Is Pedophilia a Sexual Orientation?
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In this article, I address the question of whether pedophilia in men can be construed as a male sexual orientation, and the implications for thinking of it in this way for scientific research, clinical practice, and public policy. I begin by defining pedophilia and sexual orientation, and then compare pedophilia (as a potential sexual orientation with regard to age) to sexual orientations with regard to gender (heterosexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality), on the bases of age of onset, correlations with sexual and romantic behavior, and stability over time. I conclude with comments about the potential social and legal implications of conceptualizing pedophilia as a type of sexual orientation in males.
KeywordsPedophilia Paraphilia Sexual preferences Sexual orientation
A version of this article was presented at the University of Lethbridge Workshop, “The Puzzle of Sexual Orientation: What Is It and How Does It Work?”, held in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, June 2010. It does not represent the positions of the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group or of any of the universities with which I’m affiliated. I would like to thank James Cantor, Meredith Chivers, Grant Harris, and Vern Quinsey for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.
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