The Vicious Circle: The ongoing cultural

heritage of the sexual repression of boys.

 

It is generally accepted that prepubertal and early adolescent boys, much more so than girls, are sociobiologically driven to investigate, explore, and experiment with their developing sexuality, typically beginning with activities with peer and older males before progressing on to females in later adolescence. Adult society tends to look with disfavor upon boys' sexual involvement with males, and especially older males, and this attitude is imparted to these developing boys with the result that, when they become adults themselves, they tend to renounce and even deny their own boyhood activities, and either silently or overtly support the same sexual repression of succeeding generations of boys that they themselves endured.

 

In their exhaustive 1998 meta-analysis, Rind, Bauserman, and Tromovitch determined that significant percentages of the male respondents in the underlying studies reported sexual encounters with an older person which they described as non-negative or even positive. Some of those studies indicated that most such boyhood experiences are with older males, frequently older teenage males. Rind et al. found that some 17% of adult males were involved as boys in these explorations, which, when applied to census figures, amounts to some fifteen million men in the US alone, a potentially huge testimonial and research base.

 

However, these non-negative and presumably consensual experiences have never been accepted by either academia or the media driven public as being valid and indicative of reality. Conversely, these occurrences have been claimed by victimologists and their allies to inevitably and invariably cause intense and pervasive harm, thus imposing feelings of guilt on those whose experiences contradict this assumption. If this guilt is accepted and internalized, a reaction formation can occur in which men condemn these same sexual explorations which they enjoyed as boys.

 

This guilt, coupled with fear of censure or ridicule, results in many perhaps almost all of these former younger participants being unwilling to discuss their non-negative experiences, a culturally inflicted silence which contributes to the dearth of legitimate empirical research in this area. There are only minimal valid data to support victimological suppositions; Bauserman describes prominent victimologist David Finkelhor as having used a "loaded questionnaire seemingly designed to preclude the possibility of reporting consensual . . . relationships with adults" (1991, pp 305-306). Nevertheless, most researchers are not willing to risk academic disapprobation by challenging these "harm" assumptions. These reticent researchers thus by default contribute to the ongoing sexual repression of current and subsequent generations of those boys who, in spite of these cultural taboos and threats, still look for ways to explore and experiment with their developing sexuality, either with peers and/or with older males.

 

Wilson has noted that ". . . young people in western countries feel sexually repressed, alienated from adult company, and emotionally bankrupt" (1981, p. 134), and Prescott (1975) saw this repression as contributing to violent behavior in young people. It would seem that the time has arrived for both the public and academia to come to terms with the apparently intrinsic sexual explorations of boys, and to break the vicious circle of iatrogenic repression of those harmless and benign explorations, a despotic ring which has no basis other than superstition, religion, and faulty victimological assumptions.


References:

 

Bauserman, R. (1991). Objectivity and ideology: Criticism of Theo Sandfort's research on man-boy sexual relations. In T. Sandfort, E. Brongersma, & A. van Naerssen (Eds.) Male Intergenerational Intimacy, (pp. 297-312). Binghamton NY: Harrington Park.

 

Prescott, J. (1975). Body pleasure and the origin of violence. The Futurist, IX, (2) 64-74.

 

Rind, B., Tromovitch, P., & Bauserman, R. (1998). A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 22-53.

 

Wilson, P. (1981). The man they called a monster. North Melbourne, Australia: Cassell.