Research: Intergenerational Relationships in History

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There have existed a wide range of western and non-western societies that have tolerated or encouraged intergenerational sexuality. More recent examples are generally subcultures which run counter to modern sexual morality.

Ancient Greece

Much has been written about the Ancient Greeks and their age-structured pederastic relationships. So much in fact, that we can cite Wikipedia and Truthtree as accurate sources of information in this area. To the Greeks, relationships between men and adolescent boys were not only acceptable, but a desirable form of mentorship and (military) training towards the masculine ideal. As accounts reveal, rules and regulations within this model were particularly strict - arguably more so than in modern societies that condemn pederasty as pathological.

Many Greek men waited until they were about 30 years of age to marry. When they did marry, their partner would often be a girl of 12 or 14.[1]

18th century England

Girls as young as 12 were highly-valued for their attractiveness as prostitutes in England during the 18th century. Young, pubescent boys were also popular. The age-of-consent was not raised from 10 until the 19th century.[1]

1960s, 1970s, Baltimore

During these decades there were notable gay subcultures in America where young boys were allowed to have sexual interactions with men with little fear of ostracism or psychological trauma. Baltimore is one often recalled example of this.

1970s, 1980s, Netherlands

The Netherlands is a fairly recent example of a culture in which intergenerational sexual relationships were partially tolerated during a particularly liberal period of history. For some time, sexual relationships between a child above the age of 12 and an adult would remain legally immune to prosecution for as long as the younger partner, their parents or a welfare entity did not complain. Such authorities were much less inclined to lodge complaints during this period, leading to a markedly non-hysterical climate in which many such relationships succeeded. One writer to document such positive relationships was Theo Sandfort, whose most famous study remains an outstanding example of this unique period in time.


  • Haeberle, Erwin J. (1983). The Sex Atlas. The Continuum Publishing Company.
    "As mentioned earlier, our Western civilization has not always believed that children should be protected from all sexual contact. In medieval Europe, children were still freely touched, caressed, and fondled by every member of the household. Particularly in rural areas, parents, nurses, or servants were accustomed to masturbating small children to please them or to keep them quiet. (This practice is also found in many non-European societies. In the United States today, it is still alive among the Hopi Indians.)"


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bullough, Vern L. (2004). "Children and adolescents as sexual beings: a historical overview," Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 13(3), 447-459.