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three pairs of lovers with space



“Boy-Love and Pseudo Boy-Love” is the first part of “Man/Boy Relationships”, the third section of “Adult Lovers”, the second chapter of Loving Boys, the encyclopaedic study of Greek love by the eminent Dutch lawyer, Edward Brongersma, of which the first volume (including this) was published by Global Academic Publishers in New York in 1986.

The illustrations without captions are taken from Pan Magazine, to which Dr. Brongersma was an important contributor while he was working on Loving Boys.


Man/Boy Relationships


Now it must be stressed that not every sexual activity which takes place between a man and a boy can be placed in the category which we recognize as boy-love. Neglecting this was one of the fatal mistakes scientists have made until very recently in dealing with this phenomenon – a mistake which distorted and made worthless nearly everything they wrote.

We have already seen that affection for members of his own sex, as well as attraction toward youthful individuals, is present in each human male to a greater or a lesser degree. This makes it possible for every man to have sex with a handsome boy. Any “normal” man may suddenly find himself sexually excited by the sight of a boy.[1] This is supported by evidence that there were periods in the past, and certain cultures in the present, where it was or is considered normal, or even a duty, for men to have sexual relations with a boy. Later we will see examples of this, but for the present it is enough to observe that the naked body of a beautiful boy radiates a kind of exciting sexiness perceptible by every normal man.

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23:  One of my correspondents worked for a large company in Amsterdam. He was sentenced to two months of imprisonment for sex with a boy. But he was an excellent worker and his boss wanted him back. A canvass was taken in the section where he had been employed and, as he had been a very pleasant colleague, the general feeling was that he would be welcome again. Gradually, after he returned to the office, his fellow workers grew accustomed to the idea that this man ‘did it’ with boys, and they even started to crack jokes about it completely void of venom. He began to speak openly of a nice 15-year-old who was his dear friend. The day came for the annual office excursion; every man was to bring his wife or girl, and his colleagues said to him, “Why not bring your friend?” The boy agreed and came to the gathering. He was handsome, friendly, nice, lively and an enthusiastic football player; everyone liked him at the party. The next day an older colleague approached my correspondent and said, “Something extraordinary happened to me yesterday. As you know, I’m married and the father of two adult daughters. I have never felt the least attraction from other directions, but as I observed your young friend during our excursion I was suddenly seized by the thought, ‘How nice it must be to have such a person in bed with you and to do it with him!’ ” (Personal communication)

During the first phase of research into homosexuality, every sexual act with a partner of the same sex was considered symptomatic of homophilia. Soon it was found, however, that some homosexual acts were carried out faute de mieux, in substitution for preferred, but for some reason unavailable, heterosexual opportunities, that there existed a kind of pseudo-homosexuality. Males considered “normal”, that is with an overwhelming preference for women or girls, resorted to sexual activities with male companion in the absence of the more desirable female partners (as in jails, prisoner-of-war camps, labour colonies, during exploring expeditions, on shipboard). In prisons half of the inmates have homosexual contacts.[2] In the great majority of males the sexual appetite is so imperative that it demands some kind of satisfaction, and if the preferred object is absent it is compelled to make do with a less desirable one. In labour camps Chinese coolies divided themselves into two groups, active and passive; those who were active during the first week had to be passive during the next.[3]

If a man has such experiences occasionally, or even over a longer period, he will not be changed by them into a homophile. For a man is a homophile only if he prefers homosexual acts above all others and would turn to a male partner even when females are readily available to him.

Patzer.[4] lists the following motives for homosexual behaviour: 1) sexual attraction to persons of the same sex (homophilia); 2) lack of opportunity for heterosexual intercourse (emergency homosexuality); 3) sexual experimentation in youths (developmental homosexuality); 4) desire for tenderness in sentimental friendship (mostly in adolescence); 5) social activities within social institutions (as in initiation during puberty rites); 6) symbolic demonstration of superior power (aggressive homosexuality). Quite obviously, these forms are very different. Boys may take part in all of them.

These facts are generally recognised now in literature which deals with homosexuality, but in research into paedophilia they are only very slowly being accepted. Later in this chapter we will see the fatal impact of this failure to make the proper distinctions upon the popular concept of “the” paedophile.

Ndong tchi la or male concubines of soldiers undr the Sandeh Sudan Negroes
"Ndong-tchi-la, or male concubines of soldiers under the Sandeh (Sudan Negroes)": Karsch-Haack's frontispiece

It is not difficult to understand how the predominantly heterophile male, when no girl or woman is available, will find greater satisfaction with a smooth-skinned, soft-cheeked substitute boy than with an adult substitute man. Lawrence[5], an American researcher, even thinks that in human evolution there was a natural selection process favouring those hunters who were best able to satisfy their sexual needs with the boys who accompanied them and were thus most strongly motivated to deal lovingly with their training and education. The first picture in Karsch-Haack’s well-known study Das gleichgeschlechtliche Leben der Naturvölker.[6] (Homosexual Life of Primitive People) is of two young black boys, “male concubines of soldiers among Sudanese negroes”, travelling in the rear of an army expedition. Among those blacks brought to Johannesburg to work the mines in 1915 a number of females were reported. However further investigation revealed that these people were confined in all-male camps and the “women” were really boys playing the female role.[7] Regarding New Guinea, Bullough[8] quotes a local informant: “Women are seldom available on the larger plantations and in the towns, and the older labourers, already accustomed to indulgence, are forced to take youths as lovers instead. A boy’s behind is said to be a not unsatisfactory substitute, though everyone from Wogeo prefers the real thing, and is thankful on his return to go back to it.” In the pages of Havelock Ellis’ book devoted to the habits of American tramps, a man tells how he enjoyed his life with a woman “much more than his intercourse with boys. I asked him why he went with boys at all, and he replied, ‘Cause there ain’t women enough. If I can’t get them I’ve got to have the other.’”[9] Among the Azande people in the Eastern Sudan, “much of the male population between 25 and 35 was reported in 1932 to be organised into vura – or groups of men – and denied access to women. During this period in their lives they were supposed to fight for the chief or in the absence of war, work on his land. Boys were, however, available, many of the men bringing boys with them.[10]

Fraser. Flash for Freedom

From time out of mind ship’s boys have known that their duties were not limited to sailing tasks.

24:  Flashman, a Rugby Old Boy, told of his adventures on board a sailing ship in 1848. On one of the first days of the voyage he was in his cabin, ill, when entered “a nimble little ferret of a ship’s boy” who immediately proposed, “I’ll get in bed wiv yer for a shillin’ ”. “Get out, you dirty little bastard,” says I, for I knew his kind; Rugby had been crawling with ‘em “I’d sooner have your great-grandmother.” “Snooks!” says he, putting out his tongue. “You’ll sing a different tune after three months at sea an’ not a wench in sight. It’ll be two bob then![11]  

Healthy heterophile men may satisfy themselves from sheer necessity with a boy, returning afterwards, once back in society, to women. But there are also unfortunate, abnormal people who are unable to establish contact with the adult partners they would prefer because of some psychic insufficiency and so seek out children.

Of course, for the most part these children are girls. It has been established that in cases of criminal abuse of girls (instances of rape, indecent assault, coercion) the offender is mostly an ordinary heterophile.[12] Heterosexual contacts with children, moreover, are much less objectionable to the general public than homosexual activities.[13] Boys are very rarely victims of violence, but it is hardly exceptional for men who really prefer sex with a woman or even another male, but who are unable to get it, to turn instead to boys, trying persuade them without recourse to violence to have sex with them. As such contacts do not completely satisfy some individuals, their sexual needs may increase to a craving, and thus we get the wretched personality who is unable to restrain himself, is obsessed with the desire to handle a boy’s penis irrespective of whether its owner is six months or sixteen years old.[14] The public calls such people paedophiles, but they aren’t by any meaningful definition of the word.

The inability to establish the preferred kind of contact may be caused by a lack of vital energy[15] or by an inferiority complex, when, for example, a man is ashamed about the small size of his genitals or about being impotent. He may be afraid a woman would sneer at him and hope a child would be less critical.

In other males the universal paedophile impulse is rather strong but either it has never come into consciousness or it is repressed. Stress or excessive use of alcohol may remove the inhibitions in such people, often to their complete surprise and dismay, and lead to an explosion of pent-up lust. But we shouldn’t call these men paedophiles either, because paedophiles, by our definition, are people whose sexual appetite is so strongly directed toward children that it colours and guides their whole life.

25:  Such was the case of a young man who arrived at the home of his fiancée after a hard day at work eagerly looking forward to having sex with her. She wasn’t there, however, and in his extreme disappointment, overwhelmed by salacity, he ran to the bedroom of her 14-year-old brother and raped him.[16]

On the other hand there are true paedophiles who, for one reason or another, never touch a child and so avoid being recognised as one.[17]

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Paedosexuality (that is, sexual activity with a child) can thus be consummated both by paedophiles and non-paedophiles, and so it is important to make a distinction between the paedophile and the pseudo-paedophile.

It is not to be assumed that the paedophile, being attraction to children, invariably behaves well toward them, or that the pseudo-paedophile is always the infamous and detested child molester, resorting to violence. Among paedophiles there are saints and sinners, just as among heterophiles homophiles – or any other -philes you might mention. That is, there are among them people whose intent is first and foremost to serve the interest of the beloved child as well as people who only want to satisfy their own lusts. And if a pseudo-paedophile is a gentle and kind person he will deal gently and kindly with the child when using it as a substitute – but probably we will find among true paedophiles a higher percentage of men willing to adapt their sexual desires to the sexuality of the child.[18] Many a paedophile will think shared feelings more important than sexual contact itself.[19]

In his detailed investigation of a large number of male sexual delinquents in American prisons, Gebhard and his co-workers at the Kinsey Institute had the bright idea to ask their paedosexual subjects not only the age of the child with whom they had committed their offences but also the ideal age of an ideal partner. The results were surprising. Among 244 males found guilty of sexual activities with children under the age of 12, only 2 said they really preferred a partner of this age. Among 269 males found guilty of sexual activities with children from 12 to 15 years, only 17 said they preferred a partner in this age bracket. In the control group, comprising 759 people never sentenced for sexual offences, one person said he preferred a child under 12 and 45 preferred a child between 12 and 15; all the others claimed they preferred an older partner.

Gebhard therefore concluded, “Since society is so deeply concerned about adults who engage in sexual activity with children or young people in their early or middle teens, it is worth noting that the problem is not so much one of a predilection for youth as it is one of lack of discrimination against youth. Thus our data show the great majority of so-called ‘child-molesters’ would prefer sexual activity with adults, but are willing to turn to children if adults are unavailable or if the man is intoxicated or under stress.[20]

Objections have been raised to this opinion that Gebhard’s study dealt with prisoners, and prisoners are subject to greater than normal temptation to give the “socially acceptable answer”, hoping thereby to make a favourable impression upon those who control their destiny.[21] But this objection is not very convincing. Kinsey Institute researchers have a great deal of experience, gained over many decades, in eliciting truthful replies to confidential questions and in testing for veracity. They were apparently aware of the possibility of factual distortion.[22] That they succeeded in obtaining reliable answers can be seen by the fact that many of the prisoners told the Kinsey researchers they really were guilty of the acts for which they were imprisoned, after having persistently denied it at their trials. Even more impressive is the great number of “socially non-desirable answers” these prisoners gave Gebhard and his co-workers. The men opened up in such extremely taboo areas as oral-genital contacts and anal intercourse with their wives; men who were not homophiles talked about homosexual contacts; men who had not been sentenced for sexual offences talked about their desire for sex with boys; men found guilty of sexual offences against adults confessed to having had sex with children not known of by the police. Even bestiality (sex with animals) was admitted by people imprisoned for other kinds of criminal offences. The people interviewed by Gebhard were confident that their answers were to be kept absolutely secret and knew that no prison director or judge would ever learn of them or make use of them in making decisions regarding their release. Therefore the suggestion that Gebhard’s data were so distorted as to render their enormous statistical weight invalid is quite unfounded. We may, then, take it for granted that the majority of these prisoners sentenced for paedosexuality were not really paedophiles.

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Somewhat later, in 1967, the Swiss psychologist Wyss came up with similar data but didn’t perceive their logical significance. Among 160 sentenced sexual delinquents, he found that only 10 were clearly attracted to children. Four of the subjects had sexual desires for “ephebe-like boys of 13- 14 years of age”, and in them he clearly saw “an aesthetic fascination with their physical characteristics, not the least important of which were their genitals.” With these men; “both their minds and their fantasies were involved. And it was precisely these four who had carried on long-lasting relationships with boys who appealed to their tastes.[23] These, then, were the true paedophiles, set apart by their commitment to boys from the pseudo-paedophiles.

The problem of the “socially desirable answer” was skilfully avoided in the same year by the American sociologist Charles H. McCaghy. “Since this study dealt with persons officially labelled as child molesters, their own statements concerning the meaning which children had for them prior to the offence might well be biased.” To avoid this distortion, McCaghy put his subjects into categories “measured by the range of interaction which adults had with children: the extent to which their life patterns were occupied by contacts with children” – that is, occupational and leisure activities and so on. In so doing he established substantial differences between those belonging to the category where social contacts with children were frequent and enriching and those in other categories. The men who had many social contacts never used any form of coercion; a non-sexual relationship usually preceded the sexual activities which, moreover, were usually restricted to passive or active fondling of the genitals. These were the men whose lives bore witness to a special attraction to children; in other words, they were paedophiles.[24]

Paedosexuality (or sexual activity with children), therefore, is no sure indicator of paedophilia. A man can only be considered paedophile if, for him, children are the most important elicitors of sexual arousal. On the other hand, the fact that a man may never have had sexual relations with a child is hardly proof of the absence of paedophile tendencies in him. For there are paedophiles who, for one reason or another, never touch a child.

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The importance of this difference between paedophiles and pseudo-paedophiles wasn’t recognised until a few decades ago but today it is stressed by nearly all modern commentators.[25]  Nicholas Groth makes a similar distinction between “fixated” and “regressed” paedophiles[26], a terminology to be rejected as too suggestive for scientific use. The writers of Golden Age Islam recognised it eight centuries ago. El-Tifachi (1184-1253) pointed but that some men have sexual relations with boys not because they’re particularly attracted to boys but because it is fashionable and considered elegant: with them it is the brain and not the body which impels them to embrace boys. He adds that the act of love with a boy is an exercise for the mind, a discipline for one’s character and magic for the intellect, since it demands both insight and understanding.[27] 


Continue to Boy-Love and People with Different Orientations


[1] Geiser, R. L., Hidden Victims – The Sexual Abuse of Children. Boston: Beacon Press, 1979, pp. 93-94. [Author’s reference]

[2] Pacharzina, K., Anstaltssexualität. In: Albrecht-Désirat & Pacharzina (Eds.), Sexualität und Gewalt. Bensheim: Päd-extra, 1979, p. 151. [Author’s reference]

[3] Stoll, O., Das Geschlechtsleben in der Völkerpsychologie. Leipzig: Veit, 1908, p. 957. [Author’s reference]

[4] Patzer, H., Die griechische Knabenliebe. Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1982, pp. 63-64. [Author’s reference]

[5] Lawrence, B. (pseudonym), How Ties was Made between Boys and Men! Boy 49: 12-16, p. 1980. [Author’s reference]

[6] Karsch-Haack, F., Das gleichgeschlechtliche Leben der Naturvölker. München: Reinhardt, 1911, [Author’s reference]

[7] Bullough, V. L., Sexual Variance In Society and History. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1976, p. 25. [Author’s reference]

[8] Bullough, V. L., Sexual Variance In Society and History. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1976, p. 26. [Author’s reference]

[9] Ellis, H., Studies in the Psychology of Sex. Philadelphia: David, 1913, II 362. [Author’s reference]

[10] Bullough, V. L., Sexual Variance In Society and History. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1976, p. 27. [Author’s reference]

[11] Fraser, G. M., Flash for Freedom!. London: Pan, 1972, p. 48. [Author’s reference]

[12] O’Carroll, T., Paedophilia–The Radical Case. London: Peter Owen, 1980, p. 59. [Author’s reference]

[13] Gay Left Collective, Happy Families? Pedophilia Examined. In: Tsang (Ed.) The Age Taboo. Boston: Alyson, 1981, p. 57. [Author’s reference]

[14] Borneman, E., Lexikon der Liebe. Frankfurt: Ullstein, 1978, p. 1387. [Author’s reference]

[15] Stieber, H., Verführt… Bonn: Europäische Bücherei, 1971, p. 157. [Author’s reference]

[16] Krafft-Ebbing, R. von, Psychopathia sexualis. Stuttgart: Enke, 1903, p. 334. [Author’s reference]

[17] Pieterse, M., Pedofielen over pedofilie. Zeist: NISSO, 1982, pp. 1-27. [Author’s reference]

[18] Schérer 1979, 91 [Author’s reference, but there are two works by Schérer published in 1979 and listed in the bibliography].

[19] Corstjens, J. M. H., Pedofilie: what’s in a name? Een empirisch onderzoek. 10. Tijdschrrft voor Criminologie 22: 273-286, 1980, p. 273. [Author’s reference]

[20] Gebhard, P. H., Gagnon, J. H., Pomeroy, W. B. & Christenson, C.Y., Sex Offenders. New York: Harper & Row, 1965, pp. 666, 681. [Author’s reference]

[21] Zwerus, H., Een onderscheid dat ik nog niet lust. NIKS 1, 7: 1977, pp. 93-97. [Author’s reference]

[22] West, D., Homosexuality Re-Examined. London: Duckworth, 1977, p. 11. [Author’s reference]

[23] Wyss, R., Unzucht mit Kindern. Berlin: Springer, 1967, p. 67. [Author’s reference]

[24] McCaghy, Ch. H., Child Molesters - A Study of Their Careers As Deviants. In: Clinard & Quinney (Eds.), Criminal Behavior Systems. New York: Holt, Reinhart & Winston, 1967. [Author’s reference]

[25] Baurmann, M. C., Sexualität, Gewalt und psychische Folgen. Wiesbaden: Bundeskriminalamt, 1983, pp. 312, 408, 713; Bendig, B., Paedophilia - The Way to the Future. Venlo: Studiegroep Pedofilie, 1979, p. 33; Fisch, M., Unzucht mit Kindern. Frankfurt a.M.: Gemini, 1971, p. 13; Geiser, R. L., Hidden Victims–The Sexual Abuse of Children. Boston: Beacon Press, 1979, pp. 32-33, 83; Gagnon, J. H. & Simon, W., Sexual Encounters Between Adults and Children. New York: SIECUS. 1970, p. 10; Haeberle, E. J., The Sex Atlas. New York: Seabury, 1978, p. 273; Hart de Ruyter, Th. et al, De seksuele ontwikkeling van kind tot volwassene. Leiden: Stafleu, 1976, p. 430; Howells, K., Social Reactions to Sexual Deviance. In: West (Ed.), Sex Offenders in the Criminal Justice System. Cambridge: Institute of Criminology, 1980, p. 28; Ilcken, M., Pedofielen het woord ontnomen. Maastricht: Werkgroep Pedofilie, 1982, pp. 1,13 ;  Kerscher 1978, 154 [it is not clear to which of two articles in his bibliography the author is here referring]; Möller, M., Pedoflele relaties. Deventer: Van Loghum Slaterus, 1983, p. 42; O’Carroll, T., Paedophilia–The Radical Case. London: Peter Owen, 1980, pp. 61, 69; Pieterse, M., Pedofielen over pedofilie. Zeist: NISSO, 1982, p. 11;  Righton, P., The Adult. In: Taylor (Ed.), Perspectives on Paedophilia. London: Batsford, 1981, pp. 25-26; Rouweler-Wutz, L., Pedofielen, in contact of conflict met de samenleving?. Deventer: Van Loghum Slaterus, 1976. 5, 22; Rubin, G., Thinking Sex: Theory of the Politics of Sexuality. In: Vance (Ed.), Pleasure and Danger: Exploration in Female Sexuality. New York: Routledge, Kegan Paul, 1984, p. 284; Sandfort 1980, 185 [it is not clear to which work by Sandfort the author is here referring]; Schillemans, A., Vrouwen tegen pedofilie. Jeugd & Samenleving 13, 2: 1983, p. 135; Sengers 1970, 47 [no work by Sengers published in 1970 is listed in the bibliography];  Swanson, D. W., Adult Sexual Abuse of Children. Diseases of the Nervous System 29, 10: 1968, p. 677; West, D., Treatment in Theory and Practice. Points from the Discussion. In: West (Ed.), Sex Offenders in the Criminal Justice System. Cambridge: Institute of Criminology, 1980, pp. 142-143, 152, 220; Yaffé, M., The Assessment and Treatment of Paedophilia. In: Taylor (Ed.), Perspectives on Paedophilia. London: Batsford, 1981, p. 79 ; Zeegers, M., Psychiatrie. Utrecht: Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema, 1977. [Author’s references]

[26] Illinois Legislature 1980, 32-33 [Author’s reference, but it is not clear to what in his bibliography this refers].

[27] Tifâchi, A. Al, Les délices des coeurs.1. Paris: Martineau, 1977 [actually 1971], p. 157. [Author’s reference]




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