Minor attraction is a stable, persistent pattern of attraction towards significantly younger, not fully developed people, where "not fully developed" means coming across in such a way that most would identify them as children or adolescents.
Minor attraction is a term with over two decades of registered history of use. It includes subcategories: nepiophilia, pedophilia, hebephilia, and, sometimes, ephebophilia. Its main purpose is to distinguish pedophilia from other forms of attraction to younger people and give a better umbrella term.
Minor attraction is an attraction of an adult towards a child or a young teenager, or of a child or a teenager towards a much younger child. Typically, in order to be considered a map, the people you find attractive must be below 15 and younger than you by at least 5 years. This attraction can be romantic, sexual, or present any different type of feelings that the attracted person processes as something other than friendly or familial.
From the point of inner division, minor attraction can be classified in several ways.
By presence of other attractions
- Exclusive, an attraction to children and young teenagers only;
- Non-exclusive, an attraction to children and teens alongside an attraction to peers/adults.
By gender preference
- Boylove, an attraction prioritizing boys;
- Girllove, an attraction prioritizing girls;
- Enbylove, an attraction prioritizing nonbinary children;
- Childlove, an attraction with no gender preference.
By age preference
- Nepiophilia, an attraction to babies and toddlers, typically under the age of 5;
- Pedophilia, an attraction to prepubescent children, typically aged between 5 and 10;
- Hebephilia, an attraction to pubescent teenagers, 11-14;
- Ephebophilia, an attraction to postpubescent young people, 15-19 (this attraction may not be a map attraction inherently, but ephebophiles can identify as maps).
By type of attraction
- Tertiary attractions (such as queerplatonic).
Minor attraction as a term
The first mention of this term is attributed to a journalist Heather Elizabeth Peterson, who used a construction "minor-attracted adults" in an article called "Not An Oxymoron," published in Greenbelt Interfaith News in December 1998. H.E. Peterson recalls that she has brought it up on the pedophile forum BoyChat on October 19, 1998: "So what do you think of the term 'minor-attracted adults'? It sounds a bit silly to my ears, but maybe that's just because I hate neologisms. It certainly says what I'm trying to say. It's more accurate than 'child-attracted adult' because there's a lot of dispute over what constitutes a child, and though it does leave teenage boylovers out of the picture, one could always use the term 'minor-attracted person' if one wanted to include them."
The official Twitter page of B4U-ACT, a map mental health organization, states: "We started using the term MAP around 2007. The late Michael Melsheimer, our co-founder, introduced 'minor-attracted person' as an alternative to 'minor-attracted adult,' to reflect that most MAPs realize these attractions before they are adults themselves." The first registered instance of the usage of the term "minor attracted person" by B4U-ACT dates June 22, 2007. Earlier mentions of this term are extremely hard to trace. An archived copy of a BoyChat post says: "Here's the term for everyone: MAP! - Jason 2001-December-20 04:57:27, Thursday". It is believed that the abbreviation "MAP" first appeared there, and its creation is attributed to a user going by GhostWriter, who passed away in 2013.
In popular usage, the following derivatives exist:
"Minor-attracted adult," now rarely used.
"Male homosexual attraction to minors" and "minor-attracted homosexual" are terms that were in use in early 00s. Their appearance was a result of male maps and boy-loving maps being the two most visible demographics.
A NOMAP is a non-offending MAP.
"Semi-offending MAP," a troll term coined by a confirmed anti who ran the fake MAP blog pinkpetal-pedo. It was implied that the term denotes a MAP that has sex with consenting children, but actual pro-contact MAPs do not use this term.
The state of being a MAP. The term differs from "minor attraction" by shifting the focus from the attraction itself onto the whole spectrum of social and psychological aspects of this identity.
Mapmisia is prejudice and hate towards maps. Coined by Kamui in 2019. It is possible to also call mapmisiacs "antis" or "anti-MAPs."
Some other derivatives can be found at uncommon MAP identities.
Criticism from anti-MAPs
Many antis subscribe to the belief that "MAP" was an attempt at "rebranding" to make pedophilia seem "cutesy," "watered-down," "less dangerous," or otherwise more palatable to an anti-pedophile public, despite the fact that it clearly would not and did not work: nearly every anti-pedophile with access to social media now knows what "MAP" means; those who do not know and ask are quickly informed; those who are told of the existence of the term without further context never automatically accept it either, as they are against attraction to minors as a whole as well. Antis claim MAPs' goal is to "normalize" pedophilia, despite the fact that many prominent pedophile and MAP activists are staunchly against the concept of compulsory normativity and believe acknowledging non-normativity deserves equal respect, rather than attempting to assimilate their traits into the social concept of "normal," is necessary for MAP liberation. Even assimilationist MAPs who believe their attractions are normal and that "normal = good, abnormal = bad" do not believe rebranding as MAPs is conducive to their goal of normalization: in fact, many of them actively reject "MAP" as too pathologizing or abnormalizing, and prefer "pedophile," "childlover," or "youthlover" instead.
Non-MAP researchers such as Allyn Walker have claimed usage of the term "MAP" instead of "pedophile" is conducive to destigmatization. B4U-ACT has also made this claim. However, many other MAP activists strongly disagree with that proposal for its assimilationism, and support the reclamation of and/or openly reclaim the label "pedophile" as part of their identities. They believe having the separate acronym "MAP" is only useful as an inclusive umbrella term for nepiophiles, pedophiles, hebephiles, and sometimes ephebophiles, not as a political tool for assimilation.
There is also a widespread belief that the "MAP rebranding" was an attempt to "make pedophiles a part of the LGBTQ+." However, MAP activists did not actually do this; queermisic antis from 4chan did, in attempt to "make the LGBTQ+ look bad." Meanwhile, many MAPs do fall under the LGBTQ+ umbrella even by its current popular conceptualization because they are non-heterosexual or non-heteroromantic, because they are transgender or otherwise non-cisgender, because they are intersex, and/or sometimes (depending on their individual self-identification and the degree of inclusionism among LGBTQ+ activists) because they are polyamorous. Several MAPs who technically fall under this definition of "LGBTQ+" nevertheless reject it, disliking its acronym or aesthetics or community or assimilationist implications, and prefer instead to simply identify as "queer." A few queer MAPs have also argued for consistently principled radical inclusionism, including not forbidding perisex cisgender heterosexual MAPs from identifying as LGBTQ+ or queer, as they believe queerness should not be strictly defined or gatekept. Approximately one or two LGBTQ+ (by the above definition) MAPs claim their mapness is also LGBTQ+ and/or that mapness should be considered by default LGBTQ+, and a few more queer MAPs claim their mapness is also a part of their queerness and/or that mapness is inherently queer. Some queer MAP activists, such as Lecter, have expressed disagreement with the idea of mapness and other paraphilias being considered inherently queer, instead wanting the general policy to be that considering one's mapness or other paraphilias as queer is opt-in rather than opt-out. Other queer MAP activists, such as Iris, believe the above should be opt-in if a sufficiently low percentage of MAPs want mapness to be opt-out as inherently queer, and should be opt-out if a sufficiently high percentage of MAPs want mapness to be opt-out as inherently queer.
Gay non-MAP researcher James Cantor has attempted to speak for pedophiles, claiming consistent application of the principles which "give" gay people their rights necessitates default inclusion of pedophilia as part of the LGBTQ+. His statement has been criticized by LGBTQ+ MAPs as well as numerous antis.
Criticism from MAPs
Anti-assimilationist MAPs have criticized the "MAP" acronym for defining their attractions by centering antis' perspectives on whose attractions deem them worthy of stigmatization, oppression, or suffering, rather than by intrinsic traits of the attractions themselves (see: the discourse surrounding whether or not ephebophilia should be included or inherently included in mapness). Non-Western MAPs have criticized the term for being USA-centric because it contains the term "minor," a legal construct which does not exist in every country. Youth liberationist MAPs have criticized the term for containing the term "minor," as the construct of a "minor" is an oppressive one which they wish to abolish. Queer MAPs have criticized the term for resembling "same-sex attracted," a term which originated from proponents of conversion therapy. "Youth-oriented" has been proposed as a potential alternative, but it has not gained any traction or actual individual usage apart from the adjacent "youthlover" common in amatonormative pro-contact circles, which was coined previously and separately. Another term, "youth-attracted person," has gained notoriety and popularity in more recent times.
The existence of minor attraction has been a topic of speculation for a long time, and several theories of its development exist. Some of them have no scientific basis, some have limited credibility. There is no single solid theory yet.
Theory of choice
According to this theory, minor attraction is voluntarily chosen. This theory is propelled by people who want to attribute sexual and romantic feelings a moral value and it does not have any scientific data to back it up.
This theory links development of minor attraction to sexual trauma in childhood. The fact that many maps are child sexual abuse victims is used as supporting evidence. However, maps share high rates of CSA with other marginalized minorities, and there are many CSA survivors who are not maps.
Non-sexual trauma theory
This theory belongs to Dr James Cantor, who studied maps, convicted after a sex offense, and published a study Intelligence, Memory, and Handedness in Pedophilia in 2004, where he drew a correlation between mapness and such features as poor memory and low performance on intelligence tests. He developed the topic in later works and connected being a map to smaller height, low brain matter amount, and history of head injuries in childhood. Further research disproved his conclusions, as the findings were not repeated in studies working with maps who had no history of offenses.
Nurturing impulse theory
According to this theory, minor attraction develops as a result of wrongly applied nurturing signals that get interpreted as sexual desire. This theory, although popular with some maps who like defining their identity as "attraction to cuteness," has several limitations. First, it starts with an assumption that the impulse must be either nurturing or sexual, overlooking romantic feelings. Second, it presents minor attraction as a feature exclusive to men.
A study of twins found higher numbers of instances of minor attraction in twins with identical genes than in genetically diverse twins. This is the first and the only study of such a kind, and while the findings seem realistic, it cannot be used as a guide till the results are repeated.
It is most likely that minor attraction develops as a result of a combination of events, and choice is not one of them. Maps tend to refer to their attractions as something they discovered unexpectedly, typically in early youth. A large part of maps is aware of their attractions by the time they are 13-15.
Minor attracted people are one of the most stigmatized minority demographics. Experts remark that "it is reasonable to presume that MAPs encounter far greater stigma than do sexual minorities who are attracted to adults or age-peers". Violence towards maps is normalized and seen as desirable, and maps do not yet have major human rights organizations taking their side, like most minorities do. Non-maps who defend maps in that regard and gain publicity tend to be harmed by the same stigma. The whole sum of prejudice and harm towards maps is called mapmisia.
- Heather E.P., "Not an Oxymoron", Greenbelt Interfaith News, December 1998.
- Text of Heather Peterson: Origins of "Minor Attracted Adult", via NewgonWiki.
- B4U_ACT via Twitter.com.
- "Togetherchat Submits Report To BMHS", B4U-ACT.
- BoyChat.org via Archive Today.
- Starfall System [star-fall-system]. (2018, Jun. 18). as much as I hate pedos, I have to tell you that pinkpetal-pedo isn't an actual map. its a troll account made by an anti to try and garner support from the map community. [Post]. Tumblr. Retrieved May 13, 2022, from https://star-fall-system.tumblr.com/post/175021329787/
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- B4U-ACT [@B4U_ACT]. (2020, Mar. 31). First of all, one of our foremost goals is to promote communication. Other labels ascribed to this population carry connotations that can be misleading, prejudicial, and even derogatory. Those are barriers to understanding. [Tweet]. Twitter. Retrieved May 13, 2022, from https://twitter.com/B4U_ACT/status/1245106699410833410
- Forest Spirit 666 [@ForestSpirit666]. Theres no legitimate reason polyamory isn't Queer. Polyamory goes against so many norms and ideas of [Tweet]. Twitter. Retrieved May 13, 2022, from https://twitter.com/ForestSpirit666/status/1206352243534024711
- Cantor, J. [@JamesCantorPhD]. (2018, Dec. 8). Speaking as a gay men, I believe we SHOULD include the P. To do otherwise is to betray the principles that give us our rights. [Tweet]. Twitter. Retrieved May 13, 2022, from https://twitter.com/jamescantorphd/status/1071499969910198274
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- Summary Of MAP Research, B4U-ACT
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- Ender Wiggin, "Growing up a pedophile", September 11, 2018.
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- Reinstate Professor Allyn Walker, Change.org.