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Chapter 4: Paedophilia in Action
Having despatched some of the cruder myths about 'molesters' and 'victims', it should now be possible to consider some actual paedophile relationships without their further intrusion. I should explain that I feel on much stronger ground in describing and selecting anecdotes relating to those between men and boys than others.
Nearly all of my paedophilic friends are boy lovers, and although I myself have a strong sexual attraction to little girls, as well as boys, the practice of heterosexual paedophiles is not a field in which I can claim more expert knowledge than non-paedophilic writers on the subject.
The distinction is in fact of considerable importance in our culture: sex-role stereotyping is such that, even by the age of eight or nine, many girls have already taken on board the idea that their role in life is to please men, and the validity of any consent they may give is by the same token more questionable than that of boys, who are under no such compunction; in fact, their conditioning against being 'sissy' or 'poof' or 'queer' is so strong that it might be thought amazing that any of them become voluntarily involved. Yet they do, and this argues strongly in favour of paedophilic relationships having a powerful pull for them.
In the last chapter various 'victim' studies were mentioned. In this one I would like to introduce a different approach. Dr Frits Bernard, a Dutch psychologist who has written many papers and books on paedophilia, took the obvious, but surprisingly unexplored, step of investigating the stories of adults who had themselves been the younger partner in a paedophile relationship when they themselves were children.
His paper describing the results of his work was presented at the British Psychological Society's ill-fated Conference on Love and Attraction at Swansea in 1977. A great deal of press attention was devoted to that conference, partly on account of my own ejection from it (see Chapter 12). All the papers on paedophilia and child sexuality including that of Dr Bernard were presented in secret session, the adult public apparently being deemed not mature enough to cope with the truth about the sex life of its own children.
However, I can now, as they say, 'reveal all'. And I believe the results justify the word 'revelation'. Dr Bernard's subjects, aged between twenty-two and seventy, were from all strata of the population of Holland; they had different social levels and professions and came from a number of the country's provinces. Each subject, in addition to completing standard personality tests, which had still to he subjected to statistical analysis at the time of writing (the project is continuing), were asked to write their life story, with particular reference to the part played by sex with an adult. Extracts from ten such biographies have been published, 1 most of them said to be characteristic of a wider group of subjects. The following is the story of a twenty-three-year-old man, now heterosexual, and his account is said by Dr Bernard to represent a widely held view among other subjects:
'I was about thirteen when I first had anything to do with paedophilia. I had never heard the word or even of homosexuality because my sexual education, as far as my parents were concerned, was very neglected. The man who brought me into touch with homosexuality and whom I even loved physically was, and still is, one of my dearest friends. I remember vaguely how he satisfied me for the first time and what a wonderful feeling it was. I was not bothered in the least by the idea of doing anything wrong; probably because I had no idea what actually happened. A few months later he tried to explain things but it was still a year later after that before I understood properly.
'On the whole, I thought that the situation was a bit sad for him for he wouldn't be able to keep me as an intimate friend so, on second thoughts and perhaps a bit emotionally, I made it as much fun for him as possible. I never had the feeling that I was spoiling myself, and that never happened. I don't think it is really possible in this case.
'The only time I received a setback was when I told my fiancι what had happened then. For that matter, I have a fantastic relationship with her. We have very good sexual relations and there is no question of problems on my side.
'My opinion, in general terms, is as follows: Homosexuality must be exempt from the law and legally allowed, although I don't think it should be regarded as a new form of sexual indulgence as do some people. To me it remains a loving relationship between two people who need something else beyond sex. Otherwise one is in for an enormous moral headache (even in normal relationships). Paedophilia I find a more difficult question. I allow everyone love and happiness in all respects but I cannot approve of this. I experienced no trouble myself, but not all become acquainted with it in such an understanding manner.'
To me, what this particular story most clearly illustrates is the remarkable tendency people have to find things acceptable in particular which they reject in general. For here is a man who can find nothing to object to in the particular paedophilic relationship he has experienced; nevertheless, probably because at the back of his mind he feels there must be something wrong with paedophilia if only because society makes so much fuss about it, he has no hesitation in condemning the relationships of others, about which, so far as we can tell, he has no knowledge. It reminds me of the numerous acquaintances of mine who are inclined to say to me, 'We know you are all right, Tom. You wouldn't exploit kids. But what about those who are less scrupulous?' Strange, isn't it, how the people one knows are always the goodies, and those one does not know are always the baddies?
The next account was written by a man of twenty-five, whose relationship with an adult started at a much earlier age:
'When I was about eight years old I got to know a man in the street who thought that I played very nicely. He invited me out for a bicycle ride (on his luggage frame) and, later on, to visit his home. Although my parents had warned me not to do it, I just could not see the problem that they were talking about. I could not imagine that this gentleman could harm me. I got to know him really well at our first meeting at his house.
We became friends and I was allowed to call him by his first name. So, gradually, we got to know each other even better and I came to realise that he was homosexual, which certainly didn't hit me like a bombshell but it was something that I wanted to know more about. He told me about sexuality, and other subjects such as bisexuality and heterosexuality came into the discussion, which were quite beyond my parents (for which I never blamed them).
The bond between us and our friendship became even stronger. From him I received love, which actually I had never known (that is not the way things are at present with my wife). But our friendship was, and still is, one that I could imagine with no one else.
Later, when I was ten or eleven, we had sex with each other; something I always enjoyed. That lasted until I was eighteen, when I went steady with a girl. When I was engaged, I was able to tell my future wife with an easy mind about my youth. I myself was sufficiently prepared and conveyed this to her. She could appreciate the whole thing very well. We were very sure of each other and were married in 1968 and have, at the moment, an especially good marriage, an especially fine sexual relationship and an especially dear little daughter of ten months.'
The above case speaks entirely for itself. Now let's turn to a female subject, a woman now in middle age:
'Perhaps you cannot imagine this but, when I was twelve, I was very much in love with a man of fifty and he with me. I don't know who made the first move now but we stroked each other and experienced sexuality together. It relaxed me wonderfully.
'One day my parents found out and the police were called in. The examination was terrible; I denied and denied again. Then I gave in. My older friend was arrested. My parents, after my forced confession, made out a formal complaint. Nothing then could be of help any more. I have never been able to forget this. It wasn't fair. It could have been such a beautiful memory. I am now married and have four children. I would not object to their having sexual contacts with adults. I regard it as positive.'
Dr Bernard's comments at this point are worth noting.
'All the children from this material experienced sex with adults as positive (nice, fine, important). Only a single subject had a negative attitude to his youthful experiences (" . . . in my eyes, it was not a normal situation"). Basically, all the subjects sought affection, love and security, and not sex alone. Some defend paedophile relationships as such.
'Actually, there appeared to be no talk of traumatic influences; rather, the opposite was true. It is not the actions themselves, which are usually in the form of caressing or masturbation, that lead to conflicts and problems, but the attitude of society.
'Nowhere do they talk about fear of the adults' intentions, which is remarkable. In this setting the word does not come into the texts, even in a veiled form. Obviously, the paedophile's approach is well suited to the situation and he knows how to win a child's confidence. It strikes one how basically similar to each other these descriptions are; they are one by one so human and imaginable.'
One of Bernard's reports, which made its first appearance in the journal of the Netherlands League for Sexual Reform, does read significantly differently though: not because it is less human and imaginable, but because it is more sexually specific, almost to the point of reading like erotic fiction. As such, some readers may doubt its authenticity, but I would ask them to bear in mind that everything which is said is quite consistent with the more prosaic, and therefore perhaps more credible, reports given by Bernard. This too, is an account by a woman:
'I had an experience with an adult man when I was hardly twelve years old but the circumstances were not such that I look back on them with horror. On the contrary, I have very fine memories of the first, though rather bizarre, acquaintance with sex, and what happened eight years ago has had no bad consequences. I have no trauma about it and have become neither oversexed nor frigid. All that happened was that I learned, at a very early age, how a man and girl can satisfy each other, and obtained practical sexual instruction by means of which I did not have to learn from a book what a naked man looks like, how he gets an erection, ejaculation, masturbation, and so on.
'In the circumstances that surrounded my case there was no question of rape. He was a darling, and as we say, "opportunity made the thief" and I instinctively made use of my art of seduction (although, naturally, I did not understand this until afterwards) which is decidedly a challenging attitude demonstrated by us women at an early age, especially when at that age, you spot that a man looks at you as though you were no longer a child.
'And that Uncle Herman did. He was in his early forties (though I couldn't say exactly) and not really an uncle but "my little brother" and I called him that because he often came to our house. Uncle Herman worked on the railway like my father and was terribly active, he did everything, played in a brass band, bred show pigeons and had an allotment garden in which we children could come to play or to help on free afternoons and in the holidays.
'Sometimes he had fits of being playful, or when he wanted to kiss me he liked to pull my pigtails or tickle me in the ribs or give me a big cuddle. Once I saw him looking down my blouse as I was stooping to pick strawberries, and that is quite a discovery for a rather slim lass of that age, especially when you, as I was then, are terribly proud of the little breasts already beginning to form.
'I well remember that I went red but carried on as if I hadn't noticed, but felt like undoing my blouse to let Uncle Herman see even better that I was a growing girl. First I didn't dare, but later about midday when we were hoeing I said that the heat was stifling (it was a very hot day) and, very bravely, took off my blouse so as to be just like Uncle Herman and looked very sportsmanlike showing my naked torso. I was, of course, too young for a bra.
'The way he looked at me standing there in my jeans! But, funnily enough, I wasn't shy any more. The hoeing was soon finished and we suddenly felt like a drink of lemonade, logically because the little drawing room in the summer house that Uncle Herman had built could not be seen from the other allotments.
'He was just different from other occasions and I remember that he was flattering me terribly; that I was so big and that he had no idea (as if I didn't know better) that I already had a bust, and whether growing didn't hurt, and whether I knew they were not often so big to start with. . . . It was just small talk, but naturally I lapped it all up.
'And I didn't mind at all him squatting in front of me, when I was sitting on a tree stump, and feeling my small breasts and rubbing his fingers over my nipples. It was not nasty, dirty or repulsive because, well, because it was Uncle Herman. This is something that can never be explained, naturally, but can only be felt if you knew him as we children did. There was no question of a schoolgirl "crush".
'As always, one thing led to another, as far as I can remember it was hardly ten minutes before I was standing stark naked in front of him, but well inside the house, safely behind the curtains. And even that seemed to happen of its own accord. When I folded my arms behind my head, because I had discovered in the mirror at home that it made my breasts look bigger, Uncle Herman said that I would soon be getting hairs too under my armpits, and I proudly blurted that I had some "down below".
This he would not believe (or pretended not to) because my armpits were still bare and, when I insisted, he of course dared me to prove it. When I began to take off my jeans he drew me further indoors, I knew that I had not planned to undress completely but, when I had taken my jeans down far enough to show him a few blonde hairs, I suddenly became very daring and stripped them off.
'Naturally I knew that my little naked body didn't look like anything, but then I felt almost like a film star, for Uncle Herman looked at me as if I were Sophia Loren. It was, of course, a funny feeling standing there naked, but not at all nasty, as it had been shortly before at the sports examination for basketball, when I had to take my knickers down.
I was quite at ease with Uncle Herman and I remember vaguely that he said that he felt it was such a pity that he hadn't got such a nice daughter (Uncle Herman and Aunt Koosje had no children). In any case he was being paternal, but not for long, for when I sat on his knee he began to kiss me and to stroke my breasts, belly and thighs with his big hands. Very soon his fingers were busy between my legs.
'I experienced this as a tremendous sensation, not so much from what I felt, but from what he did. I think that I understood that he liked young girls and had grasped his chance and I willingly allowed him to do what he wanted. He was so dear to me and said such nice loving things.
I look back on it now as an odd but fine first experience; in fact I liked it so much that, when I went home, I asked if I could come and "play Eva" (as he called it) again. Uncle Herman wanted that, too, and we arranged to go to the allotment on the following day after the evening meal. Uncle Herman often worked there, but now no work was going to be done.
'I wanted to pull off my dress at once but he pulled me towards him and began to talk to me terribly seriously and to say that we couldn't do it any more and that he could be put in prison for what he had already done; that my parents would never forgive him if they discovered what had happened and so on.
'But when I said that I enjoyed his seeing me naked and being stroked all over, we became sort of blood brothers in order to share our secret.
'Then he undressed me and laid me on the old battered sofa and kissed me all over. I found it was a wonderful sensation. Gradually this summer I was being completely initiated and "woken up", and soon Uncle Herman took off his clothes too and taught me how a girl can satisfy a man. He taught me all kinds of positions and the pleasures of licking and sucking but he kept himself completely in control (that I find a real achievement) and did not have actual sexual intercourse with me.
'He found it, sometimes, sufficient just to look at me, especially when I was doing naked gymnastics for him (I was and still am very supple); then I saw his member get stiff in his trousers. One day we did something really crazy and ran, stark naked except for our rubber boots, through the pouring rain, to pick berries. We had wonderful fun and there was nobody to see us and when, dripping wet, we took refuge indoors again, we dried each other and had sex.
'Once again I don't want to defend what Uncle Herman did and certainly don't want to praise paedophilia highly, but I spent just as fine a summer as he did. It came suddenly to an end when Daddy, who is a station master, was transferred again and perhaps that was a good thing.
'It certainly has done me no harm. It depends on what a paedophile does and how he does it, and if he really loves children (and that usually goes together) he will understand and he in sympathy with the child and thus know very well what he can and what he cannot do. In my case it could have gone too far, and Uncle Herman realised that well, for he was too much of a kind soul to wreck something irreparably for his own pleasure.'
Bernard's studies have a special validity in that they are addressed to the child in the relationship and if the child doesn't feel himself or herself to have been abused or exploited, even when he or she has become adult, it is difficult to suggest anyone whose views should override such a verdict. Sometimes, however, researchers, particularly those working with paedophiles in prison, have been inclined to read too much into the prisoners' own confession that they feel bad about what they did, that they feel they abused the child, that they feel they must be 'sick', that they want aversion therapy 2 2a 2b and so on.
What they fail to understand is the very simple point that a man facing a quite often long prison sentence will say almost anything to create a favourable impression with the Parole Board, or the after-care people, or anyone in authority who has it in their power to make life tougher or easier for them. I myself have spoken to a number of prisoners and ex-prisoners who readily tell me that they can see nothing wrong with an attraction to little boys or girls, as long as any relationship is based on consent but that they wouldn't dream of saying the same thing to a prison psychiatrist.
Accordingly, I think it may help to look briefly at the unshackled views of a few free paedophiles. These are all people of my own acquaintance, all boy lovers, who may be untypical in that (now) they have all had access to liberated thinking about child-adult sex.
First of all, however, I have reconstructed, from an interview I had with him, the story of a man in his late thirties, whose liberation from guilt feelings is far from complete. Readers may judge for themselves how justified those feelings are:
'Jack, a former soldier, was a sexual late developer. He experienced his first orgasm at the age of eighteen. At last all the sexual jokes and innuendoes of his mess-mates, and before their appearance in his life those of school friends, began to have meaning to him. 'So this is what it is all about!' he thought.
'From the start, his inclinations were paedophilic. Boys, preferably little boys under ten or so, were his sole interest, but it was a long time before he actually involved himself in any sexual contact with them. Not surprisingly, in view of his own slow sexual awakening, he assumed that none of the boys young enough to excite him would have any sexual feelings at all. They would all be 'innocent'. The thought occupied him gloomily.
He appeared fated to love without any possibility of mutual feeling. Any initiative taken by him could, in his own mind, only be predatory and sick, and the possibility that he might succumb to the temptation filled him with self-loathing. The alternative, the stoical acceptance of self-denial, was one which he tried hard to follow for a number of years, during which he studied theological and philosophical works in an attempt to come to some kind of understanding of his apparently hopeless destiny.
'Barrack life kept him away from children, and although his more exotic postings, particularly those in the Far East, brought opportunities to go with young boy 'hustlers', he never did. He was something of a loner. Clipped and terse in speech beyond the requirements of military tradition, an acid sarcasm was the nearest he could manage to humour, and as a teetotaller, he was ill at ease in the boozy camaraderie of the mess.
Eventually, in his mid-twenties, he decided dangerously perhaps to see if he could make a go of it in the teaching profession. At least he would then be able to be near children, in a positive way, even though he reconciled himself to the thought that there would always be a soul-splitting tension between the 'legitimate' and the 'non-legitimate' aspects of his interest in them.
'Yet it was not the classroom which provided him with his first irresistible temptation. Civilian life also took him into lodgings, in a working-class household in which there were four children, including three girls and their brother Stephen, aged nine.
The parents appeared not to have much time to spare for the children. Most of their time was spent either watching TV, or in the case of the father, doing odd jobs around the house. Jack was only too pleased to make up the deficiency, so far as Stephen was concerned, even though he was in Jack's words, just 'a standard-issue boy' of no more than ordinary prettiness or appeal.
'To start with, his response to Jack was fairly 'standard issue' too: one of casual indifference, which is arguably the norm encountered by paedophilic men interested in boys in our culture until, that is, some personal spark on either side succeeds in breaking the ice. In Jack's case, this came after he had been in the household some five or six weeks, when it began to be established that each evening he would put Stephen to bed and read him a bedtime story.
Guiltily, on one such occasion, Jack let his hand slide, beyond 'acceptable' cuddling, under the boy's bedclothes and on to his penis. To his surprise it was stiff, and Stephen showed no disinclination to let him continue. The pattern soon came to be repeated every evening, and the little penis was invariably hard. Encouraged, Jack suggested that Stephen should play with his too, and this soon became part of their repertoire.
'So far, the initiatives had all been taken by Jack. But one morning the two of them were alone in the house, lying in, and Stephen came into Jack's bedroom for an extra session in bed. Not long after, at Stephen's suggestion, the parents allowed the boy to move into Jack's room, where they shared beds next to each other, and from that point on he would jump into Jack's bed every morning 'Always erect,' Jack told me. 'Of all the many times I saw him naked, I can't recall one occasion when he didn't have a hard-on.'
The mere fact of Stephen's sexual responsiveness did little, however, to erase Jack's deeply ingrained sense of guilt about the entire relationship. Jack had had no contact with gay, or feminist, thinking. His values were entirely traditional, and he knew that his behaviour offended against them. Not only had he been greatly influenced by Christianity, in the Pauline tradition, but he hadn't the faintest idea that sex role stereotypes could be, or ought to be, challenged.
To him, a boy was a boy was a boy. It was wrong for him, a man, to be treating the boy like a girl. He might grow up to be homosexual, and that would be dreadful. Jack believed in the army tradition in an unbending sense of rank, authority and hierarchy. Something within him said that paedophilic relationships could so easily subvert authority: a boy who, in bed, could clearly witness the sexual dependency of an adult a supposedly strong, invulnerable authority figure on a little child, would suddenly assume power and status in a relationship which it was not proper for him to have.
Factors such as these, especially concern for Stephen's sexual development, led Jack to quit the household without it ever occurring to him to feel guilty about abandoning Stephen. But a year or so later the relationship was resumed when, by pure coincidence, Jack became a teacher at Stephen's junior school. Not being in the same household, he didn't feel guilty about holding the boy 'captive' to his attentions in quite the same way.
This time Jack had no convenient 'safe' bed, but there were lots of expeditions out into the country in his car. Sometimes there were snatched sexual interludes, including mutual fellatio, in the car itself. The boy came to him for these sessions regularly. Little needed to be said. Such groundwork and 'courtship' as had once been needed were now entirely dispensed with, as each knew exactly what the other wanted.
Now, no sooner were they together in private, than hands, penises and mouths would almost automatically busy themselves, and words would not be wasted, on either side. The silence was itself a token of furtiveness and guilt. But also of co-conspiracy. Sometimes, when the two were driving through town, the boy would duck down so as not to be seen by one of his classmates, or by another teacher: he was well aware of the need to avoid being seen in suspicious circumstances, and proved over a long period to be totally discreet.
Looking back, Jack now feels guilty about the relationship which he finally let fade away when Stephen went to secondary school in a quite different way to what he felt at the time. His guilt now relates not so much to the sexual acts involved, but to the fact that the relationship was, from his point of view, only sexual. His 'standard-issue boy' had meant little to him on an emotional plane; he hadn't invested love in Stephen, and hadn't taken much of an interest in his personal development other than the negative one about worrying whether he would become homosexual.
Stephen, on the other hand, had been deeply fond of Jack. There were many occasions on which he had begged him to go back to lodging with his family, and lots of little things showed how much he cared for instance, he remembered Jack's birthday for a whole year, and surprised him by sending a present.
It is my belief that if any of Jack's multi-faceted guilt is to be considered valid, it is in relation to this lack of warmth for the boy. At the same time, I find it hard to doubt that Stephen was a genuinely 'consenting' child, and it may well be that despite Jack's shortcomings, he took more out of the relationship than Jack himself.
Ralph, the subject of my next account, could hardly be a more different character cheerful, relaxed, non-authoritarian, especially in the norms prevailing in the English prep school where he taught. He is every inch a Cavalier, compared to Roundhead Jack, with youthful zest and an easy bonhomie that made him an instant favourite with youngsters. He wrote to me with a biographical account as follows:
'When I left university, I got a job as junior master at a boys' preparatory school in Kent. It was a fairly typical example the other members of staff were all over fifty, with little enthusiasm for their subjects or their pupils, and the boys were mostly boarders, aged between seven and thirteen. School life was bounded by work and games; discipline was rigidly enforced; and corporal punishment was regularly administered both by the Headmaster and (unofficially) by some members of his staff. The school had a reasonably high academic standard, sending several boys on to Winchester each year: but educational methods were old fashioned, and life for the boys was stultifyingly boring.
'In this situation, it was not difficult to make friends with the boys I taught, and a lot of them used to visit me regularly in my room during their free time, to play records and talk. One of the most frequent visitors was a boy called Lance, who was eleven when I first met him. Lance was very much the 'schoolboy hero' type: good-looking, academically clever,. a good singer and actor, and inevitably good at games he was later captain of both the football and cricket teams at the school. He was popular with the other boys and the rest of the staff; but he and I became particularly close friends.
'A year later, we became lovers as well. It was on a wet spring afternoon. We were alone in my room, sitting on my bed to look at a book together, and suddenly, without anything being said, he lay back on the bed and I lay beside him and put my arms round him. Neither of us made the first move or gave any signal it happened spontaneously, even unexpectedly. It's perhaps worth mentioning that in sexual relationships I have since had with other boys, the same thing has often happened: as though there is some unspoken need in them that subconsciously reaches out and connects with my need. The whole question of who seduces whom is thus largely irrelevant in many paedophile relationships.
'Lance and I were lovers for the next two years, and had sex together whenever we could be alone. Usually we met in the evening, in the period between the end of prep and the boys' bedtime. Sometimes, Lance would creep out of his dormitory late at night, and sleep in my bed until early morning, when he would go back to his own bed before anyone else woke up. Neither of us felt any guilt or shame about the relationship: we were both deeply happy. I was able to help Lance through the problems of growing up (and also through his parents' divorce when he was twelve); and in return he gave me a love and trust which I had not believed possible.
'At the beginning of his last term, Lance told me that during the holidays he had met a girl of his own age, and was in love with her. Of course, I was jealous, but I tried not to show it, and was happy for him. His sexual and emotional feelings were now chiefly directed towards his girl: but because he was a kind and gentle boy, and didn't want to hurt me, it didn't change our friendship. We had sex together less often but didn't stop completely, as he was a boy who needed frequent sexual outlets. I realised that the sexual contact between us would gradually disappear, particularly as he was leaving the school at the end of that term, and I had also given in my notice; but we both believed that our friendship and affection for each other would continue.
'Unfortunately, our luck ran out half-way through the term. One of the other boys in Lance's dormitory noticed his occasional absences, followed him one night, and found out what was happening. With most of the boys we could have coped with the situation but this boy had always been a problem, and was in fact removed to a special school the following term. He reported what he had found out to the duty master, who told the Headmaster. I was dismissed on the spot, and told to be out of the school by noon. Then the police were called.'
I am happy to say that following a suspended prison sentence, Ralph is now back on his feet again, though not in this country.
Keith, who teaches in a fashionable American private school, is of interest as he has been both the younger, and the older, partner in a paedophile relationship. He writes:
'I myself was loved by a man when he was twenty-six and I was thirteen. Having read that, many critics would immediately carp, 'Aha he learned to be a pederast by the example of this older man.' Nothing could be further from the truth, for I can remember looking lasciviously at an age-mate's rear when I was a mere five years old; and I got caught looking at the other "parts" of a different age-mate, in a different city, when I was eight. What I did learn from this man, however, was that sex was fun and an emotional attachment made it all even better. I believe that be taught me, at least in my beginning stages, how to love another person. I was a pederast long before I met him!
'I have always been very active, sexually. When I wasn't playing doctor with friends, I was developing my fantasy life and wondering what it would be like to grow hair "down there". When I did mature, at about age twelve and a half, it was like the world was beginning to make sense, to take on purpose and meaning. Other people were beginning to become very important to me, and in turn, they were noticing me as an individual person, no longer a "child" to be lumped together with all the other kids. My adolescence was a most invigorating experience; I found that I enjoyed the company of both girls and boys, and that my response to boys was tinged with excitement and a certain mysterious feeling which still, at thirty-four, evades description.
'I regard my meeting with Mr S., then aged twenty-six, as a critical turning point in my love-life. Until then, sex was fun, felt good and left me only moderately guilty. The guilt was probably a result of a very prudish rearing, which for a time had me believing that "if it was fun, it was bad." This was not the exclusive fault of my parents, but was rather my understanding of what everyone I knew was telling me. Fortunately, I suppose, specific sex acts were never discussed as such in my family and I soon realised that I was feeling guilty not because I was doing something wrong, but only because if I were to get caught, my parents would be disappointed. I had a persistent and pervasive feeling that what I was doing was right for me and I decided that my only responsibility was to keep my activities unknown to my parents, for they simply wouldn't understand.
'Mr S. co-operated in this subterfuge, to my delight, and once I approached him (yes I approached him) with my thirteen-year-old impatience for intimacy, he told no one, responded positively to my shaky advances (didn't even laugh at me!) and simply embraced me, in every sense of the word, surrounding me with flexible yet steady security and self-assuredness. He fed my ego with compliments, opened up my knowledge of a gay society which I had no idea existed, and proved to me that I was not the only one in the world who was planning to make a career of the sexual activities which were "only a phase" in all my buddies.
'Here was a masculine adult man (happily married, even), who was interested in doing with me what I was already finding exciting with my boy-friends. And through this relationship a new dimension was added to my experience which had not occurred to me before tenderness, affection and love. It may well be that the tenderness, affection and love were actually more my contribution than his it's difficult to say from this distance in time. But it doesn't really matter; the important thing is that he allowed and encouraged affection, which was two-way from the start, and it became an integral part of the relationship. This affection was, in its way, just as satisfying as the ecstatic orgasms that punctuated our days and nights together.
'I regard this man, this relationship as a turning point because I was never the same after knowing him for two years. I was more in tune with myself after that. . .
'While I was often unlucky in having affectionate, lasting relationships in high school, I realised as things progressed that the boys who were attracted to the girls were finding the same thing to be true. I finished high school with a reasonably secure feeling that I was different from other eighteen-year-old males only in superficial ways. I was also secure in the knowledge that I could love other people, in fact I had loved others and received their love in return, beginning with Mr S. I was also enriched by the experience of trying and failing at love, and then trying again. I enjoyed numerous satisfying sexual relationships, some of which did last for quite a while, and I accepted the fact that many of my heterosexual classmates had gone through the same trials. That they had shared their intimacy with girls and I with boys didn't seem to make all that much difference, just like some of my friends had learned Spanish and I Latin. The end result was similar: we had learned the lesson of sharing ourselves.
'Another turning point came in the summer after high school graduation when I went to work for the local boys' club, the first of ten summers in such work. I had gone through the sex-because-it-feels-good phase (may I never outgrow the feeling!) and had experienced affection and love as a separate emotion which is often associated with sex but is not necessarily connected. I was now ready, though certainly not aware of it at the time, to share with younger people what I had learned and enjoyed so much that sharing emotions and getting deeply involved now and then is not only possible before adulthood, but pleasurable and helpful to a person's development.
'I was never interested in enlisting anyone into homosexuality, perverting little boys or contributing to the delinquency of minors. I simply found that when an eleven- or twelve-year-old boy looked up at me, there was wonder in his eyes (I'll never forget the first time that happened!) and I felt like a father, big brother and equal friend all at once. I was a parent in the true sense of the word: I felt I could have an influence in the world by helping to make ready a growing person and prepare him to realise his potential more fully in later life. (The word "parent" in Latin means, "let them prepare, make ready, provide".)
'I had come full circle in person-to-person relationships and before long I realised that, like my heterosexual counterparts who gave expression to their parenting instincts by raising a family, I could do the same with the boys who, for whatever reason, responded to my presence with wonder in their eyes.
'It was, and still is, so very natural for me to respond to boys who see in me something special. Critics of my "style" say that my only interest is in recapturing youth, or reliving a fixation which I was never able to work through, or any number of other false motivations that society pins on pederasts when they don't know what it's really like. It really is quite a normal and natural feeling which is exciting not because it's forbidden, or because it's compulsive, but because any deep commitment to another person is exciting. Those who would criticise should first look at the feelings a parent has when his or her child begins to walk, performs well in school, says "I love you". It's exactly the same for pederasts. It is exhilarating and satisfying, and every human being can have the same experience with whatever "turns you on".'
Keith's story, with its emphasis on commitment to a parental, or rather a mentor-like, role, is representative of a mainstream in contemporary paedophile sentiment (or, rather, more specifically, boy-love sentiment) which finds its inspiration in the idealised man-boy relationship of classical Greek culture. 3
Finally, Paul, born in England, reports some experiences from his adopted country, the United States:
'I remember my boyhood in vivid detail from the age of four when my aunt was pushing me along the pavement in the push-chair and I pulled out my little willie to examine it. She told me to put it away "before it bites you". With that was sown the first seed of fear of my own body and the lesson that one's sexual parts (I didn't know they were sexual at the time, of course) were not to be looked at. After that, I had to play with my willie on my own, in secret. . .
'I was in my mid-twenties and undertaking flying lessons when I first met Jared. I don't remember the exact circumstances of how we met, but it was in late spring. I often used to fly over his house and wave the aeroplane's wings at him as he came running out to return the greeting with his arms. I would drive down and visit him often. His father was an osteopath who had a private pilot's licence and used to fly several years ago, and he welcomed me to their home.
He invited me on a fishing trip with them in their camper. I took Jared flying one time, and as the weather warmed we had many trips in the car to the local convenience store to buy crushed-ice drinks. Jared enjoyed taking me for a ride over the field in the dune buggy that he was allowed to drive. His home was right beside a creek and we would frequently be found canoeing or swimming in it. He often found it convenient when practising the breast stroke to have me hold him up by placing a hand under him at the balance point, which just happened to be at the little lump between his legs. He wasn't the only one who was sexually aroused!
'After three months of getting together, we had become very close without, I think, realising it. One evening in his home he was lying on his tummy' on the sofa wearing only his pyjama bottoms, his chin cupped in his hands, watching TV. I was sitting beside him and started gently caressing his back. He was clearly enjoying it, so I continued the caressing down under his pants and over the cheeks of his soft, smooth bottom. This came to an end as someone approached the room from the kitchen.
'After four months it was time for me to move on to get a flying job elsewhere. To say goodbye to Jared was going to be a difficult task and I just had to see him alone. I wanted to have some kind of extra close, yes, even sexual, contact with him before saying farewell. I was lucky in being able to drive him to my motel room on the evening before my departure. He had ankle boots on, but I don't remember what else.
What I do remember is that we talked and joked a lot and then I suddenly asked him if he would take his clothes off for me. He carried on talking as if he hadn't heard, then five minutes later he said. "Do you want me to take my clothes off?" And he did. It rather surprised me since no boy had ever done it for me before, yet because we were so close in spirit, I wasn't really surprised at all. It seemed quite natural after all. He stripped completely then lay back on the bed. I ran my hand over his body very gently, including his very stiff little penis. I moved up his body and ended up lying over him, looking down into his sparkling eyes. As I smiled at him he grinned back with a wicked little grin, and blew into my face. I said, mockingly, "Don't do that. That's not nice!" Then he blew again. It dawned on me suddenly that he was trying to tell me something. I looked at his slightly pursed lips then whispered, "If you do that again . . . I'll kiss you!"
'I think you can guess that, of course, he did it again: and our lips came together in a kiss I shall never forget.'
Least of all is known about paedophilia between women and children, of either sex. I think I know why this is the case, but who better to explain the phenomenon than a woman? The following is an extract from a personal letter between two women, which the recipient submitted for publication in a feminist magazine:
'Women are brought up to marry and fulfil themselves through motherhood and loving their children: this is normal, pure and completely unsexual so we are told. In fact, this is part of the whole sexist myth that women have no sexuality of their own (just like children), and that sex is something that is given to a woman by a man. Hence, lesbians either don't really exist, or if they do, they can't really do anything with one another, etc.
'In the same way that countless women grow up, are married and go through their whole lives without realising that the attraction they feel for other women is, in fact, sexual and that they are really gay, many women do not identify their feeling of love and attraction to children as sexual. Perhaps they don't really enjoy sex with men, but get enormous pleasure from cuddling, caressing and bathing children. They get satisfaction from this but don't see their natural spontaneous feelings as anything to do with paedophilia.
A friend of mine, whose girlfriend had a baby, enjoyed a close loving relationship with the child and did see it as sexual they had a lot of fun together. 4 In Mexico, mothers and grandmothers often lick their babies' genitals to soothe them to sleep. The babies obviously like it. Is this a sexual assault? Should they all be arrested? It's well known that babies and small children need to be touched and held a lot, otherwise they suffer severe emotional problems that can continue throughout their lives. So when do we define a touch as sexual? And indeed should we make that distinction at all?' 5
Some would define the sexuality or otherwise of a touch in terms of its effect on the toucher, i.e. if the touch is accompanied by specifically genital arousal in the toucher, then it is a sexual touch. So when the correspondent talks about the 'enormous pleasure' women get from cuddling and caressing children, it is a moot point whether this pleasure is genital. In terms both of semantic precision and of the clarity of thought which such precision implies, the distinction as to what is, and is not, sexual pleasure is important.
On the other hand, we should not lose sight of the fact that the effect on the child is the important thing in the last analysis. Does it really make any difference to the baby whether the adult who gives it delight by licking its genitals is definitely turned on sexually, or turned on from a more generalised sensuality, or even from the 'pure' non-sexual motive of deriving satisfaction from the pleasure given to the child? As the correspondent rightly says, should we bother to make the distinction at all?
Her comments go a long way to explaining why female paedophilia, like lesbianism, is largely invisible in our society. Women have a licence to be intimate with children, and their motives for doing so are invariably interpreted as non-sexual, in all but undeniably sexual situations, chiefly coitus. Thus occasionally a woman appears before the courts if she has allowed or encouraged boys to have intercourse with her. 6 By contrast, in the absence of coitus as a possibility, sexual acts between women and girls are rarely proceeded against. I imagine most people think they never happen and that women just do not want them yet I personally know women who feel that a major part of their sexual response is towards little girls.
The following account of lesbian paedophilia appeared in Body Politic, 7 the Canadian gay magazine, and relates a story from the youngster's point of view. As will be seen, concern over the effects of a relationship need not be all one way.
'Donna lives in a small town in staunch Presbyterian Ontario where everyone knows everyone else, and where "it's difficult to be unconventional and almost impossible to be lesbian." Sharon was a teacher at her public school. "She first taught me sixth grade. I guess I was attracted to her then though I didn't think of it in sexual terms. But then I didn't think of anything in sexual terms at the time." Sharon was a married woman her husband was also a teacher and she had two children. At the time. she was more than twice Donna's age.
'The first woman Donna was actually involved with, however, was Jean. "I worked away from home the summer I was fourteen. I met Jean and was really impressed by her. But it's hard to imagine going to bed with a school friend's mother. It was the next summer before I actually had the nerve to do it. I was fifteen she was forty-three. She was a beautiful woman, but our relationship was fraught with contradictions. I wanted it and initiated it, but I also felt guilty and fearful; I knew Jean's life as a forty-three-year-old wife and mother of seven children was complicated enough without the added burden of a lesbian relationship with a fifteen-year-old kid."
'Meanwhile, Donna had maintained a regular correspondence with Sharon.
'"It seems quite strange, looking back on it, the way we cultivated our friendship. Real child-adult friendships are probably quite rare. We wrote letters even though we only lived a few miles apart; that made it seem a bit furtive, too. I guess we had to be content with melodrama when we had so few opportunities to see each other and when there were no acceptable forms for expressing what we felt for each other. That is, until I came out for the first time."
'By the following summer, Sharon and Donna had been able to contrive some way of spending time together. "I had just turned sixteen when I told her about Jean and me. In retrospect my big confession seems sort of unreal. We had been out canoeing and had gone ashore on a small island. It sounds very romantic, doesn't it? I was a regular little Conspirator. Only it didn't turn out exactly the way I had planned. I was more or less saying to Sharon 'All right, if you feel the same way about me as I feel about you, don't be afraid. You aren't leading me astray. You aren't taking me anywhere I haven't already been.' Her reaction seemed mostly to be shock. I guess I wasn't the most tactful sixteen-year-old."
'But Donna's coming out about her relationship with Jean eventually did have the desired effect. "Sharon later told me that she felt strongly, almost magnetically drawn to me for those few minutes on the island and that her own responses were what really shocked her. Ours was her first lesbian relationship and seemed, for her, to carry all the significance of a first exploration of her sexual identity."
'But again I felt guilty. Partly because of society's condemnation, should the nature of our relationship ever become known. But more because, although Sharon's sexual orientation is to other women, she has chosen to live a heterosexual lifestyle. And I was a threat to her family her security. Again, I wondered if maybe I wasn't taking more from her in emotional support and understanding than I could return.'
In many people's eyes, it would be inappropriate to say that Donna was a 'child' at the time of her association with Jean and Sharon. But what about Beth Kelly, now mature in years, and a radical lesbian feminist, who, as a 'precocious' eight-year-old, developed a relationship with a grown woman? She writes:
'The first woman I ever loved sexually was my great-aunt; our feelings for each other were deep strong, and full. The fact that she was more than fifty years older than I did not affect the bond that grew between us. And, yes, I knew what I was doing every step of the way even though I had not, at the time, learned many of the words with which to speak of these things.
'Aunt Addie was a dynamic, intelligent, and creative woman who refused, all her life, to be cowed by convention. In an extended family where women played out "traditional" housewifely roles to the hilt, she stood out, a beacon of independence and strength. She was a nurse in France during the First World War, had travelled, read books, and lived for over twenty years in a monogamous relationship with another woman. Her lover's death pre-dated the start of our sexual relationship by about two years But we had always been close and seen a great deal of each other. In the summers, which my mother, brother and I always spent at her seashore home, we were together daily. In other seasons, she would drive to visit us wherever we were living, and often stayed for a month or so at a time. .
'I adored her; that's all there was to it. I had never been taught at home that heterosexual acts or other body functions were dirty or forbidden, and I'd been isolated enough from other children to manage to miss a lot of the usual sexist socialisation learned in play. It never occurred to me that it might be considered "unnatural" or "antisocial" to kiss or touch or hold the person I loved, and I don't think that Addie was terribly concerned by such things either. I do know that I never felt pressured or forced by any sexual aspects of the love I felt for her. I think I can safely say, some twenty years later, that I was never exploited physically emotionally, or intellectually in the least.' 8
As so often happens, this joyous liaison eventually foundered on the rocks of parental disapproval, when Beth's mother chanced upon her and Addie in bed together. But disapproval of paedophilia or, rather, disapproval of child sexuality, has a significance far beyond its disastrous impact on the lives of the relatively limited numbers of children and adults in paedophilic relationships. The impact of the sex-negative outlook has to be seen in a wider societal context in order to appreciate its full significance. In this context, to which attention will now be turned, we can see reasons why a climate in which children come to view all consensual sex positively and without guilt, including consensual paedophilia, may be necessary for the welfare of everyone.
Ch 4 - Notes and References
1. Frits Bernard, 'Paedophilia; the consequences for the child', paper presented at the International Conference on Love and Attraction, Swansea, 1977. ^
2. Aversion therapy is one of a number of behavioural techniques developed in an attempt to change paedophiles' sexual orientation. The subject is exposed to stimuli he finds sexually arousing usually child pornography and at the same time he is given a painful electric shock, or sometimes an injection of apomorphine, which induces uncontrollable vomiting for up to an hour. Other aversive stimuli include valeric acid, an odiferous chemical, which is squirted up the nostrils, and auditory shocks usually an unpleasant high-frequency buzzing noise administered through earphones. It is hoped that with sufficient repetition of the treatment the subject will cease to respond erotically to children. Apart from being extremely unpleasant, it seldom works.
Even more barbarous is 'chemical castration'. The subject (invariably male) has a pellet of synthetic female hormone implanted under his skin to reduce the strength of his sexual drive. One side-effect of this treatment is that the subject may grow breasts of female proportions, which have to be surgically removed. Other serious side-effects include breast cancer and thrombosis. The treatment was used for over a decade on sex offenders in British prisons, but was discontinued following public discussion of the side-effects. In April 1979, after this discontinuance, a sex offender at the Old Bailey was offered, and accepted, the 'choice' of chemical castration as an alternative to a long prison sentence.
The ultimate form of control psychosurgery. The method used with sex offenders (there are other uses) is to burn out a part of the subject's brain a small area of the hypothalamus which is believed to mediate the offending sexual feelings. Psychosurgery has caused irreversible brain damage, and a significant number of people have died as a result of the operation. Recently, the successful treatment of homosexual paedophilia has been reported from West Germany. Personally, I find the implications of such mind control even more disturbing and not only in the case of sex offenders than some of the effects described above.^
3. In which interest has been rekindled for paedophiles in recent years by J.Z. Eglington's Greek Love, Neville Spearman, London, 1971. A fine recent work of scholarship in the field has been that of Sir Kenneth Dover, whose Greek Homosexuality appeared in 1978 (Duckworth, London). ^
'A child's intercourse with anyone responsible for his care affords him an unending source of sexual excitation and satisfaction from his erotogenic zones. This is especially so since the person in charge of him, who, after all, is as a rule his mother, herself regards him with feelings that are derived from her own sexual life: she strokes him, kisses him, rocks him and quite clearly treats him as a substitute for a complete sexual object' (In 'Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality' in The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol.7, Hogarth Press, London, 1953-74).
Dr Alayne Yates, a psychiatrist, tells us that mothers sometimes report serial orgasms brought about by the sexual pleasure they feel when breastfeeding their babies (A. Yates, Sex Without Shame, Temple Smith, London, 1979). ^
5. Sequel, March 1978. ^
6. Even then the law is at pains to assign a passive role to the female. At Caernarvon Crown Court in 1976 a woman aged thirty-five, who was alleged to have had intercourse with some boys aged twelve to fifteen, faced charges of indecent assault against them. The judge directed the jury to find her not guilty, saying that there is not and never has been an offence of a woman having sexual intercourse with a boy under sixteen. He told the jury that if they were 'to consider this particular case, the prosecution could not rely on the mere fact of intercourse with the boys as of itself constituting an indecent assault'. Reported in The Daily Telegraph, p.3, and the Daily Mail, p.3, 8 October, 1976. See also M. Rae et al., First Rights: A Guide to Legal Rights for Young People, NCCL, London, 1979, p.60, and Paedophilia: Some Questions and Answers, PIE, London, 1978, Appendix on the Law. ^
7. In an article by Christine Bearchell, Body Politic, June 1978. ^
8. Beth Kelly, 'On woman/girl love, or lesbians do "do it"', Gay Community News, 3 March, 1979. ^