three pairs of lovers with space

TYPES OF SEXUAL ACTIVITY OF 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.

 

Types of Sexual Activity

As a rule playful sex does not long remain content with any one game. Either a relationship grows in depth — that is, it becomes loving — or it must continually search for varied experience, for new games, beginning in the imagination and perhaps never moving far beyond it. A naive, inexperienced boy may find wrestling and telling dirty jokes to be as stimulating and exciting as overt sex play might be to a more sophisticated person — as, for example, a boy from a slum where sex play is more genital and where youngsters play dirty in their normal play. Teasing there generally involves sexual molesting of one kid or another; fighting and revenge include sex threats; and not infrequently there is an erotic climate established by the way sissy boys or pretty boys (who are generally small in stature) are continually teased and propositioned, to the amusement and fascination of other boys their age. One 13-year-old said: “I don’t dare use a toothpick, for example, for someone will say: ‘Got hairs in your teeth again?’ I’ve been expelled for fighting, when the showers in the gym got wild.”

Photo by Carl Mansfield

It is not only in such a situation as that, however, in which younger boys may come to expect to pay a sexual price for their association with the older boys they admire. The sheltered middle-class boy may be overwhelmed the first time he encounters such an environment, and it may well shock him into experimentation and sexual involvement to prove himself. One such boy said: “They kept talking about raping me, and while I wasn’t really worried, because I knew I could take care of myself, I was fascinated.” There is a sense in which he had the emotional experience of rape, as a result of the talk, the continual banter and teasing, because it led him into a near orgy of fantasy and masturbation. Another boy described a similar sexual experience at summer camp which evidently had a profound emotional impact, where the older boys teased him by saying things like: “Watch out for your cabin counselor. Don’t let him get into bed with you, for he’s likely to get your clap!” Or “Do you know the counselor’s favorite cookie? Fag Newton! Last year one of the guys went to the chief and complained that their counsellor was queer and the chief told them last year’s guys hadn’t liked it at first, either, but they got used to it in time.” Or “You know why I call my cock Cracker Jack? Because the more you eat the more you want.”

Such horseplay can easily move beyond verbal teasing, as in an unsupervised moment at the gym of a private school described as follows: “Abe came lunging across the room and dived onto Ben’s back as if to ride him. Perhaps to demonstrate his strength, Ben encouraged it until the others tried to pull down his shorts to spank him playfully. Ben jumped them and as they wrestled someone shouted: ‘The loser has to kiss the winner’s ass.’ A small new boy arrived and asked: ‘What’s going on?’ Someone replied: ‘They’re fighting to see who has to kiss ass.’ The wrestlers fought more intensely. The new boy asked: ‘Why ass?’ Everyone doubled up with laughter as Abe replied: ‘Where would you rather be kissed?’ Ben shouted at him. ‘You’re a faggot!’ ‘He’s the faggot,’ Abe retorted. ‘Hit his head on the floor until he admits it.’ The new boy asked: ‘How can you tell who’s a faggot?’ Abe replied: ‘By taking his pants off to see if it makes him hard to wrestle with a boy.’ In the general uproar the boys were grabbing at each other’s crotches.” The play would probably have become even more explicitly sexual if a teacher had not then arrived.

Such horseplay is partly curious, partly simply play, some of it is substitute sex, in which boys stop short of what they might actually want to do, and sometimes it is actually a disguised sexual overture or proposition. Disguised so a boy can laugh and say it was just a joke if rebuffed; or it may be, as with girls, an experiment to see how far one can proceed before being challenged. Much of it also, of course, is simply a natural overflow of exuberant youthful energy, which turns out to be sexual in unintended ways — especially when some boys are naturally uninhibited. Its importance, however, is determined by how it is interpreted and understood, and by the type of sexual experience it is for each particular boy who experiences it. The boy who habitually masturbates may experience physical contact in such horseplay in a different way from one who does not. The boy who at times indulges in mutual masturbation may naturally make overtures in a moment of excitement. Younger boys may be tricked or forced into oral acts, something which needs to happen only once for all the others who learn of it to be more strongly and erotically affected by such threats and talk thereafter. Only a small minority of boys enjoy fellating, but the distaste may well be largely moral and psychic; for, if left to their own devices (that is, if given freedom and privacy to amuse themselves as they wished), most of the subjects in a European experiment,[1] who enjoyed being fellated, turned in time to mutual fellation as a favorite pastime. The role which had otherwise often seemed degrading or unmasculine became acceptable when it was mutual. A majority of normal heterosexual adolescent boys found great pleasure in being fellated, and were highly aroused in watching the act.

The same research suggests that at least 30 per cent of pubescent males are highly sensitive anally, although this capacity for pleasure begins to fade in mid-adolescence, or perhaps when they begin regular heterosexual intercourse. One experiment consisted of giving boys a battery-operated vibrator, penis shaped, and to take motion pictures of their anal play with it. The delight in a third of the cases was unmistakable, which may explain the impact of jokes, physical contact such as ‘goosing,’ and sodomy threats upon the erotic imagination of some young boys. One man reported: “When I was thirteen a man kept staring at me. I had many fantasies about him wanting to bugger me. I played a sort of cat-and-mouse game with him, pretending to be interested in him until he would start to follow me. Then I would disappear. I played this game with him every day for several weeks. Then I’d go home and bugger myself with a carrot, trying to find out what it would be like.”

 

The Boy Who Thinks He May Be Gay

Butch was articulate, intelligent, and moody. His father, although busy, apparently had a good relationship with his younger son. Butch’s mother was dead and the housework was done by a harassed older sister who was deeply resentful that Butch did not help more. He lived in a neighborhood where some boys “hustled” and sometimes discussed it at school, but Butch didn’t need money. His older brother employed him at a store. He earned enough to buy what he wanted. He avoided sex play with his friends because he worried that he might be gay. When he was thirteen, he decided to find out. One afternoon he approached a man who was sitting in a car reading a magazine, whom he had seen pick up other boys. He suggested the pederast buy him a hamburger. Butch was thin and gangling and the man did not find him especially attractive, but the two of them spent an enjoyable afternoon in conversation. When it was time to go home, Butch asked: “Can I spend the night with you?”

The pederast asked why, and Butch replied: “I want to find out if I’m gay.” The boy took the initiative that night in various types of sex play, and decided that the only thing he enjoyed was masturbating while having his back rubbed. Once he was reassured that lots of boys were anally sensitive, Butch decided he was not gay at all, and almost immediately started dating girls. This story might have ended otherwise, of course. It is unfortunate that not enough could be learned about the boy’s preconditioning and experience to determine for sure what made the difference. Some boys may decide they are gay because they enjoy oral and anal sex, when in point of fact perhaps 50 per cent of young adolescents can find such play highly stimulating, at least when girls are not available. The European research project reported that considerably more than 50 per cent of young adolescent boys get as much pleasure out of active anal intercourse as from coitus with a girl. Again the percentage declines as they grow older, except perhaps in those cases where anal play is continued regularly into late adolescence because girls are not available. Again, however, the act may be experienced in widely different ways depending on the fantasies and interpretations which accompany and follow it.

 

What a Boy Told the Police

The impact of sex play on a boy is strongly dependent upon his self-image, on how he thinks other people view it, and upon his own interpretation of the meaning of the experience. For example, a boy may tell varying versions of the same experience as is illustrated here by what 14-year-old Mike told friends, the police, and those who finally determined the truth. A pederast we shall call Van was arrested and charged with sodomy, which under the laws of that state includes any type of sexual contact with a minor of the same sex. The district attorney’s office reported the incident to the press as follows: “The police were summoned when a young man found his little brother in bed with and involved in deviant sexual relations with Van Jones, XX West X Street, who had solicited and sexually molested the boy in a movie theater at XX West Street, before taking the young boy to an apartment. Jones has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in six weeks.”

What happened from Van’s point of view? He went to a movie theatre where one was allowed to smoke, and when he lighted a cigarette, Mike, who was sitting behind him, moved up and asked for a smoke. Van gave him a cigarette, shaking hands. When Van then left the theater, saying nothing more, the boy followed and asked for a ride home. They had a friendly conversation, but nothing sexual was discussed or hinted. The boy urged Van to come upstairs to meet his mother. They found the apartment empty. In showing Van around, the boy took him to his bedroom and showed him a sex magazine. Van got worried and started to leave, whereupon the boy began to wrestle with him playfully. The boy told him that he used to fellate his older brother, who was no longer interested now that he had a girl friend. This worried Van even more, although he admitted that he might have become involved in sex play with the boy had the older brother not arrived. The older brother joined in the roughhouse briefly, then demanded that Van fellate him and give him money. When Van refused, the brother left angrily. Van also left immediately, but delayed long enough to allow Mike to apologize and ask when they could meet again. Mike followed him to the street, where a policeman who had been called by the older brother immediately arrested Van. Even though he was guilty of no sex act, at the recommendation of his attorney, Van pleaded guilty to a minor charge, since the lawyer pointed out that Van had taken the boy to the apartment, was there alone with him without parental permission, and that both boys said there had been sexual misconduct.

What did Mike say to the police? At first he was defensive and protective of Van, saying nothing wrong had taken place. The interrogation then went something like this:

POLICEMAN: You knew he was queer.
MIKE: No.
POLICEMAN: Are you queer, too?
MIKE: (angrily) No.
POLICEMAN: Then why did you leave the theater with him?
MIKE: I’m not queer.
POLICEMAN: Was it because he offered you money?
MIKE: Yes. I’m not queer.
POLICEMAN: So you let him fool around with you for money? That’s not very queer.
MIKE: (very emotional) Yes. I’m not queer, but he didn’t do very much.
POLICEMAN: Did he screw you or have you screw him?
MIKE: (sobbing) I never did anything like that in my life.
POLICEMAN: He just blew you? You might as well tell us the truth, because he’s admitted it.
MIKE: I never did anything like that. We just wrestled around on the bed.
POLICEMAN: And your clothes came unfastened?
MIKE: Sort of.
POLICEMAN: He did fool around with you sexually in your bedroom then. Your brother saw it.
MIKE: Yes.

So Mike signed a statement charging Van with sodomy and his brother signed a statement that he had witnessed it. Both boys were worried about previous minor arrests.

When asked at school about what had happened, Mike made himself out a hero who had trapped a pervert. He had so bad a conscience about it, however, that he hunted the streets for months until he found Van and tired to make amends with an expensive present he had stolen. Van befriended him and helped him as he grew older, and found that Mike’s bad conscience was keenest in that he had lied to the police, pretending to be innocent, when in fact he had been involved in extensive sex play with his brother, with friends, and with other men he had solicited at the same movie theater. Mike and his older brother had from an early age been involved in elaborate sex rituals — which might better be called dramas — so that he was very much afraid of his brother, who always took from him the money he got from hustling. Mike was easily intimidated by his brother, and also by other boys who knew of his deviant activity. While each story is different, there is evidence to suggest that the “innocence” of boys in such arrests may be questioned in as high as 50 per cent of the cases.

 

[1] This will not be published until after the death of the scientists and medical personnel involved. [Author’s footnote]

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