Sexuality is about the personal choices we make to explore our sexuality both alone and with a lover. Individuals should be free to make their own sexual decisions without undue coercion from another person. The way in which we express our sexuality should show consideration towards others.
Traditionally the only immoral aspect of intercourse is when it occurs outside marriage. Intercourse is a fully condoned and even encouraged sexual activity even by the strictest of religions because of men’s need for sex beyond the requirements of reproduction. Men are typically stronger than women and children. So the law protects these two groups. Most societies have laws that make it illegal for children under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity (either with an adult or another under-age person).
Paedophiles blatantly challenge the concept of consent, which is the most fundamental prerequisite for socially acceptable sexual behaviour. Paedophilia is the sexual attraction to children who have not yet reached puberty. About half of all child sexual abuse victims are 12 to 17 years old (post-pubescent) so their abusers don’t fall within paedophilia. People who molest or abuse children are not always paedophiles. Other abusers of children include the sexually curious or abusive adolescents who molest younger children, hypersexual adults who opportunistically target children and people who act impulsively (rather than in response to erotic attachments) under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Any form of penetration (although rare) will injure a child. Even inappropriate touching of a child’s genitals and display of a man’s genitals can cause long-term emotional damage. Many children who have been molested have emotional problems as adults and never recover from the shame that they were involved (even though unwittingly or against their will) in sexual activity that they were not in a position either to enjoy or to refuse.
There are sometimes bystanders: people who suspect that a child is being sexually abused, but may not know how best to intervene. Women are extremely embarrassed about a phenomenon they have no experience of. So young children tend to keep abuse to themselves. Women around them either know about the abuse but feel powerless to intervene. Or they may not be aware of the abuse because they cannot imagine that such a thing is possible. They are unaware of the nature of men’s pressing sexual urges. Men are often figures of authority not just for children but also for women. So few women are willing to challenge a man.
Even boys do not orgasm regularly until adolescence, which occurs around 13 years of age. Girls experience orgasm much later if at all. So by definition a paedophile man is masturbating himself and obtaining his own gratification (presumably orgasm) but the child is not obtaining a reciprocal pleasure or satisfaction.
There can be a crude eroticism to adult sexual activity. At its most positive this is the enjoyment of physical pleasure (with or without orgasm). Not every sexual encounter is this positive. Sometimes the eroticism is missing completely. This happens in long-term sexual relationships where intimacy is lost. Sometimes only one person benefits from the eroticism.
Women are no more responsive with a lover at twenty than they would be at the age of ten years old. But by the time they are twenty women have gained an appreciation of what they want from men. An adult is assumed to have the experience, character and confidence that makes them capable of making their own sexual decisions without any risk that they have been coerced by a more forceful adult.
Consent is not about responsiveness (or mutual pleasure). Consent is more about a person having the social maturity and life experience to understand the consequences of engaging in sexual activity. An adult is also assumed to have the confidence to stand up to another person putting emotional or physical pressure on them to do something they don’t want to do.
Convicted paedophiles often justify their actions, by insisting that a victimised child acted seductively or enjoyed the encounter. This reflects the predator’s inability to empathise with the victim. Heterosexual men will also defend sexual assault by suggesting that a woman was ‘asking for it’. Men assume that women use display to provoke a man’s sex drive.
When you want something badly enough, you can convince yourself of anything. It’s difficult for women to understand because there’s nothing that they need that badly. Except air to breath, water and food but these things don’t depend on another person’s cooperation. Sex is awkward for men because the act of mating requires an amenable female.
In marriage the male more or less assumes that coitus is his privilege, and the law confirms him in this interpretation. (Alfred Kinsey 1953)