04 March 2009

What really happens when gay boys get intimate with men

We tend to see sex between gay boys and men through the filter of man-and-girl sex. We assume that the encounter has analogous characteristics, of exploitation or intimidation. That there's clearly a predator and a victim. Here's a scientific study by Bruce Rind. Full essay.


Anonymous said...

Uninformed consent carries a lifetime of damaging consequences. Does a teenager know better? What about possible abuses of authority e.g sexual advances from a teacher?
The study you quoted is unconvincing, and where blind faith dictates, instincts prevail.
Gay youth deserve better. It is disappointing that you, supposed advocate of gay rights, fail to see that.

Anonymous said...

When you were sticking
to "what two consenting
adults do", you had clear
and overwhelming
moral superiority.

The recent spate of articles
on "age-discrepant" (not
excluding minors) sex is starting to remind me of the pro-pedophile activist sites.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Anon #2, What did I predict would be the response to scientific enquiry into this subject?

Analyse your response: Are you responding to the facts with more/better facts; or at least re-reasoning, based on the agreed facts? Or are you attempting to silence?

Anonymous said...

YB, I recall VERY, VERY distinctly several years ago when there were a couple of cases of adult men who were jailed for sex with minor girls. (Strangely, both the grirls were 15.) Out of curiosity and to look out for the expected double standards, I trawled many local forums (one of them was the old STI) to 1) see if there were discussions on those cases, and 2) to gauge reactions to them. What I found was that the reactions were overwhelmingly against the convictions. Naturally, those reactions came from hetero men. Even back then, I knew that reactions by heteros to any parallel case involving a gay minor would immediately morph into discussions about pedophilia. How predictable.

Anonymous said...

To YB,

To say that I am trying
to silence you is really
desperate. I hope I don't need to
point out the absurdity
of what you are saying.

You want to know the nature
of my reaction? Just read any apologetics from a religion that
has its founder marry a pre-teen
and feel your own the reaction "first hand".

Anonymous said...

To YB.

It is one thing for something
to be accepted scientifically.
It is another for society to
change its norms and laws in response.

What if the "Bell Curve" was accepted as science?

Anonymous said...

To YB,

Let's not equivocate then.

Based on these studies,
the age of consent for
boyes should be lower than
that for girls?

Or that if the minor is a boy,
the punishment should be lower
that it is for girls?

If this is misrepresenting
you, please be clear then.

Distill your article down
to what really matters.
The age of consent. And
whether the penalty should be
greater if the victim is
a girl.

Anonymous said...

I think YB's purpose in reporting this study is to get people to think critically how harsh or lenient sentencing should be, not whether it should be legal or not. At least this is how I read tha totality of the last few articles. Somewhere in one of them, he made it clear that it should remain criminal.

I agree that it is a fair question what would be approrpiate sentencing. The penalty for any wrong act must depend on the harm inflicted and that's where scientific studies are needed. Just because they may not conform to what we used to think, doesn't mean they don't have value.

In Saudi Arabia, I read somewhere, a woman was stoned for engaging in adultery. What happened was that she was raped by a man, but the conservative perspective saw culpability on her part. Any study that pointed out that the locus of responsibility lay on the other partner might also be rejected in the same way Anon #1 and 2 seem to be rejecting this study's POV.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Since it is a peer-reviewed publication in a respectable journal, I don't think it is fair to just dismiss it like the first anon did. Pointing out a scientific study can hardly be called "blind faith", nor should its findings be dismissed because they don't gel with "instinct". I would say that more study might shed more light on the topic. It's probably a bit taboo to study this this in academia though. I doubt Singapore's institutions would fund such study, for example. But it is far better if our country's laws were based on sound scientific research, rather than "instinct". Quite a few scientists in the middle ages were executed because their findings didn't match people's instincts either. Galileo's excommunication wasn't lifted for hundreds of years. Are we really any more "modern" then them?

Glass Castle said...


An important parallel is with someone who has sex with a person with significant mental impairment. People with severe mental disability are perfectly capable of experiencing and expressing sexual desire, but they are in a vulnerable position in relation to fully able people in terms of their ability to comprehend, accept and handle the concomitant social and health consequences of sexual activity. Fully able people who are behaving responsibly would in my view refrain from sexual activity with a severely mentally disabled person because of the resulting difficulty in ascertaining meaningful consent.

Another parallel is when you encounter a very drunk person who appears to be expressing sexual desire for you. If they are drunk, it is exploitative to have sex with them because they are not in a position to actively consent.

I would say adolescents, for a number of significant structural reasons - like differential social standing, financial and other forms of independence, and legal rights - are in an analogous position in relation to adults. It doesn't matter whether it's "damaging" per se: a responsible adult should refrain from engaging in sexual activity with them nonetheless. Rape (and I would consider all cases of adults engaging in sexual activity with a minor rape) is not dependent on the "damage" done to an individual victim in order to be reprehensible. It's engaging in sexual activity in situations of significant power imbalance, leading to lack of meaningful consent, which is the problem.

- Jolene (www.glass-castle.org)

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Anon 5 March 12:14 -

You said: "Or that if the minor is a boy, the punishment should be lower that it is for girls?"

Read the article again. Was the study about "boys" or "gay boys"?

Anonymous said...

To YB,

Hmmm, I explicitly mentioned

You omitted the word
in your latest reply

how absurd it must be making
that distiction (gay or not)
once minors are involved.

Anonymous said...

I don't know which is more
successful or hilarious or sad.

Justifying sex with minors

with "S"cience


with "S"cripture.

Anonymous said...

To YB:

If you are talking about
minors, what difference
does it make if they are
gay or not.

If you are NOT talking
about minors, what's your
point? Between consenting
adults, whatever the age gap,
even LKY thinks we have to
move with the times.

Anonymous said...


Firstly, congratulations on your 1000th post!

What I find really interesting in the other comments is the immediate reaction of some of your readers in coming to the conclusion that you are trying to go soft on pedophilia or something to that extent. You did nothing more but regurgitate research, research that appears to have come from a very credible source. You very clearly and carefully steered clear from giving your reader any real conclusion, which is great, because here we have readers filling up the blanks for you. My conclusion? Things aren't as clear as we thought they would be. :)

ravi4u2 said...

Rind's paper which was initially accepted as valid in scientific circles and celebrated by the North American Man-Boy Love Association was eventually proved to be flawed by Researchers from Stanford University, Texas A&M University and the Leadership Council, on the other hand, responded by conducting an independent review of the data.

This review revealed that the paper contained "fundamental flaws that are an embarrassment to science." "Rind's paper was a stacked deck of poor population and study selection, misreported data, and misrepresented findings that inevitably led to wrong conclusions," says Dr. David Spiegel, co-author of the new study and Associate Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine Stanford University School of Medicine is affiliated with Stanford University and is located at Stanford University Medical Center in Stanford, California, adjacent to Palo Alto and Menlo Park. .

"Some of the paper's most glaring misrepresentations led to the conclusions most celebrated by pedophiles," says co-author Joyanna Silberg, PhD., a Child Psychologist at Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Baltimore. What Dr. Silberg finds most astounding a·stound
tr.v. a·stound·ed, a·stound·ing, a·stounds
To astonish and bewilder. See Synonyms at surprise.

[From Middle English astoned, past participle of astonen, is the paper's claim that "consenting" boys aren't harmed by sex with adults. "They had absolutely no data to support such an assertion," says Silberg. She notes that their so-called "consent" group was actually comprised of a wide variety of subjects including victims of forced assaults and intrafamilial incest -- none of whom were ever asked whether they participated "willingly" in their abuse.

"From a purely scientific standpoint, this is a very serious misrepresentation.

In law, any false or misleading expression of fact, usually with the intent to deceive or defraud.

It most commonly occurs in insurance and real-estate contracts. False advertising may also constitute misrepresentation," says lead author Stephanie Dallam, RN, MS, FNP FNP Family Nurse Practitioner
FNP Frederick News-Post (Frederick, MD newspaper)
FNP Fédération Nationale des Podologues
FNP Foundation for National Progress (Mother Jones)
FNP Fusion Point . "However, from a public health standpoint it is potentially very dangerous as pedophile websites and newsletters are using these erroneous claims to justify abusing children." The flawed study is also making its way into legal circles notes Dallam. She points to an Arizona case, where an elementary school teacher convicted of abusing numerous young boys used the study to argue for a reduced sentence. He claimed that the Rind study shows that children aren't harmed by being molested.

The Leadership Council is a non-profit scientific organization headed by Paul Fink, MD, a past president of the American Psychiatric AssociationThe American Psychiatric Association (APA) is the main professional organization of psychiatrists and trainee psychiatrists in the United States, and the most influential world-wide. Its some 148,000 members are mainly American but some are international.

For more information go to: http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/Research/Rind/rind.html.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Ravi42u -

Indeed, I would advise readers to read the stuff on the Leadershipcouncil's site. But do read it carefully, and note that:

1. Almost all the discussion/critique is about a paper by Rind, Tromovitch and Bauserman (1998) published in Psychological Bulletin, whereas the article in Yawning Bread was about a different paper, by Rind (2001) published in Archives of Sexual Behaviour. The flaws that Ravi4u2 referred to would then be the flaws in the 1998 article - which I haven't seen so I can't comment on it.

2. The Leadership Council's full name is "The Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Sexual Violence" suggesting that it is invested in highlighting to the public the dangers of child abuse. It may contain scientists, but they have an agenda. Not that there is anything wrong with an agenda that seeks to sensitise the public to child abuse - in fact it should be worthwhile - but such an activist organisation might find Rind et al's 1998 paper (which was not the subject of the YB article, so I don't know what exactly its conclusions are) inconvenient to its aims.

3. Read critically the discussion on the site titled "The controversy surrounding the publication of Rind et al", and you will see that what was happening was that paedophile groups used Rind et al to justify their aims, which led to outrage. The problem seemed to be much less a question of science (and if you read closely, the 2001 study does not seem to have been criticised as bad science) but over the uses of science.

In fact, one of the critiques of the 1998 study (Ondersma et al 2001) struck me as more a political treatise than a sceintific critique when its authors "argue for the appropriateness of the term abuse and for scientific terminology that reflects rather than contradicts consensual public morality." Eh? They objected to Rind et al 1998 because it didn't use loaded terminology in popular use?

Another critique of Rind et al 1998 said Rind was wrong to have used a "healthy sample".... again this strikes me as a strange criticism. I'm not sure if this critique's authors (Dallam et al) really thought Rind should have used a sample of psychologically aberrant people... and that such a smaple would provide more scientifically valid results.

I am not here to defend Rind. I simply think it is important to treat science as science, and not to expect science to serve anyone's agenda. But good science can inform the decisions we make.

Anonymous said...

"I am not here to defend Rind. I simply think it is important to treat science as science, and not to expect science to serve anyone's agenda. But good science can inform the decisions we make."

There is "science" and there
is "science".

Not all areas of study apply the
scientific method with equal
success. By a labelling all
of them as "science" without
further qulification, the
prestige of quantum
mechanics, biochemistry and
physiology is undeservedly
associated with far less
successful disciplines.

Every educated person knows
this intuitively. The
theories in physics
is far less prone to being
manipulated by social agendas
than psychology (or economics,
a discipline no less scientific
than psychology).

You say some critiques of Rind
are motivated by social agendas.
Why then should anyone's support for it (or closer to your point, use of it in social policy) be immune from that charge?

Anonymous said...

i knew i was gay at pubertymany crushes on older men i was ready for consentual gay sexand needed it for my own identity confirmation older men were my lovers and also mentors

gaynaturist said...

i knew and was happy knowing i was gay at puberty i willingly gave my consent to older lovers it helped my self acceptance