Deviant Sexual Fantasies – How Common?
7 December, 2017
There has been a great deal of outrage over the perceived light sentence handed out to convicted ‘paedophile’ Ben McCormack.
I was outraged too until I read the details of the case.
McCormack is guilty of downloading and storing child pornography images, and also sharing his fantasies about having sex with underaged boys with another adult male over Skype.
There was no evidence that he has ever groomed or abused a child.
With all of the publicity of this case you can be assured if any abused kids existed they would have come out of the woodwork.
There is no evidence that he has ever shared any child pornography on the internet or physically.
The defense gave evidence that he had sought treatment for his self confessed deviant fantasies years before he was arrested.
- Ben McCormack’s well paying and high profile career is in shreds.
- McCormack suffered the indignity of an arrest by a large team of police who raided his home. The arrest was captured for the TV. (Who tipped the channels off?)
- His workplace was also raided by the police in a very public manner.
- A Current Affair, Channel Nine and all the other stations have reported on the case regularly. Everyone has seen him on TV. It has played well for talkback radio.
- McCormack will always be recognised somewhere by someone even if he changes his name.
- He will never again be able to work as a any type of journalist.
- He will never work in any job which places him in even potential contact with children or which requires a police clearance.
- McCormack will be on the child sex offenders list for life.
- It is unlikely McCormack will be able to travel overseas anywhere because of his conviction.
- Even though he pleaded guilty to the offence early, he has had to endure a long drawn out and very public legal process.
- During that time we are told he attempted suicide twice indicating some or all of guilt, self loathing, and despair for the future.
The $1,000 fine and 3 year good behaviour bond is insignificant compared to the above. I don’t believe the outraged members of the public understand this.
As the judge said, there has never been a similar case as his.
He is guilty of having fantasies and accessing pictures on the internet, and sharing his fantasies with another adult.
He showed a great deal of remorse. He accepts his proclivities are abhorrent and will seek ongoing treatment. His life and reputation is ruined.
That is a harsher penalty than some no-name, old aged pensioner going to jail for a few years. They would be in a minimum security facility because they would not be an escape risk and they are not violent.
But how abnormal or deviant are his fantasies?
The fact is, we know it is not uncommon for people to have fantasies about illegal sexual acts such as rape and kidnap fantasies or the very popular school girl fantasies. Women even have fantasies about being raped or having sex with underaged children!
A psychologist wrote in Psychology Today in January 2010: ‘Why fantasize about something that in real life would be traumatic, repugnant, and life-threatening?
But on closer examination, such fantasies are not unusual. Many men daydream about getting the girl by rescuing her from a dangerous situation — without the slightest wish to confront armed thugs, or be trapped in a fire on the 23rd floor.
Fantasies allow us to “experience” the outer limits of our imaginations safely, with no risk – -and for some people, that includes fantasies of coerced sex. In fantasy everything is permitted and nothing is wrong.
But rape fantasies raise thorny issues. Many women who have them can’t shake the feeling that they are abnormal or perverted.
From 1973 through 2008, nine surveys of women’s rape fantasies have been published. They show that about four in ten women [of those surveyed] admit having them (31 to 57 percent), with a median frequency of about once a month. Actual prevalence of rape fantasies is probably higher because women may not feel comfortable admitting them.
This is confirmed in a 2009 study where researchers at Notre Dame and the University of North Texas gave standard psychological tests to 355 women undergraduates, who formed a reasonable demographic cross-section of young Americans. Then the researchers surveyed the women’s sexual fantasies.
Confirming earlier studies on the prevalence of rape fantasies, 62 percent of participants admitted fantasizing at least one of the eight scenarios:
- Forced by a man: 52%.
- Raped by a man: 32%.
- Forced oral by a man: 28%.
- Forced while incapacitated: 24%.
- Forced by a woman: 17%.
- Forced anal: 16%.
- Raped by a woman: 9%.
(Bivona, J. and J. Critelli. “The Nature of Women’s Rape Fantasies: An Analysis of Prevalence, Frequency, and Contents,” Journal of Sex Research (2009) 46:33)
Another respected psychologist wrote in December 2010 in the same publication;
‘Our society romanticizes rape and violence, in complex and disturbing ways, from the Beast pounding on Beauty’s door in the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, to the contents of thousands of romance novels, where women “swoon” and “succumb” to male passions and dominance.’ [Which makes me wonder why Hollywood are now claiming surprise and disgust that so many women have been sexually harassed and coerced.]
Fantasizing about Underaged Sex (Paedophilia)
In a more recent 2014 study in Canada of about 1,500 adults it was found that 18.1 percent of women reported having been arousing by having the fantasy of sex with someone legally much younger. Almost 50 percent for men reported arousal by such a fantasy.
Clearly Ben McCormack’s sexual fantasies are not that deviant when almost 50% of men admit to fantasizing about underaged sex. We can’t consider it ‘more’ deviant if he fantasises about school boys rather than school girls. As a society we legally accept homosexuality.
Given the high incidence between men and even women who fantasize about having sex with someone under the legal age, why should we be that surprised that some men fantasize about having sex with underaged boys? Though how young those fantasy boys (or girls) are, would be an issue.
But according to one online magazine ‘For Women and By Women’, ‘Bustle‘ reporting on sexual fantasy research in August 2015, they wrote:
What Ben McCormack did was break the law by sharing his fantasies over the internet with one adult male over a two year period. It would not have been illegal for him to have shared the fantasy in person or by post.
McCormack was also found guilty being in possession of child pornograpgy which he had downloaded and retained on his private computer. I think is the real offence because it creates a market for that material, which does cause indirect harm to children. For that he has endured death of a thousand cuts as described above.
I don’t feel sorry for him. But I do think he has been punished enough.
Child Sex is Condoned in a Frightening Number of Countries
As a postscript I would add that around the globe our moral standards vary significantly and what Ben McCormack did would have not raised any eyebrows in many places.
That doesn’t excuse what he did, it just highlights that we perhaps shouldn’t be so surprised about it. I think society would be best served by recognising this fact and trying to develop programs which can stop those who have fantasies about child sex from taking them any further.
It was testified that Ben McCormack had sought treatment in the past. Perhaps if there was more understanding, and less stigma, our society could develop successful treatment programs for men and women who come forward for treatment voluntarily. It is not as if there is a Paedophiles Anonymous organisation out there helping to keep what appears to be a significant number of fantasizers from acting out their fantasies, or breaking the relevant laws about accessing or sharing child sex content.
We need to acknowledge that paedophelia is not that far outside the ‘normal’ human experience to enable us to prevent it in our society.
We know for instance that child brides are not uncommon in many developing countries and within some cultures, unofficially among people with the same cultural background within some Western communities.
We also know that in some cultures having underaged boys to entertain and have sex with older men is a common, accepted practice.
And we also know that the age of consent varies markedly from one country to another.
The Daily Star, 18th February 2016
[Note that information for some countries may be out of date. This simply gives a graphic demonstration of the acceptance of what we consider paedophilia around the world]