The Puzzle of Male Chronophilias

Abstract

In this article, I return to the idea that pedophilia, a sexual interest in prepubescent children, can be considered a sexual orientation for age, in conjunction with the much more widely acknowledged and discussed sexual orientation for gender. Here, I broaden the scope to consider other chronophilias, referring to paraphilias for age/maturity categories other than young sexually mature adults. The puzzle of chronophilias includes questions about etiology and course, how chronophilias are related to each other, and what they can tell us about how human (male) sexuality is organized. In this article, I briefly review research on nepiophilia (infant/toddlers), pedophilia (prepubescent children), hebephilia (pubescent children), ephebophilia (postpubescent, sexually maturing adolescents), teleiophilia (young sexually mature adults, typically 20s and 30s), mesophilia (middle-aged adults, typically 40s and 50s), and gerontophilia (elderly adults, typically 60s and older) in the context of a multidimensional sexual orientations framework. Relevant research, limitations, and testable hypotheses for future work are identified.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    I use the term age throughout this article, but, as I discuss later, I am actually referring to sexual and physical maturity stages. Age is a useful but not perfect proxy for maturity stage.

  2. 2.

    I am interested in both male and female sexuality, but so little is known about variations in age preferences among females that this review necessarily focuses on male chronophilias.

  3. 3.

    Darwinian selection would be less powerful for women, as they could successfully reproduce with any male capable of producing viable sperm, from adolescent to elderly man, though the quality of sperm deteriorates with age. This does not mean women are indifferent to age, however, as age is correlated with traits that are of significance, such as social status, access to resources, and physical strength.

  4. 4.

    Although preferred WHR varies across populations, men seem to always prefer women with a WHR lower than their own (e.g., Bovet & Raymond, 2015).

  5. 5.

    Some have argued that facial neoteny is not a male universal, instead reflecting the impact of novel environments (e.g., Scott et al., 2014). Also, other facial features matter too, particularly symmetry, averageness, and femininity. Though correlated with each other, each facial parameter is distinct; for example, the extreme neoteny of female models, for example, is not consistent with averageness, by definition.

  6. 6.

    You can figure out the acronym for yourself.

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Acknowledgments

This article began as a talk given at the 2015 Puzzle of Sexual Orientation meeting held at the University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, in July 2015. A Storify of live tweets from this meeting is available at: https://storify.com/MCSeto/puzzles-of-sexual-orientation-2015. I am grateful for travel support from the Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. My deep thanks to Kelly Babchishin, Ray Blanchard, James Cantor, Meredith Chivers, Martin Lalumière, and Skye Stephens for their very helpful feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript. This article builds directly on Seto (2012), an article I wrote after my presentation at the 2010 Puzzle of Sexual Orientation meeting that was part of a previous special issue in this journal.

Funding

Travel to attend the Puzzle of Sexual Orientation meeting was provided by the Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research and a meeting grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

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Correspondence to Michael C. Seto.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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An erratum to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10508-017-1039-9.

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Seto, M.C. The Puzzle of Male Chronophilias. Arch Sex Behav 46, 3–22 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0799-y

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Keywords

  • Age preferences
  • Chronophilias
  • Paraphilias
  • Sexual orientation