I recently came across a blog entry with scanned pages from the 1965 Boy Scout handbook. Some of those commenting mentioned that the book has a chapter concerning masturbation. One commenter included a quotation of one section of this chapter, which reads as follows:
At times the glands discharge part of their secretions through the sex organ during sleep. This process is called a nocturnal emission or a “wet dream”. It is perfectly natural and healthy and a sign that nature has taken care of the situation in its own manner.
There are boys who do not let nature have its own way with them but cause emissions themselves. This may do no physical harm, but may cause them to worry.
Any real boy knows that anything that causes him to worry should be avoided or overcome. If anything like this worries you, this is not unusual – just about all boys have the same problem. Seek the correct answer to any question which bothers you about your development from boy to man. But be sure to get your information from reliable sources – your parents, your physician, your spiritual adviser.
It’s funny that the writer practically plants a suggestion to the readers that pleasuring themselves will possibly trouble their consciences. I’ve never felt worried about masturbation, nor has any man or woman I’ve ever met who has been willing to discuss the topic with me. Any guilt associated with self-pleasing acts is generally forced onto people by the judgement of others who are less open-minded.
However, what strikes me as strange is that the discussion on the page mentioned above focuses on masturbation, which was important enough to mention in the book, but that there is no mention of homosexuality. I assume that this is because, at the time, gayness was less accepted and less talked about in society, and as such was not a topic deemed necessary for inclusion in the manual. I guess the writers of the book were afraid that mentioning homosexuality might have given sexually frustrated boys ideas about how to work out their issues without resorting to masturbation?
Wouldn’t the BSA rather have Scouts jerking off in their sleeping bag than playing leap frog in the showers? Perhaps the organization saw masturbation by a boy as gay, because pleasing yourself as a male means that a male is pleasing you, and is therefore somehow a homosexual act?
I was a Scout, and Eagle Scout in fact, and I don’t remember a single Scout leader, event, pep-talk, pledge, or piece of literature that ever mentioned the pursuit of sex or the act of sex, so I therefore assumed that the Scouts was not a group concerned with sexual orientation. It’s not like the Scouts is about getting girls anyway, so why would they care whether you wanted to?
I was in Scouting from 1982 to 1992. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that the topic of homosexuals vs Scouting became a hot button issue in the news, nationally.
My immediate response was twofold: why would gay boys, who are generally more effeminate, want to go rough it in the wild with heteros, who would probably make fun of and bully them, and why would Scouts, who enjoy being clean and doing crafts, not want gay members?
I have often thought it funny that an organization that wears such gay outfits as short shorts with slits in the side, long socks with fuzzy balls on them, scarves, and berets would be so anti-gay. Hmm… Maybe that’s why gay boys would want to be Scouts; for the lovely uniforms?
I later caught on that the real issue is that many parents were concerned more about gay leaders, who they felt might molest or corrupt their boys, than actually about gay boys intermingling with straights. Protecting your child from sexual predators is a valid concern, but I think that most statistics would show that hetero men are far more likely to take advantage of girls than gay men are of boys. So, I think that the uproar against gays in Scouting was kind of overkill.
Maybe we could help to rectify this issue by blending the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts into just the Scouts, the way it is in most countries around the world. But perhaps the USA is still too sexually repressed to let our little boys and little girls play and work and camp together?
I guess as a para-military organization, you want to prepare the men to die in trenches some day defending the flag? I think unless they include some merit badges about boobs and getting nookie, they should just not worry about it.
Parents: teach your kids to tell you if adults take advantage of them sexually or otherwise, in Scouts, or elsewhere, and get over it and stop giving the Boy Scouts of America a hard time.
Scouts: stick to teaching citizenship and survival skills and personal & social responsibility, and let boys decide whether they wanna get with girls or boys or animals or whatever…