SEXUAL EXPERIENCE BETWEEN MEN AND BOYS BY PARKER ROSSMAN
George Parker Rossman (1919-2013) was a Doctor of Divinity at Yale University, Connecticut, and a Protestant minister, who wrote on a rich variety of subjects. Besides an adventure novel, Pirate Slave (1977), which came no nearer to being pederastic than depicting bonding between the boy hero and a pirate captain, he authored two books and two articles on Greek love. One of the articles, “Le Vice” in Turkey (1966), a history of pederasty in that country, and the first book, Boys for Sale: A Study of the Prostitution of Young Boys for Sexual Purposes (1969) co-authored with Dennis Drew, were written under the nom de plume of Jonathan Drake, but the rest were under his real name.
Sexual Experience between Men and Boys, was originally published by Association Press in New York 1976 with the subsidiary title Exploring the pederast underground. A British edition with only the main title was published by Maurice Temple Smith in London in 1979 from which all the extracts on this website are taken. It is much Rossman’s most important work, being one of the only three book-length general studies of Greek love ever published in English.
Though Rossman was well-travelled, and a few of his chapters are explicitly concerned with Greek love in countries other than the USA, it should be pointed out that, despite purporting to be a general study of the phenomenon, most of his book is heavily weighted toward that one country in the fifteen years before publication that he says he had been investigating it. This shows in both his source material and his implicitly expected readership.
With love and appreciation
to my wife for all the proofreading,
And to my three children for their patience,
And to the many anonymous persons on five continents
who went far out of their way to make this study possible.
For fifteen years I have been exploring undergrounds - religious, criminal, sexual, political - of which there are many. Bribing one’s way across borders and taking midnight jeep rides to mountain hideouts to talk to guerrillas hints at adventure, the satisfying of curiosity, even of titillation, but important issues also are involved. Today’s underground may surface as tomorrow’s counter-culture, or even may be the seedbed for explosive revolution. An underground may have a profound influence even before it surfaces, as, for example, the impact of the youth drug subculture on music, art and literature. Nor is it enough to examine the behavior of one drug addict or one sex deviant apart from the supporting subculture which shapes his attitudes and behavior. From a moral point of view each individual must assume responsibility for the consequences of his actions, but to change moral behavior requires an understanding of the support systems holding psychological and cultural factors together.
Undergrounds like the drug subculture or the pederast are associations of outcasts which have resulted in part from the failure of established society to help the young cope with certain basic needs. Many persons are driven into one underground or another as a result of what they consider to be oppressive, inconsistent and irrational laws and societal pressures. This decade has seen the surfacing of the gay-homosexual underground as a counter-culture - although many gays are still “in the closet,” as are most pederasts. There are other sexual undergrounds - sex freedom groups, wife-swapping clubs, and so on - but none are so mired in a conspiracy of silence and none represent so much potential for tragedy as the one to be described here.
Spread across my table are newspaper clippings which tell of the arrests of pederasts for sex play with boys - two state senators with a page boy; a policeman with a youngster he arrested; a junior-high-school teacher, a clergyman, a Scoutmaster, a boy’s club worker, a doctor, a social worker, an athletic coach, a reformatory psychologist, an adopted father, a newspaper reporter, a school psychiatrist, a legal-aid attorney, a university professor, a YMCA staff member, a film director, a businessman, a TV star, a youth probation officer, and many, many more - urban and rural, rich and poor, old and young, educated and uneducated. Their arrests represent a surfacing of an underground which is much larger than is generally realized, yet about which very little is known.
The general public seems to prefer to know nothing about such man-boy sexual experience even in those neighborhoods where a map of arrests shows one such offense in nearly every block. And for every arrest there may be a hundred or perhaps even a thousand other incidents that remain unknown and unpunished. Only limited data about this underground have been available to social scientists, whose theories and proposals have therefore been inadequate to prevent the tragedies represented by these arrests. Even the terminology is confused, as illustrated by the use of the term pederast to mean diametrically opposite things. For example, Bastin (1970) uses the term to include sex play between women and girls, Katchadourian (1972) for anal intercourse with a child, Clemmer (1958) for anal intercourse between adults, Dorian (1965) for a type of prostitution which “is a perversion of the jet set.” André Gide (1965) described himself as a pederast, “a man who loves boys.” In this book, recalling the Greek root found in words like pediatrician and pedagogue the term pederast is used to denote the male over the age of eighteen who is erotically attracted to boys between the ages of puberty and sixteen, and pederasty is defined as any sexual experience or involvement between a male over the age of eighteen and one between the ages of twelve and sixteen. This type or behavior has surfaced as minor incidents in many novels in the last ten years, as well as in films, ballet, opera, poetry, biographies and autobiographies, as well as in legal and psychiatric cases, other scholarly studies and in the newspapers.
Yet lawmakers, moralists, parents, and scholars and scientists alike have lacked adequate validated data about pederast experience, with the result that their views are still largely formed on the basis of pre-scientific theory. A survey of existing research on pederasty revealed that scholars tend to substantiate their opinions about pederasty by quoting earlier works that were not founded on adequate empirical investigation. It is also noted that even the best scientists often are parents also, and for this and other reasons they are less objective than they should be in dealing with sexual taboos. When it comes to their children, it is human to be concerned with what “should be” rather than “what exists,” and scientists are also human in finding it difficult to be objective about the sort of frightening and unmanageable questions which are raised by research into pederasty. It is easy to ignore such questions and let them continue to fester underground, or to discuss them impersonally, with charts and statistics, as if talking about rats or guinea pigs instead of human beings. This reluctance to explore the pederast underground has left it peopled with “faceless, bewildering strangers,” which is also the way we meet sex offenders in the newspapers and in case studies.
Therefore, instead of beginning with hypotheses to prove, instead of categorizing people and labeling them, an effort is made here to introduce the reader to some human beings - adults and adolescents - who are puzzled about their sexual desires and behavior. We search out with compassion the uniqueness of each person, letting the evidence assume its human shape, and give faces to persons who usually have been treated as stereotypes or generalizations.
Pederasty is a subject deserving of serious attention for several reasons. First, because there is evidence to suggest that one out of every eight men has at least occasional pederastic inclinations, and that the number of normal heterosexual men and boys who engage in such sex play at least once in a while is large. A study presented to the Legal Psychiatric Society in Amsterdam, for example, found that over one million such illegal incidents take place in Holland each year. Existing statistics are quite inaccurate and are frequently confused with gay-homosexual numbers. Nearly all males have had deviant sexual experiences in fantasy. Society, which often smiles at the discomfort of a youngster when an adult tells a dirty joke, or which frequently considers it only normal for teen-age boys to be victims of sex teasing and horseplay, does not always make it clear in law and elsewhere precisely at what point such teasing constitutes illegal corruption of a minor. Indeed, what is tolerated or even encouraged in one social class or one neighborhood may be taboo and reason to summon the police in another. Nor has the impact and influence of one class or society on another been adequately noted in a world which becomes increasingly pluralistic. American tourists and overseas military or business personnel are frequently tempted in other lands by the opportunities they find for varieties of sex play which are acceptable or tolerated in these other societies. When they return home, men with deviant sexual experience overseas may need counsel and guidance before they fall into difficulty with the law, for there is an increasing minority in Western society which seeks recreational sex purely for fun in any form which is found pleasurable and exciting, as sex is more and more dissociated from procreation.
A second reason for research into pederasty is that many men fall into it accidentally, without intending to break the law. A study of such offenders in prison revealed that many such men became involved with boy’s organizations through altruism and “were startled to realize that their affection and interest had assumed sexual overtones.” This can be a shattering experience to a man who has never been conscious of any homosexual desires or temptations, and who is happily married with a family - as illustrated by Thomas Mann’s novel, Death in Venice. A man is destroyed in that novel as a result of a sudden, unexpected infatuation with a youngster he sees on the beach, although he never even speaks to the boy. A psychiatrist who has studied such cases calls the novel a “myth of universal validity” and warns that any man could experience such a traumatic experience because society has eliminated traditional rituals for discharging pederastic impulses, and has dangerously sought to repress such inclinations, thus making it difficult to cope humanely with the phenomenon. The psychiatrist points out that the ancient Greeks acknowledged the pederastic temptations of all men; they brought such desires to the surface, and they sought to redirect these impulses into constructive channels. The man who is aware of such a weakness and temptation can be helped and strengthened to cope with it. Indeed, this psychiatrist says that open acknowledgment of the temptation “may be a sign of a particular psychic strength,” whereas repression may lead to neuroses, mental illness, and emotional homophobia - the rage which many males feel when they read of such sex offenses in the newspapers - which makes it difficult for society to help the man who unintentionally falls into such a disastrous situation. One purpose of this book is to seek an answer to a question so often asked by friends and family: “How and why did a fine man like this get mixed up in illegal sex play?”
A third use for this study is to provide facts for evaluating the opinions of those who are advocating the repeal of the laws against consenting sexual activity of adolescents over puberty. Who are advocating the sex rights of adolescents? Not the homosexual organizations which for the most part call for stronger laws against man-boy sex contact, partly to protect themselves from the charge that homosexuals seduce and corrupt the young. Teenagers themselves by their behavior are increasingly asserting their right to sex pleasure and self-determination. Support for moderating sex laws with a lower “age of consent” is developing, for example, in Holland, where pederasty has been more openly studied and discussed. The Association of Dutch Child Welfare Secretaries, related to the courts, has proposed the decriminalization of sex encounters between men and boys over fourteen, as is the law in countries like Japan. Two associations of Dutch psychoanalysts have suggested that the age of consent - now sixteen in the Netherlands - be lowered to thirteen. The National Council of Young Catholics in Holland proposes the decriminalization of all sexual activity between adults and boys over fourteen, with the proviso that there be no punishment in any case where a consenting boy has reached puberty. The Association of Netherland Youth has taken action to recommend that the age of consent be twelve. The National Bar Association of Holland, to which all attorneys must belong, has called for the abolition of all sex laws involving children except intercourse with a girl under twelve, on the ground that police inquiries and court trials do more harm to children than does the illegal sexual activity. The Protestant Child Welfare Association of the Netherlands advocates punishment for sexual relations between adults and adolescents only when there is evidence of seduction or use of force. It is increasingly clear to social agencies that youngsters are not protected by even the most stringent laws - which merely provide false security - but only by careful supervision, organization and education.
The data for this book come for questionnaires answered by 215 pederasts and by written material from nearly 800 more, and from interviews with 300 adolescent boys who had been sexually involved with them. While this is probably the most comprehensive mass of material ever assembled on the subject, only modest objectives are sought in this preliminary study. The illegal nature of this sort of sex play makes it almost impossible to determine the adequacy of the sample, since for the most part it involves the experience of pederasts who have never been arrested. The secrecy involved made it impossible to secure sufficient corroborative information from family and friends.
There is, supplementary to the bibliography included here, much information about pederasty in court cases, psychiatric studies, fiction and biographies, as well as in sociological and anthropological studies. The taboo on sex research with youngsters places limits and qualifications upon the reliability of much that is asserted in such literature, however. Future interdisciplinary study of such sex deviance must be more comprehensive not only in method but in geography as well. Of 1047 subjects, only a dozen were from Asia, Africa, or Australia. Also, 5 per cent were Latin American, roughly 25 per cent were European. The rest were from the United States and Canada. Since we have no way to authenticate the adequacy of our sample, exact percentages are of little use. It is interesting, however, that more than half of the Americans were married, as were all of the Asians and Africans. The European figure was 40 per cent married. None of the few Australian pederasts were married. As a rule, the pederasts who have had frequent or long-term liaisons with boys are less likely to be married. They are for the most part under thirty-five years of age. Of the total group of persons interviewed, from ages 18 to 91, half were under thirty.
How were these pederasts located? A thousand letters were first sent to a cross section of persons who had ordered pederast materials through European commercial mailing lists. These letters requested newspaper clippings or other information about pederasty and boy prostitution. Nearly half of the persons written to replied with letters or clippings. Through them contact was made with another 600 persons. Over 200 of these were personally interviewed, and detailed correspondence, life histories and questionnaires were received from an additional 200. Questions were asked through limited correspondence and/or interviews with approximately 300 more. In order to get information about how pederasts interpret and understand their experience, 100 of these persons for several years shared their ideas and fantasies with one another, and with a group of scholars from various disciplines, through a round-robin newsletter. Two hundred or so others passed on articles, books, papers they had written, as well as written comments on their own emotions and behavior - all of which were reviewed by these psychiatrists, social scientists, theologians and other scholars. Through this round-robin correspondence people revealed things about themselves they had never dared to tell before. For example, many of them traveled great distances to talk to the author in Paris, Beirut, Tangiers, Sydney, Toronto, and in North and South American cities.
Since the aim was not statistical, but was to listen to pederasts, a deliberate effort was made to seek out articulate pederasts who had thought through the nature and implications of their sexual experience. There is no way to establish whether or not they were “typical.” The first draft of this book consisted of twenty-six lengthy case studies, based on the assumption that it would be helpful to have more detailed information about representative pederasts. In later drafts the case studies were rearranged by subject, so that comparisons could be made between their experience at different stages of life.
Limits must be set for a book, yet each pederast must be viewed within the supporting structures of society and in the context of history, as well as in the context of his own experience. If one penetrates deeply enough into any problem so as to begin to understand it, it is found to be related to everything else in existence. There is, therefore, no reason to apologize for the tentative nature and inadequacy of a first discussion, nor for asking questions to which there are as yet no adequate answers. There is also the danger of simple answers and easy solutions. Since the sexual experience of the young, and of deviants who may be involved with them, is of concern to every parent and citizen, the aim here is to avoid jargon and the kind of terminology which seems to solve problems by complicated definition. Our aim has been to put aside pejorative language, and to see if we can approach a controversial subject intelligently, objectively, and with compassion.
This book is not intended as a defense of man-boy sexual involvements. However, pederasts are allowed to speak for themselves in their own words, which naturally includes their self-defense and self-justification. The reader is urged to delay emotional judgment until he or she has had the opportunity through these pages to get acquainted with some persons who may deserve as much sympathy as do victims of alcoholism, for it is the author’s firm view that we cannot understand the pederast, or deal adequately with the problem of pederasty, apart from a study of causes as unseen and difficult to cope with as the causes of alcoholism.
Responsible citizens will obey the law even while working for its revision to make it more consistent, humane and enforceable. Seen in that context, this is a moral book in that truth-telling is sought in areas where facts have been obscured and neglected, and where a deeper and fuller insight into sex offenders is required not only for crime prevention but also for the establishment of healthy sexual standards at a time when conventional morality and sexual mores are increasingly being weighed in the balance. A first step is surely an honest and open exploration of an underground where deviation flourishes. If some readers find the subject matter here to be offensive, we apologize by recalling the Italian journalist who was declared obscene for describing the suffering of starving babies. All persons need help and support and, with society itself floundering in a sea of overwhelming problems, we are inclined to propose as our theme the advice of a Scottish preacher: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
 The other two were Greek Love by J. Z. Eglinton (1964) and Loving Boys by Edward Brongersma (2 vols., 1986-90).
 Perhaps Herant Katchadourian, Human Sexuality; Sense and Nonsense (1972) is meant.
 Possibly Donald Clemmer, The Prison Community, Chicago, 1958, is meant.
 Lee Dorian, The Young Homosexual, L.S. Publications, 1965. [Author’s bibliography]
 It is not clear which of Gide’s works is intended. None listed in the bibliography were published in 1965, by when Gide was dead.
 See definitions of terms at back of book. [Author’s footnote]
 Brian Taylor, “Doesn’t Apply to Me, Forster.” Department of Sociology, Univ. of Aberdeen, Scotland. Unpublished typescript.1975) validates autobiographical novels as reliable sociological data on pederasty. [Author’s footnote]
 Frits Bernard, Pedofilie (Bussum: Aquarius, 1974). [Author’s footnote]
 Linda Wolfe, New York Times Book Review (Jan. 19, 1975), uses this language to describe how books on sexual problems deal with faceless strangers. [Author’s footnote]
 Paul Gebhard et al., Sex Offenders: An Analysis of Types (New York: Bantam Books, 1967), p. 229. [Author’s footnote]
 Thorkel Vanggaard, Phallos — A Symbol and Its History (New York: International Universities Press, 1972), see chapter 18. [Author’s footnote]
 See Paul Goodman, Five Years (New York: Vintage, 1966), Robert Sorensen, Adolescent Sexuality in Contemporary America, (York: World, 1973), Tony Duvert, Le Bon Sexe lllustré (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1974). [Author’s footnote]
 See Arcadie (January, 1974), p. 37, and for a British organization’s view, Manchester Guardian (May 18, 1974). [Author’s footnote]
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