Friday, May 12, 2006

Intergenerational Sex [II, 31]

Studies of homosexual behavior on a worldwide basis recognize three types: age-differentiated, gender-differentiated, and egalitarian. While homosexuality in American society is predominately egalitarian, elements of age-differention exist. When these become salient in a given society, the result is called intergenerational. In principle the relationship between a forty-year-old man and one of sixty-five years is intergenerational. In practice though the expression usually refers to relationship between an adolescent an adult.

Our society tends to deplore such relationships, and this condemnation leads to some category confusion. There is a common, but inappropriate conflation of pederasty, sexual interest in adolescent youths, with pedophilia in the strict sense, sexual interest in children. This inexactness has contributed to the stereotype that gay men are child molesters. In reality, those gay men who prefer youthful partners usually restrict themselves to adults, males twenty-one years or older.

Historically there are many terms for the love object of the pederast, including catamite (classical), ingle (early modern English), and mignon or minion (early modern, originally French). An unfavorable name for a boy sought out for a pedophile or pederastic relationship is chicken. Men who seek them out are chicken hawks.

Those who pursue such relationships prefer the expression boy-love (sometimes discretely abbreviated as BL). The label BL can also be used for the devotee, the boy-lover.

In French the term pédé, stemming from pédéraste and therefore originally intergenerational, has now become a generic epithet. This semantic evolution demonstrates the unwarranted tendency to confuse adult-boy relations with adult-adult ones.


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