Note: Part I painted a pretty bleak picture. Two women have commented to me that it leaves them with little hope for men. One added that a common topic for women is that there are no good men out there and that many women have given up on finding anyone. We’ll look at this in Part IV.
Note 2: I’m going to classify this as a work in progress (more so than my usual unedited work in progress posts). I am also breaking this up in to two posts IIa & IIb.
Now, with Part I as background, let’s take a look at sex offenders – the reds on our chart.
It is often a very fine line that separates a sex offender from a non-offender. Two guys can be nearly identical in almost every way. They can have the exact same sex drive, sexual attractions, beliefs of right and wrong, and be identically successful in careers that require a lot of self-discipline. They can both be equally highly regarded for their character and contributions to their community.
One coaxes a high school girl in to bed, the other resists. One takes advantage of his drunk co-worker on a trip, the other resists. One touches a 14-year-old in a sexual way, the other resists.
The desire to do these things is normal, always has been, and isn’t likely to change any time soon. And, it’s not for better or worse that guys are this way and it’s not sadly that guys are this way. It’s the way God made guys.
It’s inappropriately acting on these desires that is the problem – from lack of belief that it’s wrong or from lack of enough self-control to limit their actions. Assuming they share the same beliefs of right and wrong, what separates these two guys is then some combination of the previously discussed self control and circumstance.
Circumstance can be happenstance or intentional. On the intentional side are the guys who control their circumstances, as best they can. They avoid situations that they think might be too much for their self control. They are cautious about travel plans that might put them in too tempting of a situation or they avoid being alone with their girlfriend, particularly if their sexual relationship would be illegal. I know two guys who stopped teaching because they feared they would do something with a student. And others who should have.
Then there is the flip side – a guy who intentionally chooses a career or volunteer position that will allow him to more easily pursue his sexual desires. This could be a youth leader, university professor, cop, or even a restaurant owner.
The happenstance side is unintentional. A guy finds himself in a circumstance beyond his level of self control – completely innocently or because of stupidity on his part in not avoiding the situation. This might be a professor planning to meet three students for a field trip and only one very cute gal shows up, or the guy he’d expected to travel with him on a business trip can’t come and a cute gal shows up instead.
Who then are Sex Offenders?
The vast majority are every-day guys. Many are no different than any other guy except that they found themselves in a circumstance that was beyond their ability to deal with at the time. Many and maybe even most guys in the same circumstance might do the same thing.
When I hear some guy expressing his sorrow for sticking his hand up some young girls shirt or taking advantage of his drunk date, I believe he truly is sorry. In some and maybe even most cases he is truly sorry that he did it. He does not want to be a sex offender. He does not though, within himself, posses the self control (or the ability to decide to use his self control?) to keep himself from doing it.
Many sex offenders are truly disgusted with themselves and their actions. One psychologist said it’s a bit like someone with turrets – they don’t like the ticks or the verbal blurts, or their inability to control their hands, but they can’t help it.
On the other hand, some of these guys are far more sorry that they got caught than that they did something. They are self-centered and predatory, they have little or no regard for their victims and may go to great lengths in planning and executing their plan to get their sexual needs met.
Sorting all of this out is, at best, rather difficult.
One first step in dealing with this might be figuring out who the potential sex offenders are. Ain’t gonna happen.
When it comes to sex, guys are pigs. And, only a fool thinks that they know if any particular guy, no matter how well they know him, is at any particular point, a green, yellow, red, or somewhere in between. Guys themselves don’t even know sometimes.
The most often heard remark by victims is their complete and utter surprise that so-and-so would do something like that. Don’t be surprised. He’s a guy. Guys are pigs. Convicted sex offenders cover every demographic you can imagine. Every race, religion, career, social status, and personality. Catholic priests aren’t unusual, just newsworthy.
The only differentiator between an offender and a non-offender is often pure circumstance, and this is nearly always the difference in becoming a victim, or not.
If we want to prevent sex offenses we must then begin with the premise that EVERY guy is a potential sex offender. In actuality this is more than just a premise though, it’s near reality. Every teacher, pastor, boss, subordinate, uncle, brother, repairman, friend’s father, and all the rest.
With this reality there are three options for preventing sex offenses; Guys control themselves, potential victims control their circumstances, guys find acceptable alternatives.
In Part IIb we’ll look at these in more depth.