Title: Human Erotic Age Orientation: A Conclusion
Author(s): Jay Feierman
Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, University of New Mexico
Citation: Feierman, J., ”Human Erotic Age Orientation: A Conclusion,” in Feierman, J. (ed.), Pedophilia: Biosocial Dimensions, New York: Springer-Verlag, 1990b, pp. 552-565.
The author comments on society’s reactions to the existence of minor-attracted adults, and social conditions that prevent them from receiving needed assistance.
He first addresses the labeling of people as “pedophiles” and “ephebophiles” and the resulting ostracism, humiliation, and banishment of those labeled. This process has three possible benefits to those doing the labeling:
The author writes that this last benefit is “a self-inflicted paradox, inasmuch as the 'cost' of such self-knowledge is an indeterminable sentence of never to be discussed inner turmoil and pain.”
There is also the culturally transmitted belief that pedophilia and ephebophilia, like homosexuality, result from a yet unknown social-learning experience, which labeling will somehow prevent.
The author then expresses his concern for youth who are attracted to children or younger adolescents:
“When I grow up, I want to be...” are words that are heard frequently from children...Recently, much has been written about the development in childhood and adolescence of individuals who eventually grow up to be homosexual...materials, as well as interested and compassionate professionals and nonprofessionals, are available to an adolescent or a young-adult male who is personally dealing with his homosexuality. These resources simply are not available in most Western industrialized societies for an adolescent or a young-adult male who is dealing with a preferential sexual attraction to children or younger adolescents. If in the process of learning about his sexuality such a male unfortunately acted his attraction out, in any way, and if in many jurisdictions he were to tell a human services professional that he had done so, he very likely would be arrested...It is, therefore, not surprising that adolescent and adult males who are dealing with this issue rarely discuss it with anyone. (p. 563)
The author writes that there is little in the way of mental health care for both men who have not acted on their attractions, and those who have and have served their time. Instead, there is public ostracism and banishment imposed on men who act on their sexual feelings, including the almost inevitable presence of the media during proceedings:
At the conclusion of such hearings, one could appreciate the meaning of the term “judgmental,” inasmuch as virtually all sentences were handed down within the framework of castigating and derogatory comments. Such comments, I believe, are what the larger social group wanted to hear, along with the sight of television footage or newspaper photographs of the publicly humiliated, submissively postured defendant waiting to be banished. Often I have wondered during such times whether the sentencing judge would be able to meet his own standards of continence if the object of his own adult male sexual desires were similarly illegal.
...Most pedo- and ephebophiles with whom I have had contact over the years have begrudgingly accepted the reality that the object of their sexual desires is socially proscribed as illegal. Most, I believe, could have lawfully lived with this reality with a little help before their downfall. Most were not given the opportunity to receive this help, however, because of the way that their behavioral proclivities were received by their societies. Perhaps much of this reception was a result of the lack of understanding of pedo- and ephebophilia. I hope so.