24 November 2019

The story of the Virtuous Pedophiles

The founders of the Virtuous Pedophiles movement, Nick and Ethan, recently wrote an excellent history of how the whole thing got started.  (You can also read my 2013 post about VirPed here.)  They first posted it to a listserv (Sexnet).  It's an important and interesting story, so I asked them if I could repost it here for others to have access too.

My admiration for what these people are doing in face of what they are dealt grows still.

People interested in supporting or receiving support from VirPed can contact the group at www.VirPed.org

 James Cantor


The beginnings of Virtuous Pedophiles are to be found in Nick's experiences on the Sexnet listserv and the b4uact pedophile peer support group.

In 2007, after coming to terms with his pedophilic interests, Nick reached out to a Northwestern University professor by the name of Mike Bailey who was an expert on scientific issues involving sexual matters. Nick had heard of Mike from one of Mike's former students, who had indicated that Mike was open-minded and had many beliefs that were outside the norm. Mike had never entertained the idea that there might be pedophiles who were committed to avoiding sexual contact with children and was intrigued. Sometime around 2009 or 2010, Mike invited Nick to join a listserv that he hosted which was known as Sexnet. The listserv was primarily for researchers on sexual matters, though some journalists were members as well. To Nick's surprise, the group was very welcoming, and he became friendly with several leading experts on pedophilia such as James Cantor, Ray Blanchard, David Prescott, Michael Seto, Robin Wilson and Paul Federoff.

Near the time that Nick joined, Richard Kramer, the head of an organization called b4uact, also joined Sexnet. B4uact was a group of pedophiles and professionals organized to improve access and quality of therapeutic care. They had a small support group which Nick joined.

Nick did not enjoy his time with b4uact. He thought they were unnecessarily antagonistic towards scientists who had befriended him. And, in fact, Richard Kramer alienated these scientists by aggressively criticizing them for supporting the view expressed in DSM that pedophilia was properly viewed as a disorder if it caused marked distress to an individual or lead to sexual abuse of children. Nick also believed that the societal hatred attached to pedophilia could be reduced if society could be made to understand the difference between pedophilia (sexual feelings towards children) and child sexual abuse (sexual acts with children). He felt that b4uact could make progress in this area, but only if it unequivocally stated that adults should not have sexual contact with children. B4uact refused to do this because it believed this would alienate pedophiles and also, Nick believed, because many of its leaders felt that adult-child sex should be legal. After trying to get b4uact to modify its views, Nick decided the differences were too great to be bridged, and in 2011 he resigned from the organization. He had the idea of creating a website that would express the reality that many pedophiles are dedicated to (and succeed at) avoiding sexual contact with children. 

Nick began work on a website for a new organization in 2012. At the same time, Ethan Edwards, who had heard of Sexnet through acquaintances, reached out to Mike. Mike knew of Nick's project, was impressed by Ethan, and put them in contact with one another. Nick sent Ethan an early version of the website and the collaboration began. Nick found Ethan's input sufficiently valuable that he invited him in as a co-founder.

One important precursor to Virtuous Pedophiles was a 2010 column by Dan Savage, featuring a letter from a pedophile who hadn't offended and was sure he would not. The column is titled Gold Star Pedophiles. That was the original working title for the group, but Ethan in particular thought it was demeaning, the relevant gold stars being shiny worthless paper things that adults bestowed on gullible children for work well done. Nick objected to Ethan's idea of "Celibate Pedophiles" because non-exclusive pedophiles are just child-celibate, not truly celibate. We chose "Virtuous Pedophiles". The name has generated considerable controversy but on the whole has served us well. 

Nick and Ethan put most of their effort into the website before it went live in June of 2012. We also put together a support group, without much initial thought. It was a google group, which still exists as an archive. Early members of the support group included a few from b4uact who shared our values, including Gary Gibson and Craig Dahlen.

The website received a considerable amount of positive press, including important support from James Cantor, and Nick and Ethan gave several anonymous interviews. Membership in the peer support group increased. One of the group's enthusiastic members was Sammy Jenkis, who had in the past run a phpbb support group, and he put together the basics of what we have today. It came up in September of 2013 and the Google group became an archive. Anyone who really likes VP owes Sammy a big debt for bringing that to fruition when he did. We could never have grown to the size we are if we were trying to do it in a Google group.

Sammy wasn't always consistently available to maintain things, which was a source of anxiety. "Urgeless" took over those responsibilities in the summer of 2018 (phew!) and in September of that year released a new, improved version of the phpbb board that included better support for mobile devices.

A couple of other events in our history really stand out. In August, 2014, Luke Malone wrote a wonderful article featuring one of our members, Adam. As a 16 year old, Adam had formed his own group for teenage pedophiles who were committed to not abusing children. At the end of 2014, This American Life hosted an episode featuring Luke, Adam and the noted scientist Elizabeth Letourneau, who has become a friend of our group.

In August, 2014, Todd Nickerson joined the group, and in September, 2015 he wrote a tremendous piece in Salon called I'm a Pedophile But Not a Monster, which received a tremendous amount of interest. Todd has become our most effective spokesperson.

No particular date, but over the years, Gary Gibson began attending ATSA meetings and assembled a list of friendly therapists. Gary regularly refers members to therapists and is also an effective public figure. Gary has long been one of our most valued members. Adam and our moderator Brett Matthews (known by the VP username "Daywalker") represented our group at the last ATSA meeting.

Prior to our formation, ATSA, a highly regarded organization specializing in the treatment of sex offenders, had on its website this quote: "Although virtually all pedophiles are child molesters, not all child molesters are pedophiles." After getting to know us, our allies in the scientific community challenged ATSA on this, and ATSA immediately removed the quote. One measure of what VP and similar organizations have accomplished since 2011 is that we don't think any serious scientist would write that any more or believe it. The thousands of us in this group make it pretty clear that "virtually all" is not the right descriptor for how many pedophiles molest children. It's only one small step, but a significant one.

Member Eddie Chambers was featured in two documentariesThe Pedophile Next Door (2014) and I, Pedophile (2016). Unfortunately, Eddie became disenchanted with the group and left, but his contributions while here were very important.

Last, but certainly not least, would be the era of Ender. He joined the group in 2014 and quickly became a moderator and then an administrator. It's easy to lose track of just how vital and central he was to this community when he was active. He is still #3 on the all-time list of posters. His interest then waned, and he started MAP Support Chat, with the controversial (wonderful but perhaps risky) policy of letting in people as young as 13 who thought they were pedophiles. He started a blog and was very active defending virtuous pedophiles on twitter. Unfortunately, he spent so much time on pedophile related matters, and spent so much energy engaging the haters, that he burned out and disappeared from the scene. We hope he is doing well. 

It's also worth a note that every non-pedophile we mentioned is identified by their true name. Almost all pedophiles in our support group are known only by pseudonyms, including the two of us founders. Notable exceptions are Gary Gibson, Todd Nickerson, and Eddie Chambers, who in fact have helped our cause enormously by showing their faces in public, often at considerable personal cost.

One unforeseen benefit of the peer support group has been as a vital source for scientific research on pedophilia. It is the first time that a substantial group of pedophiles has come together who have not offended and are not in favor of making adult-child sex legal and accepted. Scientists make posts inviting board members to participate in anonymous, online surveys. Several published papers have emerged and others are in progress. Also, novelists, playwrights, and film-makers often ask to join so they can portray pedophiles more accurately in their fictional work.

It has certainly been quite a ride. When we first started, we thought we would put up a website expressing our views and be done with it. Seven years later we have a support group that has been joined by about 4,500 people and has hosted about 200,000 posts. We feel that we've helped a lot of people come to terms with their pedophilia. We also think that we have helped to encourage some people to avoid sexual contact with children who otherwise might have behaved inappropriately with a child. We have strong relationships with leading organizations, such as ATSA, Dunkelfeld, Stop It Now, and Stop-So, and with leading therapists and sexologists. We feel that we've helped to change the narrative around pedophilia, and that the hatred is a bit less than it was before we came on the scene. Many favorable articles have been written about our organization and non-offending pedophiles; we are unaware of any having been written before. If there were any, there were certainly very few.

We recognize, however, that the road is long and hard. Hopefully the next seven years will see even more progress than the previous seven. 

Ethan and Nick


  1. If there were good reasons, both theoretical and empirical, to think that hebe/ephebophilia is the norm for hetero-men would it be discussed in universities or ignored and covered up due to the current political climate?

  2. Why do you think that so many feminists claim rape is about power and violence not sex?

    1. My best guess is that women experience powerlessness and violence, making those the first things they think of when trying to imagine the mindset of the purpetrator.

  3. You're a real good scientist, bud. Completely objective and free from ideological bias.

  4. In a comment a few years ago you claimed that men who preferred women in their 20s around the peak of their fertility would have had the greatest reproductive success during our evolution. Is this just your personal idea or what is actaully taught in sexology courses? I really want to know.

    1. The question is a bit of a false dichotomy: It is what I think, and what I think is on the basis of the existing evidence rather than a personal belief, like religion. I would not call the idea "mine" in sense that I am not the first one to think it. What is contained in sexology courses is, of course, a combination of what's in a given textbook and what a given professor thinks or what to present to a class. The idea is a standard one, but I could never claim uniformity among teachers.

  5. Dr Cantor, have you read this paper about female attractiveness and reproductive value?


    Basically the idea is that a small waist and a low BMI (which men find highly attractive) are signs of youth and nulliparity. The authors analysed bodily measurements by age and found that the 15-19 age group scored the highest for these features. Now what I don't like about this study is that it analysed the ages in groups of 5 years instead of year by year. The 10-14 age group scored higher than 20-24 so the absolute peak could be anywhere between 12.5 and 17.5, maybe 14. This would match up with the age of peak female facial attractiveness and the kind of age girls were typically married off in ancestral times.

    This is the graph I mean:


    And this is what it may look like if they analysed the data year by year:


    What do you think?

    1. Looks very interesting. They should do a bigger study with more data, analyze it by individual years of age, and throw in facial attractiveness too. We'll probably see a peak about 14.

    2. Sounds about right.

      You see, what the CAMH-cucks don't realise is that what matters is the integral of a girl's fertility not the instantaneous value, because the human mating system revolves around long-term relationships not one-night-stands.

      The way to maximise this is for man to commit himself to a female who is at or just prior the beginning of her fertility, i.e. hebe/ephebo ages. Whether you start the integral slightly before or slightly after the onset of fertility doesn't make any difference.

    3. When chimp females come up to puberty they develop sexual swellings that advertise their readiness to have sex even though they're not yet fertile. They go through a period of adolescent sterility for a about 3 years during which they have sex with the adult males without conceiving. The human equivalent would be girls about 12-15 having sex with men without conceiving.

      What could be the purpose in having sex slightly before the onset of fertility? Could it have some kind of social purpose?

    4. Interesting. The main reason that these sexologists say that hebephilic attraction must be abnormal and maladaptive is that pubescent girls aren't usually fertile and able to conceive. But if it's normal in other animals for the males to start mating with the females as soon as they develop sexual characteristics and aren't quite yet fertile then that argument goes out the window.

      They want to lump pedo and hebe together because they're both pre-fertile but this isn't the right way of looking at it. The issue is whether the females are ready to have sex, not whether they're ready to conceive. Hebe girls have sexual characteristics and are physically ready to have sex, pedo girls aren't. That's the obvious common-sense difference that these sexologists ignore.

  6. I just read Nesse's book Good Reasons for Bad Feelings in which he claims that puberty is happening unnaturally early today. But is it really true that boys and girls are starting puberty and becoming sexually active abnormally early nowadays? I'm more than a bit skeptical. I think there's a bit of the "kids were better behaved in the past" fallacy going on here and also our taboos over child sexuality are getting in the way.

    The age at menarche has fallen over the past 150 years due to improvements in nutrition, but I think the onset of puberty has always been about 10. It's also not that case that menarche is occurring abnormally early today but rather that it was abnormally late in the 1800s because the standards of living and nutrition for most people back then were poor.

    Take a look at people in primitive foraging societies today and you can see the girls start puberty and sprout boobs at about 10 like they do in our society. A good documentary to watch is Tears In The Amazon (you can find it on the torrents). It shows loads of naked Amazonian people. The most attractive girl in the film is a 13 year old from the Waura tribe. The film makers took a liking to her and took lots of shots of her. In the documentary it's explained that she started her periods a year earlier. There's a scene where her parents ask her if she's started having a physical relationship yet, as though it's expected of her to be sexually active at that age.

    A few years ago men on the isolated Pitcairn island were prosecuted for having sex with underage girls. For about 400 years the men on the island have had a custom of marrying girls very young and taking their virginity at about 10-12 when they come up to puberty. Contrary to how it was portrayed in the media, most of the sex was actually consensual.

    Chagnon found that girls in the Yanomamo started puberty about 10 and most were sexually active by the age of 14.

    Temple prostitutes in ancient societies thousands of years ago usually started at about 12, soon after the onset of puberty.

    So I really think the idea that boys and girls starting puberty about 10 and becoming sexually active soon afterwards is some abnormal modern phenomenon is just nonsense. I think it's always been that way. The age at menarche may fluctuate with nutrition (better nourished = lower age) but the onset of puberty has always been about 10 and the sex drive usually kicks in soon after that.

    I think another problem that's led to the belief that kids are starting early today is the (reasonable, but slightly naive) idea that mating should only begin once a female has become fertile. In natural populations girls don't usually become fertile until 16+ so if girls in our societies are having sex before that then something's clearly gone wrong! They are becoming sexually active unnaturally early!

    Well, not so fast. We see girls in hunter-gatherer societies today become sexually active before they're fertile and we see the same in chimps.

    Chimp females start puberty about 8 and start having sex with the males about 10. But they don't become fertile until about 14. They start having sex soon after the onset of puberty and a few years before the onset of fertility. I haven't looked into it much but my hunch is that we see the same thing all across the animal kingdom. It's normal for mating to begin a bit before the onset of fertility.

    What do you think?

    1. I’ve been thinking some more about how wrong Nesse is. He’s actually got it backward. If anything, the kids in ancestral societies were more sexually active than kids in our modern industrial societies. In modern societies we have strict laws and taboos against having sex with and marrying kids. Not so in primitive societies. Child brides are normal, and in general people are more free to do what they want.

      When anthropologists studied the Ache in the 60s they found that all the girls in the tribe had screwed adult men by the time they were about 14. In the late 1800s Gauguin lived on a Polynesian island where he had a girlfriend who was about 13. It was normal on this island for girls to have sex with men at that age. When Captain Cook discovered his islands the natives put on a show for him that involved a girl about 12 publicly having sex with a man. In the old Inuit societies girls were typically married off to men before the age of 14. Etc. Etc. Etc.

      It’s natural behaviour for kids to become sexually active soon after the onset of puberty. Because of our taboos over child sexuality people try and make out that kids in these primitive societies don’t become sexually active until they’re like 18 or something. This then means that if girls in our societies have boobs and are sexually active at 12 they must be sexually developing abnormally early. But the truth is if you go the Amazon jungle thousands of miles away from civilization you’ll see the exact same bloody thing. Derp.

    2. Good video about how the short-term/long-term dichotomy many evolutionary psychologists use is simplistic and fundamentally flawed.


      Having short-term ENCOUNTERS is not the same as following short-term STRATEGY. That's the logical error many evo-psychs make and it always annoys me. The function of short-term encounters seems to be about testing if you're compatible for a long-term relationship. Sexual attraction motivates you to pursue someone and then after a certain testing period romantic systems kick in. These short-term ENCOUNTERS are part of the long-term reproductive STRATEGY our species uses.

      A strategy is about trying to do something and it may not always have a successful outcome. Gorillas use a type of mating system in which alpha males have harems of about 5 females. This means for every alpha male there are about 4 beta males who have no females. It's not that 20% of the males are following the strategy of being the alpha male and the other 80% are following the strategy of being the beta male. NO, no, no. BEING the alpha male isn't the strategy, TRYING to be the alpha male is the strategy. All the males are following the strategy of trying to be the alpha male but this only leads to success 20% of the time. 20% is a lot better than 0%, which is what will happen to males who don't make the effort to be the alpha male.

      Similarly, although the human mating system revolves around long-term relationships our mating efforts may only lead to successful long-term relationships a minority of the time.

      Once we abandon the simplistic short-term/long-term dichotomy we can see that being sexually attracted to girls just prior the onset of their fertility when their long-term reproductive potential is at its highest would have been very adaptive as it would motivate men to pursue and attempt to claim them as wives. The function of sexual attraction is obviously to get men to chase girls.