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Ernest Borneman

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Ernest Borneman

Ernst Wilhelm Julius Bornemann (12 April 1915 – 4 June 1995), also known by his self-chosen Ernest Borneman, was a German crime writer, filmmaker, anthropologist, ethnomusicologist, psychoanalyst, sexologist, communist agitator, jazz musician and critic.

Borneman is most relevant to MAPs, AAMs and allies through his research into young people's sexuality, and related theory of sexual developmental psychology and phases of sexual maturity. There are only 2 sources in English where Borneman drew on this research, discussed in this page.

Biography

Borneman had a wide variety of careers and experiences during his personal life. As both a Jew and a member of the German Communist Party in his youth, Borneman's life was in great peril when the Nazis came to power in 1933. He fled to London by posing as a member of the Hitler Youth on his way to England as an exchange student, using a pseudonym and thereafter shortening his name to "Ernest Borneman". Through a series of chance encounters[1], Borneman found work as a film editor, working on various media and literary projects across multiple countries until 1970, where he permanently settled in Austria and became an influential sexologist in later-life.

Bornemann, who had been widowed since the death of his wife Eva in 1987, committed suicide at age 80 after a relationship with a 19-year-old female colleague had come to an end.

Breaking the taboo on pedophilia

In 1988, Ernest Bornemann was of the view that 'pedosexual' contact, physically and psychologically non-violent sexual acts do not necessarily have to have negative consequences for the child.[2] According to German wikipedia[3], he argued, among other things: "If you condemn from the outset any form of love that does not move within the same generation, you damage the child." [Note: this quote has no citation within the source given by Wikipedia][4]

The largest single community sample study of children's sexuality?

Borneman led a team of researchers and conducted one of the largest studies of children's/young people's sexuality from the youth's perspective, ever to be conducted. In a paper presented to the World Congress of Sexology, entitled "Progress in Empirical Research on Children's Sexuality" (1983), Borneman outlines his findings after his research team had spent 40 years collecting a large community sample of over 4,000 taped conversations where children and adolescents discussed their everyday sex lives (including dreams, sexual fantasies and sexual contact). Largely hidden from and unknown to their parents, the young people who participated were gathered through the 1940s to the 1960s, with Borneman's publications about the research appearing mainly in the 1980s-90s. During research, Borneman and his colleagues attempted to ask young people about their sex lives in multiple ways, including by simply asking them in public places such as parks, and were subsequently arrested multiple times before changing their research method. As Borneman explained:

Sooner or later, of course, the adults intervened, called the police or the park attendants, and asked what in the world we were up to. Most of us were arrested at least once and got used to carrying thick wallets full of documents identifying us as members of a research team. Despite the fact that we were in no way conducting a participant observation study, and were merely attempting to understand children’s sexual thinking, it was very difficult to communicate this distinction to authorities. The experiences were painful, and so we began to train children in handling tape recorders. This worked extremely well...

Tom O'Carroll, former chairman of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) during the 1st wave of the MAP Movement, wrote about Borneman on his personal website.[5] He wrote:

The perils of scientific research into children’s sexuality are vividly illustrated here in the words of larger-than-life polymath Ernest Borneman, [...] best remembered now as a sexologist who dared to study children’s sexuality. Borneman’s bold radicalism got off to an early start when, as a youth, he found himself in the company of Marxist poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht; even more promisingly, he worked for psychologist Wilhelm Reich, who, as many heretics here will be aware, advocated a childhood start to active sexual life, seeing sexual repression as key to the mass psychology of fascism. Borneman would in later life become a professor at the University of Salzburg, president of both the Austrian and German societies for sexological research, and in 1990 first winner of the prestigious Magnus Hirschfeld Medal for Sexual Science. Not bad for someone who has had his collar felt by the police as a suspected paedo!

In the same paper, Borneman explained that "No field of sexology is beset with more objections [...] than research into children’s sex life. Such objections reach the height of absurdity with the denial that there is such a thing as children’s sexuality. [...] Of course, pedologists mean something else by children’s “sex life” than laypersons. We don’t limit the term to a connotation of “having intercourse.” In our vocabulary, children’s sex life encompasses the child’s entire existence as a sexual being. In this sense, it may even be permissible to speak of prenatal sex life".[6]

For Borneman, "Human sexuality [...] consists less of bodily activities than of mental ones - desires, fantasies, disappointments, anxieties. In this specific sense, the child’s sex life resembles that of the adult human". As the majority of erotic / sex life resides in fantasy, the gulf between "adults" and "children" is much smaller than might usually be assumed.

Among other important findings, Borneman coined an initial phase of psychosexual development - "the cutaneous phase" - in which "the entire skin surface of the newly born is a single erogenous zone." The genitals has been over-emphasized, "since we observed that the sexually mature person of our day is a cutaneously oriented person whose entire body surface is libidinally sensitive. Such people are not genitally fixated [...and the] embraces they seek are not exclusively of the genital kind."

Childhood Phases of Maturity: Sexual Developmental Psychology

  • Borneman, Childhood Phases of Maturity: Sexual Developmental Psychology, translated by Michael A. Lombardi-Nash, introduction by Vern Bullough (New York: Prometheus, 1994)

In this book, Borneman writes at the start of his chapter “Eighth Year: End of Childhood”:

Childhood ends at age eight; adolescence begins at age nine. […] The agility and self-confidence of the children, but also their curiosity and learning ability, increase in the course of the year. The children wander around in town and city; they often ride their bicycles so far that they need all their energy for their return home. They inspect forests, fields, and ponds, examine neighboring homes, building sites, garbage dumps, and unoccupied houses. They get into relationships with tramps, the homeless, and other street people. They become acquainted with young prostitutes, who are only a few years older than they are. They climb over fences to find out what is behind them and get into the intimate sphere of strangers. They surprise adolescents and adults who are having sexual intercourse in the forests, gardens, basements, building huts, and on park benches. They commandeer unoccupied summer houses and then turn them into “club houses” for the local clique. There, for the immature ones at this age occurs the first experience of sexual intercourse, usually with a friend’s sister or brother. (pp. 269-270).

Driven to secrecy to avoid being stigmatized, shamed or punished for sexual expression, for these children Borneman found that:

These things must remain hidden from parents. So, in the eighth year, children learn to keep their thoughts and experiences to themselves. […] Of all the phases of childhood, parents know the least about this one (p. 270).

Select bibliography

In English:

  • 'Progress in Empirical Research on Children's Sexuality' (1983), Paper presented to the World Congress for Sexology.
  • Borneman. (1994). Childhood Phases of Maturity: Sexual Developmental Psychology, translated by Michael A. Lombardi-Nash (New York: Prometheus).
  • Borneman. (1976). The psychoanalysis of money (Urizen Books).
  • Borneman. (1937). The Face on the Cutting-Room Floor (written as Cameron McCabe, London: Picador Classic, reprinted in 2016 with an introduction by Jonathan Coe). Fiction novel with dedicated Wikipedia page.[7]

In German Only:

  • Lexikon der Liebe und Erotik (1968) [Encyclopedia of Love and Eroticism (1968)]
  • Studien zu Befreiung des Kindes, 3 vols. (1973) [Studies in Child Liberation , 3 vols. (1973)]
  • Das Patriarchat. Ursprung und Zukunft unseres Gesellschaftssystems (1975) [The Patriarchy . Origin and future of our social system (1975)]
  • Die Ur-Szene: Eine Selbstanalyse (autobiographical, 1977) [The original scene: A Self-Analysis]
  • Reifungsphasen der Kindheit. Sexuelle Entwicklungspsychologie (1981) [Maturation Phases of Childhood: Sexual Developmental Psychology (1981)]
  • Die Welt der Erwachsenen in den verbotenen Reimen deutschsprachiger Stadtkinder (1982) [The World of Adults in the Forbidden Rhymes of German-Speaking City Children (1982)]
  • Das Geschlechtsleben des Kindes. Beiträge zur Kinderanalyse und Sexualpädologie (1985) [The child's sex life. Contributions to Child Analysis and Sex Pedology (1985)]
  • Die Zukunft der Liebe (2001) [The Future of Love (2001)] (his last book)

References

  1. After being arrested in 1940 as an "enemy alien" and interned in Canada's northern Ontario, he was recognized by the British Commissioner for Prisons on an prison inspection, who knew Borneman from London, and arranged for his release. Paterson put him in touch with John Grierson, who was involved in setting up Canada's National Film Board and who got Bornemann a job as a film editor. Among other things, he was involved in the editing of the propaganda film Action Stations. Graham McInnes describes his work as a mixture of Teutonic accuracy and Jewish extroverted lyricism. In Canada he wrote six more crime novels while continuing to pursue anthropological studies as an autodidact. He also published a book on jazz, a collection of articles from his London days. In the 1950s he returned to Britain. There he wrote screenplays for the series The Adventures of Robin Hood and the film Bang! You're Dead. His book Tremolo and Face the Music, set in the London jazz scene, was filmed in 1954.
  2. The source given in German is: Ernest Bornemann: Das Geschlechtsleben des Kindes – Beiträge zur Kinderanalyse und Sexualpädologie. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, München 1988. [Translated to English: Ernest Bornemann: The sexual life of the child - contributions to child analysis and sex pedology. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1988].
  3. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Bornemann
  4. The source given in Wikpedia for this quote is an anti-MAP German article on the history of some notable figures within German's post-1968 sex positive movement who valued sexual freedom, including young people's. Replete with no sources whatsoever, the professors Helmut Kentler, Reinhart Wolff Michael C. Baurmann, Rüdiger Lautmann, Theo Sandfort, Frits Bernard and, for some reason, Borneman, are all named as if they are part of a grand conspiracy together. The quote allegedly by Borneman is there, but remains unsourced. See False childhood friends. Emma , September 1, 1993.
  5. https://heretictoc.com/2021/05/17/childrens-sexuality-no-latency-period/
  6. Sexual behavior in utero, in the womb, has since been empirically verified - see our page on youth sexuality].
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Face_on_the_Cutting-Room_Floor