three pairs of lovers with space

STATISTICS ON THE ENABLING CLIMATE FOR CONSENTING BOYS, U.S.A., 1970S, BY PARKER ROSSMAN

 

The following is one of the sections of the eleventh chapter of Dr. Parker Rossman’s Sexual Experience Between Men and Boys (originally published in 1976), which he entitled "The Consenting Boys" since, as he explained in the introduction to it, most of the three hundred boys he interviewed had taken the initiative and most of the rest had already imagined themselves ready and willing. The experiences described would seem all to have been then recent ones in the U.S.A.

 

Enabling Climate: Statistics

Before saying more about seduction, it may be helpful to review the current climate of adolescent sexuality, as discovered by a survey of a representative sample of American youth.[1] Sorensen found that teenagers are tending today to reject religious and moral prohibitions against deviant sexual behavior. In the sample, 17 per cent of boys aged 13 to 15 admitted that on one or more occasions they had engaged in sexual activity, mostly to show that they “did not care what society thinks.” In the same survey 61 per cent of boys aged 13 to 15 disagreed with their parents’ ideas about sex; and 77 per cent said that teenagers should make their own moral code, and should determine for themselves what is right and wrong on the basis of their own experience. Though 75 per cent of adolescents said that the idea of two men having sex together is disgusting, 41 per cent said it would be all right for two boys to have sex together if both wanted it, and nearly two million teenagers were what Sorensen called sexual adventurers who prowl around in search of varied experiences. He found on the whole that adolescents are very tolerant of homosexual behavior in others, because “love is so accidental that no one can predict when or with whom it will occur.” Adolescents also said that persons should be honest in accepting themselves as they are, and that those who indulge in homosexual play are “meeting what they find to be a basic need.”

In this climate of tolerant adventurism, where many youngsters – less inhibited and restrained - are curiously exploring, 29 per cent of boys who admitted having homosexual experience said they had seduced a younger boy, 56 per cent of such boys said their first homosexual activity had been with someone their own age or younger. These statistics do not show what percentage of the other 45 per cent had their first homosexual experience with an older boy. Also, 51 per cent of city boys said: “You are probably a fag if you haven’t had sexual intercourse with a girl by the eighth grade,” yet only 18 per cent of them reported such coitus. Does this mean that 33 per cent of city boys were worried about being gay? Probably not, but they may be more vulnerable to explorations since so many of today’s youngsters report their intention of trying things out for themselves. If Sorensen’s percentages are correct, then approximately 5,161,000 teenage boys had been homosexually approached by other boys, and 1,558,000 of them had responded. The boys in the mass sample were asked no question about oral sex, so Sorensen says it is quite possible for an adolescent to have participated in such acts and still qualify as sexually inexperienced in the survey. He also had reason to feel that the figures are low, since young adolescents are very reluctant to report deviant sexual activity.[2]

In some schools and neighborhoods it is now a fad to champion the rights of sexual minorities. Many adolescent girls are caught up in lesbianism, partly through the movement for women’s liberation, but also because it is another way to rebel against a society they feel to be irrational on sex matters. Some young boys associate with gay activists out of curiosity, rebellion, or for political reasons. Although some surveys suggest that young teenagers are now becoming more conservative on sexual and political matters, there are neighborhoods where a significant minority of boys are related to anarchist and sex freedom groups. The boys we found in the “underground,” however, are rarely of this type. For the most part they come from typical middle- or lower-class families representative of their neighborhoods.

 

[1] Robert Sorensen, Adolescent Sexuality in Contemporary America (New York: World, 1975) p. 303.

[2] Robert Sorensen, Adolescent Sexuality in Contemporary America (New York: World, 1975), R. W. Libby, “Adolescent Sexual Attitudes and Behavior” in Journal of Clinical Psychology 3, no. 3 (Fall-Winter, 1974). [Author’s footnote]

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