MAP Starting Guide
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|Category: Minor-attracted people|
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The MAP Starting Guide is a re-hosted and lightly modified version of Yure, & Hikari's document on Ipce.info. An original version, Russian, Spanish and Portugese versions are available at Ipce. References are also available in PDF form at Ipce. If a document can not be located from its link at Ipce, please consider Newgon's research resources or archival projects linked in the side-bar.
A “Minor Attracted Person” ("MAP") is anyone with a romantic or sexual preference for people who have not yet reached the age of consent. The category is broad enough to include even minors themselves, if they develop feelings and practices that can be considered sexual in their general tract between each other. However, this category is fairly new and most people don’t see the difference between attraction to minors and pedophilia, which is, itself, charged with great amounts of stigma. Because of that, the self-esteem of minor-attracted people is severely damaged, they hide and develop self-hatred. But it’s important for the minor attracted person to understand that they are not a threat to minors, that their attraction is fine in other cultures and that, putting things that way, attraction to minors isn’t a disease per itself, but is made such by society. That should help minor-attracted people to accept themselves wholeheartedly, to see cultural phenomena as passive of changing, improve understanding of themselves and point to help, if such is needed.
Try looking up the word “pedophilia” online right now. What you will likely see is a number of news articles about cases of child rape, molestation or worse. However, for a group of people, it is a very narrow picture. I am talking about minor-attracted people. Those people acknowledge that they have feelings for minors, so they are in position to judge what people say about them. And for many minor-attracted people, the news do not reflect who they truly are.
The phenomenon of attraction to minors is too diverse to be adequately described by media outlets. There are minor-attracted people who are pedophiles, but there’s also nepiophiles and hebephiles. There are minor-attracted people who feel that their attraction, despite being illegal, does not need to be illegal, but others prefer things to stay the way they are. And most interestingly, there are minors who are attracted to much younger minors, not to mention minors who are attracted to same-age peers.
The problem is that media outlets, by spreading misinformation, makes many minor-attracted people feel isolated or despaired. They do not see themselves in the monsters portrayed in the news. So, if you are law-abiding and attracted to minors, you might think that you are one of a few or that you would soon end up breaking the law. That causes feelings of despair. Yet, that despair is grounded on a false assumption: that all minor-attracted people are active or potential criminals.
That being said, looking up information about attraction to minors in general and pedophilia in particular can be a very painful and fruitless activity. The goal of this text is to provide accurate information about attraction to minors to minor-attracted people themselves, in order to make them feel more at an ease, while stressing the need to stay law-abiding. The first section tries to define attraction to minors, the second tries to explain the difference between thoughts and actions. Hopefully, after reading this, you will be able to sleep well. Because the text has minor-attracted people are audience, I will write in second person.
Attraction to minors
Being attracted to minors is having an erotic attachment to people who are not yet adults. Because “minor” is a cultural term, not a biological one, such as “child”, there’s no universal age for one to be called a “minor”, even though, in most Western societies, you are only an adult at age 18.
- Attraction to babies is called nepiophilia,
- attraction to prepubescent children is called pedophilia,
- attraction to pubescent minors and adolescents is called hebephilia,
- attraction to postpubescent adolescents is called ephebophilia.
Out of those, only pedophilia (and, by extension, nepiophilia) is considered a mental disorder, according to the International Classification of Diseases and the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, but only as long as the pedophile is markedly distressed by the feelings or if he has acted according to the impulse.
That being said, a pedophile is not necessarily mentally ill, depending on how well the pedophile deals with his feelings. The reason why hebephilia and ephebophilia are not considered disorders, even when acted out, is because they are much more common and accepted, as you will see in the section age of consent and culture.
While minor-attracted people differ in “ages of attraction”, they also differ according to political position. The age of consent is a law. Positioning yourself as favorable or against a law is a political position. There are pedophiles who are favorable to age of consent reform and there are those who are not. Minor-attracted people who are favorable to lowering or abolishing the age of consent are often called “pro-contact”, "pro-choice" or “pro-consent” (pro-c). Those who are favorable to leaving the age of consent as it is or raising it are often called “anti-contact”.
Those labels aren’t indicative of offender status: a person can be pro-contact and law-abiding. Being law-abiding is often called being “non-offending”.
One could ask why would you, for example, adopt either particular stance on the age of consent. While those who are pro-contact argue that some minor-adult relationships, sexual or not, could be harmless or even beneficial, in a way that it would be more fair if those relationships were judged on a case-by-case basis (see quote by “Trevor” in Rivas, 2016, page 92).
Those who are anti-contact argue that harm still happens and that it could be devastating or that, even if those relationships could be harmless and positively recalled, they are still immoral, as the consent given by the minor can always be called into question. The mere fact that such debate exists within minor-attracted communities should serve to dispel the prejudice that people who are sexually attracted to minors are always unethical.
Because sexuality includes several interpersonal elements and a dynamic between the person who desires and the desired person, something that is observed even in adolescents (if there are minor-attracted adolescents, then what is in Drury & Bukowsky, 2013, page 128 and 129 applies here too), then it’s safe to say that sexual attraction is a feature of a wider erotic response that includes feelings of love (for a personal account by a pedophile, see O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 1). It is unlikely that you would defend either position disregarding minor’s safety and feelings.
It’s also worth noting that minor-attracted people aren’t always adults: most minor-attracted people feel their first attraction to a minor at age 12. That means that there are minors who also are pedophiles or hebephiles, for example. How would a person who hates minor attracted people as a consequence of their desire to protect children respond to this? Protecting children implies protecting minor-attracted children and adolescents too. So, hating minor-attracted people in general is not something that can be conciliated with the desire to protect children in general.
The causes of attraction to minors aren’t clear. It seems to be first noticed in adolescence and is resistant to change. Considering that even children are sexual beings and that they have sexual play among each other (for examples of childhood sexual activity, see Campbell et al, 2013, pages 154 to 157), one could think that the problem regarding attraction to minors resides in the fact that the person, when growing up, continues to be attracted to them, but it is not always like that: some people notice that they are preferably attracted to minors late in life as well.
For a while, it was thought that having sexual contacts with an adult would cause the younger person to grow up as a MAP or pedophile. That line of thought is called “abused-abuser cycle theory” and is currently being contested. There seems to be no necessary link between having sexual contacts in childhood/youth and growing up attracted to children/minors, specially if such contact is regarded as negative.
The only thing that can be said is that attraction to minors in general and pedophilia in particular are not choices, with a handful of researchers claiming that pedophilia could be a sexual orientation. While that does not warrant that minor-adult sex should be legal, that does mean that, if pedophiles do not choose their condition and that changing such condition is not possible, hating them for that alone is unfair. You are not responsible for the feelings you have, but only for your actions.
Minor-attracted people often notice their first attraction to minors at around age 12. The feelings they have come in three levels:
- romantic, and
On the first level, you may have urges to care for the young, offer guidance (see article found in the New York Post, 2007, quoted in Rivas, 2016, pages 113 to 115), protect and be available for their needs. That would help to explain why so many sex scandals involve people in positions of guidance, such as priests or teachers.
On the second level, the urge is to have emotional bonding (Rivas, 2016, page 264).
On the third level, the desires are geared towards what we would call “molestation”, in legal terms: touching, caressing, fondling, acts that are more often centered on the younger person (see quote by D. J. West, in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 3).
It has been pointed in literature that, at least when it comes to pedophiles (not including hebephiles or ephebophiles), penetration is a rare feature of sexual contact with minors.
Considering that those sexual feelings may coexist with loving feelings, it seems natural that pedophiles, as people attracted to prepubescent children, would refrain from penetrative activity, as it would be both painful and probably degrading for the child (see O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 6, where he explains why there should be an age of consent for certain penetrative acts).
However, as implied by the two first attraction tiers (care and romance), you probaby would not feel gratification if the child or adolescent is unwilling. The laymen could then ask “what about the cases of child rape that we see on television?” It is now known that most people arrested for sex with minors do not fulfill the diagnostic criteria for pedophilia. In laymen terms, that means that most people who are prosecuted for sex with kids are not pedophiles in the first place.
There are several reasons for a person to have sex with minors and pedophilia is just one of them. The person could have sex with a minor for experimentation, revenge, desire to cause pain, intoxication, jailbaiting, mental disorder or, in extreme, rare cases, minor-on-adult rape.
If only a minority of those people on television are real pedophiles, laymen are supposed to be more worried about “normal” people abusing their children. If an abuser really could be “anyone”, it’s now known that it seldom is a pedophile.
Finally, considering the social impact of those relationships and the caring and romantic feelings that coexist with the sexual feelings, it is not a surprise that many minor-attracted people choose to remain celibate towards children and adolescents (the classical example is the relationship between Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll, as seen in Rivas, 2016, pages 247 and 248).
Is there a treatment or cure?
Whether attraction to minors is a sexual orientation or a disorder, it is resistant to change. We know that aversion therapy, once used as an attempt to change homosexual attraction into a heterosexual one, does not work. In fact, aversion therapy was equaled to punishment, of the cruel and unusual kind, by Leinwand. Such punishment was also applied to pedophiles in the past. Aversion therapy techniques include electric shock, vomit induction, high-frequency buzzing noises and other unpleasant stimuli while, at same time, also given to that person something that sexually arouses them (see footnotes in O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 4).
If attraction to minors can not be changed, the best we can do is to help minor-attracted people to stay law-abiding while improving the quality of their life. When you are isolated or has the feeling of “having nothing else to lose”, you are more prone to offend.
That means that isolating minor-attracted people from society is not helpful to the goals of society, nor to your goals of staying non-offending. With that in mind, the therapeutic group B4U-ACT does not advocate treatment that aims to “cure” you, especially because B4U-ACT does not see attraction to minors as an illness. Therapists who work with B4U-ACT are supposed to stick to humane treatment, focused on your well-being, which does lessen the chances of offense.
Feelings and actions
Feeling attraction to minors is different from acting on such attraction. To make an analogy, several people have urges to do illegal things: to murder or beat up a person they dislike, to experiment with illicit drugs or playing illicit games. However, having those feelings do not guarantee that a person would act on those urges. Nonetheless, people are entitled to their fantasies. Same goes for you.
In Japan, cartoon child pornography, in the form of lolicon/shotacon manga, is tolerated. But the availability of such pornography (as with any pornography) does not seem to increase Japan’s rates of child sexual abuse at all (Diamond & Uchiyama, 1999, page 10).
In fact, both United States and United Kingdom, two territories that are very invested in fighting pedophilia, appear in the list of the five countries with highest rates of child sexual abuse. How come?
In a study about the presence of pornography and it’s correlation with sex crime rates, it was found out that Czech Republic had lower rates of child sexual abuse after legalizing possession of child pornography (Diamond et al, 2011, page 1039).
While that does not warrant that child pornography should be legal, that could mean that the presence of child pornography makes pedophiles in particular less prone to seek encounters with real children.
That explains why the rates of child sexual abuse are low in Japan, but high in United States: Japan allows pedophiles to have an outlet for their feelings, giving them safe discharge. Provided that such outlet is manga, real children do not have to participate in the production at all. Because of that, there is some research being done in the subject of virtual reality child pornography, which would serve the same purpose.
Even if no outlet is given, no one can take away their right to fantasize. As long as you find a way to have legal sexual relief, the proneness to break the law would be lower. Also, there are other forms of expression that are not sexually explicit. For example, a “boy love” novel was published on in 2018. It was not the first book of it’s kind and probably will not be last. Another example would be the movie I Love You, Daddy, released in 2017.
The existence of legal fiction works with such themes shows that sublimation of the desire through artistic work is also possible and it can also be done in an acceptable, legal and even profitable way. It is also worth noting that such works may very well be done by people who are not even themselves attracted to minors.
Age of consent and culture
The volatility of laws makes them unsuitable to defining what is sick and what is not, even though they can dictate what is socially acceptable and what is not. This is an important issue to touch for the well-being of minor-attracted people, because part of the shame they feel over their feelings comes from the fact that many forms of attraction to minors are illegal in their territory.
Age of consent varies across cultures, that is, across time and place. The first ages of consent were very low. In United States, for example, the age of consent used to be 7 in Delaware. Societal movements, especially feminism (see, for example, Sandfort, 1987, chapter 1), played a role in changing that picture.
But even today, ages of consent can be very low in other places:
- the lowest age of consent in Japan is 13,
- the age of consent in Brazil is 14 nationwide
- and it is 12 in Philippines.
See list by country, on Wikipedia.
The case of Brazil is specially interesting because the age of consent in Brazil was 16 in 1920, it is currently 14 and there was a proposal to lower it to 12 in this very decade, following, among other things, the discovery that it was interfering with teenage romances. So, from the countries I just mentioned, Brazil shows a tendency to lower it’s age of consent as time passes by.
There are also countries with no age of consent, but have minimum age limits for marriage, which also can be pretty low. Those countries frequently impose constraints on sexual activity in order to keep it inside marriage. So, in some countries, if you are married, age disparity does not matter. Last, in indigenous isolated cultures, such law may also be absent (for several examples of such tribes, see O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 2).
Finally, there have been initiatives against the very concept of age of consent, such as the party programme of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB-PCC), which listed, as one of it’s immediate demands, the abolishment of age of consent laws and the elaboration of alternative legislation against child sexual abuse, until the early 2020s.
That means that having romantic or sexual affairs with minors is not always illegal, depending on your context. If you were born in the right place, at the right time, your attraction would be tolerated, accepted or even cherished. It is not like they are sick; they were just born in the wrong culture. Putting things in this perspective, if you feel bad for having urges to do illegal things, despite the fact that many of us have feelings of that nature, you could consider moving to a place where the age of consent is lower or nonexistent.
Statistics and anecdotes
But lower ages of consent imply that relationships at a certain age may not be violent. That prompts the question about wether sexual contact before the age of consent is always harmful or not. Can relationships between adults and minors ever work? Statistical and anecdotal evidence shows that intergenerational relationships are not consistently harmful. If precocious sexual contact was always harmful, the age of consent would variate less. Plus, if that was the case, age of consent would be a much older law, like the laws against murder, violence, rape and robbery.
The consideration of positively recalled precocious sexual contact would not be included in this document if it was not recorded in literature that knowing of such information could improve the minor-attracted person’s self-esteem. But a discussion about positively experienced minor-adult sexual intimacy can not be had without considering the reasons for the prohibition.
Evidence fails to demonstrate the belief that minor-adult sexual intimacy is always harmful. Some of those contacts are recalled as positive. One of the books used as reference for this text is Rivas’ Positive Memories, which compiles anecdotes of positively recalled, voluntary sexual contacts between minors no older than 15 with adults no younger than 18 (Rivas, 2016, page 9).
Those anecdotes were extracted from other works, such as biographies, news articles, scientific papers and others. The sources can be found in the book’s bibliography. Other compilations are available elsewhere.
Some studies that could be used to prove the existence of non-violent intergenerational relationships are out there. A few of them that I can mention are:
- Arreola et al, 2008;
- Arreola et al, 2009;
- Bauserman & Rind, 1997;
- Carballo-Diéguez et al, 2011;
- Condy et al, 1987; Dolezal et al, 2014;
- Kilpatrick, 1987;
- Lahtinen et al, 2018;
- Leahy, 1996;
- Mulya, 2018;
- Rind, 2001;
- Rind, 2016;
- Rind & Tromovitch, 1997;
- Rind & Welter, 2013;
- Rind & Welter, 2016;
- Rind et al, 1998;
- Sandfort, 1984;
- Sandfort, 1987;
- Tindall, 1978;
- Ulrich et al, 2005-2006;
- Wet et al, 2018.
You may notice that some of those studies are fairly recent, while others are ancient. It would be interesting to check them if you would like to read more on the subject.
But it’s not my goal to expose the data that was gathered by those researchers. It’s also worth mentioning that none of those studies take a definite pro-legalization stance (despite acknowledging the fact that some of those relationships are recalled as positive by the children/minors and that they weren’t harmed by the contact, which often causes the younger partner to not disclose the incident, Lahtinen et al, 2018, only concludes that disclosure should be more stimulated, not that adult/minor sexual contact should be made legal).
If intergenerational relationships can be positive, why is minor-adult sexual contact still illegal? The answer relies on informed consent. The belief that minors can not consent seems to be the only reason why those contacts are still considered always abuse (see citation by Archard, in Jahnke et al, 2017, page 3).
But what does it mean “to consent” in this context, as many of those contacts are regarded as “voluntary” by the supposed victim?
Informed consent is needed when risk is present: whenever you are about to do something dangerous, you need to be aware of the consequences of an act and must be able to do a free decision on wether to take the risk or not (see Lavin, 2013, page 5).
Sex is regarded as risky, in the sense of potentially harmful. If sex is potentially harmful, everyone who engages in sexual practices must give informed consent, that is, must be aware of the consequences and be able to take a free stance on taking the risk or not.
The problem with minor-adult sexual contact is that, while some adults are not fully aware of the consequences of their acts and while power imbalance is inherent to human relationships, minors are both ignorant of the consequences and in a position of social disadvantage towards the entire society.
Informed consent is based either on information or favorable power dynamics and neither thing is present for the younger partner in such a relationship. And that also explains why age of consent varies across cultures: different countries have different attitudes towards sex, more or less informed youth, and wider or narrower extent of children’s rights. So, when someone says “children can not consent”, what they are saying, in functionalist terms is:
- Minors are not informed enough to give a valid consent to sexual relationships that are inherently unequal, and;
- This issue is important because sex is risky, that is, potentially harmful.
Because giving consent to an act without information on the consequences is a null choice and because giving consent in a situation where you can not really say “no” (as a dangerous adult could attempt to force the minor if consent is denied) is also null, the minor’s consent is null. It doesn’t matter if the younger person said yes: if their consent is null, the act is equivalent to rape, even if just in purely legal terms (hence the term “statutory rape”). That is the rationale behind informed consent and the reason why minor-adult sexual contact remains illegal. Even the act was genuinely freely engaged in and even if no harm, but only benefit, resulted from the act, it was still immoral.
Even if there is positively recalled minor-adult sexual contact and even if anecdotal evidence shows that there are minors craving such encounters, the act, when discovered, will cause damage to both parties of the relationship. I reiterate that acting on those desires in a cultural context that is disapproving of such conduct is a display of irresponsibility.
Pro-contact minor-attracted people are interested in changing the laws (see Sandfort, 1987, chapter 3 for an example of attempted age of consent reform in the Netherlands), but should not be interested in breaking the laws, not only because of their own safety, but also because of how the younger partner might respond to the intervention (for an anecdote on how societal intervention alone can harm both adult and minor, see Rivas, 2016, pages 27 to 32).
If you will not necessarily commit any crime, if most people who perpetrate sexual offenses against minors are not pedophiles in the first place and if such attractions have been, are and could be acceptable depending on cultural context, then you have no reason to feel ill. If that is all that you needed to hear or read, you could drop the issue altogether and stop caring about it, as it is the charge that is attributed to the feelings, rather than the feelings themselves, that cause the shame and the guilt. That implies that society makes you feel ill, not the feelings that are present in you.
If that is the case, you could use some company to at least cope with the feeling of isolation. There are legal communities online and offline that minor-attracted people can rely on, to exchange experiences and have guidance from people who share the attraction.
B4U-ACT has a peer support group, for example. Other communities such as:
- Virtuous Pedophiles, B4U-Act and
- the JORis groups (these are the last IRL ones in the Netherlands)
Out of those, only Virtuous Pedophiles has strict requirements for membership, as the person who joins their group needs to also be anti-contact. B4U-ACT, Boychat/Girlchat and the JORis groups do not have such requirement.
As B4U-ACT wants to reach as many minor-attracted people as possible, it does make sense that it would not push any particular view on the contact issue: when the Paedophile Information Exchange operated in the United Kingdom, it’s pro-c activism pushed some members away (O’Carroll, 1980, chapter 11).
When it comes to such a delicate topic, support groups and political activism are tough to conciliate, if not impossible, especially when it comes to pro-c views.
That being said, if a support group for minor-attracted people wants to reach as many people possible, being “contact neutral” is a good idea, as both pro-choice and anti-contact minor-attracted people would attend to it, while the organization itself would take no particular stance on the issue, keeping itself safe.
JORis and B4U-ACT also hold real life meetings on occasion, but, while the JORis Groups tries to be a support group where people can introduce themselves and talk about their struggles to receive peer support, the real life meetings held by B4U-ACT are academic in nature and researchers also participate. While people attend to B4U-ACT’s meetings on their own, some people are referred to the JORis by the justice system.
Not viewing attraction to minors as something negative and having others who understand and listen is crucial for the well being of minor-attracted people, avoiding a dreaded mindset of “having nothing to lose”, which would make the minor-attracted people prone to desperate actions, such as suicide. If people hate minor-attracted people because it is believed that they always offend the law and all of those who offend the law are attracted to minors, then there is no reason to hate them, as that belief is demonstrably wrong. They are not worth hating. In fact, if you are non-offending, you pass as perfectly “normal”. A lot of people are probably friends with at least one person like you.
To dispel the prejudices that exist regarding minor-attracted people, one solution could be coming out (see article for advice on this subject). It can be safer to “come out” online (especially if you know how to separate your online from your public, real life identity) and some have done so on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, WordPress, Tumblr, Medium and so on. The prejudice against minor-attracted people only exists because people can say whatever they wish about a silent minority.
How many minor-attracted people are out there? The lowest guess, according to B4U-ACT’s facts page, is 600.000 adults, only counting United States. How many exist in other countries? Are all those people bad?
See Ipce's PDF.
Our own research pages cover much of the information detailed in this piece in more detail.
Notes by the Strategic Lead
- A correction was made to claims concerning the UK Communist Party's position, in light of more recent changes. "Pro-choice" was added as an option. Some style changes are made concerning our language protocols and developments in the way terminology is being abused on social media.