Hebe, the Cup Bearer
Hebe was the cup-bearer of the Greek gods, daughter of the Lord and Lady of the Manor (Zeus and Hera), and all-around helpful little girl representing youth -- useful youth. She’s a little older than the “straight-sided” androgynous children -- when with the right haircut and trousers you can’t tell girls from boys -- and a little younger than a voluptuous child-bearing mother-figure. Think junior high. (11 to 14) The sexual desire for children who are at this stage is called “hebephilia.”
Ganymede: The homophilic version of Leda and the swan?
Boys might be represented by Hebe’s successor cup-bearer, Ganymede, but no one talks of ganymedophilia, which is too hard to pronounce even for the Latin word-inventors. Nevertheless, there can be sexual desire for the gangly boy with the tender mouth and big feet. The shared characteristic of the age-group might be their transitional physical and emotional state, moving from vulnerable child to sultry adolescent, from gender-specific gangs to pair-bonds.
Recently one of the constant DSM battles was whether to include hebephilia. Finally it was left out. Part of the argument was that it’s natural to desire a budding person and part of it was that by this age, some of the children are themselves predators of younger children -- sexual desire is no longer a one-way street. So therefore it may be useful to think about this age group separately.
Because so many children molested by priests fall into the category of the hebephilia, there have been people wondering whether there is something about celibacy or homosexuality that predicts or causes a priest to be hebephiliac. Dr. Cantor is of the opinion that it’s mostly a matter of altar boys and schools: persons with that predeliction would find they had opportunity, authority, and privacy -- as well as exposure to the charms of kids. In short, kids that age are molested by priests because they are there and because the priests can. It’s possible -- maybe likely -- that persons with that dynamic in their makeup would seek those roles. Athletic coaching in schools is another platform, quite parallel. The unstable emotional storms of an early adolescent find expression in competition, winning, belonging.
Several concepts impinge on hebephilia: care-giving, celibacy, homosexuality, spiritual formation, authoritarianism, and media concept-mongering. We have a Laocoonian tangle of serpents here, always remembering that the healing rod of Asclepius has a serpent twined around it (not the staff of Hermes, the caduceus which has two snakes), Those are sorted snakes. Leaving classic mythology, we have a can of worms, including step-fathers and families that throw out atypical kids at about this age.
There’s enough material here for a book, but basically the problems of Hebe and Ganymede are due to them trying their powers, unfolding into the world, searching to find their place, accepting leaders and role-model adults, and so on. If you have investigated their songs, movies, assumptions about life, video games, willingness to risk the streets despite drugs, violence, starvation and disease, you will know that it is one satanic dark world. The main trouble with trying to “save” them is that you’ll have to enter their world to do it. That means a certain experience and willingness to walk on the dark side. Some priests enjoy their Luciferean capes. Do-gooders prefer haloes.
When I was in the seventh grade, our teacher was Mr. Jones, a young man who caused a certain restlessness among us. He sponsored a photography club which was less about going out into the neighborhood to take photos and more about using the cold, damp, dark projection booth of the auditorium to learn to develop photos. The club didn’t persist. Nothing happened in that red-light setting of that dark room, at least not to me, but I still find the vinegar smells of the developing trays rather erotic and I don’t think I’m alone. Maybe it’s the constantly splashing water for rinsing prints.
Anyway, Mr. Jones promoted the diagramming of sentences and I was good at it, so in my dumpling Hebe state, I was oblivious. Other girls were not. They complained that he looked down their bodices, which in those days were quite modest. Then once a girl was trying to get something from a high shelf and he lifted her by her waist, but his hands slipped upwards. Pretty soon Mr. Jones lost his job, married the kindergarten teacher, and went through dental college on her dime. All of this was sort of “sub-social” if that can be used as a parallel concept to “sub-conscious.” One felt the vibes, but it was discussed secretly -- which is more intense than privately.
In that same time period the local Presbyterian minister was intent on getting us into religious conformity. Since this was an issue in my family (Presbyterian mother, atheist father), I recognized the limbless reptile and resisted. There WAS something sexual about his insistence that he control us, forcing us into his system of virtue, though there was never anything physical. That I knew of.
There are other factors, some of them addressed by our computer ability to investigate things statistically. Dr. Ray Blanchard is at the University of Toronto with Cantor, but he's more controversial. He wanted to put hebephilia in the DSM on grounds that same-sex hebephilia is a different subset of pedophilia. “ Using an extraordinary compilation of data from thousands of men, Blanchard has convincingly shown that hebephiles consist of a sort of "missing link" between pedophiles (those attracted to pre-pubescent children) and teleiophiles (those of us attracted to sexually mature people). Blanchard's data clearly indicate that the sexual orientation of males (at least) isn't just composed of the sex of their partners, it's also composed of the age of their partners.” But he did NOT want homosexuality to go back into the DSM though the church tries to link hebephilia with homosexuality, esp. male. These kinds of distinctions are pretty tough for the public to follow.
A Russian man
It's tough to know how to interpret even plain facts. Among the fact-findings of the incessant surveyors is the startling conclusion that the average penis size of males (presumably world-wide, but I doubt that any Sub-Saharan or Amazonian tribes were included) is several centimeters shorter (no specifics about erectile state) than it used to be and that females are becoming fertile earlier and earlier. Russia is depopulating, they say, with the raw numbers declining, the rate of abortions rising, and the lifetimes of males shorter by 7 years on average. Much of this is speculation since Russia doesn’t like criticism and prevents it by not knowing. But one suggestion is that processed foods, insecticides, antiseptics, and even cleaning formulas contain estrogens that are distorting male sexuality. Another Twinkie defense. Mr. Clean made me do it.
In the US we want to know stuff; particularly we want to know what will make people buy things. This penetrates (sorry) into sexual concepts. Evidently, as Valier and Kalispell recently discovered, men will pay for hebephilic opportunities of the female kind. The entrappers didn’t use any Ganymedian bait. They don’t seem to have the same ferocious ownership issues with boys that they have with girls.
Dr. Ray Blanchard, a little farther out than the angels.
Blanchard also emphasized only female hebephilia, suggesting that sex with young girls (which is an accepted part of some cultures, especially the male-dominated ones) is evolutionarily adaptive, which is how he links fertility to the issue. But he doesn’t consider the medical danger of pregnancy and birth for girls who are not grown, esp. in places with no medical support. Still, fertility as an issue is interesting in same-sex relations because the latter removes the obligation and burden of caring for the ensuing children, doing the work of maintaining family. The church has accepted this responsibility for family maintenance only with great reluctance, except for a few popes who secretly sent child support to their bastards.
At this point in the research it’s clear that all is still beginning and that the answers, in particular those involving institutions that allow access to early adolescent children and those that ENCOURAGE the sexualizing of young people or offer opportunities to act on the impulse, need to be considered alongside one-on-one sexual events. Much more is involved than morality.