Ban the Word “Pedophile”? – Why is it better to speak of “pedocrime” rather than “pedophilia”?…

February 06, 2020

01) Pourquoi vaut-il mieux parler de “pédocriminalité” plutôt que de “pédophilie”?

Thanks to toctoc!

I used Google Translate…It’s a bit rough…Which is why it took me a while to get around to checking this out more deeply.

“For associations helping victims of sexual assault on minors, the fight is also played out in the lexical field. They thus decided to proscribe the word “pedophilia”, which induces the notion of love.

“Pedophile” or “pedophile”? Two weeks after the start of the Matzneff affair and a few days after the opening of Father Preynat’s trial, referred to justice for “assault on a 15 year old minor by a person having authority”, the choice of words questions. In France, 165,000 children are victims of rape and sexual violence each year according to an Ipsos survey for the association Mémoire traumatique et victimologie published in October 2019. The Council of Europe estimates that nearly one child in five are victims of some form of sexual violence. For victims’ aid associations, the fight is vast and it is also played out in the lexical field.

“We often hear say ‘condemned for pedophilia’ but it is not true!” exclaims Sylvie Vigourt-Oudart. For this manager of a Resource Center for Interveners with Authors of Sexual Violence (Criav), “there are words to proscribe”. On social networks and in newspaper pages, the word “pedophilia” is gradually being replaced by the term “pedocrime”. A change certainly timid but welcomed by several associations and professionals.

“Matzneff rejected the term because pejorative”

Why is the name “pedophilia” questioned today? The term, relatively recent, appeared in the nineteenth century in psychiatric vocabulary. It marks for the first time what doctors call “sexual preference disorder”. This notion is then awkwardly constructed by the association of the Greek prefix “païs” which means “child” and the suffix “philein” which indicates friendly love.

In the years 1970-1980, a battle began around the word pedophilia. “There was then a euphemization approach used by pedophile activists: we said ‘adolescent’ and not ‘child’ to make things more acceptable”, reports to franceinfo Pierre Verdrager, sociologist and author of L’Enfant interdite: how pedophilia has become scandalous (ed. Armand Colin). Thus, “Matzneff frequently rejected the term ‘pedophile’, because the word had very derogatory connotations. He used for example the term ‘philopède’, which had no success”, relates the sociologist.

Over time, the use and understanding of the term evolve. “Pedophilia” now refers to “the sexual attraction of an adult to children, girls or boys” but also “physical relationships with a minor”, as defined online Larousse.

“The act of loving disappears in favor of crime alone”

For Homayra Sellier, founder of the Innocence in Danger association, the extrapolation of the terms characterizing an emotional or sexual inclination is problematic.

Pedophilia means ‘love of children’. It is a word that does not reflect reality.
Homayra Sellier

at franceinfo

“It is a word that no longer needs to be. There is no love in the act of rape. You cannot call a child ‘rapist’ a child lover “, she continues.

Exasperated by what she considers a lexical aberration, Homayra Sellier wrote to the World Health Organization (WHO) asking for the ban on the term “pedophile”. In vain. For the woman who has offered an attentive ear to victims of sexual assault for 20 years, this is not an incidental issue: “These are words that strike at the psychology of the victims and their entourage. We must start using restorative words for them. ”

Thus, the Innocence in Danger association and other structures no longer use this term and prefer “pedosexuality” or “pedocriminality” to it. And if these two neologisms have not yet entered the dictionary, “the meaning is different because any reference to loving disappears in favor of the only crime,” argues sociologist Pierre Verdrager.

“The vast majority do not act”

In addition, the use of pedophilia “all the time” is “counterproductive”, says psychiatrist Walter Albardier, head of the Resource Center for stakeholders with perpetrators of sexual violence in Ile-de-France. The doctor denounces the confusion made between the medical concept and the qualification of sexual assault on minors. Pedophilia, “it is the exclusive or nonexclusive sexual fantasy felt for impuberous children”, he explains, citing the definition of the bible of psychiatric disorders, the DSM-5.

But “the vast majority of people who have pedophile fantasies do not take action while the majority of people who do not take action are not necessarily pedophiles,” notes Walter Albardier. There are therefore so-called “abstinent” pedophiles and “pedophile criminals who are not pedophiles. They take action because they allow themselves to be overwhelmed by a drive”, nuances still Léonor Bruny, clinical psychologist.

One must be condemned for his actions and not for his fantasies.
Walter Albardier

at franceinfo

The professionals denounce the stereotypes conveyed in particular by the image of the “pedophile predator”. “The monsters that have been highlighted since the 1990s are not representative of statistical reality,” says Walter Albardier. “We must stop with this image of a libidinous old gentleman who watches for children with candy in his pockets. It makes no sense when three-quarters of the facts reported take place in the intra-family environment”, storms psychologist Sylvie Vigourt- Oudart.

This “scarecrow” as described by psychiatrist Walter Albardier appeared at the time of the Dutroux affair. After decades of laxity, society opens its eyes when cases of sexual assault and murders of minors arise. The figure of absolute evil then passes from that of the brigand to that of the “pedophile monster”. In 1996, the term “pedophile” thus became a column in Le Monde, referring to “crime and misdemeanor”.

“Pedophilia is not an aggravating concept”

However for caregivers, the demonization of pedophiles is harmful and for people suffering from pedophilia fantasies and for the victims.

There are people who would ask for help if they weren’t considered monsters.
Walter Albardier

at franceinfo

This “demonization” prevents patients from being “taken care of before it gets out of hand,” he believes. And that hurts the victims: “They know that their attacker was not a monster. They know that it is much more complicated than that.”

From a legal point of view, the terms “pedophilia” and “pedocrime” are both absent from the Criminal Code. Sexual violence against minors is legally qualified by the following crimes and offenses: “rape”, “sexual assault” and “sexual attack”. “The term ‘pedophile’ is simply mentioned during trials to assess the risks of reiteration or the appropriate care to give to the person. This is not an aggravating notion”, explains to franceinfo Cécile Naze-Teulié, lawyer in law of the family.

Professionals believe that differentiating pedophile disorders (which fall under psychiatry) from acts (criminally reprehensible) makes it possible to “make the actors responsible”. This differentiation, by preferring the term “pedocrime”, is taking place little by little. In 2016, Interpol had thought about the terminology used by the police and included the terms “child offender” and “child abuser” in its name. “Changing words is also trying to change things,” concludes sociologist Pierre Verdrager.”

Of course…”pedophile” and “pedophilia” have nothing in particular to do with the rape, assault or abuse of a child.

As a sexual orientation, pedophilia can manifest as the sexual loving of a child…in an environment where such is accepted as appropriate…or even in private, in an environment hostile towards such a thing.

But it can manifest as all sorts of non-sexual activities, also.

4 thoughts on “Ban the Word “Pedophile”? – Why is it better to speak of “pedocrime” rather than “pedophilia”?…

  1. Yurinho

    It’s jarring that something Gieles has been saying since the previous decade is also being said in such a deeply prejudiced text. Different ways to achieve the same conclusion: the word “pedophilia” had it’s meaning distorted. There’s no love in the act of rape, indeed, that’s not pedophilia. And I would like to see “pedophilia” coming back to being a word that properly describes us. Yet, everything else in the text felt kind of not just right for me.

    1. eqfoundation Post author

      Yeah…I wasn’t entirely sure what the tone of this article was…but it felt negative.

      I didn’t like that woman’s words, you’ve quoted…I almost took that quote, and responded to it…but, I don’t know…

      I’m just really tired of repeating myself…and of the fight.

      Not to say that I’m ever going to quit…but, I think the main thrust of my personal contribution has been offered.

  2. feinmann

    Some background to the Gabriel Matzneff case. The 84 year-old writer is to stand trial in September this year, for promoting paedophilia:

    Does this mean it will no longer be possible to discuss the topic of paedophilia in France without constantly expressing how terrible it is?


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