A Positive Model for Intimate Boy - Older Male Relationships

by  Anonymous

Other than a mentor as noted below, neither a boy's parents or other adults, his peers – who are most likely no better informed than himself, nor any formal sex education program, will suffice to adequately and satisfactorily address a boy's desire and need to learn about his sexuality. But a compassionate, older, and well informed male mentor that the boy has voluntarily sought out and with whom he feels completely comfortable; a chosen guide who is free – if encouraged by the boy – to participate in sexual explorations at the boy’s level of interest; such a person is able to make available the information and experiences the boy wants and needs. This paper examines the barriers to such mentoring, and proposes a more positive social environment for such relationships.

The sexual mentoring of boys by older males goes back to the dawn of history (Percy, 1996), and very likely even into prehistoric times. Many other authors in diverse fields (e.g., Bentham, 1785; Constantine & Martinson, 1981; Sandfort, 1987; Schopenhauer,1819; Vanggaard, 1969; Wilson, 1981; etc.) have commented on the affinity between a sexually inquisitive boy and a cooperative older male.

However, many – and perhaps most – authors who hold constructive views on sexually expressed boy - older male relationships have tended to present them negatively in an apologetic, defensive or even angry manner – the present author, unfortunately, not excepted. 

There is, of course, ample justification for being defensive, as can be seen, for example, in the experiences of Rind, Tromovitch, & Bauserman (1998), who found themselves the subject of a "condemnation" by the US congress; and Mirkin (1999), whose university was "punished" $100,000.00 by the Missouri legislature. Nevertheless, such negativity is not productive in the long run; it is more appropriate instead to concentrate on developing concepts and proposals for creating a positive environment for such relationships.

The disparagement of sexually expressed boy - older male relationships goes back to Plato, Augustine, and other erotophobes (Bullough & Bullough, 1977), but the current high level of hysteria has evolved in the last two or three decades. This panic has largely been generated by the works of self-proclaimed victimologist and child sexual abuse hypothesis advocate David Finkelhor (1981, 1984, etc.) and his associates, in spite of there being little – if in fact, any – valid empirical research or credible supporting data behind their assumptions. 

This terror also has been aided and abetted by politics, religion, radical feminism, and media sensationalism (Jenkins, 1988). Today, any such relationship, no matter how obviously beneficial, and regardless of being wanted, or even initiated, by the younger partner, will bring down the wrath of society if discovered. Wilson described 

"A punitive and draconian justice system that directly punishes a paedophile, indirectly scapegoats a boy who has been involved in a sexual relationship with an older man, ... and does so with an impact that severely damages both the man and the boy" (1981, p.133).

One of the principal arguments used to deny boys the rights to the free exercise of their own sexuality is their supposed inability to give "meaningful" consent. It is beyond the scope of this brief paper to go into a protracted discussion of consent and the so-called "age of consent," but suffice it to say that anyone who has objective experience with real boys knows that almost as soon as they can talk, they are capable of assessing any given situation and rendering a decision to consent or not consent to what is being asked or proposed – sometimes quite stridently. Adequate information is essential to any such assessment, but if a boy desires and is not given such information about sexual matters, this withholding is not a valid excuse to deny him his intrinsic rights, but rather a scathing indictment of his family and social environment.

There are obviously many academic, professional, and societal obstacles that must be dealt with before a rational prototype regarding these relationships can be considered for adoption. However, this paper will not argue extensively against the current irrationality, but rather will proceed from the hypothesis that these obstacles eventually can and will be overcome. What follows, then, is what is felt to be a logical and rational model, and the arguments for that model.

Most boys are emotionally attracted to older males as role models and mentors, and many older males are equally attracted to boys as friends and protégés. This is also true in regard to most boys' interest in older males' sexuality as it relates to their own (Vanggaard, 1969), and some older males' sexual attraction to boys (Freund, 1970; cf. Briere Runtz, 1989, Quinsey, 1984, West, 1980, etc.). 

Given these mutual attractions, the Male Sexuality Mentoring (MSM) model proposes that boys should be able to seek out and connect with older boys and/or men for sexual instruction and exploration at their own preferred level of interest whenever they wish, and without fear of recrimination or punishment. 

That a considerable amount of this seeking out and connecting already takes place, albeit almost always in secrecy, is demonstrated by studies such as Rind et. al. (1998). They determined that significant percentages of males in the studies they reviewed, in spite of hysterical phobias and taboos about boyhood sexuality, had as boys experienced non-negative, and thus presumably willing, sexual contacts with older males.

It is not proposed that boys should be encouraged to engage in every kind of sex with any person they encounter – even though there already are many adventuresome boys who do such things in spite of stringent social prohibitions. Instead, they should be encouraged to use common sense, in view of the reality that there are a few older males who would take advantage of them only to satisfy their own lust, and that there are very real potential physical and medical problems of which boys need to be aware. 

But in the MSM model there would be no need for boys to be reticent about either openly participating in their chosen relationships at their own preferred level of interest, or of discussing their experiences with anyone they choose. There would thus be no reason for a boy to become involved in or to continue with a relationship in which he was not comfortable – he could just walk away. 

Since the older partner in an open relationship would be known to all, he could and would be held responsible for appropriate behavior, and if he made any attempt at pressure or coercion, the boy could bring an end to the unwanted liaison by simply revealing the older partner's inappropriate behaviors – social pressure would do the rest. 

Conversely, so long as a boy wanted to continue in a relationship, or if a relationship ended amicably, there should be no repercussions. The choice to seek out and engage in a sexually expressed relationship with an older male must be the boy's, but either partner should be able to terminate the arrangement at any time he feels he has a valid reason to do so.

In the MSM model, since boys would be free to seek out and openly participate in sexual explorations with any person they found to be reasonably acceptable, and the older males who were willing to accommodate these boys could do so without fear of censure or prosecution, such relationships would tend to be with the older teenage boy a few houses down the street, the neighbor in the next block, or a teacher, coach, youth group leader, or similarly familiar older male. 

This would be a much more desirable and safer environment than the public restrooms, seedy neighborhoods, or Internet generated furtive liaisons where some boys now seek out sexual information and experiences. Because of familiarity, mutual respect, and the boy's ability to terminate the relationship if he wishes, the dynamics of relationships in this model would be the antithesis of the Finkelhor victimization model. 

Both boys and their parents would have much less cause for anxiety or apprehension, there would be at least one less barrier to intergenerational communication, the normal psychosexual development of boys could proceed with one less hindrance, and there might well be fewer of the "sexually repressed, alienated, ... and emotionally bankrupt..." young men that Wilson (1981, p.134) described. 

In closing, it must be noted that this discussion is limited to boys' intrinsic sexuality, and should not be mistaken as advocating privileges and activities which require near-adult physical and intellectual development, i.e., flying an airliner, operating a nuclear reactor, etc. But sexuality is not commercial aviation or nuclear science, and does not require anything like near-adult capabilities. 

Boys are born as sexual beings, they have active and intrinsic sexual feelings from birth, and they have an inherent human right to explore and enjoy their sexuality as soon as they feel a desire to do so. To deny them this right is to deny their masculinity, and even their humanity.

References:

Bentham, J. (~1785). Offenses Against One's Self. Unpublished, retrieved 12 June 2008 from: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/eresources/exhibitions/sw25/bentham/index.html

Briere, J. & Runtz, M. (1989). University Males’ Sexual Interest in Children. Child Abuse & Neglect 13.

Bullough, V. & Bullough, B. (1977). Sin, Sickness, and Sanity. New York: New American Library

Constantine, L. & Martinson, F. (1981). Children and Sex, Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

Finkelhor, D. (1981). Sexually victimized children. New York: The Free Press (Original work published 1979)

Finkelhor, D. (1984) Child Sexual Abuse. New York: Free Press.

Freund, K. (1970). The Structure of Erotic Preferences in the Nondeviant Male. Behavior Research and Therapy 8.

Jenkins, P. (1998). Moral Panic, New Haven CT: Yale University Press.

Mirkin, H. (1999).

The Pattern of Sexual Politics Journal of Homosexuality 37 (2) 1-24.

Percy, W. (1996). Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

Quinsey, V. (1984). Men Who Have Sex with Children. In Law and Mental Health (Volume 2), Weisstub, D. (Ed.) New York: Pergamon.

Rind, B., Tromovitch, P., & Bauserman, R. (1998). A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples. Psychological Bulletin 124 (1) 22-53.

Sandfort, T. (1987). Boys on their Contacts with Men. Elmhurst, NY: Global Academic Press

Schopenhauer, A. (1819). Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung [The World as Will and Representation] Supplements to the Fourth Book, Chapter XLIV [Meta-physics of the Love of the Sexes], pp. 560-567. Translated from the German by E. F. J. Payne (1958). Indian Hills, CO: Falcon's Wing Press.

Vanggaard, T. (1969). Phallos. New York: International Universities Press.

West, D. (1980). Treatment in Theory and Practice. In West, D. (Ed.) Sex Offenders in the Criminal Justice System. Cambridge: Institute of Criminology.

Wilson, P. (1981). The Man they Called a Monster. North Melbourne, Australia: Cassell.