Mickey and Maria make out in kindergarten

Gail Hawkes, who co-authored the excellent Theorising the Sexual Child in Modernity with Danielle Egan, responded last month to Heretic TOC’s Being a predator is child’s play. She requested, “I would love to read some of your comments or translation of the Norwegian book.” Well, how could I refuse? My response has been a bit slow off the mark, but perhaps I can make amends by throwing in that Danielle Egan has a new book out this month, Becoming Sexual: A Critical Appraisal of the Sexualization of Girls. The title sounds conservative, but a review in Times Higher Education suggests otherwise. I’m sure it is good and I imagine Gail is rooting for her colleague’s success with it.
There’s not much space, in a reasonable blog-length, to give comments as well as translation, so I’ll focus mainly on just two passages of the latter. To recap briefly, the Swedish pre-school scene was extensively reviewed in The Lovelife of Children by Gertrude Aigner and Erik Centerwall, published in Sweden in 1983. It came out in Norwegian the following year, and my translation is from that. It is worth noting that in a cross-cultural comparison between North American and Swedish children aged three to six, more sexual behaviour was reported among the Swedish children (Larsson, Svedin & Friedrich, 2000). Among the boys, behaviour such as walking around with no clothes on, using sexual language and talking about sex, touching the mother’s breasts and touching their own sex organs in public, demonstrated the greatest differences between the countries.
In another work, IngBeth Larrson noted that “In the 1970s and 1980s, in the spirit of sexual liberalisation, some pedagogical literature on children and sexuality was published in Sweden. The books were based on the idea of ‘good sexuality’ and included advice on how adults could teach small children to masturbate using a good technique and how day-care staff could encourage children to play explorative games of ‘doctors and nurses’.” The Lovelife of Children is one of the books Larrson mentions. (Larrson, 2001)
Teaching kids to wank? That’s enough, right there, to give many Americans hysterics. Even heretics here might puzzle over the need to teach “what comes naturally”. But what if a kid isn’t doing it right, so that he or she gets frustrated over not being able to come? That’s the sort of issue The Lovelife of Children gets into. But here’s a little boy called Kim, aged seven, who clearly does not have that problem. He tells of his feelings in an account called When I think about Tina (Når jeg tenker på Tina…, Aigner & Centerwall, 1984, pp.37-8):

Every morning I get a prickling in my tummy – I think I am the only one who feels like this. I have tried to talk to Mummy and Daddy about it, and at the kindergarten with Karen and Michael who are staff – I can’t talk with Magda, she doesn’t listen, she only talks. She certainly doesn’t like children. When I think about Tina my willy goes all hard. When I’m on my own I take my cock between my thumb and three fingers and pull backwards and forwards, right till I begin to get a shudder in my body. It’s really strange, because the feeling goes right into my bum-hole, and up into my hair and down into my toes. I often want to press myself up to Tina, stroke her and kiss her, and sit and look at her. She smells s good. Her hair is golden. When the sun is shining the light shines off it. Her hands are so beautiful. I would love her to take me and stroke over my whole face. I want her to like me as much as I like her. But when there is something I don’t know, when I don’t dare ask, the blackness comes on in my eyes and tummy. Strange that I am alone in this, maybe I was really born earlier than my Mummy says, so that I am older. After all, it’s only adults who do such things. That’s what I saw in a porno magazine that Daddy had under other books and papers in a drawer of his writing desk. Besides, why did he hide it? He puts all the other magazines out on the newspaper shelf. Grownups are so strange! Why don’t they talk about what they do? How it feels to be in love – like I am with Tina, even though she is only six. I’ll ask Michael today. He is going steady with a girl, so he must know. Maybe he knows about these feelings I have, these black feelings. I wonder if girls feel the same thing?

We are not told how Kim’s story was compiled. As presented here it is a much longer and more coherent narrative than we would expect from most children of his age. Perhaps his story has been pieced together from what he said at different times; perhaps his writing truly was as precocious as many would feel his sentiments and sexuality to have been. What we may be sure of, though, is that such fully realised expressions of love among quite little children are not just a freakish quirk of an exceptionally liberal childcare system. The early sexologists Sanford Bell and Albert Moll encountered similar childhood passions over a century ago and have been rediscovered more recently by Floyd Martinson and others.
Kim’s lust, if not his love, appears to be expressed from afar. Aigner & Centerwall also present accounts of somewhat more consummated attraction in the kindergarten’s “Cosy Room”:

Maria, Susanne, Mickey and Tomas are playing “mother, father and children”. Three of them are making up the bedding in the doll’s pram: Maria, Susanne and Tomas lie the dolls on their sides, wrap the quilt over them, kiss the dolls in turn and rock them.
Mickey sits looking on through all this play, then he gets up, goes over to Maria and says: “I want to fuck you. Come on, we can do it in the bedroom.” “Wait a bit,” says Maria, but then she goes off with him into the Cosy Room, where they lie down clasped tight together, hugging and kissing.  Maria sits astride Mickey’s midriff and makes coital movements. Then Mickey asks: “Is this what people do? Maybe we’re not doing it right?” Maria answers: “It’s what Mummy and Daddy do anyway.” Mickey: “Do they let you watch? I have never seen my parents do anything like that. They lock the door sometimes, and then I try to peep in through the keyhole, but I don’t see anything. Can I come to your house and watch your Mummy and Daddy?” Maria is silent for a while before she answers: “I don’t know. No.Yes. No, but you can always stay for the night at our house one Saturday, but they don’t fuck all the time.” Mickey asks: “Can I see your bottom then?” Maria pulls her trousers down over her backside and shows it, but then Mickey protests: “I want to see the whole of your bum.” Maria says that the front side is not called bum, but lap or cunt or pussy or pisshole. “But I say ‘lap’ because that is what Daddy says to Mummy: ‘Now, Lena, what have you got in your lap today?’ ” Mickey listens and asks if it is possible to have anything there. Maria answers: “Yes, of course, Daddy’s penis or Mummy’s tampon, if she’s having a period, and sometimes she has a yearning there as well, but I don’t know what it looks like. Funny, isn’t it?”
Now Mickey wants to see the front: “Front, Front, blunt, dunt”, I can talk in rhyme he says to Maria. [TOC: “Skyød, skyød, brød, sprød”. Literally: Lap, lap, bread, nonsense word.] Maria takes an active part in the play. She takes her trousers off first, then continues by taking off her frock and becoming quite naked. She challenges Mickey to take off his clothes, but he hesitates and says: “What if Miss sees us and tells Mummy. Then she’ll be angry.” Maria answers: “Miss won’t do that. What’s wrong with being naked? Grownups are so funny, apart from mine. If you don’t take your clothes off I’ll put mine on and I won’t play with you.”
Mickey takes out his penis. Maria feels it, caresses it and at the same time says: “Daddy’s is much bigger, and the top of his penis is as big as everything you’ve got, and he can get it even bigger when it stands out straight. Then it gets hard and then Daddy says he’s sticking out and that often happens when he plays with Mummy.” Mickey says: “So exciting.” Maria kisses Mickey’s penis: “Oh, it’s so sweet, so pretty.” Mickey: “It’s standing up!” Maria wants intercourse: “Lie together, lie together, fuck, bonk, fuck!” [TOC: “Samleie, samleie, knulle, pule, knulle.” In Norwegian “samleie” is the usual polite word for sexual intercourse. It is derived from component words meaning lying together. It may be thought a small child would be unlikely to use the word “intercourse” unless specifically taught it but the more graphic “lie together” would trip from the tongue more easily.]
There is a ring at the outer door. Mickey hears it, snatches his trousers on again and runs out of the Cosy Room. Maria is less bothered. Mickey comes back and says to Maria that she should hurry up, that no one should see her naked. “And if Mummy comes soon, you mustn’t say anything to her.” Maria looks slightly uncomprehending but pretends to accept it. (pp.40-41)

The kindergarten staff were evidently able to observe and hear exactly what was going on without the children’s knowledge. In the introductory chapter much is made of the need to respect children’s sexual feelings, experience and secrets. Some would doubtless argue that spying on the children was itself a breach of their privacy and that the book compounds the intrusion by sharing these children’s secrets with a wider public. That would be to interpret respect far too narrowly. Real respect lies in keeping a distance in a practical sense: not storming into the Cosy Room to chastise the children for their sexual behaviour, not suppressing that behaviour or valuing it negatively. Keeping a secret in this case would have meant not rushing off to Mickey’s parents to “tell Mummy and make her angry”.
Maria’s remarks about seeing her father’s erect penis would set alarm bells ringing furiously in modern America. It would instantly be suspected she was a victim of sexual abuse at home. Her frankly sexual invitation to Mickey would clinch the matter. This would identify her not only as a victim but also as a perpetrator in need of treatment to prevent her “harming” other children. But would this be a reasonable reaction? Maria had not been coercive towards Mickey; neither did she disclose any coercive behaviour by her parents. It is not clear how intervention would serve any purpose, either for Maria or any of the other children in the kindergarten. The downside of such intervention becomes massively apparent, of course, when we consider the impact such interventions have in the United States, as shown here so recently.
Aigner, G. & Centerwall, E.; The Lovelife of Children (Barnas kjaerlighetsliv), Pax Forlag AS, Oslo, 1984
Larrson, I., Svedin, C.G. & Friedrich; W.N. Differences and similarities in sexual behaviour among pre-schoolers in Sweden and USA, Nordic Journal of Psychiatry 54, 251-257 (2000)
Larrson, I., Child sexuality and sexual behaviour, Linköping University, Sweden, 2001

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[…] environment of Swedish pre-schools, as  encountered at Heretic TOC a couple of years ago in Mickey and Maria make out in kindergarten, kids could get naked if they wanted, and a Swedish Dr Howard-Jones would have found no reason to […]

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[…] Any number of examples could be given from sexual episodes observed between kindergarten kids (see Mickey and Maria make out in kindergarten) but my favourite of recent times is “queer kid” Noah Michelson’s personal account of his […]

imyarainbowstar

Thanks for posting this, I really enjoyed reading, it was hilarious. It’s very sad that touch, intimacy and sexual expression are so brutally repressed. Not just among children: men are not permitted to even hold hands, hug, or give each other back rubs in so many societies. Maybe this is so men won’t spend their intimacy anywhere but on women? (The dangers of “Special love relationships”, ACIM.) Maybe it is to keep everyone anxious and tense and uneasy since this is what drives the emotional war-machine of the family-unit and market system? That seems to be the lesson of James Prescott and Harry Harlow’s work? Probably there will be a lot more “cosy rooms”, massage class, and intimacy in the education of the future. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, so maybe the home-schooling revolution will help to dissolve the mass assembly school system? Maybe some (so-called) mental illness can be traced to the barren and punitive environment of schools: Asperger’s and ADHD? Drugs abuse by young people is probably a compensation for lack of intimacy in their environments.

Gil Hardwick

I agree, I doubt there is any sort of elite conspiracy. I make it my business to observe the phenomenon at all levels.
My take, as I first wrote long ago, is that the contemporary late-modern West has become hyperliterate, hyperintellectualised, made immeasurably worse by caffeine and cocaine addiction; any ‘deviance’ even further medicated.
Nothing comes in any more, except among the discerning few, the latter-day heretics, unless via words on paper. Only words printed on paper have meaning any more, which is odd as I have also found cause to comment, it is actually nothing more than oddly shaped ink blotches that takes years of dedicated schooling to read and interpret.
So, where is intimacy and touch as key communicative activity, bonding activity; sitting listening to stories, telling stories, singing songs, reciting poetry, and as we have already discussed children running around playing and having fun?

James

Would you happen to be a Socialist – or at least a Social Democrat?

James

Not just Britain. I’ve noticed that, in most of the developed world, the left is getting a lot more reactionary. I am quite confused by this state of affairs.

James

I suppose so – a thousand ‘comrades’ with no names. However, in a lot of cases it’s not even fraternity and equality that are trying to slap down liberty.
For example, in the Social Justice Movement (whose aims I generally agree with) there are many individuals and subgroups who seem to believe their raison d’etat is not to combat inequality but to attack anyone who disagrees with them.
It reminds me of how so much of the USSR’s resources were devoted to suppression of dissent rather than development. Of course, if you don’t develop, people end up with a reason to dissent.

James

At least be glad you have a left! A few decades back my country attempted a Socialist revolution which was later put down by the US. Since then we’ve lacked any Left-leaning parties or organisations. It’s especially bad in the social sphere – sodomy is still illegal!

Gil Hardwick

My problem with this ‘research’ lies in the American propensity to apply the word “sexual” indiscriminately to all human intimacy, and in retrospect report it as “sexual contact”.
I beg to discriminate (good word that, dis-crimin-ate) in ways I do not consider small or nuanced, but with references to gross differences among the various behaviours.
In raising children, for example, they will come in with a genital infection, usually because they haven’t been keeping themself clean. They must be treated, and the only way to treat them is to apply cream to the affected parts – among the most intimate of contacts between children and adults.
Against this ubiquitous background of routine intimacy and the family and domestic environment, inevitably carried back and forth to places like day care centres, kindergartens and schools, my question remains on which behavioural components can be differentiated clearly as ‘sexual’ in this sense of sexual intercourse being the primary desire and intent, and which are merely intimate?
Where is the line to be drawn, and who draws it?

Scholarbones

“Victimology” is now the new “science”. Look at the UK, and Australia, with our Royal Commission soon to start. No-one DARES to oppose these benighted people. To do so — for ordinary citizens — is social and professional suicide. Yes, there must be a huge number of people in the Anglophone countries who would love to oppose this “tsunami”. They simply dare not. M T-W.

Gil Hardwick

Sorry, I dared. Michael, we do dare.
In the opening debate over the ‘Royal Commission’ I did openly call out one of these ‘historically institutional sex abuse victim’ supposedly held down and raped at age 10 in one version and 11 in another, as a fraud; wanting to know where were his parents at the time, how he came to be institutionalised as an emotionally disturbed French ex-patriot Australian child living perchance in New Zealand, with a campaign website registered and hosted in the UK, with years of repeated arrests for violence and drug abuse, already paid out $30,000 in compensation long spent on more drugs, and currently in therapy, with a registered psychotherapist . . . blah blah blah nauseatingly ad nauseam . . . .
All that happened was that all my posts and his, on The Conversation to the unfamiliar, but not until widely read amid angry phone calls from editors and police and irrelevant others, were deleted.
Too late, it had already gone National, the window open for a whole week while the hit rate went up through the roof. But that was well over a month ago.
Interestingly, the WA state election only last weekend saw a landslide against Labor, among all the excuses that Federal Labor are dysfunctional, and all this week an almost outright ‘citizen’s rebellion’ in the the federal parliament . . . excuses excuses excuses . . . .
This ‘Royal Commission’ is going nowhere. Everyone can see it for what it is, and preparing their submissions accordingly.
Read Sun Tzu, ‘The Art of War’, and people, please do come up to speed.

Gil Hardwick

And, I should add perhaps, ‘sociology’, ‘criminology’, ‘victimology’, ‘sexology’ are not new but passe; the reason being that overwhelming evidence has come in demonstrating that it is repeat victimisation that is the focus of repeat criminal incidence, not the other way around.
The paradigm has fatally shifted.

Gil Hardwick

. . . the new thing is known as ‘fine-grained field ethnography’ . . .

Dave Riegel

It happens in Texas, too:
http://www.shortnews.com/start.cfm?id=47635
I have to wonder how well the “tattle-tale” was regarded by his classmates after he snitched.
And one has to think that 99.999% of these boyhood episodes are known only to the two principals.
A good bit of research was done back in the last millennium when Psych. 101 classes were still fair game for the professor’s surveys on sexual behaviors past and present, and in 1998 Rind et al. did a meta-analysis of a large number of these survey. He found that some 17% of male respondents reported sexual contact as boys with an older person (gender usually not specified), which, when applied to US census numbers, produces a number of some fifteen million men who should have been irreparably traumatized and rendered unable to cope with life. But, strangely, the vast majority of them apparently survived their horrendous ordeal with little or no impairment, and went on to lead stable and productive lives. Here again, I strongly suspect that – prior to the anonymous survey – these interactions were known only to the two principals. And there may have been many more of these incidents which never made it into anybody’s survey, and never will.
One of victimology’s most potent weapons is the fact that the doubtlessly incredible numbers of boyhood sexual explorations with peers and older people are almost completely concealed. If, somehow, all of these were made manifest, the sheer overwhelming numbers of benign or beneficent relationships would render victimological claims of inevitable harm a laughing stock.

Gil Hardwick

The victimology of ‘childhood sexual abuse trauma’ is already a laughing stock. One of the major reasons they react as they do has nothing to do with children or sex or trauma, only because people don’t like being laughed at; exposed as frauds and hysterics.
It would be far worse for them were we not being so polite.

Scholarbones

It’s OK for THEM to scream and threaten. Those who love children worship free will and that is a crime. M T-W.

willistina556

Other literary references may be useful in context of the perfectly expressed Swedish title, “The Love Life Of Children”, with an obvious omission still awaiting perfect expression, in a book titled, “The Love Life Of Adultophile Children”.
While a little known piece unsurprisingly based on 1960s Swedish research, is surprisingly well stated in a UK 1972 Sunday Telegraph 10th anniversary of the Nabokov-Kubrick book-film classic, ‘Lolita’. A supplement article, paraphrased, “Swedish Studies Show That ‘Lolita’ Relationships Are Largely Benign if left to run their course. Or, if discovered are unproblematic when addressed with minimal fuss, and no severe sanctions.”
A far more recent, also largely overlooked great femme book from Austria, with at least two candid recollections of postwar ’normal’ childhood sexual experiences including adultophile love. is “The Erotic Lives Of Women” [Hardcover] Scalo, 1998, Linda Troeller & Marion Schneider.
The authors, one of whom a professional photographer, who themselves appear in the book, asked various women four questions:
1. What does the word “erotic” mean to you?
2. Do you remember your first erotic feeling and could you show it to the camera?
3. Can you remember your strongest erotic feeling and show it to the camera?
4. Do you have a certain fantasy and could you show it to the camera?
Witness 1. paraphrased, “I have fond memories of when I was four, I loved my uncle playing intimately with me in the garden, and ‘crossing my borders’.”
Witness 2. paraphrased, “When I was 10 and eleven in the hot summers I would shower with my same age best friend. An extraordinarily beautiful girl, and instinctively we did almost everything possible that two adult lesbians might do.”
[TOC: Love the “crossing my borders” bit – which would have been completely lost in the “long grass” if I had not used the mower to cut this from 677 words, which were mostly just tangled weeds!]

Gil Hardwick

Early Autumn now in Western Australia, 8:30 am, with the sun well up and a nice cup of freshly brewed Colombian Pitalito coffee next to the keyboard; what an email to greet the day! As the world rotates and the sun comes up in different places, no doubt we will get a like response from each.
OK, Australia, 1950s. Children were thrashed, screamed at, punished and sent to bed without dinner, all that stuff, for doing this. In the event, they found little hidey-holes and built cubbies iin the bush so they could ‘play house’, and ‘mummies and daddies’, and ‘doctors and nurses’ without being disturbed by ‘the grownups’, until the deakins and the police came and demolished them too.
My first experience age 7 of an epidemic of immorality, and a witch hunt to discover which adults were teaching the children ‘these disgusting things’; the most mortal of sins, to angelic little dears, innocence destroyed, barred forever from going to Heaven.
This business in time became inevitably the core of my later life’s work as a field ethnographer, especially as the years rolled by coming to realise what was causing so much harm to our society; so many terrified dysfunctional people unable to hold a relationship much less a marriage together.
I was finally arrested and convicted of ‘indecent dealing’ not because I was touching the children, or sleeping with them or having sex with them, but because I was tolerant of their play and sought when they asked me to answer their questions reasonably and intelligently. It is my disciplinary focus, after all.
No surprise our house was so popular (and a LOT of fun).
But then while I was still in prison, in 2008 a woman and her daughter running a day-care centre were arrested for screaming at a little boy, a 4 year-old, threatening to cut off his willy with a kitchen knife if he didn’t stop playing with it.
Hhmmm, no prison for them merely a 12-month good behaviour bond.

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