Children’s sexuality? No latency. Period.

Sooner or later, of course, the adults intervened, called the police or the park attendants, and asked what in the world we were up to. Most of us were arrested at least once and got used to carrying thick wallets full of documents identifying us as members of a research team. Despite the fact that we were in no way conducting a participant observation study, and were merely attempting to understand children’s sexual thinking, it was very difficult to communicate this distinction to authorities. The experiences were painful, and so we began to train children in handling tape recorders. This worked extremely well…

The perils of scientific research into children’s sexuality are vividly illustrated here in the words of larger-than-life polymath Ernest Borneman, a German crime novelist, filmmaker, anthropologist, jazz musician and critic, psychoanalyst, and communist agitator, best remembered now as a sexologist who dared to study children’s sexuality.

Borneman’s bold radicalism got off to an early start when, as a youth, he found himself in the company of Marxist poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht; even more promisingly, he worked for psychologist Wilhelm Reich, who, as many heretics here will be aware, advocated a childhood start to active sexual life, seeing sexual repression as key to the mass psychology of fascism. Borneman would in later life become a professor at the University of Salzburg, president of both the Austrian and German societies for sexological research, and in 1990 first winner of the prestigious Magnus Hirschfeld Medal for Sexual Science. Not bad for someone who has had his collar felt by the police as a suspected paedo!

I come to all this today thanks to Prue Cordell, guest blogger and erudite commentator here, who gave us some excellent links a couple of months ago to Borneman’s work and that of another scholar of child sexuality, Carlfred Broderick. Realising at the time that Heretic TOC has been heavily preoccupied (with good reason) over the years with the oppression faced by MAPs, and the unscientific nature of most “CSA” research, it occurred to me that far too little attention has been given here to a handful of pioneers who have had the temerity to go looking for actual facts about the sexual lives of children in a WEIRD culture that passionately prefers to assert their asexual “innocence”.

Ernest Borneman in 1991, in the last years of his varied and colourful life. As both a Jew and a member of the German Communist Party, his life was in great peril when the Nazis came to power in 1933. He fled to London by posing as a member of the Hitler Youth on his way to England as an exchange student.

So, today I begin to make amends.  Focusing on Borneman to start with, I suppose it could be said that we are coming into the cinema at the middle of a movie that began more than a century ago with Sigmund Freud’s celebrated (or deplored) “discovery” of child sexuality. His Oedipus Complex, which shockingly but plausibly proposed that the infant child’s first object of interpersonal sexual desire is their own mother, was originally put forward in 1899 in his The Interpretation of Dreams (although the main point was to theorise how infants usually become heterosexual, by identifying with their same sex parent). Not long after, in his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, published in 1905, he elaborated his theory of “polymorphous perverse” infantile sexuality.

We could easily stay with Freud for the whole blog, but this would be to miss the point: Freud’s work was mainly theoretical, whereas our concern will be the search for hard facts capable of supporting or refuting such speculations. It is sufficient, for the moment, to note that Borneman’s mentor, Wilhelm Reich, was a Freudian, as was Borneman himself. The private patient-client world within which Freud and his circle of psychoanalysts worked became known to the world through anonymised case studies and books of theory based on them. These shrinks didn’t get out much. Their little universe was the fusty consulting room with its much-caricatured couch.

Even in Freud’s day this was recognized as a serious limitation, to which the great man himself responded, drawing on published anthropological field studies as a way of broadening and deepening his theories. But a big breakthrough in the 1920s came when original fieldwork undertaken by Bronisław Malinowski in the far-flung Trobriand Islands, off New Guinea, challenged the universality of Freud’s Oedipus complex and gave us much more, especially in the field of children’s sexual expression in less repressive cultures.

Borneman, though, undertaking his research from the 1940s to ’60s, with his books appearing mainly in the ’80s, set himself what was arguably an even harder task than studying the strange customs of “savages” speaking difficult tongues in exotic places. His own “savages” were children in Austria whose culture was familiar, and close at hand, but whose sexual lives were very hard to research on account of the “civilised” taboo against such enquiries.

Most of his published work is still available only in German but his research work was summarized by him with marvellous concision in a paper presented to the 1983 World Congress of Sexology, in Washington DC, subsequently reproduced by SIECUS. This is one of the links Prue gave us (PDF here), from which the quote at the beginning of today’s blog comes. Let’s continue with that, where Borneman is talking a little earlier about how his research got started and how a range of methods came to be deployed:

The next point we were curious about was the orgasmarche (onset of orgasm). We had read of close to a hundred reports of orgasms among infants and preschool children. We found six children under two years and seven under four who seemed to be able to produce bodily states which we would have termed orgasmic had they occurred in a grown-up. Our difficulties began when we told the parents that we wanted to film their children’s masturbation activities and were eager to measure their bodily reactions. It then turned out that even the most “progressive” parents were not willing to let us proceed. This meant that we had reached the limits of what was permissible in physiological research on children’s sexuality at that time. So we began to look for other ways of getting at the truth. We set out on a series of interviews with male and female prisoners sentenced for incest or for intercourse with children.

The prisoners surprised Borneman and his team by being eager talkers, with lots to say about young children’s ability to reach orgasm and enthusiastic participation in sex. All very interesting but, needless to say, questions arose as to whether at least some of this information was entirely reliable! Anti-CSA professionals today would dismiss most of it as wishful thinking based on “cognitive distortions”. Borneman continues:

Since we were unable to prove or disprove these assertions, we turned to secondary material: We asked all child analysts known to us to let us have their notes on children’s dreams, and we copied from the literature of psychoanalysis all published dreams of children, hoping to extract information on children’s sex life from them…

The last stage of our research began in 1960 and consisted of taped conversations with 4,367 children and juveniles. The task we had set ourselves was to devise a system of questioning which would not be recognized as sexological and should therefore give no offense to parents. For this purpose we employed children’s “forbidden” riddles, songs, verses, and games…

Sneaky! Getting answers about sex without asking about it! After many difficulties, this proved to be a rich source of information, with children coming up with different themes depending on their age and stage of development – reflecting, in the researchers’ view, stages outlined by Freud. For instance, the paper notes, “We have recorded an inordinate number of verses about brother-sister incest and a fair number about parental intercourse – all of them appealing to children between ages six and seven… a year or two after Freud’s phallic-Oedipal phase.”

My favourite, though, from the verses cited as examples, presumably came from one of the juveniles:

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jill forgot to take the pill
And now she’s got a daughter.

This research was undertaken in the early 1960s, soon after the first contraceptive pill had been launched. No doubt it was a big topic in the news, but it would have gone over the heads of the younger children.

Turning to the difficulties, the team’s early efforts were a hopeless failure. The first effort was to ask adults what sexual rhymes, etc., they could remember from childhood. This drew a blank apparently because we forget, or repress, our own childhood sexual interests. After that failure, they asked parents what material their own kids knew. Again, no good. Too much embarrassment, probably. Same when going to kindergartens and schools: a wall of suspicion and silence.

Not to be beaten, they finally plucked up courage to turn directly to the children, seeking them out at playgrounds, swimming pools, parks, and on the streets. But even this was not straightforward, quite apart from hassles with the police. Direct questions failed to break the ice. That happened accidentally when they were sitting in a park playing back their disappointing tapes:

The kids gathered around us and wanted to hear what we were playing. They laughed themselves sick. I asked: “Do you know this one?” And one of the boys said: “No, but I know another one, and it goes like this!” We switched to recording and were in business. From that day on we always opened the conversation by playing back old tapes.

Amazing what can be achieved with cunning and patience – skills of the hunter since long before the dawn of mankind, never mind modern science or “predatory paedophiles”!

An even better “catch”, they eventually found, could be hauled aboard by teaching kids how to use their tape recorders, then leaving them to do the recording for themselves. Best of all was to make sure each recording session ended with the question, “Is there anything else you want to tell us?” As Borneman put it:

It turned out that these open-ended sections provided the real dynamite. Although the word “sex” never occurred in our questions, the kids understood the tenor of our research and volunteered more sexual information than we had dared to hope for.

The paper concludes with 14 numbered key findings from Borneman’s 30 years of research in this field. They are interesting but we will not dwell on them. The work is good to the extent that it is presented as carefully assembled experimental evidence designed to test Freudian hypotheses; unfortunately, though, the methods used to do so remain dubiously reliant on the very theory that the research is designed to test. For instance, Freud thought that dreams were of key importance in the study of sexuality, an idea reflected in Borneman’s study of “all published dreams of children”. But it ain’t necessarily so. If a boy has dreams about snakes, it does not have to mean the snake is a phallic symbol; maybe he was bitten by a snake or became fascinated by them on a visit to a zoo. Likewise, all those rhymes and riddles yield relatively little solid information compared to what other work of those years was producing.

Carlfred Broderick: Carl to family and friends; officially Bishop Carlfred within the Mormon Church.

For that we need to turn to Prue Cordell’s other linked scholar, Carlfred Broderick. As with Borneman, the young Carl had been under early influences that lay far from the mainstream sexual culture, having been raised in Utah as a Mormon. Famously, from its origins two centuries ago, Mormonism stood out from other American churches on account of its espousal of polygamy, a highly patriarchal practice. The sternly authoritarian nature of patriarchy in general is reflected in its strong sexual conservatism, which has traditionally set its face against any sex outside marriage, including homosexuality. This could hardly be further from the radicalism of Reich and Borneman.

Nor did Broderick rebel against his upbringing. Quite the contrary: he became a bishop of his church! He had only one wife, but she proved more than adequate for procreative purposes, begetting a large family of four sons and four daughters. One imagines Carl’s experience of children must have been considerable quite apart from his work as a psychologist and family therapist.

Broderick’s personal conservatism need not bother us. As a researcher he was keen to follow the data and not be hidebound by earlier theory. The even more fantastic thing for those of us trying to get to grips with the subject is that his linked paper, like Borneman’s, is concisely informative. Also in common with Borneman, he starts with Freud’s ideas. Thereafter, though, he puts them rigorously to the test by reference to work that places no reliance on dreams or other hard-to-interpret material. Another strength is that he sets out a clear, simple definition of child sexuality that avoids Freud’s dubious notion that all pleasure seeking is somehow sexual, or “libidinal”. Instead, he said behaviour would be judged as sexual if it involved the stimulation of genitals for pleasure, an indication of which would be showing a response “which in an adult would unambiguously indicate a high level of sexual excitement”.

He gives us no new research findings of his own, which might seem a terrible limitation, but nevertheless contributes powerfully by drawing on two main sources: (1) anthropology, including that of Malinowski; (2) the vast and justly celebrated surveys conducted by the biologist Alfred Kinsey and his team that gave us the landmark Kinsey Reports: Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953).

Broderick’s work must obviously be brilliant because he highlights much of the material I drew on myself for Paedophilia: The Radical Case! 🙂 On the anthropological side, in addition to Malinowski’s findings, this included fieldwork reports from a whole range of non-WEIRD “primitive” cultures all around the world, drawn together in Patterns of sexual behavior (1951), by Clellan Ford and Frank Beach.

It gets even better when he turns to Kinsey, because here he gives us a critical comparison with somewhat conflicting findings from an otherwise scandalously neglected survey by Glenn Ramsey. Ramsey gives considerably higher figures than Kinsey for childhood masturbation. Five per cent of the 291 boys in Ramsey’s survey reported masturbation by age five whereas none of Kinsey’s adults remembered such activities at that age. The discrepancy increased each year until 85% of Ramsey’s sample reported this activity by age 13, compared to only 45% of Kinsey’s.

Why the difference? Who was nearer the truth?

Kinsey’s survey methodology is generally regarded among professionals as very good, but a major drawback is that he was asking adults about their own childhood behaviour. Ramsey asked boys directly, giving us good reason to think his data are more reliable. Also, although it is not mentioned by Broderick, Ramsey achieved something unique in the history of childhood sex research. He was allowed into a school to conduct his survey and astonishingly every single boy (and any married ones!) in the seventh and eighth grades (aged 11-14) in a junior high school participated. You literally could not possibly have a more representative sample than this 100% figure. We spoke of dreams: this is a dream result for any researcher.

It isn’t quite a knock-out win for Ramsey, and Broderick does not award the fight to him. But that doesn’t matter. It is a good, clean statistical boxing match that produces robust information from both fighters, and Kinsey’s extensive data on the female side adds much more to the picture. What this work established beyond doubt, as Broderick agrees, is that for both sexes childhood sexuality is a reality, and that Freud’s idea of a “latency period” in middle childhood when children are sexually inactive is a myth.

Alfred Kinsey lectures to a huge audience at Berkeley, California, in 1949. At the height of his fame he was a rock-star sexologist who could fill gigantic football stadiums for his talks, which were considered sensational in an era when sex was otherwise not much talked about publicly.

 

FULFORD FULMINATES

Adrian Fulford was such a nice guy when I knew him, when he was a young barrister and we were working together on the gay rights sub-committee of the National Council for Civil Liberties.

It is hard to think so well of him these days though. Now Sir Adrian, the Rt Hon. Lord Justice Fulford, a Lord Justice of Appeal, is under pressure to shape the working of the legal system in ways that reflect popular opinion rather than principled legal wisdom. Not good! A classic example comes with the recent news that “Courts could punish paedophiles on intent not harm”, based on proposals that have been spearheaded by Sir Adrian both in court and in his capacity as a member of the Sentencing Council. As a BBC report said:

The body overseeing criminal sentences in England and Wales is proposing treating paedophiles who are caught in stings the same as abusers who harm real children. The plan from the Sentencing Council says judges should look at intent, rather than whether a child was harmed… Offenders have sought reduced jail terms if no child came to harm.

It has not gone unnoticed that Sir Adrian, who was the first openly gay High Court judge, has a particular personal interest in distancing himself from any sympathy for MAPs. Wikipedia has this to say about him:

In March 2014, the Mail on Sunday alleged that Fulford had been a supporter of the Pedophile Information Exchange (PIE) in the 1970s. Following this allegation, he stepped down from judging criminal cases and an official investigation by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office took place. The investigation, by Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore, concluded on 18 June 2014 that the allegations against Fulford were “without substance” and he “was not and had never been a supporter of PIE or its aims”. Following his exoneration, Fulford resumed sitting as a judge on the full range of appeals.

 

REICH REVISITED

Wilhelm Reich, who has a cameo role in today’s main blog, is featured prominently in a new book by award-winning novelist and cultural critic Olivia Laing. Clearly a very fashionable writer, her new non-fiction tome appears to have been reviewed everywhere, instantly.

Frustratingly, though, the three reviews I have read, although enthusiastic, all strike me as irritatingly vague, so I have little idea what she is saying or whether the book, Everybody: A Book About Freedom, is worth reading. My instinct, I have to say, is that if the critics like it, I probably won’t. But a review by a heretic here might make an interesting guest blog.

I leave you with the first paragraph of the publisher’s blurb as a taster. Make of it what you will:

The body is a source of pleasure and of pain, at once hopelessly vulnerable and radiant with power. At a moment in which basic rights are once again imperilled, Olivia Laing conducts an ambitious investigation into the body and its discontents, using the life of the renegade psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich to chart a daring course through the long struggle for bodily freedom, from gay rights and sexual liberation to feminism and the civil rights movement.

 

 

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Nada

An optimistic video with Richard Stallman
http://yewtu.be/cnYqRiM4NqQ

Stephen James

>Boden is stunningly articulate and confident in adult company, and not just in a chatty way. He knows how to make a coherent argument, accurately using sophisticated concepts and vocabulary in the process.

Yes, his delivery is a little halting at the moment but that will soon sort itself out. By the time he’s about 12, I’d be terrified to debate him!

Zen Thinker

http://c-fam.org/wp-content/uploads/Digital-Age-Assurance-Tools-and-Childrens-Rights-Online-across-the-Globe.pdf

I care passionately about children’s rights and this UNICEF sponsored report has some interesting findings.

Most controversially perhaps, on pornography it says that the ‘harm’ done to children of exposure to adult pornography is inconclusive and in some cases may even have a positive impact.

On social media it says that the age limit of 13 is a crude attempt to prevent data exploitation and it actually harms children’s creative expression and voice to set these arbitrary age limits.

On the whole, very progressive. Take a look.

Stephen James

>Most controversially perhaps, on pornography it says that the ‘harm’ done to children of exposure to adult pornography is inconclusive and in some cases may even have a positive impact.

This is good. I think that exposure to child pornography can also be good for kids, but we are light-years away from acceptance of that. A more achievable goal is to get people to appreciate the benefits of kids seeing adult pornography, much of which is not ‘demeaning’ but just consists of people engaging in normal sexual activity.

Prue

I still love Larry Constantine’s review of Show Me!, which you quoted in your 1980 Radical Case book, Tom.

The honesty and openness between parent and child, as well as the recognition of child sexuality, remarkable from today’s vantage point, obviously caught your eye as it did mine.

I remember you quoted the line:

“The reviewer’s daughter, who at the age of 6 was able to point out the flaws in the book, said, “It turns me on!”

One of the few parents who didn’t deprive their child of the language / knowledge to express themselves, nor shame them for doing so.

He goes on to say:

“It is regretable that children’s exposure to erotic love is through the distortions and deceptions of adult media. Television, for example, offers a sour brew of sex with violence fermented by adult hangups which demand that TV sex tempt and tease while ever managing a taint of comedy or contempt. It would be nice if kids had access to their own erotic literature-graphic, direct, explicit, natural, sensual, unconflicted. Someday? In the meantime they will have to rely on rare teachers, parents, and other adults who will share their $12.95 copies of Show Me!”

As you say, “it appears the ” light-years away” contracts to just a few decades!”

Nada
Zen Thinker

Yeah actually sounds like they did everything right. Some social conservative idiots criticised them so they did a bit of clever rewording. I’ve always been impressed by UNICEF.

The charity that always gets its positions wrong is the NSPCC.

Joe

How do the group members here communicate with each other ?

Prue

Tom, you didn’t mention Floyd Martinson! Do you have a favorite piece of work by him, a particular line or passage you’re fond of? What’s significant about his work do you think?

Lesser-known book chapter of his people might enjoy, called “The Sex Education of Young Children”
https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4613-3270-1_5

There, we read:

“What sexual capacity, anatomical, physiological, or psychological, does the child possess that could result in sexual interest, behavior, and learning during the earliest years of life? Sexual capacities and their rehearsal are apparent in the infant long before the development of self-consciousness or erotic awakening. Knowledge of such capacity has existed for a very long time. For example, Pouillet reported research that showed the erectal capacity of infant boys almost 100 years ago, noting that all boys exhibited the faculty for erection if the edge of the foreskin of the penis was tickled with a feather (Pouillet, 1883, p. 99).

Parents, particularly mothers, are a major source of the knowledge that boy babies commonly have spontaneous erections under a variety of conditions-a full bladder, during bathing, during sleep (Conn & Kanner, 1947, p. 339). In a study of nine male babies aged 3 to 20 weeks, Halverson (1940) reported tumescence (penile erection) at least once daily in seven of the nine. Individual responses varied from 5 to 40 erections per day. Tumescence was often accompanied by restlessness, fretting, crying, stretching, and stiffly flexing the limbs. Following detumescence, behavior was in the nature of playful activity or relaxation. In many societies genital stimulation has been used to subdue and relax infants. Stimulation is not so readily observed in female babies, but it is known that female babies show a capacity for vaginal lubrication in the first months of life.” (p. 59).

Interesting older evidence for early sexual capacity.

Later he even cites Broderick. Quote:

“Broderick (1966) found communities in the United States in which there were well-estabIished romances going on in kindergarten classes and a great deal of giggIing and gossiping over couples. By 8 and 9 years of age, children played kissing games at their parties. Of the fifth-grade boys in one community, 90% were involved in what Broderick referred to as “special” relationships with girl friends.” (p. 68, citing Broderick, C. B. Sexual development among pre-adolescents. Journal of Social Issues, 1966,22, 6-21).

Also, p. 69: “Homosexual play in childhood includes handling of the genitalia of a person of the same sex. In a smaller number of cases it also involves oral or anal contact and occasionally urethral or vaginal insertions (Broderick, 1966).”

Prue

Haha XD, no worries Tom. Sounds great I look forward to your blogs as always! I hope I’m not distracting you with Peter Tatchell and Martinson from other blog topic you might have planned; don’t want to overload you!

Anyway, I’m glad borneman finally got some recognition. I actually have a copy of his 1 English book. It’s very laden in psychonalatyic theory but one of these days I’ll see if I can pull a good quote and post it here. The main line Vern Bullough took is that “the majority of erotic life resides in fantasy” and therefore the gulf between adults and children is much smaller, Borneman claims, than is usually assumed.

Onyx

Wonderful to see an exposition on “goodguy” sexologists. I’ve recently become acquainted with Wilhelm Reich but I hadn’t heard of Borneman or Broderick. Thanks for drawing together these figures and their contributions so neatly.

What a different world: seeing the picture of “rock-star sexologist” Kinsey filling stadiums in 1949, hearing about interviews with children discussing sexual matters, what a time. It’s sobering to think how nigh impossible it is to repeat any of this research today, or anything even close to it. It seems those in the ivory tower hellbent on discrediting and distorting the truth have to clamp down as tightly as possible in order to keep this information from spreading. Bruce Rind’s treatment at the turn of the millennium, further censoring of sex research, the mob mentality of cancel culture, if anything these suggest to me that they understand the fragility of their positions and are afraid of their dissolution. I wonder what it would take to break open public discourse again on these topics?

It was interesting too to notice how the folks you mentioned built on Freud’s theories and challenged him not on assuming children are too sexual but not sexual enough. Most of the people I talk to in real life shudder at Freud’s suggestion that children are sexual at all. How quickly we forget our own daydreams and longings… no latency period indeed.

Thanks again for all the work you do, it is deeply appreciated.

Prue

[can’t reply to my own comment until it’s published so commenting here!]

Onyx wrote:

“Bruce Rind’s treatment at the turn of the millennium, further censoring of sex research, the mob mentality of cancel culture, if anything these suggest to me that they understand the fragility of their positions and are afraid of their dissolution”.

> You raise an important point. It seems a contradictory situation on the face of it. After all, if scientists, the general public etc, were so sure of their positions, they’d (in theory) have no problem having them tested? Surely, they’d be proven right every time without any hickups? The problem is that 1. they’re not right; and when this is shown it must produce some anxiety, even fear, and people lash out and try to “cancel” the research(ers). And 2. that this position assumes people came to their positions through some rational process of reasoning, logic, even perhaps research. Unfortunately, I’m not sure this is the case, which would explain the hostility to research(ers).

I’m increasingly convinced most people’s “Anti” arguments are veiled rationalizations for their own socio-culturally generated disgust. Feelings which most would assume are transhistorically normative, most likely unaware of the wealth of anthropology / history indicating otherwise, and thus having no impetus to question why X feels a certain way about Y, and whether it’s justified.

At some point we have to recognize lots of people don’t care about “the facts”. This doesn’t mean data etc isn’t important, only that different arguments appeal to different demographics and concerns. If someone is firmly deontological, taking a moral, not empirical stance, “facts” aren’t going to convince them.

Further, that “the facts” are socially and historically constructed. Research methods, after all, are created by humans; humans have to make judgements about what to test, what to include, etc, and interpret their findings through language, usually a given paradigm or framework.

“Facts” are never neutral. When I use “young person” or “intergenerational” instead of “child” and “CSA”, “rape”, “victimization” etc, I could be discussing the same case as a CSA theorist, but our language to interpret the same phenomenon entails a value judgement. This is also, probably, part of why people hated (and hate) Bruce Rind et al’s work: it didn’t adopt victimological terminology.

In other words, we’re going to need philosophy, personal stakes, activism of various (mostly digital) kinds too. Memes help break down people’s defenses. Plant the seed of doubt / critical thought with a joke. Media presence is probably one of the things most in need and most significant in shaping and piercing the veil of public opinion.

Something I’ve been thinking about lately. How to deal with people who don’t care what the facts are? Who don’t care about the reality of children’s lives or how they feel? Who are honest that they care more about their own disgust than whether children are harmed by X or Y?

Prue

Are you Onyx from Boychat? Either way, great to see you here!

“How quickly we forget our own daydreams and longings… no latency period indeed.”

> Indeed! Researching this subject has caused me to reflect on my childhood at various points. Tons of things became way more significant than I had first realized. The fantasies I had! Oh the fantasies! I can vividly remember, when I would’ve been around 10 or 11, chatting to my mates about how I wanted to “fuck” (and I meant intercourse) X or Y. The next year my teacher overheard me chatting w/ some boys about how fit she was, how I wanted to “fuck” her. I’m pretty sure she was horrified and thereafter kept her distance!

Literally a few days ago I remembered that I had a brief romance with a much older woman in this group of adults I used to hang out with. She even gave me a valentines present! It was all very cute and very much “innocent”. (Though I prob had certain desires, I’m not sure if I expressed it). It’s crazy what you remember when you stop to think about it…

It’s mad looking back, given the BS people state about “children”.

Onyx

I am indeed Onyx from BoyChat! Been meaning to comment on one of these essays for a while and finally got around to it.

Glad you found some treasures in the stuffy chest of memories! In the confused rancor around “recovered” trauma, it’s pretty astounding what genuine self-reflection can turn up.

Your treatment of our contradictory situation is unfortunately on the nose. I haven’t the foggiest how to deal with the rampant anti-intellectualism on one hand and the misguided superstitions of science on the other. I think they’re related: if the expertise of the ivory tower were better distributed among masses of people, I’d wager there would be less wholesale rejection of real scientific work, and at the same time people might cling less tightly to their pet theories, if they did not rely so much on them for sustenance.

Someone said there are ages of spectacle and ages of reason, and while we think we’re in the Forum we’re actually in the Circus. American Rome replacing Renaissance Greece (or however you want to spin the metaphor). I agree that in this context we need to do more than play on the medical establishment’s terms: we need a counter-culture that rejects hegemony in any form, a space within which our stories can unfurl and be heard.

If I were any more tech savvy I’d have started a regular meme-factory already! And if there’s anything to learn from the “MAP” community, especially the younger folks online, it’s that they’ve already mastered the art: they have the flags, the pins, the buttons, the emoticons, the soundbite talking points, and almost-but-not-quite the slogans. Impressive really, for a group that’s by-and-large sold on the sex-negativity of the psychologists who came up with the term “MAP” in the first place.

sugarboy

>It was interesting too to notice how the folks you mentioned built on Freud’s theories and challenged him not on assuming children are too sexual but not sexual enough.

Actually, John Money once complained that there are no sexual centers and clinics for children. I don’t remember exactly where I read this – maybe in an interview in Paidika (the academical magazine that Peter Tatchell despises).

Prue

“a leading expert in this area” – would be nice if mainstream news articles would acknowledge that! After all, if they’re writing about intergen issues, most journalists are hardly going to have first hand experience, or at least, if they do have any, it’ll vary wildly from person to person, as it does in research. So it was great of them to ask you, and in Qatar no less! I have no idea how they’d have found your email tbh?

I love the idea of Warren, the ped / pro-kinder, coming away thinking the person interviewing him is “a complete lunatic”, not the other way around! Was Warren the guy briefly spoken to in a field? He wore a suit, was very well-spoken with a classicly old-fashioned, RP British accent, and had a big beard at the time? Am I thinking of the right person from the show?

If I’m right about who you mean, and maybe I’m not, there’s an amazing line where they cut right after he gets barraged with ridiculous insults and responds: “it’s just another form of racism”! I mean it’s supposed to be parody but damn it’s not difficult to make connections between the treatment of the Jews with pro-kinders, they have both certainly been (or are) in Catch-22, pathological situations if nothing else!

I don’t think you should feel guilty. It sounds like you had a good laugh! After all, both you and Warren made part of history that day. And, luckily, it doesn’t seem Warren suffered much as a result of his supporting pro-kind, at least from what I can gather [from the spotlight on abuse site which asserts to know his real name]. I doubt the wider public realize how much the culture around them has been shaped by your ideas, Tom, and projects you’ve done, your book and your activism, the people you’ve met [not naming names], and of course, in a less fortunate direction, the fears whipped up around [unrepresentative caricatures of] people like yourself.

I think humour is really good for breaking people’s defenses down. It’s how the alt-right have been so effective, proliferating memes on anonymous chat boards and then softer, “SJW cringe compilations” for the wider public; smuggling in the idea that the left are crazy (which is true in some ways). In fact, I saw a FAB talk related to both pro-kind and SJWs, by Prof. Jonathan Haidt, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3b3Ob4CK4Xs . He claims that the lack of risk children are able to engage in nowadays, not being allowed out until much older than previous generations, has shaped their psychology so that there’s a tendency to overestimate the risk of X or Y – which of course he likens to fears around speakers being invited to university campuses. It’s an interesting hypothesis and fits well with my own life (I was allowed out from a very young age, had both peer aged and adult friends to hang out with, and was basically always outside until 14 or 15, something like that). Might be worth checking out his writing; see if the evidence is thin or not.

Prue

The book Warren edited, Betrayal of Youth, is a fascinating read. Unfortunately much of it seems lost to obscurity atm (I am surprised IPCE don’t have it in their “books reborn” section, though I appreciate that must’ve taken an insane amount of work already!) I’m annoyed I’m not still at university because I would have the library staff get in on loan for me! Either way, from what I’ve been able to find, I really like Roger Moody’s contribution; “how to make paedophilia acceptable”. Warren’s Q and A is enlightening, and your interview with Tuppy Owens was interesting. Seems the authorities haven’t came up with a reason to arrest her yet; hopefully she’ll escape unscathed!

I’ve read the suggestion that Paedophiles should’ve immediately wagon-hitched onto the feminist movement, appropriated feminist rhetoric etc. In hindsight such a suggestion seems an uncanny foresight about the split that would open up where feminism w/ Diana Russell, Florence Rush, etc focused on the incest model, and the forces of pro-kind focused around boys outside of incestuous situations, in effect talking past each another. Obviously it didn’t help that the “Anti” side made sweeping generalizations about all experiences based on father daughter incest typically inside the home. Given how much the spirit of gay-lib seemed to die out and various “feminisms” came to ascendancy, feminist rhetoric and wagon-hitching / coalition building sounds like an idea that could’ve made a significant difference, but might’ve been nyon impossible in the circumstances? What do you think, looking back I suppose? Was it a realistic possibility in 1986, the year Betrayal of Youth was published?

Oh dear I just stumbled across the most ridiculous Peter Tatchell Q and A, responding to controversy whipped up around him and his alleged “support of paedophilia”, whatever that means…
https://www.petertatchellfoundation.org/what-peter-tatchell-really-said-about-child-sex-abuse/

He even denounces Paidika whilst admitting he’s never even read it! “I deplore and condemn Paidika and what it stands for. I have never read Paidika”!

Stephen James

Peter Tatchell has been sympathetic to us, as his piece in The Betrayal of Youth indicates. More recently he has distanced himself. I guess he wants to avoid being ‘cancelled’.

Stephen James

Since you ask, no, it shouldn’t have been.

Stephen James

Not at all. BTW, my words “I guess he wants to avoid being ‘cancelled'” may have sounded exculpatory to you. They weren’t meant to be. I think it’s an example of how saying something online doesn’t always convey the exact tone of one’s remarks!

Stephen James

I have just read Peter Tatchell’s Q&A linked to by Prue and thought I would give some reactions.
Overall, his statements about paedophilia come across as a robotic repetition of the orthodox line. In fact, there is almost a sense of ‘protesting too much’.
Here is the part which strikes me as perhaps the most dishonest:
Q. Do you stand by your statement that “it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful”, particularly given that the statement occurs at the end of a piece discussing adults having sex with children and not children having sex with others of their same age group?
A. Some adults say that when they were children they had sex with adults and that the sex was not unwanted, abusive or harmful. They say that, not me. I merely repeated their view. I accept that this is their sincerely held view as mature, responsible, ethical adults. But I do not agree with them. Their view is not my view. I disagree with it, which is why my letter said that paedophilia is “impossible” to condone. This means I do not condone it. I condemn it. Children cannot give valid consent to sex. It is abuse and is rightly illegal.
There is no way that Tatchell’s original words could bear the interpretation he now claims for them. In those words, he described the claim that not all sex involving children is unwanted as a ‘truth’. This means that he actually endorses that claim (or at least did at the time), not merely that he was reporting other people’s views.
If he had merely said that he had changed his mind about the matter, that wouldn’t be so bad. But he brazenly tries to tell us that his current view is what he thought all along, which is extraordinarily disingenuous.
It is not pleasant to receive death threats and perhaps the courage of the man who was beaten up for trying to make a citizen’s arrest of Robert Mugabe is now failing him. No doubt he has also been receiving a lot of pressure from fellow-activists to distance himself from his earlier views. He has now done so to the extent of making claims which he knows to be absurd.
I hope Tom’s ‘rocket up Peter’s fundament’ comes sooner rather than later!

sugarboy

I have more respect for those who have always been antis than for those who do a U-turn as soon as times change. Opportunists before, opportunists later.

Prue

Bindel claims that “The Sambia boys are, in fact, emotionally, physically and sexually tortured into manhood (they are made to fellate older men and drink their semen).”

The source she cites is wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambia_Sexual_Culture#CITEREFGiles2004 which does not use the word “tortured”. At best is one critical reviewer who:

“criticized Herdt for providing little “commentary on the matter of elders taking sexual advantage of children”, noting that the issue was “a topic of considerable immediacy in contemporary America.”

This is 1) unecessary; Herdt did not have to do this, he is discussing Sambia, not America; and 2) not the same as saying X were tortured or forced to do X…

As for Bindel. Hmmm it sounds like we have someone who think their views are more important than the children’s

Prue

Children cannot give valid consent to sex” is a great way of giving a subtle nod to the fact that many do give consent; only that you (Tatchell), think it acceptable to invalidate their consent. Damn someone should interview people who had their consent renderred invalid, discuss how it made them feel and then test them for psychological maladjustment w/ that as a variable.

[I also doubt Tatchell really believes most of what he’s saying here tbf]

Zen Thinker

Freud’s works of course are of the highest cultural interest and intellectual standard, even if I prefer his former associate Carl Jung. As for Reich, I have heard of him extensively but not as yet read any of his books. From what I do know, Reich’s philosophy of the body highly influenced the sexual revolution, although I highly question the underlying assumption that one needs a hedonism / philosophy of the body in order to understand the beauty of the human form, in adults or children; or even that an exclusively hedonistic philosophy is the best ally to a MAP orientation. From my personal experience, I place a low value on sex and sexuality, and my approach to the beauty of children is much more aesthetics than sex. When we see beauty in the human form, this should bring out our best creative and artistic qualities, and I don’t think human beauty can ever be reduced to a sexual issue. As for the undeniable reality of children’s sexuality, it is good to deal with that in the real world carefully and circumspectly, at least as far as global laws on the child currently go. But hedonism as envisaged by Reich can only get us so far, and when I see for example the transcendent beauty of a young girl, I am led much more to pay her discreet reverence and respect than to be thinking in hedonistic terms. Because I think the gay movement was not about bodily pleasure at all but instead almost a spiritual identity, a core part of one’s being which was being systematically denied by severe legal penalty and associated taboo, hatred and shame. In a similar way, then, MAP related concerns should not focus on bodily pleasure at all but on the core inner identity of the individual, his right to openness given this is an open society and not a police state, and the concerted effort of the elites for the removal of shame and taboo from a MAP identity, which has fed so much hatred and misunderstanding.

Stephen James

>In a similar way, then, MAP related concerns should not focus on bodily pleasure at all but on the core inner identity of the individual …

The trouble is, it’s the sex that’s the controversial part. Few people would object to a relationship between an adult and a young person if they could be absolutely certain that it was totally platonic. Indeed such relationships are often celebrated in books and films. So while it is true that MAP relationships are not just about sex it would be disingenuous of us to downplay that side of them.

Zen Thinker

In my opinion, there is an infinite range of subtlety between outright sexual activity, which is indeed incredibly controversial (and probably not helpful to the cause to keep emphasising this), and a range of other behaviours engaging with the gamut of friendship, sexual politics, etc. Do you really think it would be socially acceptable for me to befriend a young girl, for example? Absolutely not. Yet in continually emphasising outright sex, one sets the bar so high it is likely to be continually rejected as an “outrageous” demand.

Imagine a scenario where I meet a couple of young girls at a park, for example. Would we be able to engage each other in conversation, even friendly and innocent conversation? No, I would be castigated and socially demonised as a weirdo or paedophile by every single onlooker. Surely you can see the impossibility at the moment of even basic social relations? So how does it help to keep banging the drum of direct sex? It only fuels hatred, suspicion, and animosity.

Say I really wanted a platonic friendship with a couple of young girls I met in a park. Or even throw in a bit of polite sexual politics. But such a thing is socially frowned upon to a very high degree. This is what must change first, surely. To avoid the “paedophile menace” mentality that infects every road and street in the country. Of course, people will suspect your motives are sexual assault or something similar.

When I am in an environment where young girls are present, be it a park, a town square, or even ffs a supermarket, I am completely frozen and try to avoid looking in their direction as much as possible. It really affects me psychologically, due to the incredible stigma: I worry that the slightest glance might suggest to onlookers that I have a prurient interest. I am made paralysed and paranoid, and the experience is incredibly painful.

Surely therefore the first step is to destigmatise relations between the young and adults, because currently that is impossible. And in my opinion, with every rallying cry of “direct sex with children” you drive another nail into the coffin, because of the contentious, taboo nature of the demand. To have real social relations with children in normal everyday settings, even going as far as visiting a restaurant with a child who isn’t a family relation, are all impossible things at present. There is an infinite range of normal behaviours which are at present completely shut off by intense social stigma.

I don’t know how to resolve this situation, but it is just an idea that there are a lot of “softer” goals to bridge before going for a societally extreme position, and what must change fundamentally is attitudes, values and perceptions.

Stephen James

>Do you really think it would be socially acceptable for me to befriend a young girl, for example? Absolutely not.

No, you’re right. I wasn’t saying that. I said that if people could be absolutely certain it was totally platonic (I guess in desire, as well as action) then there would be no problem. It is because they would not be absolutely certain of this, given current social conditions, that you cannot engage in such a friendship. There are two possible solutions to this. Your solution is to downplay the erotic aspect and try to convince people that there are no sexual aims in such cases. But even when it is true, this will not usually work. People will not be convinced. It only takes a few cases of adults who do try it on with kids in that way (and of course there are plenty of them, whatever you or I may say) to convince them that they cannot take the risk. We are therefore left with the other possible solution. This is to tackle the problem directly. You persuade people that even if sex does happen that’s not necessarily a terrible thing. Now you may reply that people will not be convinced of that either. Well, it is indeed a tough sell and I’m not expecting any success soon. But it does at least have the merit of being honest, which the ‘We’re not actually interested in having sex with them’ is not (that is to say, not as regards MAPs as a whole, even a majority of them).

Actually, a guest piece I wrote for this blog, which you might not have read, is highly relevant to this issue: https://heretictoc.com/2019/03/18/why-virtuous-pedophiles-will-fail/

>… in my opinion, with every rallying cry of “direct sex with children” you drive another nail into the coffin, because of the contentious, taboo nature of the demand.

You seem want to portray me as particularly militant. I don’t see myself that way. Nor, I think, does Tom. (The days of PIE are long gone.) We’re not into ‘rallying cries’ and ‘demands’. There are more subtle ways of approaching these things.
 
>When I am in an environment where young girls are present, be it a park, a town square, or even ffs a supermarket, I am completely frozen and try to avoid looking in their direction as much as possible. It really affects me psychologically, due to the incredible stigma: I worry that the slightest glance might suggest to onlookers that I have a prurient interest. I am made paralysed and paranoid, and the experience is incredibly painful.

That’s  terrible. The situation is not as bad as that. It is OK to exchange a few words with kids if you can do it in a natural way (e.g. about something of interest nearby), though I agree you probably shouldn’t get into a lengthy conversation. But I can see that you have in effect developed a phobia about such things and I can understand why that would happen. I think you need a sympathetic person to talk to. Unfortunately, it is generally too risky to seek the help of professional counsellors, as you cannot be sure that they will maintain confidentiality. Do you know about B4U-ACT? They might have suggestions. I hope you do not think it too direct of me to mention this. I just think you’re missing out on what are really quite ‘innocent’ pleasures and you don’t have to.  
 

Zen Thinker

No my friend, it was an impersonal “you”, I wasn’t singling out you directly! Yes, as a virgin myself, and someone for whom sex is not particularly high on the priority list (beside the power of fantasy and the imagination), I for one am not particularly keen for any sexual encounter. Platonic friendships with beautiful members of the opposite sex (of any age!) are something that I would greatly enjoy though. As I mentioned, I have psychological problems, including paranoias and phobias among other things. Indeed, I have friends, but I also greatly value my solitude. Meeting kids is such a painful experience for me because my paranoid mind turns it into a gruelling and nightmare experience (I can get anxiety with just about anyone in person, but minors especially trigger this). Also, I said that I prefer fantasy and the imagination, and this is broadly true for me, as far as my sexual expression goes. All the fleeting moments and brief encounters with young girls in everyday life I treasure in my solitary time, and it does spark my imagination and creativity. Yet for me any social interaction with them seems impossible, but I am happy with that because there doesn’t seem to be any other option at the moment. I certainly agree with you on ‘innocent pleasures’ and for this I broadly use Instagram, having a daily scroll through some beautiful young girls’ accounts. I am an observer and I see kids are getting more autonomous and societally active. But for me, I am happy to spend a lot of time in private solitude where I live a quiet and studious life.

Stephen James

That does reassure me a little!

Prue

Ah, I recognize that first quote – it’s Borneman baby! Ahhh (*screeching teen fangirl noises*) I feel so honoured my comment had an impact. I’ll have to comment more often! I have a bad habit of not commenting or responding when I assume something to be so obvious I don’t, or shouldn’t, need to point it out. Got to push past that.

Haven’t fully read the blog yet but I’ve got a recommendation and a suggestion.

First, a new published case for heretics to add to their collections. Jonathan Dollimore, a very down-to-earth, working-class origin British gay scholar, has recently released a 2nd edition of his autobiography Desire: A Memoir. The first edition came out in 2017, with literally the first 5 pages recalling a sexual relationship from ages 14-15 with Tony, an adult family friend who was having sex with both him and his mother around the same time.

Straight away he writes:

“Tony was an interesting man, ex-RAF, nomadic, far more knowledgeable than any other adult I’d encountered, including all of my school teachers, and also seemingly genuinely interested in teaching me things – as well as having sex with me. It was under his influence that I started to read thoughtfully for the first time. He introduced me to writers like Kipling, Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, Thomas Hardy and T. S. Eliot.

The cultural influence that Tony exerted on me would now be construed as ‘grooming’; and maybe it was, but it was also what made me want to learn to write. I did experience it as a desire, perhaps because it was so closely related to my sexual encounters with him, which weren’t demanding or complicated, and mainly consisted in him sympathetically helping me to orgasm. I liked that well enough to sometimes lie awake at night when he was staying with us, hoping he might come to my room to do it again.”

A few sentences later Dollimore declares:

“I didn’t feel personally betrayed by Tony’s attempted seduction of my mother; nor have I ever felt damaged by the sex he and I had together. Of course, I realized that, at the very least, he was betraying my parents’s trust in having sex with me, but, at the same time, that, too, was attractive to this adolescent.” (pp. 1-2, 2017, 1st edn).

Now, Dollimore has come out with a 2020 2nd edition, endorsed by none other than Edmund White(!) who, as heretics may recall, spoke positively of his own intergen experience, as outlined in Bruce Rind’s 2013 Appendix to his main piece in Censoring Sex Research (https://archive.org/details/censoringsexresearch/mode/2up). In this edition Dollimore thinks back further into his youngest years so we get a few prepubertal experiences too!

The section seems much more compact and short, but nevertheless ends with a nice little quote:

“I am still unsure whether Freudians are right in their insistence on the sexuality of the child, but I do know that the assumed innocence of the child is usually in the eye of the adult beholder” (p. 5, 2020).

You can find it on google books and the 2017 version on libgen, making for interesting comparison.

My suggestion is that this blog seems a good opportunity to share and discuss research on what the public actually hears when they hear “child” in “child sexual abuse” – not 17 year olds! XD

I was going to ask Tom privately in an email but I’m wondering if anyone knows of research (other than Priscilla Alderson, though sure discuss her too), which specifically addresses children’s cognitive abilities. Is it just adult projection that children “can’t” / “don’t” / “won’t” understand either a.) sex as an activity – what to do, b.) how wider society perceives their participation in sex, such as the social stigma and fears their parents may face in a climate hostile to child / intergen sexuality? As opposed to the value judgement [I suspect most likely] hiding behind such statement: “I think they shouldn’t know / am disgusted that they do / could know”?

At the risk of being a provocative teiliophile, I’d also be interested to know, though I provisionally take the same stance as Tom that penetration under 12 is “always inappropriate” (in his words), whether there’s any research, perhaps from pediatricians, which demonstrates the harmfulness of such activity, in what context, etc. Although I would suggest such activity could be held as wrong because it is unlikely a person under 12 would want an adult to penetrate them, and thus would often violate a child’s wishes and truly be rape as in imposing oneself, reports I have read (e.g. Yates, Children eroticized by incest, https://doi.org/10.1176/ajp.139.4.482) do not seem to suggest harm inherent in the activity. Would be interested to see whether claims of inherent harm are more bunk that they usually are!
I should mention that I don’t for one second assume that people who make generalized claims like this are good faith actors. The most good-faith actor I’ve seen is Danny Whittaker in his youtube interview with Tom who dared to openly admit, at around 3hrs in, that he didn’t actually care whether it’s harmful or not, he doesn’t care what the facts are, and that he was wrong to think he cared about Freedom of Speech. I appreciate his honesty and just wish CSA researchers would do the same https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8SBM-yXULc

Alright, enough for one comment! XD

Prue

Gonna add here quick that there’s a nice summary of studies on pre-pubertal development cited by Tom in his 2018 childhood innocence paper, “Sexual Development of Prepubertal Children” by Graaf and Rademakers. However, it should be noted, “Only studies carried out since 1985 in a Western society are included.” (p. 3).

Going further back it’s interesting to note descriptive studies by Harry Bakwin.
These are:

1 – Bakwin, Masturbation in Infants, Journal of Pediatrics (1952).
2 – Bakwin, Erotic Feelings in Children, Indian Journal of Pediatrics (1971)
3 – Bakwin, Erotic Feelings in Infants and Young Children (1973)

Some things you can throw at people if they deny children’s sexual capacity.

I’ve just started reading what seems to be a really promising and quite bold chapter(s), principally by Sharon Lamb. The first is “Are Children Sexual?https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108116121.002 ; the second, perhaps more important if we find ourselves dealing with people who don’t care what the facts are, is a chapter criticizing “innocence”, called “Not Innocent: But Vulnerablehttps://doi.org/10.1017/9781108116121.005 . They both appear in 2018’s The Cambridge Handbook of Sexual Development. In case people haven’t seen it, our very own Tom O’Carroll has critically reviewed this work, see here: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-019-09677-5 (free advertisement for you Tom!)

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