The recent conviction of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on several counts of pedophilia brings that awful topic to the news again. We’ve all heard hundreds of stories about pedophile priests, as well as similar actions by prep school teachers, to the extent that this seems to be some sort of epidemic. What’s going on?
When I question normal adult males–both heterosexual and homosexual– about this, they all say that they can’t imagine being attracted to young boys–they’re stinky and wiggly with dirt behind their ears, and either skinny or pudgy. In other words, they are definitely not a sexual turn-on of any sort.
A surprising amount of this sort of thing goes on in some Middle Eastern countries, such as Afghanistan. I once read a novel set there in which a young boy’s bottom is describe as looking "like a ripe peach." I suspect this is at least partly caused by the marginalization of women. If women are "the other," and considered to be somehow "unclean," and even "dangerous," then the "safer," more comfortable choice might be a young boy. This could be part of the cause of Catholic pedophilia as well.
Pedophiles like Sandusky are attracted to venues where they are likely to mix with young males–places like schools and scout troops. In Sandusky’s case, he actually created a charity to help young males, but which really ended up exploiting them.
This desire to have sex with young boys cannot be cured–or at least, no psychologist has figured out how to do it yet.
I don’t think that all these men start out cynical, although they surely must become that way. Sandusky might actually have started his charity to help young boys–not hurt them–but he quickly turned his organization into a sort of sexual "farm."
I suspect that pedophiles often join the priesthood because they feel that this asexual organization will protect them from their own dangerous desires–if they aren’t allowed to have sex, then they won’t have the "wrong" kind of sex. But then they find themselves surrounded by alter boys and their innocence quickly turns to cynicism as they indulge in something they well know to be sinful.
A wise person once reminded me that it’s not what you think about that counts–it’s what you do. We all have a lot of "trash" floating around in our minds, and if you pay attention to these thoughts as they flash by, they can be appalling. Almost all of us daydream about being famous, being applauded, becoming rich and successful without making any effort. Or maybe we dream about getting even with people who have hurt us–perhaps even killing them.
But if we were given the opportunity to get the ultimate revenge, almost none of us would do it. And if we were suddenly feted and famous, we would probably tire of it very soon–most movie stars say they do, and I believe them.
Few of use have the urge to have sex with children–and psychologists aren’t sure where this desire comes from. But we can all be perverts of a milder sort when we do things we know we shouldn’t, such as "telling someone off" or being rude to a stranger when we feel frustrated by life. Nobody can be nice all the time, but at least we can realize that when we don’t conduct ourselves well, we have become perverts of a sort ourselves.
No one will arrest us–maybe no one will even hate us–but we’ll be lesser people for indulging our weaker selves.
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