Why Some Parents are Afraid of Bare-Chestedness

Good analysis and great advice.

Nudie News


I have spent a lot of time studying fear and anxiety, generally and how it relates to normalizing female bare-chestedness. I traveled to New Hamphire this week to attend the trial of the women who asked to be cited after police officers asked them to cover their breasts at a Gilford town beach. Two witnesses testified […]

from https://breastsarehealthy.wordpress.com/2016/01/01/why-some-parents-are-afraid-of-bare-chestedness/

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2015 in review

Statistics for 2015 seem to show a slight decrease in visitors, despite the slight increase in quality of my recent posts! The most-viewed posts were still those from previous years.


Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Clitoral Erection and Healthy Sexual Function


Female sexual dysfunction is commonly considered a psychogenic condition and is commonly believed to be temporary and potentially treatable by psychodynamic therapy. However, Goldstien and Berman (1) have written about what they call clitoral erectile insufficiency, referring to a local vascular condition in some women that is potentially treatable through pharmacological intervention. “There is a growing body of evidence that women with sexual dysfunction will commonly have physiologic abnormalities, such as vasculogenic female sexual dysfunction, contributing to their overall sexual health problems.” In 2012 I proposed a neurological aspect of the absence of clitoral erection in some women that is probably permanent and untreatable. However, such neurological impairment may be easily preventable during early brain development, through adequate genital self-stimulation long before the massive neural pruning of puberty. I also proposed the label Clitoral Erectile Dysfunction as more specifically descriptive of the most obvious functional effect of that neurological impairment (2). In the present paper I clarify my hypothesis and confront some possible criticism.


In some cultures physical mutilation of the tip of the clitoris by cutting or burning have been widely practiced, and in view of the history of religious hostility against sexual desire and sexual pleasure in the West, we may say that mental castration of girls and women is also widespread here and now. It’s not surprising that many Western women report some form of sexual dysfunction. In various surveys in the U.S.A (3), a majority of women who were surveyed self-reported sexual dysfunction, e.g. they never or almost never experience orgasm during normal genital intercourse. Due to the unfortunate tendency to blame oneself and feel ashamed, equally unsurprising is that many women deny the existence of clitoral erection, or claim that clitoral erection is unnecessary or unimportant, or admit faking orgasm only for convenience rather than to hide any inability to reach orgasm without the aid of a medical device popularly called a “vibrator.”

Genital Erection

Many parents know that normal little boys experience frequent genital erections, either spontaneously or due to manual self-stimulation. My own observations of children at naturist (nudist) resorts in several countries have revealed that genital erections are just as common in little girls as in little boys. Long before puberty the tip of the immature clitoris often protrudes erect up to 5cm (2in), with the hood suspended from it like a curtain. Even when fully clothed and not visible, if a little girl straddles my knee I can sometimes feel the erect tip of the clitoris protrude and press against my knee like a very firm fingertip.

But clitoral erections seem to disappear after puberty and are rare in adult women, at least nowadays in the West. Most women and men I speak to about clitoral erections seem baffled. Despite Masters and Johnson’s reports of clitoral erections they detected (4), many women and men today are unaware that clitoral erections exist or are possible. Although both boys and girls are subject to “inhibition” by parents, it’s possible that such shame-training is more severe for girls, or simply more effective due to the cultural double standard. My hypothesis is that in some cases healthy clitoral erectile function atrophies during the massive neural pruning around puberty due to parental prohibition of childhood masturbation and sex play, and this is not merely a psychogenic problem but a neurological injury. There is some evidence of brain differences that develop in boys and girls: Between age four and puberty the interstitial nuclei of the anterior hypothalamus become larger in males compared to females, probably due to apoptosis (neuronal cell death) in females (5). Although the cause and functional significance of that finding is unclear, it is consistent with my hypothesis that girls who suffer a lack of stimulation during development have in effect suffered brain injury.

Physiology of Clitoral Erectile Dysfunction

Neural atrophy due to lack of stimulation during development is a well-accepted mechanism in brain development. The classic case is vision: if an eye is covered during development the animal becomes blind in that eye. There is not much wrong with the eye itself, but the relative brain areas that process signals from that eye atrophy due to lack of stimulation. “The fine-tuning of circuits in sensory cortex requires sensory experience during an early critical period. Visual deprivation during the critical period has catastrophic effects on visual function, including loss of visual responsiveness to the deprived eye1,2,3 reduced visual acuity4, and loss of tuning to many stimulus characteristics2,5” (6).

That is why newborns are examined for cataracts: if cataracts in an eye aren’t diagnosed and removed early the baby won’t develop binocular vision. Removing the cataracts later will be too late for normal brain development. The same principle is recognized for hearing and language, and these functions are all processed by the same part of the brain responsible for genital erection: the cerebral cortex (7). Although experimental evidence for this mechanism is with laboratory animals, I know of no dispute over the assumption that such a mechanism probably also exists in humans. I doubt that any responsible adult would suggest it’s Ok to prevent a child from exercising her legs until puberty, because the child will probably become a good walker anyway if she begins exercising her legs only at age 12 or 13. This is not a question of developing muscle tone, but rather early development of the respective brain areas that control the functions of each organ of the body.

Even a federal government website acknowledges this mechanism, although not specifically regarding sexual function: “The more babies are exposed to people speaking, the stronger their related synapses become. If the appropriate exposure does not happen, the pathways developed in anticipation may be discarded. This is sometimes referred to as the concept of ‘use it or lose it.’ It is through these processes of creating, strengthening, and discarding synapses that our brains adapt to our unique environment… Researchers believe that there are sensitive periods for development of certain capabilities. These refer to windows of time in the developmental process when certain parts of the brain may be most susceptible to particular experiences. Animal studies have shed light on sensitive periods… It is more difficult to study human sensitive periods. But we know that, if certain synapses and neuronal pathways are not repeatedly activated, they may be discarded, and the capabilities they promised may be diminished.” (8).

It’s also possible that early neglect may result in some local tissue damage, such as reduced vascularization and blood flow to clitoral cells, local ischemia, and stunted growth of the clitoris. There are some reports of genital erection occurring even after the spinal cord is severed (9), but only in patients whose erectile function was previously normal. Neural plasticity offers hope for regaining organ function lost due to disease or sudden injury to the brain, but again only in patients whose organ function was previously intact. I know of no women whose erectile dysfunction early in life eventually developed in adulthood. For these reasons I suspect that in some cases clitoral erectile dysfunction is probably permanent and untreatable.


I experienced repeated genital stimulation during early childhood (10), and I’ve continued to experience frequent erections (spontaneous and not) beyond puberty and into adulthood and old age. Contrary to popular fears, my early genital stimulation did not interfere with my otherwise normal development in other respects (11). In my younger years I was able to throb my penis to erection voluntarily. Much of human behavior that is apparently reflexive or involuntary in infancy, such as sucking, becomes voluntary later. Why shouldn’t genital erection also become voluntary in healthy individuals? In individuals with less developed genital function, erection seems to require considerable arousal, and according to my hypothesis they were probably insufficiently stimulated during early brain development before puberty.

What does penile erection have to do with clitoral erection? Some critics may object that genital erection is necessary for reproductive success in males but not in females. However, erection facilitates orgasm, and the anticipation of orgasm certainly contributes to sexual motivation or “desire,” as well as facilitating conception and contributing to a female’s quality of life. Researchers have found that females experience orgasm in other species of primates, so there is apparently evolutionary value to female orgasm.

Obstacles to Research

The cultural taboo against questioning the traditional sexual “inhibition” of children, especially any suggestion that childhood masturbation and sex play should be allowed or encouraged for any reason, leads to some alternative and bizarre attempts to explain female sexual dysfunction. One author has claimed that the reason many women have difficulty achieving orgasm during normal intercourse is because the clitoris is in the “wrong place” (12). Another author has claimed that since women don’t always have orgasm during intercourse, this “…must be seen as a design flaw” (13). I’m afraid the latter author is claiming a design flaw in anatomy or physiology, not a flaw in culture or education that leads to neural atrophy. There has also been well-intentioned criticism of attempts to medicalize all sexual problems in women (14), but in the case of clitoral erectile dysfunction I’m afraid such criticism would be misplaced. If my hypothesis is correct, we certainly don’t want to condone the continuing mental castration of millions of girls generation after generation.

In the past it was believed that “overstimulation” is a danger in early life, so children have been overprotected from self-masturbation and sex play with other children. Even premature babies used to be isolated to protect them from “stress,” but research has now demonstrated the contrary: the intense stimulation of touch and massage or “kangaroo care” of premature infants results in earlier discharge from intensive care. There are many things about the development of the child’s brain that we don’t understand. For example, although very young children usually love a gentle massage, they seem to go through a stage when they prefer to have their skin gently tickled. They are fascinated by the sensation of gentle tickling and like to feel it over and over again. It’s reasonable to guess that such stimulation serves some purpose in the development of the relative brain areas that control skin sensation. I certainly don’t like that sensation when anybody does it to me, but my relative brain areas that control skin sensation stopped developing a long time ago. The very concept of genital “overstimulation” of children lacks clarity and should require experimental validation rather than taking that supposed danger for granted (15).

An earlier version of this paper was published on my blog in 2012, and despite about 4,500 views so far it is interesting that the reaction of male and female readers up to now has been virtually complete silence. Although nobody wants to publicly acknowledge that my hypothesis is plausible, nor is anybody criticizing it. That should make us all wonder.

Testing the Hypothesis

This hypothesis could be disconfirmed by surveying women who report the presence or absence of clitoral erection in adulthood, and inquiring how permissive their parents were about childhood masturbation and sex play before puberty, to look for a correlation. Recognizing the limitations of retrospective self-report and correlation, preliminary studies should serve to at least draw attention to the question. It’s also possible that future researchers may detect differences in measurable genital vibratory perception thresholds in women who experienced more or less inhibition during their early development.


1. Goldstien, I, and Berman, JR. Vasculogenic female sexual dysfunction: vaginal engorgement and clitoral erectile insufficiency syndromes. Int J Impot Res. 1998 May;10 Suppl 2:S84-90; discussion S98-101. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9647967

  1. https://sexhysteria.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/clitoral-erectile-dysfunction/

  2. Sammy Elsamra, Michael Nazmy, David Shin, Harry Fisch, Ihor Sawczuk, Debra Fromer. Female sexual dysfunction in urological patients: findings from a major metropolitan area in the USA. BJU International, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2009.09091.x. Another survey: 60% of women never or almost never experience orgasm during intercourse. Cited in: Kamisaruk, Barry R. et al. 2006. The Science of Orgasm. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 17.  See also: Laumann E,  Paik A,  Rosen R . Sexual dysfunction in the United States: prevalence and predictors. JAMA 1999;281: 537–544

  3. Masters, WH and Johnson, VE. Human Sexual Response. ISHI, 2010.

  4. Swaab, D.F., & Fliers, E. 1985. A sexually dimorphic nucleus in the human brain. Science228:1112-1115.

  5. Arianna Maffei1, Kiran Nataraj1, Sacha B. Nelson1 & Gina G. Turrigiano1. Potentiation of cortical inhibition by visual deprivation. Nature 443, 81-84 (7 September 2006).

  6. Jack Ende. Organic Impotence. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Boston: Butterworths; Chapter 187. 1990. See also: Yasin Temel1,*, Sepehr Hafizi2, Sonny Tan1, Veerle Visser-Vandewalle1  2006. Asian Journal of Andrology. “Evidence suggests that the most important structures [in penile erection] are the frontal lobe [of the cerebral cortex] , cingulate gyrus, amygdala, thalamus and hypothalamus.” Another author has written that sacral (pelvic) parasympathetic (involuntary) nerves that produce erection “originate in the brain – in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus…”  Komisaruk, et al. op cit. p. 36

  7. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/issue_briefs/brain_development/

  8. Guyton, Arthur C. and Hall, John E. Textbook of Medical Physiology, 11th ed. Saunders, 2005.

  9. https://sexhysteria.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/learning-about-love/

  10. https://sexhysteria.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/sex-in-school/

  11.  Maines, Rachel P. 2001. The Technology of Orgasm: Hysteria, the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

  12.  Lloyd, E.A. 2005. The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  13.  Moynihan, R. The making of a disease: female sexual dysfunction. BMJ 2003; 326 doi: 10.1136/bmj.326.7379.45 (Published 4 January 2003)

  14. https://sexhysteria.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/overstimulation-the-devil-in-disguise/

Posted in child sexual abuse, children, sex, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Ideal Sex Education

Lest any confused individuals read about the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping (1) and imagine they should imitate it in order to raise some children potentially free of traditional sexual inhibitions, I will consider what ideal sex education would be really like. Although ideal sex education may not be possible under current legal conditions, we should think about it as a kind of goal to be aimed for someday in the distant future.

Even though it’s possible that Jaycee Dugard’s daughters may have grown up without traditional sexual inhibitions (see my previous post Stolen Youth: Jaycee Dugard PART 2) or free from what may be bluntly called traditional mental castration, I doubt that their early sex education (if any) was anything close to ideal. Quite the contrary, considering the mental state of their jailer it’s possible that they suffered excessive sexual attention (e.g. more than they requested). In that case it would be heartening to learn if the girls nonetheless grew up fairly normal and healthy. But I’m just guessing. We need to hear the girls’ own voices and reward their remarkable courage if they tell their story, even though sex hysterics would consider such a report blasphemous or high treason against political correctness. Selfish opportunists and profiteers in the sex abuse rescue business hope and bet that all victims of even casual sex abuse grow up to become blithering idiots. For the benefit of the victims, the hysterics need to be proven wrong.

Just as some adults try to strictly censor children’s access to information, other adults like putting words in a child’s mouth. A classic howler is: “My child isn’t interested in sex.” Of course, after adults have carefully hidden sex and mentally castrated the child, she isn’t interested! If we assume that the only legitimate practice of sex is procreation, as some ancient religionists claimed (e.g. Thomas Aquinas), then unmarried children have no need and no business learning about sex. However, that point of view implies God wants human beings to be more similar to cows or sheep that only mate during the fertile period of the female hormonal cycle in mature individuals, rather than be similar to monkeys and apes that are sexually active even when infertile, including during pregnancy and even in juveniles before puberty. From the confused religious point of view, an ape is our “lower nature,” while our “higher nature” is closer to sheep.

In herd mammals like sheep there is actually a sharp difference between the sexual behavior of males and females. Males are always willing and eager to copulate, while a female is only receptive to copulation during a short part of her reproductive cycle. Even then, females in some species of seasonally mating mammals have to be forced or raped to breed. But in monkeys and apes, females are more receptive to copulation and even initiate sex, and sometimes even provoke males to copulate, so in effect males and females are more similar to each other (2). An important question any thinking adult must ask is: Should human beings strive to become educated apes, or spiritual sheep?

One of the more modern justifications for opposition to sex education in childhood is the confusion between physical maturity and so-called “mental maturity.” As I have pointed out previously (see Sexual Maturity) the brain grows and develops to maturity of structure and function before the genital organs have reached reproductive maturity. I am talking about physiological maturity, not some mysterious theory of mental or psychological maturity that is virtually synonymous with educational level (acquisition and understanding of information). In terms of the willingness and ability to learn, the brain of a ten-year-old is far superior to adults aged over 40, and any differences in “mental maturity” we see in those two age groups are actually due to education through formal schooling or life experience. The prudish belief that children aren’t yet able to “understand” sex is pure nonsense.

Analogously to the genital organs, maturation of the vocal organs is necessary to produce good speech, but children typically learn to comprehend their native language long before their vocal organs are mature, and such understanding sets the stage for eventual speech. Children begin practicing or playing at speech long before their vocal organs have fully developed, and such “baby talk” is perfectly normal. If a child’s brain doesn’t receive linguistic stimulation very early before the vocal organs mature, the ability to learn language will be impaired. When a child is very young she can even become bilingual or trilingual if her environment is rich in linguistic stimulation. The stimulation of linguistic experience from the earliest age is not useless but priceless. Nonetheless, according to the sheep-logic of sexual hysteria, prudes claim that the reproductive function of the sexual organs must mature before the brain can process (“understand”) sexual information. In reality, the exact opposite occurs: depriving children of sex education and sex play early in life causes complete or partial but certainly permanent impairment of sexual function.

Throughout most of European history scholarly thinkers traced modern civilized culture back to ancient Greece and Rome, but the discovery of extensive, sexually explicit “vulgar” art in the ruins of Pompeii during the Victorian period (when women’s ankles had to be covered in public) conflicted with the highbrow view of our culture’s ancestors. Granted, some of that ancient art portrayed primitive mythology and seemed exaggerated, e.g. the Roman god Pan copulating with a goat, and some Victorians were understandably upset by it. The Victorian solution was to hysterically condemn and censor any and all sexually explicit art as an aberration to be henceforth prohibited by law as “pornography.” In the 21st century we like to think we have advanced beyond the ankle-covered Victorians, but the laws prohibiting sexually explicit images written over 100 years ago are still in force today.

With the benefit of calm hindsight and a better sense of humor, what might ideal sex education be like in the future? First of all, we must assume that someday there will be legislative reform so the hysterical laws prohibiting sexually explicit images and child sex play will have been repealed. There can be no ideal sex education for children as long as parents and other teachers must live in fear of legal prosecution. Although it’s difficult to imagine that the current hysteria will ever end, that’s a requirement before anything else. That may not be any comfort to children in the here-and-now who are suffering legally enforced sexual neglect, but I don’t see any responsible alternative. So let’s start the dialogue and imagine that someday in the distant future there are no more laws prohibiting genital nudity or any kind of contact with children’s “private parts” (as opposed to their presumably public parts).

Ideal sex education should be accurate, balanced, and comprehensive, start early, continue throughout life, and be age-appropriate. It’s widely acknowledged that very young children learn more by modeling than by instruction, and there is evidence that children across the world and throughout most of history learned about sex by watching their parents (3). So after decriminalization of sex the next ideal step would be to provide very young children with family videos of parents and other young couples in their daily lives who first talk about sex and having babies in front of their children. Professional actors can be more effective than average parents who may have a lot of shame-baggage to cope with even after sex is decriminalized. Toddlers and preschoolers may not understand adult conversation that includes the vocabulary of reproduction, but they are extremely perceptive of moods and tone of voice, so hearing an adult discussion that is calm and warm has great value for young ears.

While parent-actors in the videos are talking about sex, child actors should be occupied playing e.g. with toys or other children. Adult actors can then become physically affectionate with each other, while the child actors occasionally glance over at the adults. The videos should portray realistic not dramatized interaction. The adults’ behavior should be very casual and playful, smiling and laughing to communicate safety to the child-observers. Adult models should not be poker-faced during sexual foreplay. Very young children should also be exposed to much older models (e.g. a widowed grandparent) fondling themselves manually, if not masturbating at least pleasuring themselves without shame. A narrator could explain that the grandparent doesn’t have anyone to be close to.

If a first-born or only-child is uninterested in other activities when parents become physically affectionate with each other, then the child may feel lonely and want to be included in cuddling. That’s fine and should be allowed. Ideal models should not express disappointment, impatience, or jealousy. Rather, parents should welcome the child’s “participation” lovingly with hugs and kisses. A child who wants to join her parents in cuddling is not being unreasonable. If some adults feel a need to hide in the dark then they are the ones who are behaving unreasonably. Parents who hide aren’t protecting any child, they are protecting themselves. Ideally, there should be more than one child present (even at different ages), so the children have the opportunity to become physically affectionate with each other if they want to.

Parent actors should take a break from their physical affection to cheerfully explain the need for mutual consent, adequate hygiene, and the limitations of immature anatomy (e.g. “do not attempt penetration”). When adults are sexually functional there is no rush to get it over with. Child actors in a video can portray listening to such verbal instruction and then model requesting and granting consent, adequate hygiene, and harmless sex play with other child actors. Dialogue can and should be humorous. Very young children who have the benefit of seeing such a video would be prepared for witnessing parents and other models later in real life.

Children are more likely to prefer each other’s company in sex play as in other activities, because children tend to have short bursts of high energy and their approach to everything is exploratory and playful, while adults tend to conserve energy for longer-term endurance and they focus on an end result; adults get bored with the imaginative and repetitious character of children’s play. Very young children don’t like being too serious for what they consider excessively long periods of time, which may interfere with dynamic brain development. Kids should always have access to many other children and adults who feel part of a community. I don’t think keeping children isolated in a “nuclear family” is ideal for children. Exclusive access to or exclusive “possession” of any child or adult serve no purpose other than indulging pathetic jealousy. Several individuals sharing affection is a model of social harmony, so especially in this day and age of declining fertility I think parents should seriously consider some form of polyamory. In a general atmosphere that is sex-positive, children expressing a desire for sex play with each other is normal and healthy.

If a parent prohibits her child from enjoying sex play with another child, we may suspect that the parent is guilty of emotional incest toward the child. Emotional incest is particularly pernicious for daughters, who already have the difficult task of overcoming their “negative Oedipus complex,” i.e. overcoming their erotic attachment to their mother and instead beginning to see males not as rivals in competition for the mother’s attention but as an even more interesting erotic object. A responsible parent helps a child venture outside the mother-daughter bond and cultivate emotional engagement with other children, including males.

In such an uninhibited atmosphere very young children in the future may be curious to inspect the genitalia of parents close-up, including touching and feeling the adults’ external organs. Parents should welcome such natural curiosity with smiles and calm explanations, e.g. explaining that when a sexually functional female is very aroused the tip of the clitoris protrudes erect (and sometimes spontaneously even when she is not very aroused), and internally the clitoris extends and forks around both sides of the vaginal opening so penetration by a penis is pleasurable – once the vagina is big enough after puberty.

Explain that the healthy penis likewise becomes erect when very aroused (as well as spontaneously sometimes even when not very aroused). Explain that the shaft is quite hard or stiff, while the tip is more like a sponge that springs back to shape when it is squeezed. (That is in contrast to the protruding tip of the erect clitoris which is hard all the way to the end.) However, the male testicles are sensitive to excessive pressure so they should not be squeezed although they may be handled gently. I imagine that children will be more than curious – they will be intrigued – to see the healthy male organ operational. I imagine that healthy girls in a sex-positive context will find such observations interesting, informative and entertaining, and normal children will probably ask to watch again. It’s possible that girls have evolved an instinct to observe and verify healthy male sexual function (along with other qualities) in order to choose a desirable mate.

Parents who are sexually dysfunctional due to shame-training and sexual neglect during their own childhoods, may feel ashamed of their dysfunction and reluctant to reveal their dysfunction to their children. That sad situation may be improved by consulting a good sex therapist who may not be able to cure permanent clitoral erectile dysfunction but may help parents reject the tendency to feel ashamed of a defect that was not their fault. A few parents may feel so ashamed that they hotly deny their dysfunction and instead accuse anybody who is sexually functional of being a “sex maniac” and/or “demon-possessed,” etc. I’m not a psychiatrist but perhaps in such extreme cases anti-psychotic medication may be helpful.

Under ideal conditions sex can and should be casual, entertaining and even slapstick. While consent, hygiene, and unplanned pregnancy are serious business, the primary purpose of sex is to have fun. An old joke is: Sex is only dirty if you do it right. That’s only a joke, so lighten up. Ideally, adults should openly and unashamedly express their desire for genital stimulation and their pleasure in such stimulation. If some adults lack sexual desire or have trouble enjoying sex, they shouldn’t become models and pass on their problems to their children. Sticking to family sex education videos would be appropriate in such cases. Adults who were raised in shame and are sexually dysfunctional clearly need “privacy.”

Children’s first sexual experiences should be carefully monitored by responsible adults, and eventually when children get a little older there should be continued adult supervision at a distance. Children who have the benefit of such ideal early experiences would probably initiate and enjoy sex play with other children regularly. Such early stimulation would be beneficial for developing healthy genital function, as well as serving to promote and maintain social harmony. By the time they finish preschool such children should be enthusiastic to learn about the human body in general, health and disease, and the community around them, as well as eager to become constructive contributors to their loving community. The current, bizarre tendency of adults to be paranoid and hysterical about nudity and sex while ignoring the more frequent and most deadly dangers children face in daily life, is not a trend that any responsible adult should want to continue.

Since parents also have a duty to teach kids discipline and self-control, opportunities for sex play should be contingent on good behavior. Opportunities for sexual pleasure may be structured as a reward and incentive for education and good citizenship. Just as ancient peoples failed to see any use for fossil fuels and considered petroleum not only worthless but even messy and dangerous, people in the future may discover that sexual pleasure is the greatest fuel yet for advancing civilization.

Ideal sex education would not only benefit human beings during childhood as well as the future parents they become when they grow up, but will also benefit the first generation of parents who provide the ideal experiences. Widespread sexual dysfunction in women today may explain why they tend to be overprotective of children – following their kids around everywhere under the guise of protective surveillance. Overprotective mothers may be using their children as a substitute for their own unsatisfying sex life. Rather than passing on the sick body shame you learned from your miseducated parents, try to become a responsible sex educator for your children and you will be a happier parent.

While we strive toward ideals, it’s Ok to make some mistakes. Healthy children are strong and resilient, and may even become stronger and more resilient by having the freedom to learn from their own mistakes. There is increasing evidence that young people today who were the victims of over-protective parents suffer a lack of self-confidence as well as lifelong dependence on their parents. Many college students today are emotionally fragile and react to everyday problems as if they are emergencies. They can’t bear uncertainty or the thought of possible failure. If a child is emotionally abused or neglected (much more common than any other form of abuse or neglect) she may be fragile and incompetent, but we should not treat all normal healthy kids as if they are helpless invalids who are hopelessly incompetent. The normal qualities of courage, creative thinking, and welcoming challenges that were taken for granted in previous generations are disappearing today.

With modern knowledge, contraceptive technology, and a bit of courage, people someday could create a better society without widespread sexual dysfunction and hysterical priorities that distort children’s needs for protection from real harm. How truly shameful that many adults today drive while sleep-deprived (just as deadly as drunk driving), smoke during pregnancy, and decline to breastfeed, while frantically worrying about nudity and sex play.


  1. Dugard, Jaycee. A Stolen Life: A Memior. Simon and Schuster, 2011.
  2. Dixon, Alan F. Primate Sexuality. Oxford Univ. Press, 1998.
  3. Josephs, Lawrence. How Children Learn About Sex: A Cross-Species and Cross-
    Cultural Analysis. Arch Sex Behav (2015) 44:1059–1069.
Posted in child sexual abuse, children, nudity, parent education, parenting, sex, sex education, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stolen Youth: Jaycee Dugard PART 2

Please read PART 1 Stolen Youth: Jaycee Dugard to understand the context of this post. Child kidnapping is an emotional subject to think about and discuss, but this case merits more attention than it has already received. Not brief and superficial comments, but a deeper analysis of the many aspects of what this extraordinary person may have experienced.

Being violently kidnapped at age 11 would be an incredible trauma even without any sexual abuse involved. Imagine a child suddenly torn from her family and familiar environment and brought to a strange prison-like room by some monster, without knowing why or what was going to happen next. Fear of possibly imminent death would be perfectly natural and wholly realistic. At such a moment rape or sex abuse might be the least of anybody’s worries.

After the terrifying first days or weeks she may have no longer feared that she might die soon, and instead she undoubtedly longed for a return to her family and familiar environment. After the victim was rescued her therapist would have an enormous challenge helping the victim overcome such a trauma: her feelings of helplessness, betrayal (nobody protected her to prevent the kidnapping, nobody rescued her for a long time), her rage against the perpetrators, etc. After her rescue all of those internal feelings needed to be overcome before she could resume a fairly normal life.

A therapist would have to reassure her that her feeling of helplessness over such a long period of time was understandable, but might have become an entrenched tendency or habit, which needs to be changed. No small challenge for any victim in such a case. Her understandable feeling of helplessness might make her overly sensitive to any possible threats in her future experience, so a good therapist would advise her to try to relax and not be fearful of possibly imminent disaster every day. In contrast, her feelings of betrayal were actually a rude awakening to a sad fact of life: despite appearances the government is largely incompetent to protect citizens and often does a good job of merely protecting itself at citizens’ expense. On the other hand the good news is that if most strangers don’t harm or kill children every day it’s because of our natural humanity; most people have a healthy paternal/maternal instinct to love, protect, and nurture children – not harm them.

In my opinion the victims who were in more need of therapy were the other family members. They not only suffered the child being separated from them but also not knowing whether the child was alive or dead. The worst nightmare I ever had was several years ago when I dreamed that some friends gave me permission to take their 10-year-old daughter to another city. While we were in the strange city waiting for a bus we were walking around a shopping mall when I turned around and the child was suddenly gone. I looked all over for her and finally went to the mall manager’s office. He helped me look throughout the mall and we even went outside onto the crowed street, but she was nowhere to be found. I felt such a deep sense of terror that I woke up perspiring.

But on top of being kidnapped, the victim in this case was sexually abused and raped repeatedly. Her desires and preferences were ignored and disregarded; she had no free choice or only very limited choices about sexual contact with her captor. In addition, he tried to persuade her that he “needed” to exploit her insensitively to avoid committing worse injuries against other children (he had “a problem”), so it was her supposed duty to cooperate as much as possible. In other words, her victimization was supposedly a public service. Beyond the philosophical issues in such an immoral proposition, the monster was telling her nonsense not very different from what average parents tell their kids.

There are no detailed descriptions of the rapes in the victim’s published memoir (1), so we are left to imagine what actually happened frequently over a period of years. She says he penetrated her and it was painful. She also says she didn’t enjoy it or experience any pleasure, but is that all? She says that she spent time thinking about what he might do, and that he did “disgusting things” to her. Does that mean he tried to do more than merely penetrate her? We can imagine a monster coercing her to orally stimulate him, and the aversion she would have felt. Or perhaps he orally stimulated her, and depending on how sensitive or insensitive he was, such an experience might cause ambivalent feelings in the victim. If she was previously led to believe that only “bad girls” desire or enjoy sexual contact, or worse that sexual desire or sexual pleasure before puberty is impossible or unthinkable, then she might have the difficult task of reconciling her previous anti-sex indoctrination with the contradictory evidence of her own senses: stimulating genital contact in a general context of major sensory deprivation.

If that is what actually happened, what would a good therapist tell the victim? A good therapist should say there is nothing wrong with a helpless victim experiencing some physical pleasure during the isolation and sexual abuse, but she shouldn’t admit that publicly in her book because it might provoke other monsters to commit similar crimes against other young girls in the future. In the interest of more “public service,” she should not publicly admit that sexual experience under such unusual conditions might contradict the traditional fantasy of the “good girl” who would never experience sexual desire and sexual pleasure before puberty under any circumstances. But a private acknowledgment that such conventional beliefs are pure nonsense might actually be very therapeutic for a kidnap victim.

An even more complicated aspect of this case is the two daughters born as a result of the rapes. Before they were freed those two girls lived under the monster’s control for many years: 15 years in the case of the first-born, and 12 years for the second-born. Their mother’s book doesn’t say anything about her daughters’ possible sexual victimization. That is understandable – the mother wanted to protect her daughters’ privacy while they were minors; the two daughters themselves should be free to decide to reveal that information or not when they are mature. (They are now over 18.) But considering that the kidnap victim was in no position to protect her daughters, and knowing that the kidnapper was a very disturbed and probably psychotic individual who might have difficulty resisting the temptation and opportunity, we should not be surprised if the daughters were sexually abused too.

Once her daughters were born, Jaycee was no longer the lone captive. She now had potential competitors for the jailer’s attention. The young girls had no other boys or men to distract them. Was their jailer uninterested? Did he suddenly reform and become a good boy? Or is there a hidden chapter in this story? Growing up in a makeshift prison isolated from the larger culture, a micro-environment where rape and child sex abuse were the norm, girls who experience early sex abuse might very well react differently from their mother or other girls whose early childhood was in a very different “politically correct” context. In the possible event that the daughters were also abused, and if their reaction to their experience was very different from the mother’s, I think they should be supported and validated however they reacted, rather than being encouraged to deny or hide how they reacted to their sexual experience – if any.

Imagine a known sex maniac supervising the education of two very young girls – a captive audience. It’s possible that he exploited the opportunity and they grew up without traditional sexual inhibitions. In that possible scenario, a man of his age would have so many opportunities that he wouldn’t be able to fulfill the demands of two energetic young girls who had nothing to be ashamed of, as well as two mature women available to him. Eventually he might even become bored with sex as well as overwhelmed by guilt. After all, the girls were slaves and prisoners who had committed no crime, which would explain why after 18 years of successfully evading arrest he inadvertently gave himself up to police.

In Western culture today there is tremendous social and political pressure against acknowledging sexual desire and sexual pleasure before puberty, so it is not surprising if some individuals (especially girls) are strongly discouraged from revealing feelings and experiences that contradict conventional cultural values and expectations. We might even call such denial a cultural imperative, since it’s not like Western culture tolerates a diversity of viewpoints on sexual desire and sexual pleasure in childhood. Strict adherence to a hysterical dogma is required and enforced by law. Good girls are mentally castrated girls, period. No ifs, ands, or buts. It’s possible that – and would not be surprising if – what the mother said in her first book is a highly selective and politically correct version of what went on.

But the whole truth – politically correct or not – has some claim to be heard, regardless of the possible repercussions for cherished beliefs about good girls. It is clear to me that even good girls may feel sexual desire and experience sexual pleasure under some conditions. What is needed is the voices of courageous girls and women to acknowledge that themselves and stop the gruesome cycle of mothers mentally castrating daughters generation after generation. It might be essential for the girls in this case, as well as satisfying to them, to validate what they felt regardless of the possible damage to cherished conventional beliefs about what is really possible and acceptable for young girls. No more “public service.”

It might also be very lucrative for the girls to tell their story, especially if it includes what a large segment of the public secretly considers spicy elements. The whole story might even include an attempted cover-up. A greedy author might be tempted to embellish the story to maximize profits, but I suspect that the simple and whole truth in this case is spicy enough.

Child sex abuse that is insensitive, exploitative, or coercive is a danger, but should it be such a hysterical priority for society? There is a much more cruel, serial killer that steals the lives of 7 children every day, 2,500 children every year in the U.S. alone, and he is active all over the world. We know who it is; that monster’s name is Cancer. During the 18 years that Jaycee Dugard was a prisoner, 45,000 children were killed and 90,000 parents suffered a kind of slow, living death. Isn’t it bizarre that most people rarely talk about that monster? They sit around worrying about the possible effects of nudity and early sex play instead. Videos about the Jaycee case on YouTube have 100 times as many views and comments as videos about children with cancer. When a child’s prognosis is TERMINAL, she can’t even be encouraged to enjoy sex play with other terminal patients because hysterical laws define child sex “abuse” so broadly they include everything and don’t allow exceptions.

The state of California spends millions of dollars every year confining sex offenders who have already finished serving their sentences. Is the state afraid that putting sex offenders against children in prison might actually make some sick individuals even more dangerous to society than they were before? In other words, does the prison system create monsters? Other states spend a lot of money registering sex offenders, some of whom are hardly dangerous to anyone and are even children themselves (e.g. teens exchanging nude photos of each other or having consensual sex with each other). All that money wasted on sex hysteria could be better invested in child cancer research, a need far more worthy than protecting the cherished ideal of the good girl.

Over 90% of the federal tax money spent on cancer research is for cancer in adults – not cancer in children. Big Pharma may claim they must go where the greater monetary profit is, but why isn’t our tax money spent on child cancer research? Where is all the outrage and public concern for the vast majority of child deaths and suffering that have nothing to do with sex? The mass hysteria over child sex abuse is not about protecting children from harm and suffering; it’s about protecting the pathetic primitive doctrine of the supposed sexual “innocence” of the good girl. Public service? Here is a great video for any adult with a strong stomach who is seriously interested in children’s health and safety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oljTL1iuMmY


1) Dugard, Jaycee. A Stolen Life: A Memoir. Simon and Schuster, 2011.

Posted in child sexual abuse, children, sex | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Stolen Youth: Jaycee Dugard

In June 1991 an 11-year-old was kidnapped by two strangers and subsequently held captive by them as a sex slave (and slave labor) for 18 years. The victim’s subsequent release at age 29 (along with the two daughters she gave birth to while a teenage captive) led to a $20 million damage settlement from the state of California and a book by the victim that became an instant bestseller. The victim’s book “A Stolen Life” is a priceless record of her unusual experience (1).

Despite the extreme rarity of stranger abductions, many people believe that such a thing is likely to happen often unless hysterical measures are taken to “protect” all children from a similar fate. As I and others have pointed out, statistically the average child is 300 times more likely to die as a result of physical abuse or neglect by his own parents than be abducted by a stranger for sex. Nonetheless, the mass hysteria over rare stranger abductions makes all children indirect victims of this and similar tragedies. California’s infamous Coalinga concentration camp for sex offenders is a testament to that hysteria. Ironically, the victim eventually realized that in their makeshift prison her daughters were safe from being kidnapped like she was.

After her long isolation and deprivation, she expresses more wisdom than many parents: “…sometimes when we shelter our children too much, we are really protecting ourselves.” Nonetheless, some reviewers claim this book justifies their over-protectiveness of their own children. Sex is worse than death. A child being repeatedly raped by an adult is an injury that should not be trivialized, but is it really worse than death? The victim who authored “A Stolen Life” doesn’t seem to think so, and neither do I. At one point during her captivity she even says she’s happy most of the time, and she hopes her mom and half-sister are as happy as she is most of the time. At another point she says “I’m actually happy to see him [her captor].” He makes her “laugh with all his jokes and antics.”  After her second child is born she wishes he would stay home more. After one of her outings when her purse is stolen, she wonders if she’s safer in her makeshift prison. “At least I know what to expect here.”

Rare stranger abductions and child sex abuse seem clear-cut issues of right and wrong, but some difficult questions remain. Before the kidnapping the victim seemed to be happy, but she was hardly living an ideal life. She never knew her real father, didn’t like her step-father very much, had been in four different schools by age 11, and felt she “needed” a dog – as many children in less than ideal families do. In school she had to write an essay on “If I had one wish.” She doesn’t wish her absent father loved her and came to see her. She wishes she had a dog. She was apparently led to believe that her biological father had abandoned her at birth, but he denies that and has now made public attempts to contact her. She seemed to worship her mother and never says a critical word about her, except that the parent forgot her promise to kiss the child that fateful morning of the tragic abduction. Little girls are famous for writing about their rage against their mothers in their dairies. But there is no rage expressed against the smoking mother in this book.

Most girls today don’t realize they are mentally castrated by their mothers and become sexually dysfunctional because of their mother’s misguided anti-sex indoctrination. Sexual dysfunction in women is hidden because Western culture calls such dysfunction “normal.” Healthy sexual function (clitoral erection, easy orgasm) isn’t necessary to live and be reasonably happy, but that doesn’t justify mothers mentally castrating their daughters. Misled by the cultural belief that “good girls” and women simply have no sexual desire or less desire than boys and men, misguided castrating mothers go unrecognized and uncorrected. Many adults are absolutely convinced the worst possible thing that can happen to a child is sexual “overstimulation,” even though nobody has ever defined what that mysterious word is supposed to refer to, let alone ever given a coherent explanation of why it is so indescribably dangerous. Many mothers are actively destructive and even fervent in the mental castration of daughters – keeping girls prisoners in their own home. Some mothers are guilty of openly or secretly terrorizing daughters against sex, while other parents are merely guilty of sexual neglect and omission.

Was that the case in this victim’s background? When a new mother is abandoned by her partner it’s not surprising if she regrets the sexual experience that conceived the child and is then overly restrictive of her daughter’s sexual development. The victim in this case said she didn’t know anything about sex by the time she was eleven. Was she deliberately kept ignorant? The victim says she misses her little half-sister dearly, but she seems unaware that many sisters have violent physical fights and when some sisters grow up and are no longer under their parents’ control they stop speaking to each other. I’m not suggesting that the victim should be coldly philosophical, and I don’t mean to point a finger at the victim’s family of origin in this case, but we must not assume that before the kidnapping the victim was living in a fairy tale and her youth would have been blissful if it were not for the abduction. Fairy tales of normal life are what people tend to assume. It’s what we would like to believe. But reason calls for a balanced perspective.

Nor do I deny that the kidnappers’ behavior was monstrous, but we don’t have their side of the story. Considering the circumstances, even if we do hear the kidnappers’ story we can’t believe them. Anybody who kidnaps an 11-year-old for sex has lost all credibility (unless what the kidnappers say incriminates themselves and/or is corroborated by reliable and impartial witnesses). The kidnapper was reportedly taking psychotropic drugs to treat mental problems, but there is now suspicion that such drugs themselves may cause erratic, violent, or suicidal behavior in some cases. The kidnapper assaulted the child with a stun-gun and then kept her handcuffed in a state of sensory deprivation. He deprived the victim (and eventually her daughters) prenatal and pediatric care. Was that the behavior of a sane human being? He was willing to risk losing his freedom for the chance to have sex with an 11-year-old. What kind of sanity is that?

In any case, nobody asks to be born a monster, and sometimes other people play a large part in turning someone into a monster. The kidnapper had previously been sentenced to 50 years in prison for the brief kidnapping and rape of a woman. Was that punishment just? He probably spent the first 10 years of his confinement wondering if he might be released on parole after 10 years, or maybe after 20 years, or maybe after 30 years. Was that humane confinement, or was it torture? Was he raped in prison without protection and without any retribution for the perpetrators? I don’t think a mentally balanced person kidnaps and rapes anybody. Did the state “punish” an individual who was already very sick?

I feel great sympathy for the young victim and her family of origin, and I’m not questioning her sincerity, but many factors may have contributed to some important details about the experience being left out of the narrative. The very title of the book is an exaggeration. The victim’s youth was stolen, not her life. Although youth is a very important part of our time in this world, youth isn’t your whole life. There are many possible details before, during and after the victim’s captivity that we will never know. Here are a few interesting things the victim does tell us.

Unsurprisingly, the victim laments being coerced to have sex. She says she hated it so much. “Each and every time. There is no enjoyment for me…” I believe that coercion is always negative, even if orgasm results. On the other hand, Western culture promotes the belief that “good girls” have no sexual desire – only bad girls do. So we don’t expect any 11-year-old girl to voluntarily confess she wanted to have sex or enjoyed it, even under ideal (non-coercive) conditions. Most 11-year-old girls are not allowed the opportunity to express sexual desire and experience sexual pleasure. Conventional ideals of the “good girl” do not give them permission. She says “He did disgusting things to me.” But whether or not sex is perceived as “disgusting” is a value often imposed on people in early childhood before they are mature enough to chose their own values. In this book the kidnap victim never has anything positive to say about sex.  There is not one single positive word written about sex in the whole book – before, during, or after her captivity.

The victim only admits that being isolated and deprived of social contact, she was naturally glad to get occasional visits from her captors. Is that the whole story? Considering the cultural context of political correctness that prohibits acknowledgement of sexual desire and sexual pleasure early in life (especially in girls), it would be surprising to hear otherwise. On the other hand if a rape victim is already sexually dysfunctional, as most women are today (2), then we should not be surprised if the sex was not pleasurable. Nor should we be surprised if a sexually dysfunctional woman who is raped blames her lack of pleasure on the coercion rather than her pre-existing sexual dysfunction.

At one point in the narrative the victim says she had the childish hope that if she “thinks really hard” about something it won’t happen, so during her long hours alone she thought really hard about all the things her captor might do when he comes to visit. Typical magical thinking in childhood, perhaps. But the practical effect of that belief in this case was to give the young girl a perfect excuse to “think really hard” about the man having sex with her. Very interesting indeed. In reality, thinking about sex is nothing for anybody to feel ashamed of, not even a victim of coercion, unless we buy into the traditional myth that “good girls” have no sexual desire – only “bad girls” do.

A disturbing aspect of stranger kidnappings is so-called Stockholm Syndrome, in which the victim comes to have positive feelings and an emotional bond with her aggressors. The principle is simple: If you can’t beat them, then join them. The victim in this case eventually referred to her prison as her home, and the people around her as her family. Unless I’m mistaken, that included her captors, since the man is the father of her children, and she depended on him to take care of her and her daughters. When she became a young woman she ignored multiple chances to escape, and even feared the thought of other people rescuing her. “I don’t want to get them in trouble [referring to her captors].” She went to the beach with her captors, the nail salon, etc. She eventually says “…it doesn’t bother me that much when he hugs me anymore.” She says she thought he loved her. It’s difficult for the average person to imagine what it’s like to be held captive for over 10 years, and sometimes Stockholm Syndrome happens after only a very short time. When she was rescued, she had known her captors almost twice as long as she had known her mother. At age 22 she wrote in her journal “I don’t even remember what she looks like.”

One of the kidnappers reportedly behaved like a psychotic, e.g. hearing voices, and other classic symptoms. It’s convenient to consider him responsible for his actions rather than insane, especially if we want an excuse to hate and hurt (“punish”) somebody. The other kidnapper was an older, barren woman, and both the male kidnapper and the young victim say the woman was jealous of her husband’s attention to the young victim and her beautiful daughters. The two children born into the makeshift prison were eventually encouraged to call the pathetic older woman “mom,” and the very young (real) mother who had breastfed them their “sister.” A sad and bizarre situation that is difficult for the rest of us to imagine. In a TV interview the victim plainly called the woman’s jealousy “sick.” I agree. In my opinion a mentally balanced person – man or woman – would never have participated in such a despicable tragedy in the first place.

The two beautiful, healthy children born as a result of the rapes is a positive factor that complicates the tragedy. In the end, the victim admits she’s glad she had her daughters; who wouldn’t be glad about that? “I would do it all again. The most precious thing in the world came out of it…my two daughters.” She might have remained childless otherwise, as many women today do. The traditional romantic fantasy is that children should be the product of love, so children of rape may even be aborted in some states that otherwise prohibit abortion. How absurd and pedophobic an idea is that! Children deserve to be loved unconditionally because they are children, not because they were produced by you or because they were supposedly the products of true romance.

Toward the end of the book she says she doesn’t hate her captors even though what they did to her and her family was unforgivable. Then she mentions how much her original family and friends suffered, rather than how much she and her daughters suffered. I agree that her family had probably been the ones who suffered the most, not the kidnap victim and her two daughters born during the captivity. When a child cancer patient dies, it is understandable if someone says the surviving family suffered more than the patient. I’ve met some cancer survivors who don’t even remember their childhood cancer, although their parents certainly remember. The 18 years of captivity weren’t as bad for the abduction victim as for the friends and relatives living free and wondering if she was still alive and how much she was suffering. Not knowing anything was a worse nightmare. Would her mother and other relatives wish they (or the abduction victim) were never born? Of course not. In the end, they were all happy to have been born. This case illustrates that even under the worst conditions, having healthy children is usually worth it.

What about the two daughters? Do they have the free choice to visit their father in prison now (if not for him then for them)? Are they free to pity their father or are they forced to reject him? He could be harmful to even talk to, but I think pre-screened letters and photos should be possible if the girls want that. Are the girls free to see their grandfather? Their mother seems to be wiser than most people in that she realizes a person is not fully alive without free choice. But I wonder if like most women she doesn’t realize that without a body that functions sexually a woman is not fully alive either – an injury committed by millions of mothers against their daughters every day. Beyond the incentive of physical pleasure, sex can be an excellent way to communicate positive emotion and feel close to another human being. Talk is cheap; women spend so much time talking about love, but their bodies are silent.

The victim’s separation from her family for 18 years was a tragedy, but some individuals never have a family from the day they are born until the day they die. Jaycee Dugard eventually started a foundation to help other victims of abduction overcome their experience. The foundation’s image is a pinecone, which symbolizes that life can always be restarted: www.thejaycfoundation.org I’m glad her life restarted and I hope other victims of abduction can restart their lives. But in reality life cannot always be restarted for everybody. According to the web site the victim recently spoke at a conference on Stockholm Syndrome at Harvard. I haven’t read or listened to the presentations, but the speakers reportedly criticized calling the phenomenon a “syndrome.” Even more perplexing to me is the immense popularity of the victim’s story. There are 2,500 reviews on Amazon – more than any other book I know of – mostly brief and superficial comments by women. Why are so many women eager to read the details? I’m reminded of the popularity of the old “True Confessions” magazines, and wonder if some readers get secret, erotic enjoyment in reading about sex crimes.

Recently a five-year-old boy in Arizona was found dead after he wandered away from his family campsite. There was no abduction, just a lack of parental supervision. That’s the typical cause of serious injury or death in childhood – not abduction by strangers. Not only are such tragedies statistically much more frequent than stranger abduction, in qualitative terms that boy’s life can never be restarted. His parents can’t hope for his future. Despite the coerced sex that Jaycee Dugard suffered, in relative terms she was one of the lucky ones. “A Stolen Life” is a short book about a very long period of time. Hopefully, someday she will reflect more on her early life and write a more detailed and balanced description of her early sexual education (or lack thereof) and how that might relate to her reaction to her coerced sexual experience and current sex life (or lack thereof).

There is good reason to believe that some mothers set the stage for a negative reaction to even minor sexual abuse. As an idealistic young woman the victim wrote in her journal “I want to change the world, make it a better place to live. A place where I want the kids to live.” Ironically, this abduction victim’s unique experience could actually contribute much to dispel the ridiculous myth that early sexual experience is worse than death. Some drama queens promote the belief that even a single experience of minor sex abuse should be an international scandal, but here is a person who experienced multiple rapes over a period of years and not only survived but is glad she did and glad she had two children as a result – and with good reason. There is evidence that throughout most of human history children learned about sex by watching their parents enjoying the act (3), but today normal sexual behavior is not only hidden from most children, some parents don’t even talk about sexual desire and sexual pleasure with their kids. Isn’t the anti-sex crusade in modern culture to blame for pathetic sexual fixations and widespread female sexual dysfunction?


1) Dugard, Jaycee. A Stolen Life: a memoir. Simon and Shuster, 2011.

2) Sammy Elsamra, Michael Nazmy, David Shin, Harry Fisch, Ihor Sawczuk, Debra Fromer. Female sexual dysfunction in urological patients: findings from a major metropolitan area in the USA. BJU International, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2009.09091.x. Another survey: 60% of women never or almost never experience orgasm during intercourse. Cited in: Kamisaruk, Barry R. et al. 2006. The Science of Orgasm. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 17.  See also: Laumann E,  Paik A,  Rosen R . Sexual dysfunction in the United States: prevalence and predictors. JAMA 1999;281: 537544

3) Josephs L 1. How children learn about sex: a cross-species and cross-cultural analysis. Arch Sex Behav. 2015 May;44(4):1059-69. doi: 10.1007/s10508-015-0498-0. Epub 2015 Feb 18.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Playing Doctor

“…the ability to experience and know pleasure is an essential ingredient of wellness.” -bell hooks

In her book “The Secret Lives of Girls,” researcher Sharon Lamb describes interviews with many girls and women who revealed their experiences of sex play during childhood. Beyond playing doctor, the subjects admitted playing striptease, deep kissing, naked parade, kissing genitalia, etc. as children. The experiences described were not unusual exceptions; they were normative in Lamb’s sample of 122 rich and poor girls and women in over 25 states (1).

Discussions of human sexuality should not be distorted by a focus on only victimization and danger. Although dangers do exist, accurate, balanced, and comprehensive sex education should include discussions of desire and pleasure. In other publications Lamb has given due attention to the problem of over-sexualization (see below). As Lamb put it: “… just because there are problem versions of sexual play and games doesn’t mean that all sexual play is harmful to children.”

One of the first cases described in the book blew my mind. When I was about seven a neighbor boy and I pretended he was a girl and I was the boy. (See Learning about Love ) We undressed and pretended to tie him up (imaginary rope), and I “forced” him to kiss my penis and put my penis in his mouth. Then we switched roles. That’s a game only boys play, right? Wrong! Lamb offers the report of two seven-year-old girls who played exactly the same game, probably with the exact same words: “Now you be the man.”

So how is it possible that many parents feel wholly justified in prohibiting their children (especially daughters) from even playing doctor – asking advice columnists how to make kids stop that – let alone naked parade, etc., as if such sex play is “abnormal”? One plausible explanation is that such parents have ulterior motives. They merely want any excuse to rob children of their sexual power, or in other words some adults want to deprive kids of the pleasure of making their own sexual choices.

The traditional idea that “good girls” are not interested in sex (only boys and bad girls are) is a burden that hurts girls by causing unnecessary shame and guilt feelings. Normal girls are encouraged to feel they are immoral or perverted if they have or express any sexual feelings. If perfectly normal girls want to explore their sexual feelings through play we force them to sneak around like criminals.

Boys suffer too, since they are usually assumed to be the aggressors whenever boys and girls are “caught” playing sexually together – even when the boy is younger than the girl. Lamb describes several reports of little girls behaving provocatively, e.g. deliberately exposing their underwear to boys, and trying to hit boys in their genital area as an excuse to then comfort the boys there by caressing the boys’ genitalia.

The author also mentions the incredible cases of a six-year-old suspended from school because he kissed a girl, and a teacher who threatened her pupils that she’d “better not hear” about any kissing games. I’ve previously referred to an unbelievable media report of a ten-year-old girl arrested for playing doctor (see Child Sex Abuse Hysteria)

Most people have some kind of power, including sexual power, and exercising that power can be pleasurable in itself beyond any satisfaction from orgasm. An analogous case is someone who ignores expert advice on a large purchase, and instead goes out and buys something on (his own) whim to fully enjoy the shopping experience.

When I played rape at age seven I experienced genital erection but not orgasm, and yet the game was exciting in that we were making our own sexual choices – free from any interference by parents or other adults who are greedy for power and eager to take those choices away from kids (e.g. imposing an adult’s choice to abstain on a child). Ironically, such adults claim they are superior to real rapists (forcing someone not to do something is superior to forcing them to do it?), and some adults even claim they are thereby making children “free” – free to do what adults tell kids to do!

In some cultures a popular saying is: power is better than sex (that saying is likely popular due to widespread sexual dysfunction). If you’re very greedy for power, you’re not content to just manage your own sexual choices – you want to manage other people’s sexual choices as well. Hence traditional attempts to manage and even micro-manage children’s sexual choices. Power-hungry adults claim they are protecting kids from abuse, guilt feelings later, pregnancy and disease, but in reality sexually dysfunctional adults are primarily protecting themselves from losing opportunities to enjoy power and control.

Children can be protected from most boogey men by simply providing accurate, balanced and comprehensive sex education from the earliest age, and at most some responsible monitoring at a reasonable distance. The same excuses were used in the past to justify men managing women’s sexual choices, slave owners managing a slave’s sexual choices, and modern social engineers dictating what they want (calling their preferences “appropriate” sexual choices) in the bedrooms of all other adults.

In polite society people aren’t supposed to talk about sex in general, and especially not sexual desire and sexual pleasure in women, and certainly not before puberty. But the practical effect of such traditional etiquette is to perpetuate the belief that girls and women have less sexual desire and less sexual pleasure than boys and men – a belief that is evidently false. Worse, the supposed lack of sexual desire and sexual pleasure in girls and women becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, since as I have pointed out previously, the absence of genital stimulation during development before puberty is likely to cause permanent and irreversible clitoral erectile dysfunction 

Can we believe the stories girls tell about their sex play? Are they exaggerating, or is there a lot more going on that remains unmentioned? One case described by Lamb points to the latter possibility. A little girl told her interviewer she’s a perfect good girl who never does anything bad, always obeys her mother, and has no problems at school. But independent sources revealed that this self-proclaimed goody-two-shoes has actually been caught in the act of writing gross profanity on the walls of the school bathroom. A closer study of her own words indicates she may have committed serious vandalism outside school. There is a clear possibility that the things girls do admit about their sex play may be only the tip of the iceberg.

Sex play isn’t the only secret part of girls’ lives. Lamb also asked her subjects about aggression, and discovered that many girls have indulged in gratuitous aggression and even enjoyed it. An example is two girls who put broken glass in the cookies they baked for their father. More common is aggression toward weaker children. We don’t like to think that “innocent” little girls are capable of outright cruelty toward weaker siblings or other children, but they are. Who knows how many false accusations of sex abuse were motivated by gratuitous sadism?

Lamb wrote that her purpose is to expose that “Girls, like boys, are deeply sexual, deeply aggressive creatures.” That “these are human impulses we all share – the taste for revenge, the sexual urges of the body, the desire to dominate another.” Most importantly, that these desires exist from early childhood. Lamb states clearly: “Sexuality does not begin at thirteen.”

Recently I witnessed a girl (age 10) on the street put her hand on a teenage boy’s butt. It occurred in the middle of several people and she smiled mischievously, so it was no furtive gesture. In response the boy said something like “What? You like my butt?” The child didn’t reply. Her mother was sitting at a table 2m away, and didn’t comment. I suspect that the child’s motive was playful, and the boy’s response was what he felt was expected of his masculine role in responding to the little kid’s misbehavior.

A game described by several of Lamb’s subjects is “Chase and Kiss,” and she reports that in some schools (both lower income and middle-class) the object of the game was to touch the butt of the other person rather than kiss. Exhibitionist games were also popular in the girls’ reports. Lamb says: we can’t deny the pure pleasure in being watched.

Lest anyone suspect that Sharon Lamb is some radical sex maniac, note that she was one of the co-authors of the American Psychological Association’s 2007 Task Force Report on the Sexualization of Girls. That report attacked the increasing focus on sexy clothes, sexy dolls, sexy bodies, and sexy behavior presented to girls in the mass media today. Although I agree with the importance of teaching children media literacy, I criticized that report in my first blog post five years ago on so-called Premature Sexualization.  Another co-author of the APA Task Force Report was Deborah Tolman, whose own study of teen girls’ sexual experience “Dilemmas of Desire” I reviewed in Sexual Equality

This short introduction only scratches the surface of the subject, so I will reread this important book and offer a more detailed analysis in a future post.


  1. Lamb, Sharon. The Secret Lives of Girls: What Good Girls Really Do-Sex Play, Aggression, and Their Guilt. The Free Press, 2001.
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