Old Dominion University placed on administrative leave a professor who said in a recent interview that adult sexual attraction to minors is OK as long as it's not acted upon.
What are the details?
The Norfolk, Virginia, college made the announcement Tuesday evening, saying the move involving Dr. Allyn Walker — an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice — was "effective immediately."
"Reactions to Dr. Walker's research and book have led to concerns for their safety and that of the campus," the ODU statement read. "Furthermore, the controversy over Dr. Walker's research has disrupted the campus and community environment and is interfering with the institution's mission of teaching and learning."
ODU President Brian O. Hemphill added, "I want to state in the strongest terms possible that child sexual abuse is morally wrong and has no place in our society. This is a challenging time for our University, but I am confident that we will come together and move forward as a Monarch family."
What's the background?
Walker used the term "minor-attracted people" to describe such adults in a recent interview with Prostasia, saying "there is no morality or immorality attached to attraction to anyone because no one can control who they're attracted to at all. In other words, it's not who we're attracted to that's either OK or not OK. It's our behaviors and responding to that attraction that are either OK or not OK."
Walker — whose bio in "Experiences of Trans Scholars in Criminology and Criminal Justice" indicates the professor is "queer" and "nonbinary trans" — also penned a recent book titled, "A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity." The book's abstract says, "Challenging widespread assumptions that persons who are preferentially attracted to minors — often referred to as 'pedophiles' — are necessarily also predators and sex offenders, this book takes readers into the lives of non-offending minor-attracted persons (MAPs). There is little research into non-offending MAPs, a group whose experiences offer valuable insights into the prevention of child abuse. Navigating guilt, shame, and fear, this universally maligned group demonstrates remarkable resilience and commitment to living without offending and to supporting and educating others."
In the Prostasia interview, Walker went to great lengths to differentiate between pedophiles and minor-attracted people in what seemed to be an attempt to normalize adult attractions to people under the age of 18 as long as those attractions aren't carried out:
And I want to be extremely clear that child sexual abuse is never ever okay. But having an attraction to minors as long as it isn't acted on doesn't mean the person who has those attractions is doing something wrong. I think we have a tendency to want to categorize people with these attractions as evil or morally corrupt. But when we're talking about non-offending MAPS, these are people who have an attraction that they didn't ask for. And one that frequently they would give anything to change. But they find that they're unable to change those attractions. And most importantly, the people in my study did not act on them.
... there's a big difference between MAPs and child sexual abusers. "Pedophilia" is a clinical term that indicates a sexual attraction to people who have not gone through puberty. MAP refers to someone who has preferential attractions to minors, and that can include children who have gone through puberty or not. And child sexual abusers are people who have committed a sexual offense against a child. Many of these people are indeed MAPs. But first of all, there are many people who commit sexual offenses against a minor who are not attracted to children in general. We know that abusers commonly commit sexual offenses for reasons related to power control and access, not because of attraction. So many child sexual abusers are not MAPs.
Here's the full interview:
Prostasia Conversations: Allyn Walker youtu.be
'This needs to be crushed right now, without apology'
There's been a good deal of strong pushback against Walker's words. One dose of it came from Rod Dreher, whose American Conservative article on the subject is titled "Normalizing Pedophiles." He said Walker's presentation appeared like a "crusade ... to normalize pederastic desire — exactly as many of us figured would happen."
More from Dreher's piece:
Allyn Walker is playing with fire. Surely there must be some way to get these suffering people the help they need without moving towards considering pedophilia just one more "sexual orientation." Because if it ever should become that, we are halfway to legalizing it, following the same path that standard homosexuality took. If sexual desire is the equivalent of identity, and if to sexually desire minors is at the core of one's identity, then how can we stigmatize or otherwise suppress pedophiles if we recognize that other kinds of sexual minorities have civil rights?
Anybody who has lived through the last twenty years knows that sexual identity and the law is a slippery slope. This needs to be crushed right now, without apology.