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Characteristics of boylovers
The attraction that defines boylovers is composed of many qualities. The most controversial quality is the sexual attraction which usually implies a strong physical attraction to boys. For well-adjusted boylovers (those not feeling as if their attractions are morally "wrong"), these feelings are a healthy part of his being. Many boylovers express a desire to teach, to care for, to protect, to guide, to nourish, and/or to interact with boys.
Boylovers can be attracted to any age of boy, although most boylovers have a particular affection for boys within a certain age of attraction. At the two extremes of the spectrum of age preferences, there are boylovers who are primarily attracted to younger children from 3 to 6 and those who are primarily attracted to boys who are into puberty or older. They are often labelled with the terms little boy lovers and teen boy lovers. These terms more properly describe the qualities the boylover enjoys most and the age ranges he prefers; though most boylovers have an age of attraction falling somewhere between the lower bound of little boy lover and upper bound of teen boy lover. The term "boylover", however, is all-encompassing.
Most self-identified boylovers in the online boylove community value the ideals expressed by boylove. Because being a boylover is only a small part of a person's personality, boylovers run the same range of personalities as heterosexual or homosexual persons. Therefore boylovers are normal people with no particular or peculiar claim to being upright or moral. The only universally accepted code of ethics among boylovers is to never hurt a boy (a consequence of the so-called golden rule). However, there is neither agreement on what is harmful or not harmful, nor on what constitutes acceptable risk.
The most dividing issue among boylovers is the issue of sex. Some feel that sex is not inherently harmful, and some feel that sex is not an acceptable activity. Most who argue against sex say that society's stigma against homosexuality makes boys ill-prepared to handle the possible emotional and societal consequences of a sexual relationship, and the possibility of harm is too great. Others who argue against sex say that the simple reality of the law and its consequences renders more abstract analysis moot. For example, a sexual relationship between a man and a boy will cause the boy to lose his adult friend when the relationship is discovered. Even if the sex itself were inherently harmless, the loss of a beloved friend or father figure, public exposure of a socially inappropriate relationship, and resulting legal action could be very traumatic to the boy.
Boylovers in history
History records evidence of boylovers as far back as ancient Greece. Across time and religions, boylovers have shaped history and left an indelible imprint in the minds of humanity. Socrates, Hippocrates, Leonardo da Vinci, and famous poets such as those mentioned in the 1001 Arabian Nights are all examples of famous boylovers. From the Stone Age to the Space Age, boylovers have existed alongside people of other sexual attractions.
In modern times, boylovers are often reviled in the media and other popular thought. Much myth and prejudice surround boylovers in most modern Western cultures. This often but not always leads to initial feelings of depression, isolation, futility, and self-hatred. The discovery of other boylovers or the boylove community helps to reinforce the idea of responsible behavior and focus on the positive aspects of being a boylover.
The exact definition--both in denotation and connotation--of the word "boylover" has been a topic of intense debate almost since the word itself came into common usage. Being as the word originally rose to popularity as a reaction against an increasing misuse and bastardization of the word "pedophile," the recent history of the word has been accompanied by many discussions, debates and arguments about various shades of meaning attributed to it and its many proposed replacements.
This ongoing debate has spawned many neologisms and new expressions as various individuals attempt to come to terms with their own status as a boylover and find a label with which they feel comfortable. In many cases, these labels are classificatory, which is to say, they are not intended to change the connotation but merely further divide the group of boylovers into identifiable subcategories (the terms little boy lover and teen boy lover are examples of this type of sub-labelling).
In other cases, the new labels are connotative, that is to say, attempts to achieve entirely new connotations under the belief that the boylove movement as a whole is better served by utilizing a term over which they themselves control the connotations and not their opponents. Critics of this tendency point out that any new expression which begins to gain popularity will simply be co-opted yet again by the mass media and popular consciousness, resulting in a never-ending search for yet more new terms, and that boylovers are best served by stubbornly insisting on their definitions for the terms already in use.
Examples of some terms which qualify as this type of connotative relabelling can be found at minor-attracted neologisms.
Since the term "boylover" is most commonly used as a term for a sexual preference analogous to "gay" or "homosexual," it is most properly used as a common noun and therefore not capitalized in English. Some writers will capitalize it, and others will even write it in mixed case ("BoyLover"), but these alternative capitalizations are in the nature of artistic license. Other languages seem to follow local standards for common, compound nouns as well.
Terms for boylover in other languages
- German: Boylover, Knabenliebhaber, Jungenliebhaber