I received the following e-mail from Tim. Tim says…
Hey Trench – I enjoy reading your blog but thought I’d point out an error in your terminology.
You commonly refer to men attracted to teenage girls as ‘pedophiles’ when this is not the case. Attraction to teenage girls is considered ‘hebophilia’ which actually is not considered a mental disorder, as it is biologically normal to be attracted to post-pubescent individuals.
We as a society have chosen to infantilize teenagers when it comes to sex but treat them as adults when they commit crimes. It seems a little out of whack to me. Thoughts?
I checked the archives because I could have sworn I got this e-mail before. I guess it’s because this is an argument I’ve heard before.
First off, you may want to learn the terminology yourself of the various concepts you’re discussing. A brief Google search would show you that hebephilia, which is what I believe you’re trying to spell, is the sexual attraction to early pubescent girls ages 11 to 14. Ephebophilia is the adult sexual interest in mid-to-late adolescents ages 15-19. This what I believe you’re actually trying to defend. The problem with these terms, along with the term pedophilia, is that all three indicate the sexual desire of children, hence why the term pedophile is often used interchangeably. Whether you consider it ‘biologically normal’ is irrelevant since having sex with minors is illegal in all 50 states.
When you say that we ‘infantilize teenagers when it comes to sex but treat them as adults when they commit crimes’ you’re comparing apples to oranges. Crime, especially murder, has clear lines that everyone knows. Murder is wrong, you will be arrested and you will go to jail. Sex is drastically more complicated than that. Children, of either sex, who are exposed to sexual activity or content at too young of age can end up having unhealthy or abnormal idea about sex. Predators know this and use this naiveté to prey upon their victims.
It seems like your e-mail can be summed up with a phrase that a multitude of predators have used when they say that ‘age is just a number.’