In­sights into pae­dophiles and power

The Irish Times - - Comment & Letters -

Sir, – Fin­tan O’Toole’s ar­ti­cle “We all know a Tom Humphries” (Week­end Re­view, Oc­to­ber 28th) is chill­ingly in­sight­ful in its recog­ni­tion that abusers very of­ten ap­pear to be nor­mal, like­able peo­ple who har­bour a clan­des­tine im­pulse to con­trol and dis­em­power, which is at the rot­ten core of all forms of abuse.

But his as­ser­tion that sex­ual abuse, in par­tic­u­lar, is a byprod­uct of a male dom­i­nated cul­ture seems to over­look the fact that women, too, can be sub­tle masters of this and many other forms of abuse.

Sex­ual and so­cial hu­mil­i­a­tion is not the sole pre­serve of dom­i­nant al­pha males – I have worked with male col­leagues who were mer­ci­lessly ha­rassed by their (fe­male) bosses, and know of oth­ers who, in child­hood, were ex­pertly groomed by fe­male abusers.

It is true that the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of abusers are male, but that could be partly due to the fact that, tra­di­tion­ally, women had lit­tle power out­side of the do­mes­tic en­vi­ron­ment.

Will the grow­ing num­ber of fe­males cur­rently hold­ing po­si­tions of ex­ter­nal power act in a more en­light­ened and egal­i­tar­ian fash­ion than so many of their male pre­de­ces­sors?

The im­pulse to abuse another hu­man be­ing feeds into a lust for power that is not en­tirely de­ter­mined by a per­son’s gen­der. – Yours, etc,

EMER HUGHES, Athlone,

Co West­meath.

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