PHOTO: cover of controversial book by Judith Levine, M.D., Joycelyn M. Elders, M.D. "Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex," Thunder's Mouth Press, 2003. See previous post DSM V pedophilia, hebephilia, ephebophilia, teliophilia, gerontophilia (8/22/09).
Below is my letter in response to the "Editorial: Can't happen here? They thought that at Penn State, too," Gazette-Times, posted Jun. 26, 2012:
I support a proposed bill that requires college officials to report sexual abuse, as was described in a June 26 G-T editorial, "Can't happen here? They thought that at Penn State too."
However, this bill doesn't address the root problem of societal homophobia, which subconsciously teaches boys the code of silence:
Only "sissy boys" talk about being nude with "real men" who initiate "normal" homoerotic camaraderie in a male sports locker room.
Societal homophobia blames the victim. More than any threat by an abuser, boys fear that they will be blamed and called "gay" because they "went along with it" or did not report it until much later after regretting "doing it."
The fear is real. Merely mentioning the idea that any boy could "go along with it" triggers a violent homophobic disgust reaction in exclusively heterosexual men. Perhaps it is only theoretical bravado, but most men insist that as a boy they would have fought to the death if abused.
Boys will continue being victimized until society can overcome homophobia and empower boys to speak up before they do anything with a man that they might later regret.
Of course, the editorial was unsigned, as is the custom at most newspapers that consider unsigned editorials to represent the newspaper's stand, but I sense it was written by a man. (There is one male editor and one female editor who write most of the editorials.) The only reason this subject makes me cringe is because of the history of homosexuals being equated with child molesters in order to justify anti-gay discrimination -- child molestation is a topic so easily distorted and emotionally charged that the real problems are often ignored. I credit the editorial for not conflating these issues, but I still think they should have mentioned it explicitly to establish the differences.
See previous post DSM V pedophilia, hebephilia, ephebophilia, teliophilia, gerontophilia (8/22/09) that discusses the paper by Ray Blanchard, et al, "Pedophilia, Hebephilia, and the DSM-V," Archives of Sexual Behavior, June, 2009, p. 335-350 This paper is relevant to the Penn State case because it is debatable if the Penn State situation was a case of ephebophilia or pedophilia as it was popularly portrayed in the press. Blanchard's objective in his paper was to add hebephilia to the list of mental disorders in the next edition DSM-V. He defines it relative to these other categories:
- pedophilia is erotic preference for prepubescent children younger than 11 years old. (Greek word paidos for child)
- hebephilia is erotic preference for pubescent children ages 11 or 12 to about 14 or 15. (Greek word hebe for youth) Puberty is variously defined as the start of menstruation and adult-pattern pubic hair in girls or boys. Curiously, Blanchard does not mention the ability to ejaculate semen as being one of the definitions of puberty for a boy. To me the ability to orgasm and cum are significant.
- ephebophilia refers to those who prefer adolescents around 15-19 years of age. (Greek word ephebos for one arrived at puberty) Dorland's Medical Dictionary defines ephebes as being age 18-25.
- teliophilia ia a newer term to denote the erotic preference for persons .between the ages of physical maturity and physical decline. (Greek word tel(o) for related to end)
- gerontophilia is the erotic preference for the aged (Greek word geras for old age)
Blanchard notes that some of the above terms were coined long ago and he cites Krafft-Ebing and the German book by Magnus Hirschfeld, "Die Homosexualität des Mannes und des Weibes," 1914, 2nd Edition, Berlin, Louis Marcus Books, 1920, translated by Michael A. Lombardi-Nash, introduction by Vern L Bullough, "The homosexuality of men and women," Prometheus Books, 2000, which on p. 334-335, 361 defines "ephebophiles" (Google Books search) as being "sexually attracted to sexually mature youths from puberty to the early twenties."