Dares to Speak: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Boy-Love (book)

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Dares to speak : historical and contemporary perspectives on boy-love, by Joseph Geraci, Swaffham : Gay Men's Press, 1997.

The book consists for the most part of reprints of articles which appeared in Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia, with a few additional articles.


Pioneering boylove anthology by Joseph Geraci, author of LOVING SANDER and other novels. Includes academic articles by Fritz Bernard and others, Hugh Kennedy's observations on novelist John Henry MacKay, excerpts from the journals of poet Lewis Thompson, five Uranian poems by Edward Perry Warren with commentary, Maarten Schild's "The Irresistible Beauty of Boys," interviews with Vern Bullough and others--and much more.

Source of the above: http://www.amazon.com/Dares-Speak-Historical-Contemporary-Perspectives/dp/0854492410

What was Oscar Wilde imprisoned for a hundred years ago if not the love of boys? Today once more, the "love that dares not speak its name" is despised and rejected, as if the sexual mores of classical Greece, medieval Japan or Islamic civilization could be adequately comprehended under a heading such as 'child abuse'. This pioneering anthology gathers contributions from a wide range of international authorities, broadly divided into cross-cultural and historical on the one hands and contemporary controversy on the other. Contributors include Gilbert Herdt, Gisela Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg, Holliday Wakefield and Ralph Underwager, as well as pieces on the Uranian poets and John Henry Mackay, "satanic ritual abuse" and legal changes in the Netherlands.


This is one of the most powerful, most important and almost the only book on the market today that deals with boy-love. It has a lot of history and it deals with the contemporary situation of boy-lovers in the world. I would give much more than five stars if I could because this book deserves that.

Review By: Anthony Smith

Paedophilia is a complex and controversial topic about which any sensible discussion is to be welcomed. Dares to Speak is a collection of articles that goes at least part of the way to affording some careful consideration of the issues involved.

The articles included in Dares to Speak come primarily from Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia. This scholarly journal was established in 1987 with the long-term objective of providing a "history of record" on the topic of paedophilia and with a short-term goal of advocating the practically possible. Thus, the journal appears to have aims which are both scholarly (understanding) and political (advocacy). While it is true that all scholarly activity is inherently political, understanding paedophilia is not the same as advocating it and this tension runs throughout the book.

For example, included in the book is a list of suggestions for further reading. The books and articles chosen have been explicitly restricted to positive accounts of intergenerational and childhood sexual issues. The reason for this restriction is that the journal seeks to distance itself from the proliferating child abuse journals and literature, and because the editors reject as unscientific the definition of intergenerational relationships as inherently abusive. However, it is one thing to reject such a definition but it is another to present only positive depictions of intergenerational relationships. Throughout the book paedophilia is defined implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, as referring only to those intergenerational relationships which are consensual and positive. This sleight-of-hand means that issues of consent are never discussed simply because if there wasn't consent then it wasn't paedophilia.

The articles in the collection are extremely varied in the quality of their writing and their likely interest to a general readership. Three chapters deal with aspects of the Dutch paedophile movement and law reform in the Netherlands and are likely to be of limited general interest. Another chapter of likely limited appeal offers sociobiological musings on the adolescent sex play of non-human primates and its possible relationship to paedophilia. The first part of the book deals with historical and cross-cultural perspectives on paedophilia. The historical component includes chapters dealing with the nineteenth-century poet John Henry Mackay, the writings of Edward Perry Warren from early this century in defence of paedophilia and excerpts from the diary of Lewis Thompson, a paedophile who lived in India in the 1930s and 1940s. The cross-cultural component of this section includes an interview with Gil Herdt, a review of some cross-cultural studies and an exploration of the history of paedophilia in the Middle East.

Gil Herdt is an internationally recognised sexuality researcher whose anthropological studies of the Sambia of New Guinea are well known. Herdt documented what he now calls "boy-insemination rites" in which men are fellated by adolescent boys in order that the boys be inseminated - a process crucial to their development as men and warriors. Throughout the interview Herdt is very careful not to allow what he described among the Sambia to be seen as in any way equivalent to paedophilia in the Western world. Underlining the problems of cross-cultural comparisons Herdt takes pains to explain that the meanings attendant on sexual practices, even practices that look exactly the same to an observer, are fundamentally shaped by the culture in which those practices are enacted. Thus, the fact that boy-insemination rites are an important and positive component of Sambian culture offers little support to the argument of Western paedophiles.

The care that Herdt shows in dealing with the issue of cross-cultural comparisons is not mirrored in chapters by Robert Bauserman on cross-cultural studies or Maarten Schil on paedophilia in the Middle East. Schil's chapter does, however, contain some enlightening material on the equipment helpful in pursuing Middle Eastern youths 800 years ago, including a needle with a long thread, a small bag of dust, an inflatable leather sack, a hairpiece and a bag of fresh brains.

The contemporary section of the book includes interviews with Vern Bullogh, Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager, all recognised experts on sexuality and child abuse. These interviews, along with the interview with Gil Herdt, really provide the meat of this book. The interviews provide critical insights into how and why paedophilia has come to constitute a moral panic in Western countries. These issues include the changing nature of the family, the special and innocent status of children and society's need to find scapegoats onto which to project blame for all things that are wrong. These sorts of analyses are very useful in developing a critical understanding of how the issue of paedophilia is currently being shaped. They do not, however, offer any explicit support for paedophilia despite leading questions from the interviewer.

The issue of paedophilia is likely to remain on the front page of newspapers for some years to come. Reasoned debate about the issues involved seems impossible at the moment, largely due to the absence of a critical understanding of enormous emotional energy that has been invested in paedophilia. Before we can address the problems inherent in intergenerational relationships, we need to defuse paedophilia - to unmask the anxieties which drive the moral panic it has become. Dares to Speak goes some way toward that goal, but it is a very uneven volume some of which is likely to be of little interest to a broad readership.

Table of Contents

Preface 7
Part 1 Historical and Cross-Cultural Perspectives
Interview - Gilbert Herdt 11
The Dutch Paedophile Emancipation Movement - Frits Bernard 34
Hiding in the Open. John Henry Mackay's "A Farewell" - Hubert Kennedy 50
"A Farewell. A Late Letter" - John Henry Mackay 61
The paedophile impulse : toward the development of an etiology of child-adult sexual contacts from an ethological and ethnological viewpoint - Gisela Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg 64
The Irresistible Beauty of Boys - Maarten Schild 83
"The Boy-Lover" - Edward Perry Warren 100
Five Poems - Edward Perry Warren 117
Man-Boy Sexual Relationships in a Cross-Cultural Perspective - Robert Bauserman 120
Celtic Pederasty in Pre-Roman Gaul - Érick Pontalley 138
The Journals of Lewis Thompson 148
Part 2 Boy-Love and Paedophilia - The Contemporary Storm
Interview - Vern Bullough 167
The Hysteria over Child Pornography and Paedophilia - Lawrence A. Stanley 179
The Netherlands Changes its Age of Consent Law - Jan Schuijer 207
The Satanic Ritual Abuse Phenomenon - Gode Davis 213
Interview - Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager 227
Government and Good Morals - H. J. Roethof 243
Suggestions for Further Reading 255
Index 277

See also

External Links