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The Pattern of Sexual Politics:

Feminism, Homosexuality and Pedophilia


Harris Mirkin, PhD
University of Missouri--Kansas City
ABSTRACT. Until recently sex and gender issues were thought to be
biological or natural rather than political. The feminist movement large-
ly changed perceptions of gender, and the gay and lesbian movements
significantly altered conceptions of sex, so that what were once seen as
permanent moral standards are now viewed as historical and political
constructions. As views of these groups have moved towards social
constructionism, perceptions of child sexuality have become more ab-
solutist. Current attitudes towards child sexuality and representations of
it resemble historical attitudes towards women and homosexuals.
This article argues that there is a two-phase pattern of sexual politics.
The first is a battle to prevent the battle, to keep the issue from being
seen as political and negotiable. Psychological and moral categories are
used to justify ridicule and preclude any discussions of the issue, and
standard Constitutional guarantees are seen as irrelevant. The second
phase more closely resembles traditional politics as different groups
argue over rights and privileges. Feminist and gay/lesbian politics have
recently entered the second phase, while pedophilia is in the first. [Article
copies available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Service:
1-800-342-9678. E-mail address: getinfo@haworthpressinc.com]
KEYWORDS. Pedophilia, pornography, sexual politics, social construc-
tion, child sexuality, molestation, First Amendment, gay
Though American social conservatives and gay/lesbian activists
view sexual issues as central, politicians, journalists and academics
Harris Mirkin is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science,
Room 113, 4825 Troost, University of Missouri--Kansas City, Kansas City, MO
64110 (e-mail: hhgmirkin@cctr.umkc.edu and hgm@microlink.net).
Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 37(2) 1999
E1999 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved. 1
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JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY 2
usually view them as distractions from political controversies about
money, class, power and race. For example, the major academic politi-
cal science journals have ignored the subject.
1
However, sex and
sexuality have followed gender issues in moving from the private to
the public and political spheres. Traditionally there was little political
conflict in these areas. Of course there were laws, but the laws re-
flected a social consensus and were not very controversial. The federal
government first became seriously involved in sex and gender issues
at the end of the 19th century, with the passage of the Comstock and
white slavery laws. These were supported by many of the first-wave
feminists, reflected the anti-sexual attitudes of the time and were
largely directed against lower-class women and immigrants.
2
In the twentieth century sexual policy debates have become increas-
ingly shrill. Various groups have rejected the social classifications that
stigmatized them, and there have been major disputes about the rights
of gays and lesbians, sex education courses, the distribution of con-
doms in schools, pornography, and the nature and scope of sexual
harassment. Public policies have vacillated, sometimes protecting the
traditional moral order and at other times expanding sexual freedoms.
There are legal protections of sexual speech and practice that go be-
yond what many social groups would tolerate on their own, and legal
restrictions that others find intolerable.
The current political battles in the sex and gender area are grounded
in the 1960s. To the ire of conservatives, many activists claimed that
standard school curriculums had class, racial and gender biases, and
said that communities and not elite boards ought to control the
schools. They thought that changes had to be initiated by the state so
that individuals were protected against community sanctions. Tradi-
tional attitudes towards sex and pornography were also attacked.
When the Christian Right mobilized to fight these issues the battles
that are characteristic of the new politics were joined.
This article will develop a model of sexual politics by discussing
the struggles over feminism and homosexuality, and then use the
model to clarify the current political situation of pedophiles. Though
the issues have shifted from the new woman, sodomy and masturba-
tion in the early part of the century to current concerns with promiscu-
ity, homosexuality and pedophilia, the general patterns of sexual poli-
tics have remained remarkably stable. The politics of sex differs from
normal interest group politics because of the intense feelings and the
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Harris Mirkin 3
high visibility of the issues, and differs from racial or ethnic politics
both because of normative issues and because open identity with a
sexually disadvantaged group is largely a matter of choice. Sexual
issues, together with racial controversies and anti-subversive activi-
ties, have been the major ones that have caused a suspension or dimi-
nution of constitutional rules and of normal political and Bill of Rights
protections. They affect the way millions live, have led to the develop-
ment of new political organizations, often involve significant amounts
of money, and have generated a large body of law.
3
Additionally,
conflicts over sexual/cultural issues currently underlie many of the
disputes over more traditional political issues, making compromise
harder and generating a great deal of rancor.
BACKGROUND: THE CENTRAL POLITICAL CONFLICT
As in all politics, in the sexual arena some groups are more privi-
leged than others and get more of what there is to get. Their views are
entrenched in the laws, reflected by the media and articulated by a
multitude of experts. Sexual power positions are fiercely held and
outcast groups, like those defined as political subversives, have little
political protection. Discussion of whether gender roles and categories
are natural or whether they are social creations has been central to
feminist theory, and a similar dialogue about sexual roles has taken
place among gay and lesbian scholars and activists.
Historically the bourgeoisie thought of themselves as sexually vir-
tuous, and tried to distinguish themselves from an effeminate corrupt
aristocracy and immoral lower orders.
4
As the New Women began to
threaten male gender roles at the turn of the century, male commenta-
tors argued that gender distinctions were rooted in biology. Carol
Smith-Rosenberg observed that by defining the New Woman as physi-
ologically unnatural and the symptom of a diseased society, those
whom she threatened reaffirmed the legitimacy and the naturalness
of the bourgeois order.
Through metaphor and symbol, bourgeois myth invests the so-
ciologically contingent with the characteristics of the inevitable
and unquestionable. What is bourgeois becomes natural, all
else unnatural. Male modernists, by fusing gender and genitals,
by insisting that to repudiate gender conventions was to war
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JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY 4
against nature, had joined with sexologists in constructing a clas-
sic bourgeois myth. They had clothed gender distinctions specific
to late nineteenth century industrial countries in the unchange-
ability of human biology. Feminist modernists, by rejecting the
naturalness of gender, insisted that societys most fundamental
organizational category, gender, was artificial, hence unnatural,
as changeable as dress. From this first principle, it then followed
that nothing social or political was natural. Institutional struc-
tures, values, behavior, were all artifact, all relative, all reflective
not of nature but of power.
5
Essentialists, fundamentalists and Natural Law advocates claim that
their categories reflect an underlying physical or moral reality, a right
order that may not be completely achieved in practice. Social
Constructionists and multi-culturalists argue that the categories are
social creations, and that realist conceptions simply protect the sexual-
ly privileged. This difference in approach sets up a political conflict,
though there are widely divergent views of sex and gender roles in
both groups. Additionally, theorists and political leaders of subordi-
nated groups frequently apply social constructionist concepts to them-
selves, but are reluctant to apply them to others. Thus some feminists
discuss gender issues in social constructionist terms, while using natu-
ralist categories to discuss sexual issues, and gays and lesbians apply a
constructionist analysis to their own practices while using naturalist
categories for other sexual deviants. In practice, most gay/lesbian
activists treat words like gay, lesbian, queer and dyke as
social constructions, while abuser and molester are used as natu-
ral categories.
This article will argue that, like homosexuality, the concept of child
molestation is a culture and class specific modern creation. Though
Americans consider intergenerational sex to be evil, it has been per-
missible or obligatory in many cultures and periods of history. Sex
with male youths is especially widespread. Alternatives of boy or
woman occur frequently in Greek and Roman literature. In early
modern Japan men were expected to have sexual love with both
youths and women. The male samurai lover was to be a model for the
youth, and lovers of youths were considered to be even more virile
than lovers of women. Many non-western cultures consider age-asym-
metrical relationships to be a transient and natural stage in the lives
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Harris Mirkin 5
of both adults and youths. It is a duty, a part of the adults job of
educating children.
In Europe, prior to the 17th or 18th century, sex with men and boys
was simply considered one variant on sex. Between 1600 and 1750
Europe switched from a pattern in which it was acceptable for adult
male libertines to have sex with boys and women to a world divided
between a majority of men and women who desired only the opposite
gender and a minority of men and women who desired the same
gender. Subsequently it became much more difficult for a boy to be
passive and then switch to the active role. Men had to be active at
every stage in order to establish male status.
6
In the twentieth century Americans have moved in contradictory
directions about childhood sexuality. Like nineteenth century women,
children are viewed as innocent and non-sexual, and in the process of
protecting this innocence we have expanded the concept of sex so that
many types of touching and behavior that were previously thought of
as non-sexual are now considered sexual.
7
Ironically, in trying to
protect children from sexual exploitation we have eroticized them, so
that now almost any picture of a naked child is likely to be considered
sexual and pornographic.
THE IDEOLOGICAL STRUGGLE:
THE BATTLE TO PREVENT THE BATTLE
Battles about sexual ideologies occur in two phases. The second
phase is a visible political fight like the current melee over gay and
lesbian rights. Phase I struggles exist before the issues become politi-
cally visible, and are harder to detect. They display a similar pattern,
and have been characteristic of the early contests over feminism and
womens sexuality, of homosexuality in the 1950s, and of the politics
of pedophilia today.
During Phase I struggles there is initially an overwhelming emo-
tional and intellectual consensus around sex and gender issues. Sexual
dissidents (deviants) are not heard by the dominant society, and are not
conscious of themselves as a group that has a right to make political
claims. For reasons that vary with historical circumstance and technol-
ogy, members of the subordinate group begin to identify with each
other and to think of themselves as oppressed rather than as evil or
inferior.
8
A rhetoric of power often develops at this point. The groups
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JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY 6
talk as though they can force the dominant society to change, and they
tend to challenge and demonize it, attaching labels like patriarchy or
the white power structure.
But, despite the rhetoric, the weak cannot simply take power away
from the strong any more than the Jews could take power from the
Nazis. They can only raise the issues, and then need to convince a
significant portion of the dominant group to join with them or give
them power. Thus, American women got the vote because an all-male
establishment passed a constitutional amendment, and black civil
rights were granted by white courts, legislatures and executives. Dom-
inant groups sometimes divide when they are presented with a strong
argument by subordinate activists, and an audience receptive to the
claims is brought into existence. It is normally only under these condi-
tions that the deviant group can improve its status. Conversely, there
are times when a permissive power structure or dominant culture
withdraws freedoms previously given. In the sexual area this hap-
pened when the Roman empire began to Christianize. It also occurred
in Germany after the Weimar Republic, in the Soviet Union after
Stalin came into power, and in America and western Europe during the
depression of the 1930s.
Several areas need to be examined: (1) the means dominant groups
use to preclude challenges in the sex and gender area, (2) the condi-
tions under which minority groups become conscious of themselves
and make claims, (3) the patterns of sexual politics, including a study
of the conditions under which a portion of the majority group (or
audience) becomes receptive to these claims, and (4) the conditions
under which the the majority group becomes hostile to the claims of a
sexual group and withdraws rights previously granted. Most gay, les-
bian and feminist theorists have focused on the second category and
sometimes argue, or assume, that the minority group forced the major-
ity to accede to its wishes. The third and fourth categories involve
issues of political culture, but little comparative work has been done in
this area.
9
This article is focused on the first and third areas.
Ideologies are at their strongest when their correctness is simply
accepted, and treating existing ideological categories and divisions as
though they are objectively right serves the interests of groups that are
considered legitimate. When a core of deviant group members begin
to identify with each other and reject the dominant cultures assess-
ment of their worth, as some women did in the first and second waves
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Harris Mirkin 7
of feminism, as blacks did in the 1950s and 60s, and as gays and
lesbians did in the late 60s and 70s, and as some pedophiles are
doing now, the claim is made that the dominant categories are incor-
rect and changeable social creations. At this point there is a pre-de-
bate. Dominant groups deny that there is anything to discuss, asserting
that existing arrangements are self-evident and intuitively good, usual-
ly claiming that they reflect nature and a natural order. Dissenters are
dismissed as radical, crazy, evil, or cult figures.
Phase I conflicts are frequently framed as public health crises. The
terminology of epidemics is used, with the various forms of illegiti-
mate sex characterized as diseases that prey upon the innocent. Consti-
tutional niceties become less important when a disease is being fought,
since microbes and diseases have neither constitutional rights nor
moral stature. The subordinate group is viewed as nihilistic, and sharp
limits are placed on their speech and art on the grounds that they are
disgusting, pornographic, dangerous to the social order and seductive
of the innocent.
The mass media produce a plethora of articles that assume the
correctness of the dominant paradigm, demonizing and ridiculing
those who question it and trivializing their arguments. Jokes, which
serve as a mechanism to preclude serious discussion, are a major
rhetorical device. Forbidden sexual worlds are portrayed as bleak and
dangerous areas inhabited by psychopaths and criminals, devoid of
any redeeming characteristics or emotional richness. Attempts to
counter negative propaganda with more realistic information generally
meet with censorship, and there are continuous ideological struggles
over which representations of sexual communities make it into the
mainstream media.
10
The battle to prevent the battle--the attempt to preserve the vision of
the existing order as natural and unquestionable, and thus prevent its
maintenance from being seen as a political question--is probably the
most significant and hard fought of the ideological battles. At issue is
the question of the legitimacy of the subordinate groups, since illegiti-
mate groups are not recognized as putting forth valid claims. Thus
black theorists argue that black culture and life was largely invisible to
both blacks and whites in the pre-civil rights period, feminist theorists
claim that male categories marginalized and delegitimatized women,
homosexuals were ridiculed and dismissed in the 1950s, and pedo-
philes are vilified today.
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JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY 8
Challengers of the dominant sexual order are demonized, as were
advocates of sexual freedom for women at the end of the 19th century.
At that time women were seen as largely asexual creatures responsible
for controlling male lust. Sexual enjoyment was permissible only
when it led to procreation within marriage. As the sexual order broke
down it was blamed on men who seduced innocent females and lured
them into prostitution, immigrants, and the sexually promiscuous low-
er class. There was a white slavery panic, similar to later panics about
homosexuality and the current fear of pedophilia. Seducers were ev-
erywhere: dark and sinister alien looking procurers stalked the
countryside looking for innocent girls; while movies, restaurants and
even ice cream parlors came to be viewed as dangerous places. The
local, state and federal governments responded.
Government studies reflected the mounting concern. They de-
scribed an extensive international business in womens bodies. . . .
Foreigners became scapegoats. . . . Federal investigators claimed
that large numbers of Jews scattered throughout the United
States . . . seduce and keep young girls. Some of them are en-
gaged in importation . . . [and] they prey upon the young girls
whom they find on the streets, in dance halls, and similar places.
The traffic in women . . . has brought into the country diseases
even worse than those of prostitution. Diseased alien women,
through their male clients, had infected innocent wives and chil-
dren and done more to ruin homes than any other single cause.
11
Middle-class women organized to control sexuality, engaging in
campaigns to impose political controls on prostitution. The issue
spread to a battle against obscenity, commandeered by Anthony Com-
stock, and to a campaign against any literature that might corrupt the
morals of the young and of innocent women. Finally sexuality became
a weapon of class warfare, used as a vehicle for exercising control
over the lower classes, especially immigrants in the urbanized North
and blacks in the rural South.
12
A similar pattern was followed after homosexuality was named and
became visible. In the beginning only silence existed. Information not
hostile to homosexuality could not be placed in the public arena:
Commentators composed their remarks according to a formula
that discouraged further amplification. . . . The purity crusades of
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Harris Mirkin 9
the 1870s and later added . . . statutes that prohibited the importa-
tion, mailing, production, distribution, sale, and possession of
obscene literature. . . .
Although the diffusion of Freudian psychoanalysis in the
1920s helped foster a rapidly growing discourse on sexuality . . .
[it] was an exclusively heterosexual upheaval. . . . Censorship
forces . . . succeeded . . . in holding the line against acceptance of
homosexuality as an artistic theme. In the mid-1920s purity ad-
vocates . . . won passage of a theatrical padlock bill outlawing the
portrayal of sexual perversion. . . . Publishers and newspaper
editors engaged in a form of self-censorship that kept homosexu-
ality virtually out of print. In 1934 the motion picture production
code prohibited any depiction of homosexuality in films. Al-
though the conspiracy of silence surrounding sex was losing
its force, on the eve of World War II it still placed powerful
inhibitions on the flow of any information that did not conform to
the most negative, condemnatory views of same sex eroticism.
13
There was an even more profound silence about lesbians since most
people didnt believe that women wanted, or could have, sex without a
man. References to same-sex passion and sex were regularly ignored
in biographies or when the letters of important female authors like
Emily Dickinson were published. There was little public discussion of
gays and lesbians prior to the Stonewall riot in 1969 (though there was
ferment within the gay community itself), just as in the 1990s there
has not been a debate about the threat of child molesters. It was simply
assumed that homosexuals were sick.
14
Indeed a debate was precluded
by the terms queer, pansy and fag in the same way as any
current discussion of intergenerational sex is stopped by the terms
molester and abuser. There were few defenders of homosexual-
ity, and even the ACLU agreed that sexual freedoms were not pro-
tected by the constitution.
Journalistic coverage of deviant sexual groups has always had an
implicit negative frame. Typical was a June, 1964 Life photo essay on
the sad and sordid world of homosexuals in America. It began by
asking if homosexuals, like Communists, intended to bury us. The
problem was that homosexuals were furtive, and for every obvious
homosexual there were probably nine undetected ones.
15
Lee Edel-
man notes that Life engaged in the ideological labor of constructing
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JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY 10
homosexuality as a problem or social concern. . . . [T]he magazine . . .
[makes] the secret world of homosexuality visible . . . in order to
encourage their [readers] internalization of the repressive supervisory
mechanisms of the State.
16
Psychology has been the primary site for disputes about normalcy,
health and human nature in the 20th century, though an equivalent of
Heilbroners The Worldly Philosophers has not been written for the
discipline. It has been central in debates about sex and gender policy,
and in Phase I debates has almost always functioned as a supporter of
the dominant ideology. The negative attitude of psychology towards
the new women and feminists has been extensively written about.
17
The reverse of position on homosexuals is more recent. Traditionally
psychologists thought that heterosexuality was natural, while homo-
sexuality was an aberration that needed to be explained. The research
on homosexuals was done on people who were under psychological
care or who had been jailed and (obviously) a high incidence of
unhappiness was found. It focused on the spectacular and the unhappy,
took them as the norm, and traced all evils experienced by the group
back to the cause under investigation.
18
A stunning event in the transformation of the social evaluation of
homosexuality, and a signal that the ideological battle was moving
into Phase II, was the reversal of the psychiatric diagnosis. Prior to the
adoption of DSM III in 1973 homosexuality was classified as a dis-
ease, and homosexuals were viewed as thwarted individuals who
emerged from families with weak fathers and overpowering mothers.
DSM III reflected a dramatically different view. Homosexuals were no
longer inverts with unhealthy or immature personality traits, just as
their families were no longer considered dysfunctional.
During a Phase I sexual debate the overwhelming majority of the
deviant group accepts the dominant groups negative judgment, and
traditionally homosexuals went along with the efforts to cure them.
With the exceptions of the small Mattachine Society and the tiny
Daughters of Bilitis, there was no organized homosexual community,
and they were not viewed as a minority group but as individuals who
were sick or weak.
19
Most Americans did not think that homosexuals
were the victims of social persecution, and if they thought about it at
all they would have believed that social discrimination was an ap-
propriate response to behavior that was offensive and threatened the
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Harris Mirkin 11
welfare of society. Rather than liberation, Americans . . . including
many gay men and women, would have preferred elimination.
20
Phase I sexual issues are not viewed as legal conflicts. Sex is
viewed as separate from politics, and the deviant group is not seen as
being entitled to legal or political rights. The legal structure usually
amplifies and legitimizes the dominant sexual ideology, and in the
1950s it reinforced the assumption that homosexuality was subversive
and unnatural. In 1952 Congress passed a law to prevent homosexuals
from entering the country, since they were afflicted with a psycho-
pathic personality. Homosexuals could be deported if found after
they entered, and Eisenhower acted to prevent the federal government,
or any firms that did business with the federal government, from
employing homosexuals. The Court rarely challenges the dominant
ideology during a Phase I debate, and does not protect deviant sexual
speech and action. There was little Court protection for the early 20th
century feminist advocates of birth control who wanted sexual plea-
sure without having babies, or of homosexuals during the 1950s, just
as there has been almost no protection of pedophiles in the 1990s.
Since homosexuality was viewed largely as an epidemic carried by
people who were believed to be difficult to identify and could act as a
fifth column to seduce and pervert innocent men and boys, officials
instituted extraordinary measures. Police had stakeouts in mens
rooms, peeping into toilet stalls though holes drilled in the walls, or
looking over the tops of the partitions.
21
The FBI instituted wide-
spread surveillance of gay meeting places and of the Daughters of
Bilitis and the Mattachine Society. The post office placed tracers on
the letters of gay men, and passed evidence of homosexual activity on
to employers. Urban vice squads invaded private homes, entrapped
gays, and fomented local witch hunts.
22
One, The Ladder and Matta-
chine Review (primarily political magazines expressing the views of
the tiny homosexual organizations of the time) were closely monitored
by the post office and the FBI. Subscribing to the magazines was
viewed as likely to get people into trouble, and only a few bookstores
and newsstands that specialized in pornography would sell them.
23
By the time of the Stonewall Rebellion conditions had changed.
There was a pre-emergent gay community that only needed a catalyst
to crystallize, and the non-gay population had become more urban and
secular. Though the gay rebellion started in the U.S., in many Euro-
pean countries the audience has been more receptive to their claims. A
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JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY 12
comparison of the conditions that gave rise to different audience reac-
tions in Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, the U.S., France, and
other countries has yet to be done. Interestingly, the United States has
been more supportive of feminist arguments than Sweden and Den-
mark, but less supportive of gay and lesbian rights.
24
The political debate on gays and lesbians in the U.S. has moved into
Phase II. The issues are visible and publicly debated. The opposing
groups are organized and articulate as they attempt to convert a signif-
icant portion of the political audience. But the Phase I patterns that
were present in the original battles against homosexuality and
womens sexuality can be seen in the campaign against child molesta-
tion and child abuse. This campaign became politically important in
the late 1970s. Those viewed as child molesters are zealously pursued
and entrapped just as homosexuals were, and most of the discussions
closely parallel earlier discussions about homosexuals and feminists.
Though the targeted causes of the evil have shifted, the perceived evil
effects of sexual perversions, and the formulas used to discuss and
understand them, have remained remarkably stable.
As is usual in sexual politics issues are framed in terms of nature,
and of absolute good and evil. Real discussions of pedophilia, as
opposed to ritualistic condemnations, are almost non-existent. There
are no commonly used neutral labels, and words like child molesta-
tion, and child abuse are used in the same way as fag and
queer were: to preclude discussion. In sexual politics definitions
are characteristically vague, so that statistics from the mildest activi-
ties can be blended with images from the most atrocious. Six- and
thirteen-year-olds are grouped in the same category (child) and
images of intergenerational sex acts that take place with pubescents
and post-puberty teens are routinely projected back onto very young
children.
In the same way as adolescents are merged with little children, all
sexual activity is equated with violent or coerced sexual activity. Is-
sues of control in the sexual area are treated differently from those in
other areas. Pubescents and adolescents are usually thought of as hard
to control, and attempts to mold their behavior and initiate them into
legal and enjoyable adult activities are considered valuable. However,
in the sexual area these assumptions are reversed. It is asserted that
they are easily controlled, and they are conceptualized as little chil-
dren who have no sexual desire of their own and can only be passive
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victims. According to the dominant formulas the youths are always
seduced. They are never considered partners or initiators or willing
participants even if they are hustlers.
It is only legitimate to coerce pubescents and teens not to have sex.
It is argued that they cannot give consent,
25
that they cannot enjoy sex
even if they think that they do, and that they suffer physical and
psychological harm even if they are not aware of it. Contradictory
symptoms (like heightened or reduced sexual desire) are attributed to
childhood sexual experiences. All future evils will be attributed to past
experiences of child abuse, while all future good things that are done
will be attributed to overcoming the effects of child abuse, incest or
molestation. The evidence for this position comes from people in
therapy or in jail--a repeat of the discredited data gathering process
used in the 1950s to prove that homosexuals had dysfunctional per-
sonalities. It is obvious that when people who have problems are
studied they are found to have problems, while people who do not
suffer ill effects are unlikely to be included in this type of survey.
Moreover, harmful effects that come from social attitudes towards
intergenerational sex are confounded with harmful effects that come
from the acts themselves.
The formula embodies the nineteenth century conception of the
innocent child unaware of poverty or sex, and parallels the construc-
tion of women as innocent and non-sexual. Victorians believed that
any sexual activity would cause women grave psychological harm,
whether or not they realized it, since women would never initiate,
consent to, or desire sex--especially outside marriage. They could only
be seduced. It was also denied that women could enjoy sex even when
they said that they did.
26
Subsequently masturbation was seen as
producing various terrible (and contradictory) symptoms. Later it was
thought that homosexuals had to be guarded against. In all of these
campaigns there was a plethora of books and articles by various ex-
perts on the harmful effects of the particular sexual practice that was
being condemned. As the debates on homosexuality make evident, the
views of the different sexual practices reflect ideology and politics,
and research is molded to fit the dominant paradigm.
27
Though there is little evidence to support the view that there has
been a major increase of child molestation, there is a perception that
there is an epidemic. According to survey data American sexual prac-
tices have changed far less than American sexual talk, but the change
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in sexual talk has led to the perception that there has been a major
change in sexual practice.
28
There is no evidence that child molesta-
tion is in a different category.
Information that does not focus on the evils of child abuse is ex-
tremely difficult to get. The electronic newsgroups that discuss inter-
generational sex are excluded by many commercial and academic
newsservers or have restricted access, and the NAMBLA Bulletin,
Paidika and other pedophile publications are unavailable in public
libraries, most research libraries, large bookstores, or even in many
gay and lesbian bookstores.
29
There is an intense struggle over definitions. Those who simply
touch children are verbally associated with people who kill and rape as
child abusers and molesters, and even teachers are strongly cautioned
about touching children. Pedophile organizations like NAMBLA
(North American Man-Boy Love Association) disown and oppose
both physical and psychological coercion, and insist on consent. They
argue that pedophiles need to be separated from those who hurt chil-
dren in the same way as adult lovers need to be separated from rapists.
Mainstream media dismiss these arguments as self-serving--only argu-
ments that condemn pedophilia are viewed as legitimate. Politicians
and the media deny that there are individual variations and view all
intergenerational sex as coercive and violent.
30
If this area is to be discussed, distinctions need to be made. Rape
and other non-consensual sexual activities need to be separated out in
this as in all other sexual categories, and acts involving young children
need to be separated from those involving youths. Distinctions need to
be made between incestuous relationships with parents and other types
of relationships. Information about intergenerational sex with boys is
better than information about girls, but accurate statistics are extraor-
dinarily difficult to come by. Still, it seems that well over 90% of
child molestation involves children between 11 and 16, and less
than 5% involves intercourse or penetration. Most events involve
looking, showing and touching. Some involve fellatio on the boy,
some involve masturbation, and a small percent involve mutual mas-
turbation.
31
Texts favorable to pedophiles are difficult to find in bookstores or
libraries, but are not legally restricted in the United States. But First
Amendment protections for images in this area are very weak. Despite
the fact that many young people have had sexual experiences, and
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Harris Mirkin 15
other societies have viewed them as sexual, it is barely permissible to
portray nude youths as erotic or sexually attractive. Major photogra-
phers like Sturges and Mann have had their photographs and equip-
ment seized by federal agents because they did this.
32
Pictures of
youths having sex or masturbating, or pictures of boys with erections
are certainly prohibited, and simply possessing pictures of naked
youths who are not involved in any sexual activity can cause serious
legal problems. Taking the photographs or trading them or sending
them through the mail or over the Internet is much more troublesome,
and the post office has been involved in several sting operations. Even
pictures of clothed children can be forbidden--the Supreme Court re-
fused to review a case in which a video of clothed girls playing
volleyball, in which the camera paused on the genital areas, was held
to be obscene.
33
The only permissible view of youths is as sexual
innocents. It is alleged that children who are photographed naked are
harmed by the experience, though there have not been credible stud-
ies. It is also alleged that children are harmed if they see sexual
images, and in the same way as the original obscenity laws were
written in order to protect innocent women against sexually explicit
images, censorship of the Internet is advocated in order to protect
innocent teens and children.
Though pedophile organizations were originally a part of the gay/
lesbian coalition, gay organizations distance themselves from pedo-
phile organizations in the same way as feminist leaders sought to
separate themselves from lesbians. (Betty Friedan originally thought
the lesbian movement was a CIA plot to discredit the feminist move-
ment.)
34
In a quest for respectability and political acceptance, calls for
a radical rethinking of sexuality have been muted by the gay, lesbian
and feminist movements. Gays and lesbians now claim to be just like
straights, except that the consenting adult partner is a member of the
same sex.
While the U.S. has moved in the direction of restricting child sexu-
ality, countries like The Netherlands have moved in the opposite direc-
tion by lowering the age of consent for boys. There are no adequate
studies examining how these policy differences developed, or study-
ing why the anti-pedophile movement in the U.S. acquired such mo-
mentum and strength. One facet is that portions of the feminist move-
ment, striving for respectability, joined with the Christian Right in a
crusade that was seen as morally respectable and linked up with the
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JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY 16
traditional womens sphere.
35
Political groups consistently exploit the
fact that people can be mobilized if they perceive that children are in
danger. The protection of children has always been a popular theme in
the U.S., since it gives a patina of morality to legislation and politi-
cians. It is possible that being against child abuse has functioned as a
way for Americans, who are often accused of ignoring their children
in their quest for success and money, to feel virtuous--especially since
it is often the caretakers of children that are accused of abuse. As men
and immigrants were seen as corrupters of virtuous women, and ho-
mosexuals were viewed as seducers of vulnerable heterosexuals, so
pedophiles are seen as corrupters and seducers of the innocent. In a
Phase I sexual battle the enemy is always viewed as evil incarnate.
THE NEW POLITICS OF SEX:
CONSEQUENCES OF A PARADIGM SHIFT
Though most American journalists and academics still view sexual
issues mainly as diversions from more serious political issues, the
boundary between the two spheres has been destroyed by the new
politics, and sexual issues are now central rather than peripheral. Our
lagging conceptualizations of this shift have hindered a full examina-
tion its implications.
Several areas need to be examined. Sex is a visible political issue,
and sexual policy decisions often have a high impact on people. Argu-
ments are highly charged and personal, and opinions are strongly held.
Sexual panics directed against discrete groups have been a recurrent
phenomenon. In Phase I sexual battles the issues are implicit rather
than explicit, and dominant groups carry on a campaign of moral
vituperation in their attempt to reaffirm and reinforce notions of the
naturalness of their own sexual ideology. Government response on
sexual issues is different from that on other issues, and sexual coali-
tions cut across traditional political lines. The dominant ideologies
have been largely formulated by religious people, feminists and
psychologists rather than by traditional political groups, and the major
debates have taken place within these groups. Much more attention
needs to be paid to the patterns of sexual politics, and to the pressure
groups that are active in the area.
36
The literature of sexual politics is not the same as other political
literature, and this raises constitutional questions. The Court uses dif-
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Harris Mirkin 17
ferent criteria in evaluating censorship of sexual and political publica-
tions, and material that is censored is called obscene rather than sub-
versive. Images of youths do not even have to meet the obscenity
standard before their possession can be banned. But sexual images
also serve to define and unite sexual communities. Male pornography
has been attacked by some feminists who argue that it is used as a
weapon to keep women in a subordinate position.
37
Others argue
that it erodes and attacks traditional values and roles, or that it
degrades people and turns them into sexual objects. But all of these
effects are political, since they affect structures of power and domi-
nance. Since sex has been brought into politics, the criteria for
judging sexual speech and art need to be re-examined. If sexual
categories are recognized as political categories it raises the ques-
tion of whether sexual speech and writing should be judged by the
same criteria, and have the same protection, as other forms of polit-
ical speech. Also, there are especially restrictive rules regarding the
exposure of children and teens to sexual issues, from books that
discuss gay and lesbian issues in school libraries to pornography. If
sexual speech is just another type of political speech these restric-
tions need to be reconsidered.
A third set of questions focuses on the political audience. Some
research has been done on the creation of sexual communities, but
little has been done on the ways in which their messages are received
by the wider society, and of the conditions under which a sympathetic
(or hostile) audience is created. Why did the audience change in its
reaction to the claims of gays and lesbians, and is it likely to change in
its reaction to the claims of pedophiles? Why and when did the strong
campaign against pedophilia develop, and why is it so much more
important in the U.S. than in many other industrialized countries?
Why were the audiences in Sweden, Denmark and The Netherlands
more receptive than Americans to the claims of gays and lesbians, and
more tolerant of adult/boy relationships, and less receptive to the
claims of feminists? Is there a connection between the two? Under
what conditions is the relatively tolerant attitude that has characterized
most western nations in the past few decades likely to change, or is the
change a fundamental part of modernity, a result of a significant cul-
ture shift?
Marshal McLuhan wrote that we adapt to new technologies by first
framing them in categories that were created for the old technolo-
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JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY 18
gies--that we drive forward while looking out of a rear-view mirror.
This article has argued that we have done that with sex. It has entered
politics and become a central issue. But despite the popularity of the
phrase sexual politics the dominant political concepts still reflect a
time when sex and politics existed in separate spheres. Those outdated
concepts distort our vision and need to be replaced.
NOTES
1. Between 1991 and 1994 The American Political Science Review, The Journal
of Politics, Polity, The Western Political Quarterly (now Political Research Quarter-
ly), The Political Science Quarterly and The Journal of Policy Analysis and Manage-
ment have had only a few articles on gender and none on sex or sexuality and politics.
Political Theory and Social Research have each published one article on sex and pol-
itics. [An Ethos of Lesbian and Gay Existence by Mark Blasius in Political
Theory, Vol. 20 No. 4 (November 1992) and Sexual Balkanization: Gender and
Sexuality as the New Ethnicities by Michael Kimmel, Social Research, Vol. 60 No. 3
(Fall 1993).] Law journals occasionally publish articles on harassment or on anti-gay
rights amendments or on issues of privacy and sex. There has been no discussion of
sex in the major Comparative and American Government texts.
2. James Davison Hunter does a good job of examining the issues in an Ameri-
can cultural context. Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America (New York: Ba-
sic Books, 1991).
For good (though controversial) discussions of the shifting feminist attitudes to-
wards sex see Rene Denfeld, The New Victorians: A Young Womans Challenge to the
Old Feminist Order (New York: Warner Books, 1995) and Lynne Segal, Straight Sex:
Rethinking the Politics of Pleasure (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1994).
Social class has been a continuing issue in feminist thought. The early movement
was seen by many as part of a middle-class attack on poor and immigrant families--
middle-class feminists basically thought that middle-class women ought to stay
home to take care of families, but lower-class women ought to work. [Stephanie
Coontz, The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trip (New
York: Basic Books, 1992) p. 132.] See also Sue-Ellen Cases Towards a Butch-
Femme Aesthetic in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, Henry Abelove, Michele
Aina Barale and David Halperin, eds. (New York: Routledge, 1993), and Madeline
Davis and Elizabeth Lapovesky Kennedy, Oral History and the Study of Sexuality
in the Lesbian Community: Buffalo, New York, 1940-1960 in Hidden From Histo-
ry: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus and
George Chauncey, Jr., eds. (New York: Penguin, 1989).
3. See William Rubenstein, ed., Lesbians, Gay Men and the Law (New York:
The New Press, 1993). See also the series Law and Sexuality: A Review of Lesbian
and Gay Legal Issues (Tulane University Law School. First issue 1991). See also
Janet Halleys interesting article The Construction of Heterosexuality, Fear of a
Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory, ed. Michael Warner (Minneapolis:
Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1993), pp. 82-102.
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Harris Mirkin 19
One of the best discussions of sexual policy issues is Steven Seidman, Embattled
Eros: Sexual Politics and Ethics in Contemporary America (New York: Routledge,
1992). Also important are David F. Greenberg, The Construction of Homosexuality
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), John DEmilio, Sexual Politics, Sexu-
al Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States (Chica-
go, the University of Chicago Press, 1983) and David Evans, Sexual Citizenship: The
Material Construction of Sexualities (New York, Routledge, 1993).
4. James D. Steakley, Iconography of a Scandal; Political Cartoons and the Eu-
lenburg Affair in Wilhelmin Germany, Hidden From History, p. 253. The creeping
feminization of the army, and social emasculation were central concerns of the Wil-
helmin conservatives. Aristocratic homosexuality, including homosexual liaisons
with lower orders, was looked down upon by a middle class which supplanted the
aristocratic focus on blood with the bourgeois focus on sex. . . . The German bour-
geoisie had touted its moral superiority to the frivolity and cavalier licentiousness of
the aristocracy beginning in the eighteenth century, and during the nineteenth it ex-
tended its condemnation to the moral turpitude of the proletariat. See also Stephanie
Coontz, The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trip, pp. 271 &
107-111. She argues that the upper classes have traditionally been seen as effeminate,
and many in the middle class thought that the U.S. lost China and East Europe be-
cause the State Department and government were dominated by an effeminate east
coast educational/social elite. Like the German bourgeoisie the American middle
class blamed lower-class and immigrant sexual immorality for all social problems,
thus letting itself off the hook.
David F. Greenberg, The Construction of Homosexuality (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1988) argues that the bourgeois viewed sex that didnt result in the
production of children as profligate and a symbol of the idle rich. Opposition to ho-
mosexuality and inter-generational sex was part of a broader middle-class morality
which became increasingly forceful in its opposition to a life-style of luxury and
excess among the aristocracy (p. 280). According to Greenberg the energies that
drove the campaign against sodomy were those of class hatred (pp. 298 and 295).
5. Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Discourses of Sexuality and subjectivity: The
New Woman, 1870-1936, in Hidden from History, pp. 275, 265 and 277. As the
new woman emerged educators and physicians began an attack on womans
education, warning that the educated womans brain would be overstimulated, and
that education would favor the womans mind over her ovaries and upset her delicate
physiological balance. She would become morbidly introspective. Neurasthenia,
hysteria, insanity would follow. Her ovaries would atrophy and cancer would ensue
(p. 268).
6. These comments have broad support among scholars in the area. Generally,
see Greenberg, chapters 2-4, Randolph Trumbach, The Birth of the Queen: Sodomy
and the Emergence of Gender Equality in Modern Culture, pp. 129-140, Paul Gor-
don Schalow, Male Love in Early Modern Japan: A Literary Depiction of the
Youth, pp. 118-128, and Arend H. Huussen, Jr., Sodomy in the Dutch Republic
During the Eighteenth Century, pp. 141-149 in Hidden From History. See also Ana
Maria Alonso and Maria Teresa Koreck, Silences: Hispanics, AIDS, and Sexual
Practices, pp. 110-126 in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. See also pp. 77-92
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JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY 20
in Loving Boys, Vol. 1. See also the exchange of letters between Dr. Kinsey and Mr.
X reprinted in Martin Duberman, ed., About Time: Exploring the Gay Past (New
York: Meridian, 1991), pp. 194-215. See also Eva C. Keuls, The Reign of the Phal-
lus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1985), Chapters 11 and 12. Ruggiero, in The Boundaries of Eros says that sex with
boys was very common in 14th and 15th century Venice. pp. 136-137.
7. The new focus on the sex act as the culmination of intimacy undermined an
earlier tolerance for a continuum of sensual and erotic relations. It is not that homo-
sexuality was acceptable before; but now a wider range of behavior opened a person
up to being branded as a homosexual. The passionate female bonds . . . were stigma-
tized and labeled perverse. The romantic friendships that had existed among unmar-
ried men in the nineteenth century were no longer compatible with heterosexual
identity; old frontier habits of sharing beds or rolling up together around campfires
to keep each other warm were ruled out of bounds. Coontz, The Way We Never
Were, p. 195.
Katie Rophies controversial Date Rapes Other Victim in The New York Times
Magazine of June 13, 1993 objects to the extension of the concepts of rape and ha-
rassment to cover a broad range of behavior. See also Julia Creet, Daughter of the
Movement: The Psychodynamics of Lesbian S/M Fantasy in Differences: A Journal
of Feminist Cultural Studies, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer, 1991), pp. 135-159, and Pat
Califias introduction to her book of womens s/m pornography, Macho Sluts (Bos-
ton: Alyson, 1988).
8. There are some patterns. Variants of the feminist movements and the lesbian/
gay liberation movements arose in western industrialized countries within the same
time period. Feminist movements probably started when technology made physical
strength less of a differential than it had been in previous societies. Gay/Lesbian lib-
eration movements gained power as countries became more urbanized and a con-
centration of gays and lesbians developed in the cities. The nascent pedophile move-
ment is largely centered on the Internet and in newsgroups. Since there are few open
pedophiles in any area, these have substituted for the gay bar as a meeting place and
organizing center. It is hard to estimate the size of the movement since people keep
unpopular sexual orientations secret, and since definitions vary widely. A pedophile
home page on the Internet gets over 200,000 calls a month--but of course users of the
Internet are a small proportion of the population. On the other hand, these can be re-
peat calls from the same people or simply calls from the curious.
9. Some of the most interesting work has been done by Ronald Inglehart. He
uses international survey research to study the political culture of western industrial-
ized nations, and argues that Postmaterialist values are supported by the general ten-
dencies of industrial societies. (Ronald Inglehart, Culture Shift in Advanced Industri-
al Society. Princeton University Press, Princeton: 1990.) See Muchembleds Popular
Culture and Elite Culture in France for a portrait of a society going towards sexual
repression.
10. Gale Rubin, Thinking Sex, in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, p. 23.
She argues that Popular culture is permeated with ideas that erotic variety is danger-
ous, unhealthy, depraved and a menace to everything from small children to national
security. Popular sexual ideology is a noxious system made up of ideas of sexual sin,
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Harris Mirkin 21
concepts of psychological inferiority, anti-communism, mob hysteria, accusations of
witchcraft and xenophobia. The mass media nourish these attitudes with relentless
propaganda . . . (pp. 12-13).
11. John DEmilio and Estelle Freedman, Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality
in America (New York: Harper and Row, 1988), pp. 208-209.
12. Intimate Matters, pp. 143, 153, 203.
13. John DEmilio, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homo-
sexual Minority in the United States (Chicago, The University of Chicago Press,
1983), pp. 19-20.
14. Kinsey was strongly attacked because he naturalized homosexuality. See a
good discussion of the impact of his ideas in Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities,
chapter 2 and in Martin Duberman, ed., About Time: Exploring the Gay Past (New
York: Meridian, 1991), pp. 369-376. See also David Halberstam, The Fifties (New
York: Villard Books, 1993), Chapter 20. One of the major objections to federal fund-
ing for the University of Chicago sex survey was the fear that it would naturalize de-
viance.
15. The ability of most homosexuals to pass produced a great deal of anxiety. Life
said that Often the only signs are a very subtle tendency to over-meticulous groom-
ing, plus the failure to cast the ordinary mans admiring glance at every pretty girl
who walks by.
16. Edelman, Tearooms and Sympathy, or, The Epistemology of the Water Clos-
et in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, p. 559. See also Coontz, The Way We
Never Were, which argues that a normal family and vigilant mother became the front
line of defense against treason, p. 33.
17. A famous fictional portrayal of the role of psychology in the early feminist
debates is The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman (1892).
There has been a persistent debate on the ideological role psychology plays, and
social theorists like Szasz, Illich, Laing and Foucault argue that what are called men-
tal illness are merely socially devalued behaviors, and that the concept is a myth to
disguise moral conflict, to label and control deviant groups and force them to accept
the constraints of society.
18. See especially the work of Evelyn Hooker. She changed the field of gay stud-
ies by using a sample of gays drawn from the general population rather than using
only people in therapy or in prison. Though previous studies had shown a high degree
of mental problems in gay men, her studies did not. See The Adjustment of the
Male Overt Homosexual, Journal of Projective Techniques, Vol. 21 (1957),
pp. 18-31. See also the interview with Evelyn Hooker, Facts That Liberated the Gay
Community, Psychology Today, December 1975. A brief discussion of Hooker is in
Ronald Bayer, Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), Chapter 2. See generally this book and
The Selling of DSM: The Rhetoric of Science in Psychiatry (New York: Aldine de
Gruyter, 1992) for a discussion of the relationship between psychiatry and homo-
sexuality.
19. In retrospect it is apparent that the seeds of the gay/lesbian movement were
planted at this time, though there was certainly no gay pride in the 1950s.
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JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY 22
Most homosexuals believed that they were sick, and simply argued for tolerance.
There were few gay or lesbian organizations or magazines. One started in 1953, Mat-
tachine in 1956, and The Ladder was first published in 1957. Visa Versa (considered
the first lesbian magazine in America, consisting of about 20 carbon copies of a
newsletter, with a hand-to-hand circulation of a few hundred) started in 1947. The
Ladder often contained, without negative comment, the opinions of prominent
psychologists who claimed lesbians were sick. The Stonewall Rebellion, which
created the modern gay and lesbian political movement, was in 1969. The European
gay and lesbian groups emerged afterwards.
20. DEmilio, Sexual Politics, p. 9.
21. Walter Jenkins, President Johnsons chief of staff, was arrested for homosexu-
al activity when he was caught by police who were observing activity in public toilet
stalls. There was little outrage about the invasion of privacy. The NY TIMES ob-
served that sexual perversion, like alcoholism and drug abuse, is increasingly un-
derstood as an emotional illness. Edelman, Tearooms and Sympathy in The Les-
bian and Gay Studies Reader, pp. 562 and 554. Jenkins career was destroyed, though
his mistake was attributed to overwork. He was thought of as a good man who
snapped. See also Coontz, The Way We Never Were, p. 33.
22. See John DEmilios Capitalism and Gay Identity, The Lesbian and Gay
Studies Reader, pp. 467-473. It is interesting that gays, who had been tolerated earli-
er, were so persecuted in the 1950s. There are various theories to explain both the
persecution and the eventual emergence of a strong community. DEmilio argues that
the emergence is largely traceable to the growth of cities in post W.W. II America,
and to the growth of capitalism which weakened the need for the traditional family
and allowed individuals to live on their own within communities in a relatively anon-
ymous city (Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities). But see also Greenberg, who ar-
gues that the rise of capitalism, with its glorification of competition between men,
gave rise to homophobia.
23. A good review of the evolving and changing Court standards on the First
Amendment Rights of homosexuals is Paul Siegel, Lesbian and Gay Rights as a
Free Speech Issue: A Review of Relevant Case Law in Journal of Homosexuality,
Vol. 21, Nos. 1 & 2 (1992), pp. 203-259.
24. See Inglehart, Culture Shift, Chapter 6.
25. It is sometimes argued that drugs are treated in the same way, but drugs are
considered harmful for adults, while sex is considered an enjoyable activity. Though
children are not necessarily passive receivers of behavior, they are normally social-
ized and not asked to consent. The higher standard is mainly raised in the sexual
area--but once the standard is raised it is almost always said that children cannot give
informed consent in this area. Paul Okami and Ami Goldberg discuss the linguistic
and conceptual ambiguities involved in discussing pedophilia in the first 9 pages of
their article Personality Correlates of Pedophilia: Are they Reliable Indicators? in
The Journal of Sex Research, Vol. 29, No. 3 (August 1992), pp. 297-328.
26. See p. 214 and Chapter 7 in DEmilio and Freedmans Intimate Matters: A
History of Sexuality in America.
27. There are good reviews of the arguments and the literature in David T. Evans,
Sexual Citizenship: The Material Construction of Sexualities (London: Routledge,
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Harris Mirkin 23
1993), especially in chapter 8; and in Greenberg, The Construction of Homosexuality,
especially in chapters 8 and 9. See also Homosexuality and American Psychiatry and
The Selling of DSM.
28. Michael, Gagnon, Laumann and Kolata, Sex in America. The argument is
stated in chapter 1, but essentially the whole book is a documentation of it.
29. An OCLC library search found the NAMBLA Bulletin only in the Library of
Congress, the University of Illinois, Michigan State and the Rochester Public Li-
brary. (OCLC is the catalog libraries use to locate books for interlibrary loans.)
NAMBLA said that the Bulletin was also received by the University of Michigan li-
brary, and the Kinsey Institute at the University of Indiana. An OCLC library search
did not turn up any libraries that carried Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia (pub-
lished in English in Amsterdam. Though the journal recently ceased publication, it
was a scholarly journal with an impressive editorial board). Most, but not all, library
catalogs are in the OCLC database. However it is possible that it is carried in some
non-indexed libraries or special collections.
30. Theo Sandfort, in his study of the sexual experiences of children, found the
degree of consent to be the most important factor correlating with future good and
bad effects of the experience. Males and females also reacted differently: for males,
youthful sexual experiences had a slightly positive effect on their later sex lives,
while for women it had more mixed results. The variables were the degree of con-
sent, the age of the partner and the relationship of the partner to the youth or child.
See The Sexual Experiences of Children, Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia
(Winter 1993: Vol. 3, Number 1), pp. 21-56 and pp. 59-74 in the Winter 1994 issue
(Vol. 3, Number 2). Sandfort also has a good discussion of the methodological prob-
lems involved in research in this area and cites other studies.
31. Loving Boys, p. 94. See also article on child prostitution, Home Truths, by
Maggie Black in The New Internationalist, February 1994. Almost every statistic in
this area is contested. Some say 10% of children are sexually abused, others say that
100% of children are abused. Mass media usually use exaggerated figures and vague
terms. A collection of divergent articles is Child Abuse: Opposing Viewpoints, Katie
de Koster, ed. (San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1994). Paul Okami, in Personality
Correlates of Pedophilia: Are They Reliable Indicators? The Journal of Sex Re-
search, Vol. 29, No. 3 (August 1992), pp. 297-328 gives a good review of the litera-
ture in the area. See also his Sociopolitical Biases in the Contemporary Scientific
Literature on Adult Human Sexual Behavior with Children and Adolescents in J.
Feierman, ed. Pedophilia: Biosocial Dimensions (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1990).
Other articles in this book are also good.
32. The cases were well publicized. Sturges recounts the story in the May
1995 edition of Camera and Darkroom: The Magazine for Creative Photographers,
pp. 22-30. See also the afterword to Radiant Identities: Photographs by Jock Stur-
gess (New York: Aperture, 1994). See also the articles in Aperture, Number 195: The
Body in Question (1990), esp. pp. 42-56.
33. The case involved Stephen Knox and created a great deal of controversy with-
in the Clinton administration. At first the Justice Department argued that the Court
should overturn the ruling since the law required that child pornography must include
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JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY 24
a visible depiction of the genitals and must depict a child lasciviously engaging
in sexual conduct.
Videotapes seized from Knoxs apartment showed teenage girls wearing bathing
suits, leotards or panties and spreading their legs. The camera often zoomed in on the
the girls genital areas. Knox is the first person to be found guilty for possessing pic-
tures of children who were not nude. He was sentenced to 5 years. Knoxs attorney
said that the videotapes had amateur models in poses no different from what one
would find in fashion magazines or see on television [or] in gymnastic meets. The
government argued that the videos deliberately draw attention to the genitals of
young girls in unnatural and sexually provocative ways.
34. Friedan thought of the lesbian movement as the purple plague. Gay leaders
routinely denounce NAMBLA and try and disassociate themselves from the group
since they feel that charges of child abuse threaten the new legitimacy of Gay groups.
For a discussion of the American Gay movement and pedophilia see Man/Boy
Love and the American Gay Movement by David Thorstad and The Study of In-
tergenerational Intimacy in North America: Beyond Politics and Pedophilia by Ger-
ald Jones. Both articles are in the Journal of Homosexualitys special editions on
Male Intergenerational Intimacy: Historical, Socio-Psychological, and Legal Per-
spectives, Vol. 20, Nos. 1 & 2 (1990). See Paidikas Issue 8: Special Womens Issue
(Vol. 2, number 4, issue 8) for a discussions of female intergenerational sex and the
feminist movement.
35. See Pat Califias articles The Age of Consent: The Great Kiddy-Porn Panic
of 77, The Aftermath of the Great Kiddy-Porn Panic and Feminism, Pedophi-
lia and Childrens Rights. All are collected in Pat Califia, Public Sex: The Culture of
Radical Sex (Pittsburgh and San Francisco: Cleis Press, 1994). See also Rene Den-
feld, The New Victorians, esp. Part I.
36. The politics is interesting. The Gay Agenda, an extensively used video pre-
pared to help fight city gay/lesbian rights ordinances, attempts to forge an alliance
with blacks. It opens with Martin Luther Kings I have a Dream speech and then
goes on to accuse gays and lesbians of attempting to steal the civil rights theme. Its
tone is populist, emphasizing the wealth and power of the gay community. The al-
liance between fundamentalists and blacks was largely responsible for the defeat of
the multi-cultural approach in the NYC public schools.
37. Catharine MacKinnon, Only Words (1993), Towards a Feminist Theory of the
State (1989) and Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and the Law (1987). All
three books were published by Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA. There
have been important disagreements about pornography and the s/m experience. Some
good short discussions of the issue are in Steven Seidman, Identity and Politics in a
Postmodern Gay Culture, in Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social
Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), Michael Warner, ed. See
especially pp. 122-127. See also Steven Seidmans Embattled Eros: Sexual Politics
and Ethics in Contemporary America (New York: Routledge, 1992) for a more ex-
tended analysis.
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