Sunday, October 15, 2006

Refuting the FRC's anti-gay smear:

First Andrew Sullivan and then Julian Sanchez linked to this excellent paper by Mark E. Pietrzyk refuting an earlier paper done by Dr. Timothy Dailey (whose Ph.D. is in theology) which attempts to demonstrate a connection between adult homosexuality and child molestation. As Sanchez, Sullivan, and Pietrzyk note, the FRC study notoriously twists definitions in order to make the otherwise dubious connection.

And Pietrzyk's main points mirror what I've been saying all along.

These scientists note that pedophilia is a separate orientation from homosexuality and that the vast majority of molesters who target boys have either no interest in mature males or are heterosexual men who are attracted to the feminine characteristics of pre-pubescent males.


Sanchez offers a great analogy as well:

The key point here is that child molesters are overwhelmingly male, and the rate at which their victims are also male is higher than the rate of homosexuality in the general population. If you don't know anything about the psychology of sexuality, it's apparently intuitive to call these men "homosexuals" and conclude that there's a disproportionate amount of homosexual pedophilia. Of course, to recycle an analogy I've used earlier, this is a little like asking men who have sex with goats whether they're boy goats or girl goats and drawing inferences about the goatfucker's sexual orientation. Men who molest prepubescent children are almost never "homosexual" in the sense of "being attracted to men in general."


Thus, any study which "lumps in" men who like little boys only (almost all of whom do not identify as "gay men" and are far likelier to be heterosexual in their adult orientation and are often married) with what we normally understand as homosexual or "gay" men is tainted from the start.

So while the connection between adult homosexual attraction and pedophilia is dubious, gay men in general may be attracted to underaged teens, who are, after all biological adults. Perhaps, therefore, some concern about underaged teenage males being alone with gay men is valid. But, it does you no good to make an otherwise valid point with a spurious argument. For instance, perhaps the Palestinians have some valid points regarding unfair treatment by Israelis. But it would do them no good to begin arguing their case with "Jews drink with the blood of Palestinian children." That is a conversation stopper. Likewise, no credible evidence shows gay men are more likely to be involved with underaged men than straights are with underaged women. A more persuasive argument might start with "just as we would feel uncomfortable with an adult straight man and a teenaged girl in this circumstance...."

Finally, conflating all acts, whether consensual or not, between adults and underaged teens under the rubric of "pedophilia" or even "child rape" further muddies the issue. Again, terms like "pedophilia" and "child rape" are conversation stoppers, connoting horrible evil. As the myth goes, examples of gay men involved with underaged teens are offered (as though heterosexuals never engage in or glorify such) to show that gays are on the "cutting edge" or "chic" in deconstructing what's left of Western morality.

When the reality is, such heterosexual ephebophilia (the proper term) until recently, was so ingrained in Western morality that arguably one could assert that Judeo-Christian, Biblical morality endorsed ephebophilia, or if pedophilia is the right term, Judeo-Christian morality endorsed pedophilia, as long as it took place within the context of a marriage, which institution is indeed the ultimate "normalizer" of sexual behavior. I've offered past examples of Jerry Lee Lewis and Loretta Lynn being involved in marriages where one party was an adult male, the other, a 13-year-old girl, in the South in the 1950s (the heydey of social conservatism).

As Pietrzyk notes:

An honest examination of the historical record indicates that Biblical law and the Judeo-Christian tradition, far from condemning pedophilia, often condoned sexual relations between adults and children. The contemporary social and legal taboo against sex with children developed only gradually over the centuries, and did not become firmly established until the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries. The very concepts of age of consent and statutory rape did not derive from Biblical orthodoxy and ancient tradition, but rather evolved out of the same modernist conceptions of individual rights and equality which underlie the contemporary struggle for gay rights. Thus, if the slippery slope argument has any validity at all, it more aptly applies to contemporary proponents of Biblical orthodoxy and "traditional family values" than to proponents of gay rights.

....

More detailed information on the sexual ethics of ancient Judaism can be found in the Talmud. The Talmud is the record of oral law and commentaries which supplements the written law of Scripture; in Jewish tradition, the oral law is part of the divine revelation received by Moses on Mount Sinai.

According to the Talmud, the recommended age for marriage is sometime after twelve for females, and thirteen for males. Marriage below these ages was generally frowned upon.


Strangely (and previously unbeknownst to me), the Talmud outright endorses pedophilia:

However, a father was allowed to betroth his daughter to another man at an earlier age, and sexual intercourse was regarded as a valid means of sealing a betrothal. The age limit for betrothal through sexual intercourse was shockingly low. According to the Talmud, "A girl of the age of three years and one day may be betrothed by intercourse."42

This age limit was apparently chosen because, according to Rabbinical discussion, the features of virginity in the young female (the hymen, which breaks and bleeds the first time after intercourse) did not finish developing until the age of three years and one day. Intercourse with a female younger than this was like "putting a finger in the eye,"43 that is, as putting a finger in the eye causes it to tear and tear again, intercourse with a female younger than three causes the hymen to initially bleed but then to grow back again, restoring the sign of virginity. Thus intercourse with a female younger than three years and one day was not a crime; it was simply invalid as a means of sealing betrothal by ending her virgin status, since the signs of virginity would eventually reappear. According to the Talmud, "When a grown-up man has intercourse with a little girl it is nothing, for when a girl is less than [three years], it is as if one puts the finger into the eye."44


Of course, bizarre and immoral practices endorsed by the Bible or traditional Judeo-Christian morality (like for instance slavery, or the execution of homosexuals, adulterers, and those who worship "false gods") can be explained away by historical context. But if one looks to "the Bible" and traditional Judeo-Christian morality to contain the inerrant and eternal Truth, as True today as when written, one is bound to be sorely disappointed, sometimes shockingly so.

10 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

So while the connection between adult homosexual attraction and pedophilia is dubious, gay men in general may be attracted to underaged teens, who are, after all biological adults. Perhaps, therefore, some concern about underaged teenage males being alone with gay men is valid. But, it does you no good to make an otherwise valid point with a spurious argument. For instance, perhaps the Palestinians have some valid points regarding unfair treatment by Israelis. But it would do them no good to begin arguing their case with "Jews drink with the blood of Palestinian children." That is a conversation stopper. Likewise, no credible evidence shows gay men are more likely to be involved with underaged men than straights are with underaged women. A more persuasive argument might start with "just as we would feel uncomfortable with an adult straight man and a teenaged girl in this circumstance...."

Very well and judiciously put, Jon. It does seem unlikely that this issue will ever be publicly discussed at that mature level and escape the province of ignorance and slander. Those who might find this line of inquiry worthy of pursuit prefer not to discuss the whole thing at all and instead to let it shake out wherever it will in the privacy of the ballot box.

(Leo Strauss and esotericism are useful here.)

Wack beyond wack thing in Talmud, if accurate. Different in kind and not just degree from anything Judeo-Christianity might find objectionable in Plato's Symposium. Might be why the Judeo- part is considerably more mellow on gay issues. Let he who is not wack cast the first aspersion...

The Gay Species said...

This is thornier issue than you suggest. While I thoroughly agree that "gay" and "pedophile" are mutually exclusive, isn't it odd that every book written on "homosexuality" includes antiquity's pederasty as part of the homosexual tradition? Both gay and straight writers. Without exception.

Even "educated" adults exposed to antiquity's extol of pederasty is to be excused for drawing a false inference that pederasty = gay. We gays do it! Look no farther than Louis Compton's Homosexuality and Civilization and Gregory Woods' A History of Gay Literature, both ostensibly academic and written by ostensibly gay authors. In Woods' case, he does suggest this period had "gays" in our contemporary sense, but they rarely found paydirt in books (bk IX of the Aeneid is an exception, not the rule). But he clearly chronicles the Age of Pederasty as part of "gay history." If straights are confused (legitimately, not polemically), they may have reason.

Same-sex eros is as multi-facted as opposite-sex eros, and ephebophilia is popular in both (although always pilloried), while pedophilia is widely condemned in both today. But it wasn't always thus. I have a hard time understanding how "men" could find "boys" sexually interesting at all (it's actually repulsive and vile to me), but it was the "norm" in many antique societies. And most gays accept that part of history as a part of the "gay narrative," even if none of us would act that way today. Straights who are genuinely confused are not alone or without some reason.

Post-Stonewall Gay Liberation has never embraced pedophilia, and NAMBLA is widely and properly excoriated by the GLBT. But open a book, read the very first chapter, and there is pederasty as part of the "gay narrative." Maybe rejoined as "ancient practice" no longer a contemporary feature of gays, but why include it at all? If the book began with animal sacrifices to Thanatos as "gay" it would be no less dissonant. Pederasty was never "gay" in the first place. Same-sex relations between adult males was often rejected even back then, or at least the "receptive" and/or effeminate male. If we can't tell our story straight, why are we surprised some straights are confused?

None of this, however, justifies the polemic by today's homophobes, using the ambiguity for their nefarious purposes. Whatever was "homosexual" in antiquity and what is "gay" today bear no resemblence, and most of us know it. Unfortunately, it still creeps into the "gay narrative." Go figure!

Jonathan said...

Stephen,

It is odd to claim the pederasty of antiquity as "gay." Given that such a huge % of men took part in the ritual, and given that almost all of them went on to marry women and sire children, these were heterosexual men engaging in a socially constructed ritual.

The adult men played the "male" role, the teens, the "female." The particular age at which the teens were "groomed" -- between 12-14 -- is when males are proportionately closest in size to average adult females (that's when the males would be between 5'2"-5-5" in height; weigh between 100-130 lbs). In essence, the behavior of the ancient Greeks was a far more of a HETEROSEXUAL substitute form of homosexuality. And this shouldn't surprise given that the overwhelming majority of those partaking in the behavior seem to be heterosexual males.

Tom Van Dyke said...

That would be a different point that what I took to be the original, which made a crucial distinction between a taste for youth and the taste for the sexually immature, i.e., a true pederasty.

Jon, I dunno if you're aware of a posthumous Strauss book that appeared in 1999 (edited by Benardete), Leo Strauss On Plato's Symposium. In it, the internet tells me that Strauss points toward an inherent bisexuality in man, or at least the male.

Not relevant to my own inquiry on the nature of things, but certainly to yours, and supports your latest point. I thought I'd pass it on in case it hadn't tripped over your transom already.

BLueRibbon said...

Which part of my comment concerned you so much?

The fact is that the majority of people who commit acts of child molestation are attracted to adults, either heterosexual or homosexual.

Gays deny any attraction to younger boys, despite the fact that many of them do have an attraction to people below the Age of Consent.

You can censor this comment too, if you wish, but I'll just post a link to this post at paed forums/blogs.

The Gay Species said...

Jonathan,

You're restating my point, but ignoring the observation. "We" know classical pederasty has nothing in common with today's "gay" sensibility, so why does it pervade gay narratives? Dover never associates the two, but those who are writing the "gay narratives," including the two extraordinary minds I cited, are. If pederasty is not a part of the gay cultural inheritance, as we suggest it most definitely is not, why is it routinely paraded "as if" it is? The dissonance is not "out there," but in the "gays' backyard." If we are so clear about it, and I really believe we are, why the dissonance among gay writers? If there's legitimate confusion (not the homophobic polemics), might gays not play a part in perpetuating it? It's a question I believe worth asking.

Jonathan said...

Okay Blue Ribbon, I won't censor you anymore. And you are probably right that at least *some* molestation is not committed by pedophiles. Indeed, I've noted that ephebophilia, which we tend to call "pedophilia" often stems from a normal heterosexual or homosexual orientation. And in Ancient Greece, these seemed to be normal heterosexual men engaging in socially constructed rituals where young teen males were used as substitutes for women.

I just hope that YOU wait until those boys reach the age of consent in whatever jurisdiction you live before you do anything with them. For THEIR sake and YOURS.

BLueRibbon said...

A lot of child molestation is heterosexual, primarily incest offences against daughters, so pederasty isn't as common as people believe. Many offenders also use children as a "substitute" for adult partners.

"I just hope that YOU wait until those boys reach the age of consent in whatever jurisdiction you live before you do anything with them."

Well, I'm not attracted to boys above the AoC, so the answer is celibacy

passingthru said...

That quote about 3-year-old girls is a flat-out lie.

Nothing in the Talmud says any such thing.

Anonymous said...

"The fact is that the majority of people who commit acts of child molestation are attracted to adults"

Pedophiles usually state they're attracted to adults as well (for example, only 7% of the pedophiles in the study published in 2001 book by Dr. Gene Abel say they're uninterested in adults) but phallometric tests suggest something quite different - specially pedophiles who molest unrelated children. (Incest offenders - who are mostly fathers or stepfathers who molest thair female children - are usually attracted to adult women, however they're more attracted to children than the rest of the male population.)