Jared Fogle, who became famous as the Subway Guy when he lost 200 pounds by eating primarily at Subway restaurants, pleaded guilty this week to engaging in sex with minors, and distributing and receiving child porn.
The affable rags-to-riches guy turned out to be a garden variety pedophile.
This news is sickening on so many levels, but what also hurts is the ill-informed conversation about Fogle’s background, and what may have moved him to do these things. Research does not support the much-repeated notion that early childhood sexual abuse moves one to grow up to be an abuser. The so-called “abuse excuse” used so often in court is not grounded in fact. In fact, from that “research” link:
It is a mistake, when considering the problem of sexual offending, to immediately focus in on the question of whether someone has a history of being sexually abused. There are a range of factors that have been identified as being linked to sexual offending, and there are disputes amongst researchers as to which of these is most significant. For example, some researchers challenge us to look at the role of gender, given that the overwhelming majority of those committing sexual offences are male, with around 80% of boys and 96% of girls sexually assaulted by males.
There is a common, if unsettling, finding from the research on the role of masculinity in sexual offending. Men who commit sexual abuse have a lot in common with men in general, and tend to identify with traditional or stereotypical ideals of masculinity.
In fact, research findings suggest that most men who have sexually offended were not sexually abused.
One British study examined the future offending behaviour of boys who had been sexually abused. It found that 88%, the vast majority, did not go on to commit sexual offences.
This is of unique interest to those of us who survived childhood sexual abuse. The shame of having lived through it is bad enough, the secrecy, the hurt, all of that, but then to have people assume you will turn around and commit the same heinous act on children is maddening. The vast, vast, vast majority of us would cut off our hands first.
Would that public conversation would delve a lot deeper into this, rather than rely on pat answers that don’t work. Here. Read this, too.