Gisela Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg (female; born August 2, 1929) is a German sociologist, ethnologist, sexologist, and writer whose cross-disciplinary specialisms include psychology, Indo-European studies, religious studies, philosophy and, since 1980, increasingly anthropology. As Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg brings insights from these diverse disciplines to fields such as sexology, homophobia, and prejudice studies, the US Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists ranked her works on homophobia as internationally outstanding.
Her 1978 book Tabu Homosexualität: Die Geschichte eines Vorurteils (The Taboo of Homosexuality: The History of a Prejudice), is considered a foundational standard work in Germanophone research into homophobia, misogyny, patriarchy, and repression of sensuality and particularly repression of sexual deviance / non-normativity.
Two of her works, Mannbarkeitsriten (1980) and Der pädophile Impuls (1985/88) deal with anthropological research into the cross-cultural and cross-species nature on paederasty/Pederasty in Mannbarkeitsriten, and paedophilia/Pedophilia (defined as "sexual contact between fertile adults and infertile juveniles") in Der pädophile Impuls.
The second of these was published in English in 1988, in Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia, as "The Paedophile Impulse: Toward the Development of an Etiology of Child-Adult Sexual Contacts from an Ethological and Ethnological Perspective". She wrote:
We now know, at least since Freud, that children are not asexual beings [...] In the meantime children are "allowed" to masturbate and "play doctor", but if they seek to learn something about sexuality or direct sexual practices from those from whom they are otherwise accustomed to learn most things, namely from adults, then the majority of the population feels this to be a violation of the child's "purity". They assume (even in the face of proof to the contrary) that an ineradicable emotional harm has been caused and demand punishment of the "culprit" as if he were the worst kind of criminal.
What actually offends society about paedophilia, however, is not something inherent in it. Rather the offence is in its violation of the above-mentioned ideologies, which are partly Christian and partly of a pseudo-enlightenment tendency. The ideologies, further, assume the absence of child sexuality, so that its presence is seen as "against nature", when in reality nature has in fact already bestowed sexuality upon the child. In addition, the "seducer" might undermine the child's acceptance on faith of these ideologies, which for the child they are simply prohibitions. His actions are therefore subversive to repressive educational goals.
One commentator described the article as "probably the most interdisciplinarian scholarly approach to paedophilia ever published". In the journal's 1992 special issue on Intergenerational Lesbianism, she is interviewed on the topic by feminist activist/researcher Marjan Sax.
In 1990, she published "Pederasty among primitives: Institutionalized initiation and cultic prostitution", contributing to the famous scholarly compendium on "Intergenerational Intimacy" (1991) published as a special issue in the Journal of Homosexuality, with guest editors Theo Sandfort, Edward Brongersma, and Alex Van Naerssen. As an early LGBT advocate, influential academics like Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg reached and published supportive conclusions about homosexuals and homosexuality, including same-sex relations which transgressed age norms. Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg accurately distinguishes between pedophilia as an exclusive or preferential attraction to people before puberty, a possible identity category, and the act of intergenerational / age-gap sexual contact, deemed child sexual abuse in some legal jurisdictions and most current professional literature.
Earlier in 1986, she authored the Preface to the German edition of Theo Sandfort's first preliminary report to his long-term Dutch research study, examining ongoing mutually-willing man/boy sexual contact. The volume was published in English as The sexual aspect of paedosexual relations: The experiences of 25 boys with men (1981, English edition 1st reprint 1983), with its German edition being published by the German family planning/sex ed organization Pro Familia.
Anglophone readers may also wish to see her 1987 contribution, New research into the Greek institution of pederasty, in "Homosexuality: Which Homosexuality?", a one-off publication emerging from the International Scientific Conference on Gay and Lesbian Studies, Amsterdam.
- The Paedophile Impulse: Toward the Development of an Etiology of Child-Adult Sexual Contacts from an Ethological and Ethnological Perspective
- Backup web archive copy.
- Pederasty among primitives: Institutionalized initiation and cultic prostitution
- "Intergenerational Intimacy" (1991) special issue.
- Pädosexuelle Erlebnisse: Aus einer Untersuchung der Reichsuniversität Utrecht über Sexualität in pädophilen Beziehungen
- Pro Familia - German Wikipedia
- New research into the Greek institution of pederasty, in "Homosexuality: Which Homosexuality?", a one-off publication emerging from the International Scientific Conference on Gay and Lesbian Studies, Amsterdam.