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three pairs of lovers with space

PHYSICAL MATURITY: EJACULATION
BY EDWARD BRONGERSMA

 

“Ejaculation” is the second of the two parts of “Physical Maturity”, the first section of “Boys and their Sexuality”, the third 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.

 

Human spermatazoa
Human spermatazoa under a microscope

At some point during this evolution comes the decisive hour of puberty, when the ejaculate emerging from the stimulated penis contains fertile sperm for the very first time, rendering the boy ready for procreation. Unfortunately it is rather difficult to fix this moment precisely, since it requires an analysis of the first urine produced in the morning.[1] Whether a given boy is or is not mature, on the other hand, can easily be established by examining a sample of his ejaculate under any low-powered microscope: the countless lively sperm cells, about a twentieth of a millimetre in length, swimming about in the prostatic fluid are immediately recognisable.                                                              

Boys tend to consider themselves mature as soon as they start to expel a sufficient quantity of thick white ejaculate with sexual climax. Some authors have suggested, however, that years may pass between this moment and real maturity, i.e. the production of fertile sperm. It is incredible that we are still in doubt about such an important and elementary matter – simply because research hasn’t gone into it.

Muria boy
Muria boy

Such a delay in achieving total maturity might explain some phenomena which would otherwise remain a riddle. In the Muria tribe in central India, for example, all the young people in a village, from 5 or 6 years of age up to about 18, sleep together in one lodge, the ghotul. As soon as puberty announces itself, daily sexual intercourse is the order of the day for every girl and every boy. Contraceptive media are unknown and the bigger boys ejaculate freely in the girls’ vaginas. There is a strong belief that no girl will become pregnant (which would be considered a disgrace) unless she has intercourse outside the ghotul, which is strictly forbidden. It turns out that pregnancy is a rare occurrence. No other explanation has been offered than the hypothetical infertility of the boys: their ejaculate doesn’t contain enough vital spermatozoa until, at about 18 years of age, they marry.[2]

On the other hand we read in the popular press of numerous instances of 14, 13- or even 12-year-old boys begetting children. Sometime ago there was a news release from Texas about a boy of 14 who had already fathered two children from his 15-year-old girl-friend.

The mystery remains, and may only be solved when the sexual lives and activities of young people can be openly discussed and examined rather than hidden under a shroud.

The scientific literature tends, for the sake of convenience, to identify the age at which a boy begins to ejaculate with that of puberty, and this is easier to ascertain and establish. Borneman[3] says that girls reach puberty between 8 and 14 years (mostly 10 - 11) and boys between 9 and 16 years (mostly 11 - 12). Desmond Morris writes: “The first ejaculation in boys does not usually occur until they have reached eleven years, so that they are sexually slower starters than girls (The earliest recorded successful ejaculation is for a boy of eight, but this is most unusual.) By the age of twelve, 25 percent of boys have experienced their first ejaculation and by fourteen 80 percent have done so. (At this point, therefore, they have caught up with the girls.) The mean age for the first ejaculation is thirteen years and ten months.[4] Recent research in The Netherlands (100 boys) resulted even in a median age below 13.[5]  

Ohlsen Jurgen 16 in Hitlerjunge Quex 1933 02
Jürgen Ohlsen, whose voice, still entirely unbroken at 16, can be heard in the film Hitlerjunge Quex, 1933; an example of the former higher age of puberty

One difficulty, however, is that the mean age seems not to have been a historical constant but has lowered considerably in the past hundred years. During this century children in the industrialised countries have grown faster and attained a greater height, with puberty setting in earlier,[6] especially in the cities.[7] A hundred years ago boys entered puberty between 13 and 17 years of age (mean age: 15 years and 9 months); nowadays between 9 and 15 (mean age 13 years and 5 months).[8] According to Bernard,[9] puberty has advanced by four months every decade during the last 120 years.[10]

Of course we cannot project this trend very far into the future. It is clear that it must come to a halt, otherwise in about four centuries babies would be born mature! Aristotle (384-322 BC) put the mean age of puberty for the Greek boys of his time at fourteen[11] – and he should have known for he slept with them. Most Roman boys were already mature by fourteen.[12] The mean age, thus, appears to have fluctuated upwards and downwards and the causes for this we can only guess at. Prof. Saenger of Cornell University, New York, thinks the lowering trend has now come to an end.[13]

In any case it was unfortunate that this reduction in age of physical maturity went hand in hand with the delay in mental maturity brought about by the necessities of modern education. To be physically adult but mentally infantile burdens many a boy with problems with which he is unable to cope.[14] During the last century protagonists of traditional sex-negative morality, eagerly spreading their horror tales, taught that it was best for a boy to mature late. The precocious were suspected of being more inclined to sexual excesses. Loss of sperm would severely damage their health, and a certain Doctor Gall flatly declared that in a precocious youngster, producing sperm before he had completed his physical and mental growth, “both body and soul perished.[15] The promulgation of such nonsense, of course, could only impair health and cause misery.

When Kinsey at last examined this relationship he found a positive correlation between early maturation and strength of the sexual appetite. The male who begins to ejaculate early will on average have a stronger sexual urge, be more sexually active during later life and stay so to a more advanced age. The sexually precocious boy will be the most potent.[16]

Kinsey SBHM 302
Kinsey’s main table showing that boys who reached adolescence before 12 were much more sexually active in later life than those who did not reach adolescence until 15 or more (Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male, 1948, p. 302

A subject of Hite[17] declares: “I have slowed down from six or more ejaculations a day at sixteen to five or six a week at sixty-four.” A black male who began masturbation at age six, and at age ten had complete orgasms plus ejaculation, had a phenomenal “staying power” and could hold an erection for as long as five hours and have as many as six orgasms in a similar period.[18] Another researcher, Lutz, also found a link between early maturation and intelligence. In his sample, the group with the highest intelligence matured at a mean age of 12.5; those of average intelligence at 13.5 and the least intelligent at 14.5.[19] Such a correlation had already been suggested by Freud. Sexual curiosity is a symptom of maturity.[20] There are striking examples of 10- year-old boys who are very much preoccupied with sex, trying to obtain and study every book on the subject they can.[21] (Van der Veer 1983, 71). Such intelligent boys are very likely to begin active, dedicated experimenting with sex while they are still very young. In addition, precocious boys tend to attract greater admiration, even envy, from their peers and thus are generally more self-assured so they can be more aggressively enterprising in doing what they want to do.

Sometimes boys will shave, or trim the first pubic hairs which appear, hoping thereby to stimulate growth so they will be able soon to show off something of a moustache and a luxuriant pubic bush.[22] In some regions, North Africa, for example, the shaving of pubic hair is a customary practice of body care and hygiene.[23]

 

Continue to Psychosexual Development: Elements of Cognition

 

[1] Greulich. W. E. et al, Somatic and Endocrine Studies of Pubertal and Adolescent Boys. Millwood: Kraus Reprint, 1942, 1976, pp. 23-38. [Author’s reference]

[2] Elwin, V., Maison des jeunes chez les Muria. Paris: Gallimard, 1959. [Author’s reference]

[3] Borneman, E., Lexikon der Liebe. Frankfurt: Ullstein, 1978, p. 480. [Author’s reference]

[4] Morris, D., The Naked Ape. London: Corgi Books, 1967, p. 54. [Author’s reference]

[5] Wafelbakker, F., De top-twintig van de adolescent. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde 122, 40: 1978, p. 1484 [Author’s reference]

[6] Visser, H. K. A., Groei en geslachtelijke rijping. In: Hart de Ruyter, Th. et al, De seksuele ontwikkeling van kind tot volwassene. Leiden: Stafleu, 1976, pp. 123-124. [Author’s reference]

[7] Stockert, F.-G. von, Die Sexualität des Kindes. Stuttgart: Enke, 1956, p. 21. [Author’s reference]

[8] Borneman, E., Lexikon der Liebe. Frankfurt: Ullstein, 1978, p. 95; Schérer 1979, 89-90 [Author’s references, the latter one unidentifiable in his bibliography]

[9] Bernard, F., Pädophilie–Liebe mit Kindern. Lollar: Achenbach, 1979, pp. 83. [Author’s reference]

[10] Sarphatie, H. R., De seksuele ontwikkeling van het kind. In: Wolters (Ed.), Seksueel misbruik van kinderen en jonge adolescenten. Nijkerk: Intro, 1982, p. 50. [Author’s reference]

[11] Buffière, F., Eros adolescent – La pédérastie dans la Grèce antique. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1980, p. 608. [Author’s reference]. What Aristotle actually said about this (History of Animals 581a) was “The male first begins to produce seed, as a rule, on the completion of twice seven years.”, but it is doubtful he meant this to be taken very literally, as he made multiples of seven the stages of human development in general. Does anyone know of a source for Brongersma’s claim that Aristotle slept with boys (not that there is anything inherently improbable about his having done so)? Website footnote]

[12] Borneman, E., Lexikon der Liebe. Frankfurt: Ullstein, 1978, p. 217. [Author’s reference]

[13] Gay Journal 23, 11: 9, Aug. 1978; Baurmann 1983, 75 [Author’s references, the latter one unidentifiable in his bibliography]

[14] Heister, R., Die normale Pubertätsentwicklung. In: Grunert-Bronnen (Ed.) Pubertät. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1973, 197; Mitscherlich, A., Pubertät und Tradition. In: Grunert-Bronnen (Ed.), Pubertät. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1973, p. 207. [Author’s references]

[15] Aron, J.-P. & Kempf, R., Le pénis et la démoralisation de l’Occident. Paris: Grasset, 1978, p. 167 [Author’s reference]

[16] Borneman, E., Lexikon der Liebe. Frankfurt: Ullstein, 1978, p. 735; Kinsey, A. C. et al, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1948, pp. 301-307. [Author’s references]

[17] Hite, Sh., The Hite Report on Male Sexuality. New York: Ballantine, 1981, p. 883. [Author’s reference]

[18] Barrington, J. S., Sexual Alternatives for Men. London: Alternative Publishing, 1981, p. 93. [Author’s reference]

[19] Hurlock, E. B., Adolescent Development. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1949, p. 33. [Author’s reference]

[20] Borneman, E., Lexikon der Liebe. Frankfurt: Ullstein, 1978, p. 918. [Author’s reference]

[21] Van der Veer, 1983, 71 [Author’s reference, but the work cited is not in his bibliography]

[22] Tuohy, F. & Murphy, M., Down Under the Plum Trees. Waiura (New Zealand): Alister Taylor, 1976, 128. [Author’s reference]

[23] Bousquet, G. H., La Morale de l’Islam et son éthique sexuelle. Paris: Maisonneuve, 1953, 71. [Author’s reference]