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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

In their shoes

It's always instructive to put yourself in someone else's place before judging them. I often wonder how I would react to various situations if I were another race, or if I were a woman. Usually I end up with some sympathy for the other side, even if I don't agree with them.

After reading about a crime, I'll ask myself if I would have been able to resist similar temptation in that situation. Or, conversely, if I would have acted heroically in certain circumstances.

Sometimes I end up feeling superior, sometimes not. I can safely say I would never have become a serial killer or a Ponzi scheme operator. I can also assure you -- with great confidence -- that had I been in Captain Chesley Sullenberger's situation, I would not have walked the length of the cabin twice to make absolutely certain every last passenger was out.

One of the more interesting exercises is to put yourself in someone else's sexuality. Our sexuality is something which is pretty much assigned us. We simply don't have any control over whom we are attracted to.

When I talk to guys who makes scathing remarks about homosexuals, I sometimes ask them, if someone told you that you had to change and all of a sudden be attracted to men, could you do it? They always answer no. I then point out that homosexuals have no more control over whom they're attracted to, so it's not their fault that they are who they are. (The world seems to be moving towards a more accepting way of thinking on that issue anyway.)

There's simply no moral component to attraction. How you treat your sex partners, of course, is an entirely different matter. But no one can be blamed for something they can't help.

Interestingly, men tend to have much more concrete fixations than do women. You often hear a man describe himself as a "breast man" or "ass man," and if you notice whom they chase after, you'll usually see they're not lying. Women in general seem to have a more free floating sexuality, and don't fixate on certain body parts, or physical types, the same way. (Some do, but they're the exception.)

One of the hardest groups of people to identify with are men who are sexually attracted to children. These men are universally despised, and understandably so. They are also, thank goodness, rare. But they have no more control over whom they are attracted to than the rest of us do.

Of course, as I said earlier, how you treat your sex partners has a strong moral component. And any adult who has sex with an underage child will traumatize that child for life. So that adult should rightfully be put in prison. (Once in prison, such men are generally not accorded the greatest respect by their fellow inmates.)

The point is, everyone is responsible for his actions -- but no one is responsible for his inclinations.

I've always said that if I ever caught someone molesting one of my children, I'd kill him. (Maybe when push came to shove, I wouldn't, but that's how I feel -- rightly or wrongly.)

But put yourself in the shoes of a man who is attracted to children.

All your life you've found big, hairy, wrinkled adults, with their cynical personalities and bitter hearts, repulsive. And you've found children, with their smooth skin, hairless bodies, and sweet, innocent hearts, so much more attractive. You know that it's wrong to molest a child. But it's the one thing you've always secretly yearned for, the one thing you've always dreamed of and wanted above all else. Would you be content to just look at child porn and masturbate for your entire life?

Put it another way. Let's say that you're a heterosexual adult male who is attracted to adult women, but you've been told that any sexual contact between you and a woman is the most hideously repulsive act imaginable, and illegal to boot. Would you be able to go through your entire life without at least attempting to have sex with a woman just once? Because that's essentially what we're talking about here.

I'd like to think that if that if my sexuality skewed towards children I would keep to myself.

But I can't say I would with absolute certainty.


Anonymous said...

"But put yourself in the shoes of a man who is attracted to children."
Can you do the same for serial killers?
Pedophilia is a medical diagnosis.
Attraction between heterosexual male and female can not be compared to an adult's sexual attraction to children. One is natural and the other one is not.
"I'd like to think that if that if my sexuality skewed towards children I would keep to myself."
Scary thought...
Problem is, that if that happens, you most likely won't be able to
keep to yourself.

John Craig said...

Yes, one is natural and the other is not, but my point is, they don't have control over what they are attracted to. Do you consider attraction between two grownups of the same sex unnatural? There are plenty of people around who feel that, too, and they have no control over it either; of course, sex between two consenting adults doesn't cause the same harm....And don't worry, as far as "if that happens" goes -- it ain't gonna happen.

Anonymous said...

True, they have no control. Neither do all kinds of addicts.
Attraction between two grownups of the same sex-normal,common and can be controlled, or at least, not acted upon. Not the same for addictions.
Some addictions are OK though,like
playing online Scrabble.

Lots of interesting posts...


John Craig said...

I have more sympathy for different ("unnatural") sexualities than I do for addictions in general. One you are basically born with, the other you allow yourself to get. Yes, alcoholism is a disease, but it is not one you're struck with out of the blue, like, say, cystic fibrosis. You have to put yourself on that slippery slope first.

Now, let me get back to my online Scrabble.