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On the Push to De-Stigmatize Evil
Why Pedophilia Must Never be Normalized
This essay is long, which is why it’s in 6 parts. The entire thing should be considered to have serious trigger warnings for pedophilia and all possible terms related to it: rape, child sexual abuse, victim-blaming, grooming, sexual assault.
The most graphic section will have additional warnings.
I. Trigger Warnings For People Who Don’t Need Trigger Warnings
Some of You Probably Shouldn’t Read This Essay
Reading this essay will expose you to true things about pedophilia. The cartoon version that American media has made widespread generally takes one of two forms. Law & Order: SVU has trained many people to think that “pedophile” means: a vicious monster who kidnaps a little girl, tosses her into the back of a white van, and brutalizes her. If she’s very lucky, she survives and after a month or so in the hospital starts to rebuild her life. The character of Elliot Stabler, the father and detective who goes out and captures pedophiles to make the streets a little safer, for his kids and all our kids, is a powerful part of American pop culture.
On the other extreme: sanitized summaries, the kind of thing found in bullet points on PowerPoint slides used in training Girl Scout leaders or substitute teachers (merely to satisfy a requirement, to check off a box of “training in child sexual abuse awareness”), will say something anodyne about how most sexual abuse is perpetrated by family members or family friends—people who have access to the child—but give no indication of what this looks like or what it means, how it happens and how easy it is to hide. This often results in the construction of a cartoon version of evil, inoffensively mild and seemingly easy to avoid. A creepy old man who makes inappropriate remarks to neighborhood kids, or something else obvious and easily avoided, is the paradigm this creates. Maybe there’s a story about him groping a Girl Scout who knocked on his door to sell cookies. Don’t knock on his door, don’t lend him your lawnmower, don’t let him babysit no matter how dire the emergency, and you’re fine. Your kids will be safe.
The cartoon versions of pedophilia are either a horror film come to life or an easily-defeated-by-avoidance, mustache-twirling villain. Neither approaches the reality of what most pedophilia looks like, and this is why it is such a pernicious problem.
Most importantly, sane people with a moral compass often tend to make the mistake of assuming that other people are sane and possess a moral compass. Thus, because no sane person with a moral compass would ever wish to have sexual contact with a child, people imagine that all pedophiles understand that they are predators and that their attraction to children is a predator’s attraction to prey. In fact, this simple, obvious truth that is as plain as the color of the sky escapes many, and perhaps most, pedophiles.
They honestly believe that they are not predators in search of prey. They see themselves as doing something much more like courting a partner. This delusional type of grooming is very easy to get away with because to naïve onlookers it can look so much like kindness, sensitivity, or just being “good with kids.”
If you read this essay and grasp what it is intending to convey, you will understand grooming to an uncomfortable extent: one that cannot be intuited by someone who has not personally experienced it as a child and/or explored it with a therapist as an adult. There is a very real chance that you might pay an emotional, psychological, or spiritual cost for this knowledge, and the more empathic you are, the higher this cost could potentially be.
If your only motive is to learn how to protect your children, I’ve put my advice here, in a separate piece. And I can’t fault you if you click away now. Learning something about how to protect your children without paying the price for deeper understanding of this topic is a perfectly understandable place to stand.
If you have a personal history of being groomed and/or sexually exploited as a child, this essay will certainly be painful, triggering, and difficult to read. It might also be validating and help you know that you are not alone.
Whatever the case, please take care of yourself and make a careful decision.
I Didn’t Want to Write This Essay
A pedophile blighted my childhood and distorted the trajectory of my entire life. There is no universe in which I will ever be the person I could’ve been had my path not crossed with his. He robbed me of that, and of much else.
Pedophiles hold incredible power over the children they abuse. They hijack aspects of life, parts of development, and profoundly alter the children with whom they interact. The most obvious way that they do this is to prematurely activate parts of the mind that evolution gave us for good reasons but do so for their own selfish ends. It is a robbery. Not of things, but of parts of self. What people with no personal experience of being victimized in this realm have great difficulty understanding, is that it is a rape of the soul every bit as much as it is a rape of the body.
I didn’t want to revisit my own memories and damage. I’m not eager to share them with the world. I am paying a price to write this knowing that it will be read by strangers.
Why I Had To Write This
Our society is showing alarming warning signs of normalizing this evil, and at a speed that is almost impossible to comprehend. If I can cause just one parent to follow their gut about a Little League coach or piano teacher; just one bystander to find the courage to speak up; just one pedophile to understand that his attraction to children is the attraction of a predator for prey and to decide that no, his orgasm is not worth the wholesale destruction of a human soul—then it’s worth the price that I have paid writing this, and will pay when I click publish.
In my recovery, I have been fortunate to an almost magical degree. My therapist is a genius, a master of his craft. I have friends who are both brilliant and loyal, people who love me more than I deserve, people whose capacity for love extends to paying the not-trivial cost to them of reading this essay more than once, discussing it with me in all the grotesque detail that it contains, to help me make the arguments as robust as they can be. And I can write.
The Venn diagram of those blessings is incredibly small, and there’s a high likelihood that I am its only member with an active Substack and a decent number of Twitter followers. It has to be me. It is incumbent on all of us to take on all the responsibility we can bear to make the world a better place. This responsibility is mine, and I accept it.
Some Serious Risks
In publishing this, there is every possibility that a pedophile could read this and learn something about the process that they don’t already know. This risk is one I have to accept because, in the age of the internet, these men are finding each other anyway, getting grooming tips (whether they realize that’s what they are, or not) from each other anyway, learning these lessons anyway. If I can open up their playbook to people who can help protect kids, I believe the net effect will be protective.
If you are someone who reacts to what you know is in this essay with excitement rather than horror, please, whatever you do, do not bring what is in your mind into the physical world. All human beings have a shocking capacity to tune out the pain of others, but rest assured that if you bring these things into the real world, what gratifies you in the moment will create suffering and dysfunction for a lifetime. No child is capable of deserving these consequences.
Part 2 makes the case that we are headed, as a society, towards normalizing this evil, and argues that we must stop, at any cost. It’s an argument that shouldn’t have to be made, but I will make it.
Part 3 will explain the most common and plausible arguments in favor of “de-stigmatizing” various aspects of this evil, present them as fairly as I can, and then refute them.
Parts 4 and 5 will show you the reality of a child victim being groomed, how it happens, what it looks like from the child’s perspective, how it feels to the child, and how it follows the child for the rest of her life—even if she is blessed beyond words with skilled help and the love of good people who accept her as she is.
Part 6 is the conclusion, and answers the “what can I do?” question.
There are many clinical terms around sexual attraction to children, and the hair-splitting on this is one way that the movement to normalize pedophilia is gaining ground. It is not necessary for the general public to use clinically relevant terms for sub-types of pedophiles in order to have a conversation about this danger and what it means. If you don’t know that there is a different clinical term for a man who wants to put his penis into an infant vs a man who wants to put his penis into a 3 year old, you are still equipped to participate in this conversation. The distinction is relevant to researchers, and to the man and his therapist, not to the general public.
In writing an essay of this nature, the most common way for pedophiles and their allies and enablers to attack my arguments will be to say that I am responding out of emotional trauma and not a nuanced understanding. What follows are excessively detailed, highly nuanced definitions both to prove that, if need be, I can get into the academic weeds, and to be excruciatingly precise in the rare case that requires it.
Because I am not going to use the many clinical terms that are relevant to researchers and therapists, but rather language appropriate for a general audience, here are my definitions. People will of course quibble over them, but they are sufficient for this discussion.
Pedophilia: sexual attraction, with or without the pursuit (realized or not) of sexual behavior towards people who are minors, and who look like it. I am not arguing that on the day before a young woman turns 18, it takes a pedophile to find her "hot.” Obviously, there is nothing biological about the idea that an attraction magically becomes normal on any anniversary of one’s birth. That strawman is ridiculous. I am referring to adults, usually men, who are sexually attracted to children, whether or not they have ever or will ever act on that attraction.
Children: people under the age of 18 who are in the physical stage of life between birth and the completion of puberty, the developmental stage that culminates in secondary sexual characteristics: breasts, pubic hair, and hips for females; facial hair, pubic hair, and adult-sized genitalia for males.
Child Sex Offender (CSO): Clinicians and researchers distinguish between pedophilia: the sexual attraction to minors (literally, the fact of becoming aroused by children’s immature bodies), and Child Sex Offenders: those who act out, either by viewing or engaging in sexual acts with minors. This can be a difficult distinction to understand, so I will give you a real-life example shortly.
According to the clinical literature, there is significant overlap between these two groups with pedophilia being a significant risk factor of offending. Current research suggests 50% of CSOs are pedophiles, but we really don't know the accurate percentage as so many offenders go undetected, do not reveal their attraction, or both.
The general public sees these two groups as one and the same due to the subject of the attraction and offenses. This makes sense as the public at large are not researchers or clinicians. The public has a vested interest in societal norms, laws, and safety. Clinicians and researchers do as well when acting in their capacity as citizens. When acting in their professional capacity, researchers and clinicians take care to make these distinctions as they may change the structure of research or clinical applications. (While these distinctions could obviously benefit from refinement, I am providing them because they are good enough for my purposes and do not run afoul of the clinical literature.)
The people who push for clinical language are asking the general public to think, act, respond, and speak like mental health clinicians. This is not just impossible—it is wrong, dangerous, and ridiculous. Mental health clinicians require years of graduate education in order to achieve a mindset that allows them, in the clinical laboratory or the protected space of the therapeutic relationship, to approach this issue differently. Many conversations are appropriate in a therapist’s office and nowhere else. Imposing the standards and norms of those relationships on general public conversations is both unreasonable and counter-productive.
When a man puts his penis inside a child, I don’t care if his reason is that he was aroused by the child’s immature body; that he followed an impulse or urge that he doesn’t understand; or that he did it merely after concluding that a child is the only partner he can find—and I don’t think most readers will care, either.
For the rest of this essay, I use “pedophile” when I mean a person who is aroused by children’s immature bodies and “pedophile/CSO” when I mean someone who has acted out sexually with a minor and the context makes clear that the act was likely motivated by arousal. If in doubt, I use “pedophile/CSO.”
An Example of The Distinction
Recognizing that it’s hard, especially for people who have been fortunate enough to have no personal experience with this, to understand that there are child sex offenders (CSOs) who also experience normal attraction to adult women, I want to give you a real-life example from the life of someone I know well.
A man with a drinking problem in a very bad marriage hasn't had sex with his wife for a long time. She is away from the house working overtime in retail as Christmas approaches. He is home alone with his 9 year old stepdaughter, who strikingly resembles her mother. She appears in the kitchen wearing a short nightgown and panties, looking for cookies to eat before going to bed. He is drunk, angry, and horny when the two of them get into an argument. Before the night is over, fueled by alcohol and the rage of his miserable life—not by lust—and as an expression of rage, not sexual desire, he rapes her.
The man’s prison-assigned therapist has an interest in a deep understanding of what motivated the attack and whether or not it fits under clinical definitions of a sub-type of pedophilia or merely under a clinically non-pedophilic act of raping a child. Neither his victim, her mother, you, I, nor anyone else is required to split the difference between a pedophile and a CSO there, though I am taking the care to do so in this essay for the previously disclosed reasons.
I am also using "he" and "male" and "man" to refer to pedophiles and CSOs. This is not because I am unaware that female child sex offenders exist. My use of masculine language is not meant to minimize or deny the reality of female sex offenders, just to focus on the majority.
Likewise, I am using “she” and “her” and “little girl” to refer to victims. This is not to deny or minimize at all the reality that many little boys are victimized by pedophiles and child sex offenders. The paradigm of the male offender and female victim was my own experience, and I am sticking with it mostly to avoid a lot of awkward he/she and his/hers constructions throughout this piece, but I think my arguments are equally applicable in both cases.
The Theme I Will Repeatedly Return To
Many pedophiles and child sex offenders—perhaps most—do not understand that they are predators seeking prey. They are fully enmeshed in a delusion that they are courting a partner, not grooming a victim. This is a hard reality for someone who has not experienced it personally to understand, so I will revisit it many times. It is foundational.
Until you understand this, you will be stuck with a cartoon understanding, of little value.
II: We Are Normalizing Pedophilia At Warp Speed
A noticeable number of people—large, and growing—have accepted a narrative that there is such a thing as a pedophile who is a victim of a terrible injustice. He is born with a sexual orientation that cannot be legally acted upon, and so must suffer all his life from loneliness and societal stigma.
A version of this narrative turned up in my email box days before I published this essay. Just the discussion on Twitter that this piece would be coming caused someone who has swallowed this narrative entirely and become an advocate for the abolition of age of consent laws, to write to me. He wrote arguing that “child sexual abuse” is a pseudoscientific concept. It does not exist; there is no such thing; “inter-generational relationships” are positive. That person believes that he has taken a morally defensible stand.
Many advocates for normalization use parallels of the same arguments that, over time, won gay men and lesbians full civil rights.
Some advocates for normalization are honest about what they are doing in adopting the tactics of the movement that won gays and lesbians the right to marry.
Among the tactics they are using is pushing the use of the “sexual orientation” construct, and this language is starting to turn up even among people who should know better. They’ve started referring to themselves as MAPs (for Minor-Attracted Person) and Twitter protects them, ironically through a policy that claims to disallow discussion that “glorifies or promotes” child sexual exploitation.
MAP is not an accurate term. Sexual contact between an adult and a child is rape 100% of the time. Thus, the correct term would be MRAP: Minor rape attracted person.
Groups like Prostasia, a pedophile advocacy group that claims to want to protect kids, and spokesmen for normalization like Dr. Cantor, slip back and forth between clinical and societal language. Prostasia admits, by their actions, that their aim is not therapeutic, because they permit children as young as 13 (the minimum required age under US law for registering on websites…gosh, I wonder how thoroughly they enforce this?) into some of their discussion groups.
There is no justification to put 13 year olds in contact with pedophiles under any circumstances of basic sanity, and certainly not for “therapy.” Further, if the discussions in this group are therapeutic or positive in their aims, in any way, where is the parental consent requirement?
Groups like Prostasia and advocates for normalization like Cantor are allowed to discuss their work openly on Twitter under the claim that they aim to protect kids, when there is ample evidence that their real goal is simply to fully normalize pedophilia. This evidence includes a disturbing number of people who were once on their staff being arrested for sex crimes against children. Here is one example. Edited to add this link to an investigative article and this Twitter thread. Prostasia is very effective at silencing critics of their pro-pedophilia positions.
One of Prostasia’s blue-check Twitter spokesmen, Noah Berlatsky, writes for the mainstream publication, The Atlantic. Six years ago, in a piece published in The New Republic, another entirely mainstream outlet, he argued that the real threat to “child sex workers” (his term for trafficked children that men who are pedophiles and/or CSOs pay to rape) is the police. The piece never mentions that the children are being raped, with only the phrase “survival sex” indicating anything close to understanding of the reality of the situation.
This movement is having societal consequences, including authoritative voices, like the gay researcher whose tweet is posted above (and who has supported Prostasia) saying quite openly that pedophiles should be included in the LGBT community. (I refer to Dr. Cantor’s sexual orientation because it is strongly in the interest of gay people not to be associated with pedophilia, and thus it is a powerful example of how far the normalization has progressed.)
Cantor is wrong about this. His statement here has a kernel of truth: both the principles and tactics of the societal movement that brought gays and lesbians full civil rights are being hijacked by evil, but we don't have to let it continue.
The principle that consenting adults should be permitted to choose with whom to enter into sexual relationships does not need to be perverted into a means to de-stigmatize those who pursue relationships with people incapable of the level of understanding and maturity required in order to give consent.
That pedophilia is morally wrong and should never be tolerated is an across-the-board truth in all circumstances, even for the many, perhaps most, pedophiles and/or pedophile/CSOs who have no understanding that they are predators hunting for prey.
Even those pedophiles who experience the delusion that they are courting a partner must be stigmatized.
Child Sex Abuse Dolls
Did you know that there are places in this world where a man who feels sexual urges towards children can email a picture of a real little girl, pay a fee, and receive a sex doll that looks just like her? (While it is possible that it exists, I am unaware of male dolls being sold at this time.)
The merchants who sell this sort of thing helpfully provide instructions for how to get away with it, and they ship it in a diaper to help avoid authorities’ attention, by making it look like a regular baby doll.
They advertise their merchandise with imagery meant to be cutesy. (Note: “loli” is understood to refer to sexualized imagery of young girls.)
A man who enjoys that sort of thing can penetrate the doll as many times as he wants. She won’t cry in pain when he tears her flesh. She won’t need to be held and comforted. She won’t need to be bribed or threatened not to tell. No doctor will have to be bribed or threatened to treat her infection without notifying authorities.
She will be an object for him to gratify his lust, one without any needs or feelings.
Now consider that we are technologically close to being able to create child sex robots who will respond only positively—positive feedback from a robot that looks, feels, and sounds like a 5 year old human child—thus feeding the delusion that children enjoy sexual contact with adults and that an adult-sized penis in her vulva, anus, or mouth fulfills a little girl’s greatest wish.
Some people believe that this option is a good idea, because they think it creates a situation wherein it is less likely that the man who paid for the sex doll (or soon, robot) to look like a little girl (so that he could put his penis inside a vulva that looks, feels, and is the size of a baby, toddler, or elementary-school-aged girl’s vulva) will move on to doing that to a real little girl. These people are wrong for many reasons, including that use of these dolls harms the pedophiles and pedophile/CSOs themselves, and later in this piece I will expand my argument against child sex dolls.
Risks of De-Stigmatizing Sexual Contact Between Children and Adults
The risks of de-stigmatizing this evil are far too great, and once done, cannot be undone.
There are monsters of the sort that an Elliot Stabler would work for four days straight to capture, monsters who fit the cartoonish notion of a kidnapper with a white van. But there are many other types of monsters. As I’ve said several times now, many pedophiles/child sex offenders have no idea that they are predators hunting prey, and they are just as monstrous as the ones who know that they are predators – perhaps more so, for they are surely more dangerous. They can do the incalculable harm to children that comes with being eroticized and groomed, even without actual, physical contact.
How can a child be harmed by a pedophile/child sex offender without being physically touched?
Interacting with a child in an eroticized manner has consequences that do damage. I could write a separate essay just on this, but I will give you just one example here that relates to the danger of child sex abuse dolls.
Imagine being four or five years old and an adult you trust shows you one of these sex dolls that looks like a child. You have baby dolls of your own. This is familiar, normal, and fun—playing house with a grown-up! But these dolls are anatomically correct, and the adult man you trust—perhaps having you pose for pictures with his doll—doesn’t have to actually touch you to completely warp your innocence. Talking to you about the doll and what he uses it for, or hinting—or worse, showing you—can turn you into prey for the next predator, even if the first one never touches you at all. You have learned that a being who looks like you (and remember that many young children are incapable of understanding that dolls don’t have real thoughts, feelings, and lives) exists for the pleasure of an adult. If the pedophile/CSO makes what he has shared with you and shown you a secret, you now have attached an inappropriate and premature sense of personal autonomy to this knowledge. This puts you at heightened risk going forward and is the start of a grooming process.
There is every possibility of a pedophile who does such a thing thinking of himself as virtuous, no-contact, anti-offense, and having done nothing wrong. He has simply shared an interest with a little friend who likes dolls, too! He could honestly claim to be a virtuous pedophile who is against child sexual abuse and qualify for membership in any of the organizations that support normalization on these grounds, despite having done harm to a real child through exposure to his doll.
This sounds crazy, but remember that we are talking about men who have sexual urges toward children. The realm of things that make logical sense is not the realm in which we are operating.
All of these types of pedophiles/child sex offenders are dangerous and none should be normalized or de-stigmatized.
Twitter is the most obvious place where these discussions are tolerated, normalized, and protected, but the push towards normalization is affecting many ordinary people.
Just One Example
Here is a Twitter exchange that occurred just a few days ago, one that has taken this narrative of the victimized, deserving-of-pity pedophile and extended it to the point where the argument becomes that pedophiles deserve more sympathy than their victims, a mentality I am urged to adopt:
Let’s examine their argument, and then the arguments that normally accompany the worldview on this topic.
III: The Arguments That Must Be Refuted
Here is my best attempt at fairly presenting the arguments in favor of de-stigmatizing and/or normalizing pedophilia.
Summarizing Their Position
The argument goes something like this: there is such a thing as a “virtuous pedophile.” They are victims of a genetic quirk that makes them attracted to children, but they are not monsters. They have an unchangeable sexual orientation exactly the same as anyone else’s, only theirs is stigmatized. They have a moral compass and would never, ever actually touch a child. They deserve empathy and support, because they haven’t actually done anything wrong, and that’s what will keep them from ever offending: being recognized as the good people that they are, able to control the terrible urges that they didn’t ask for and would trade in, if they could, without hesitation for the chance to be normal. De-stigmatizing these “virtuous pedophiles” is important for many reasons: fairness, decency, and kindness; but also that we must be able to study these “good pedophiles” in order to find some way to overcome whatever causes this problem. They lead tortured lives of terrible loneliness because nobody can ever really know them or sympathize with their plight.
The Story They Tell Is A Lie
I checked with three therapists, in three different states, to make sure I had a clear understanding of US law. They were all in agreement: there is no duty to report a client who discloses sexual urges toward children that they are not presently acting upon. A therapy patient who is not presently abusing children and truly seeking to understand and repair the root of his disorder in order to prevent that, is not in danger of exposure. Those urges are not illegal—only acting on them is illegal. A therapist is not obligated to report a client unless they have a reasonable belief that an identifiable victim is in immediate danger.
What my Twitter interlocutor said was a lie. Help and counseling are available, and the pedophile patient’s right to confidentiality exists to the same extent that all other patients enjoy that right.
Three Reasons Why Pedophilia Should Not Be Called A Sexual Orientation
It Is Inaccurate
Sexual contact with an adult is always abuse, exploitation, and rape for a child. Using the term “sexual orientation” conflates a set of desires that are abuse 100% of the time when enacted in any way (including verbally or just by observation) with desires that, when acted upon, lead to normal, healthy sexual activity. (This is not happening by accident.)
It Is Dangerous for Society
There are many risks that people who want to be kind—to people they see as victims, in at least some cases, of sexual urges that they didn’t ask to experience—are creating, and may not be considering. Here are just a few.
1) Sexual orientation has a very special legal meaning. It is a protected class. If pedophilia is recognized as an orientation, then there is no legal recourse to deny housing, employment, or other functions of society to people who claim the orientation of pedophilia. Do you want a world where your child’s daycare center is legally not allowed to refuse to hire people who are openly pedophilic?
2) Children can often access mental health counseling without parental knowledge or consent in schools starting at middle school age. A normalization of pedophilia, especially in the modern therapeutic norms where only affirmation therapy is acceptable and in many states, any attempt to change sexual orientation is against the law, risks situations where a 14 year old boy could be told by his mental health counselor that sexual urges towards his younger sibling, neighbor, or other young children in his life are normal, just as that child would be told that sexual feelings towards girls or boys his own age about which he felt distress was normal, as just one example.
3) I repeat: in many states, any type of therapy that aims to change sexual orientation is against the law. If pedophilia is accepted as a sexual orientation, therapists will, in many states, be legally disallowed from trying to help pedophiles change—unless laws are changed.
4) A kid who grows up in a world where pedophilia is an “orientation” under the LGBT umbrella, as Dr. Cantor supports, is already having their natural defense against being victimized broken down.
5) Over time, sexual orientation goes from something we tolerate to something we celebrate. Arguments for tolerance evolved into Gay Pride Month. This is arguably appropriate (or at least acceptable) in the case of consenting adults, at least sometimes. Once pedophilia goes under this umbrella, there will be no way to avoid celebration.
It Interferes with Clear Communication
One of my friends, known on Twitter as Dr. RollerGator, published an excellent Twitter thread discussion of this. I copy and paste it here, with minor edits, because it’s a better explanation than I could give.
Well, for starters the term ‘sexual orientation’ has always been a positive and affirming declaration - one that was meant to say there was nothing wrong with the behavior. Back when there were sodomy laws and homosexuality demonized, the accusation was that these were perverts. They were otherwise capable of being ‘normal’ and ‘straight’ but they were hedonistic and perverse. Catholics and other Christian denominations currently often say that homosexuality is a sin, even if it’s their natural born preference, as it's the actions that matter. Engaging in the homosexual acts is wrong.
It being their ‘sexual orientation’ is the wording used to say there is nothing wrong with it because that's just their natural tendency. To apply the term to pedophilia loses the term's ability to be an argument protecting homosexuality because you have just become similar to the Catholics, ie who cares if it's your sexual orientation the behavior is wrong, and we need a new common expression for what is natural and ok versus what is natural and not ok. And I'm the last person to suggest that's not theoretically possible.
But I would absolutely object to attaching the expression ‘sexual orientation’ to pedophilia because in this environment that's just going to cause people to start confusing what consent looks like and all of the sudden pedophiles grooming children will be argued as consensual because the child seemed happy and enjoying the activity. I think there is a better way to argue that ‘we shouldn't treat people who seek help and have not harmed anyone as if they have harmed someone and are psychopaths’ without ceding the phrase ‘sexual orientation’.
How To Ethically Study This
Returning to the summary of their position, here is a discussion of an important aspect: that studying pedophilia could potentially help us cure it.
Peter Boghossian was disciplined by his former employer, Portland State University, in the wake of the Grievance Studies Affair. They argued that he was experimenting on human beings by sending out fake papers to journal editors and reviewers. Having them read papers that easily passed for real academic papers and were different only in that they were written without authentic belief in the ideas—when reading academic papers is a normal part of their lives—was deemed an unethical experimentation on human beings.
With psychology setting such an extremely high bar for psychological study that poses even the remote possibility of any kind of danger of harm to human beings, it seems like a no-brainer that pedophiles being studied prove that they lead lives without ready access to children. Further, this commitment to non-offending could be solidified in any one of several ways. State agencies run background checks to clear individuals to work with children, as anyone who’s ever volunteered to coach Little League or work with Big Brothers/Big Sisters has experienced. Pedophiles submitting to study could agree to be put on a permanent blacklist such that they can never be cleared to volunteer with kids. They could also be expected to participate in learning how sexual contact with adults damages children, humanizing their potential victims to the fullest extent possible.
If these pedophiles are truly in possession of a moral compass, with no interest in ever harming a child, this is an incredibly low bar to prove it.
The Argument That Children Aren’t Traumatized
Some researchers have published arguments that children are not traumatized at the time of their abuse. They often assert that children become traumatized when adults find out about it and overlay their own adult interpretations onto what happen. This is usually used to assert that concern about pedophilia is overblown, exaggerated, or even a moral panic.
This is bullshit, and for a reason that should be easily understandable: the cases where children may not understand that they are being violated and/or feel traumatized at the time are actually worse. Rather than reacting with normal defenses of adrenaline and terror, which clearly communicate to them that Something is Wrong with what is happening, they are internalizing messages about themselves and their bodies: that their purpose is to produce pleasure in adults. Something that is pleasurable but not sexual in a child (most people who’ve taken care of children have seen two year olds go through a phase where they can’t keep their hands off their genitals, as one example of this) becomes a powerful, deep relationship with their own body and sense of themselves—their worth, purpose, value; the kind of attention they deserve—that a child internalizes.
That the victim, in some cases, only experiences this as a conventionally defined trauma years later when she is trying to understand why she is sexually dysfunctional, unhappy, or generally troubled as an adult, is in no way mitigating. It is worse.
Ask yourself: who is more dangerous—a man who robs a normal woman of her purse, or a man who talks a Down syndrome woman into handing over her rent and grocery money with a smile, believing she was giving it to someone who needed it to buy medicine for his sick puppy?
Who could do more, deeper, and longer-lasting damage to more people in the long term?
Is not robbery from those too innocent to comprehend the violation more morally egregious?
One Basis for the “Quirk of Nature” Argument
Some studies, including one conducted by Dr. Cantor (the researcher whose tweet arguing that pedophilies should be included as part of the same community that includes gay men and lesbians is shown earlier) that was said to have included brain scans of 65 self-reported non-offending pedophiles, comparing them to brain scans of 62 offenders with no known sexual element to their crimes. This study seems to show structural differences in the brains of pedophiles. The people who want to normalize it use to argue for a “they were born this way and can’t help it” approach.
This is nonsense. First, neuroplasticity is a powerful force. We don’t know that they were truly non-offenders, unless they were under 24/7 surveillance (they weren’t). So we don’t know to what extent actual sexual behavior against children may have affected their brains. “What fires together, wires together” is one of the profound truths of how brains develop function, and we don’t know how many rapes of children affected their brains.
But suppose all 65 of them were telling the truth, and there is very good reason to believe that they have biological differences that are the cause of their pedophilic urges.
If we could prove that a biological brain difference made men have powerful urges to rape adult women, would we suddenly be comfortable with rape porn? Would we encourage them to meet in groups and talk about rape? Would we allow groups analogous to the groups Prostasia runs, with members as young as 13, to have these adult would-be rapists talk to 13 year olds about their urges to rape?
If we could prove that a biological brain difference made men have powerful urges to throw acid in the faces of other men, would we normalize that? Would we argue that they should be allowed access to dangerous chemicals and that it was therapeutic or “harm reducing” to have them set up chem labs in their homes, to enable them to make the acid and toss it at dolls of their boss, their neighbor, whatever man has offended them?
If we someday learn that some men have a biological difference that gives them powerful urges to kill, will we start recruiting them to serve as executioners in death penalty states?
Somehow, if the powerful urge in question results in an erection, we put it in a different moral category and consider steps we would never take for the satisfaction of any other powerful urge. This is understandable on the level of sex being an integral part of human connection for most healthy adults, but that is not a good enough reason to sacrifice the present and future well-being of children. Period.
I discussed my concerns about the limitations of this study, and the out-sized claims made regarding its implications, with a practicing therapist, Robin Atkins. Upon hearing my concerns about this study, Robin added:
He compared the brains of pedophiles who had or had not acted on attraction to kids (65) to men with offenses that were not sexual in nature (62). While it is interesting that men with inappropriate sexual attraction had different white matter wiring than man with non-sexual offenses, he did not compare the pedophiles to rapists or non-pedophilic child sexual offenders. So, we don’t know if the white matter wiring difference is really an indicator of sexual violation history/preference or an indication of pedophilia alone. Also, he didn’t test brains along the human life span. These were all men in their mid 30s to 40s. We don’t know if the brains of teen pedophiles would look the same, or in their 20s. Could it be nurture changing wiring in the brain? In addition, we don’t know the childhood history of the 65 pedophiles. Were they victims in their childhood? Could the white matter wiring issue be related to the amount of time exposed to child sexual assault either as a victim, observer, or participant. And, as you stated, we don’t know whether they are being honest about their histories. If Cantor wants to claim pedophiles are afraid to seek help because of stigma, it is all the more likely they wouldn’t be honest about illegal activity. Of course, he is all over media touting his findings as proof, when they are anything but. And the swap between pedophile and child sex offender intermittently is very confusing. If not all of the 65 men were pedophiles, that would suggest any man that commits illegal acts sexually (viewing or acting) may have this issue, which would negate it as purely regarding pedophiles.
More on Sex Dolls, Graphic Novels, and Other Things Pedophiles and Their Allies Want to Legalize
Besides the grave dangers of these items (and the soon-coming next technological step, interactive robots) and material being used to groom children—whether or not the pedophiles realize that grooming is what they are doing—these items are harmful to pedophiles themselves. If pedophiles realize that their urges are wrong, then legalizing a method for them to enact wrong behavior, particularly in a way that habituates them to committing that wrong, is harming them.
If they are pedophiles of the sort who do not understand that having sexual contact with a child is wrong, then these items serve to solidify and strengthen their delusion. This is also harming them, enabling and strengthening a delusion that puts every child in their vicinity at risk and them at risk of offending and ending up in the legal system.
The danger of these items causing acting out is real, and has empirical evidence. A 2018 study in Australia found that the preference for more extreme material increases as the medium moves from photographic to video. In what way is it reasonable to take the risk that moving to a 3D experience of using a child sex abuse doll will come with a brake – that it won’t lead to the next progression beyond a doll or robot, a real child?
What will the informed consent paperwork look like if these dolls are legalized and turned into part of a “harm reduction” model of treating pedophiles? There is every chance that facilitating and enabling the performance of a 3D act replicating their desired act will make their thoughts and urges toward children more and not less severe. The first principle of medicine is to do no harm.
If this material is legalized, as the pedophiles and their allies want, then how many children have to be raped before it can be re-criminalized?
Will the purchasers of these material agree to be recorded so their future offenses can be counted?
If they’re not interested in actually harming kids, why not?
Graphic novels or sexually explicit comics—you’ll learn more later about how one was used to normalize sexual abuse in my own life—are likewise reprehensible, for the same reasons and posing the same dangers as the child sex abuse dolls.
I’ve repeated several times that many pedophiles/CSOs do not understand that they are predators in search of prey. They experience a powerful delusion that makes them think of themselves as doing something much more akin to courting a partner.
In the next section, I’m going to show you what that looks like and how it feels from the perspective of the child.
IV: What Grooming Really Is
This section and the section that comes after it are disturbing. They show you both the reality of what it looks like when a pedophile thinks he is courting a partner, not grooming a victim, and how it feels and looks through the eyes of a child, both at the time and in the future. Reader discretion is strongly advised.
Children Are Malleable
In retrospect, his self-control was remarkable.
The first time he babysat, all he did was overwhelm me with affection and show me comics. The comics, in the long run, mattered just as much as the love-bomb.
After that first afternoon, I worshiped him.
Every doubt I had later was erased by the memories of the comics, not the feeling of love. But the truth is that there weren’t many doubts—not for a long time. That one afternoon made me compliant and cooperative for everything that happened after.
How is that even possible?
My father resented my existence and didn’t care to hide this fact, so I was absolutely starved for attention and affirmation.
To help you understand how this happens, let’s play a role-playing game. Here is your character.
You are a five year old girl, a scrawny little thing. You’re three and a half feet tall, forty pounds at most, and you desperately want to be bigger, so you walk around on your toes, trying to look taller. You love Sesame Street. Your favorite colors are purple and forest green. You’ve just learned how to play checkers, and you love jumping the other player’s “men.” You want to be an inventor, an astronaut, a veterinarian, and a “haircutter” — in that order.
Your family is deeply troubled, something you understand without having language to explain it. Your daddy is an addict with a mean streak, though he can be funny when he’s high, a state you think of as him being “happy.” Your mommy is scary, and confusing, because she punishes you for lying, but anytime other people are around, she punishes you for not lying. She makes you say things that aren’t true and pretend that you’re happy, she’s happy, your whole family is happy. This is especially true at church. You’ve gotten home from church and been sent straight from the car to cut a switch more times than you can count because you forgot, and said something at church that was true, in front of the church ladies or the pastor’s wife.
Neither of your parents has ever touched you that you can recall, except to inflict pain. You spend every day wishing you weren’t so awful, that you hadn’t been born so bad and unlovable. You pray a lot, asking God to change you into a good girl while you sleep so that when you wake up your parents will love you. That’s all you ask for. Sometimes you even try to bargain with God, volunteering for a life in a wheelchair or blind, as long as you can be good enough for your parents to love you.
That’s all you want: you want your parents to love you, to talk to you without yelling, to tuck you into bed after giving you a hug.
This never once happens.
This is your world. This is who you are on the day that a ride in your daddy’s truck changes everything.
Your daddy tells you to come with him, puts you in his truck, and takes you to a house you’ve never seen before, out in what you think of as “the country.” He introduces you to his friend, Mr. Ron.
“Mr. Ron is going to babysit you from now on. You mind him,” your daddy says, with the look on his face and the growl in his voice that promises the belt, which is way worse than the switch, if you disobey.
Mr. Ron is a man, quite big and tall, much bigger than your daddy, and so very different from you. He could throw you over his shoulder with one arm if he wanted to. You hope that you never make him angry, because a spanking from someone that big would really, really hurt.
You don’t make him angry.
He looks you in the eyes, and smiles. He gives you his undivided attention. He asks you questions and really listens to your answers.
If he notices that all of your answers are frantic guesses at what he might want to hear, he doesn’t let on.
What is your favorite color?
You glance around the room, notice that almost everything is blue, and answer that blue is your favorite color. He smiles.
Blue is his favorite color, too!
He leads you to a large recliner, sits you in his lap, and uses tousling your hair as a way to lean you back, into his chest. You’re nervous. This is unfamiliar, but it feels so good, and so strange, that you almost start crying. He kisses the top of your head and puts both arms around you.
“This is a backwards hug,” you think, and you marvel at how easy this was.
Is he hugging you backwards because you said blue is your favorite color, too?
You hated blue right up until that very moment. You never even liked blue. But suddenly you realize that was wrong. You don’t not like blue. In fact, you love blue. Blue was your favorite color for real, all along—how did you not know? How did you not realize?
You laugh, so happy to realize that you love blue.
He tightens his arms around you, then tucks your hair behind your right ear. “What’s funny?” he asks. Your mind whirls for something that will please him.
“The other day? I was watchin’ Grover, from Sesame Street. He’s my favorite. He’s blue. I was laughin’, um, b’coz you like blue, too.”
This is a lie. You love Elmo and don’t particularly care about Grover. But the connection seems to please him, so you relax.
Neither of you says anything. Your breathing falls into rhythm with his, and after awhile, you yawn.
You immediately feel panic. Will he think that you’re yawning because he’s boring? Will he get mad at you? Will he push you off his lap? Will he flip you over his knees and spank you? You hope if he does he’ll just spank your bottom. You’re wearing shorts and if he leaves any marks on your legs, your daddy will see when he picks you up and he’ll get really mad that you didn’t behave yourself. You feel the shiver in your tummy and the goosebumps on your bottom that you feel when your daddy pulls the belt out of his pants.
You feel his hands move to under your armpits and you think, “Oh, no.” You expect to be flipped over for a spanking.
Instead, he turns you so you’re facing him. He tells you, “bend your knees.” You obey, and he pushes the button to lay the recliner flat. Suddenly he’s stretched out, horizontal, and you’re lying on top of him. He situates you with your head just over his heart. It feels natural, then, to put your arms around him. Only a little bit scary.
He hugs you with one arm and rubs your back, very gently, with the other.
“Go to sleep,” he says. “I’ll hold you while you take a little nap.”
“Dream of something blue.”
When you wake up, he’s looking at a comic book. A little girl with her special friend, a grown-up man who takes her to get ice cream and to the zoo. By the end of the story, they’re naked in a bed, making each other “feel good.”
Something bothers you about the cartoon book. It doesn’t feel right, and you know before he tells you that the cartoon book is a secret.
You nod seriously. “I never tell. B’coz I’m very, VERY good at keepin’ secrets.”
He laughs. “I bet you are.”
You know there’s a bed in the next room, and you wonder if he’s going to take you in there, just like in the story.
He doesn’t. Not today.
Today he just hugs you, makes you feel important, and loves your answers to his questions.
Today he enlists you in gathering the brush for the fire that will go around the stake. You will smile as he strikes the match, happily climb atop, and then, tears of joy in your eyes—you will burn.
V: Lifelong Consequences, Even If You’re Blessed Beyond Words
All previous content warnings apply again here.
Long Before He Broke The Law
There was a period before Mr. Ron did anything against the law that is long, in my memory. I want to say it was months, but it started when I was five, and perceptions of time are unreliable in kids of that age. Maybe it really was months. Maybe it was weeks. Maybe it was the third time he babysat, or the fourth. All I’m sure of, time-wise, is that the first time he broke the law, I no longer had to be prompted as to where to put my shoes when I entered his house. Little kids are not orderly, so perhaps this means it was the fifth or sixth babysitting session, at least. I don’t know. Perhaps most revelatory is that I no longer hesitated, out of fear of the kind of rejection that would happen if I had done this with my father, to run up to him for a hug as soon as I got there. That didn’t happen quickly.
I had convinced myself that besides the same favorite color, we had many more things in common—TV shows, which college football team we supported, etc.—and I made mental notes in between babysitting sessions to tell him things related to our believed commonalities. “I saw a lady with four Ole Miss flags on her car, Mr. Ron!” I was rewarded for these confidences with smiles, hair tousling, hugs, and other physical expressions of affection.
I had no language for it and couldn’t have explained it to myself, much less to anyone else, but I knew that our interactions were different in some way from other adult/child affection that I had witnessed. I had friends and neighbors with loving fathers, so I had seen plenty of adult men hug, kiss, hair-tousle, etc., little kids. I knew that what Mr. Ron did with me was different, and I knew it was different in a way that was bad—lesser than what my friends and neighbors had. I knew I was earning it somehow, performing for it, and I understood this well before the sexual contact began. This created and solidified my sense of myself as less than other people, unworthy of love without having to earn it—a sense that I have only partially erased, and which will likely be something I struggle against all my life.
The sense of autonomy, of myself as an independent decision-maker and secret-keeper, was wholly inappropriate and caused me to loathe, despise, and blame myself for a very long time. After years of therapy, this is somewhat better some of the time, but it will always be the greatest burden and struggle of my life: one I did not ask for and I do not deserve.
It is crucially important to understand something about how grooming progresses—and I will say it again because it can’t be emphasized enough—many pedophiles (most, if I had to guess) do not understand that they are predators looking for prey. When an adult man is dating an adult woman and hoping to progress the relationship to one that includes sex, he might plan his courtship strategically. Flowers this week, a nicer restaurant next week—asking himself, what will signal my commitment and convince her that it’s in her interest to take our relationship to the next level?
Some argue, these days, that any such behavior from men is predatory, but I don’t believe that to be true. I believe it to be a normal part of the pre-sexual time in a courtship. And in his mind, this is what Ron was doing with me: courting me.
Ron is dead now, for which we can thank cancer, but I ran into him once (in public) during the year I was working five part-time jobs, saving up money to move far away. He reacted to me exactly the way that a normal man reacts to running into an ex-girlfriend of whom he was deeply fond and with whom he parted on good terms. This obvious delusion is neither rare nor particularly difficult to achieve, and many pedophiles/CSOs achieve this.
De-stigmatizing pedophilia in any way will make this delusion much, much easier for pedophiles and pedophiles/CSOs to achieve.
Ron’s delusion affected my view of myself, probably permanently, and in that way he raped my soul and my sense of myself long before he broke the law.
Long before he broke the law, I had lifelong scars. Parts of my psyche and self-concept were tied into knots that even now, years into therapy, are only partially untied.
Long before he broke the law, he was exactly and precisely the kind of pedophile that open-hearted people want to de-stigmatize, that naive but empathetic people argue are victims of an unchangeable and uncontrollable urge, and that we are now urged to feel sympathy and have empathy towards: the kind who hasn’t put his dick inside a child.
He could have, if Twitter had existed then, started and gotten many followers for a “MAP” account, and he would have both Twitter rules and many Reasonable Centrists who are in favor of Finding The Nuance and Avoiding Moral Panics supporting him.
The Reality of Child Sexual Abuse
I don’t know what made him decide I was ready—that the act he thought of as consummating our relationship but was, in fact, raping me, was now a good idea—but it had something to do with me. That doesn’t make me guilty in a moral sense; it just means that I wasn’t a non-entity. He made his decisions in part based on my actions and reactions. This is unpalatable, horrifying, and true.
The sense of autonomy and agency that a pedophile instills is objectively, unequivocally, and totally false, but the little girl is still a participant. The part of me that can still, in bad moments on bad days, blame myself—that part wants desperately for this notion to be untrue, but it isn’t. This reality is not a bad thing, regardless of how it makes me and other survivors feel. The fact of the child’s actions and reactions mattering is good news, because it means that children can often be protected—they can be equipped to avoid the snares that made me such easy prey. (I lay out my thoughts on how to protect kids here.)
The child is a manipulable interactive object. This creates a scenario for the adult survivor of pedophilic abuse that culminates, through the slow process of a child’s lack of understanding becoming an adult’s clarity, in a difficult conclusion: she was robbed of normal, healthy development. Her task then becomes to sort through all of the confusing and contradictory things that pedophilic abuse communicated she was: an autonomous free agent, responsible for what occurred and for the feelings and well-being of her attacker; valuable and important; dirty, undeserving and bad; helpless and fully at others’ mercy; and re-examine them all, re-defining her ideas of herself and the world.
The constant wondering if anything she ever believed in or trusted was what it seemed sets her up for a lifetime of self-doubt.
Some of you are wondering about the abuse itself and how in God’s name a little kid could be kept cooperative. It’s not actually difficult, once the child is well and thoroughly groomed, at least a child who has nobody trustworthy they can ask their questions, or tell if they realize that what’s happening is wrong. It would be redundant to tell my father, who facilitated this—probably having something to do with Ron dealing drugs, though I don’t know that for sure—and it never occurred to me to tell my mother, because I already understood myself to be fighting against my mother’s view of me—that I was bad—and telling her I was doing things with Mr. Ron while naked would be the ultimate proof she was right. A pedophile who wants to keep a child’s cooperation has an exceptionally easy job: it requires only patience, continuing to provide the incentives that the grooming (to many pedophilic minds, courting) process started, and making the abuse as physically non-traumatic as it can be.
I don’t know anything about how little boys are abused, but the clitoris doesn’t wait until puberty to start producing pleasure when stimulated, and it doesn’t depend on consent, moral complicity, or autonomy in the person whose body it is a part of in order to work. The brain receives the signals it receives in the pleasure center, and the little girl learns to associate pleasure with what is happening.
A five-year-old vulva is not large enough to take an adult-sized penis without blood and pain, but these can be minimized with deliberation and slowness, warning ahead of time and promises of treats after—promises kept.
A five-year-old who wants her source of affection, affirmation, hugs, and engagement—in my case, the only male interaction of my life that made me feel more valuable than garbage—to be pleased with her can be coached into performing oral sex in exactly the way that the source wants. She doesn’t have to understand that she is performing sexual favors for positive attention.
It works, just as a child can be manipulated, by praise and positive attention, into learning how to spell lots of new words without having any understanding that she is performing linguistic, academic tasks for positive attention.
During and after the grooming, when they’re shaping the encounters for maximum manipulation with their adult knowledge of anatomy and the mechanics of sex, pedophiles convince themselves that the lie they’ve inculcated in the child—that she is not just a participant, but a fully equal and willing, consenting participant who holds responsibility for what is happening to her—is true.
The adult who was once this child will require an enormous amount of work—difficult, intense, agonizing work—to be fully able to separate her adult sex life from these early experiences. She will always have reasons to doubt everything—her choice of partner(s), the source of any particularly strong likes or dislikes, the strength of her libido—and wonder to what extent the pedophile shaped them.
She will face a lifetime of either lying or disclosing her history when asked for her “how’d you lose your virginity?” story.
The path to these consequences for the child is a long one, and the point at which the pedophile is breaking the law—the point at which he would lose the support of the people who want this evil de-stigmatized, or who feel sympathy for those who have the urge to bring children down this path—is very, very close to the end.
All of this happens regardless of whether the pedophile knows he is a predator looking for prey. The pedophile’s delusion has no mitigating effect at all on the wreckage wrought in his wake.
VI: Conclusion--What You Can Do
If I’ve convinced you that the danger of de-stigmatizing or normalizing pedophilia exists, and is increasing, then you are probably wondering what you can do.
First, call this bullshit out. Don’t let anyone convince you to use “MAP” for pedophiles. Say “pedophile” in polite company and “child rapist” if you are in a situation where you can find the courage to be honest.
Second, share what you have learned. If the topic comes up, explain that many pedophiles experience a delusion that they are courting a sexual partner, not grooming a victim. Encourage others not to fall for it, to wholeheartedly resist the now culturally popular notion that other people’s descriptions of their experiences must simply be accepted as “true for them.”
Third, don’t mind your own business. If you see a child—especially a vulnerable child, from a broken or troubled home—being given special attention by an adult, something beyond kindness, something that feels off and just isn’t quite right— trust that instinct and do whatever you can to find out if that child is safe.
Fourth, pay attention to what is happening in your culture. If you find out that child sex abuse dolls are legal in your country, write to your government and object. If you hear people using the “MAP” term or the word “orientation,” speak up. Insist that they say “pedophile” instead of “MAP” and “perversion” or “evil” or “sexual deviance” instead of “sexual orientation.”
Fifth, advocate for policies that can help. If your state doesn’t already have this possibility, work to create a method for people to add themselves to a blacklist to never get cleared to work with kids—no questions asked. This would provide a powerful data source, in addition to its obvious good, as it would allow us to gain at least something of an idea about how many people in a given state are truly appalled by their urges and actually committed to protecting children from the danger they present.
Finally, don’t kid yourself, don’t minimize, and don’t stick your head in the sand. If we lose this one, civilization as a concept really is gone. In a world where children are acceptable prey for adult sexual urges—where the most basic obligation of moral beings, to protect the innocent, and the law of human decency, that we must do better for our children than was done for us, no longer applies—nothing else can, should, or will matter.
The normalization of this evil is an existential threat to humanity itself. If we lose this one, whether we keep on existing as a species or not will be largely irrelevant.
Humanity may continue to exist, but we humans will have lost the best part of ourselves.
We will probably not get it back.
GRATITUDE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Two dear friends walked with me through the journey of writing this piece, from the initial idea and through multiple drafts, providing encouragement, support, and love every step of the way. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Additionally, several people read this essay’s first draft to help me make it stronger. Those people know who they are and also have my undying gratitude.
Special thanks to Dr. RollerGator for permission to use his twitter thread and to Robin Atkins, BS, BA, MA, LMHC, CIMHP; who helped me find research and provided the section wherein she is quoted above.
One More Thing: On Email
All of my essays get a ton of reader email feedback, and I expect this one to get more than most. Given the topic and the cost I’ve paid for writing it, I need a break. Write if you are so inclined. Just please don’t expect a fast answer.
Thank you in advance for understanding.