Debate Guide: Respond to misdefinition

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Pointing out the general problem of misdefinition, and sticking to a set of precise, objective words of your own is fundamental to your argument. Via the use of misdefinitions, opponents have been able to get away with indefensible arguments - yet the majority probably know little about their faulty use of language. As far as labelling is concerned, remember to make the point that there is no such thing as 'the paedophile/pederast', any more than there is such a thing as 'the heterophile' or 'the homophile'. Minor-attracted individuals have no essential characteristics that distinguish them, save that their sexual tendency is strongly directed towards young people. Just as heterosexuals have no other distinguishing characteristics. What we are debating is the activities of an individual, adult or child, not a de-personalised category. Make sure to point out the following examples:


This is not 'child sexual abuse', 'illegal', 'child - adult sex', 'child porn', a 'mental illness' or the 'problem' associated with these. Pedophilia is a sexual attraction towards prepubescents. Check a reputable dictionary definition, e.g. 'sexual desire directed towards children' (Oxford, 1991). Abuse of a child should not automatically qualify a person as a Pedophile either, as Pedophilia has no etymological root in behaviour. Since it is hard for a Pedophile to establish a credible identity when by society's definition, his or her identity of choice means 'abuser', identifying this mistake should be an important part of your argument. Such a misdefinition may show a writer's vulnerability to the media, e.g. note how many news programmes simply use 'Pedophile' in place of 'child molester', whilst 'Heterosexual' would not be used to describe that bearded, warty rapist of a 25 year old woman!

The term 'Pedosexuality' may be preferred by some, if the opponent fails to accept the actual definition of Pedophilia. On the other hand, 'Nonce', 'Kiddy Fiddler' and 'Duck' have been used alongside the 'Large, groping hands', 'Thick rimmed / dirty glasses' and 'Sly old fox' stereotypes, of which the latter replaced the 'Rampant child destroyer' image, once news stories and studies revealed an alternative but equally disturbing nature to society's current 'devil' of choice.


This is the real word for a man who interacts 'sexually' with adolescent / pubescent boys. It derives from "boy love" the combination of “παίδ-” (the Greek stem for boy or child) with “ἐραστής” (Greek for lover; cf. “eros”). It has been manipulated in modern times, so that it refers to the anal penetration of under age boys, homosexuality, or any form of child rape.

Even Wikipedia (at the time of writing - Jun 08) has a decent article on the subject.


Although rarely used and not often misdefined, you may wish to introduce this word alongside a critique of your opponent's definitions. Ephebophilia is defined as a sexual attraction towards adolescents; particularly pubescents of either or both sexes (although Hebephilia may be used for an attraction to Girls). An 'Ephebe' is traditionally a young, male military recruit. An 'Adolescent' may be of any pubertal age, or up to around 21 years old, depending on your definition. 'Sexually active Ephebophile' is a better term than 'Pedophile' for describing someone who has chosen, through sexual preference, to have erotic relationships with pubescents, and the distinction is important since it clarifies that some degree of pubescent sexual character is preferred.

Abuse, molestation

These are often used to describe child - adult sex, and are correct terms from a number of legal and therapeutic perspectives. Ideally, these terms should not be used as parameters of debate, with more neutral ones such as age discrepancy, sexual or genital contact taking precedence. However, when even the most reputable journals are scarred by disagreement over such terminology, you are unlikely to persuade less scholarly debaters to use value-neutral language.

One notable problem is when someone may quote a study that concluded strongly against "child sexual abuse" and then say "I told you so". The behaviours that are included in such a study are very likely to be unrepresentative of all such contact. If this is not the case, search for bias, social causation of problems, any cases of 'correlation as causality' (e.g. 'something else causing sex and violence', or 'violence causing sex', instead of the assumed "sex causing violence") and any evidence to the contrary from our link list or list of studies. Richard Kramer provides a good starting point for critiquing these problem papers. Still, you must point out precisely how the evidence conflicts with theirs, instead of just linking it.

Fucking kids

As well as seemingly assuming penetration, such a definition of what you advocate sounds harsh, one sided and at the worst, intrinsically involuntary. A reasoned debate can only be had if the very definitions that we use are objective, and preferably shared by all sides of a debate. You advocate child - adult sexual contact, and must never be implied as supporting such a vague, emotionally laden and flexible idea as 'Fucking Children'. Nor should you use 'pleasuring' or 'making love' in anything but a descriptive sense - e.g, a correct usage would be -

"You would be surprised how many sexually active Pedophiles are simply pleasuring their partners. Whats more, their partners agree with a smile". Link to an account

The well-known author and feminist, Patrick Califa, has noted that if engaging in sexual relations with their partners, boylovers generally show more concern for the pleasure of their partners than does the average heterophile. Naturally such concern occurs to a greater or lesser extent in most relationships, but it seems that this aspect is particularly important in man/boy contacts – whether it occurs in a long-term relationship or even a casual sexual encounter: accounts almost uniformly show that what the adult appreciates most is the pleasure experienced by the child, even to the exclusion of the man's own contemporaneous sexual release.

'Normal' / 'Normality'

If your opponent uses this term, be sure to point out that it is an entirely relative concept. You should suggest that 'normal' only means "relatively commoner". So lets list all of the wonderful things that were once deemed "normal" in their contexts. Suppression of Women? Slavery? Rule by violence? Castration of sexual deviants?

The use of "normal" automatically implies that the chosen opposite is "sub/ab-normal", and its use must be shot down as inconsequential - immediately.