James Cantor on Minor Attracted People – Smart Sex, Smart Love

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This week’s guest on Smart Love, Smart Sex is clinical psychologist and sexual behavior scientist, Dr. James Cantor. Listen as Joe and Dr. Cantor chat about the controversial community of Minor Attracted People (MAP). James says pedophilia is not a synonym for child molestation. “We pay thousands for punishing Minor Attracted People, but only pennies on prevention,” says James. So, how do we get the terminology and treatment of MAPs right?

Connect with Dr. James Cantor:
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Speaker 1:        Welcome to smart sex smart love. We’re talking about sex goes beyond the taboos and talking about love goes beyond the honeymoon. I’m dr Joe court. Thanks for tuning in.

Speaker 3:        [inaudible]

Speaker 1:        hello everyone. Today the show is about minor attracted adults. This week my guest is Dr. James canter and we’ll be looking at the controversial community of minor attracted adults. What do people mean by minor attracted adults? That’s also known as maps. James says pedophilia is not a synonym for child molestation, but how do we get the terminology of maps right? James is a clinical psychologist and sexual behavior site scientist studying the nature and causes of sexual interests. He and his team have used a rye, a range of neuroscientific techniques to examine pedophilia and its potential causes their results show. Having a sexual interest in children is not a result of SEF suffering sexual abuse in one’s own childhood as generally believed, but a characteristic of neurological origin. Let’s look more closely at this. Welcome James.

Speaker 4:        Hi. Happy to be here.

Speaker 1:        Yeah, I’m happy to be here too. I, I consider you to be one of those smartest people in this field. And it was so nice to meet you this summer in person finally. Well, no, actually I met you before that at that, um, star, uh, sex therapy conference.

Speaker 4:        Yup. That’s right. And, uh, it was a pleasure. And your flattery is to kind of [inaudible]

Speaker 1:        well, I mean, I th I just think you have a lot of good things to say. So can you tell people, because they’re going to hear this minor attracted adults, what does that mean?

Speaker 4:        Uh, I personally, I’m not actually a fan of that term. That’s mostly a sociopolitical term. I understand why it’s starting to get, uh, used. But I’m a scientist. I study, you know, the hardcore I study pedophilia, the hardcore, genuine, these people appear to be born with, uh, with it. They are genuinely attracted to children the way that the rest of us are attracted to, uh, to adults now. Uh, in science, we of course try as best as we can to use terms as precise as we can. So, uh, people sooner or later had to decide, well, there needs to be some cutoffs or we’re talking about, you know, is there somebody who just likes, you know, young looking people, you know, in, in their teens, which is perfectly typical or, uh, or are they interested in an age group, you know, uh, under 10 years old, which is truly problematic.

Speaker 4:        We use the word pedophilia in science very specifically to be the sexual preference, not just any flighting occasional thing, but the preference for prepubescent. Again, you know, under age 10, generally, uh, children there do exist men, however, there’s a range. Some men find that they’re interested in, uh, uh, children older than that. You know, pubescent age children, uh, kids were showing girls for example, who were showing breast buds but don’t yet have fully developed breasts. Uh, they’re more attracted to people who have wispy Downy beginnings of pubic hair but not full adored adult chorus, pubic hair. Uh, we would call those people now Heba files. Now, of course, from society’s point of view, that’s not an appreciable difference. You know, whether you’re attracted to eight year olds or 12 year olds, it’s a problem. And of course that’s exactly true. But as I say, in science, we try to divide and be as precise as possible.

Speaker 4:        Now, uh, it almost became a, uh, uh, uh, a hobby inside sex research. People started coming up with terms to describe just about everything. We even have the word, uh, E V biophilia to describe people who were attracted to, you know, mid-teens eight, ages 15 or 16. Uh, and then the technical term we, uh, we use for, uh, well people say a Doug, a Delta affiliate, but the correct term is actually Telio. Philia and I were attracted to, uh, adults, you know, generally ages at, uh, 17, uh, uh, an older. Now, the reason that I don’t like the, uh, the term minor attracted person, which is what a lot of spokespeople use is a minor. Is anyone under 18? Well, the 17 year old is a minor, a 16 year old is a minor. But, you know, being attracted to a lot of 16 or 17 year olds is perfectly, perfectly typical. So, to me the phrase is a bit of a euphemism for, you know, when, when we’re talking about the difficult ones, when we’re talking about, you know, potential real child molestation on the line. We’re talking about pedophilia and Heba filea so you know, we’re attracted to minors, you know, includes that, but it also includes some plain vanilla stuff. But as I say to me is a bit of a euphemism.

Speaker 1:        I really appreciate you saying that and breaking this down too so that people can see these differences. Because when people think of, when they think of people, um, being sexual children, they only think of pedophilia, they don’t think of all these nuances and this is important. Absolutely

Speaker 4:        do this kind of thing happens in a range and you know, it becomes more and more problematic. The younger we go of course, but we can’t, but it’s not black and white either. There are shades of gray and there were places where we need to make you know, decisions about where the, where the line is. But not every single case is exactly the same as the worst possible case that we can think of. The other common misconception, uh, on the flip side, uh, and again I understand why, uh, people want to avoid the word pedophilia is that there is a misconception too extreme on the other end, people often mistake the word Pete affiliate to be a synonym for child molestation and it’s not. As a matter of fact, the number one lesson that I tried to give any audience, and I speak about this a lot, is that pedophilia is not a synonym for child molestation.

Speaker 4:        Pedophilia is the actual sexual interest pattern regardless of whether the person ever acts on it or not. On the flip side, child molestation is actually the hands on, you know, crime that harm use the kid. But not every child molester is actually a pedophile. In fact, the majority of child molesters are not PETA files. Most of them actually prefer adults in a sexual context, but use the kid kind of as a surrogate because the kid is a manipulable or, or or available. That’s the most common pattern in, for example, uh, incest offenses that, uh, most perpetrators of incense defenses are actually more attracted to adults than children. But they use the kid because as I say, as a surrogate because the kid was available. So there were child molesters who were not PETA files, the repeat of files who were not child molesters. Child molestation is a choice, but nobody picks pedophilia. Nobody decides to be sexually interested in children any more than the rest of us decided to be sexually interested in whatever it is that they’re interested in. The people we really need, uh, uh, to, uh, to try to help her. The people who as I say, were saddled with a sexual interest pattern. They did not pick and cannot change and you know, these people are vilified even though they are doing exactly what we would want them to do. Live a celibate life.

Speaker 1:        I’m telling you, this is so important and for me, I just don’t want to just say that having this conversation is so freeing and so scary at the same time, freeing in that it’s information that we need scary because growing up as a gay male, I always worried that people would think because we’ve been equated to pedophiles, right? Every time somebody thinks of homosexuality, they, well, they must want to harm children as he is old fashioned. But it’s still in the, in the air. People still think this. And I had a Twitter follower two years ago, maybe three years ago, and I almost deleted him because he was, uh, he had said he was a pedophile on his butt. He said, please read my salon column column before you delete me boots on his Twitter. So I read this article and he said exactly what you, it was all about, I’m a pedophile, I’m attracted to children, but I don’t act on it. I had never seen that distinction and it made me rethink this whole thing, just like you’re doing. What, why did homosexuality become synonymous with pedophilia in our culture?

Speaker 4:        Oh, that’s a good question. Uh, I only had, my hunch is that really, uh, the way the world at that time thought was not to, you know, do what we scientists and try to, you know, finally describe, you know, these people that are into this, these people are into that these people are into vet, you know, in CCF and see sexual diversity. Uh, instead people just saw regular everyday heterosexual man versus everything else. You were just normal or not normal. That’s that range of abnormal type of abnormal. They were just different kinds of abnormal. It’s like, uh, the bone is either broken or not exactly where it’s broken is as detailed. The problem is the broken bone. So I think part of it was really just a, uh, over-simplified thinking. Uh, and another, again, I don’t want to say that it’s more than a hunch, but a hunch that I’ve often had is that a lot of now think from young men’s experiences growing up in an under often sex segregated areas, often in religious areas.

Speaker 4:        And so one where sexual abuse does happen, the abuser was always male from the point of view of the male victim. The perpetrator was male. This was not from the point of view of, uh, you know, youth, this was not a crime of pedophilia. This was not a crime of child molestation. This was a crime of homosexuality from, you know, from the eyes of the victim. The perpetrator was just Oh, into, into boys and to men that the, that the, that the youth was part of the factor was, was the side effect. So I think a lot of the people, because they were abused by men, kind of attribute the abuse to the maleness to, from their points of view to the homosexuality of the perpetrator rather than to the pedophilia of the perpetrator. So I think a lot of it, uh, and so I’ve often had a hunch that that’s, that that’s where it came from. That that’s where it came from. People were exposed to homosexuality via homosexual abuse, if I can use that term rather than via, you know, happy, healthy homosexuals. Again, recognizing that that was a different thing in the 20th century than than it is now.

Speaker 1:        I had a client say to me once, my brother tried to queer me. Right. So from his point of view, it was a, it was a gay act and it wasn’t about pedophilia or trial molestation. So I agree with that. That makes total sense. Yeah.

Speaker 4:        Oh. Although I would also add, you know, between, you know, similar age boys or youth against that kind of sex play is perfectly, perfectly typical. And it’s not a sign of, you know, plain vanilla homosexuality either.

Speaker 1:        I agree. Totally agree. I’m so glad you added that. I also read something recently, and I don’t know we could talk about this now, but, um, that’s the church, I don’t know where I read this, but it made sense to me that the church, um, looked at every, uh, male victimization of a child as homosexuality to avoid, uh, being looked at and investigated for pedophilia that was happening right in the church. So we were scapegoated in some ways. I believe that,

Speaker 4:        yes, I think that happened a lot. I think that it, uh, uh, I think that uh, taking, uh, again, the, the, the subtly acceptable version or the more socially acceptable version of course makes the wisest PR for, uh, for any group. But I think the thing that has made, uh, uh, religious institutions, especially the Catholic church, such a, I don’t know, I’m going to use the word anyway hotbed for this kind of problem is exactly because if it’s celibacy rules, if somebody is gay or a pedophile or really when you get right down to it not into adult women and not likely to get married and have kids becoming a priest is a really good cover. They just use it so that people around them stop asking, where’s your wife and girlfriend? Why aren’t you married and where are your kids? It’s a socially acceptable way to just circulate in society, you know, with everybody knowing how, knowing how to treat you socially.

Speaker 4:        Yeah. So I think that’s a draw for closeted gay men and for PETA files each for their own. You know, and again, it starts getting slippery and this is where I started playing my openly gay free card. You know, as an adult gay man myself. It’s by think that there exists closeted gay men who were drawn to it for the same reason that pedophiles are, but they are not at all overlapping populations. They’re just both looking for a socially acceptable cover for, uh, what they see as socially unacceptable sexual attraction pattern. That’s, you know, again, getting in the way of getting married and having kids.

Speaker 1:        Very well stated. You, you once tweeted that you thought we should add P meaning pedophilia to GLBT saying that otherwise, uh, would be to defy our own principles. What did you mean by that?

Speaker 4:        Yes, that’s probably one of the most, uh, uh, reread tweeted things that I, uh, that keeps getting circulated, but nobody has actually taken me up on the question. Everybody reflexively say, Oh wow, that’s really young kind of far. But that’s really kind of pushing and others saying, Oh my God, now that’s going to backfire. Or you know, people try to interpret what it means, but nobody actually act as a response to the active part of the questions and none C8 the principles that require us as a side, as a society to recognize the civil rights of LGBTQ QQ to T T I articulate that and apply that rule to Pete affiliate. Well, the basic rule is for any of these is do what you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody. Well, okay. That would include pedophilia. Well, some people, Oh, no, no, no, no, no.

Speaker 4:        That’s not what puts you in what puts you in a pedophilia is different because enacting it would hurt somebody and no, no, no, no, no. Being in that list doesn’t mean you get to enact every fantasy of yours. Let’s look at BDSM. We’re just talking about a range of, uh, uh, uh, of interest. Oh. And asexuality is of course reflecting new behavior at all. The things that, uh, that ultimately demands anybody get getting in that list is to say you can do what you want. So long as it doesn’t hurt anybody. For some people that’s relatively broad. The gay community, probably the broadest. For some people that’s relatively narrow and for some people, unfortunately that is zero. That is nothing in the real world. Their lives must exist that their sex lives must exist as, uh, as fantasy lives. Now, of course, the roles exist.

Speaker 4:        Other people with other sexual interest, bedrooms that can’t be expressed either because it would harm somebody else or because it’s just physically not possible. There were people with, for example, transformation fetishes. It’s kind of like beastiality in reverse. They want to be the animal. They’re sexually interested in the idea of, uh, of, of being in some non human form. Uh, there are people who are sexually interested in, uh, uh, being a, uh, uh, being an amputee. We’d call that APOE Tim. No affilia. As I say, some of these can be expressed, some of them not. But that’s not what puts somebody in this civil rights list. You know, you, you kinda start with civil rights, you know, and we draw the limit at where something is harmful. Well a non a non acting out IP to file who is not, you know, acting on his sexual inches belong in that list.

Speaker 4:        Exactly. Because it’s up to him and the rest of us did de-stigmatize these and permit people to do, the only rule that works is do what’s your want as long as it doesn’t harm anybody else. The only other one just kind of boils down to exactly the same problem that our early gay gay rights had. Declaration of normal. Well, you know, in science there’s no such thing as normal. It’s always, you know, just this compared to that, this fits in whatever range. And we know what happens if your scores are here. But we know what happens to say normal is to have some, uh, subjective, some judgment, which is necessarily subjective. If we reject pedophilia, we’re just playing a popularity contest and that, that, that, that well, if we do that, we’re back to, well then gays shouldn’t have gotten their rights in the first place because they weren’t popular then either. We, you know, start with an actual articulation of what we believe, you know, civil rights are, and we apply it to pedophilia like everybody else. Or we’re ultimately hypocrites. We’re just kind of saying, I don’t want that other stigmatized group associated with me cause they make me look bad. No, I, I, I can’t do that if I have to absorb a little bit of somebody else’s stigma for a better society, I’ll do that.

Speaker 1:        I like what you’re saying. I do. I don’t disagree with a word, but I have to say, when my sister started having kids in 1997, she had a boy and I was very involved in all of the kids’ lives and we’d take them to preschool and you know, uh, there’ll be story telling time and Jacob wanted to sit on my lap, which no big deal. He’s my nephew. He sat on my lap. I’ll never forget this and I wasn’t out in this. Uh, my sister lives in a suburb. I was just, I decided because of being gay and because of people thinking of pedophilia, because there were boys in the class, I was not going to come out. And so when Jacobs sat on my lap now little Johnny said, Jojo, can I sit on your lap? And I was freaked out and I let little Johnny sit on my lap.

Speaker 1:        But I, I put my hands in the air because I didn’t want any mother to think that my hands were anywhere but, but not on their kid. And I remember a mother whispering in my ear saying, we all know you’re gay. Put your hands down. Nobody thinks you’re going to harm our children. I had to hear that. And I think that’s maybe why people get afraid of having the P included. Because I remember arguments even when I was just coming out in the seventies and eighties where people would say, well, I’m the man boy love association, right? NAMBLA or whatever it was called, that whole thing. They’ve kept equating us with this whole interest in boys. I think that’s why don’t you [inaudible]

Speaker 4:        uh, I think two things are going on. Uh, one, uh, uh, listening to your description in the classroom and my head would have gone in exactly the same direction, but if I try to imagine if I were a regular everyday straight guy, I can pretty easily imagine that the same thoughts would have gone through my head. I mean, there’s nothing about being openly gay that, you know, especially these days people are so hyper aware or you know, to the point of the pendulum has gone a bit too far. The other way has gotten a bit histrionic, uh, uh, that, that I think any, uh, adult male would and would, and with a certain amount of wisdom to vet, you know, want witnesses, people around wanting got these are those days wanting to have, you know, be seen in hands in the air. I, I’m not so sure what that’s the gay thing, although I again also understand that, you know, having come from the, uh, having experienced the stigma of the, the, the incorrect parts of the association. Uh, so as I say, I, I’m not, so I think that’s a male thing for anybody who these days is pretty alert to what’s, uh, to what’s going on. I’m not as convinced that that’s, uh, that that’s a gay thing. Having said that, I forgot the second part of what you said.

Speaker 1:        Uh, well don’t you then, don’t you, I guess I was just saying it’s understandable to me. I wondered if it was to you why people are so disinterested in adding the P because of those reasons.

Speaker 4:        Oh, uh, no, I think it’s general stigma. I don’t know if it’s, uh, person to person, uh, people now and then I do hear about, uh, like that old group that the, uh, man boy love association now as you said, uh, and there’s a more recent one called, uh, which is a big kg called before you act. Uh, now these are groups that now they are relatively open about their, you know, being genuinely sexually interested in children of various ranges. Uh, where the aware NAMBLA uh, uh, the national association man, boy left association, I think that was, I think that’s where the Nat and the NAMBLA came from. Uh, uh, they were, uh, relatively open that they wanted the age of consent lowered. And you know, this was in the days when the age of consent was 14. In most jurisdictions. Now it’s been raised to, uh, uh, to 16, uh, before you act is a little bit more cagey about what they are asking for.

Speaker 4:        So th they’re not even, they won’t even come out with a statement, you know, uh, uh, uh, opposing sexual abuse or downloading child porn yet they just going to say, be aware of the laws of where you are going to. It’s really, as I say, it’s kg. Uh, there does exist, however, a group that I very, very much support called, uh, uh, the virtuous pedophiles. It took me a little while to get accustomed to that name, but it’s actually grown on me. Uh, for anybody interested, a verb pad, a verb pad, V. I, R. P. E. D in any Google search, we’ll turn it up. Now these people I can really stand behind. These are people who are explicit. They genuinely acknowledge that they are sexually attracted to children. They are aware and repeat and emphasize that this, uh, that uh, sexual contact with a child pose harm to that child and they are, you know, all about the protection of children, but trying to get help available to people with attractions to children in order to help them manage their own sexual interest patterns.

Speaker 4:        Sometimes that’s just participating in a community of people who have dealt with the same problem, you know, sharing whatever, uh, uh, just feeling less alone and therefore less stressed about it. For some people it’s helping them find a, get a, find a referral, find a physician or mental health professional who can help them, uh, uh, uh, can help them either with counseling or sex drive, reducing medication. So a group like that, actually those are my, you know, two thumbs up. I can stand behind that very, very squarely. Uh, but there has existed a, uh, uh, uh, there have existed and do still exist. Some groups of wanting to, as I say, lower the, uh, uh, uh, the age of consent, so therefore they could legally have sexual contact with, uh, uh, with youth of whatever, you know, uh, ages or legal at that point.

Speaker 1:        You’re so logical and they’re so informative and I really don’t know how anyone could argue with anything you’ve said on this show so far, what would you like to the main idea, theory, or viewpoint to be out there on this subject from this podcast?

Speaker 4:        Oh, uh, I think I, I always try to leave people, as I say, with my same number one, uh, my same number one take home message that pedophilia is not a synonym for child molestation. My heart goes out to people who are saddled with the sexual orientation pageant that they cannot change. It’s the child molesters, whether they’re pedophiles or not, that we have to bring, uh, to the full force of the law. But mostly people need to calm down. I understand it makes perfect sense that people have extreme emotions over this issue, but those emotions are not going to help, are not going to help. Vengeance is not the same thing as prevention. We need to take a deep breath and think if we’re going to stop the actual cases, I’m on this station from a, from happening and that means a rational approach to pedophilia.

Speaker 1:        And what’s your line? We spend more money on uh, um, accusing you.

Speaker 4:        We spend millions and millions of dollars a year on vengeance, but yeah, just pennies on prevention to take one person, one person in a sexually violent predator, a facility is a hundred to $150,000 per person per year. I ran it, you know, entire sets of studies down to MRI scans for the cost of one person, one person in jail. If this kind of research can produce, as I say, can prevent one person, then it will live paid for itself. It is a, uh, uh, uh, it’s a shame and it’s a bit a disappointing thing to watch the human nature that vengeance comes so easy, but preventing there being a victim in the first place, all of a sudden, you know, people’s heads explode. As I say, just taking a deep breath to look at this situation is most of what we need.

Speaker 1:        Thank you, James. Where can people find you online?

Speaker 4:        Uh, best places. My own website, uh, James canter.org.

Speaker 1:        Great. Thank you very, very much. I hope to have you on again for other issues and other stuff because you’re a wealth of knowledge. Thank you so much.

Speaker 4:        My pleasure. Talk to you soon.

Speaker 1:        All right. See you. Thanks for listening to this episode of smart sex, smart love. I’m dr Joe court and you can find me on Joe kort.com. That’s J O E K O R t.com. See you next time.

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