from being a fringe group on the periphery of greater society are actually a cross-section of it. The definition or profile of an amarso is as fluid as society itself and no stratum of the population is amarso-free. The singular thing that sets the childlover apart from everybody else is the fact that he has a different aesthetic to the rest of society, and possesses a special gift in his ability to recognize and fully appreciate the surpassing beauty and charm of the young.
If the amarso is actually much more like society than he is different from it, why is it so difficult for him to garner affirmation for his sexual orientation? Why does society feel that it is necessary to constantly demonize him and set him apart from the mainstream? Firstly, society is naturally conservative and resistant to that which is different. The reason for this is simple self-preservation. The fact that the society has survived as long as it has is the result of having done things a certain way. The amarso, and anybody else who possesses an alternate sexual orientation, challenges this tried and true way of doing things, and therefore, in the common wisdom of mainstream society, presents a credible threat to its survival.
The reason for this irrational fear is a lack of understanding. People by nature fear the unknown, and they remain woefully under-informed about the true nature of amaros. They fear that amaros is contagious and that to affirm amarsi is to risk that their number, as a proportion of the whole, will dramatically increase. They also fear that romantic relationships with adults will result in the young people involved themselves becoming childlovers when they reach adulthood, despite ample evidence to the contrary. But perhaps worst of all, people fear that, since the amarso is so much like them, they might themselves be or become amarsi. Only once their own insecurity is addressed and they realize that amaros is an involuntary orientation rather than a conscious lifestyle choice will society be able to look at the amarso next door and see him as a person rather than as a monster.
The Child Inviolate
“The first priority of pedophiles is having sex with children.”
Source: Susan Marie Jeevens, ‘Profile of a Pedophile’
“A child not always recognizes when he or she is being abused, manipulated, or groomed by a pedophile. Unless the pedophile is a sexual sadist, he does not have to threaten a child into silence. The trust, gifts, secrecy, and “relationship” are enough.”
Source: Tammy L. Ruggles, BSW, MA, ‘Profile of a Pedophile’
Society at large prefers to believe that the childlover is interested solely in a sexual relationship with young people. The connotations of accepting that the childlover truly loves the child, and that the child loves the childlover, are simply unacceptable. Therefore, the loving relationship between a young person and an adult friend which is discovered to have a romantic element is immediately demonized. The loving affections of the childlover, once admired and even encouraged by parents are now seen as nothing more than efforts by the childlover to curry the favor of the child.
More than anything else, the childlover encounters the most difficulty of all convincing people that he truly loves children, and that any physical element to the relationship is an affirmation of the love he feels for the child rather than the raison d’кtre for the relationship. The reasons for this difficulty are two-fold. Firstly, society, which has conditioned itself to view young people as asexual beings, can neither understand nor accept that they have the capacity—indeed the inclination—to have romantic and sexual relationships. Secondly, it is unable to comprehend that anybody could be romantically or sexually attracted to a child.
Therefore, a loving romantic relationship between a young person and an adult is an impossibility. Either the relationship is purely platonic and edifying by the standards of society, or it is evil and harmful to the child. The society that has difficulty accepting its own emerging sexuality and its own departure from the strict moral codes of its recent past is unable and unwilling to accept the sexuality of its children. Therefore the person who awakens the ‘non-existent’ sexuality of the child must be evil, and the efforts previously praised must be denounced as mere manipulation.
Even the mental health community has accepted this bias. Amongst other things, the American Psychological Association’s definition of a childlover states that the “…the [pedophile] may be attentive to the child’s needs in order to gain the child’s affection, interest and loyalty and to prevent the child from reporting the sexual activity.” The possibility that a childlover is attentive to a child’s needs because he actually loves the child does not apparently even merit mentioning.
Since society is unable to accept that an adult can have true romantic feelings towards a child, it has also given the romantic attentions the adult bestows upon the young person a different name. Rather than courting or romancing the young person, the adult is said to be grooming him. The buying of gifts, sharing of common interest and other relationship-building activities, considered desirable and positive in peer relationships, are considered subversive and dangerous when they occur between a child and an adult. Even when the young person fully consents and participates in the relationship and benefits from the love he has received and the affirmation and building of his self-esteem, society is inclined to take great pains to convince the young person that he was taken advantage of by his adult friend.
In fact, all of the language used to describe the relationship between an adult and a young person is designed to paint the childlover in the colors of a subversive. Indeed, he is perceived to be a danger of the most insidious sort: a person who undermines and corrupts the social order from within. This perception fully explains the McCarthyist zeal with which many people pursue amarsi and perceived amarsi. For them, the childlover is the serpent in the Garden of Eden, offering their children the enticing fruit of the tree in the center of the garden.
While parents do indeed worry that somebody could abuse or molest their child, they often possess an even more powerful underlying fear: that their child will consent to, and enjoy, an intimate relationship with somebody else. The sexual self-awareness of the child is perceived as a direct threat to the authority of the parents, who fear that the child’s affections and loyalty will transfer to the lover.
Until childlovers can convince parents that they do not wish to compete for the young person’s affections, but to augment and reinforce the emotional framework the family already provides to the young person, will they ever have any chance of acceptance in society. For the childlover who is already considered in other respects to be an asset to his community, this is not as insurmountable a task as it seems. He needs to learn to redirect attention from the ways he is different and focus it on the ways he is similar. If society is convinced that he is supportive of the fundamental values of society rather than a threat to the established order, they will be much more prepared to entrust their most valuable asset—their youth—to him.