Is pedophilia really a sexuality or a mental illness?

Sexuality is defined as a persons capacity for sexual feelings as well as a person’s sexual orientation or preference. So does pedophile really fall under the definition of sexuality, or is it a mental illness? This has been a question asked many times over the years.

The thing about mental disorders is that very few if any are actually as old as mankinds existence. Most mental disorders change over time, and seem to vanish at some point in mankinds history. A sexuality however tends to be constant and never changing. Throughout the ages men have been attracted to women, women have been attracted to men, men have been atrracted to men, women have been attracted to women, sometimes men are attracted to both men and women, sometimes women are attracted to both men and women, and at times men and women have been attracted to children.

The fact is people have been attracted to children since the existence of mankind. How much we have accepted that people are attracted to children of all ages is what has changed. In modern times a false stigma that all pedophiles will abuse children has been created. In times passed people embraced the idea and even marketed upon it at times.

Take for example the some of the postcards from the early 1900’s. One such postcard as can be seen in the image to the left, shows a very young child in a sexually provocative pose.

The child is naked except that she is holding three eggs to cover any nudity. She also has a small piece of cloth wrapped around her and tied at the front to cover nudity. As the child was clearly nude outside of this and the pose was sexually provocative, using todays standards in many places this would be seen as child pornography, especially for the person who shot the photo.

However in 1900 when this was created on a post card, it was considered an acceptable form of art. The fear of everyone being a pedophile had not yet taken hold so there was no crime in this.

Equally if someone owned this postcard today it would not be considered pornography, but only because it is considered a piece of history and a collectible for postcard collectors. However if one we to make replicatations of this post card in modern times, it would almost certainly be deemed illegal and if not, most countries would ban the sale of it as so would more retail outlets.

This is just one of many types of postcards that were actually created involving children in sexual poses some more famous than others.


1905 erotic postcard of child
1905 erotic postcard of child

Perhaps one of the most famous of these postcards were from 1905 released by Raphael Tuck & Sons postcard. The postcard was postmarked from Dover, Britain, July 2, 1905 and was reproduced in Erotic Postcards, by William Ouellette and Barbara Jones in 1977.

Although this postcard is a bit less risque than the previous in some ways, in otherways it is even more so. In this image we see a young girl on a bicycle being held up by an older man.

Although she has on considerably more clothing than the girl in the last post card, she is also being touched in what would be deemed inappropriately by modern standards.

The mans hand is toughing her exactly where we can only imagine budding breasts are developing, or will be in the near future.

She is also relaxed backwards leaning into him, not in any way appearing to be riding the bike as one would expect in a childs photograph if it were not intended to be erotic in design.

These things are clearly unacceptable by modern standards and would never stand. However this postcard was once just another part of the consumer world that no one stopped to wonder about.

The single most famous of these postcards is “the erotic virgin” and can be seen below.

The point we are trying to make is that attraction to children, is as old as time. Its only how we view this attraction that has changed over they years. We have gone from a point where it was accepted that some people are attracted to children as long as they don’t act upon it, to a point where the mere attraction itself is almost criminal and depending on where one lives can be considered criminal.

The was a great article published by Christine Hume on the Washington University in Saint Luis website titled CONSIDER THE SEX OFFENDER where the author makes the following statement.

Pedophilia is apparently irreversible; you just live with it. It controls your fantasies, your arousal and your desire for a lifetime. Sounds a lot like plain old “sexuality,” doesn’t it? In this light, all sexuality is a kind of mind-controlling parasite that makes us all act against our best judgment.

They then go on to say in another part of the article that as a parent its normal to feel sexual arousal with your child.

In the first year of my daughter’s life, in a parenting book given to us by one of our therapists, I read a throwaway line about the normalcy of feeling aroused by tending the baby. Don’t be alarmed, the book said, it doesn’t mean you are a sexual deviant. The feeling will pass. Reading this, I wondered if intimacy and sexuality have become so divorced from one another that we might mistake one for the other, especially when sleep deprived and in the murky grounds of a new identity. The assertion of sexual arousal as a fact of parenting seemed scandalous to me at the time, but it also gnawed at me until I became grateful—if a little daunted—to know I could just acknowledge it as a fleeting phase.

We want to chastise something that is incredible normal for people to feel. We want to shun it in such a way that often times confuses people into thinking they are pedophile when they otherwise would never have thought twice about the topic. The mere attraction to a child makes one question whether or not they are a pedophile and they do not understand that it takes being attracted to multiple different children before one even fits into a definition.

We have shunned the topic so much that people can’t ask questions. We have shunned it to a point where we are doing more hard than good. We have made people believe that if they are sexually attracted to children or feel any arousal from a child, they are going to eventually rape children and force them to perform sexual acts.

We have put children on sex offender registries for taking pictures of themselves as minors, or taking pictures of there girlfriends and boyfriends as minors.

We have literally gone so far into fear that we have begun to harm children by not allowing them to learn and discover about their own sexuality without fear that they themselves may be violating some law.

People that are going to act on pedophilia need to be able to seek help without fear. People that are attracted to teenagers need to understand its normal and our laws are just confused based out of parental fear.

Is pedophilia just another form of sexuality? Obviously it is. Its nothing more than someone born with an attraction to children, just like any other attraction or “fetish” that has ever existed. The only issue with it is acting upon it and how we handle the issue as a society.

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