An assistant professor at Old Dominion University claims that "minor-attracted people" — those who are sexually attracted to people under the age of 18 — shouldn't be stigmatized for their attractions and that such feelings are OK as long as they're not acted upon.
What are the details?
Allyn Walker — whose bio in "Experiences of Trans Scholars in Criminology and Criminal Justice" indicates the sociology and criminal justice prof is "queer" and "nonbinary trans" — recently was interviewed about the "minor-attracted people" topic and said "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 also recently penned a 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 Walker's interview with Prostasia, the prof 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.
Here are some snippets from the interview:
A lot of people when they hear the term pedophile, they automatically assume that it means a sex offender. And that isn't true. And it leads to a lot of misconceptions about attractions toward minors. [...]
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.
And then just as importantly, many MAPs never commit a sexual offense against a minor. And that difference is important because when we don't understand that distinction, we make incorrect assumptions about the likelihood of offending amongst MAPs. This leads to people believing that just because someone is attracted to minors, they're likely to commit an offense. And we start to criminalize a population just because of their attractions. Not only is this a problem in terms of criminalization, but it also serves to heighten stigma against MAPs in general, which is a huge problem.
The interviewer also asked Walker why it's a problem to stigmatize those who are attracted to minors as a way of protecting minors. Here's how Walker replied:
I think we believe societally that stigma against MAPs serves to protect children because somehow we don't fully understand the differences between MAPs and sex offenders. Again, we have this confusion between the attraction and a criminal behavior. Which I stress so much is just a huge problem. Stigma against MAPs is a problem, in part because it makes MAPs think that they're monsters. That's really problematic in terms of MAP well being. It's really hard to cope when you think you're a terrible person, because you have attractions that you can't change. But it's also hugely problematic because when MAPs get the impression that they're destined to commit an offense against a child, they might not realize that it's a choice that they have, and that there's help out there if they feel some kind of temptation to commit an offense.
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 to Walker's words about minor-attracted people. 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.