Sexually interfering with a child is a myth
Sexually interfering with children is a myth put forward by sexophobes and antisexuals to support their (false) claims that any sexual interaction between adults and children is (supposedly) "harmful" or "damaging" to the children involved, either physically or, especially, psychologically.
This argument is only one in a very long serious of fallacious arguments put forward to (supposedly) "justify" the harsh treatment of BoyLovers under the law, and the denial of young people's right to "sexual agency". It is an example of psychobabble.
First, of course, we should define our terms (unlike those in the child abuse industry, who often throw around words without ever defining what they mean!)
The Concise Oxford Dictionary:
*1. (interfere with) prevent from continuing or being carried out properly.
:get in the way of.
:handle or adjust without permission.
*2. intervene without invitation or necessity.
*3. (interfere with) British euphemistic sexually molest.
The American Heritage Dictionary:
*1. To come between so as to be a hindrance or an obstacle.
*3. To intervene or intrude in the affairs of others; meddle.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary:
*1. to interpose in a way that hinders or impedes ; come into collision or be in opposition
*3. to enter into or take a part in the concerns of others
So to "sexually interfere" with a child means to:
- (in a way that is sexual) to interfere with/intervene/come between/interpose, etc. between the child's development and something else.
What is that "something else"? This is never mentioned by those who (wrongly) argue against adult/child sexual interactions.
The "something else" is the (implicit/unstated) assumption that children, as they develop their sexual interests and attitudes, are involved in a process, and that process is being somehow disrupted by "sexual interference" of others. We must now ask, what is that process?
The process--which is, of course, assumed to be true, but never stated--is that there is a "normal" progression of experiences and events in a child's life--a series of stages and events that shape the child's sexuality. But there are problems with these assumptions.
For one thing, it is implies that children are all sexually oriented alike--that there is only one "correct" model of how a young person/child develops.
That model is of a heterosexually oriented young person, with no interest in sexual experimentation outside of the "heterosexual" model, and that the "child" progresses from:
- early sexual experimentation with peers (so-called "normal "sex play", but a kind of sexuality that is somehow completely distinct from the "adult form" of sexuality)
- to the "adolescent" stage--the beginnings of sexual interest in the opposite sex
- to "dating,"
- to becoming "engaged,"
- to marrying
- and then finally to their "first real sexual experience" with their spouse.
Is there strong research evidence that suggests that this is, indeed, the actual (and therefore correct) developmental model of a young person's growing sexuality? Actually, no, there isn't. This "model" is the fictional and imaginary patriarchal description of the hoped-for/wished-for way that a child (supposedly) should grow up, and is put forward by right-wing conservatives joined by radical third-wave (antisexual) feminists.
The evidence does not support this "wishful thinking". Young people do sexually experiment in many different ways as they grow up, and with "peers" of various ages as well as with those judged to be "adults" merely by the fact that they have achieved their eighteenth birthday.
The fallacy of Sexual scripts
An additional (invalid) argument put forward is framed in several similar "narratives":
- 1) children lack "sexual scripts." and therefore cannot handle sexual activity with adults, or
- 2) children's "sexual scripts" are not fully developed, and therefore children cannot handle sexual activity with adults, or
- 3) the "sexual scripts" of children differ completely from those of adults.
The fallacy involved when introducing the "straw man" of "sexual scripts" is that such scripts are actually completely imaginary--they are "theoretical constructs" put forth by sociologists as simply one way to attempt to describe behavior. But, in fact, no-one is issued a book with a set of "scripts" (written in stone, presumably), either when he/she are born, or when they reach the "magical" age of 18.
If one wishes to describe the set of experiences and attitudes which develop as one grows by calling them "scripts," then one must understand that these are "ad-libbed" scripts--these scripts form, grow, develop, and change as people gain more experience and more knowledge.
Children, and young people as well, must gain experience in order to write their own personal "sexual scripts". To deny children and young people genuine sexual experience prevents them from developing "scripts" which are in accord with reality.
The danger here is that either the child's imagination/fantasy will lead them to create their own "script," or the (usually very inaccurate and misleading) information the child gains about sex from their (also-ignorant) peers will form the basis for their "script".
Making (sexual) mistakes
As is the case for all humans, learning--in the case of young children (and for other young people)--often takes the form of "making mistakes" and then learning from those mistakes. One cannot "learn" about everything simply by being given instructions by others--one must try for oneself, see what happens, see how one feels about it, and then integrate that new knowledge into the knowledge that one has acquired previously.
Let's take durian fruit, for example. You may not even know what durian are. How will you discover if you like the taste or not? Can someone "teach" you so that you will know that (to you) durian tastes good? More than likely, no-one could. This is something you will have to try for yourself. Of course, in the case of durian, should you smell one first, you may be reluctant to even taste it. The smell is disgusting. But the taste? Most who have tasted durian say the taste is wonderful!
Would an adult be "flavor interfering" with a child's "taste" development if the adult gave a piece of durian to a child to try? What if the adult encourages (="verbally coerces") the child to taste the fruit, telling the child he should try it before he decides if he likes or dislikes the flavor? Encouraging a child to try new things helps the child to grow into a mature, competent adult human being.
Young children usually begin to form their "sexual scripts" (to use that social construct) quite early in life. They note the reactions of their parents and other adults around them to topics which are sexual in nature, and they see various sexual behaviors occurring around them. They most likely experiment sexually with their friends--most children most of the time find sexual experimentation with others to be a very pleasurable experience, and will repeat sexual activities with other children. When a child has his or her first orgasm (which even children are capable of from extremely early ages--see the Kinsey chapter linked to below) they are surprised and amazed at these new feelings, and will usually seek to repeat the experience, either alone or with others. The ease of attaining orgasm may depend on their feelings towards their "sexual" partner, on the type of stimulation, or on the environment in which the activity takes place.
All these allow, of course, for the child to make "mistakes". A child may try sexual activity with a peer, and discover that the peer is overly aggressive. And so the child learns from that "mistake" to avoid further activity with that peer. The reverse may be true, as well. A peer may provide positive experiences, and those experiences may then be repeated.
By restricting (or forbidding) a child's sexual experimentation, the child's world becomes a smaller place, the child may become overly fearful of new things, and the child's personality may become stunted. Safe sexual experimentation (meaning experimentation that does not entail risks of serious physical harm) should be encouraged in young people--including children.
Keeping children ignorant to further heterosexual orthodoxy
When the sexophobes and antisexuals claim that any sexual activity between an adult and a young person somehow "interferes" with the young person's "sexual development" they are actually saying that young people should be kept sexually ignorant until marriage--something that is absurd, given the fact that learning is so important to the establishment of healthy (meaning fairly well functioning) emotional and physical relationships with others.
We could look at an analogy--for example, "educationally interfering" with children. Let us assume that--without any outside "interference"--a child's education will somehow "naturally" (meaning "magically") occur, as long as it is not "interfered with" by others. Adults should, then, not "interfere" with this "normal" development. Children should left alone, like flowers (or weeds) in an untended garden, so they may (without being interfered with) "grow" and "develop" according to whatever genetic predispositions they have, or whatever environmental conditions they are exposed to.
We would probably agree that any experienced gardener would laugh out loud if someone suggested that the above "method" is the best method to raise a "healthy" garden!
This exposes the real problem with those making claims about adults (supposedly) "sexual interfering" with children and with young people: the ones who make these claims are very obviously totally ignorant about the nature of children, the process of growing up, and the meaning and importance of education!
- Child sexuality
- Myths about pedophiles
- Harmful to Minors (book)
- The Trauma Myth (book)
- Paedophilia:The Radical Case (book)