Pedophilia from the Chinese Perspective
In traditional Chinese medicine, there has never been a mental disease called pedophilia (or an equivalent term), or homosexuality, or most of the other so-called sexual variations for that matter.
Depictions of “child-romance” in ancient or modern Chinese literature are not difficult to find. They include passages on joyous heterosexual or homosexual activities by children as young as 12 to13 years old with one another or with adults. Children are usually described as natural sexual beings and erotic stimulation and sex-play are seen as beneficial to their healthy development (Chen 2000).
Some writers very vehemently question the capacity of children to give valid consent to sexual activity with adults. Despite their arguments, to the Chinese - who are particularly conscious of the importance and priority of social (and hence adult) values - the focus of discussions on the child consent issue in pedophilic activities is blatantly irrelevant and hypocritical. Even in the Western culture where individual human rights are strongly emphasized, how often do adults try to ascertain valid consent from their children before getting them to do most things? Have the adults sought valid consent from their children before baptizing them soon after birth? Or, when their children express by words or actions that they do not want to eat, sleep, play games with adults, or go to school at certain times, do the adults not use reward, threat, punishment, persuasion, luring, seduction, deception or any other workable means to manipulate them back to the ‘right track’? Have the adults ever explored and studied the ‘trauma’ that may be caused by forcing all those ‘good’ things to their children without their valid consent? There are certain occasions when the adults do respect the children’s wishes and ask for their consent, but only when the choices are within the adult acceptable range.
Hence, the seemingly righteous and humanitarian debate on child self-determination and consent in sexual matters is just another game that adults play to impose their own values on children. For most of those everyday activities adults assign to children, debates on child consent are considered irrelevant and are simply forgotten for parental conveniences. Indeed, when it comes to a child’s sexual activity, the debate begins only because not all adults have the same values. In spite of what the debaters on one side may say, it does not follow that they are actually more concerned with the rights and welfare of the children than the other side. Both sides merely selct and exploit the issue of children’s rights to support their own needs and preconceptions about childhood sexuality.
Obviously, this comment is not meant to discourage debate on child sexual rights. Such debates will continue to give insight to the kind of sexual politics adults play and elucidate the true meaning of children sexual rights and their capability to give consent. People just have to be reminded that, no matter which side they take on the issue of pedophilia, the debates by themselves will not alleviate any moral discomfort they might have concerning child autonomy..
Chen, C. (2000). Lo Litao yu Yuanwu, Liang
Ben Ertong Qingyu Xiaosuo (Lolita and Yuanwu, Two Child-romance Novels). In Li
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Lou, T.K. (1970). Hun-su-zhi (Marital Customs), Taipei, Commercial Press. (in Chinese)
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