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Waarden en seksualiteit

Voorkant Kincaid 'Erotic innocence - The culture of child molesting' James R. KINCAID
Erotic innocence - The culture of child molesting
Durham / London: Duke University Press, 1998; 352 blzn.;
ISBN-13: 978 08 2232 1934

(1) Introduction

[Kincaid concentreert zich op de culturele 'narrative' of 'storytelling' of 'discours' rondom seksueel misbruik van kinderen en constateert dat dat verhaal zoals het verteld wordt blijkbaar een functie heeft, een soort van winst betekent voor de vertellers ervan. Er had ook geen verhaal of een ander verhaal verteld kunnen worden.
Overigens ontkent hij natuurlijk niet de realiteit van seksueel misbruik en begrijpt hij dat 'slachtoffers' de suggestie dat ze 'alleen maar een verhaal' vertellen pijnlijk kunnen vinden. Maar het draait hier om de betrekkelijkheid van waarheid, een simpele benadering als 'zo is het gewoon' wordt bestreden. Kincaid wil zich zo vrij mogelijk opstellen tegenover alle 'evidente uitgangspunten, als dat 'abuse' eindeloos vaak voorkomt en zo verder.
Het verhaal over misbruik is een verhaal vol verontwaardiging en het aanwijzen van monsters waar mensen op een bepaalde manier genoegen aan beleven. Het is een soort van rampentoerisme waarbij mensen wel graag elk detail willen weten. Het is een verhaal waaraan we allemaal deelnemen en dat het handelen van mensen vorm geeft en de kijk op seksualiteit, kinderen, en overtredingen stuurt. Het is een verhaal dat kinderen erotiseert]

"This book is a study of such storytelling: where it comes from, what forms it takes, what it does for us and to our children. Few stories in our culture right now are as popular as those of child molesting, and I wonder why this should be so. We are likely to say that the reality of sexual child abuse compels us to speak, to break the silence; but I would like to poke at that compulsion and at the connections between “the reality of sexual child abuse” and the stories we tell about it. Why do we generate these stories and not others? What rewards do they offer? Who profits from their circulation, and who pays the price?"(3)

"In the case of child molesting and its culturally approved narratives, we have stories that allow us a hardcore righteous prurience; it’s a scapegoating exercise we have come to depend on. Through these stories of what monsters are doing to children, we find ourselves forced (permitted) to speak of just what it is they are doing; we take a good, long look at what they are doing. We denounce it all loudly but never have done with it, and are back denouncing it the next day, not ignoring the details. We reject this monstrous activity with such automatic indignation that the indignation comes to seem almost like pleasure."(7)

"It is for this reason that I shun the most compelling ritual gesture of all: acknowledging that of course sexual child abuse does exist, and on a very large scale. I do not deny it; I just do not want to begin the discussion in the territory left to me once I offer that disclaimer. I think, in fact, that this disclaimer is a vital part of the discourse that eroticizes the child and keeps us blind to what we are doing. It forces the discussion into channels of diagnosis and cure, mandates assumptions about what is and is not important, allows us to see some things and blinds us to others. I do not offer one more set of tips on how to determine whether or not child molesting happened. I am writing about another set of happenings: what happens to us and to our children as we tell our stories of the child and of sexuality."(7-8)

"What accounts for the popularity of these feverish tales about the sexuality of children and assaults on it? What is it that so magnetizes us? Why do we tell the stories we tell and not others? Those are plain questions; but we don’t attend to them. We prefer others:
1. How can we spot the pedophiles and get rid of them?
2. How can we protect our children in the meantime?
3. How can we induce our children to tell us the truth, and all of it, about their sexual lives?
4. How can we get the courts to believe children who say they’ve been sexually molested?
5. How can we get the courts to believe adults who recover memories of being sexually molested as children?
6. How can we get ourselves to believe others when they say they remember being sexually molested years ago?
7. How can we know that people are not making these things up, misremembering?
8. How can we know that bumbling parents, cops, and (especially) therapists are not implanting false memories?
Although some of these questions seem to take revenge on other questions, they all have one thing in common: they demand the same answer: “We can’t.”"(8-9)

"We have figured the crisis of sexual child abuse as a demonic trap, a tale of terror from which there is no escape. What we have here is an “epidemic” of child molesting, a “National Emergency,” but we seem to have devised the problem as an untreatable disease. Though we have created hundreds of public and private agencies to distribute information, educate children and parents on reliable means of protection, track down the missing, and generally raise awareness, we seem to regard all that as akin to stifling an earthquake by sitting on it. We locate more pedophiles, jail them faster and longer, castrate them, track them, and where are we? Still with “a rising epidemic of child abuse,” according to Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala in September 1996. We have plotted the mystery story so that it can have no solution and no ending. [mijn nadruk]"(9-10)

[Omdat mensen er belang bij hebben dat het verhaal bestaat zoals ze het vertellen, denk aan jeugdzorgers, psychologen, therapeuten, juridische medewerkers, gevangenispersoneel die allemaal hun geld verdienen met de 'aanpak' van seksueel misbruik. Met andere woorden: als er al een probleem is houden ze het probleem zonder meer in stand. En dat maakt ook dat andere mensen met gemak beschuldigd worden, iedereen komt er voor in aanmerking. En ben je eenmaal beschuldigd, dan komt het nooit meer goed met je.]

"You can’t say no, can’t write yourself out of the victim role. Worse luck, you may find yourself cast in opposition, as perpetrator. If you have children of your own or know those who do, if you are a priest, coach, baby-sitter, teacher, or someone walking down the street, you may fit the part. Once cast, you’re stuck. You cannot plead incapacity for the role. As many experts tell us (and as the police know for sure), those who challenge these charges are in denial, poor risks for rehabilitation. Only the guilty plead not-guilty, so it is best not to be in denial. [mijn nadruk] The story is, in short, cagily baited, mysterious, self-perpetuating, inescapable. It is a story of monsters and purity, sunshine and darkness, of being chased by the beast and finding your feet in glue, of tunnels opening onto other tunnels, of exits leading to dead walls. Our story of child molesting is a story of nightmare, the literary territory of the Gothic. On the face of it, the Gothic is not a promising form for casting social problems. Instead of offering solutions, such tales tend to paralyze; they do not move forward but circle back to one more hopeless encounter with the demon. Why would we want that?"(10-11)

[De eenzijdigheid van het discours is zichtbaar in het taalgebruik: 'sex offenders' werden bijvoorbeeld 'sex predators', het is een taalgebruik dat typisch is voor een hetze. In datzelfde discours worden termen als 'puur' en 'onschuldig' gebruikt als het om kinderen gaat, vage containerbegrippen dus die alles en niets kunnen betekenen. In datzelfde discours beweringen, kretologie als 'kindermisbruik is erger dan moord'. Dat hele discours heeft dus een nuttige functie voor bepaalde (groepen) mensen, al is het maar om te kunnen wijzen op een 'moreel en spiritueel verval' zoals christenen en conservatieven zo graag doen. Daarnaast is het discours individualiserend en leidt het af van maatschappelijke oorzaken en oplossingen.]

"We garantuee a supply by regarding almost all allegations of sexual offenses made by children as true, which means that the accused are always guilty."(11-12)

"It is also notable that the story offers to the abused the role of the blameless victim, responsible for little and able to understand and explain his life in very satisfactory terms: mistakes and misfortunes rest at someone else’s door; only the successes are his doing."(12)

[Het bekende slachtoffergedrag: het ligt altijd aan anderen.]

"However it is measured, sexual child abuse is a small problem (only 14 percent of cases) compared with other forms of child abuse, not to mention neglect, abandonment, inadequate nutrition, poor education, and the absence of job opportunities, a fair chance, and hope. [mijn nadruk] There’s a way in which we know that. And even with sexual child abuse, we do not pretend that we are getting the problem under control; quite the contrary. We know we are dramatizing the issue, making it into a spectacle. We might even know that what we are doing isn’t pointing to an ending but to a continuation. But these are forms of knowing that haven’t yet found themselves a story to tell, at least not one we want to hear."(13)

"Our culture has enthusiastically sexualized the child while denying just as enthusiastically that it was doing any such thing. We have become so engaged with tales of childhood eroticism (molestation, incest, abduction, pornography) that we have come to take for granted the irrepressible allure of children. We allow so much power to the child’s sexual appeal that we no longer question whether adults are drawn to children."(13)

"I do not deny that we are also talking sincerely about detection and danger. We worry about the poor, hurt children. But we worry also about maintaining the particular erotic vision of children that is putting them at risk in the first place.
Is the erotic appeal of children really such a mystery to us? Is pedophilia really so “unspeakable"? Why is it that the figures given for abused children keep climbing without arousing suspicion? Why is it that we now include in our pool of likely child molesters not just misfit middle-aged males but distinguished grandparents, gymnastics coaches, priests, women, teenagers, and, most recently, children themselves. While we maintain the monstrous and perverse criminality of the act, we also move to make it universal and inevitable.
We have made children lovable, which is fine, but we have also failed to make it clear to ourselves just what that means. What is our loving to consist of? And what is it in the child that we are to desire to love? What are the forms of the desirable in our culture?"(14)

"There’s more to how we see the child, and more to how we construct what is sexually desirable — but not much more. To the extent that we learn to see “the child” and “the erotic” as coincident, we are in trouble. So are the children.
How did we get ourselves into such a fix? One way to put it is that the development of the modern child and modern ideas on sexuality grew up over the last two centuries hand-in-hand, and they have remained close friends."(14)

[Een factor: de Romantische idealisatie van het kind als nog niet gecorrumpeerd etc., onschuldig, met name ook in de zin van niet-seksueel gecorrumpeerd.]

"The consequences of this insistence on an empty innocence are often perilous, especially when they are reduced to commonplaces, so that what at first seemed odd becomes obvious. Take, for instance, the assertion that children’s accusations of molesting must necessarily be true, an assertion based on the belief that innocence is incapable of inventing ideas of that sort: “How could a child her age know of such things? She could scarcely make them up!” Such a view renders guilty anyone accused until innocence is proved ... "(16)

[Toch is deze cultuur op allerlei fronten bezig om kinderlijke eigenschappen als erotisch aantrekkelijk neer te zetten.Denk aan film, media, denk aan schoonheidswedstrijden.]

"A country that regards children as erotic and also regards an erotic response to children not merely as criminal but as criminally unimaginable has a problem on its hands. It is to our credit that we maintain the tension and try to find stories that might somehow protect the children from what we conjure up as a barely corraled lust eager to feed on everyone under fifteen. The trouble is that these stories of protection are also stories of incitement; the denials are always affirmations. (...)
For all the pleasure it offers, this talk has some effects we might consider undesirable. Since I have much to say about that sort of thing later, I’ll make do here with a list:
1. It directs our attention away from more pressing ills.
2. It allows us to continue eroticizing children while denying we are doing any such thing.
3. It creates the sexualized child we pretend we are sanitizing.
4. It projects onto others a whole host of failures we may be experiencing as parents and as a culture.
5. It attacks working mothers most viciously.
6. It raises such fears of touching that any form of intimacy may seem hardly worth the risk.
7. It gives the police and policing agencies Godlike power."(21)

"Saying, “Yes, we all feel the attractiveness of children” does not make it true or mandate sexual activity with children, but it certainly relocates the talk. And that’s the point: tease the storytelling into a new territory, find new possibilities."(24)

"It’s important to be plain about this and not to try to counter erotic attraction to children with nothing stronger than nostalgia and talk about how sweet children are. For one thing, nostalgia and sweetness are not antidotes to eroticism but ingredients of it; for another, they are trifles. I believe most adults in our culture feel some measure of erotic attraction to children and the childlike; I do not know how it could be otherwise. I propose, first, that as long as these feelings are denied and projected as outrage, nothing will happen. Second, I suggest that just about all of us, looking what is what in the face, will not find ourselves compelled to have sex with children."(24-25)

(29) 1. Trapped in the Story

[Het beschreven verhaal is een verhaal vol simplificatie en dogma. Het is gevaarlijk om er van buiten af tegen in te gaan, zegt Kincaid, het is nog erger om in het verhaal te zitten want daarin heb je alleen maar slechte rollen van dader en slachtoffer en veel ondersteunende rollen van hulpverleners en zo. Voorbeeld: Van Buren High School - Baxter vs Hoyt (= lerares vs 17-jarige jongen) etc. etc.
Deze benadering schetst prima wat Kincaid bedoelt en toch hou ik er niet van dat hij in dat narratieve standpunt blijft hangen en de hele tijd doet alsof we ons daar niet uit los kunnen maken en er deel van uitmaken of we willen of niet. Denk aan opmerkingen als dat 'wij' als ramptoeristen het verhaal in stand houden via de sensatiepers, oppervlakkige rechtspraak, etc. Nou, ik niet. Je kunt wel degelijk afstand nemen en boven het verhaal gaan staan en enorm veel kritiek leveren op dat soort zaken als media, rechtbanken. In feite doet Kincaid dat ook, hij is duidelijk in zijn kritiek op die dingen, is voor Baxter etc., maar hij neemt desondanks geen standpunt in over seksueel misbruik want of je nu - bij wijze van spreken - voor of tegen seksueel misbruik pleit, je houdt altijd het verhaal in stand dat kinderen seksualiseert. Waarom schrijft hij er dan een boek over?]

"It is the simplest story; and, like most simple things, intolerant and relentless: it recognizes no other stories and claims for itself absolute truth. It is ferociously pious and thus has the force of dogma. Resist it at your peril —though it is healthier to resist than to swim in it."(30)

"The fact that Mary Baxter is uncommonly thoughtful and articulate only makes matters worse for her: she has a complex and modulated story to tell, but she is forced into a monotonously single-toned, crudely rudimentary plot.
As, in a very different way, is her accuser. A smart and active older adolescent is shrunk into a child, a generic 'essence-of-child', by this cultural story, remolded as passive, innocent, and guileless.(...) Alan's sexual activity in particular is fashioned as unwilled, forced onto him or drawn from him 'unnaturally'."(31)

"That’s the story, and it’s a common one, common and ugly and, in my view, devised to minister to interests that have nothing to do with justice. After all, who wins? Who is the better for this turmoil? What principles are served? I think only the story gains, the story and the ghostly cultural psychodrama it is devised to enact. In the case before us, I think everyone involved, even Detective Pausch, is telling what she or he takes to be the truth, “truth” having been usurped by the demands of the roles they have been forced into. Because of that, I want to spend the rest of this chapter analyzing not questions of guilt or innocence, which the story itself assigns, but rather what seem to me a few curious, especially vulnerable points in this particular story. [mijn nadruk]"(40)

"Naive citizens might think an acquittal would buy them something in the way of exoneration, or at least peace. But the fact is that after acquittal the pornographic fun lingers on. In this case, the state commission refused to reinstate Ms. Baxter, apparently feeling that when there’s a whiff of smoke in a Glendale courtroom, they’d better assume a firestorm. So there are likely appeals there, along with the civil suit, which might drag on into the next millennium. We know that it will and that our transmitters from the Glendale News-Press will be there for us. Amy’s our friend."(49)

(51) 2. Inventing the Child — and Sexuality

"I’m not the first to announce that both the child and modern sexuality came into being only about two hundred years ago, but it isn’t often noted that, in the excitement of getting these two new products on the market, they got mixed together. One somehow got implanted in the other, and it shouldn’t have happened. [mijn nadruk]"(52)

[De uitleg hier is normatief en tegelijkertijd onduidelijk. Dat het kind pas 200 jaar bestaat heeft Ariès onderzocht en klopt. Dat zich sinds de Romantiek een beeld van het kind ontwikkelde als onschuldig, primitief, niet corrupt, kwetsbaar, onwetend klopt ook. Ik weet alleen niet zeker of dat in de visies nu echt impliceerde dat een kind ook niks met seks had. Waarom dan al die acties tegen masturbatie en zo waarvoor artsen zich zo graag leenden? Freud was rond 1900 echt niet de eerste die andere ideeën had, de kinderlijke seksualiteit werd al langer onderzocht. Van de andere kant zegt Kincaid dan weer dat het kind werd geseksualiseerd door te benadrukken dat het niets met seks heeft]

"It may also be, however, that the sexual revolution has made us cling even more desperately to the old glowing myths surrounding innocence and to attach that idea of innocence all the more hysterically to our children. Faced with the growing ease of access and frequency of sexual activity among young people and the manifest failure of traditional teaching, we may well have shifted innocence more decisively backward, onto younger and yet younger people. Along with innocence, we have loaded them with all its sexual allure. [mijn nadruk]"(54)

[Hoe dan? Als je zegt dat een kind niets heeft met seks wordt het beeld van een kind gedomineerd door seks, negatieve seks weliswaar, maar toch door seks, aldus Kincaid. Dat is een vreemde manier van redeneren, vind ik. Als je zegt dat iets (een kind) een bepaalde eigenschap niet heeft (belangstelling voor seks) dan zeg je door het gebruik van de uitdrukking 'belangstelling voor seks' alleen niet ineens dat een kind die eigenschap dus toch heeft. Dat is de rare 'logica' van de oude Sofisten.]

"Innocence was filed down to mean little more than virginity coupled with ignorance; the child was, therefore, that which was innocent: the species incapable of practicing or inciting sex. The irony is not hard to miss: defining something entirely as a negation brings irresistibly before us that which we’re trying to banish. [mijn nadruk]"(55)

[Nee, dus. Het kind was nooit onschuldig, er was een aantal domme volwassenen dat graag wilde dat dat zo was en dit als ideaalbeeld begonnen neer te zetten. Tegen de werkelijkheid in dus. Het kind moest gedwongen worden om aseksueel te zijn, omdat volwassenen dat wilden.]

"The disobedient child gives the lie to the joke of “latency,” suggests that sexual energy is never far from the surface of the child. Adults typically incite the very disobedience they pretend to abhor, punish what they promote. The naughty child recalls for us, down deep, the truly wild child; and the wild child does so many things for us: puts us in touch with our most stirring nostalgic fantasies of what we might have been, might have come from. Beyond this, the wild child seems to resist all, and in so doing, allow all. We see in the wild child something of ourselves and something that also mocks us, shows us what we’ve lost or repudiated: our fully sexualized youth."(57-58)

Beschrijving van de wilde jongen van Aveyron, Victor (1799).

"Alger may have felt he was inculcating a Protestant ethic, but he seems to have exploited instead a pedophilic fairy tale, a narrative that runs at least as deep in America as Puritanism. It’s not hard work that brings success but being cute, cute in the presence of susceptible adults. This Alger/American child, deeply eroticized as it is, departs from the pure and passive child of heaven imaged by Wordsworth, the Romantics, and the greeting-card people. Alger’s child is much closer to the wild child of nature."(66-67)

(73) 3. Myths of Protection, Acts of Exposure

[De bescherming is even dubbelzinnig als de voorliefde voor het stoute kind. Om te kunnen blijven beschermen roepen we allerlei bedreigingen op. Nu zijn dat bijvoorbeeld de pedofielen die overal en nergens zijn. 'We' zorgen zelf voor de demonen die we willen bestrijden.
Het aantal ontvoerde en gedode kinderen wordt zwaar overdreven, hetzelfde geldt voor seksueel misbruik waar cijfers belachelijk hoog zijn omdat definities zo vaag zijn dat alles er onder kan vallen. Meer mythes vanaf p.81 zoals: kinderen zullen niet liegen over seksueel misbruik (alsof kinderen zo simpel, zo engelachtig zijn); kinderen ontkennen misbruik wat er op wijst dat het er was, maar als ze zeggen dat het er was is dat altijd waar.
De fascinatie zit hem in het voortdurende ermee bezig zijn. De 'bedreiging' is altijd seksueel en mensen hebben er in concrete gevallen gemakkelijk oordelen over al weten ze helemaal niets van die gevallen. Waarom die nadruk op seksuele bedreiging en bijvoorbeeld niet op machtsvertoon, geweld, etc.?]

"We uncover what we shield, censure what we enjoy."(74)

"How did we get to the point where what may well be rational people like Ann Landers, Up-in- Arms-in-Port-Charlotte, and L.A. Times editorialists are willing, without knowing a thing, not simply to form judgments but to issue them as wake-up calls? I think such blaring is authorized by the set of interlocking assurances that I have been calling our national “myth of protection.” That myth, in turn, rests on a common perception of the problem we face and of the roots of that problem. In order to act like this, we need first to believe that an emergency is upon us and that this emergency springs from an Evil so intransigent that it must be countered with an equally implacable Virtue."(76)

"We have expanded the category of sexual abuse to include issues that would have been regarded three decades ago as nuisances or nothing: a wide variety of touching, some of it at least ambiguous; suggestive language; exhibitionism that used to be passed off as casual; and voyeurism."(78)

"We constantly expand definitions, partly because we suppose we have grown more sensitive to less obvious offenses and more subtle victimizations, partly because the expansions feed the alarming discourse."(79)

"In our carefree play with these figures and our fascination with these studies, we commonly ignore details that don’t fit, bury them in footnotes or ignore them altogether. For instance, these studies tell us that many missing children are not really missing—their “caretakers did not know where they were"; that a large number of Runaways are really Throwaways; that, contrary to the mythology, older children (fourteen to seventeen) are at much greater risk of stranger abduction homicide, and that the total number of these is between 52 and 158, not several thousand; that sexual abuse is only one of five operative motives for child abduction (“exaggerated” by “public fears”), according to the U.S. Department of Justice; that no evidence exists to show that stranger kidnappings are higher now than they’ve ever been; that runaway rates may have gone down.
Perhaps nowhere is our ability to mold reality more striking than in our narrowing of the general category of “child abuse” into the realm of sexuality. Statistics compiled by the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse show that of just under three million reports to child protective agencies in 1993, 11 percent were for suspected sexual abuse, ranking a little higher than “other,” but far below physical abuse (30 percent) and neglect (47 percent). The percentage of missing children connected to sexual abuse is even smaller, less than 1 percent, with up to 575,000 runaways and throwaways, but 200-300 kidnappings and 3,200-4,600 abductions, not all of which, of course, were sexually motivated.29 On May 31,1994, CBS ran a special, Break the Silence, in which twenty-nine children told stories of abuse; half of the stories and most of the discussion were devoted to sexual abuse, an emphasis aimed clearly at our interest and not at the problem."(80)

"Judging by our discourse, attacks on lives interest us far less than attacks on innocence.
It is we who forge the tie between child abuse generally and sexual activity or sexual attraction; the facts don’t lead us in that direction, our needs do [mijn nadruk]: that’s a blunt statement of the argument we’ve been testing."(81)

Myths on wheels:

"1. False allegations are a rare problem or a nonproblem. Children have such an immediate and direct relationship to experience and speak such a transparent language that it is safe to say they never lie about sexual contact with adults, even if they don’t understand it.(...) We do children no favor, in the long or short run, by insisting that their world and motivations are impossibly simple."(81)

"2. (...) In sum, accusations are always to be believed, denials never, except when the denial is, as it must be, really an accusation."(81)

"3. There is a cycle of abuse going on, almost all present abusers having been abused themselves as children and now abusing because of that."(82)

"The arrest in August 1996 of Marc Dutroux in a small village in Belgium sparked an international orgy of lascivious indignation. Dutroux led police to a cell where he had kept and molested for several months two girls (twelve and fourteen years old), then showed them the graves of two eight-year-olds he had kidnapped, kept for eight months of sexual abuse, and then allowed to starve. This is pain out of Dante, but I do not want to concede that the size of this pain justifies our easy outrage. It does not. Our fuming is self-indulgent and gratuitous, feeding only our determination to ignore what we have done."(86-87)

"The “pedophile” is the place where a host of current revulsions are relieved; it is perhaps our most frequented cultural and linguistic toilet."(88)

"“For most adults,” the article begins, “the very idea of considering children as sexual objects is an unfathomable deviancy.” Not only do we not feel that attraction; the very idea of someone entertaining it is “unfathomable"; we cannot dig that deep."(88)

"It’s nothing to do with us. Not in our wildest dreams . . . why do they do those terrible things . . . the very idea!"(89)

"We seem to feel that those admitting guilt are at least being honest, and those maintaining innocence are either lying or delusional."(89)

"Punishment makes a better showing than treatment. In addition to the three-strikes bills now in effect in most states, some also have one-strike laws aimed at those convicted of rape or child molesting, like California’s, which can mandate twenty-five years to life for a first offense."(91)

"Beyond sentencing, we have various keeping-track and warning schemes for those who are released: library records, a special 900 hot line giving out names of forty thousand child molesters, registration requirements that now apply in (as of September 1995) forty-six states, and, in Washington, a program that is the mother of all scarlet letterings."(91)

"Let’s say one of these catch-as-catch-can review boards somehow allows a former sex offender to leave at the end of his regular sentence. Troubles are only starting to rain down: the freed ex-offender must not only register but is also subject to “public notification,” which may range from door-to-door warnings of his neighbors to posters on telephone poles. According to one free-but-hounded man, Alan Groome, “It’s safe in an institution. You don’t got people handing flyers door to door on you saying, ‘Hey, this guy’s a sex offender.’” Groome was finally driven from the state by a law echoing the tribal edict on Oedipus, the exiling of the unclean. Such banishings do not make neighboring states happy, and they act to increase dramatically the isolation and fantasy-supported loneliness that may exacerbate the sexual desire causing the problems. Still, like castration, such actions answer to basic impulses, recalling the days of blood sacrifice, branding, and exile."(92)

"All of this activity erodes boundaries between authorized and unauthorized justice systems, so that the responsibility both for awareness and for punishing comes to include the medical profession, social workers, you and me."(93)

"Our fundamental dilemma is that those protecting the child and those exposing it play for the same team. Eroticizing exists in symbiotic relation with sanitizing, and the veiling and the exposing exist in an encircling doublespeak. Since most of the rest of this book is devoted to an examination of the techniques we have evolved for eroticizing the child in such a way as to screen from ourselves what we are doing, I’ll deal with only a few obvious points here, places where the child is put on display most blatantly. As Richard Mohr points out in a superb and acidic essay, “The Pedophilia of Everyday Life,” our culture is saturated with “pedophilic images,” which are “surprisingly common” given that we “careen from hysteria to hysteria over the possible sexiness of children.” Mohr points to advertising and movies; Newsweek notices how supersexy Saturday morning bubblegum television is. Childhood allure is everywhere on display. [mijn nadruk]"(87)

"Those who do have a choice can find children who devote nearly all their short lives to making themselves worthy to be scrutinized: pre-teen tennis players and gymnasts, for instance; models, movie stars, and, at fairs and swap meets throughout the land, beauty contests: “Little Miss Maid of Cotton,” “Sweet Niblet,” “Missy Mississippi,” “Little Queen of Honey.” They all exist, I am told (all but one, which I made up), samples of the titles pinned on thousands of children each year. There are now more than 250 national beauty pageants, with more coming, the fastest growing being for the eight-and-under gorgeous. That’s national: there are (my guess) 730,000 local contests just for babies and primary-schoolers. At least half a million contestants are under twelve, officials estimate, and it’s a $5 billion a year industry, say other officials."(103)

"Paul Petersen, an original Mousketeer and later “Jeff” on The Donna Reed Show, is an eloquent writer and spokesperson for the hundreds of children used and discarded in this business, and he has begun an active and far-reaching support and lobbying group, A Minor Consideration. Though some of these exploited people blame greed—Jay North told me he thought it wouldn’t hurt if they took all agents, producers, and stage parents, put them in a bag with rocks, and dropped them in the Mindanao Deep — Petersen understands the issue as a cultural problem, involving money, certainly, but stronger needs too. He told me that children in such positions become quickly aware of the intense sexual interest (general and quite specific) directed their way and find some way to respond to it. And to its disappearance a few years later—along with the calls, the money, and the attention. [mijn nadruk]"(107)

"Two thousand children are killed every year, and more than 140,000 are seriously injured; even more are cast away: children without any home at all represent the fastest-growing distressed population in this country. One-fourth of U.S. children live “below the poverty line,” with an estimated 10,000 dying every year “as a direct result of poverty.” Nine out of every 1,000 American babies never reach their first birthday, a world ranking of twentieth, which is better than the thirty-first we get in low birthweight babies (finishing behind Turkey and Iran). Sixty percent of our two-year-olds are not immunized; 8.3 million U.S. children have no insurance coverage at all; 22,000 infants are abandoned yearly in hospitals; the rate of adolescent suicide has tripled since 1960; teenagers are five times more likely to be crime victims than adults over thirty-five; and among the new syndromes is shaken baby syndrome, “the most common cause of death in children under a year.” As a recent Carnegie Corporation study says, what we have is a “quiet crisis.”"(108)

"Children suffer and die, and we tell ourselves we’re protecting them with milk cartons, say-no comic books, undying vigilance against child lovers, and no-touch day care. This last innovation gives us, we might say, our protection story in its purest form and in action—nobody touches, no one sits on a lap, no comforts, no hugs."(108)

"It’s not just a class issue, though it is that, or an issue of racial and cultural bigotry, and it is that too; it’s also an issue of a destructive psychic drama we have inherited and cannot find a way to escape. I am sure we all want to, would like to give up the virtuous glibness about protection that is ripping our children to shreds."(109)

(111) 4. Home Alone with the Adorable Child

[Waarom willen we onze kinderen zo graag 'adorable' - schattig, lief - hebben? Kincaid koppelt dat aan de erotisering van kinderen. Maar: jong is meestal schattig, bij jonge dieren en bij jonge mensen, ik zie niet wat dat met erotisering te maken heeft. Het heeft te maken met dat spontane ontdekken, de directheid, het zachte en kwetsbare van iemand die nog alles moet leren, er is nog geen pantser. Zo gauw dat pantser er is - en dat is echt niet pas als kinderen veertien worden, zoals Kincaid suggereert, dat hangt helemaal af van cultuur en opvoeding - is de schattigheid er niet meer of in iedere geval meestal niet meer.]

Veel (kinder)films en kindsterren worden besproken, films waarin kinderen vaak worden geïdealiseerd (als 'cute') en volgens Kincaid geseksualiseerd. Kinderen in die films zouden volgens Kincaid de pedofiele fantasie van (mannelijke) volwassenen prikkelen - denk aan Shirley Temple, denk aan de 1956-film Baby Doll met Caroll Baker, denk aan Lolita (1962 wordt hier beschreven), denk aan Pretty Baby met Brooke Shields.

"The adorable child often talks dirty and may engage in imitation sexualized behavior, but the imitative quality, the make-believe, is often stressed so as to disguise the appeal, allow the audience its safety screen. Planting sexuality unequivocally onto the child requires a willingness on the part of the filmmaker to invent quite extraordinary sleights of hand, to be satisfied with a marginal movie, or to bear up under a storm of outrage. Let’s take the outrage first."(124)

"Pretty Baby (1978) is just as explicit and just as troubling for those reasons. Brooke Shields, who at the age of eleven months was the Ivory Snow baby, nearly 100 percent pure, looks dazzlingly pure here too in Louis Malle’s bathed-in-white vision of decadence. It’s not just that the eleven-year-old Shields appears in her underwear usually and altogether nude several times, is whipped, talks about nookie, displays herself as a virgin “delicacy” (on a tray), and is auctioned off to a client of the whorehouse where she lives. The problem is that she likes what she does. Her mother (Susan Sarandon) is indifferent to her (until the contrived ending), but nothing is made of that, since the whorehouse atmosphere and the camaraderie among the whores, young (very) and old, is so agreeable. The audience finds a surrogate in a photographer (Keith Carradine) who has free run of the place and prefers taking “studies” to body contact—until the child seduces him, thus fulfilling our culture’s central pedophile fantasy: the bewitching eleven-year-old launches herself at us. It’s what Lewis Carroll dreamed of, and not just Lewis Carroll." [mijn nadruk] (125-126)

"Recently, young girls have been cast in these androgynous roles without at all affecting the basic plot. A highly sexualized Natalie Portman in The Professional (1995) snuggles up to a con-on-the-run in a ghost version of A Perfect World. In 1996, Anna Paquin bonded with Daddy as they were able to work out their love by way of an airplane and a flock of geese, not so much triangulating as rectangling their passion. Fly Away Home is slickly made, but its plot differs from the well-worn standard article only in being more directly incestuous, the hero-heroine of such plots generally flying away from, not to, home in order to find love." [mijn nadruk] (135)

[Het is een aardig overzicht van allerlei films waarin kinderen op een bepaalde manier worden neergezet, maar de normatieve interpretatie ervan is ontzettend vaag en aanvechtbaar en roept ontzettend veel vragen op. Wie weet klaagde Kubrick terecht dat hij de relatie tussen Humbert en zijn Lolita helemaal niet erotisch kon maken, want waarom al die verboden voor wat er in films te zien valt? Wat is er verkeerd aan als kinderen niet onschuldig zijn en wel op de hoogte zijn van seks? Waarom is er sprake van seksualiseren / van mannenfantasieën als kinderen zo weergegeven worden? En hebben vrouwen die fantasieën niet dan? Waarom is het niet gewoon het weergeven van een feitelijke realiteit tegen alle ideologische verdrukking in, namelijk dat kinderen op hun manier ook seksuele wezens zijn? En concreet per film:
>Hoe zou Pretty Baby zich anders kunnen gedragen in die context van een bordeel? Waarom zouden we daar geschokt over zijn? En waarom mogen kinderen op die leeftijd niet sexy en verleidelijk zijn?
>Jodie Foster is 13 als ze in de film The little girl who lives down the lane speelt (1976). In de film is ze ook 13 en gaat ze naakt om bij haar vriendje in bed te kruipen om te vrijen. Schokkend? Niet voor mij. Dat ze in die film mensen vermoordt lijkt me een stuk schokkender en heel wat minder natuurlijk.
>De film Fly away home (1996) met de 14-jarige Anna Paquin als de 13-jarige Amy. Hoe zo geseksualiseerd? Het meisje is gewoon aantrekkelijk, maar ook lastig en verdrietig. Ze draagt nachthemden waar je echt niet doorheen kunt kijken, wanneer ze spul in haar ogen krijgt bij het douchen en de vader geschrokken de douche binnen stapt wendt hij zedig zijn ogen af en begint zij te gillen met een groot vertoon van schaamte, etcetera. Er is alleen maar conservatief gedoe op dat punt. Maar waar we ons zorgen over zouden moeten maken is die hele oorlogsmachine die op gang komt als ze met de ganzen onderweg zijn. En daar hoor je dus niets over.
>En Natalie Portman in The professional "highley sexualized"? Kom op, zeg.]

(139) 5. Resenting Children

"Why do we construct for ourselves a child we find both alluring and tiresome, an embodiment of ourselves and a stranger, a dream come true and, when it gets too close, an enemy to escape or destroy? “So when,” Barbara Ehrenreich asks, “did we start yearning for childhood and simultaneously hating so many of the little people to whom it rightly belongs?” To this set of questions I have a set (or miscellany) of answers, five and a bonus:"(141)

"We resent children because resentment is in itself an erotic activity and provides excuses for even more erotic activities."(144)

"It is also true that the naughty child allows us (as goodness and obedience never do) to slip unconsciously into an imaginative sexuality that is almost obligatory in our culture: we make the bad kid into the Other (much as men do women) in order to idealize, beat, and generally mold as we like, all in the name of duty. We prescribe pretty clearly what we want, which is not Sid Sawyer but Tom —not the goody-good, the MENSA wretch, but the real kid, the child of our imagination. That child we can resent and honor with our desire. Smart kids know this."(144)

[Veel vaag geleuter in dit hoofdstuk. Het gaat hier dus meer over het demoniseren van kinderen en ze agressief behandelen. Ik denk dat dat meer gebeurt dan het seksualiseren van kinderen. Kinderen en geweld, dat mag; kinderen en seks, dat mag niet.:]

"Agression against children gets even fuller play in films, where children are often cast as beasts to be slaughtered."(157)

"More hostile still are the movies that remove the disguise, wasting no time explaining why these kids are rotten. They just are."(159)

"We value children very little."(160)

[Ik denk dat dat laatste waar is. In de zin van: volwassenen zien kinderen vaak niet voor vol aan, zien kinderen niet als jongere mensen met alles wat mensen aan eigenschappen en mogelijkheden hebben. Volwassenen voelen zich dus meestal superieur en zien kinderen als inferieur, en inferieure mensen mag je toch met geweld laten zien hoe superieur jij bent, toch?
Ik begrijp heel Kincaids moeizame pleidooi niet zo. Misschien bedoelt hij dit: we hoeven kinderen niet te idealiseren of te demoniseren, kinderen zijn niet zo veel anders dan volwassenen, ze zijn alleen jonger ... Maar waarom zegt hij dat dan niet duidelijk en hult hij zich in narratieve relativiteit om later in het boek toch iets van een opvatting te hebben die helemaal niet zo relatief is?]

(165) 6. Myths, Legends, Folktales, and Lies

"This is a chapter about Alien abductions, the kiddie porn industry, satanic sacrifices, kidnapping rings, and monsters in the media."(166)

[Dat is inderdaad waar dit hoofdstuk over gaat. Als het om seks en kinderen gaat zijn mythen hardnekkig. Gematigdheid en rationaliteit worden totaal overboord gegooid, vind Kincaid. Maar wat ik niet lees is een analyse van waarom dat gebeurt.]

"We protect ourselves from their full seductive force by employing our skepticism, our sense of the probable, our trust in moderate rationality, our tendency to think pretty much the same thing as our neighbor, our knowledge that nothing causes as much widespread distress as credulity.
But when it comes to child sexuality, we seem to have plunged into a 1990s credulity bath, where we’re content to remain. Common sense isn’t a great thing, but it’s something; and skepticism is better; but exercising the two now makes one liable to prosecution. Where is the tale about child sexuality and its enemies preposterous enough to be disbelieved?"(166)

"These folktales take such extraordinary forms, I believe, because our wild panic on the subject of children and sex effectively rules out moderation and reason."(167)

"If we look for studies of the actual material, the kiddie porn itself, we find nothing, since it is against the law to look at what may exist, much less own it. The distinguished sex researcher Vern L. Bullough reports somewhat wryly on how it is that we are kept from knowing anything at all about what we know so much about, and recounts the sad stories of a few professors who tried to do research in the subject and found themselves arrested for their pains."(171)

"Well, I do not believe organized satanic cult abuse is isolated and rare; I believe it doesn’t exist at all. But again, its existence is not so much the issue here as is the expenditure of so much energy, time, and money on talk that is highly charged but just as highly redundant, that repeats with high-tribunal certainty what nobody knows and advances the dubious, even the preposterous, as if it were a set of truisms our duty as citizens compelled us to embrace."(179)

"Why do we devote so much energy, concern, and money, so much organizational skill, so many competing centers and foundations, so much legislative know-how, so much fear and repetitive talk to the most insignificant problem facing our children: the risk of being kidnapped by a stranger? Let’s review the annual figures again: about 575,000 runaways (more than 20 percent of these are Throwaways); 354,000 children abducted by family members; about 1 million children suffering physical abuse, and 1.5 million neglect; 140,000 serious injuries; 2,000 murders; and 200-300 stereotypical kidnappings. So what explains our focus on the last category?"(180)

(191) 7. The Trials: Believing the Children

[Over allerlei rechtszaken in de VS over seksueel misbruik en zo waarin de bekende vooroordelen natuurlijk ook een rol spelen. Zeker in de VS.]

"What does matter to us, we say, are the children, the victims we are pledged to believe (so long as they are saying what we want to hear) and protect. Every trial speaks to our certainty that the children are made happier and safer, given more of what we know childhood should be, by the public examination of their enemies. Let’s start here, with the children and what we are doing for them."(192)

(213) 8. Accusing the Stars: Perversion among the Prominent

[Over autoriteiten en beroemdheden die beschuldigd werden en de verhalen daarover waarvan 'iedereen' zit te smullen en waarover 'iedereen' zijn mening heeft.]

(239) 9. Recovered Memory

[De kwestie of herinneringen van kinderen aan seksueel misbruik altijd serieus genomen moeten worden en of ze niet vaak geplant worden door mensen die daar alle voordelen van plukken zoals therapeuten. Maar het is weer de bekende narratieve aanpak waarin alles grijs wordt, zie de volgende citaten. Als Kincaid nu werkelijk diepgaand de achterliggende redenen zou analyseren voor het ontstaan van dat soort discussies ... maar dat doet hij niet. En daarmee blijft het hele verhaal maar onbevredigend vaag.]

"That looks more like an unearned conclusion than an engaging introduction, I know; but recovered memory is such a tumultuous subject that it’s best to clear off some ground on which to stand. I am not, I should say, interested in contesting the claims of either the recovered- or the false-memory groups, but rather in trying to understand why this issue exists at all and why we find the claims and counterclaims so arresting. Why do we frame the issue of memory and erotic childhood as we do, and why do we develop a thirst for quarrels that take place within that frame?"(240)

"My reason for setting off such high-sounding platitudes is to draw attention not to pure reality and whether or not memory is acting up, but to the nature of our constructing apparatus. Why do we form our pasts and our lives as we do? Where do our memory plots come from? Why do they assume the shape they commonly have these days?"(241)

(259) 10. The Backlash, the Counter-backlash, the Reaction, the Resurgence, the Return, the Reform, the Restating the Whole Thing for Clarity

[Het wordt op dat punt niet veel beter. Hoofdvraag van dit hoofdstuk: waarom is 'onze' cultuur zo gefixeerd op de seksualiteit van kinderen? Dat schrijven in 'we' en 'ons' is in het hele boek al ergerlijk, maar wordt hier helemaal misleidend: het gaat tenslotte over de USA en niet over Europa, om maar iets te noemen. En wat is dat, een fixatie op iets? Wat betekent dat concreet? En lost 'geen fixatie' / het er maar niet meer over hebben de zaak op? Ik kan me eigenlijk heel goed vindenin de kritiek van de Backlash-mensen op therapeuten, advocaten, domme ouders, de media. Iedereen blijft in anecdotes hangen, zegt Kincaid, en bespreekt boeken van die Backlash-auteurs op een ontzettend oppervlakkige en anecdotische manier. Ik denk dat hij niet goed kan volhouden dat hij boven de standpunten staat. Al dat relativisme is ook maar relatief, zo blijkt.]

"I’m not saying the solution came first—that we invented child molesting in order to talk about child sex. But I think the reverse causality—that the existence of child molesting necessitated the talk about it—is just as suspect. The problem and the cure are happily married; it doesn’t matter who proposed to whom, they came into being together, made for each other."(260)

"Each side accuses the other of being parochial, of listening only to itself, of being less devoted to disinterested investigation than in confirming its own superstitions:"(262)

"Encapsulated stories banging against one another. I hope to show that all camps find such echo chambers useful: the conservatives, backlashers, counterbacklashers, and those imaging they are above the fray.
There is so much so-alike indignation bouncing about here that the enthusiasm we feel in wading into the (let’s say) twenty-seven backlash books and thirty-one counterbacklash books soon turns to rue as we swim into deep deja vu. The same authorities are cited, the same arguments are used, the same sneers and telling mots, the same absolutely irrefutable clinical studies.
This is not a battle designed to go anywhere, largely because it is so formally constricted: certain positions are always unexamined; certain questions are never asked. There are, in fact, so many agreements between the two sides that it’s almost like Harvard v. Yale—the game could never be played were not both sides and their supporters pretty much interchangeable."(262-263)

"They maintain their cooperative hostilities by agreeing to three basic points: (1) never to acknowledge that such cooperation exists; (2) never to ask why the subject at the center, child sexuality, is of such magnetizing interest; and (3) never to let the talk escape the anecdotal, thus avoiding historical, sociological, and literary paradigms that might disrupt the talk."(263)

"It is understandable that official backlash organizations, formed in the center of the battle and often from its victims, should be preoccupied with tactics and local aims, VOCAL (Victims of Child Abuse Laws), founded in 1984, and the more recent False Memory Syndrome Foundation (1992) do what they can with their rage; but what they can (or want to) do does not seem to include studying why our culture should be so fixated on sex with children and how we might deal with that fixation."(264)

"Many of these are brilliantly conceived, courageous, witty, and possessed of many other virtues, none of which will figure in this account, our purpose being to analyze the deeply conservative nature of this backlash, its fervent dedication to playing by the rules. Here are some instances: "(267)

"These backlash books not only sanctify the main story, the story of the traditionalists, but also mimic it. Through the use of disclaimers and other isolating strategies, they remove inconvenient debris, act as the scavengers for our culture’s most dubious narrative organisms. Beyond this, they employ the same rhetoric, characters, and plot as the melodramatic, Gothic mode that guarantees the survival of the main story. So long as we are inside a horror story, monsters need never fear. They’ll start worrying when realism comes along, or comedy—when Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein. And, finally, the backlash extends and prolongs the child sex coo, elaborates it, and allows us to keep talking the same talk while giving us the illusion we are rejecting it."(273)

"The backlash never expected to be allowed to have its own way. The idea was never to overrun the traditionalists but to settle into a long and loud tiff with them. That the traditionalists would counterattack was certain, since the backlash could not but promote it. That counter-attack would surely generate new topics, backlashers assumed, or, if it didn’t (and it didn’t), would at least keep the voltage up, reinject the personal element, and bring onstage a whole new cast of enemies. The backlash made it possible to attack not just pedophiles (who, doubtless to their delight, disappeared from the discourse for a short time) but also the traditionalists. There were, even the traditionalists would admit, more of them than pedophiles; and that made for a noisier war, especially when the traditionalists, perhaps a little tired of pedophiles, could attack the backlashers."(273-274)

"This is a story I’ll have a go at in the next chapter. I need help—from those like Ellen Bass and Elizabeth Loftus and all the well-meaning people who know we haven’t yet got it right, haven’t hit on that once-upon-a-time that will show us how to live and how to be, will give us that story that will allow us to love children without exploiting them."(278)

(279) 11. Other Stories, Other Kids

[Kincaid denkt dat de wereld verandert door een ander verhaal te vertellen. Maar 'getting the story right' is net zo normatief natuurlijk.]

"What would it be like to have available different stories about the child, to try our hand at a new story-telling, and then to open ourselves up to these new tales, teach ourselves to be receptive to strange and novel stories? Rather than confronting current scripts, doing battle with them, what if we move to a theater around the corner: more light and air, replace the curtains, freshen the scenery. And a new plot, maybe a comedy or even a musical. I like a Gershwin tune—how about you? It might be healing, or at least a break for the children. Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips says that “the art of psychoanalysis is to produce interesting redescriptions: redescriptions that the patient is free—can bear—to be interested in.” Maybe we can cure ourselves of our addiction to these ruinous Gothic stories of child sexuality by reviewing the situation and then redescribing it in a way we can bear to be interested in. And what if we don’t need a cure, what if all the pain we are causing and feeling is unnecessary, a result of our not getting the story right?"(280)

"The old story we’ve been abusing for the entire book, the story of innocent (erotic) children and fabulous (but ubiquitous) monsters, has its heart in the right place. It sees that the problem lies somehow in the investment our culture has made in the sexual appeal of children; it tries to center that problem in order to save the children it loves. The difficulty comes in all the fudgings that have crept in, the failures in nerve, the veerings and skewings. The eroticizing of children is blamed on somebody else, as if it were an accidental and freakish thing we could wipe out by being sufficiently sanctimonious. Yet, this old story has many features worth washing off and saving. Down deep, it wants to do right by the child."(281)

"We construct our beings and our culture on the assumption that happiness is the birthright of every child. Our current story seems to give both us and our children so little access to that happiness, though, that we are obsessed with its denial, with the outrageous withholding of happiness. We want to make somebody pay. We’ve gotten ourselves into the middle of a twisted, ironic narrative that uses this belief in happiness as the basis for seeing and causing unhappiness all around us."(281-282)

"We need to treat this image of the happy child with poise if it is to work for us and for the children and allow us to escape the desperate stories of protection we have devised. Perhaps we can reimagine the boisterously happy child as a countermodel to the child whose happiness is always under siege. We are so worried about children that we project our worry into what they are; and we scurry then, with the best of intentions, to bury them within corpulent and suffocating narratives of danger.
We have been so busy reinventing the child as a being at risk sexually that we have allowed the happy child to wander out of our range. We have made the child we are protecting from sexual horrors into a being defined exclusively by sexual images and terms: the child is defined as the sexual lure, the one in danger, the one capable of attracting nothing but sexual thoughts. The laughing child has been replaced in our cultural iconography by the anxious, fretting child— really, a grotesquely sexy little adult. Not a kid, not a companion, not an ally; just an unhappy undersized thing, tormented by being cast in terms that allow it no room to move: the child is the sexual being whose essence is that it has no sexuality at all. What a part to play! Defined in terms of negation and denial, the child shouldn’t surprise us by devoting itself to vengeance. The wonder is that so many are forgiving, loving—even happy." [mijn nadruk] (282-283)

"It’s a comic story with great appeal, and it often does the job. In our case, it would tell about child sexuality and our response to it as if the issue were of some importance and considerable interest but not terribly special, certainly not a cause for panic. That children are sexualized or eroticized, and that we all, in some measure, respond to it would then seem unremarkable, not at all worth the reckless frenzy of denial and scapegoating with which we now meet those facts. The new story, the simplest of all, would not begin by assuming there is a problem, much less a monumental one. We would simply admit that “children’s sexuality does exist and anyone who tries to deny it is wilfully ignoring the evidence,” that “sexual activity is commonly observed in children, and steadily increases during the school years and adolescence.” Further, we would not regard as remarkable statements like “Those being honest will also admit to finding immense pleasure in both their child’s sensuousness, and the sensuous contact they themselves have with the child.” Such assumptions would rid themselves of their protective defensiveness and become commonplace, common knowledge. Indeed, such things are common knowledge now, although we hardly have room for them in the current story. The candid authors of The Courage to Heal, however, do make brief mention of the common desire of children to “test limits, sexually as well as in other areas,” and of the fact that “parents often have sensual feelings toward their children.”" [mijn nadruk] (286-287)

"The erotic feelings we have toward children are not, in themselves, a problem—or at least not a problem we can’t handle. Becoming part of that problem is the solution. Denial does nobody any good and drives the desire into the lying, scapegoating babble, where it thrives and does terrible harm. Erotic feelings are not rape. I am, I know, trying here to empower a more rationalist story, one that admits the irrational, certainly, but one that also relies on the ability of adults to be grown-ups, to exercise some control, some wit and decency. We can see for ourselves, without hauling out demons and holding witch trials, that raping, molesting, and assaulting little beings is wrong and cruel. To have our erotic lives wholly under the spell of children is, as even pedophile fiction always acknowledges, both sad and comically puerile. We can see these things, and we can deal with them. We’ll be better off armed with good sense (a sense of decorum, a sense of humor) and native kindness than with all the police and horror tales and harum-scarum tactics in the world. So will the children." [mijn nadruk] (288)

"Admit all this openly and we at the same time issue an invitation, easy and relaxed, to our best storytellers to find tales of healing and happiness. I am fully aware that I need help here; we all do. The solutions will come not as a set of prescriptions but as a casting call for the best creative talent to devise and make stick a cultural story about children and sexuality that is out in the open and does not bolt at the first sign of complexity. We always do well with what is in the open. It’s when we play hide-and-seek with inconvenient facts that we become ungainly and start hurting the very ones we fear for. In the meantime, we should keep hugging kids, playing horsey, bathing them, and taking pictures of them naked on rugs (not bear rugs), just as we did before we had the wits scared out of us. If you find yourself getting too excited, going too far, wanting to incite or not to stop—then stop. If you are hard- pressed, then indulge in Voyeurism, which is child abuse only by elastic standards and seems to many children at least as funny as it is invasive."(289)

"Of course, saying such things and asserting we can manage perfectly well without Gothic monster stories will seem to some a feeble answer to the dangers that lurk out there. I think the dangers are themselves largely a function of the stories told about them, but I am aware that the rational and the stoic stories I’ve told depend on mechanisms of reason, control, and clear vision that we have come to distrust. Distrust these things, however, and we have little left but the police."(290)

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