“The pedophile is sick; the hebophile, immature; the ephebophile, deluded, and only the pedophile is a criminal.” –Dr. Squirt.
First, let’s define our terms: A pedophile is one who has a virtually exclusive erotic attraction to pre-pubescent children (prior to the age of full physical development, which is prior to about age 12), a hebophile is more-or-less exclusively attracted to girls of early adolescence (ages 12-14 or 15), and a ephebophile is one who is strictly attracted to girls of mid to late adolescence (ages 15 or 16-19). A 30-year old man, for example, who dates women about his age, but who is also attracted to 16 year-olds is not a ephebophile, because he is not strictly attracted to the latter.
Pedophilia, the exclusive attraction to pre-adolescents is, quite understandably, considered a paraphilia, whereas, many psychologists do not consider ephebophilia such unless it is obsessive and interferes with the life of fixated male. (One might categorize ephebophilia as a sort of quasi-pseudo paraphilia for the aforementioned reason.)
It is opinion of this author that at least a degree of sexual attraction towards mid to late adolescent females by adult males represents the “natural sexual order,” insomuch as girls within this age range are at the height of their fertility, and, historically, females have had to start producing offspring as early as possible, given the much higher mortality rate and lower life expectancy prior to the advent of 20th century medicine. (However, any happiness between a vastly older man and his younger conquest is almost certainly destined to be short-lived.) On the other hand, females tend to be attracted to somewhat older males because they are in a better position to provide for them. In fact, a girl’s first crush is often likely to be an older boy because adolescent girls are about two years ahead of their male agemates in terms of both physical and emotional maturity. Additionally, as males reach middle-age and reach a so-called “mid-life crisis,” a much younger female companion provides a sense of rejuvenation to the aging male while allowing him to cherish a somewhat dominant role of the wise and protective mentor. For these and other reasons –hardly a revelation– the coupling of the older male with the younger female is much more prevalent than the reverse. Again, it is the natural biological order of things.
But what age is too young for sexual expression? Needless to say, many societies discourage adult – adolescent romance and have enacted consent laws to legislate against such liaisons. These consent laws vary from country to country and state to state, most of which set the minimum age of sexual consent between 14 and 18 years-of-age. It is an unfortunate and outrageous double standard that men receive much harsher penalties for statutory rape (which is not rape at all) than women do. Why? Perhaps because society cannot easily stomach the notion of burgeoning adolescent female sexuality with its loss of virginity i.e., of innocence. Therefore, to many a conservative mind, a teenage girl engaging in consensual sex with an older male “must” be, in part, the victim of male predatory behavior, in all its prurient forms –be it unsolicited coercion, guile, or monetary corruption – and such a male is cast in the role of the “big, bad wolf.” On the other hand, society is obviously much more understanding with regards to male teenage “victims,” as if to say: What 14-year-old boy, for example, in his right mind would turn down the opportunity to have sex with his pretty 30-year old female teacher? In practical terms, this translates to a slap on the wrist for women age-consent violators, and years in prison for the men. Thus, ephebophiles would do well to confine their erotic fixations on the younger set to the realm of unachieved, private fantasy, and to observe local consent laws, while focusing the main mast of their erotic energies on more appropriate age-mates, who are, after all, much better suited as viable long-term companions.