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Enjoyment and Emotionally Negative Reactions in Minor–Adult Versus Minor–Peer and Adult–Adult First Postpubescent Coitus: A Secondary Analysis of the Kinsey Data

Abstract

Using the original Kinsey sample, enjoyment and emotionally negative reactions to first postpubescent coitus were examined in relation to whether the coitus occurred as a legal minor (aged under 18) with an adult (5 or more years older), a minor with a peer (within 4 years of age), or an adult with an adult (both 18 or older). These responses were further examined in subdivisions of the minor–adult and adult–adult categories. Given widely held professional and lay assumptions that minor–adult sex is intrinsically traumatic or aversive, tested was whether reactions to minor–adult coitus were characteristically negative, irrespective of gender, and distinctly more negative than minor–peer and adult–adult coitus. In general: minors with adults enjoyed the event as much as minors with peers or adults with adults; boys (i.e., male minors) enjoyed it substantially more than girls, irrespective of partner age; and minors with adults did not have more emotionally negative reactions than the other groups. Younger boys (14 and under) with women (mean ages: 13.37 and 24.27, respectively; mean age difference: 10.90 years), compared to men with peer-aged women (mean ages: 21.76 and 21.58, respectively; mean age difference: 0.18 years), enjoyed the coitus a great deal (the top scale value) significantly more often (63 % vs. 44 %) and had emotionally negative reactions no more often (15 % vs. 12 %). Younger girls (14 and under) with men (mean ages: 13.19 and 26.42, respectively; mean age difference: 13.23 years), compared to women with peer-aged men (mean ages: 22.38 and 23.78, respectively; mean age difference: 1.41 years), enjoyed the coitus a great deal at the same rate (17 % vs. 18 %) and had emotionally negative reactions no more often (18 % vs. 16 %). Assumptions of characteristic trauma or aversiveness in minor–adult first coitus, as well as gender equivalence in response, were contradicted.

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Notes

  1. Notably, the Laumann et al. (1994) interviews would be an excellent alternative or addition to the Kinsey interviews as a source for examining reactions to first postpubescent coitus. Their data are about a half century more recent and were based on a nationally representative sample. Generally speaking, the Laumann et al. study is considered to be an improved, updated version of the Kinsey research. Nevertheless, consistent with most research on first postpubescent coitus, it did not collect reaction data on this experience.

  2. In sexual victimological theory, as it developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s, traumatic reactions at the time and long-term harmful effects were viewed as tightly and causally connected, in that the latter were held as likely or inevitable consequences of the former; and since harm was universally assumed in this theory, trauma was assumed to be necessarily pervasive as well (Clancy, 2009; Jenkins, 1998; Nathan & Snedeker, 1995). Hence, examining whether trauma is pervasive, common, or only occasional in adult–adolescent sex, as in the present study, has important implications for sexual victimological theory.

  3. Most of the interviews (93% for males, 99% for females) were conducted by four researchers from diverse disciplines (biology, psychology, anthropology). For male and female participants, respectively, these four were: Kinsey (ns = 3,000 and 2,231); Pomeroy (ns = 1,943 and 2,691); Martin (ns = 574 and 579); and Gebhard (ns = 663 and 802).

  4. The wording for several items differed in minor ways in presentation to male versus female participants. For male participants, “emotional” was added to the list of descriptors for painful and embarrassed and for embarrassed; “annoyed” was added to the list of descriptors for disgusted; and “conscience” was added to the list of descriptors for moral.

  5. Two other participant–partner relative age groupings, not considered in the present analysis, were minor–younger minor first coitus (participant was under 18 and partner was 5 or more years younger) and adult–minor first coitus (participant was at least 18 and partner was 17 or younger and at least 5 years younger than the participant). In practice, these categories numbered relatively few cases.

  6. Technically, the minor–adult category is more precisely a minor–older person category, because, if the minor was less than 13, the older partner could have been a minor as well. In practice, more than 99% of older partners were adults aged 18 or above, justifying the “minor–adult” label.

  7. “Adult” rather than “older person” as partner was justified, because almost all older partners were adults aged 18 or above: 97.66% for boys 14 and under and 97.10% for girls 14 and under.

  8. For example, if 6 groups are listed vertically in a table, and across from them are the letters A, A, BC, BC, B, and C for groups 1–6, respectively, then: groups 1 and 2 are statistically the same (with common letter “A”), but different from groups 3–6 (which do not have “A”); groups 3, 4, and 5 are statistically the same (all have “B”); groups 3 and 4 are the same as 6 (all have “C”), but group 5 and 6 are different (they do not have a common letter).

  9. Rind et al. (2000) eliminated the Landis (1956) study, because it was an outlier in terms of type of sexual experiences (mostly non-sexual approaches, usually reacted to negatively) and sample size (it was much larger than the others). These factors substantially overweighted the overall estimates, skewing the results towards negative reactions.

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Rind, B., Welter, M. Enjoyment and Emotionally Negative Reactions in Minor–Adult Versus Minor–Peer and Adult–Adult First Postpubescent Coitus: A Secondary Analysis of the Kinsey Data. Arch Sex Behav 43, 285–297 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-013-0186-x

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Keywords

  • Age-discordant sex
  • Minor–adult sex
  • Minor–peer sex
  • Adolescence
  • First coitus