Just Because They're "Not Attracted To Children" Doesn't Mean They Aren't Pedophiles
Systemic pedophilia is about outcomes, not intent.
One of the most common objections to the concept of systemic pedophilia from those who participate in it is “but I’m not attracted to children.”
Children’s Justice defines systemic pedophilia as the systems that allow for children to be harmed. These systems include culture, language, institutions, etc. By definition, systems cannot “desire” the way that individuals do. While individuals within systems that harm children might feel sexual desire towards children, the concept of systemic pedophilia does not require individual motive.
That said, individuals do participate in these systems. When individuals object that they are “not a pedophile” because they are not attracted to children, this objection defines pedophilia by adult desire rather than the fact children are harmed. This defense implies that if the adult didn’t enjoy it, it wasn’t pedophilia, even if the adult was sexually abusing a child.
This is a pedophilie-apologist narrative. When Catholic priests were caught molesting young boys, one of the common defenses they gave was “I didn’t enjoy it.” Pedophiles caught by law enforcement frequently claim that they were somehow helping the child, rather than acting from their own desire.
It is completely irrelevant what feelings adults experience while harming a child. What makes pedophilia wrong is not what adults who do it feel or don’t feel. What makes it wrong is that it harms children.
When adults say “but I’m not attracted to children” even as they are touching children, forcibly penetrating their genitals, or participating in systems that cause that to happen, they center the issue of the sexual abuse of children on themselves, defining pedophilia by their sexual desires. This objection itself is a form of systemic pedophilia.
That said, many adults who participate in systemic pedophilia that claim they are “not a pedophile” actually do derive pleasure from harming children. It just isn’t immediate sexual gratification. For example, if an adult claims that the child’s genitals “look better” after participating in systemic pedophilia, they are deriving aesthetic pleasure from the child’s body, which we could call aesthetic pedophilia. If they are paid for their role in systemic pedophilia, they are deriving the pleasure of profit, or profit pedophilia. If they feel that touching children fulfills the traditions of their religion or tribe, they are deriving moral pleasure from the child’s body, which we could call self-righteous pedophilia. Adults sexually harming children for their own gratification is pedophilia.
Systemic pedophilia bypasses the question of adults’ intent to focus on outcomes. We don’t need to know every abuser’s emotional state to know whether or not their abuse is wrong. If the outcome of a system is that a child is harmed it is a pedophile system. When we center children’s issues on children, rather than adults’ desires, this issue becomes morally clear.
Learn more: What Is Systemic Pedophilia?