Desire and Deviance

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71 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Consent. Consent consent consent.

    Two adults living in a house together and doing stuff that both of them are cool with ain’t none of my business. I assure you, what Maribou and I do ain’t none of yours.

    At what point do children cease to be children and have meaningful consent when it comes to doing stuff?

    Sure, some of them are totally mature at age (under 18). And, yeah, I’ve met people who weren’t ready despite the fact that they were in their 20’s.

    But, and here’s the point, when we’re talking about two dudes doing stuff, that’s none of my business and were I to put myself in their shoes I’d resent the hell out of you (the metaphorical you, not *YOU* you) sticking your nose in my business.

    If I were a kid and someone was doing stuff? If I put myself in the kid’s shoes, I start screaming in terror for someone to help unless I’m too terrified to say anything… at which point I start wanting to find a blunt object to percussively apply to the adult in the situation until I stop feeling angry.

    That’s a difference that’s worth noting, I reckon.Report

    • Avatar Freddie says:

      Exactly. Informed consent. And not so much because of the ability to say yes, but because of the ability to say no. Children and animals are incapable of saying no, even if someone really thinks they really want it.Report

      • Avatar Freddie says:

        And I don’t mean that in terms of “every child will mouth the words yes” but just that a child can’t do the mental processes necessary to make informed consent possible.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Yeah exactly Freddie. As a side note kudos on your posts about Athiesm. I noticed that a bunch of the evangelist non-believers were taking a bead on your position so I shouted out on your page in support of moderation but I think it put my comment down under my real name instead of my moniker.Report

      • Avatar golikewater says:

        It’s very easy to say that children are not capable of consent. I wouldn’t argue with that. The hard question is, “what is a child?” We all agree that an 8-year-old is not capable of consenting to sex with an adult, but what about an adult man having sex with a 14-year-old girl? or boy? 13? 12? There’s a long ambivalent history to argue with when you start talking about sex with teens and preteens. Age of consent is too nebulous an idea for us to be talking with such confidence about executing “pedophiles.”Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Well yes Golikewater, but distinctions and complexities like those are why we have nuanced human juries, DA’s and Judges administering the system and not the Justicetron 2000.Report

        • Avatar Scott says:

          It is exactly because the concept of an age of consent is nebulous that society use a bright line test for the age of consent and strict liability for such offenses. Besides, many states have enacted “Romeo and Juliet” laws to separate of the frisky teens from the real chomos.Report

          • Avatar golikewater says:

            Scott, are you saying that two 14-year-olds who have sex with each other are “frisky teens,” but that a 25- or 30-year-old who has sex with a 14-year-old is a “chomo” and should be shot?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              It’s a probability game.

              We all remember being age whatever and saying “OF COURSE I’M OLD ENOUGH TO DO THAT!”

              And we are now old enough to wryly smile when we see a toddler shout “ME DO”.

              Surely, there are exceptional folks out there who totally are capable of being adults in their early teens. (Indeed, there are unexceptional folks who have prolonged their adolescence well into their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s.)

              I’ve found that trying to come up with a general rule based on outliers while doing one’s best to ignore the general cases generally results in high emotions.

              “Surely there were some (Pre-civil war reference).”
              “Surely there were some (WWII reference).”

              Focusing on these outliers to the exclusion of the general tends to result in people misunderstanding each other.

              But, for the record, I know that you are an exceptional person and your circumstances are extraordinary.Report

              • Avatar golikewater says:

                For the record, I am not arguing that children do not deserve protection or that sexually exploiting them is not hideous or that there should not be age of consent law or that people who molest kids should not be punished. I am only saying that there are a lot of fuzzy lines here, and I don’t like fuzziness when we’re talking about the death penalty. People get irrational and very, very angry when you start talking about kids and sex.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                It’s not a fuzzy line. Particularly 14.

                16? Maybe.

                Buy no way 14. Too much emotional immaturity.

                And I say this as a former 14 year old, the mother of former 14 year olds, friend and advisor to many former 14 year olds, the victim of a pedophile, and the daughter of a mother who got pregnant the first time at 15.

                I can totally understand a pedophile convincing themselves ‘this is the exception.’ I’ve much experience of this type of self-justification. But it isn’t the exception, it’s just wrong, hard as it may be for him (and it’s always a him, funny that) to accept.Report

              • Avatar Rufus says:

                Always a him? It seems like there have been a decent number of older women teachers arrested for this in the last few years, haven’t there?Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                Rufus, there probably are a few women, though the cases I can think of the boys were older. If you read McArdle’s second piece, mostly an email from a prosecutor, there’s a link to an interview by a researcher, and she makes the same claim.Report

            • Avatar Scott says:

              Like most things, it depends on how the laws are written. I don’t see how the criminal justice system could deal with these type of cases without bright line rules on the age of consent. Usually, child molestation has to involve a pre-pubescent so a 14 year old may qualify. If that is the age the law specifies and a 25 or 30 year old breaks it, I say tough sh$t. You have to draw a firm line somewhere.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Hold on: are you saying that two dude is different from one dude and one sheep? Because Justice Scalia disagrees.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Sheep can’t exactly give consent either.

        Though, granted, I find myself less likely to want to pick up a blunt object.

        It’s probably because I am insufficiently inclined to put myself into the hooves of a sheep.Report

        • Avatar A regular (anonymous for now) says:

          OK, let me play devil’s advocate here–sheep can’t consent to being turned into mutton either (and probably wouldn’t, even if they could). So why is one illegal while the other one is fine dining?

          I’d like to clarify that this is coming from someone who’s not at all into beastiality, and thinks lamb is delicious.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Psychic leftovers.

            For the record, I tend to think that “rape” is a worse crime than “murder”… but I put an exceptionally high premium on “consent”.

            For example, I can think of circumstances where I would find myself defending the act of murder. “Well, you have to understand, to be sure, certainly, these things happen.”

            Rape? I cannot think of a single circumstance under which I would defend rape. No, not even one.

            Now just apply that metric to sheep.Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          Do you know about Thomas Granger, first person hanged at Plimoth Colony?

          Sad, that.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            “and a turkey”.

            Goodness.Report

            • Avatar zic says:

              I used to work there (Plimoth Plantation.) We’d go to ‘visit’ someone else in the village, always with a flood of visitors around, and tell each other gossip about “That young Thomas Granger, he’s a good hand with the animals, he is, loves takin’ the sheep to pasture” and o’course, you gotta keep a straight face for the visitors there to learn about the Saints and not the Sinners.Report

        • Avatar Cascadian says:

          Fuck Ewe.Report

  2. Avatar North says:

    Just as Jay said. A homosexual going along with their desires is objectively an adult indulging in their adult desires (with another consenting human being). There is nothing outside of “revealed truth” that can concretely identify that behavior as inherently wrong. Even their best attempts of natural law founder in hopeless rubble in the modern acknowledgement that throughout the age’s sex has been about pleasure first and procreation second.

    A child or for that matter an animal is unable to give informed consent. A pedophile or for that matter a beastialist indulging their urges is objectively a rapist.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      A clarification. I don’t mean to belittle the plight of a non-practicing pedophile. As a gay man I can just barely imagine the wild hell such a person must endure in day-to-day life. Still the difference between the homosexual and the pederast remains, to me, profound. A homosexual who abstains is a eunuch or a monk or a celibate, perhaps under some faiths this is admirable but without faith it’s just self-deprivation. To give in to their urges merely makes them human. A pederast who abstains is a human being with or without faith. To give in to their urges makes them a monster.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco says:

      the modern acknowledgement that throughout the age’s sex has been about pleasure first and procreation second.

      In your mind.Report

  3. Avatar Rufus says:

    The Foucault argument, as I understand it (I’m not a Foucaultian) is that there were always homosexual acts, but that homosexuals as a class were brought into existence in some sense by the medical categorization of psychologists and the state. I think he wanted to go back to bodies and acts instead of social groups. I think his point was that moral condemnation doesn’t go as deep to the core of being as does medical classification. Of course, we can ask whether the longstanding rumors as to Foucault’s own deeply unethical sexual practices before his death are, in fact, true. Well, not in academia, but we can ask here.

    I will say that Foucault stayed with a much older colleague of mine when visiting our department in the seventies, and that colleague made him sleep on the couch, instead of the guest bed, due to his writings about S&M!

    I’m also curious about where Plato’s Symposium fits in to this because, as I remember, Aristophanes does say that there are a class of people who experience permanent love and desire for the same sex. Admittedly, he equates them with heterosexual adulterers; and Socrates was no fan of Aristophanes, so there could be satire there. But I did find that section gave the shock of the familiar.

    I’d also wonder how this idea of erotic tragedy once applied to married people, who quite often were paired by their parents regardless of their own feelings. Aristophanes uses the example of adulterers because it was apparently assumed that married people wouldn’t be in love. Again, there might be satire there. But, certainly, plenty of heteros lived in loveless marriages for the good of their souls.

    Finally, you begin by saying that no slippery slope arguments can be made here, due to the issue of consent; then you end by saying you just don’t know where we’ll go in the future, which sounds, at least to me, like sliding in all directions, if not down a slope.Report

    • Avatar David Schaengold says:

      Thanks for pointing out that bit from the Symposium, which I had forgotten. The Greek understanding of same-sex desire remains pretty confusing, to me at least. I always contrast the Symposium with the proposal in the Laws that sodomy be punishable by death. Some people, as I understand, think this is because the old Plato was influenced by the young Aristotle.

      I didn’t mean to invoke Foucault’s argument from a History of Sexuality, but I think you’re right about medicalization being more important than moral condemnation. The mid-century turn on homosexuality was certainly medical in part. Foucault would probably point to the idea of a “population” as being an important pre-condition.

      Anyhow, I could support a return to acts and bodies and away from groups.Report

      • Avatar Rufus says:

        Right, and that’s sort of my question- does Plato agree with any of that, or is he trying to imply that Aristophanes is foolish. Because, elsewhere Socrates basically says that Aristophanes is an asshole, and of course, Aristophanes returns the favor. So, the Symposium story might be pure parody on Plato’s part.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          I’m reminded of something that I constantly have to be reminded of when I read Faust. We read Faust to read the things that Mephistopheles says and we laugh, cheer, and nod. At the time when it came out, those were the lines that would make people boo and hiss and they read it to read the things said by the more devout characters and those things were the things that made them laugh, cheer, and nod.

          When we read the story Aristophanes tells, we laugh, cheer, and nod.

          That’s good enough, I reckon.

          The Author is dead.Report

  4. Avatar Scott says:

    David:

    So what is wrong with the opinion that all the chomos should be shot?Report

    • Avatar North says:

      If by chomos you mean homos with a typo wouldn’t that be murder just to start off.Report

      • Avatar Scott says:

        Chomo is common slang for child molester.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          so a “common slang” term for child molester that just happens to rhyme with a common clang term for a gay man. Huh well what do you know. I’m sure that is only said in good faith, not as a sleazebag attempt to suggest gay men are all child molesters.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Never heard it before. Seems inapt considering how prevalent heterosexual child molestation is. But to the original question, should we shoot them, if by shoot you mean punish I think that any ones who act on their desire must necessarily be punished. They’re rapists after all.Report

          • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

            Being the house crumungedly ‘conservative’ I agree with North that ALL child molester’s should be executed (my preference oft mentioned here is of course hanging…it’s the symbolism).
            The problem is that you “progressives” are winning. Consequently, my best guess is that “child molestation,” in a few short years, will be a term long abandoned in our society as NAMBLA et al via the Democratic Party seek to exploit our collapsing culture.Report

            • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

              btw, that’s ‘curmudgeon’…’cause I’ve learned to use spell check!Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Bob old boy, if anyone is going to shoot, hang or ritually dismember NAMBLA they’re gonna have to get in line behind us gays. Other than the children those monsters have preyed upon no one has been more harmed by that brainless bunch of twits than the gay community. Then again as far as I know NAMBLA has been defunct since the late 90’s surviving to this day only in social right screeds. Good riddance.Report

              • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

                Actually, I haven’t heard much from NAMBLA and you may be right, though I believe child molesters are organized in their preying and yes, I quite understand the antipathy of the homosexual community re: these rapists.
                What I wanted you, or someone, to fire off on was the other part of my comment. That part related to the idea that ‘progressivism’ will, over time, loosen any and all moral/ethical restrictions currently in vogue. Am I wrong or merely wrongheaded? And, since I’m referring to moral/ethical restrictions where’s our libertarian friend, JB?Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Bob, we certainly agree on that. If the Catholics have taught us anything it’s that people who prey on children do find it convenient to band together to do it.
                Since I do not believe that morality is derived from religion and since for that matter progressives don’t reject religion I don’t see any reason to believe that the advance of social progressivism will loosen all moral/ethical restrictions. The violence and dare I say evil of pederasty is objectively obvious without resorting to any form of religiously based morality or revealed truth.

                If anything the repression and top down authority that social conservatism espouses in many of its forms is helpful in providing murky waters where sexual predators can swim. Self loathing closeted people who don’t meet the specific criteria demanded by the tenants of the faith are far more liable to destructive binges and excesses than are the happily frank a-religious neighbors who think that the Pope is just a somewhat fruity old queen in some seriously banging Guchi pumps. Look at that pathetic creature Ted Haggard or any of the twisted self loathing masochists in the ex-gay movement.

                Look maybe there was good reason for all of the old social-religious edicts that religion incorporated over the years. We know historically for instance that Catholic Celebacy was introduced to make certain that church property remained in the hands of Mother Church rather than being passed down to the local Padre’s children. But the faiths have evolved and so have our societies and there are some things that just don’t work any more. People have been coming around to the idea that same sex attraction is harmless and doesn’t merit the hellfire and brimstone that religious authority has heaped on it. I see no reason to believe that we will ever come around to the idea that raping children is acceptable. They seem to me to be entirely separate categories.Report

              • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

                Northie, this was just excellent…a little fulmination, a little snark..I mean what more could I want! In short, the Church, could have maintained the culture for a while longer but those secularists you fellows think so much of (Comte, Condorcet, Hegel, and Marx) have pushed alienation to the fore and distorted the human tension between order and disorder that always end in a misconstruction of reality. Disordered human beings are nothing new, rather the norm. The cycle continues unabated. We exist in a period of disintegration and that will be followed by a period of order, something like a golden age, at least compared to “whas happenin’ now.”
                In the end we seek, as a function of our nature, the fullness of reality, a daunting and difficult task in this age of disorder and confusion.
                Gimme an “Amen!”Report

              • Avatar North says:

                “In the end we seek, as a function of our nature, the fullness of reality, a daunting and difficult task in this age of disorder and confusion.”

                Bob, I’ll happily give you an amen for the sentiment of that sentence. It is elegant, succinct and true as far as I can see it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Is this one of those things where the expected viewpoint is “children are objects, therefore whomever wants to do whatever to an object is cool with me, yay libertarianism”?Report

              • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

                That perspective would be a shock in these quarters.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Sadly, I have to resort to not being shocking.

                I believe that folks who are not yet moral agents in their own right need to be protected (cultivated?) to some degree by caretakers. Caretakers have a responsibility to protect those who are not yet full moral agents.

                Part of my problem with statism is that the state tells caretakers “that’s our responsibility!” which turns into “that’s not your responsibility” which results in arrested development for everbody. Children raised to perpetual adolescence by perpetual adolescents.Report

          • Avatar Scott says:

            It is a common term used in law enforcement and by correctional officers and has nothing to do with the person’s sexual orientation.

            As for punish, I really do mean shoot them. It is too bad the Supreme Court won’t let states execute all rapists. Even Obama agrees that some chomos should be executed.

            http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2008/06/obama_backs_dea.htmlReport

            • Avatar North says:

              I am a reluctant supporter of the death penalty but I generally only support its use in cases of life and death situations. I would think that surgical or chemical castration of the offender would be a more appropriate punishment. But I could easily see execution being appropriate for “chomos” (I’m assuming the etymology is something like a slurring of CHild MOlesters?) in some circumstances.Report

            • Avatar Travis says:

              “It has nothing to do with the person’s sexual orientation.”

              That, I find seriously hard to believe.Report

  5. Avatar Alex Knapp says:

    but the notion that there is a class of people who experience permanent desire for members of the opposite sex in a manner analogous to the ordinary kind of love and desire between men and women is relatively recent,

    I beg to differ.Report

    • Avatar adam says:

      that wasn’t necessarily what he was saying, I think – I believe it was meant more along the lines of an innate, unchangeable sexual orientation. I also believe that some of those earlier ones – specifically the Christian ones – aren’t believed to have been sexual in nature, though it’s definitely possible.

      I’d probably say using ancient Indian and Chinese texts describing sexuality as more indicative of what we know as “sexual orientation.” It’s represented in different ways in several different parts of the word, and I definitely wouldn’t call the evidence that it’s old is overwhelming, but I definitely wouldn’t describe it as particularly recent myself.Report

    • Avatar Freddie says:

      You can certainly find examples to the contrary, and your piece shows some. But, historically, the category “a gay man/woman” is quite new.Report

  6. Fascinating conversation…

    I keyed in on this statement from the original post:

    “…the notion that there is a class of people who experience permanent desire for members of the opposite sex in a manner analogous to the ordinary kind of love and desire between men and women is relatively recent…”

    What I find pretty interesting is the recent history of ‘gay culture’ and how that meshes with their desire for mainstream acceptance. In the US gays created a pretty formal lifestyle/culture for themselves in the 1970’s and with Hollywood’s acceptance this gained increasing acceptance, even if it was often ripe for poking fun. This acceptance by pop culture agve them all the momentum that they have today.

    The problem as I see it though is that the flamboyance of that initial movement now leads directly to the lack of acceptance they still find in much of America. They created a very unique and arguably over-the-top image for themselves as part of a coping mechanism and now that is what prevents them from assimilation they ultimately claim to want.

    Where I get a bit skeptical is on whether or not they really do want full assimilation. If we let them marry in all 50 states, full rights, etc will there still be gay pride parades and gay clubs? I don’t have a crystal ball that will tell me that but I think yes. That is in exactly the same way that I stil celebrate St.Patrick’s Day every March and Oktoberfest every autumn…because my ancestors were forced to create a subculture to cope with anti-immigrant sentiments in the late 19th century.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Yes indeed Mike but it may be interesting to note that both gay clubs and gay centered neighborhoods and businesses are suffering now. Andrew Sullivan calls it his “End of Gay culture” watch but it’s actually a positive development. Take gay bookstores for example. Barnes and Noble et all started carrying books that are interesting to gay people just like they would books for any other group. Now the gay bookstores are fading away undercut by the big book stores comparative economics.
      I’m not entirely on board with your brief history of gay culture but even there it is very visibly ending. The younger gays today have never been less flamboyant or matter of fact about their sexuality. While drag shows and the like continue to go on (they’re fun and funny to gay and straight alike) they have nowhere near the prevalence they once had and are somewhat out of fashion. Gay bars all over the country have been struggling and rebranding. A lot either go out of business or have to completely renovate to be more than the armored holes in the wall that used to be sufficient. If you want to find a place where the gay bars flourish you have to go to the places where gays are persecuted. Also the main source of gays to live in the old gay neighborhoods (of my area at least) are young gays moving here from the Bible belt. The natives long ago moved into the suburbs.

      Gays are not a monolithic group. There’s no central lavender planning board. Their culture grew up organically as a survival and support mechanism and now, organically, it is dispersing into the populace. But I agree Mike that it probably won’t go away entirely, there’ll be vestiges and of course it makes it a lot harder to find dates if you’re co-mingling in straight bards.Report

      • I think it’s good to hear that a lot of the halmarks of gay sub-culture are falling by the wayside. Not because they are immoral, etc but because, as you point out, this means they are becoming more main stream. I wonder if any of them can remain in the way that we still have Oktoberfest, etc? The key difference being that at the end of the day it is a subculture built around sexual preference and I think American society will always have a slight discomfort about that, probably because of our Puritan roots.Report

        • Avatar golikewater says:

          I think this end of gay culture thing is overhyped. The reason it is a subculture built around sexual preference is because the subculture has grown out of a desire for homosexuals to find and hook up with each other. It’s very nice that gay people are welcome at the straight bar now, but at a certain point we’re gonna head to the gay party because you won’t get laid at the straight bar. It’s pretty simple math.

          It’s not just bars and nightlife. Single people, gay and straight, join churches and book clubs, take night classes, join discussion groups, all because (among other reasons, sure) there is some chance of hooking up. And those chances are dramatically increased for a gay person if it’s a gay church or book club.

          I think American society’s discomfort with sex will ensure that homosexuals will stay marginalized. I’m one homosexual who thinks that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I like the margin.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Mike, perhaps, as Golikewater observes you’re always going to want to have a place where you can be relatively confident that the cute gay/girl at the bar is eligible before you get your hopes up. The bars will endure but they won’t endure as the holes they used to be. Time was the gay bar could be any old dive and would be frequented simply because it was all they had. The standards are rising now and the old bars are either becoming competitive with nice bars or they’re dying out.

          As to things like Oktoberfest, I don’t know. The whole gay culture thing has always been a touch cobbled together. Really the only thing that unites all gays would be the fear of being persecuted by the social right. Beneath that universal concern gays are really different. They’re usually something else (ethnicity, hometown, occupation) first and gay second. They often have divergent political views see for example the fact that a significant fraction of gays vote for republicans despite being the party’s favored whipping group circa 1980 or so. I mean I’d think there’ll always be drag queens and flamboyant gays but there’ll be fewer and fewer of them as time goes on. Crushed into the closet on the fringes of society gays as a people developed a lot of unusual characteristics and quirks as a social group. It’s anyone’s guess what will endure now that the new generations are growing up for the most part normally. Sullivan can be hyperbolic but his article on the end of gay culture really captures the feel of it from the perspective of the older gay generations. For young homosexuals it’s a more brave wholesome bland free new world for the most part.Report

          • Avatar golikewater says:

            “I’d think there’ll always be drag queens and flamboyant gays but there’ll be fewer and fewer of them as time goes on. Crushed into the closet on the fringes of society gays as a people developed a lot of unusual characteristics and quirks as a social group.”

            I think you have your work cut out for you if you’re going to argue that gender variant behavior is a result of the closet. I believe there’s more and more research now showing that gender variant behavior in very young children is a common predictor of both homosexuality and transgenderism in adulthood. There will always be drag queens because there will always be gender variation.

            Contrary to what Andrew Sullivan may tell you, queer people aren’t just waiting around for permission to be normal.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              I would never mean to imply otherwise. I’d never want to assert something as sweeping as “all gender variant behavior is the result of the closet” but certainly some of it is. Personally I love watching drag shows so I’d be sad to see them go.

              And yet, and yet the bars keep closing, the neighborhoods keep dispersing and the businesses continue to vanish.Report

              • Avatar golikewater says:

                I just don’t see the link between bars closing and acceptance of homosexuality. Bars open and close all the time. Gay culture shifts and changes like any other culture, and which — if there really are fewer gay bars now than there were 25 years ago, a claim I’m pretty skeptical of — might be accounted for by the fact that a lot of the cruising/hookup/anonymous sex as well as regular old dating has moved to online venues.

                Gentrification as a lot to do with it, as well. Yuppies don’t like guys giving each other blowjobs in their neighborhood parks at night.Report

              • Avatar Cascadian says:

                Yuppies don’t like park blowjobs? It seems that gays are usually the first to start the gentrification process. It’s the gay neighborhoods that are the coolest. They raise property values. Their neighborhoods become the sorts of places that yuppies like to move to.Report

              • Avatar golikewater says:

                The early arrivers might be gay, but, by the time the straight people and pseduo-straight people (Dan Savage, etc.) arrive with their strollers, they want the drugs and prostitutes and homosexuals out of the parks and onto craigslist.Report

              • Avatar Zach says:

                How is Dan Savage “pseudo-straight”? He is sexually attracted to and has sex with other men.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Well time will tell.Report

  7. Avatar zic says:

    Something’s gotten lost in the discussion. In the second post, mostly an email from a prosecutor, there’s a link to a Salon interview with Susan Clancy. In it, she says this:

    The man kept the abuse a secret from his wife and family for more than 30 years and was struggling with feelings of shame and problems at work. But this wasn’t nearly as surprising as what he revealed next: When the sexual abuse was happening, the man said, he wasn’t even upset.

    In fact, the most common feeling children had (the feeling I had) when abuse happens is confusion. My own experience is reflected in this when Clancey says:

    professionals and the media as a traumatic experience for the victims when it happens — meaning frightening, overwhelming, painful — it rarely is. Most victims do not understand they are being victimized, because they are too young to understand sex, the perpetrators are almost always people they know and trust, and violence or penetration rarely occurs. “Confusion” is the most frequently reported word when victims are asked to describe what the experience was like. Confusion is a far cry from trauma.

    I would add a loss of trust to the list; because a child in this situation no longer knows who to trust; the adult they loved who’s done this to them, the parents who don’t stop what’s happening because they don’t know. . . the loss of trust is profound; much more a loss of innocence than awakening sexuality.

    I live in a world where the common wisdom is that my life was ruined. The difference — trauma that’s confusing and makes latter attachments difficult — vs. having a life ruined likely prevents many people from seeking help; they know their lives weren’t ruined, how can they be victims of this horrid crime?

    The myth Clancy uncovers has, I would guess, an unfair impact of pedophiles; where their crime is raised to the level of violent rape/incest, and they’re discouraged from seeking any kind of treatment to help restrain their impulses.

    And I’ll add one thing: the most likely predator your child will encounter isn’t the person on the sex-offender registry who moved in down the block, it’s the trusted adult your child adores; someone who’s laying long-term groundwork for seduction. And the most obvious sign that your child’s been a victim of abuse is a sudden dislike and avoidance of this formerly-loved adult.Report