Unfortunately, our society uses the word “pedophilia” interchangeably with the term “child molester”, even though there are many pedophiles who would never dream of harming a child and there are many child molesters who are not pedophiles. It is important for pedophiles to point out incorrect usage of terminology whenever possible and to encourage the media and private organizations to make the distinction and use correct terminology.
As part of my support for Pedophile Pen Power, I have written a number of letters pointing out egregious misuse of terminology. The letter that I use is very similar in each case. I am printing a stock version of this letter here in the hopes that others will be stimulated to write similar letters themselves. Feel free to use this letter, modify it or adapt it as you see fit.
Dear [insert name],
I am writing you concerning your website/article of [insert date] which appeared in [insert link/reference]. Whilst I am firmly opposed to child sexual abuse I must point out that your article/statement contains a factual error which is both defamatory and dangerous.
Pedophilia is a physical and romantic attraction to children. Pedophilia does not imply any action whatsoever upon this attraction. Therefore, pedophilia is not of itself criminal. Whilst many modern societies have chosen to criminalize sexual activity between adults and young people, the attraction itself is not illegal. There are a great many pedophiles who never engage in physical intimacy with young people and are firmly committed to never harming any child. On the other hand, there are many people who do molest children who are not actually pedophiles.
Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield in the 1997 textbook Coping With Psychiatric and Psychological Testimony, in the chapter entitled Special Problems with Sexual Abuse Cases, write:
“Although the terms are often used interchangeably, a distinction must be made between ‘sex offender against a minor’ and ‘pedophile’. The former refers to a criminal sexual behavior and the latter to an anomalous sexual preference. Many pedophiles never act on their impulses. At the same time, not all sex offenders against a minor are pedophiles. All mental health professionals acting in an expert witness capacity should know this distinction.”
The result of such misuse is that those pedophiles who have never committed any offense are needlessly stigmatized by society, leading to further isolation. Having to live a life in which full realization of one’s sexuality must be foregone due to its illegality is exceedingly difficult. Society needs to recognize that there are many who do precisely that and should strive not to stigmatize them as it currently does. Instead, it should work to provide these people with not only the ability to publicly acknowledge their orientation, but full access to counseling or therapeutic services without fear of ostracism, discrimination or perseution.
I would urge you to reconsider the wording of your statements and to pay especial attention in the future to not use incorrect terminology.
The following parties/organizations have received this letter or one similar to it recently:
- Corrupted-Justice.com (Terminology is used incorrectly on this page)
- Shy Keenan, Phoenix Survivors (Keenan consistently mixes terminology incorrectly)
- NAOMI House (Ran a defamatory billboard campaign. The campaign has since ended and the pictures have been removed from their website.)