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Seksualiteit en jongeren

Voorkant Levine 'Harmful to minors - The perils of protecting children from sex' Judith LEVINE
Harmful to minors - The perils of protecting children from sex
Minneapolis/London: University of Minneapolis Press, 2002, 299 blzn.; ISBN: 08 1664 0068

[Dappere onderneming, dit boek. De Introduction vertelt hoe moeilijk het was om in de VS een boek als dit gepubliceerd te krijgen: geen markt voor, moeilijk voor ouders, het woord 'plezier' mocht er niet in voorkomen, en zo verder.]

(ix) Foreword (Dr. Joycelyn M. Elders)

"In America we are in the midst of a sexual crisis. We lead the Western world in virtually every sexual problem: teenage pregnancy, abortion, rape, incest, child abuse, sexually transmitted disease, HIV/AIDS, and many more. Yet when the Surgeon General issues a call to action on sexual health urging comprehensive sex education, abstinence, and other measures to promote responsible sexual behavior, and advocates that we break our "conspiracy of silence about sexuality," we want to fire the Surgeon General.(...) our society remains unwilling to make sexuality part of a comprehensive health education program in the schools and anxious to the point of hysteria about young people and sex."(ix)

"Drawing together stories in the media (as well as those that are less known), interviews with young people and their parents, and astute analysis, Judith Levine passionately argues for honesty and forthrightness in talking to children about sex. She lays bare the conservative political agenda that underlies many supposed "child protection" efforts. Perhaps what is most valuable about this book is the way it outlines the dominant, and often hidden, fact of discussions about sexuality in this country: the influence of the religious right (or what I have been known to call the "very religious non-Christian right"). I have spoken and written many times about my disgust with people who have a love affair with the fetus but won't take care of children once they are born. Harmful to Minors not only makes explicit the crucial importance of frank and accurate information about sexuality being widely available to people of all ages, it lays out a sensible, positive, and possible program to do so."(x)

(xix) Introduction - Peril and pleasure, parenting and childhood

"The book investigates the policies and practices that affect children's and teens' quotidian sexual lives—censorship, psychology, sex education, family, criminal, and reproductive law, and the journalism and parenting advice that begs for "solutions" while exciting more terror, like those trick birthday candles that reignite each time you blow them out.
The architects and practitioners of all the above use the term child protection for what they do. But, as the stories of real children and families in this book show, they often accomplish the opposite. Indeed, the sexual politics of fear is harmful to minors."(xxi)

[De huichelarij van christelijk rechts en alle conservatieve krachten in de VS: ze willen het kind beschermen tegen alle ellende rondom seks door te doen alsof seks niet bestaat, door het uit te bannen, onbespreekbaar te maken, door het bestaan van seksualiteit bij jongeren simpelweg te ontkennen. En dat is inderdaad bijzonder schadelijk.]

[Ze hebben het almaar over 'gezinswaarden' alsof iedereen nog netjes in een gezin leeft of een gezin wil vormen. Vervolgens laten ze het het heel neoliberaal aan die gezinnen over om zichzelf te bedruipen: er is geen goede voorlichting (dus hebben de op sensatie gerichte of de christelijke media het voor het zeggen), als het misgaat is dat een persoonlijk falen, en er bestaat enkel sociaal vangnet wanneer het misgaat.]

Het heeft niet geholpen dat doorgeslagen feministes met religieus rechts gingen samenwerken om geweld tegen meisjes en vrouwen te voorkomen, pornografie uit te bannen, en zo meer.

[Dat is een interessante opmerking. Die feministes hebben niet goed ingeschat hoe groot de verschillen in waarden en normen waren tussen henzelf en die religieuze groepen.]

"Feminist worries about children's vulnerability to adult sexual desire gradually reified in a therapy industry that taught itself to uncover abuse in every female patient's past. Religious conservatives, mostly middleclass women who felt their "traditional" families threatened by the social-sexual upheavals of the time, translated that concern into the language of their own apprehension. They saw profanity—in the form of abortion, divorce, homosexuality, premarital teen sex, and sex education—everywhere encroaching on sanctity."(xxiii)

"Earlier physical maturation coupled with later marriage meant that fifteen to twenty years elapse between physical sexual readiness and official sexual legitimacy. It is hardly surprising that 90 percent of heterosexual Americans have intercourse before they wed, if they wed at all, and most do so before they exit the teen years."(xxiv)

"On the other hand, the fear that children are having intercourse in middle school is largely unfounded: only two in ten girls and three in ten boys do so by the age of fifteen, with African American teens more likely to do so than Hispanics, and Hispanics more likely than European Americans."(xxiv)

Er is geen sprake van een opvallende toename, zo blijkt. En bovendien valt het dan ook nog mee met alle seksuele activiteit van die jongeren.

"By 1984, the proportion of sexually active unmarried fifteento nineteen-year-old women was just under half. Since then, increases in teen sex have been smaller, with a bit of a drop-off in the last few years. In 1990, 55 percent of girls fifteen to nineteen years old were sexually active. And by 1995, the percentage was back to 50 percent. Today it remains at 50 percent—right where it was in 1984. As for young teens, in the mid-1950s only three in one hundred girls had had sex before the age of fifteen; by the mid-1970s, one in ten had; today, that number is two in ten. Another factor: In the 1950s, plenty of teens had sex, but it wasn't considered troublesome because it wasn't premarital: in that decade, America had the highest rate of teen marriage in the Western world.
Furthermore, no matter how many teens are counted as "sexually active," meaning they've had intercourse at least once, that activity is various and, for a substantial number of kids, scant. In one typical study of sexually active boys ages fifteen to nineteen in the 1990s, more than half admitted they'd done it fewer than ten times in the previous year, and 10 percent had not had "sex," however they defined it, at all. As one public-health researcher told me, "Most sexually active teens are not very sexually active."(xxv)

"Conservative legislators have effectively shut down government-funded research on adults' sexual behavior, motives, or feelings. As for surveying minors about the same subjects, this is practically illegal. How do children and teens feel about sex? What do they actually do? Only a handful of researchers are asking, and few are likely to soon.
Squeamish or ignorant about the facts, parents appear willing to accept the pundits' worst conjectures about their children's sexual motives. It's as if they cannot imagine that their kids seek sex for the same reasons they do: They like or love the person they are having it with. It gives them a sense of beauty, worthiness, happiness, or power. And it feels good."(xxvi)

"Commonly in the professional literature, sex among young people is referred to as a "risk factor," along with binge drinking and gun play, and the loss of virginity as the "onset" of intercourse, as if it were a disease. One of the journals that frequently reports on teen sexual behavior is called Morbidity and Mortality."(xxvi-xxvii)

"All this history lives on in us: Zeitgeists do not displace each other like weather systems on a computerized map. We still invest the child with Romantic innocence ..."(xxx)

"Current youth policy and parenting advice teeter between high-anxiety child protection and high-anger child punishment. It would appear that children are fragilely innocent until the moment they step over some line, at which point they become instantly, irredeemably wicked. One striking pair of contradictory trends: as we raise the age of consent for sex, we lower the age at which a wrongdoing child may be tried and sentenced as an adult criminal. Both, needless to say, are "in the best interests" of the child and society."(xxxi-xxxii)

"What questions regarding child and teen sex have preoccupied Americans over the past two centuries? Mainly, whether and when. And what are the answers? No and later, when they are married or at least "mature.""(xxxii)

"In any case, whether and when are not the questions that this book engages, except insofar as it explores the meaning of Americans' obsession with these questions and the ways in which they delimit our understanding of sexuality and children's relationship to it. Lest you consider my approach peculiar or irresponsible, I remind you that in Western Europe whether and when aren't the burning questions either. Sex education in those countries begins with the assumption that young people will carry on a number of sexual relationships during their teen years and initiate sex play short of intercourse long before that (which they do) and that sexual expression is a healthy and happy part of growing up. The goal of sex ed, which grows out of a generally more relaxed attitude toward sexuality, is to make sure that this sexual expression is healthy and happy, by teaching children and teens the values of responsibility and the techniques of safety and even of pleasure. Abstinence is not emphasized in European classrooms, if it's discussed at all."(xxxii-xxxiii)

"Sex among America's youths, like sex among its adults, is too often neither gender-egalitarian, nor pleasurable, nor safe. This book will argue that current psychological, legal, and educational practices exacerbate rather than mitigate this depressing state of affairs."(xxxiii)

En het blijkt gender-, ras- en klassegebonden te zijn ook nog: de meeste ellende overkomt vrouwen en mensen uit armoedige omstandigheden en gebroken gezinnen etc.

"But the book aspires to the positive too. It is based on the premise that sex, meaning touching and talking and fantasizing for bodily pleasure, is a valuable and crucial part of growing up, from earliest childhood on."(xxxiv)

(1) Part I Harmful Protection

(3) 1. Censorship The sexual media and the ambivalence of knowing

"At the turn of the twenty-first century, America is being inundated by censorship in the name of protecting "children" from "sex," both terms capaciously defined."(3)

Maar ook dat is huichelarij:

"As the ability to segregate audiences by age, sex, class, or geography shrinks, we have arrived at a global capitalist economy that, despite all our tsk-tsking, finds sex exceedingly marketable and in which children and teens serve as both sexual commodities (JonBenet Ramsey, Thai child prostitutes) and consumers of sexual commodities (Barbie dolls, Britney Spears)."(4)

"Yet there is reason for concern about the world of unfiltered, unfettered sexual knowledge that is particular to the past several decades: pictures and words have attained unprecedented cultural influence in our time. Our marketplace produces few actual widgets; we make almost nothing but digitized ideas and the media to distribute them."(4-5)

"In young children, we regard curiosity as a virtue, and by the mid-twentieth century curiosity about body parts and the making of babies was considered normal and nice. In fact, curiosity is a reassuring explanation of what otherwise might look like the quest for bodily pleasure."(7)

"Our crudest and oldest fear about letting out too much sexual information is that it will lead kids to "try this at home" as soon as they are able—a sort of user's manual or propaganda, a model of sexual knowledge."(8)

"But learning about a sex act doesn't toggle the desire switch to "on" or the body switch to "go." Rather, one reacts to an image or idea according to her own experiences and all the scripts she's learned. For a child, those experiences might include an incident of incest, a thrilling experience of mutual masturbation with another child, a course in good touch and bad touch, or a joke heard on the playground. The relationship between learning about sex and doing sex is "more like the world weather system than a chemical reaction," University of Hawaii early childhood educator Joseph Tobin told me. "It's a chaos model we need: one cause can have various effects or different effects than we expected."
Still, the dark suspicion of a direct link between knowing and doing created from the start a conundrum that has endured for sex educators: how to inform youth about the facts of sex without inflaming their lust."(8-9)

"Evidence of the harm of exposure to sexually explicit images or words in childhood is inconclusive, even nonexistent."(12)

Dat wordt volkomen genegeerd, die schade wordt gewoon voor waar aangenomen, en dus komen er toch allerlei wetten die informatie willen beperken.

"By the time the Meese commission sat, the presumed harm to minors of dirty pictures, and thus the good of keeping such pictures from them, was even more "evident." The Right was in ascendancy, and a rump caucus of feminists had singled out pornography not only as the cause of sexual violence to women but as a species of sexual violence in itself. The commission was chaired by conservative attorney general Edwin Meese and stacked with fundamentalist preachers, Republican prosecutors, vice cops, and antiporn activists. And while the lion's share of the testimony it heard concerned adult materials and consumers (and found no solid evidence of harm), the commission pitched its pro-restriction recommendations to popular fears about children: "For children to be taught by these materials that sex is public, that sex is commercial, and that sex can be divorced from any degree of affection, love, commitment, or marriage," the report read, "is for us the wrong message at the wrong time.""(13)

"Critics suspect that the Right's true agenda is a radically conservative one: to scrub the public space clean of sexuality entirely. Artists and civil libertarians have resisted, but what was once controversial has become commonsensical. By the 1990s, commercial media all posted "harmful to minors" warnings before programs containing sexual language or images, and—a practice unheard of even a decade before and still considered ludicrous in Europe—American public art spaces routinely post similar advisories that an exhibition might be "inappropriate" for children. Many such exhibits display nothing more than paintings or sculptures of nudes. And, as we will see in the next chapter, the most sacrosanct subject of all is the representation of children's own bodies." (13-14)

"It is hard to say what children are "taught" by porn or any other sexual imagery or by words they encounter in the media. However, as testimony before the Lockhart commission suggested, many sexologists suspect that sexual information gleaned before a person can understand it either bores or escapes or possibly disgusts him or her but doesn't hurt."(17)

"Given the gradual and idiosyncratic nature of children's maturation and learning, the timing mechanism of sex education probably resembles a sundial more than the IBM Olympic stopwatch. Yet timing, or "age-appropriateness," is usually represented as a determination of high sensitivity, with miscalculations carrying grave, possibly irreversible, consequences."(18)

(20) 2. Manhunt - The Pedophile Panic

Het etiket 'pedofiel' wordt te pas en te onpas gebruikt voor gedrag dat mensen niet begrijpen. De invulling is negatief: associatie is er met gewelddadig, seksuele dwang, zieke behoeften, ontvoering en moord, zijn georganiseerd in netwerken, etc.

"Even if a child survives a liaison with a pedophile, we believe, he will inevitably suffer great harm."(23)

"The problem with all this information about pedophiles is that most of it is not true or is so qualified as to be useless as generalization. First of all, the streets and computer chat rooms are not crawling with child molesters, kidnappers, and murderers. According to police files, 95 percent of allegedly abducted children turn out to be "runaways and throwaways" from home or kids snatched by one of their own parents in divorce custody disputes. Studies commissioned under the Missing Children's Assistance Act of 1984 estimate that between 52 and 158 children will be abducted and murdered by nonfamily members each year."(24)

"Molestations, abductions, and murders of children by strangers are rare. And, say the FBI and social scientists, such crimes are not on the rise. Some researchers even believe that some forms of molestation, such as exhibitionism, might be declining."(24-25)

"Pedophiles are not generally violent, unless you are using the term sexual violence against children in a moral, rather than a literal, way. Its perpetrators very rarely use force or cause physical injury in a youngster. In fact, what most pedophiles do with children could not be further from Charles Jaynes's alleged necrophilic abominations. Bringing themselves down to the maturity level of children rather than trying to drag the child up toward an adult level, many men who engage in sex with children tend toward kissing, mutual masturbation, or "hands-off" encounters such as voyeurism and exhibitionism.
Indeed, say some psychologists, there may be no such thing as a "typical" pedophile, if there is such a thing as a pedophile at all."(25)

"In other words, there may be nothing fundamental about a person that makes him a "pedophile." So-called pedophiles do not have some genetic, or incurable, disease. Men who desire children can change their behavior to conform with the norms of a society that reviles it. Pedophilia can be renounced; in the medical language we now use to describe this sexual proclivity, it can be "cured." Indeed, contrary to politicians' claims, the recidivism rates of child sex offenders are among the lowest in the criminal population. Analyses of thousands of subjects in hundreds of studies in the United States and Canada have found that about 13 percent of sex offenders are rearrested, compared with 74 percent of all prisoners. With treatment, the numbers are even better."(26)

"All this rational talk may mean nothing to a parent. Nine in fortyfive million children are raped and murdered: slim odds, sure, but if it happens to your baby, who cares about the statistics? Still, most parents manage to put irrational fears in perspective. Why, in spite of all information to the contrary, do Americans insist on believing that pedophiles are a major peril to their children? What do people fear so formidably?
Our culture fears the pedophile, say some social critics, not because he is a deviant, but because he is ordinary."(26)

"Research confirms what is intuitively clear: that the worst devastation is wrought not by sex per se but by the betrayal of the child's fundamental trust. And the closer the relation, the more forced or intimate the sex acts, and the longer and later in a child's life they persist, the more hurtful is the immediate trauma and longer-lasting the harm of incest. Incest is a qualitatively different experience from sex with a nonfamily adult; almost inevitably, the former is a lot worse."(28)

Over de slechte rol van de media die 'feiten' en cijfers opvoeren die helemaal niet kloppen en alleen maar voortkomen uit sensatiezucht i.e. de behoefte aan een verhoging van de verkoopcijfers. De gevolgen waren al in de 19e eeuw allerlei 'moral campaigns' en beperkende maatregelen zoals bijvoorbeeld het verhogen van de 'age of consent' van 13 naar 16 en nog hoger, het verbod op homoseksualiteit, en meer.

"During the 1960s and 1970s, sex panic gave way to sexual liberation, including, for a brief moment, the notion that children had a right to sexual expression. "Sex is a natural appetite," wrote Heidi Handman and Peter Brennan in 1974, in Sex Handbook: Information and Help for Minors. "If you're old enough to want to have sex, you're old enough to have it." But as women's and children's sexual options were proclaimed, their experiences of coercion were also thrown into relief. Feminists started speaking out against sexual violence under the cloak of family and romantic intimacy; suspicion grew that child sexual abuse was epidemic."(32)

"The new political-therapeutic alliance unearthed the same old nemesis to children's sexual innocence and safety. But, in the age of media, the old white slaver-child molester wore a modern hat. Now, besides kidnapping and ravishing children, he was taking their pictures and selling them for profit. The pedophile had taken up a sideline as a pornographer."(32)

"Debbie Nathan and Michael Snedeker argued in Satan's Silence that the day-care abuse scares tapped popular anxieties about women working outside the home and leaving their children with others. But these fears were given shape and heft by a certain world view, which was attached to a certain political agenda. It was that of the religious Right (who believed that Satan literally walked the earth), with the cautious endorsement of feminist sexual conservatives—the same bedfellows who would lie down together in the 1986 Meese commission.
As anthropologist Carole S. Vance pointed out, the Meese commission was not inclined to recommend any policies that feminists would champion, such as aid to women who wanted to leave abusive men or legal protections of sex workers from violence and economic exploitation. Rather, it erected a broad federal network to chase and prosecute symbolic assaults on its own ideas of morality, that is, on smut peddlers. But its offensive against adult pornography failed to generate heartfelt support in the heartland. Several municipal antipornography ordinances crafted by its prime feminist confederates, Catharine McKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, had already fallen to constitutional challenge."(35)

Dus gingen ze nu over op de strijd tegen kinderporno.

"In spite of proud FBI claims, many lawyers and journalists, including me, suspect that the child pornographer is the same penny-ante presence online as he was in Times Square. Bruce Selcraig, a government investigator of child pornography during the 1980s who went online in 1996 as a journalist to review the situation, concluded the same. In the cyberspeech debate, he said, the dissemination of child porn amounted to "a tuna-sized red herring."
Aficionados and vice cops concede that practically all the sexually explicit images of children circulating cybernetically are the same stack of yellowing pages found at the back of those X-rated shops, only digitized. These pictures tend to be twenty to fifty years old, made overseas, badly re-reproduced, and for the most part pretty chaste."(36)

"But another logical answer to the almost exclusive use of stings to arrest would-be criminals is that the government, frustrated with the paucity of the crime they claim is epidemic and around which huge networks of enforcement operations have been built, have to stir the action to justify their jobs.
The same logic can explain why the volume of anti-child-porn legislation has increased annually. From a relatively simple criminalization of production and distribution, the law eventually went after possession and then even viewing of child-erotic images at somebody else's house. It raised the age of a "child" from sixteen to eighteen and defined as pornography pictures in which the subject is neither naked, nor doing anything sexual, nor, under the 1996 Child Pornography Prevention Act, is even an actual child. Legislation that was first justified as a protection of real children has evolved to statutes criminalizing the depiction of any person engaged in sexual activity who is intended to look like a minor."(37-38)

"Such bills have almost invariably been sponsored by conservative Republicans with support from right-wing and fundamentalist Christian organizations and antipornography feminists. And even while some legislators privately express doubts that they protect children, these proposals are unstoppable."(38)

"Meanwhile, local authorities have dived enthusiastically into the broadening legal definitions of smut, with the result that more and more citizens are finding themselves entangled with the law for making and keeping truly innocent images."(41)

"Civil libertarians have called these laws unconstitutionally vague: a reasonable person can't know in advance if he is breaking them. They've diverted millions of taxpayer dollars from real child welfare and created an atmosphere of puritanical surveillance over all U.S. citizens in the dubious name of catching a small number of people who, if left alone, might do nothing more harmful to minors than sit around and masturbate to pictures of ten-year-olds in bathing suits."(41-42)

"Following Kansas's lead in 1994, "sexually violent predator" laws spread across the states, which allowed the indefinite incarceration in psychiatric facilities of sex criminals who had completed prison sentences but were deemed likely to commit another crime. To qualify as a sexually violent predator, the convict had to manifest a "mental abnormality" or "personality disorder," diagnoses about as exact as "a real fruitcake" and as common as compulsive eating. They were also remarkably reminiscent of the "uncontrollable desires" of the 1950s."(42)

"Trying to fortify the nuclear family by fomenting suspicion of strangers fractures the community of adults and children; it can leave children defenseless in abusive homes. Projecting sexual menace onto a cardboard monster and pouring money and energy into vanquishing him distract adults from teaching children the subtle skills of loving with both trust and discrimination. Ultimately, children are rendered more vulnerable both at home and in the world."(44)

(45) 3. Therapy "Children Who Molest" and the Tyranny of the Normal

"Tony was to become one case in a new "epidemic," the "sexualization" of children; a new class of patient, "children with sexual behavior problems"; and a new category of sexual criminal perpetrator, "children who molest." Although some youngsters, particularly teen boys, do commit real sexual intrusions, even rape of other kids, "children who molest" are of another order. As young as two, they are diagnosed and treated, and sometimes prosecuted, for "inappropriate" behaviors like fondling, putting things inside genitals, or even flashing, mooning, or masturbating "compulsively." From the anecdotes I have gathered since reporting on Tony, it appears that sex play between siblings is considered the gravest, though ironically the commonest, species of a grave and not uncommon problem.(...) So, with little supportive evidence, a new group of self-styled experts has persuaded the child-protective systems that "sex-offense-specific" therapy is necessary for any minor with a "sexual behavior problem.""(46)

"What Tony's story represents is the gradual pathologizing of normative children's sexuality, that is, behavior that most kids do. This has consequence not just for the behavior deemed "deviant" but for all children's sexual behavior. Each time a new category of sexual deviance is identified—or, you might say, invented—the entire scale of so-called normal behavior is calibrated a few notches to the right. Professionals' and laypeople's idea of what is okay for children, teens, or families slides in a more conservative, more frightened, and more prohibitive direction, away from tolerance, humor, and trust."(48)

"These school policies do not fall far outside the norm. The principals were acting inside a growing consensus: that physical demonstrations of affection between children are "sex" and that sex between children is always traumatic."(49)

"I asked Barbara Bonner, who ran the largest component, in Oklahoma City, of the five-year study funded by the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, to explain the rationale for calling behavior inappropriate and harmful if it doesn't worry the child (or her parents). In short, why label a child a victim if she doesn't feel victimized?
Bonner, a helpful and well-meaning woman, thought a while. "I don't know if it's the degree of pleasantness or unpleasantness that ought to be the guideline that determines whether it is appropriate or not," she said at length. "The victim should be defined by somebody other than the child."
Why? "Well, if a kid is eating chocolate all day long, we stop them, whether they like it or not."
But eating chocolate all day is demonstrably harmful, I pressed. It gives them cavities and it has caffeine in it, which hypes them up and stunts their growth. Is unhurtful sex harmful?
Bonner laughed amicably at the chocolate analogy. Finally, she said: "As hopefully knowledgeable people, and as a society, we recommend what we consider to be appropriate and in the best interest of children." In "the best interests of the child," the program's Sexual Behavior Rules for six to eleven-year-olds included "It's not OK to touch other people's private parts" and "It's not OK to show your private parts to other people"—acts that might be considered perfectly appropriate, normal, and even salutary in many families or communities.
Bonner admitted that her team's recommendations were not based in empirical study; it would be impossible to predict or measure the harm of certain sexual experiences, because replicating them in a clinical setting would pose obvious ethical problems. But, she conjectured, too much sex too early "might [cause children to] become oversexually stimulated and prefer sexual behavior to sports, dance, or other more appropriate activities. They might become promiscuous as adults." On the other hand, she added with midwestern frankness, "They may turn out to be normal. We don't really know. We don't have long-term outcomes."
In fact, we do have some "long-term outcomes" of childhood sex."(56-57)

"Indeed, just about everything Toni Cavanagh Johnson considers worrisome is unremarkable someplace else in the world."(58)

"These studies reveal something remarkable about values and research: a kind of Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of social science that anthropologists talk about, in which the observer's presence and viewpoint affect her description—her measurement, so to speak—of the phenomenon she's studying. Seeing should not be believing, because values affect what is shown (children know what adults want to see, or not, and therefore choose what they reveal), and values also affect what we notice. Moral judgments, conscious and unconscious, affect not only the judgment of what is considered normal but even the "scientific" assessment of what is normative."(58)

"Harm also exists on a continuum, and it can come from different sources. As we saw in the previous chapter, the trauma of youngsters' sex, with anyone, often comes not from the sex itself but from adults going bananas over it. As for "sexual behavior problems" the trauma inflicted by the "cure" may be far worse than the "disease" itself."(60)

"Over the past two centuries, the moral judges have moved from the pulpit to the clinic. As the medical historian Peter Conrad put it, "badness" has been rewritten as "illness.""(66)

"The category of childhood "sexual behavior problems," with its healers' obsessive attention to excess and its dire predictions of future misery, is a reincarnation of the eighteenthand nineteenth-century "disease" of masturbation insanity, crossed with the Progressive Era criminal designation "sexual precociousness" and the late-twentieth-century crime of sexual abuse, with a dollop of the popularly designated affliction "sex addiction" thrown in as well.
The cruel tactics deployed in disciplining deviants to the standards of normalcy are legendary in the annals of medicine. Water torture, drawing and quartering, castration, lobotomy—what went on at STEPS was like aromatherapy in comparison. Still, across America children are being harmed by being labeled as deviant, a stigma they may never live down."(66)

"There are some values that parents and professionals, clerics and politicians would agree should be instilled in children: be kind, considerate, respectful of self and others, noncoercive in sex as in all things. But "normality" is a fickle and disputed virtue, and given its potential as a confederate in therapeutic abuse and social disenfranchisement, it is overrated."(67)

(68) 4. Crimes of Passion Statutory Rape and the Denial of Female Desire

Over de door de media opgeblazen 'gevaren' van Internet.

"Age-of-consent law, which dates to the late-thirteenth-century British Statutes of Westminster, endeavors to bring safety to this danger zone by drawing a bright line between childhood and adulthood, and then by criminalizing, in statutory rape, an adult's trespass over it. The law conceives of the younger partner as categorically incompetent to say either yes or no to sex. Because she is by definition powerless both personally and legally to resist or to voluntarily relinquish her "virtue," the state, which sees its interest in guarding that virtue, resists for her."(71)

"The law encodes an enduring sexist idea—that in sexual relations there is only one desiring partner, the man. In romantic language, we call him the seducer and her the debauched, or fallen, woman; in the contemporary cross between gothic metaphor and sociobiological jargon, he is the predator and she the prey; in legalese, he is the perpetrator and she the victim. In all, one person is guilty and the other innocent. Age, especially when the partners are close in age, often serves as a stand-in for other assumptions about gender. The man is allowed to desire, but he is also suspected of being sexually predatory by masculine nature, and thus morally indictable. That he's older makes him legally indictable."(71-72)

"But statutory rape is not about sex the victim says she did not want. It is about sex she did want but which adults believe she only thought she wanted because she wasn't old enough to know she did not want it. Still, teen girls persist in expressing their own desires."(72)

[Maar iedereen doet zijn of haar uiterste best om 'aan te tonen' dat een minderjarig meisje zelf geen seks wilde hebben; ze werd gehersenspoeld, of wat ook, maar hoe dan ook was haar vrije wil uitgeschakeld op dat moment. Yeah, right ...]

"The other hierarchy of power upheld by age-of-consent law is that of age in the family. By categorically abrogating a minor's right to consent, the law grants adults purview over her sexuality. (...) The law makes a distinction between willingness to have sex and informed consent, and since a minor is statutorily "uninformed," if it can be proved that he or she and an adult partner had sex, a crime has been committed. Proceedings may be initiated by the people who are most aggrieved by the relationship: according to prosecutors, close to twothirds of reports of illicit sex with minors come to the police from parents. The law gives parents an inordinate amount of power: they can, effectively, put their daughter's boyfriend behind bars."(77)

"Unfortunately, legislators and the courts have been behaving like freaked-out moms and dads discovering a thirteen-year-old in flagrante on the living room couch. Reviving laws that reduce consensual tradeoffs of love, lust, need, and power to alleyway assaults of vicious predator upon powerless victim, public officials in the 1990s increasingly attacked complicated social problems with the blunt instrument of criminal law and then applied hysterically heavy penalties."(79)

"The laws forced people on the ground to make perverse choices among untenable options. In Orange County, California, after Governor Wilson's program went into effect, state social service agency workers surreptitiously arranged marriages between their pregnant clients, some as young as thirteen, and the adult fathers of their babies, in order to prevent prosecution that would break up intact relationships. And among their intended beneficiaries, such laws met with near-universal scorn. "Let's say [the guy] goes to jail," a teen mother in San Jose patiently explained to a reporter. "She's not going to get any support. She's going to end up on welfare.""(80)

"Whereas misbehaving boys found themselves in court for the same transgressions as adult men might commit—say, theft or assault—girls were punished more harshly than boys and for lesser, victimless infractions, especially for the crime of "precocious sexuality." This "sexualization of female deviance" has persisted into our time, wrote criminologist Meda Chesney-Lind."(81)

"Most important, as Lynn Phillips pointed out, such laws do nothing to address the needs for love and guidance, economic autonomy, respect, social status, or sexual agency that may lead some girls into such liaisons, nor do they redress the age and gender inequalities that prevent those girls from negotiating equally with their partners over safe sex, pregnancy, or money and that render them vulnerable to domestic violence and abandonment."(82)

"Many psychologists believe that adults' reactions even to certifiable sexual abuse can exacerbate the situation for the child, both in the short and in the long term."(85)

"The first answer is simple, said University of Georgia social work professor Allie Kilpatrick: Ask them. Have them describe their sexual experiences, without prelabeling them as abuse. In 1992, Kilpatrick published the results of a study based on a thirty-threepage questionnaire about childhood sexual experiences, administered to 501 women from a variety of class, racial, and educational backgrounds. Instead of employing the morally and emotionally freighted phrase sexual abuse, she asked specific questions: How old were you, how often, with whom did you have sex? Did you initiate or did the other person? What acts did you engage in ("kiss and hug," "you show genitals," "oral sex by you," etc.)? Was it pleasurable, voluntary, coerced? How did you feel later?
Kilpatrick found that 55 percent of her respondents had had some kind of sex as children (between birth and age fourteen) and 83 percent as adolescents (age fifteen to seventeen), the vast majority of it with boys and men who were not related to them. Of these, 17 percent felt the sex was abusive, and 28 percent said it was harmful. But "the majority of young people who experience some kind of sexual behavior find it pleasurable. They initiated it and didn't feel much guilt or any harmful consequences," she told me. What about age? "My research showed that difference in age mad no difference" in the women's memories of feelings during their childhood sexual experiences or in their lasting effects.
Teens often seek out sex with older people, and they do so for understandable reasons: an older person makes them feel sexy and grown up, protected and special; often the sex is better than it would be with a peer who has as little skill as they do. For some teens, a romance with an older person can feel more like salvation than victimization.(...)
Of course, there are gender differences in the experiences of early sex. The law did not invent these. Boys are used to thinking of themselves as desirers and initiators of sex and resilient players who can dust themselves off from a hard knock at love. So among boys, "self-reported negative effects" of sex in childhood are "uncommon," according to psychologists Bruce Rind and Philip Tromovitch's metanalysis of national samples of people who have had such experiences. Girls and women, on the other hand, are far more often the victims of incest and rape than boys are, and gender compounds whatever age-related power imbalances an intergenerational liaison may contain. Phillips found that girls spoke of entering such partnerships willingly and often rationally and of satisfaction with the adult status they borrowed there. Yet they also often "let their guard down with older guys," agreeing not to use a condom, to drop out of school, or cut off ties with friends and families who could have helped them after the relationship was over."(85-87)

"Irrationally, as the age of sexual initiation slowly drops, the age of consent is rising. And while "adult" sex becomes a crime for minors, it is only in the area of violent criminal activity that "children" are considered fully mature ..."(88)

"Criminal law, which must draw unambiguous lines, is not the proper place to adjudicate family conflicts over youngsters' sexuality. If such laws are to exist, however, they must do what Phillips suggests about sexual and romantic education: balance the subjective experience and the rights of young people against the responsibility and prerogative of adults to look after their best interests, to "know better." A good model of reasonable legislation is Holland's.(...)
Overall, the legal message here is that children over the age of 12 are sexual and potentially self-determining, and they remain weaker than adults, and should be protected accordingly, but not under the autonomous authority of parents."(88-89)

(90) 5. No-Sex Education From "Chastity" to "Abstinence'

"AFLA was the first federal law specifically written to fund sex education, and it is still on the books. It has not yet accomplished its ambitious goals of eradicating teen sex, teen pregnancy, and abortion in one swipe. But for a triumphal New Right recently installed in Washington, under its imperial president, Ronald Reagan, the new law was a major victory. For young people's sexual autonomy and safety, though, it was a great blow—the first of a pummeling that has not yet ceased.
Over the next two decades, large, well-funded national conservative organizations with a loyal infantry of volunteers marched through school district after school district, firing at teachers and programs that informed students about their bodies and their sexual feelings, about contraception and abortion. These attacks met with only spotty resistance. Sex ed was a political backwater to begin with; hardly anyone paid attention to it."(91)

[Links had geen specifieke cultureel-politieke agenda of visie op dat punt. Vermoedelijk voelde links zich ongemakkelijk bij het onderwerp en in de praktijk deden linkse voorstanders gewoon wat nodig en goed was. Maar er zat dus geen beweging of nationale organisatie achter die weerwoord kon geven aan de rechtse organisaties.]

"Twenty years later, the Right has all but won the sex-education wars. In 1997, the U.S. Congress committed a quarter billion dollars over five years' time to finance more education in chastity, whose name had been replaced by the less churchy, more twelve-steppish abstinence."(91)

"In a country where only one in ten schoolchildren receives more than forty hours of sex ed in any year, the regulations prohibit funded organizations from instructing kids about contraception or condoms except in terms of their failures. In a country where 90 percent of adults have sex before marriage and as many as 10 percent are gay or lesbian, the law underwrites one message and one message only: that "a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity." Nonmarital sex, educators are required to tell children, "is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects.""(92)

"Today, the embrace of abstinence appears nearly unanimous. The only thing left to debate is whether abstinence is the only thing to teach."(92)

"The idea that sex is a normative—and, heaven forfend, positive— part of adolescent life is unutterable in America's public forum."(93)

"There are two problems with this consensus. First, around the globe, most people begin to engage in sexual intercourse or its equivalent homosexual intimacies during their teen years. And second, there is no evidence that lessons in abstinence, either alone or accompanied by a fuller complement of sexuality and health information, actually hold teens off from sexual intercourse for more than a matter of months.
On the one hand, it seems obvious that American adults would preach to children not to have sex. The majority of them always have."(93)

"Abstinence education is not practical. It is ideological."(94)

"Throughout history, wrote Patricia Campbell in a historical survey of sex-education texts, "whether the tone is pompous or jazzy, the intent is always to teach [young people] the currently approved sexual behavior for their age group." And the currently approved sexual behavior for any child's age group in almost any era has been no sexual behavior at all."(94)

"In 1983, in Kendrick v. Bowen, they argued that the sex-education portion of the law was a Trojan horse smuggling the values of the Christian Right, particularly its unbending opposition to abortion, to publicschool children at public expense. AFLA, they said, was a violation of the constitutional separation of church and state."(98)

"Family planning had long been a euphemism for contraception, which was a trope for modern, conscious, technologically enhanced sexual activity. To family planners, prevention had meant the prevention of unplanned pregnancy. Now prevention was the prevention of sex, and it would be accomplished not by the Pill but by diatribe and ideology. AFLA installed sex education under the aegis of "family life." And in the ideal family, parents kept their children safe by denying their sexuality and their autonomy, and children could feel safe by accepting the limits of childhood."(100)

"In another way, however, it is senseless, and for the simplest of reasons: Comprehensive, nonabstinence sex education works. And abstinence education does not. In many European countries, where teens have as much sex as in America, sex ed starts in the earliest grades. It is informed by a no-nonsense, even enthusiastic, attitude toward the sexual; it is explicit; and it doesn't teach abstinence. Rates of unwanted teen pregnancy, abortion, and AIDS in every Western European country are a fraction of our own; the average age of first intercourse is about the same as in the United States.
Abstinence programs, on the other hand, do not change students' attitudes for long, and they change behavior hardly a whit."(101-102)

"If it is difficult to understand the logic behind abstinence-only policy, it may be instructive to know that its proponents were proudly unswayed by logic."(102)

"Of course, like the young Augustine, the modern teenager isn't usually thinking that far ahead. When neither stick nor carrot does the trick (disease and death seem improbable, and future happiness vague and remote) there has to be a sweeter, more immediate promise held before the students' noses. Chastity's advocates came up with a gold ring that glitters for both kids and parents: "freedom.""(107)

"As is common in abstinence ed, the gender-unequal burdens of sex are acknowledged, but claims to gender equality are dismissed, even denigrated—here, with the implication that feminists are fighting for pie in the sky and that "men" do best honoring their paternalistic obligation to "girls" by respecting their purity."(107)

"In the Netherlands, where celibacy is not taught, contraception is free through the national health service, and condoms are widely available in vending machines, "teenage pregnancy seems virtually eliminated as a health and social problem," according to Dr. Simone Buitendijk of the Dutch Institute for Applied Scientific Research. Fewer than 1 percent of Dutch fifteento seventeen-year-olds become pregnant each year. "The pragmatic European approach to teenage sexual activity, expressed in the form of widespread provision of confidential and accessible contraceptive services to adolescents, is ... a central factor in explaining the more rapid declines in teenage childbearing in northern and western European countries, in contrast to slower decreases in the United States," commented the authors of another, cross-national Guttmacher study."(112)

"In a recent analysis of the massive National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, Columbia University sociologist Peter Bearman looked at the success of "chastity pledges." The pledges, usually taken publicly as part of a Christian fundamentalist virginity movement, have indeed given several million teens the personal gumption and peer support to postpone intercourse—on average, eighteen months longer than nonpledgers. But in the end, such pledges are counterproductive to developing habits of lifetime sexual responsibility. When they broke the promise, as almost all did, these fallen angels were less effective contraceptors than their peers who had become active earlier."(113)

"The Right won, but the mainstream let it. Comprehensive sex educators had the upper hand in the 1970s, and starting in the 1980s, they allowed their enemies to seize more and more territory, until the Right controlled the law, the language, and the cultural consensus. Sad as the comprehensive sex educators' story is, they must share some of the blame for what the abstinence-only movement has wrought in the lives of the young. Commenting on its failure to defend explicit sexuality education during an avalanche of new HIV infection among teenagers, Sharon Thompson said, "We will look back at this time and indict the sex-education community as criminal. It's like being in a nuclear power plant that has a leak, and not telling anybody.""(116)

(117) 6. Compulsory Motherhood The End of Abortion

"Abstinence education is the good cop of conservative "family replanning," by which human relations are restored to what the Right views as a "traditional" structure (Dad on top, Mom next, kids below that) and sex to its "traditional" function, procreation. But if a teen cannot be persuaded to tarry in celibate, parent-controlled childhood and insists on being both young and sexual, the Right has a bad cop. Its job is to barricade the option of abortion. This imposes a sentence of immediate and irrevocable adulthood on any "child" who crosses the sexual line and makes a mistake. Compulsory motherhood can be effected in two ways, legally and culturally."(117)

"When they aren't walking the statehouse halls, anti-abortion activists are on the pavements, outside the clinics, shouting and praying. Their protests are not always lawful. From 1993 to 1997, the Justice Department recorded more than fifty bombings and arson attacks at abortion clinics, and from 1993 to 1999, seven people, including clinic workers and doctors, were killed by anti-abortion terrorism.
Still, considering the amount of clamor it raised, the antichoice movement has achieved a monumental, and paradoxical, triumph in the decades after Roe: it has wrought a near-total public silence on the subject of abortion in the discourse of teen sex."(118)

""Abortion on demand and without apology," a feminist demand before Roe, is as rare in 1999 as it was in 1959. What this means for unmarried teens is that unwanted pregnancy has regained its age-old resonance of sin and doom, and motherhood again has come to feel like the near-inevitable price of sexual pleasure."(119)

"By the 1990s, the pro-choice lawyers were still in court, the doctors were taking the bullets. But few advocates of choice seemed willing to defend the ethical position for abortion itself—as complex as any serious ethical position—that women's right to terminate a pregnancy is a moral good. Few argued that women's right to control fertility, the biological handicap of the female sex, amounts to full existential equality with men; and that the use of one's body against one's will amounts to nothing less than slavery. The only moral argument for choice was made on children's behalf: that wanted children fare better in the world, which is already overpopulated with hungry, neglected, and abused kids."(120)

"But the idea that abortion is inevitably awful has taken hold, particularly among teenage girls."(121)

"Young men are also affected by anti-abortion propaganda, which may reinforce the masculine pride of paternity and their belief in paternal privilege, whether or not they want to be active fathers. A significant minority of Canadian and American young men—about a third—told researchers that they believed a father should have a legal prerogative to prevent a partner from having an abortion."(122)

"By the late 1990s, there were no abortion providers in nearly a third of the nation's metropolitan areas and in 85 percent of American counties, according to NARAL.(...) And while young women's right and ability to get an abortion declined steadily, their parents' prerogative to stop them increased. As of 1999, parental notification or consent laws were in effect in forty states."(124)

"In the summer of 1998, legislation was introduced in Congress making it a federal crime to take a minor across state lines, from a parental-consent state to one without that regulation, to get an abortion."(125)

"Without abortion, the narrative of teenage desire is strangely, and artificially, unmoored from modern social reality. Instead of sound policy, the anti-abortion movement has rewritten a premodern parable, in which fate tumbles to worse fate, sin is chastised, and sex is the ruination of mother, child, and society. Gone is premeditation in sex; gone too the role of technology, of safe contraception or "planned parenthood." Gone far away is the relief, even joy, of ending an unwanted pregnancy and women's newfound power to decide what they want to do with their bodies and their lives and when they want to do it."(126)

(127) 7. The Expurgation of Pleasure

"In 1989, reviewing the definitions of healthy teenage sexuality that she had collected from hundreds of professionals over the years, the veteran progressive sex educator Peggy Brick noticed "a profound gap in adult thinking about adolescent sexuality. Several concepts central to human sexuality [were] missing," she said, "notably pleasure, sexual satisfaction and gratification, and orgasm. Even adults who discount the usefulness of 'just say no' are unlikely to advocate good sex for teens.""(127)

"Nothing much has changed in a decade. While desire swirls around teens in every aspect of the popular culture and social life, in the public school curricula it is still a "hidden" discourse. But this hiding, paradoxically, makes desire very much the subject of sex education. Any half-awake student knows what to infer from all those lessons about chlamydia and early fatherhood: desire and pleasure are dangerous and teens must learn how to keep them resolutely at bay."(128)

"The deletions create a bizarrely disjoint sense of sexuality's relationship to the body. A student might know what ejaculation is and be able to catalogue the sexually transmitted bugs that can lurk in semen but never have discussed orgasm in class. She may come away expert in the workings of the vas deferens, yet ignorant of the clitoris.
Curiously, while most curricula overlook desire or pleasure as a reason to have sex, and while the physical signs of desire are rarely addressed, all classes supply students with a repertoire of "refusal skills" and "delaying tactics" to combat the urge, along with plenty of time to rehearse them in structured role playing."(129)

Allerlei manieren om elkaar of jezelf seksueel plezier te bezorgen worden niet besproken, dood gezwegen, afgekeurd. Het enige dat in feite overblijft is 'gemeenschap hebben'.

"Even progressive educators can unwittingly find themselves endorsing intercourse as the sex act."(131)

"In representing intercourse as the ultimate—and, by implication, uniquely "normal"—sexual experience, educators do more than increase the odds their students will have mediocre sex until they stumble upon some other source of erotic enlightenment. Consciously or not, they also communicate the assumptions that sex is primarily heterosexual and reproductive and, above all, that it is always perilous."(132)

"Sexual experience, in kind, frequency, and age of engagement, differs according to a youngster's race and class, as well as her gender and whether she lives in the city or the country. But it can be generally said that fear of AIDS is increasing the incidence of nonpenetrative sexual practices among teens and preteens. By the preteen years, most children have started pursuing eroticized romances. In 1997, a quarter of fourteen-year-old boys said they had touched a girl's vulva, and 85 percent of teenagers had kissed somebody romantically. Almost a third of high schoolers in one California study had masturbated someone else, and a quarter to a half engaged in heterosexual fellatio or cunnilingus. Although they admit to a dearth of statistical data, some social scientists believe that journalists are overestimating the amount of oral sex among teens, especially young teens."(133)

"Research on the quality of youths' sexual experience is virtually nonexistent. Getting funding to ask adults about their sexual attitudes or behavior is hard enough; asking minors the same questions is nigh on illegal. Congress has repeatedly blocked surveys of young people that mention oral sex. 13 Imagine what it would be to apply to the National Institutes of Health to find out about sixteen-yearolds' fantasies, their desires, their arousal or orgasm? That, in the eyes of many influential Congress members, would border on sexual abuse."(134)

"Of at least one phenomenon we have plenty of evidence: kids are having sex they don't want, and the ones who say they don't want it tend to be girls. In the late 1980s, the prominent sex educator Marian Howard announced that the greatest wish expressed by the eighth-grade girls entering her Atlanta sexuality-ed program was to learn how to say no without hurting a boy's feelings. In the two decades that have followed, study after study has been released demonstrating that girls are having sex they don't want, that girls who feel good about themselves don't have sex, and that girls who have had sex don't feel good about themselves. In the mid-1990s, it was reported that one in four teenage girls said she'd been abused or forced to have sex on a date."(134-135)

"If nothing else, the blank spaces in these data remind us that most pencil-and-paper tests reveal only the slimmest minimum about sexuality. As for informing us about desire or pleasure, that shrug of Deb Rakowsky's student may be as eloquent as all the statistics we have."(137)

"All the while, from the political right to the left, adults call child sexuality normal. What's abnormal, or unhealthful, is acting on it. In "responsible" circles, it is nearly verboten to suggest that youthful sex can be benign—and heretical to call it a good thing."(137)

"In the end, there is something giddily Utopian in thinking about sexual pleasure when danger and fear loom. But idealism is just the start. How can we be both realistic and idealistic about sex? With toddlers, children, or adolescents, how can we be protective but not intrusive, instructive but not preachy, serious but not grim, playful but not frivolous? Part II will suggest some ways of rethinking our approaches to kids' sexuality and offer some examples of sensible practice by educators, parents, and friends of youth, practice that is based on a simple belief: erotic pleasure is a gift and can be a positive joy to people at every age."(138)

(139) Part II Sense and Sexuality

(141) 8. The Facts . . . and Truthful Fictions

"For Freud, childhood sexuality was a relentless quest for intelligence. The desire for information didn't supplant the desire for physical pleasure; it complemented it. From the very start sexuality seeks language to explain itself, the child psychologist Adam Phillips said, explicating Freud, and the experiences of the body inspire more words, more "theories" and "stories."
In a censorial era, Freud endorsed providing children with that language—with information about their body parts and processes, about how babies are made and born. His heirs, the Progressive Era "sex instructors," set out to rescue kids from the ignorance and negligence imposed by Victorianism, mostly in the form of parental reticence, and things more or less opened up as the twentieth century wore on.
Now, as the twenty-first century dawns, as AIDS still threatens and kids need information most, the tide has turned toward telling them less. A strategy of censorship has arrived disguised as counsel to parents to speak more, to embrace their role as children's primary sexual teachers. Here is a "family value" the mainstream sex-ed establishment can get behind, something no one, least of all their conservative antagonists, can disagree with. But a seemingly harmless, parent-friendly idea is likely to have a less than child-friendly effect. I can't help suspecting that the adversaries of school-based sexuality education have been gleefully aware of what would happen if the task of sexual enlightenment were relegated entirely to families: almost nobody would do it."(141-142)

"While teens tell people carrying clipboards that they wish their parents would discuss sexuality more, I believe that given the choice, they'd rather talk to the aunties. Chalk it up to the incest taboo: children don't want to know about their parents' sex lives and, from the moment they might conceivably have a sex life, they usually don't want Mom and Dad to know about theirs. This is why "sex instruction" was invented a hundred years ago. Sex-ed teachers are the aunties, professionalized."(143)

"Some teen girls' magazines offer straightforward contraceptive and sexualhealth information, but their messages of autonomy and bodyacceptance are marred by self-esteem-busting photos of skinny models, features about dieting, and a general editorial bent toward boy-craziness. Editors are also constrained by threats of ad boycotts from religious conservative organizations; such a boycott was the coup de grace that put Savvy under. For boys—who, publishing wisdom holds, do not read about relationships or themselves—there's almost nothing on the newsstands."(143)

(155) 9. What Is Wanting? Gender, Equality, and Desire

"For the vast majority of young people, social survival is a matter of conformity. And one of the safest survival strategies is to toe the line of gender, assiduously acting the part assigned to the body you're in and steering clear of people who don't."(155)

"Girls must appear amenable to sex but not too amenable. If a girl is standoffish or proud, she is a "bitch." But if she talks too dirty or behaves too lasciviously, she's a "slut" or a "ho." A boy who does the latter is admired as a "player." If he does the latter toward girls, that is. Because if a boy is shy or insufficiently enthusiastic about, say, discussing the size of a classmate's breasts, he can find himself ostracized as a "faggot." Masculinity is policed chiefly by boys against other boys, and homophobia is its billy club. "Anything that is feminine, boys learn to reject— sensitivity, empathy, vulnerability," said Deborah Rakowsky, a guidance counselor in a suburban middle school."(155-156)

"None of this is good for kids—or for sex. For while young people are doing their damnedest to avoid rocking the boat of gender, there's evidence that gender is sinking the ship, with girls and boys clinging to the gunwales as it goes down. Interestingly, it's not just gendered behavior (what cultural theories call the performance of gender) but even gendered thought that narrows the sexual experience, to individuals' detriment. Research shows that strong belief in the ideologies of masculinity and femininity makes for bad and unsafe sexual relations."(157)

"Extreme masculine identity, including the sort that is socially rewarded, has also been linked with violence. In 1986, the FBI found that college football and basketball players, the masculine elite, were reported to the police for sexual assault 38 percent more often than the average male student. Members of prestigious fraternities were also disproportionately involved in sexual violence against women."(157)

"The more concerned a girl is with looking pretty and behaving tractably, the more likely she is to bend to peer pressure from older guys, to have sex while high on drugs, and to take sexual risks such as unprotected intercourse. The "rejection of conventional feminine ideology," on the other hand, "is associated with more agency," said Tolman. The less "girly" a girl is, the more she'll take hold of her own sexual destiny, having sex when, with whom, and in what ways she wants."(158)

"Desire is probably the least studied, least understood aspect of sexuality. Where does it come from, how is it sustained, how does it affect sexual response or satisfaction? These questions have largely escaped the inquiry of sexologists, whose main, dubious contribution to the subject in recent decades has been to delineate two modern disorders relating to desire's quantity: "insufficient sexual desire" and "sex addiction" (the former looks a lot like "frigidity," the latter like "nymphomania," though unlike their predecessors these modern versions are said to afflict men as well as women). "Too much" or "too little" according to whom, for what purpose, and compared with what? Sex researchers and clinicians rarely consider the social, historical, and political complexity of these questions."(158)

"Thompson tells educators to take advantage of the feminine culture of "girltalk," the intense, minutely detailed, and endless conversations among girls about love and romance—but rarely, specifically, about sex. "Girls will spend hours and hours discussing what everyone wore," she said, "but does anyone ever ask, 'And did your vagina get wet?'"(161)

(178) 10. Good Touch A Sensual Education

"Touch is good for children and other living things, and deprivation of touch is not. (...) Human infants who are not held "fail to thrive," and if they survive, they may become social misfits."(178)

"Loving touch seems to promote not only individual health but social harmony as well. Tiffany Field, the director of the Touch Research Institute at Miami University's medical school, compared children on the playgrounds in Florida with those in Paris and found that adult touch from parents, teachers, and babysitters was correlated with peaceful and cooperative play among the children."(179)

"Anthropologists concur that America is an exceedingly "low-touch," high-violence culture. But America's diversity, mobility, and high immigration probably belie any biological relationship between the first characteristic and the second. A more likely interpretation of these facts and Prescott's other findings is social. A culture that lavishes gentle attention on its young also may encourage tolerance of the vulnerable and discourage physical power-mongering. People brought up to be aggressive and suspicious of intrusions against their own body's "boundaries," on the other hand, will be more self-protective and territorial and thus more belligerent, both socially and sexually."(179)

"In other words, human touch acquires meaning in a culture, and primary among those meanings is whether or not a given touch, response, or even body part is sexual. Before a Western child has been "civilized," the penis, clitoris, vagina, or anus may be sources of pleasant feelings, like the knees or back, or interesting orifices into which to poke things, like the mouth or ears—not secret or thrilling "sexual" parts. Even claimed evidence of the biological "naturalness" of child sexuality is surreptitiously meaning-laden."(179-180)

"Recent fierce contests over sexuality can be read as disputes over the meanings of touch—more precisely, over whether certain touches between certain people are sexual and, if they are sexual, whether they are "inappropriate" and therefore "harmful." Will intergenerational bathing or nude swimming, or sleeping in a "family bed" when a child is small, harmfully stimulate a child sexually? The scant available data on these practices generally say no: in fact, such relaxed family touch and sight are usually found to be benign or even propitious to later sexual adjustment. Yet, in these conservative times, many popular advice columnists counsel parents against them, just in case."(180)

"More pernicious, adults begin to suspect themselves of deviance when they enjoy the touch of a child's body.'(180)

"Not only parents but teachers too have been terrorized about touching by the child-abuse hysteria of the 1980s and 1990s that began with false allegations of abuse by teachers at the McMartin Preschool in Bakersfield, California."(181)

"This chapter advocates a "sensual education" for children at home and at school. An education in the body's physical responses can and should be mostly autodidactic, but adults play a crucial role. That role consists of two parts. The first, active, part is to touch children lovingly, though never intrusively, throughout their childhoods, including adolescence, and to transmit in word and deed the messages that pleasure is a good thing but that touching others must be done with their consent. The second, perhaps more difficult job involves restraint—stepping back and "making a place" for children's autonomous sensual and sexual pleasure. In that space, children of all ages may engage in masturbation without shame and consensual child-with-child sexual touching without adult interference. As they get older and their sexuality becomes more purposeful, genitally focused, and orgasm-directed, they may explore "outercourse," the techniques of nonpenetrative sexual pleasuring with one another, and finally engage in protected penetrative sex. Information on the pleasurable parts and practices of the body should be freely available but not forced on any child."(183)

"Western culture despises masturbation. This goes without saying."(183)

"In adults, masturbation is derogated as the default practice of the immature, undesirable, and desperate. In children, it represents everything grown-ups envy and dislike about the young: their dreaminess, hedonism, fidgetiness, solipsism, secrets, and endless excretion of slimy body fluids. As sex, it is disreputable. Not quite homosexual but even less heterosexual, masturbation is extramarital, nonfamilial, nonprocreative, meaningless, and eminently casual. And it is antisocial."(184)

"Still, these facts present a problem for teachers: Perhaps more than parents, they witness children's sex play. What, if anything, should they do? Turning a blind eye to the behavior, as the Martins did, could get a nursery or elementary school teacher in trouble. Calling too much attention to it could embarrass a child and get the educator in trouble. The play need not even involve explicitly sexual touch to pose a dilemma."(187)

"In other words, schools teach plenty of lessons about the body but they are mostly disciplinary, scary, or intellectual ones. "There's lots of talk about sex in preschool, mostly about dangerous sex and where babies come from. There may even be anatomically correct dolls" or a mother doll that gives birth to a baby doll, said Hawaii's Joseph Tobin. "Schools are not exactly prudish in that way. What's missing—and this is where the left and right wing come together— is pleasure.""(191)

"It's no mean task to socialize sexuality without prohibiting it, to condone and even celebrate a child's appetites without intrusively participating in their gratification. A way of balancing these imperatives, rarely mentioned, is to do nothing. In fact, much of sex education implicitly, if unwittingly, rejects the child's right to be left alone.(193)

"Sex therapists use the term outercourse for the infinite collection of acts that can be done with the body to create sensual and sexual pleasure but that do not include penetration. But outercourse doesn't even have to include two bodies touching. Writing a letter or having phone sex can be outercourse, and so is masturbation. Most important, as Marty Klein and Riki Robbins point out in Let Me Count the Ways: Discovering Great Sex without Intercourse, outercourse is a different way of thinking about sex. Although much of it might look like what we call foreplay, it's not a preparation for the Main Event. Indeed, it does not even assume that intercourse is going to happen. Without a prescribed beginning, middle, or end, write Klein and Robbins, "ultimately, outercourse is the vehicle for humans writing a new sexual narrative."(...)
If young lovers get used to nonpenetrative pleasures as "normal" sex from the start, they may avoid much of the sexual misery that afflicts so many American adults.(195)

"Finally, a happy paradox: While outercourse eliminates the forced march toward intercourse, it increases the probability of orgasm for women. Many women, and most teenage girls, don't get enough touching, kissing, or time to feel ready for intercourse, much less have an orgasm that way. And then, once it's "over" (that is, the guy comes), they've missed their chance. Because of the physical arrangement of the female sex organs, intercourse isn't usually the most effective way to climax anyhow. As for boys and men, although they are "supposed" to enjoy intercourse more than anything else, many like to orgasm in other ways too. Changing the means by which the two partners climax also can relax gender roles and abet sexual equality."(197-198)

(199) 11. Community Risk, Identity, and Love in the Age of AIDS

"Just when mass public education about transmission, condoms, and nonpenetrative forms of sex was most crucial, AIDS became the rationale for not talking about sex."(199)

"Risk, in other words, is like sex itself: it is made up of acts that are given meaning and relative gravity by social context. Without basic changes in the most encompassing of those contexts (those "structural factors" such as economic, racial, and gender inequality), the AIDS plague will not end. Stagnant social structures are the reason the relatively wealthy, middle-class, urban, gay white male populations of the United States were able to stem the spread of the disease relatively quickly in the 1980s and why today many seropositive men in those communities are living longer, healthier lives with the help of expensive drugs and medical care. It's also why the same thing has not happened among poor people of color, women, and drug addicts in America and Eastern Europe. In Africa, countries already decimated by war and famine now watch their populations stagger while international lawyers adjudicate their "rights" to buy cheaper generic versions of exorbitantly expensive AIDS drugs patented in the global North.(200-201)"

(218) Epilogue - Morality

"Perhaps we adults could use a little values clarification. Which is what, in closing, I would like to do."(219)

"But truth be told, the United States is not a child-friendly place."(219)

"We say we love our children. But, as a disgruntled boyfriend once told me, love isn't a feeling, it's an act. And America acts as if it does not love its children. The United States lags far behind other industrialized nations in many indicators of child well-being and behind some nonindustrialized ones as well. In this, the only developed nation that does not provide health care to all its citizens, 11.3 million children age eighteen and under are uninsured, and that number is growing by 3,000 a day. In part because of this health-care crisis, a fifth of American mothers get no prenatal care, which predisposes their children to many chronic health problems. Twenty industrialized nations surpass us in preventing infant mortality, according to the Children's Defense Fund, 3 and the percentage of children who die before the age of five is the same in this fabulously rich country as it is in Cuba, a desperately poor country."(219)

"Not only is child abuse related to poverty, poverty is child abuse."(220)

"I am not saying we should worry about inadequate nutrition and substandard housing instead of worrying about sex. Or even that if everyone were well fed and well housed, all the sexual troubles in the world would go away (though a lot would). Rather, I am saying that these things are connected: the way we organize our economic lives and the way we conduct our sexual lives and teach our children to conduct theirs are connected in more profound ways than the linear correlations described above. They have to do with the same basic values."(221)

"According to that same Public Agenda report, "Americans define the children's issue as predominantly moral in nature, not one of money or health." Accordingly, their chosen solutions were on the order of character building, not situation bettering. Among those cited, more government money for health care and childcare ranked eleventh out of twelve, with increased welfare spending last. Higher up the list were nighttime curfews for minors (number four) and tougher punishment for those who commit crimes (number seven)."(221)

"Money and health are moral issues, and where public policy is concerned, you put your money where your moral commitment is. That's why the only money the federal government has ever spent on sex education has been to teach chastity. And why, during more than a decade of de(218) Epilogue - Morality ath and community devastation, no U.S. president even mentioned AIDS, much less committed funds to attack it (Bill Clinton was the first)."(222)

"What values would make a world that's good for children to grow up in? Not "family values," either the orthodox religious version set forth by the Christian Coalition or the secular-consumerist one promoted by every breakfast cereal advertisement on television."(222)

""Family values" will not make the world safe for children and surely not sexually safe. For starters, most child abuse happens inside the family. And if economic security and a sense of shared responsibility by all adults for all children are among the requisites of sexual safety, "family values" endanger children at home and everywhere else."(223)

"When we are ready to invite children into the community as fully participating citizens, I believe we will also respect them as people not so different from ourselves. That will be the moment at which we respect their sexual autonomy and agency and realize that one way to help them cultivate the capacity to enjoy life is to educate their capacity for sexual joy."(224)

"Sex is not harmful to children. It is a vehicle to self-knowledge, love, healing, creativity, adventure, and intense feelings of aliveness. There are many ways even the smallest children can partake of it. Our moral obligation to the next generation is to make a world in which every child can partake safely, a world in which the needs and desires of every child—for accomplishment, connection, meaning, and pleasure—can be marvelously fulfilled."(225)

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