Monday, June 27, 2005

Germans? Sexually deviant? No!

"Do you love children more than you want to?"

So, apparently, in Germany, there's a campaign of print ads and posters that exhort pedophiles to seek treatment rather than sweet young...rather than offending for a first time. This campaign, while well meaning, raises a lot of questions on further contemplation.
For example, in what publication would you place an advertisement aimed at pedophiles? What magazine would admit that was their demographic? "Why, yes, we DO seem to be found in the background of your finer child-porn shoots..." and, what readership, upon finding that in their publication, wouldn't be offended? I've read in my psychology classes that pedophiles tend to gravitate towards publications meant for children, and those about children. Would the readers of german parents magazines be comfortable with the thought that someone might be reading that article on diaper rash more recreationally than educationally? And what about a Highlights for children? Who wants to explain to little Hans, on the way to Goofus and Goebbels or whatever, a full page ad suggesting that you not touch Johnny.
I believe, by the way, that parents SHOULD confront the fact that their reading material is entertainment for a disordered few. Parents should admit that there might be a stranger in the audience of the school play, and that there's definately some people with illicit interests in little girl's pageantry. So those ads, I think, ought to be in publications aimed at parents that might be purchased by people with other interests in children. Of course, when parents are asked to confront the dangers that children might face (even with the knowledge that the actual risk is statistically insignificant), they react with righteous anger, outrage, and enough foam childproofing to create a life-size model of those fat motorcycle twins. Child molestation is awful. It shouldn't happen. Pedophiles should seek treatment. But the fact is that most sexual abuse happens within the context of the family, and familiar car is more dangerous than a menacing stranger. But kids don't walk to school these days (that's why they're all so goddamned fat- seriously. Most kids are so fucking fat. That's one way to combat pedophilia, I suppose. Who wants a little porker, right?), because their parents think it's not safe. They don't play outside, or make up their own games, or interact with anything not approved by four councils and two magazines as safe. Increasing the parental fear quotient will do more harm than good, I fear.
Another thing- these ads rely on the pedophile to identify his behavior as deviant. The problem is addressed as one of personal choice, convenience. It asks "Do you love children more than you want to?" , framing pedophilia as an inconvenient habit. "Do you smoke more than you want to?" A dangerous pedophile is not the one who is already tormented by his compulsions; a dangerous pedophile is the one who's already built a system of justifications around it. The pedophile fortified with thread after thread of message boards comparing child molestation to s and m or lesbianism, is the dangerous pedophile. And he's not going to be convinced by an advertisment in 'Sesame Street Parent' or 'Modern Veal' or 'Prenatal Fun' to seek treatment for something he enjoys. The pedophile who wants to discontinue his behavior will be directed towards treatment by these ads, but the bottom line is, they just perpetuate the idea that sexual abuse is mostly strangers in dark alleys, not Uncle Jimmy in the rumpus room.