Gert Hekma

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Gert Hekma (24 September 1951 – 19 April 2022) was a Dutch anthropologist and sociologist, known for his research, publications, and public statements about (homo)sexuality, including pedophilia and sadomasochism. He taught gay and lesbian studies at the University of Amsterdam from 1984 to 2017. He served as editor or editorial board member of many periodicals, including Sexualities (1998-death), founded by Ken Plummer, Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia (1988-1997), GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (1993-2005) , and the Journal of Homosexuality (1985-death), ran until recently by the MAP ally psychologist John P. De Cecco.

In youth, Hekma was a member of the radical "Red Faggots" (Dutch: "Rooie Flikkers"). Hekma was a prolific book collector, and had a fetish for satin. Hekma advocated against masculinity, paternalism, traditional gender roles, and for a return to sexual practice over sexual identity.

Hekma and MAP politics

In the book reviews section for Sexualities, Hekma wrote on relevant authors including Bruce Rind, historian Phillip Jenkins, and Rudiger Lautmann. On the Rind et al. (1998) controversy, Hekma wrote:

The conclusions are clear. There are victims but for most boys sex with adults does not create damage. Relations with adult women are experienced as a form of sexual initiation. Those with men are more problematic because boys will often start to feel insecure about sexual orientation and gender identity. These problems are not inherent in the relation but [exist] in a social context that abhors unmasculinity and homosexuality. (Book Ends, Vol. 1, No. 4, 1999, p. 505).

After Rind et al. was unanimously condemned (but not refuted) by the United States Congress, Hekma wrote: "It is incredible that there was not one sane and thinking member of Congress to oppose this resolution." (Book Ends, Volume 3, No. 3, 2000, p. 368).

Hekma wrote an obituary for Frits Bernard (died May 2006), a Dutch psychologist, sexologist, homosexual activist, and key figure of the 1st wave of the MAP Movement, in Sexualities (2007, below).

Media scandals

In an interview with Martijn for OK Magazine (2004)[1], Hekma recalls that he had erotic dreams about Santa Claus at 6 years of age, and said of his childhood:

I was a happy child, that is beyond dispute. But, of course, it was a life without sex though. I masturbated many, many times and extensively and played with friends in the attic. It was erotic, but not sexual. It was a repressive milieu, so in that sense I do not look back at it that positively. I think that when you look at boys and yearn for them and that you don't know that you are gay or what it is; that is terrible.

In the same interview, however, he gave controversial commentary on the Marquis de Sade and pedophilia, arguing that Sade's philosophy demonstrates that pressure can be a benevolent force in sexual relations. He said:

Sade gives you the impression that actually people need to be forced to enjoy sexual pleasure. De Sade's small book Philosophie dans le boudoir (1795) [...] is a lesbian novel [...] about a woman who has fallen in love with a girl. This woman invites this girl to her and she is then given lessons in love by a number of gentlemen and by the woman herself. And within one day she knows then that this entire Catholic faith which she adhered to so much, and which especially her mother adhered to; that it is talking total nonsense. [... T]his sexual initiation happens under a certain pressure, by both the Catholics and Sade. There is the idea that if it is about sex, no pressure may happen. That is the big problem with pedophilia, because this involves unequal balances of power, and these men, they force boys to sex they do not want. As for Sade it is like[,] you need to be forced a bit to learn what you like. We accept this in many, many areas. You are forced to go to school. You are forced as a child to eat your food. You are forced to crap and pee neatly at certain times. The child is being forced endlessly, but as for sex it suddenly is not allowed anymore. Sade indicates: exactly with a little pressure you learn how nice sex is.

In 2007, Hekma received media coverage and death threats after supporting the idea proposed by a group of adolescents, to include a canal boat for gay youth at the Amsterdam Gay Pride. Hekma's discussion and response to these scandals can be found here.[2] In 2014, he co-created a petition addressed to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, requesting that the Dutch Supreme Court not ban the MAP association Vereniging MARTIJN. His support of MARTIJN resulted in death threats and an attempted burglary.

Broader perspective

Hekma was not himself a pedophile, and was in a lifelong adult-adult partnership with sociologist Mattias Duyves (b. 1953). The couple were together for more than 40 years, with Hekma meeting Duyves in 1977 and marrying in 2007. Previously, Duyves had once been a sexual partner of Michel Foucault.

Gert Hekma (left) and partner Mattias, in Portugal, 1984

In a 2013 book chapter "Same Sex, Different Ages: On Pederasty in Gay History", co-authored with Donald Mader (linked in publications below), they argued that expansive child pornography law inhibits modern scholars from observing the evidence for pederastic homosexual visual culture which has been open to scholars of the early 20th century, but is now increasingly gatekept in highly restricted archives due to the risk of criminalization and destruction of archival material. This has the added consequence of "eliminating material culture that could be evidence that “pederasts” or “pedophiles” had a culture and history" to begin with, "precisely the tactic that was used against colonial peoples in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, [...] or the tactic of Nazi Germany in its effort to destroy all remnants of Jewish culture to justify their destruction" (p. 180). Through an extensive survey of past scholarly investigation into homosexuality, they argued that pederasty comprised the vast majority of homosexuality's recorded history:

Nowhere in this alphabet soup is there a P for Pederasts — who, on the basis of our survey, have as much right if not more to be part of it. We are well aware that discourses create realities — or rather, rearrange them, making them comprehensible — and that it is the perfect prerogative of the LGBTTTQQI to define (homo)sexuality in terms of equal and symmetrical relations only. But there is a certain dialectic here: discourses can change realities by reshaping their dynamics, but they cannot create them out of the whole cloth. The history of pederasty is to a large extent the history of homosexuality, and vice versa [... and] desire that transcends age differences remains stubbornly alive in the LGBT community. [e.g. age-play and legal age-disparate sex - Newgon] (p. 187).

In a 2014 conference paper available to watch on YouTube (external link below), later published as "Kinderen, seks en zelfbepaling" [En: Children, sex and self-determination] - read in his absence by Thomas Hubbard - Hekma gave a historical overview of Dutch movements around pedophilia and pederasty. He proposes explanations for "the surprising demonization of pedophilia".

Hekma was PhD supervisor to Rachel Mosbacher, whose thesis was titled A Generation Silenced: The Role of Children as Seen Through the Discourse on Age of Consent Legislation (2007).[3]

External links

Selected Publications

A Cultural History of Sexuality in the Modern Age (2014), edited by Gert Hekma