That does it...

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By: Frans Gieles

'Pedophiles, go public, by Ireen van Engelen'(1), the newspaper Trouw announced in big print on 12 August 2000.
"At present, pedosexuals discuss their orientation only with each other. Instead of railing against publications in which they are treated negatively, they themselves should make information public. Pedophiles should discuss their feelings openly. That is the only way to get society to empathize."

A hundred times or more
Right now you are reading OK magazine no. 75. Before OK, there was the magazine Martijn, of which some twenty-five issues appeared. So the MARTIJN association has 'come out' at least a hundred times; a hundred times information has been made public, often very personal information. Koinos magazine, which treats a related subject, has now appeared twenty-seven times. Then there are the separate publications, whether or not in book form, in which people who feel attracted to children and/or to teenagers (but also people who do not have such attractions themselves) present their story with elaborate arguments. For one fairly recent example, see the review of The other side of the coin elsewhere in this issue. Additionally, there are countless websites with personal or general information. Most certainly, information has been made public for a long time. The question is whether people read and listen to this information; whether they are open to it. Not really, I fear. The problem lies with the recipient, who is generally unwilling to look at the information; not with the sender: he has done his utmost.

"The academics among pedophiles should now disclose their data in order to arrive at public acceptance of pedophilia", Van Engelen writes further on.
Again, that does it! I quote a journalist on the same Van Engelen in a national Dutch radio broadcast in June 1999: "With her book, Van Engelen hopes to silence the intellectual pedophile lobby once and for all, so that in future, new groups of pedophiles will opt for treatment."
In the newspaper de Volkskrant of 6 January 2000, Ellen de Visser writes about the same Van Engelen: "Van Engelen's crusade is aimed mainly at what she calls the 'intellectual pedophile lobby': a select group of pedophile [? FG] scientists who keep preaching that sex with children is acceptable [? FG]. She keeps coming across the same names in the boards of foundations, the editorial collectives of pedophile magazines, the organizational committees of conferences. 'Those men just keep writing whatever comes up in them [? FG]. It must stop. I don't know yet how exactly, but it will stop.'"
And now, suddenly, we are prompted to 'disclose our data'?

What does Van Engelen mean by disclosing data 'now'?
Dr. Frits Bernard, whom she has not overlooked in her crusade, has published so much that a selective list of his publications is a booklet in itself. Throughout the years, Bernard has written for leading scientific journals in Holland and abroad, such as Medisch Contact, Tijdschrift voor sociale geneeskunde, The Journal of Sex Research, and, not to forget, the many contributions to the German Sexualmedizin, and the various Spanish-language periodicals. In 1986 he was flown over to America by TWA to be featured in a national television program as an international expert. He also went on the air in California, et cetera.

The discussion in Trouw
Van Engelen's letter follows up on a series of articles in Trouw by various writers. It started with an attack on the Dr. Bernard Foundation(2) in Trouw of 13 July 2000, by the same journalist who attacked MARTIJN, OK and the website earlier on this year. The Reverend Hans Visser, who lends pastoral support to pedophiles, responded to these attacks in Trouw of 26 July, and psychiatrist Frank van Ree reacted in Trouw of 5 August, both with calls to end the witch hunt and to stop blocking research. Van Engelen's letter is a reaction to this. Van Ree wrote again in Trouw of 19 August 2000. And Selma Schepel wrote on 24 August: "Pedophiles can't get rid of their tendencies, and it's unrealistic to appeal to them to join the public debate. Only a seasoned agitator could survive that; otherwise it would mean public crucifixion, as has been amply shown."

Ireen van Engelen's letter
Remarkably, from the very first sentence of her letter she lumps together 'pedosexuals' and 'pedophiles', as though there were no distinction. It is equally remarkable that she immediately links 'pedophilia' to wanting to have sex with children, and she immediately calls it an 'orientation'. Wanting to have sex with children, ho hum, I suspect a poll among readers of OK would create a different image.
In a national radio debate, Van Engelen stated that pedophilia simply means sex with children. That's just as fair as stating that homosexuality exclusively means sex between males, or sex between females.
Remarkable also is her assumption that people such as Brongersma and Bernard are pedophiles. It is common knowledge that the late Edward Brongersma was not one (Van Ree already stated this in Trouw of 5 August). Bernard has never made a public statement about his sexual identity, and I don't think Van Engelen has asked him; she just assumes he is a pedophile. It is known that psychologist Theo Sandfort doesn't have such attractions himself. And by the way, what does it matter? The question isn't: who has published something, or what are the author's deeper feelings, but: what has been published, what is being said?
Van Engelen's ulterior point is that pedophiles cannot publish about pedophilia. So heterosexuals can't publish about heterosexuality? Clergymen can't write about their faith? Pregnant women can't write about pregnancy? Can only men write about pregnancy, and only adult-attracted people about pedophilia? What if the authors turn out not to be pedophiles at all, or not to be practicing pedophiles?

Not without consequences
Brongersma too has published a lot, in many different languages, just like Bernard. It hasn't been without consequences. He had to flee his home when his windows were thrown in. Sandfort has issued publications. His efforts, too, haven't been without consequences: he was hassled by Playboy, until the court ruled in Sandfort's favor. The Dutch Society for Sexual Reform has regularly issued publications; both internally and externally. It cost them members. NAMBLA issues regular publications (see the review of Greek Love Reconsidered elsewhere in this issue) - NAMBLA is attacked time and again. In May of this year, the group was sued for 200 million dollars on a charge of having incited some men to kill a boy. Prior to the murder the men had visited the NAMBLA website. NAMBLA has always condemned violence against children. Their website has been taken down by its host. The case drags on.
More has been published. In 1998 Rind, Bauserman and Tromovitch published their research results (see OK 67, March 1999). I suppose Van Engelen is referring to this where she advises people not "to trust (foreign) research which suggests that pedophilia may also be considered in a positive light." Apparently, she hasn't read the article in which the results are discussed, because the word 'pedophilia' doesn't appear in it once. The article is not about pedophilia, but about child sexual abuse and damage - which damage appears to be neither automatic nor as intense as is commonly assumed. Meanwhile, the publication of the article by Rind and co. hasn't been without consequences: their findings were even discussed in the US Congress and, apparently unread and misunderstood, declared to be unwanted. The researchers also received threats from crusaders.

Passing on the blame
A call to publishing research in order to arrive at acceptance sounds awkward when coming from somebody who earlier on talked about "silencing them" and "it must stop". It also sounds awkward when you look at everything that has already been published. The expectation that acceptance will follow upon publicly presenting sound arguments seems far from realistic in an era where you'll sooner be lynched for it. Van Engelen claims that the witch hunt against pedophiles is to be blamed on the fact that pedophiles haven't fought their battle competently. That's some example of passing on the blame: it is exactly the publications of people like Van Engelen that stir up the witch hunt, and that cause those who go public to be chased out of their neighborhoods.
There are more strange passages in Van Engelen's letter; too many to discuss them all in one article - let's not turn this OK into a book. I'll just mention a few oddities.

Illogical reproach
Van Engelen reproaches the Reverend Visser: "By protecting pedophiles - including the intellectuals among them such as Frits Bernard and the late Edward Brongersma - Visser keeps them from facing the society they live in."
So, Visser would be the one who keeps pedophiles from 'facing' society because he talks to them. He would isolate those he talks to from the society they are part of. Isn't it rather society itself that isolates (alleged) pedophiles by chasing them out of their neighborhoods? And Bernard and Brongersma had been publishing for years before Visser turned his attention to pedophilia. The point is rather: they went out of their way to be heard, but nobody listened. It doesn't do the potential for an audience any good to publicly call both gentlemen pedophiles, either. The Reverend Visser is one of the few who do listen. He didn't make debate impossible, he enabled debate.

Isolated and without insight?
Another odd passage. Van Engelen writes about a young man with pedophile feelings whom she has been exchanging letters with.
"By joining the pedophile movement, he misses his opportunity to gain insight into what is going on with him. The contact with those like him isolates him from society and hardens him against those who want to help him."
So if I join a chess club, I'm isolating myself from society, throwing away my opportunity to gain insight into chess problems? If a pregnant woman joins other pregnant women, she's isolating herself and missing her chance to gain insight into pregnancy? Wouldn't people with similar feelings be just as much able to help others gain insight into their own personalities? And where does this hardening originate: with 'those like him', or rather with the rest of society, headed by this crusading author?

Damage and risks
I'll conclude with a word about the contents of various publications. According to Van Engelen, 'pedophile' publications only justify sex with children, while ignoring damage suffered from abuse. This is quite untrue.
Van Ree writes in Trouw of 19 August: "There are pedophiles who have written about the potential for damage, and who, on the basis of their considerations, have declared openly and in writing that they are abstaining from any and all pedosexual activity. However, no attention is paid to such self-critical opinions among pedophiles."
Numerous publications point out the risk of damage sustained from sexual contacts that were experienced in a negative way - for example, because of shame or the pressure of having to keep a secret. But some nuance is also applied: damage is not an automatic, inherent result of all adult-child sexual contacts. Damage can occur, but not necessarily and not always.
For me, it's a reason not to take the risk.

(1) Ireen van Engelen, writer and educationalist, wrote a book titled And they call it love (1999), in which she expressed her dismay at a correspondence she found disclosing the sadistic activities of her pedophile cousin. She has since been intrigued by pedophilia.
(2) The Dr. Bernard Foundation and the Dr. Edward Brongersma Foundation both own huge collections of materials related to child sexuality and child-adult intimacy. Since part of the material is of a pornographic nature and illegal, the Foundations are now under media attack and police investigation. The possession of visual child pornography is only legal in Holland if it is used for scientific, educational or therapeutic purposes. The scientific intentions of the Foundations have been called into question, since the late dr. Brongersma was and Dr. Bernard is sympathetic to pedophilia.

source: 'That Does It...' by Frans Gieles; Translation of 'Nu breekt mij de klomp...'; OK magazine, no. 75; October 2000