Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 4.30

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. Regarding the book chapter about female orgasms:

    Some very interesting concepts here. I will make myself available to assist any willing ladies in testing the many various hypotheses presented in that chapter. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

    (Eh, who am I kidding? If there actually were any ladies willing to “test” with me, I wouldn’t have to post lame sexual innuendos about it here!)

  2. Health Web Sites and health officials need to start being fined for purposely giving out misinformation. Why is this not illegal?! You can’t give out misinformation regarding medicine or medical procedures … why is sexual health not included? THIS IS NUTS.

  3. Huh…. wha…. where am I?!

    Oh right, sorry , I got caught up following the comments to Steve’s article on SBM.

    Leave it to a woo troll to drag everyone into his pit of poo and thus completely kill what started as an interesting and intelligent discussion.

    Uggg, my head hurts now.

    @ jesuspineda – thanks for the link, that made me feel a bit better.

  4. The article on women pedophiles made the classis mistake of using a diagnostic descriptive word (pedophile/paedophile) to describe an individual sex offender with one or perhaps two victims. A pedophile by description is a serial offender with multiple victims. There are some women pedophiles but they are quite rare. Female sex offenders, like most male sex offenders, have a limited number of victims or only one. Of significance is the substantially lower rates of reporting and conviction of female sex offenders for all of the social stigma issues mentioned in the article.

  5. I was disturbed by many of the comments on the “female-initiated sexual assault” article (I agree with @James Fox that “pedophile” is really the wrong term).

    Police that laugh at an abuse victim when they report a crime is unconscionable. Reading about those experiences brought back the rage I felt when I learned that women reporting date- or spousal-rape often experienced derision from the cops.

    Why would anyone laugh at someone reporting an assault?

  6. Up here in Toronto, Canada, a local station has been airing Popoff’s show at 1am. In their station listings, the show was described as “stories of miraculous healings.”

    I wrote and said that Popoff was a scam artist and that there was, in fact, not a single case of a miraculous healing on record, and that they should seriously reconsider airing the show.

    They replied that the show didn’t violate any broadcasting guidelines. However, they were willing to change the show description to “stories and amazing testimonies.”

    A tiny, tiny victory, but ya gotta take what you can get.

  7. @James Fox: I disagree with you on a point. I think you are making an assumption that all of the victims of a pedophile are known. Back when I had to handle the sex offender caseload before I quit being a parole officer I had to sit in on sex offender treatment sessions. It wasn’t uncommon for a sex offender to only be convicted of sexually assaulting one victim but during therapy there would be admissions of dozens, sometimes multiple dozens of victims over a lifetime. I have thought of it as something akin to DWI. It is rare to be caught for all of the offenses committed.

  8. @marilove: I am probably being to nitpicky but with this discussion having its beginings with female pedophiles I think your comment should have been something like “So a person who is attracted to pre-pubescent children” or “So a woman who is attracted to pre-pubscent children.”

  9. @James Fox:

    a pedophile by description…

    By whose description? As far as I am concerned, and from the definitions that I have accessed, a pedophile is an adult that is sexually attracted to children. And if you are correct, what about the word distinguishes the subject from a single incident of molestation? What is the word for an adult that only sexually abuses a few children?

  10. @OneHandClapping: According to wiki (and it looks like their sources are good, I checked):

    According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), pedophilia is specified as a form of paraphilia in which a person either has acted on intense sexual urges towards children, or experiences recurrent sexual urges towards and fantasies about children that cause distress or interpersonal difficulty.

    Therefore, someone who has a strong attraction to pre-pubescent children is a pedophile, and that is exactly how I have always perceived it.

    What DOES bother me is when people call men and women who are attracted to teenagers (or who prey on teenagers) pedophiles. Teens aren’t pre-pubescent. So those men and women may be disgusting, but they aren’t pedophiles.

  11. @marilove:

    Sounds like we agree then, I am just curious from where Mr. Fox was getting his information. To me a pedophile could totally be someone that has not acted on their urges.

    Further, I agree with you that pedophile shouldn’t really be attached to those who victimize teenagers. I certainly do not condone the behavior, but the word doesn’t really fit. IIRC there have been studies that show there are adults that are attracted to pre-pubescent children, and those attracted to post-pubescent, however the two rarely cross over into each other’s territory.

    Having said that, I am too lazy to search for evidence to support my claim, so feel free to disregard it :)

  12. @Gabrielbrawley: I don’t make that assumption at all. I’ve read many dozens of sex offender evaluations and am more than familiar with the regular disclosure of previously unknown victims.

    @marilove: My notions of what a “pedophile” is has certainly been influenced by criminal statutes that discuss repeated offences and doesn’t reflect the current DSM. The DSM IV is somewhat changed over the DSM III (and more significantly over the DSM II where homosexuality was still considered a disorder) in that regard. The one thing that should be noticed in the DSM IV criteria is that the person being diagnosed must have some dysfunction (clinical significant distress) in their social, occupational …, functioning. Most offenders who are not reported, and have a limited number of offences, do not have this type of dysfunction and merely get on with their lives. The other big change that happened from the DSM II to the current model appears to be a reduction in the seriousness and significance of the diagnosis. Pedophilia is no longer considered a deviation (or pedophilia) and is now considered an aberrant behavior (or paraphilia) and could just involve having abnormal fantasies and interpersonal problems which is less serious. I personally think this was a big mistake because it essentially takes the whole notion of a person acting out on these fantasies as part of the diagnosis, and creates a condition that presumes a treatment. Pedophillia is one of the few mental health disorders that is almost completely non-amenable to treatment.

    The point I was trying to make was that most women who are sex offenders look like normal folk and typically get away with their crimes, and they don’t fit the common perception of what a sex offender looks like.

  13. @James Fox said:

    Pedophillia is one of the few mental health disorders that is almost completely non-amenable to treatment.

    We can agree that homosexuality is genetic, i.e., we’re more or less born with it, and hence cannot be “cured” of it. Could the same be said of pedophillia? Do we know enough about it? Or do “pedophiles” just generally end up tossed into the refuse heap, vilified, discarded, and ignored without enough thorough, objective study?

  14. @OneHandClapping: “I am just curious from where Mr. Fox was getting his information”

    That would be from the 26 years I’ve spent as a mental health professional and social worker of which 20 years were spent investigating thousands of child abuse cases.

  15. Back to the websites with incorrect information. If anyone is harmed by that information I think the harmed person would have a case under an “attractive nuisance” legal theory. Similar to the liability a home owner has if a child drowns in a pool that was not sufficiently protected. Having a pool on your own property is legal behavior, but because it has the potential to harm individuals the property owner has the legal obligation to prevent vulnerable individuals from harming themselves by using it.

    I think the same case could be made for websites with wrong information, such as those that give out false and religious based lies.

  16. @SicPreFix: It’s been many years since I’ve read any research into the origins of pedophilia. Most of my current reading involves substance abuse, cognitive functioning and the interactions of more common issues like ADD/ADHD and depression and their effects on adequate parenting. My recollection is that most pedophiles have circumstances of life events that can be identified as a genesis for the disorder. The development of sexual arousal patterns during puberty and adolescence have been identified as significant. I don’t recall any research or discussion about a genetic component unless it involved a predisposition toward certain types of adaptive responses to psychological trauma. The same question could be asked about sociopaths I suppose. Certainly most of the media discussion of Ted Bundy types tries to paint a picture of childhood dysfunction and oppression. Good question.

  17. @James Fox:

    Thanks James. I get the feeling this topic could lead into an endless debate of Nature/Nurture, which seems to bounce back and forth like a frantic tennis ball: Pinker -+- Gould -+- Dawkins -+- Skinner, et al, and bouncy bouncy back around again.

  18. @James Fox said:

    Certainly most of the media discussion of Ted Bundy types tries to paint a picture of childhood dysfunction and oppression.

    Sorry for blabbering on here, but wasn’t it determined that Jeffrey Dahmer had a pleasant and normal (so-called) childhood free of major trauma, upset, and dysfunction? Or have I missed some historical clarification?

  19. @James Fox:

    The point I was trying to make was that most women who are sex offenders look like normal folk and typically get away with their crimes, and they don’t fit the common perception of what a sex offender looks like.

    …But that is true of MOST sex offenders. Most sex offenders are uncles, and fathers, school teachers and priests. They KNOW the victims. The vidtims feel safe around them. The notion that male sex offenders (pedophilia and otherwise) look “different” than other people is very, very wrong.

  20. @marilove: And that includes women AND men, btw.

    I still think that a pedophile is one who is attracted to pre-pubescent children, and becomes a sex offender on top of it once he has acted on those urges.

    Let me bring up a creepy part of my past. When I was 19, I dated a very creepy guy (I was young and dumb, k?). Not long into our relationship, I learned that he had been investigated heavily for child porn. Since he was 17 at the time, he got off very lightly (that and I later found out they were unable to find most of his stuff).

    After I found that out, I did some digging through mutual friends and whatnot, and found that he was still attracted to pre-pubescent children (I did not stay with him long after this, trust). I suspect he still has/had child porn but was able to hide it very, very, very well.

    I would call him a pedophile. Likely he’ll never act on his urges, but he IS attracted to pre-pubescent children. What else would you call someone like that, James Fox? He may not have acted out with children (that I know of), but he certainly isn’t normal. He can function well enough, but he is … odd, to say the least.

    I do not know what my 19 year old self was thinking *shiver*

  21. @Gabrielbrawley: A pedophile is a diagnosis based on the current DSM. My personal opinion is that the current DSM does not provide an adequate description because you would not need to ever act out on your sexual fantasies or predilections to get the diagnosis. My initial statements were not reflective of the current DSM criteria.

    @SicPreFix: The ball seems to spend more time over the middle ground of both being involved. Much of our personality seems to be inherited based on what I read, but I don’t think certain genetic personality traits necessarily lead to certain behaviors. The whole field of study is fascinating and when you throw substance abuse into the mix it gets even more interesting.

    @SicPreFix: My recollection, faulty and suspect as it is, is that Ted was raised by his grandmother and for many years thought she was his mother. While there may not have been any specific big event trauma, Ted’s childhood was not normal and he doing things like putting sharp knives in either his mother or grandmother’s bed while they were sleeping when he was quite young. I expect Bundy’s family would have little motivation to discuss their dysfunctions in light of Ted’s heinous behaviors.

  22. @marilove: “What else would you call someone like that, James Fox?”

    Like I said the DSM IV would call him a pedophile. I however would like another descriptive term for someone who has all the other characteristics except the criminal acting out part. Not sure what that term should be; and that I want this differentiation certainly does not mean I don’t think this person present a risk to children or doesn’t have really huge nearly impossible to treat problems.

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