Narratives of Non-Offending Pedophiles in Japan: Managing Diagnostic Discourses in the Politics of Sexuality

Friday, 20 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Yayoi YUKAWA, Tokyo Woman's Christian University, Japan
This paper examines the narratives of non-offending pedophiles in Japan. By reconstructing their life stories, this paper examines how pedophiles recognize their sexuality with or without managing pathologized discourses.

Dominant narratives on pedophiles have conflated them with sex offenders. This view is often intertwined with a diagnostic discourse that views pedophilia as a pathological perversion. Researchers have recently pointed out that existing studies on pedophiles share a major flaw: They focus on only sex offenders, mainly because of the difficulty of accessing non-offenders. Meanwhile, some pedophile associations in Western countries claim that their sexuality is not a mental disorder but a normal “orientation.” Yet other pedophile activists argue that pedophilia should continue to be clinically diagnosed so that they can access proper help to control their behavior. Such a discursive situation can be viewed as another case of an intersection of the politics of sexuality and diagnostic culture.

Based on the above understanding, this paper focuses on the narratives of elusive non-offending pedophiles. Data were collected from five self-identified male pedophiles in Japan. Given the aforementioned sampling difficulties, a small number of cases were worth exploring.

Their narratives revealed some commonalities with existing discursive development in the gay and lesbian liberation movement, particularly with respect to rejection of a pathological explanation that looks for causes of pedophilia. They also challenged the arbitrary line between normal and abnormal by questioning the diagnostic narratives. At the same time, however, they clearly distanced themselves from political claims made by some pedophile associations that justify child molestation or demand the same social rights as gay and lesbian people. By elaborating on their unique coming-out stories, this paper describes the strategies whereby they strived to find responsible ways to live as “normal” people in Japanese society .