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Reactions to First Postpubertal Male Same-Sex Sexual Experience in the Kinsey Sample: A Comparison of Minors With Peers, Minors With Adults, and Adults With Adults

Abstract

Rind and Welter (2014) examined first postpubertal coitus using the Kinsey sample, finding that reactions were just as positive, and no more negative, among minors with adults compared to minors with peers and adults with adults. In the present study, we examined first postpubertal male same-sex sexual experiences in the Kinsey same-sex sample (i.e., participants mostly with extensive postpubertal same-sex behavior), comparing reactions across the same age categories. These data were collected between 1938 and 1961 (M year: 1946). Minors under age 18 years with adults (M ages: 14.0 and 30.5, respectively) reacted positively (i.e., enjoyed the experience “much”) often (70 %) and emotionally negatively (e.g., fear, disgust, shame, regret) infrequently (16 %). These rates were the same as adults with adults (M ages: 21.2 and 25.9, respectively): 68 and 16 %, respectively. Minors with peers (M ages: 13.3 and 13.8, respectively) reacted positively significantly more often (82 %) and negatively nominally less often (9 %). Minors with adults reacted positively to intercourse (oral, anal) just as often (69 %) as to outercourse (body contact, masturbation, femoral) (72 %) and reacted emotionally negatively significantly less often (9 vs. 25 %, respectively). For younger minors (≤14) with adults aged 5–19 years older, reactions were just as positive (83 %) as for minors with peers within 1 year of age (84 %) and no more emotionally negative (11 vs. 7 %, respectively). Results are discussed in relation to findings regarding first coitus in the Kinsey sample and to the cultural context particular to Kinsey’s time.

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Notes

  1. We used the term “same-sex sample” rather than “homosexual sample” to avoid the implication in the latter term that all participants were gay, when this was not so in these samples, including Kinsey’s (see the text for details).

  2. For example, since 1999, in response to attacks associated with its publishing the Rind et al. (1998) meta-analysis, the American Psychological Association has taken the official position that minor-adult sex is always abusive and harmful.

  3. The traditional Kinsey heterosexual-homosexual scale is that from 0 (exclusively heterosexual) to 6 (exclusively homosexual), which constitutes researcher-scored values, as opposed to the participant-scored values discussed in the text, with their range from 00 to 60. Traditional Kinsey scores, however, were not available in the computerized data set used for the current analysis.

  4. In addition to the scale values listed in the text, these variables also had scale values of: 5 = none now, formerly more; 6 = little now, formerly more; 7 = some now, formerly more; and 8 = none plus comment. These responses were recorded here as 1 = none, 2 = little, 3 = some, and 1 = none, respectively.

  5. In providing the partner’s age, a participant could give his actual age or say “close” in age or “considerably older.” For participants choosing “considerably older,” we estimated the partner’s age as the participant’s age plus 10 years. It might be suspected, for example, that among younger adolescents (under age 15) having sexual experiences with adults, their memories or perceptions might often fail them on their partner’s age, so that they would often choose “considerably older.” Contrary to this concern, however, more than 95 % of these participants offered an actual value for their partner’s age.

  6. Two other participant-partner relative-age groupings, not considered in the present analysis, were minor-younger minor (participant was under 18 and partner was 5 or more years younger) and adult-minor (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 for minor-younger minor and 4 for adult-minor.

  7. 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 95 % of older partners were adults aged 18 or above, justifying the “minor-adult” label.

  8. “Adult” rather than “older person” as partner was justified, because almost all older partners were adults aged 18 or above (92.2 %).

  9. An adult-younger adult category was not included because of too few cases (n = 10), with even fewer cases answering the key measures on reactions (n = 5).

  10. Percents in all categories would be higher if the data for being forced were complete, but only marginally higher because rates of force were low.

  11. Nocebo (Lat., “I will harm”) is the opposite of placebo (Lat., “I will please”). Here, harm comes from negative expectations produced by social beliefs or suggestion rather than from the experience per se. Iatrogenic psychological harm comes from negative expectations induced by an intervention (e.g., psychotherapeutic).

  12. Rind and Yuill (2012, p. 808 and p. 819) discussed secondary harm, including nocebo reactions and iatrogenic effects, in some detail. This discussion followed presentation of substantial evidence from other cultures and primate species that negative response by immature males to sexual contacts with older males is not inherent. Absent aggravating factors (e.g., force), cultural ideologies that encourage social perceptions of disgust and opprobrium, and a dominant discourse that speaks of abuse, violation, and damage, these relations generally proceed unproblematically. The presence of such ideologies and discourse, even in the absence of aggravating factors, can be nocebogenic, evidenced in the past involving other highly disapproved sexual behaviors (e.g., masturbation, adult same-sex sex, vaginal orgasm). Their presence today regarding all forms of minor–adult sex is an important potential source for secondary harm.

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Rind, B., Welter, M. Reactions to First Postpubertal Male Same-Sex Sexual Experience in the Kinsey Sample: A Comparison of Minors With Peers, Minors With Adults, and Adults With Adults. Arch Sex Behav 45, 1771–1786 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0719-1

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Keywords

  • Same-sex sexual experiences
  • First postpubertal sex
  • Sexual orientation