The pre-WEIRD world, according to Rind

Dr Bruce Rind charts new territory in his latest published work. Or rather he newly charts some very old terrain, going deep into history and beyond, to the evolutionary origins of our sexuality. There are literally charts, six magnificent ones, each of which sets out a table of studies and a summary of their findings across a great swathe of fascinating erotica and exotica, with characteristic Rindian thoroughness.
Did you know, for instance, that “pederastic-like behaviour” is so pervasive among bighorn sheep that females will mimic young males in order to get sexual attention from the more mature males! Or that mature lyrebird males will follow an adolescent for hours, “serenading” him! Thought not! Such observations go way beyond “our” evolutionary origins, of course, if “we” refers specifically to humans rather than all animals.
So what is Rind up to? Is the good doctor such an eccentric, ivory tower academic that he has failed to notice humans are a somewhat different species to sheep and birds? Does he, with his obsessive systematising, falsely draw analogies between our sexuality and theirs? It would be an easy charge to level, of a kind often made in kneejerk fashion by those who are (albeit rightly) suspicious of genetic determinism. But would it stand up to scrutiny?
The work in question forms Chapter 1 of a new book called Censoring Sex Research: The Debate over Male Intergenerational Relations, which I mentioned late last year. In his introduction to the book, joint editor Thomas Hubbard tells us that in this new piece, which runs to 90 pages, “Dr Rind contextualizes his earlier analyses of psychological data through an aggressively interdisciplinary approach, showing that his earlier finding that male intergenerational relationships are usually not harmful is not as surprising or implausible as critics claim.” Actually, those earlier analyses covered man-girl contacts and other gender combinations as well. The fact that Rind sticks to “pederasty” (men with adolescent boys) in his new work is highly significant, in ways I’ll come to.
The chapter is called “Pederasty: An integration of empirical, historical, sociological, cross-cultural, cross-species, and evolutionary perspectives”. What he hopes to gain through this wide-ranging interdisciplinary approach is a way of judging scientifically whether a particular class of sexual behaviour is normal or abnormal, healthy or pathological. If the behaviour turns out to be extremely widespread and culturally accepted in other eras or cultures it becomes hard to argue that it is “abnormal” for humans, even if it is so regarded here and now. Also, a cross-species approach that demonstrates the prevalence of “pederastic-like behaviour” in other primates, or even across a wider range of animal life, would give strong grounds for believing that human pederasty had an evolved evolutionary function. To call it pathological in humans would then make little sense. Not that Rind feels we should accept the tyranny of normality, nor does he fall into the trap of the “naturalistic fallacy”: he is not suggesting that any behaviour to be found in nature is moral and good, only that behaviours should not be condemned as immoral and bad, or dysfunctional and harmful, on the basis of false information.
So, what does he find? Briefly, a lot. The six data sets summarised in his charts comprise studies of sexual relations between: (1) boys and women; (2) gay boys and men; (3) boys and men in history and across cultures; (4) immature male primates and mature ones; (5) immature male sub-primates and mature ones; (5) immature male birds and mature ones.
He starts with the easy stuff, so to speak, in order to make a relatively unassailable point straight away. Using formal academic studies, he demonstrates what would not so long ago have been considered so obvious as not to need demonstration: most adolescent boys are turned on by women. For most boys in their early teens having sex with a woman would not be seen as “abuse”. Far from seeing themselves as victims, they would be thrilled to the core by a dream come true. Same with gay boys and men: the evidence strongly suggests they like it, and why wouldn’t they? It’s when we get to “straight” boys and men that the picture becomes more counter-intuitive for those of us brought up in the developed, non-pederastic, world. Why would the boys be interested?
No, no, that’s a rhetorical question. Don’t all rush to answer! Many have done so already, notably Edward Brongersma in his enormous two-volume Loving Boys and Theo Sandfort with his structured interviews and psychometrics probing boys’ ongoing relationships with men. Quite recently Dave Riegel drew a lot of threads together in his paper “The role of androphilia in the psychosexual development of boys”, which notes that boys identify intensely with men as role models, often to the point of hero worship, and considers “the extent to which boys’ generalized inclinations to explore, experience, and enjoy their emerging masculinity in the company of older males” is also “manifested in their psychosexual developmental interests, desires, and activities”.
Rind draws on an immense range of anthropological and historical studies to demonstrate that it is the modern developed world that is unusual in not accepting pederasty: many other cultures have done so. Not for nothing is the acronym WEIRD (Western, Educated, and from Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic countries) increasingly being used by social scientists to capture the exceptional nature of modernity. Even in our own times, he shows, it is possible for pederasty to be very positively experienced by boys. One case he cites is that of leading psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut, who described a pederastic relationship with his tutor from the age of 11 in glowing terms. At a time when his parents’ marriage was deteriorating, his tutor helped him through it and “it was in some ways psychologically life-saving for me”. The relationship with the tutor was both emotional and sexual. He welcomed it at the time, even though he was destined to be heterosexual as an adult.
So far, I think, Rind is on strong ground. Likewise his trawl through studies first of primates (bonobos, gorillas, gibbons, monkeys, etc.) and then of sub-primates (from whales to rodents) and even the birds (but not the bees!), shows a huge range of species in which “pederastic-like” behaviour can be found in abundance.
What is also clear, though, is that Rind has a much tougher job on his hands when he invokes evolutionary psychology to explain all this sexual activity between adult and adolescent males. And what is a good deal less clear is the implications of his ideas for modern society, bearing in mind that we are so WEIRD, and most of us would not wish to be otherwise.
Now there are many heretics who jump at the idea that pederasty is deeply rooted in nature and has performed a useful or even vital function for many species, including our own. But we should be careful what we wish for. We may discover that pederasty was indeed an adaptive trait at one time, giving better survival chances to social groups in which it played a part. We may also find, though, that it has outlived its usefulness. Whether that is true or not could turn upon what life was like tens and hundreds of thousands of years ago, in the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA) when we were gatherers and hunters. Rind bases his ideas on the view, which is not as uncontroversial as he seems to think, that not only was there a permanent struggle for survival – which is the firmly established bedrock of evolutionary theory – but also that this struggle was typically expressed not just in terms of being predators (hunters) and avoiding falling prey to other species, but also via battling for resources against our own kind: in other words, frequent warfare, possibly also including predation (cannibalism). Rind accordingly paints a picture of primitive bands, or tribes, in near-permanent conflict, such that it was utterly vital for boys to “man up” drastically as early as possible, leading to cultures characterised by fierce initiation rites – so ferocious in the case of some surviving hunter-gather cultures studied in the last century or two that they could and did prove fatal for weak or unlucky boys.
Rind proposes a “mentorship-bonding/enculturation-alliance hypothesis” arising from this scenario, in which there were four ways in which pederasty helped the male group replicate itself: (a) mentoring in skills and social demeanour (including “manning up”); (b) bonding, to which pederasty’s erotic character contributed; (c) enculturation into the practices and ideologies of the group; (d) cementing alliances with other group members that were essential for teamwork in hunting and warfare.
These days, as Rind observes, we do our “hunting” at the supermarket. Boys do not need to be all that tough. He also suggests that manhood in the rugged sense is an evolved capacity not an irresistible drive, noting that in isolated societies such old Tahiti, where warfare was not endemic, men were not tougher than women and there was a high degree of gender equality, as in our WEIRD world.
What Rind fails to acknowledge, though, is that the capacity for men being tough – which certainly exists and so must have evolved – may or may not have co-evolved with pederasty in the EEA. He provides absolutely zero evidence (such as might be obtained from gene sequencing and metrics of heritability) that pederasty is anything other than a cultural response to environmental conditions, just as the relatively gentle ways of Tahitian manhood developed culturally in response to living on a remote island where food was plentiful and they were not under constant danger of attack. No genetic change was required in order to induce this radically different pattern of behaviour. Biologist Eric Alcorn, in Chapter 5 of the book, provides a detailed and to my mind compelling critique of Rind’s evolutionary hypothesis, dismissing it as just the latest in a long and inglorious line of speculative “just so” stories thrown up by the not very disciplined discipline known as evolutionary psychology.
As Alcorn concedes, that does not mean Rind is wrong, only that there is no reason to believe he is right. I would add that he may be wrong for two scientific reasons. Frankly, I hope he is, for two ethical ones.
Firstly, so far as the science is concerned, his hypothesis relies on group selection, which has been enjoying a revival recently but is still controversial. The idea is resisted with near apoplectic fury by no less a figure than the distinguished biologist Richard Dawkins: it gets him even crosser than religion!
Secondly, Rind implicitly relies upon Napoleon, who has been all-conquering for decades but may be about to meet his Waterloo – Napoleon Chagnon, that is, the anthropologist whose work underpins the idea that our hunter-gatherer forebears were almost perpetually at war. His book Yanomamö: The Fierce People, published in 1968, became the all-time bestselling anthropological text. Critics of Chagnon and his successors, however, have shown that this celebrated ethnography of a spectacularly violent tribe of the Amazon-Orinoco watershed region was not based on a pristine society such as would have existed in the EEA at all: the tribe’s culture had already been significantly impacted by the outside world for well over a hundred years before Chagnon studied them. Also, there is a reason to believe the struggle between humans for resources would have been nothing like as intensive and violent in the EEA as it later became: during the greater part of mankind’s evolutionary history, our numbers were very small and the amount of territory available for gathering and hunting was literally boundless: instead of fighting neighbouring tribes over the right to hunt or gather in a particular area, there was always the possibility of moving to pastures new – well, not pastures but forests and savannahs in the first instance.
As for ethics, Rind’s investigations bring to mind two questions of social justice: gender equality is a very salient one; less obvious, but just as important, is the injustice that would inevitably arise as a result of privileging pederasty at the expense of other forms of adult-minor attraction, especially man-girl love and man-boy love when the child is prepubescent.
To be fair to Rind, he is not advocating pederasty in today’s world (except perhaps covertly, based on an unstated critique of modern values). Although he credibly insists it used to have a positive function, he concedes it is an evolutionary mismatch today. He likens the modern-day pederast to a naturally light-coloured moth:
“The modern-day pederast is like the moth with a light-coloring mechanism transported to an industrialized, sooted environment, in which the mechanism is functioning as designed but this functioning now imperils the moth” as it has lost its protective camouflage against predators. “Pederasty”, Rind continues later on the same page, “is currently gravely at odds with the social structure and cultural ideologies, especially since their modifications in the 1970s. Therefore, when it occurs now in particular cases, it is likely to be occurring far outside the context associated with its design, devoid of mentoring, bonding and group purpose. Its occurrence is prone to being tainted with opprobrium and a sense of exploitation and violence.”
As Alcorn astutely observed, the vivid metaphor of the moth subtly paints modern society as an agent not of progress but of sooty pollution. In some ways I think this is true, but not in the way Rind seems to imply. His elegiac remarks look to a romanticised past in which pederasty functioned well as a legitimate marriage of apprenticeship and male bonding. Fine, but it is a bit rich to join in with the usual badmouthing of modern pederastic experiences because of their supposed (often wrongly) association with violence when – as is implicit in Rind’s own account – pederasty arose almost entirely in a context of training for violence. The raison d’être of the man-boy bond was to turn soft mummy’s boys into utterly ruthless, hard-as-nails, warriors who wouldn’t hesitate to wipe out other tribes, including their children.
The societies for which Rind is apparently so nostalgic really have nothing to commend them. They thrived in a world of violent male dominance and hence extreme gender inequality, which was a recipe for every kind of horror. Ghastly as extremist modern feminism has become, with its cult of victimhood, we would not wish to return to the brutal kill-or-be-killed world in which Rind’s vision of pederasty thrived.
But was it really like that? Read “How to raise a child the hunter-gatherer way”, from Jared Diamond’s recent book The World Until Yesterday, and a totally different picture emerges, based on a more balanced appraisal of hunter-gatherer lifestyles than it is possible to take from Rind’s pages. Instead of the Hobbesian nightmare envisioned by Rind, in which pre-civilized life is seen as merely “nasty, brutish and short”, we learn of cultures that are genuinely worth imitating by the modern world in some important ways, including greater freedom for children (girls as well as boys) and their sexual expression from a very early age. These were societies with distinct gender roles, but not necessarily with great gender inequality or grossly unjust inequalities of any kind. It is only materially much richer societies – starting with agricultural ones – which allow individuals and classes to become hugely rich and powerful, unfair and oppressive.
By contrast, Rind’s dubious privileging of pederasty as a functionally evolved form of adult-adolescent sexuality is by his own admission redundant in terms of any applicability in modern society. Furthermore, his blinkered vision utterly ignores the situation not only of women but specifically of girls. Only men’s sexual relationships with adolescent boys appear to interest him. It is as though, for Rind, girls simply do not exist or are of no account. As a consequence, the pressing question of how children of both sexes can be brought up in a happier and more self-determining way amidst the endemic hysteria of modernity is not addressed. All that Rind leaves us with, in the end, are reasons to reject his special pleading on behalf of long-dead pederastic cultures. After giving us so much interesting information, that is a pity.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
37 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
A.

Making a flying visit due to having had a sudden thought:
On the subject of why heterosexual boys in puberty frequently enjoy sex with men: Could it be that – for *some* kids – there is a period during which sexual feelings are running high but aren’t yet as category-specific as they will shortly become? For instance, I started masturbating and having orgasms at 10. Sometimes I did it just for the good feeling, sometimes the stimulus was my uncle’s Penthouse Collected Stories, or fairly generic fantasies based on them. I had been having crushes on specific classmates since age 8, and at 13 I became aware that I was attracted to younger kids, but it wasn’t till I was 15 that – quite suddenly, as I recall – my sexual fantasies became specific, and almost entirely exclusive, to my sexual orientation.
Obviously 1.) I’m female – albeit with a very ‘male-dominated’ sexual orientation! — and so my developmental trajectory may have been quite different to that of most males and 2.) there is plenty of evidence that many children are, from well before puberty, aroused only by certain very specific things – see for instance the fascinating childhood histories in chapter 4 of Anne Lawrence’s book Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies: Narratives of Autogynephilic Transsexualism.
However, in Wilson and Cox’s The Child-Lovers we do find this: “Garry’s first sexual experience was masturbation, which initially involved fantasy directed at people in general. However, at about the age of 13 he became aware that the object of fantasy had become boys younger than himself — an interest which has remained to the present.” Garry is now exclusively attracted to boys 2-18, with 10 being ideal. That’s certainly a broader sexual orientation than that of the GirlChat poster who says he’s strictly attracted to girls of 10 and 11, but my impression is that such breadth, while probably not typical, is not all that uncommon either, even for males.
Then there’s evidence from a couple of BoyChat posters. One says that as a kid he liked both boys his age and older men, but by the time he was 15 he was exclusively attracted to boys 7-14 and he has remained so ever since. Another says that before age 12 he liked girls, at 12-16 he was bisexual and liked preteens, and now he’s only attracted to boys of around 8-12.
So, as I say, I wonder. Could it be that – again, in *some* cases, clearly far from all – kids pass through a stage of a couple-few years, or sometimes longer, when they’re both highly sexually arousable and capable of being aroused by a wide range of things/people/situations?

A.

I meant chapter 5, not chapter 4… Parts of the book are a goldmine of information on child sexuality. One informant recalls masturbating from age 6 or 7, another can remember having orgasms when he was 6, a third started ejaculating at 14 but was getting erections from cross-dressing at 4. The other chapter to check out is 10. An argument frequently used against the theory that autogynephilia motivates transition is that many autogynephilic men recall having cross-gender wishes from very early on, well before puberty, when sexual arousal is commonly thought to begin. Lawrence refers to studies of gay men, and a study of male rubber fetishists, which found that in many cases the interest in other males or in rubber begins when the child is in the 4-8 age range. She also refers to this fascinating study http://www2.hawaii.edu/~elaineh/75.pdf which fits very well with what I remember from my own childhood. When I was 5-6, the classroom was a hotbed of passion, with heart-decorated love notes being passed right and left. After that things cooled off, and didn’t get back to the same intensity until we were all 15-16.
I’ve been very busy, but things look set to settle down a bit, so I should start posting more regularly within a few weeks. Have missed reading your posts, looking forward to catching up!

[…] appeared as a 90-page chapter a couple of years ago in Censoring Sex Research. I critiqued it in The pre-WEIRD world, according to Rind. While there was much to be welcomed in Rind’s work, its gender-specific theme of the man-boy […]

Sascha

1.) The question if a hunter-gatherer tribe had to fight for survival with other tribes around it or not does not change much: As long as the tribe has a subdivision of labor between man and woman, it is useful for the tribe it some adult men teach the boys what men have to do.
2.) As pubescent as prepubescent boys need education by men, so this explanation has a place as for teen boylovers as lovers of smaller boys. That this explanation does not give us much to explain girllove – so what?
3.) The reliance of this explanation on group selection is irrelevant, and I think Dawkins would not object. The groups are rather small, Boylovers are usually able to have sex with boys, so their loved boys may be their own kids, but, even if not, their genes would be sufficiently close. Moreover, by education they improve their own success by increasing the success of the whole group. Having close friends among the youth, they may even increase their own chances in the group. By the way, women prefer (for marriage) men who love kids.
4.) Is Boylove no longer adaptive? May be, but this is quite irrelevant. Ok, I may emigrate into the third world, and the boys I support there share no genes with me. On the other hand, it may become adaptive in new, unexpected ways. Don Juan’s genes don’t survive in the time of contraceptives. Economic-minded pair may, in the ages of state-paid rents, not need children. Boylovers have, in time of hysteria, only one chance to live with kids: To marry and to raise a lot of own children, throughout his whole live.
5.) But the ethical problem is a different one. Rape is adaptive, but we don’t want rapists even if it is. But, if the explanation for boylove is true, the very aim of boylove is to support the boys, and to teach them. This is something we want to have, in every society which is not completely off. If boylove would be harmful for the boys, this explanation of boylove would not work at all, it would be nonsensical. To accept this explanation means to give up the harm theory.

Dissident

2.) As pubescent as prepubescent boys need education by men, so this explanation has a place as for teen boylovers as lovers of smaller boys. That this explanation does not give us much to explain girllove – so what?
I think, Sascha, that matters a lot to both those adults who are attracted to girls, and for girls also, to understand how their type of love may fit into a society that accepted all youths on their individual merits, and by proxy all adults who possess a preferential attraction to either gender. Like it or not, BL is just one side of the equation, and frankly one that has received a disproportionately lop-sided degree of research, attention, and interest over the past 30+ years. This, IMO, is a consequence of the fact that BLer’s have been politically organized for a much longer degree of time than GLer’s, and because they largely operated in a context of discussion and concern that isolated them from the interests of both GLer’s and girls. Some parties have mistakenly taken this to mean that one is somehow more relevant or worthy of recognition and merit than the other.
That is a situation that needs to change, and both sides of the gender-attraction equation have an equal right to be understood and researched as to the place of each in society. I commend Tom for being supportive of this contention for equality of interest and relevance. We GLer’s are now also heads deep in the political trenches, and we want ourselves and the needs and rights of girls to be recognized as important in their own right.

[…] The pre-WEIRD world, according to Rind […]

A.

On early-teen boys having sex with older women: the undoubted fact that most of them are seriously into it shouldn’t make us ignore the subtleties of various situations and the possibility of complicated feelings on the part of the boys. I like this David Steinberg article, ‘Beyond Predators and Victims: The Not-So-Sensational Story of Debra Lafave and her Fourteen-Year-Old Student’: http://www.nearbycafe.com/loveandlust/steinberg/erotic/cn/cn158.html Lafave’s pupil had what we tend to think of as the textbook reaction: he was very eager, utterly delighted to be ‘scoring’ with the hot young blonde teacher, proud as punch, bragging to his cousin, experiencing the whole thing as a thrilling adventure. To this story, Steinberg appends a reminiscence of his own: when he was fifteen, he became friends with a twenty-five-year-old female teacher, and in retrospect he recognises his feelings for her as sexual, but at the time he simply didn’t think of it that way.
On woman-girl relationships: like the boys’ boarding school romance, the girls’ boarding school romance is its own subgenre, and here the usual story is not an older boy who falls in love with a younger boy, but a girl who falls in love with a teacher, as teenage girls are wont to do. I like ‘Olivia’ by Dorothy Bussy, sister of Lytton Strachey, translator and close friend to Gide. It is the lightly fictionalised story of Bussy’s schooldays alongside Eleanor Roosevelt and her unspoken passion, as a sixteen-year-old, for the gifted feminist headmistress Marie Souvestre, then in her forties.
There’s also ‘Das Kind Manuela’ by Christa Winsloe, another lightly fictionalised autobiographical account, which Winsloe turned into a play and then a film, ‘Mädchen in Uniform’, directed by Leontine Sagan. The story: most of the girls at a strict boarding school have a crush on the kindly young Scripture teacher Fräulein von Bernburg, but motherless Manuela, thirteen and a half in the book and a year older in the film, falls harder than anyone, and there are hints that the teacher may return her feelings. A public declaration brings down the wrath of the headmistress, with disastrous consequences. The film, which was given a happy ending and a strong message of resistance to militaristic authority, was a cult among Weimar lesbians and less than popular with the Nazis, who attempted to destroy all copies of it. Fortunately they didn’t succeed, and you can now watch it on Youtube. Search for the 1931 version, since the watered-down 1958 version is rubbish. The 1931 version is one of the best depictions of female adolescence I’ve seen. Eleanor Roosevelt recognised its importance.
And everyone should read this great piece from Paidika magazine: http://www.ipce.info/ipceweb/Library/heidi.htm

A.

Footnote — I may not have been quite clear enough in what I said above about Greek and samurai pederastic ideology. My guess is that the ideology obtained in the way the standard heterosexual dating ‘script’ obtains in our culture. We all know roughly how it’s supposed to go. For some of us it fits like a glove. For others, not so much, and we live our lives in other ways, but we still know the script, and if we are young and insecure we may feel badly about departing from it, or if we’re surrounded by petty people we may get some social opprobrium for departing from it. None of this, of course, means that we can’t have really wonderful heterosexual relationships whether they go according to the script or not. So it doubtless has always been with pederasty.

A.

Really impressive commentary, Tom. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you’ve said. Some random additional remarks:
— It seems that in the Classical Greek pederastic tradition, much of the same bullshit was put on boys that has so often, in so many societies, been put on women. In Crete, men ritually ‘abducted’ boys just as across Greece they ritually ‘abducted’ their wives. In Athens, fathers hired pedagogues partly to protect their sons’ ‘virtue’, and men wrote poems about ‘cold’ and ‘disdainful’ boys when the poor kids were probably just trying to protect their reputations by not being seen to ‘give in too soon’ to a man’s sexual advances. Sex work was a boy’s worst disgrace. Pederastic vase-paintings show men with erections and boys without, even in situations where this would be highly unlikely! The official line seems to have been that in pederastic relationships men were looking for sex, boys for guidance, and that a boy would ‘satisfy’ his older boyfriend out of love, but not enjoy the act himself — because his ‘role’ must be ‘passive’ and heaven forbid he should enjoy that. No doubt things very often did not actually work out like this, but that was the ideology, and it was also the ideology of pederasty among the samurai. By contrast, the boy-man relationships Sandfort documented in the Netherlands in 1980-81 were very much about mutual sexual pleasure as well as mutual affection.
— While I agree that James Davidson’s book is only useful as door-stop, it does seem that in some societies what had originally been a pederastic tradition calcified into something that was more about roles than about age. Alexander and Hephaistion were coevals or nearly, and there are records of erastes-eromenos relationships between Alexander’s squires, teenaged boys with only a couple-few years between them. Consequently some have speculated that a distinctive feature of the Macedonian pederastic tradition was relationships between boys and young men close in age. There is also evidence that during the seventeenth century in Japan, actors in their twenties and thirties were still doing sex work as sociosexual ‘boys’. And, well, fixed roles certainly serve a purpose in warrior groups, and they are great for those who are into them, but they aren’t so great for those who are not.
— Edmund makes a good point about relatively good gender equality in Sparta, but it can’t be stressed enough that on the whole, apart from a few exceptional people such as Hypatia and Aspasia, ancient Greece was a miserable place for women. On a related note, separate gender roles often don’t work a hundred percent of the time. Some sex-segregated societies have pragmatically carved out niches for those who don’t fit their sex’s assigned role: fa’afafine, hijras, two-spirits, Albanian sworn virgins. I’m told that kids in the Philippines classify their pals as girl, boy, bakla or tomboy. There are many exceptions to the general rules of sex difference. Often, a ‘third sex’ role for biological males is part of a tradition of ‘transgender homosexuality’ (as opposed to ‘egalitarian homosexuality’ and ‘age-stratified homosexuality’) in which an unremarkably masculine man, often a current or future husband and father, has sex with a male-bodied person who takes on at least some aspects of the female gender role. The Afghani ‘dancing boys’ who dress as women to perform combine age-stratified with transgender homosexuality.
In our WIERD societies, where as Tom rightly says almost any job can be done by at least some women and some men, I strongly feel that sex integration is a very good thing and that separate gender roles would be a very bad thing. Separate but equal would become separate and unequal, and also, such roles would be miserably constricting for those who didn’t naturally fit them. Among those people might be many men attracted to prepubescent children. In every recorded society, women do/did the bulk of the childcare, yet many male paedophiles report tender, parental feelings towards children and can be as nurturing and competent with them as any woman. Strongly as I believe in the integration of the sexes, however, I do see the necessity even in our societies for certain homosocial islands where same-sex mentoring can flourish. We need same-sex friendship groups; we need optional separate boys’ and girls’ groups at youth clubs. Sports teams must for practical reasons be sex-segregated as children enter their teens, because boys begin then to have the physical advantage. Children’s choirs must be sex-segregated because a mixed choir becomes a de facto girls’ choir: most boys will only sing and keep singing if they can do so in an all-male environment. And so on.
— I wonder about relationships between women and girls, a rare and shadowy phenomenon which has nonetheless been shown to exist. Obviously, Rind’s evolutionary rationale doesn’t work when it comes to those: pregnancy and childbirth made life for women in the EEA massively dangerous, but it was a different kind of danger. Nowadays, though, is women-girl love the mirror image of man-boy love? It depends. In the early 90s the Guardian published an article titled ‘To Miss with Love: Four Lesbians Recall Their Own Schoolgirl Loves’. One woman remembered having made determined advances to her female teacher: “I made her snog me in the back of my mum’s Mini.” Another was thrown out of her home at fifteen when her relationship with a twenty-five-year-old female teacher was discovered, so she went and lived with the teacher. It all sounds quite like a gender-flipped version of many gay boys’ experiences with men.
What about those girls who will grow up to be heterosexual? There I think things may be more different. Female sexuality tends, on average, to be more flexible than male sexuality, with many nominally straight women capable of some degree of bisexual response. Girls in our culture are permitted far more homosocial intimacy than boys and may well already have experience of emotionally intimate and sensual female friendship. And the whole sexual coming-of-age experience is fraught for girls in a different way. Adolescent girls too are overflowing with sexual energy. In my middle teens I was occasionally known to masturbate six or eight times in a day — it is an advantage of being female that you can do this without difficulty. But a girl is getting a lot of pernicious messages from all sides: on the one hand, she hears that True Love Waits and Nice Girls Don’t and You Can Get Pregnant Any Time; on the other hand, she hears that she’s useless if boys don’t like her; on the third hand, her newly-developed body has become the object of often critical and sometimes outright threatening scrutiny from all sides. Some girls take to this like ducks to water and revel in their newfound sexual power. Others don’t yet have the mental robustness to cope, and retreat into crushes on safer sexual objects such as teachers or androgynous, distant boyband singers. The search for a ‘safe’ sexual outlet is often, I would bet, the reason behind the well-documented phenomenon of teenaged female babysitters experimenting sexually with the young kids left in their charge. One of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, The Little Coochie Snorcher that Could, is about a thirteen-year-old girl who has been sexually abused by men but finds joy and release in a sexual encounter with an older women. There was such an outcry about this that Ensler has raised the girl’s age to sixteen in later editions, but I’m sure that the original rang true to many.

A.

Thanks! I do sort of feel that I’ve got a job to do in presenting the female side. Maybe I should’ve called myself How the Other Half Lives or something…

Sugarboy

18 years, isn’t that the legal age of majority in most countries today? What a coincidence… This all reminds me of the political correctness that lead Blanchard to include hebephilia in the DSM shortly after the age of consent in Canada was raised from 14 to 16. Continuing this way, I would not be surprised if a new expert were to write a book in which he claims that Greek pederasts, according to new research, did not have sex with the “pais”, but rather with their grandpas…

Edmund

I’m sorry, Tom, to hear you’ve been wasting your valuable time reading Davidson’s book. I concur with the Amazon reviewer who uses his copy as a door-stopper. It has largely been ridiculed by classicists. I won’t go into the academic reasons for this here, as anyone seriously interested in assessing the evidence for themselves should read Professor Hubbard’s lengthy, careful and thorough demolition of it: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=H-Histsex&month=0902&week=b&msg=Ug%2BYuljwHAbsmjyw%2BhMXhQ
I recently wrote a review of it myself for the more general reader. I was planning to publish this on Amazon, but now offer it here:
.
“Topical propaganda posing as history
This is as bad as a so-called history book can get. For a generation now, devotees of ancient Greek culture have had to grind their teeth while modern gays of the semi-educated variety have laid bogus claim to be its heirs, consoling themselves that surely no academic would ever stoop to lending them his authority. Now one has done just that.
Everyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Greek history has always known this claim to be nonsense. Greek homosexuality was practiced between clearly differentiated lovers (men in the active role) and beloveds (boys in the passive role). Its whole ethos was premised on this inequality, it being society’s means of inducting its youth into the fighting skills and higher culture of their elders. Adult men taking a passive role were despised and ridiculed. There was no concept of sexual orientation; it was expected that most men were capable of attraction to both women and boys.
Now, however, Davidson would have us suddenly discover that actually, despite the mountains of evidence carefully sifted over a generation by such great scholars as Kenneth Dover and William A. Percy, the ancient Greeks thought and behaved just like 21st century American gays striving after assimilation at any moral cost. So sex was not only illegal with boys under the age of …, you guessed it, 18, but carried the death penalty! Not only did the Greeks celebrate their inclusion of homosexuals in the military, but they also made a special place for them in their religious rites, just as today’s have-your-cake-and-eat-it “Christian” gays demand. They even had same-sex marriages too.
And God forbid that anyone should think Greek homosexuality had much to do with sex! Just like 21st century gay couples, whom we are assured are really just like other respectable, middle-class couples, Greek homosexuality too was about loving couples and fidelity rather than anything naughty. To achieve this sanitisation, Davidson feels he has to try to undermine the credibility of Professor Dover, who placed sex in the foreground of Greek love, and it is his persistent use of cheap, snide remarks to this end that undermined any will I might have had to try to be charitable about his book. Thus we are assured that a “happily-married, heterosexual” professor could not hope to understand such things as whether the Greeks practiced sodomy. Being gay today is evidently much more useful for understanding the remote past than objective study of the historical sources.
Needless to say, Davidson’s effort has been found worthless by the experts in the field. It would be out of place here to catalogue the endless misrepresentation, mistranslation, misleading paraphrasing and outrightly false reporting of ancient and secondary works that are used to justify this “bold” rewriting of history, when I can refer anyone in doubt to the thorough and carefully-reasoned, online demolition of it by Professor Thomas Hubbard.
The best book I can think of to compare with this is the Anglo-German Houston Chamberlain’s The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (1899), which explained on similarly tendentious and twisted lines how every advance in civilization was due to the superior Aryan race, including even Christianity (since Jesus had hitherto been disgracefully misrepresented as a Jew). The degree to which either author succeeded in genuinely deluding themselves (as opposed to being consciously dishonest) is perhaps the most fascinating and unanswerable question about them.
The more outlandish claims in both books tempt one to laugh until one remembers the huge appeal and influence of Chamberlain on a Germany longing to hear just such a message. Similarly, Davidson’s drivel is now likely to be cited as an authority both to claim a close association between classical Greek culture and 21st century gay culture, and to discredit all that Greek love truly stood for. The only consolation I can find is that it is so very caught up in the ephemeral concerns of the decade in which it was written that it will date quickly; even people in the 2030s will surely see more in it about the previous generation than about the Greeks.”
Edmund, Alexander’s Choice

Linca

Edmund,
Post this review on Amazon also. It needs to be available for reading by the general audience. The only thing I do not like is your seeming; I know not actual condemning of passive sex by adults. Wish you could get around that some way.
Linca
[TOC adds: I’d like to second Linca’s proposal that you post on Amazon also. I meant to say that in my earlier comment but must have got sidetracked.]

Edmund

Thank you both. I have done as you suggest, having first added a phrase to take Linca’s point on board.

Linca

OMG words, so many words. Makes me dizzy. And, we do not think we need to prepare our boys to fight against the violent discriminatory world that kills so many in so many ways, that makes slaves of us all, even if we think we are not. Man up is needed more than ever. Our evolution has prepared us light moths with all we need. Chameleons stand up. Aren’t we good at that? Been practicing all our lives haven’t we?
We have lots of jobs to do on many fronts. Forward in our own areas of expertise unless you’re a banker of ANY kind or a psychologist. Forward march. I think a famous race driver said once, ‘You cannot win a race by looking in the rear view mirror.” Or navel gazing. Forward mentors Forward.
Kudos Bruce Rind and Edmund. Let’s never never forget Alexander and his teacher Damian whose seed Alexander was so proud lived within him: Intuition that comes from hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution with our support can trump stigmatization. Let’s don’t abandon the kids while looking at our navels.
Linca
PS: Guess we have to keep trying to prove our case with science. L

mr p

was homosexuality accepted in the times of the ancient greeks,i ask the question because pederasty was highly valued,but when the adolescent started to grow body hair on the legs and face they were expected to part,and were they to stay together continuing the relationship they were ridiculed.so where did homosexuality play a part in the ancient times?

girllover

As a male attracted to prepubescent girls, I sometimes wonder about the evolutionary origins of my sexuality, if there is one. I know of times and cultures where it was acceptable for men to marry adolescent girls but I have not read or heard of any time where it was acceptable or common for men to bond with prepubescent girls like the ones I have feelings for. But perhaps there is no need for a evolutionary basis for me to be attracted to girls, nor do I think an absence of one makes it wrong somehow. We don’t always have to borrow from the past.
But I do think pederasty could be very beneficial in modern society especially where young teen boys are concerned. When I was a teen I was involved in social anxiety groups and one thing I noticed was the huge amount of young males who were suffering emotionally and psychologically because they were virgins, many of them were considering suicide and many were becoming alcoholics. The impact this had on their self-esteem and mental health was severe but this is rarely talked about because we’re so obsessed with the dangers of sex that we ignore the pain, humiliation and feelings of rejection many teen boys suffer for being virgins. One could probably look at some of the recent school shootings for a case study into this type of thing.

Dissident

In all honesty, I think a more ideal society would be one where all forms of attraction that results in mutually consensual and respectful liaisons would simply be permitted to be without having to fit into some specific culturally-based expectations or context, e.g., mentorships, marriage, teacher-and-trainee. Let two people of either gender (or inter-sexed, etc.) and any age be together simply because they want to be together and enjoy each others’ romantic company, and let them decide on the context it takes within society themselves, based on whatever works best for them as an individual pairing or party.
I can tell everyone here why I would prefer pairings with pubescent and young adolescent girls if it was allowed:
1) It’s where my attractions naturally lie, plain and simple. I could care less if any given society’s social rules expected me to be equally attracted to “boys and women” (to cite Edmund’s example) for whatever cultural reason; or expected me to be a mentor to boys because I’m an adult male, etc.; and I would encourage everyone else to likewise feel free to go wherever their natural inclinations flow, cultural expectations be damned. [[TOC: “could care less if”?, “couldn’t care less if”? Neither seems quite right. “I would not like it if” seems to get the sense, if not very eloquent.]
2) I enjoy time spent with pubescent/young adolescent girls on all levels, in ways I do not enjoy with older women or males of any age. I only have inclinations to have platonic relationships with older women or males of any age, and again, any given societal expectations otherwise be damned. [TOC: Ah, you did actually mean to say “couldn’t care less” before, except that you obviously care a lot!] I likewise encourage anyone else to go with their individual preferences along these lines. I should not be expected to choose romantic and/or sexual partners of a specific age or gender based on any arbitrary factor, or some specific role I may be expected to play in society due to that factor. That said, I would likely continue to choose to enter such liaisons with younger women who are today considered to be legal adults, since my attractions naturally move into that age group of females too (though I am currently confined to pairing within that age group due to the laws, of course).
In other words… let men with a natural desire and inclination to mentor and romance boys, and not females of any age, do just that; let women with similar inclinations do the same. Let men who desire to mentor and/or romance girls, and not males of any age or females of specific age groups, do just that; let women with similar inclinations do the same. Let adults of either gender who naturally prefer only other adults of either gender do just that. Let youths of either gender or any age gravitate towards peers or adults of either gender based on where their own natural inclinations lie, and in whatever context may work best for them as individuals.
Studying the evolutionary development of each of these preferences and roles is cool and interesting, but in the end it shouldn’t matter overly much to anyone in a truly egalitarian society. The only rule of human sexuality and what roles or pairing contexts we are happiest in seems to be diversity. Individual happiness and comfort should always trump strict societal roles and contextual expectations.

Edmund

“I likewise encourage anyone else to go with their individual preferences along these lines”
So, if for the sake of argument, one were to postulate that gerontophiles are a minority and that most men are attracted to only young or middle-aged females in the same way that you are only attracted to young ones, then by logical extension you would recommend all old men who find themselves in a position to dump their old wives for younger ones to do so. Otherwise, what is the difference? I am not given to citing religious figures, but this reminds me of the one bit of Jesus’s thinking that I think modern society has lost most by forgetting. When asked why their ancestors had allowed divorce while he forbade it, he answered “because they were cruel”. Quite so.
“I could care less if any given society’s social rules expected me to be equally attracted to “boys and women” (to cite Edmund’s example) for whatever cultural reason”
I did not say this. I said “it was expected that most men were capable of attraction to both women and boys,” which is different. I think the ancient Greeks to whom I was referring mostly enjoyed bonding with both without any sense of contradiction or any need to compare the strengths of their attraction to each. I was not suggesting anyone should do the same against their inclination, but I find your (distinctly “weird”) prescription that everyone should define their sexual preference and conduct their entire (not just sexual) lives around it limiting rather than enriching, and not at all “ideal”.
Edmund, author of Alexander’s Choice, a boylove novel, http://www.amazon.com/dp/1481222112

Dissident

Yes, saying “could” instead of “couldn’t” was a typo on my part. Sorry that it distracted from the context of what I tried to say. And yes, I couldn’t care less what society’s expectations are of me based on arbitrary factors, meaning that I care very much about society trying to tell me what I should or should not do because I’m an adult male! I always end up regretting it when I post either minutes before going to bed, or during times my computer is acting up. My apologies.

Edmund

I have been reflecting on how little attention girllover’s point about teenboy sexual frustration gets in relation to its importance.
Tom, you may perhaps remember the following exchange we had about my novel Alexander’s Choice. These were the feelings of my boy protagonist:
“Just the three months until he would be fourteen seemed a depressingly long time to wait, and the idea that another whole year might pass, that he might reach even just his fifteenth birthday without having had any sexual experience filled him with a hopeless despair.”
You commented:
“Even allowing for juvenile impatience, “despair” sounds a bit much, especially for a young man who knows he is good-looking.”
Bolstered by girllover’s observations, I would now respectfully like to convey my disagreement. I am reasonably sure that no more than a minuscule proportion of the early-teen boys, including the best-looking ones, in my large boarding-school had any sexual experience. I can only guess that most of them felt as desperately frustrated about this as I did. Perhaps no woman, and also no man who was lucky enough to find some sexual fulfilment as a pubescent, can quite understand the urgency of the newly-adolescent boy’s longing to be rid of his virginity.
I suppose there are places today where most boys manage to get laid with girls in their earliest teens and they will of course know nothing of “the pain, humiliation and feelings of rejection” girllover describes. These places are and always in recorded history have been a small minority though. It may sound ludicrously radical to say in a modern Anglophonic context, but I would assert that in most of the world innumerable boys would be incomparably happier and more self-confident if pederasty was not merely permitted but encouraged to the extent that almost all pubescent boys could count on being courted by older boys or men, thus assuring them of some opportunity to be introduced to sex if and when they so wished.
I may well be corrected by one of the many who know much more about this than myself, but I venture the suspicion that pubescent girls are far more at ease with celibacy than boys, and that this combined with the determination of feminist society to eradicate different treatment of the sexes has allowed to be obscured the sheer cruelty of a social system which deprives pubescent boys of sex and the fulfilment of the emotional longings that come at puberty with the strongly-felt need for it.
Edmund, http://www.amazon.com/Alexanders-Choice/dp/1481222112

Dale Bach

The age of consent at common law was 10 years old. The marriage age was 12. In my home state of Michigan, that was the state of the law up through 1900. The age of consent in Delaware was once 7. (On the other hand, the age of consent was an astounding 21 in Tennessee at one point.)

Kit Marlowe

Thanks for this most interesting piece, Tom. Coming from a background in the softest of the soft humanities, I’m reluctant to be drawn by arguments from evolutionary determinism which I am, at any rate, patently unqualified to assess. In terms of same-sex relationships in recorded history, however, it seems to me that pederasty has often been fostered above all in precisely those social classes for whom life was least Hobbesian. In classical Athens or Abbasid Baghdad, pederasty was a pastime primarily of the leisured elite who didn’t have to devote all their sexual energies to the coarse and thankless grind of unflagging procreation. In these instances, boylove characteristically found its place amidst music and poetry and wine (even among good Muslims) rather than in fear of conflict and predation. It is possible, of course, to argue that even in these cases there was some sort of ‘male bonding’ or ‘apprenticeship’ going on – induction into Athenian citizenship or into the practice of courtly manners. But this seems like a very low hurdle to jump: any sort of institutionalised interaction between adults and children can potentially be ascribed a pedagogical function. Equally you could argue that these elites inhabited societies built upon violence and injustice – to which my reply would be ‘show me a society that isn’t.’
Of course, there are also counter-examples like the poor old unlovely Spartans, who seem to have regarded educational pederasty in much the same way that old English public schoolboys of my acquaintance did: as just another grueling ritual to endure between cold showers and cold dinners and long cross-country runs in the rain. In some societies pederasty has indeed been a means of enculturating boys into masculine violence and aggression. (And in fairness it must be said that anthropologists who go looking for societies marked by masculine violence and aggression don’t have to go looking very far). But in other cases pederasty has had quite the opposite function: it has been a mark of privilege and leisure and security and surplus resources: the very things we find so WEIRD. The very diversity of the ways in which pederasty has been experienced and institutionalised in recorded history suggests to me that a one-size-fits-all evolutionary hypothesis isn’t likely to prove very satisfactory. If anything interesting is to be said about man-boy relationships, I think we will probably have to begin by viewing specific instances of pederasty as part of particular cultural complexes. And so I once again find myself banging my soft humanities skull against the brick wall of the human sciences.

Just A Guy

Hello Kit.
I hope you don’t mind if I point out that the evolution of life has been proceeding for over 3.3 billion years or so, and that of mammals for perhaps 85 million, and that of our particular ‘branch’ of the simian/mammalian tree for around 8 million years. Humans today are (the experts say) genetically identical to humans of 80 to 120 thousand years ago.
Going back only as far as the Greeks, whose culture began around 5 thousand years _after_ the ‘agricultural evolution’ which lead to ‘civilization’ (= living in cities) seems to be missing the point of the evolutionary academic discussions. Any genetic selection based on presumed survival value would have taken place in human and proto-human societies long long before ‘the gods’ created the Greeks and their culture – which was based on the that of the Indo-European nomadic tribes from the East/South-East who conquered the Greeks and gave them their language and much of their culture a thousand or two thousand years _before_ any of the traces of Greek culture which have been preserved today were created.
In other words, you are not going _nearly_ far enough back to be able to meaningfully discuss the effects that selection would have had on the origins or development of pederasty and pedophilia in small hunter-gatherer proto-human tribal societies – which are where any selection would have taken place. Pardon me for pointing this out.
— Just A Guy

Kit Marlowe

Thanks JAG. I take your point about evolutionary history, and I’m certainly not trying to argue that human sexual behaviour has evolved noticeably over the last few thousand years! I should also point out that I haven’t read Rind’s article, so I’m basing my judgement of it purely on Tom’s precis. However, my issue is with the assumption that modern pederasty “is likely to be occurring far outside the context associated with its design, devoid of mentoring, bonding and group purpose.” If I understand Rind’s argument correctly (and I am not at all confident that I do), he is arguing that premodern pederastic relationships were marked by these characteristics inherited from the ‘deep’ evolutionary past: male bonding, mentorship, preparation to exist in a dangerous world of scarcity and conflict, entrenched gender inequality, etc. etc. It is only in ‘modern’ societies that the pederastic impulse is out of place and potentially dangerous. My contention is that, in fact, observed pedrastic practices in premodern human societies are so diverse and their contexts so different that it would be very difficult to discern any single pattern of such relationships that might have its origins in evolutionary. Maybe our distant ancestors were like the Spartans, but maybe they were like the Athenians. If we assume that pederasty is a behaviour which has evolved from early human history (and I’m not at all sure that I do), why should we draw one analogy rather than another? I do accept, of course, that the Greeks were living in societies in many ways more similar to ours than to those of hunter-gatherers, but is it the case that when we look at surviving or recorded hunter-gatherer societies we find broadly the same pattern of sexual values and behaviours? Did the pre-Islamic nomads of the Arabian peninsula practice same-sex encounters in the same way as the anthropologically-famous ‘semen warriors of Papua New Guinea’? That’s well outside my field of expertise, but I strongly suspect you’ll find pederasty constructed in a range of ways. At any rate, the assumption that pederastic practices evolved to be suited to a particular ecological/evolutionary context, and that all post-Neolithic pederasty is marked with the ineradicable stamp of this terrifying state of nature, does not seem to me to be borne out by the available evidence.
And there is perhaps a bigger problem here: the project of tracing the evolutionary history of human behaviour relies – as I understand it – on such scant evidence that it often looks like an exercise in pure speculation. Trying to write evolutionary history ‘backwards’ inevitably relies on taking one model of observed human behaviour (Spartan or Athenian pederasty, for example), and then trying to read it back onto the remote past. But where human sexual customs are so diverse, can we really do this with any confidence at all? What if our remote ancestors were doing things as many different ways as the Greeks? And if we can’t even decide whether the Yanomamo tribe are bloodthirsty warriors or victims of Western colonialism, how can we expect to pronounce with any confidence on the sex-lives of Anthropithecines? What I’m saying, I suppose, is that I’m more sceptical of behavioural ecology than any scientifically-illiterate classicist has any right to be.
Incidentally – and on much firmer ground – I have grave doubts about the Indo-Europeans, but I’ll leave that gripe until another time.

Just A Guy

The Hydra Monster has many heads. Rind has lopped at least one of them off with his fine article, and for this he should be thanked. To finally defeat the Monster, all of the heads must be destroyed. This is being done, one-by-one. And we can rest assured that eventually – eventually – the Monster will die. Godspeed Rind, and those accompanying him, on their odyssey.

Edmund

I feel that your exceptionally thought-provoking analysis of Professor Rind’s new work is marred by the two ethical assumptions you make for condemning the practise of pederasty as historically envisioned by him. Not only do I think they should be questioned, but I would suggest these assumptions may have led you also to be overly dismissive of the possible usefulness a future society could find in some of the raison d’etre for pederasty that he describes.
“Just as important is the injustice that would inevitably arise as a result of privileging pederasty at the expense of other forms of adult-minor attraction.”
So just supposing it were the case that Rind had made a scientifically unassailable case for assigning pederasty a unique special value in human society, you would ignore it out of fear of privileging it? I say that would be extremely unethical as it would be suppressing on political grounds an important truth with broad ramifications for human happiness. And egalitarianism gone mad is a phenomenon which has actually been at least as inimical as extreme feminism to modern acceptance of adult/child love. Simply giving pederasty its due would not be to disparage any other form of love any more than to admire the works of Michelangelo is to suggest that all other art should be ignored.
Conclusive answers as to the accuracy of Rind’s vision of prehistoric society are hardly necessary for us to understand that the evolutionary benefits of pederasty he presents are real, when they are so accurately reflected in well-documented historical societies such as ancient Sparta. I’m sure you are right that the rather masculine values of bravery, endurance and loyalty that Spartan boys (“listeners”) learned from their lovers (“inspirers”) are not as useful as they once were, though Thermopylai still has resonance today and I would not dismiss their possible future utility altogether. However, classical Greece also affords us examples such as Athens of how exactly the same ethos led to staggering cultural and intellectual rewards for societies as interested in the mind as the body. Would these rewards be meaningless to a future WEIRD society and could it really never get them by privileging pederasty according to its merits at the same time as valuing other kinds of bonding on theirs?
You implicitly accord sacred cow status to gender equality by upholding it without explanation as an ethical objection to Rind’s vision of pederasty. Without going into reasons for questioning this now, I would suggest that what has really been fatal to modern acceptance of pederasty is not gender equality itself, but rather the attack on the homosocial upbringing of older children that has been the historical norm. But is same-sex mentoring really incompatible with gender equality? The example of Sparta strongly suggests otherwise, for there the segregation of the sexes between the ages of seven and thirty was far more extreme than in other Greek states, and yet the status of women was much higher. Can you really be sure that once gender equality is so deeply entrenched that gender differentiation is no longer seen as a threat to it that WEIRD society might not come once more to find value in some kinds of homosocial mentoring? Isn’t it dangerous to assume never, based on the prevalent orthodoxy of hardly more than a single generation? History has not ended.
Edmund, author of Alexander’s Choice, a modern story of passionate pederastic bonding, http://www.amazon.com/Alexanders-Choice/dp/1481222112.

peterloudon

Edmund, the link in your comment lead me to your book. It is appropriately shattering. In case of doubt, that is high praise.

37
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
Scroll to Top