Case Narrative

A Consenting Juveniles narrative is a first-hand account reporting the words of the research subject on his or her experience.

Translated from the original Dutch for SOL Research.

Karin Spaink

I am damned sure that it was my decision.

Source:   What’s innocence?
by Karin Spaink
Het Parool (Netherlands), December 16, 1996

Karin Spaink is a Dutch journalist and feminist. Wikipedia describes her as “a free speech advocate and social critic.”

The following is an excerpt from an essay Spaink wrote for a Dutch magazine, reprinted here with permission.

There’s yet another unsettling factor in the debate about child abuse and pedophilia: children are depicted as victims, depleted of sexual urges themselves. Children seem to be “innocent” (read: asexual) by definition. If sex was involved, the children must have been victimized – no way that they wanted any part in this.

We’re shocked when a child shows sexual proclivity, and ascribe such behavior to outside – and thus, according to modern parlance: abusive – influences. But what if a child, or a youngster, does have a sexual urge? What if you’re eight, or twelve, or fourteen, and you long for some kind of sexual knowledge or encounter?

In discussions about pedophilia, people tend to refer to the child’s right to say “no.” Obviously, that’s their right and children should be fiercely emboldened to turn down any advances that they don’t feel at ease with.

But what does this entitlement to say “no” entail when we basically don’t accept the possibility that a child might actually say “yes”? Hasn’t the right to say “no” thus turned into a child’s duty to say “no”? Haven’t we – by assuming that a child’s or teenager’s “yes” must invariably be tainted – inadvertently incapacitated or nullified their right to say “no”?

Children have sexual desires, and sexual curiosity. But that mere fact doesn’t grant others any rights. The real issue is how you encourage children themselves to explore, develop and channel their wishes and desires.

I’m rather afraid that the current climate – one in which sex with and between children has become a taboo – doesn’t stimulate any open discussion on the topic. The bad news is that such a stifled climate will make it more difficult for children to say “no,” simply because they can’t say “yes” anymore – and if, courageously, they do so anyway, we simply don’t believe them anymore.

I lost my virginity when I was thirteen years old; the man who “took” it was twenty, or twenty-one. Years later, I wasn’t too sure whether my decision to have sex with him was sound, but I am damned sure that it was my decision at the time. What’s more: I was hell-bent on having sex with him.. Weeks in advance, I had restless dreams, tossing and turning at night.

I was much more ready than I myself could handle. Did I throw myself at him? Yes. Did he take advantage of me? Yes. Would he have fucked me if I hadn’t made all the moves? No. Do I regret the experience? No. Could my first sexual encounter have been better, in retrospect? Yes, definitely. Do I regret it? No. The experience taught me that I could own my sexuality – even as a kid.

Children are not asexual, and thus, not necessarily “innocents.” We’d all be better off once we realize that. Only when we acknowledge that (some) children actually – positively, and sometimes even aggressively – crave for sex, we can hope to enable them to distinguish between “yes” and “no.” Assuming that “no” is the only possible answer that children could give is not helping them at all.

Excerpt reproduced with permission of author.