Taken from the collection Positive Memories, compiled by T. Rivas.
Source: The case of Philip is taken from Richard Yuill´s doctoral research of 2004, Male Age-Discrepant Intergenerational Sexualities and Relationships. ‘It was very good and there was equally, if not more, stimulation from the intellectual side than the physical side.'
Yuill: It concerns an individual named “Philip” (now in his forties) who, throughout his childhood and adolescence, experienced numerous sexual relationships with adult males. Philip was alerted to the research by another respondent and contacted me [Yuill] by phone, explaining that he wanted to discuss his experiences with adult men when he was a boy.
The four sexual experiences of Philip (as a young boy through to adolescence) with older men are relayed here chronologically.
Philip relates his first experience as a learning experience seeing - and being excited by - the somatic changes brought on by the man’s subsequent ejaculation. Although he draws a distinction between the psychic and sexual in his recollection of the event, he defines this event as superior to peer sexual experimentation.
Philip relays both physical and psychological excitement at the event, substantiating libertarian claims that differences in subjective perceptions between adults and young people (in terms of understanding and needs in the intimate and sexual sphere) does not invalidate a relationship, or the possibility for a young person’s needs to be fulfilled.
Philip: “My first arousal of adult men was when I was in Africa. … It was just my curiosity was piqued and I noticed that he was washing his genitals. He started to get an erection. … I was curious to explore his body further.
About three or four days later I crept into his bedroom. … I think he was fast asleep and I started playing with his penis. … I was just curious what an erection was. I think I’d experienced it a bit as a boy but they [erections] would come and go … and I certainly hadn’t seen anything as big as that. … I was most excited by his sexual excitement.
There was no sexual excitement for myself, it was just pure curiosity but he was clearly very aroused, and my touching him increased his arousal - that excited me more. I think it was just like childhood curiosity.”
Yuill: During Philip’s second experience when he was aged ten, there is more of a physical interchange, in which the man carried out particular sexual acts which excited him. Again, the initiative was shown by Philip who viewed it as furtive physical curiosity and playfulness.
Philip: “There was a chap who lived in the apartment above ours called Paul. . .I got onto the bed with him and he just had his shorts on…. He didn’t resist me, my advances to touch him and stroke him physically but he was a bit taken aback when I tried to feel his genitals.”
Researcher: You mentioned the first experimentation, looking at men’s erections. Can you recall the first time when you took it further, thinking about sexual activity?
Philip: “Paul actually on one occasion (when I was playing around with him and he was masturbating) inserted his finger into my backside, which really did excite me.”
Yuill: At various points in the interview, Philip reflected on his childhood experiences. He sums up his sexual experiences with adult men as seduction by him, but firmly embedded within child understandings of sexuality. He lists these as
- less selfish,
- and less fearful of rejection,
but also stresses the unavailability of labels to explain the activities in which he was involved. (…)
Philip: “Again, with time and sort of seduction, I suppose as a child it’s a conscious process but it isn’t quite as selfish as the sexuality you experience as an older person. So there’s a genuine interest in making the other person get a response and make them happy or whatever.
So I played around with them whenever I could. . . . They probably weren’t gay men or ‘pedophiles’. … I certainly didn’t have a name for them at that age. … I think as a child you just learn to take such things in your stride. . . . You don’t take a rejection of a physical advance quite so personally.”
Yuill: Philip characterizes his third experience as a more overtly sexual friendship. He contrasts this with a later more mature, intimate, and rounded relationship. He reiterates his assertiveness in initiating the encounters, coupled with his careful preplanning of the event.
Philip: “We had a next-door neighbour . . . and I was probably about nine/ten years old. He was going through a divorce, and I had got to know him quite well. …
I asked him if it would be okay if I stopped over for the night. … I got into bed with him and started playing around with him. And at first he objected, but I just persevered and got him fully sexually aroused and was masturbating him and trying to get him to orgasm. Because that was my objective: to get men to achieve orgasm. …
I persuaded him that I liked to have my bottom played with. . . . He loved my arse-hole. Of course that was my dream. And as our friendship (because it wasn’t a relationship) developed, we would get more and more bold about inserting things into my backside.”
Yuill: Philip notes significant developmental somatic changes associated with stronger orgasms. Alongside greater excitement, he explains how carrying out sexual acts in public places gave him more power in the exchanges.
Philip claims that he had control over his adult partner through the very process of initiation, whereby he could decide whether or not to begin a sexual exchange.
Rather than risk being construed as a negative debarment to adult-child sex, Philip views it as providing the impetus for a greater sexual thrill, in which he was able to appropriate a public space for his own needs.
Philip: “Now I was twelve/thirteen, and I was definitely having much stronger sexual responses. I was having orgasms. I wasn’t ejaculating as far as I can remember at that time. .
I used to get him to do risky things like put his fingers inside me when we were at the swimming baths in the cubicle drying afterwards. That was quite a turn on: the fact that it was in such a public environment, and I think the power I had over him in the sexual department. . I could wrap him round my finger to have sex. It was quite easily done and it was me that made the advances… He just identified as a sexual man and saw me as this curious boy who liked his arse being played with.”
Researcher: Did he at any time give pleasure to you through masturbation?
Philip: I used to masturbate myself. He would occasionally do it but I wasn’t really interested in that. My orgasms came through being screwed, the friction of rubbing my body against the sheets. The masturbating element really developed from my playing with him but I could quite easily get orgasms from being buggered."
Yuill: Philip draws sharp contrasts between the following experience when he was thirteen, which he characterises as more of an emotional and cognitive connection, including a greater symmetry of interests and experiences, and the former, which he views as purely physical. Although alluding to infrequent sexual contact, Philip considers learning from his adult partner, through acquiring knowledge and experience, as more important.
Philip: “This was a much older man (in his mid-fifties). Whereas the neighbour was in his thirties (a very virile docker) the older man was much more intelligent, more cultured and the relationship between ourselves was far more cerebral.
I´d go round, and we would read and listen to music… It was a more intelligent, mature relationship than the one I’d had with the docker, which had really been seduction on my part, very physical. . . This person didn’t have a huge penis unlike the docker, but that didn’t bother me.
This was a different relationship. We did things together, camping. . . . The friendship I had with the docker (the physical friendship) there was no sort of mental connection at all. I went round there purely to get my rocks off. But with the older bloke. … I wanted to learn more about music, about literature. It was more of an intellectual side. It was very good and there was equally, if not more, stimulation from the intellectual side than the physical side. Maybe every couple of weeks we would have sex. It was just masturbatory sex.”
Yuill: Throughout, Philip emphasizes the importance of his early familial and cultural context for scripting his early sexual experiences positively. He also positions himself through a libertarian sexual ethic of individual enrichment through empowerment. Philip also challenges dominant notions of age-appropriate interaction, by contending that the central component of his sexuality throughout his life course was a substantial attraction (physical, emotional, and intellectual) to adult men as opposed to his peers.
Philip: “I had a couple of friends, but because I was in and out of school my education was a bit all over the place. … It was quite clearly men that interested me not younger boys at all. … Their sexuality was (for want of a better term) now and for then… just playful and experimental, but I wanted to push…. I was pushing things further, but I never thought I was doing anything wrong. My parents (my mother especially) was quite liberated. … I grew up in quite a wholesome and healthy environment, without physical and sexual inhibitions.”
Yuill: Philip alludes to wider social contrasts between his interests and attitudes and those of his peers, ones which encouraged him to seek adult company and participate in adult activities. (…)
Philip: “Because I was quite independent and didn’t have many friends. … I had a different social attitude from my peers, different political attitudes through my grandparents. I was a socialist at seven or eight years old….
So I developed a lot of personal interests in music, and I used to like cycling a lot, joining the Youth Hostel Association … and I joined the Red Cross.”
Yuill: In contrast to CSA [Child Sexual Abuse] formulations, Philip eschews victim status in intergenerational relationships. Although recognizing physical power differences between adults and young people, he maintains that he was always able to distinguish consensual from coercive intergenerational experiences.
In all of his encounters and relationships he saw himself as the active seducer and initiator. He also relates that throughout these experiences, a range of his own needs (physical, educational, emotional and social) was met.
Philip’s account criss-crosses the mentor-child empowerment positions often referred to in positive discursive presentations of intergenerational sexualities (…).
Whereas there is a prominent theme of learning from his adult partners (commensurate with mentor-protégé conceptions), Philip clearly emphasises the multiple ways he was able to assert himself and push the limits of sexual contact. Although mindful of physical power differences, he asserts that he was the one who had control throughout such situations and knew exactly what he was doing.
Researcher: You mentioned that you always had an interest in adult men?
Philip: Yeah! I would say that from the age of seven onwards that my focus on sex and men have always been more mature men…. In all the relationships and friendships I was involved in, I knew exactly what I was doing, and knew what I set out to do and was fully in control.
And there were times as a boy, I travelled to and from school by train . . . and you would occasionally get old men into the apartment. … Sometimes I’d get turned on by that and hope that something happened and I’d engineer a situation. I’d play with my crotch or something to see if they were watching out the corner of their eye but if ever a man made an approach on me that would terrify me. …
I had to at all times be the seducer and initiator, and I think that was right and proper because I was a child and I knew my circumstances, I knew I was smaller and they were bigger and stronger men and I knew what rape was, and knew what physical assault was, and I wasn’t going to let that happen to me. … It never happened to me."