Debate Guide: Historical nonadult-adult sex

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For research, see Nonwestern Intergenerational Relationships, Intergenerational Relationships in History.

This imposition of social rules has become particularly intransigent only in the last couple of centuries in Western culture. In other cultures - so-called ‘primitive societies’ (e.g. the tribes of Papa New Guinea, Melanesia, and Aboriginal Australia), and also in ‘advanced’ societies (e.g. Ancient Greece and feudal Japan) - and even in the West up until the 17th century - physically intimate behaviour was never so rigidly labelled. What today would be termed ’sexual activity’ frequently fulfilled other purposes and functions. Phallic worship existed in almost every pre- Christian society, and served as a symbolic ritual of the vitality, strength, and essence of humankind. This frequently translated into initiation rites, whereby boys were ‘inseminated’ - in some cases from the age of 8, either anally or orally, with the sperm of older boys and men.

Such acts were not regarded as ’sexual’ as contemporary society would deem it - and were not regarded as primarily erotic or sensual acts - but were an essential aspect of transferring wisdom and honour to the young boys. To such an extent ’sex’ was an important aspect of socialization; a way of linking one generation to the next - a linkage that present day society sorely lacks. Such socialization was not merely confined to the human species, but also is widespread throughout our relatives in the animal kingdom, whereby pseudo-mating acts between older males and younger males serve as a crucial aspect in promoting cohesion amongst the group.