Enid Bloch

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Enid Bloch is an academic who has written critically about Greek man-boy love. He writes:[1]

As the "passive" partner the boy was being used "like a woman," a humiliating experience in itself, and one that could have lifelong consequences. The most shameful thing that could happen to any Greek male was penetration by another male. It was up to the boy to try to prevent this from occurring, to keep his lover within certain limits. Intercourse was acceptable if it took place intracrurally, that is, between the thighs, or in other ways that did not involve actual penetration. It is unlikely, however, that a young boy could control an adult male, and many must have had to submit to whatever the man desired.

Anal intercourse not only shamed the boy but risked his entire future as a member of the citizen class. In Athens a male who had been penetrated by another, no matter at how young an age, and had taken money in exchange, even if forced to do so by his father, was no longer entitled to participate in the political institutions of Athens. He was unworthy, because he had in effect become both a woman and a prostitute. If as an adult he nevertheless went ahead and exercised his citizenship by casting his vote or speaking in the assembly, he could be put on trial and lose not only his citizenship but also his life. Such charges may not have been brought very often, but it did sometimes happen, and the very possibility must have preyed on the minds of boys who knew they could later be accused.

There were other psychological dangers as well. Not only was the pederastic experience destined to end in abandonment, with the man rejecting the maturing boy in favor of a younger one, but the boy himself at some point had to shift his sexual posture from that of a passive recipient to an active pursuer. As he grew toward adulthood he was expected to flip to an active role, first with younger boys and eventually with women. Some males had difficulty making such a change, and if they persisted in sexually passive ways they were once again subject to deep humiliation and shame.


  1. Bloch, Enid (Winter 2001). "Sex between men and boys in classical Greece: was it education for citizenship or child abuse?". Journal of Men's Studies 9 (2): 183-204. 

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