This essay concerns an article on the progressive news site Salon.com about the sex abuse industry, this time an interview that blogger Thomas Rogers conducts with controversial author Susan Clancy regarding her extraordinary 2009 book, The Trauma Myth. This book is perhaps as important to the cause of the pro-choice segment of the Minor Attracted Adult [MAA] community's movement as well as the youth liberation movement as any other book before it, because it dispells one of society's most fervant myths about adult interaction with youths--that such interactions are always traumatic for the young person, and will transform all such youth participants into emotionally "damaged goods" for the rest of their lives.
However, be advised that Clancy is no friend of the MAA community (very few would admit to be today) nor is she open-minded regarding youth sexuality, as are other controversial authors such as Judith Levine and Robert Epstein. She is actually quite adamant that youth/adult sexual interactions are always and intrinsically wrong and therefore should always be considered a crime, and I will respond to her statements along those lines in this analysis. However, just as Clancy made a major challenge to the once fashionable myth of "repressed memories" in a previous book, she now challenges the myth of mandatory/intrinsic trauma for "abuse" victims, and this nevertheless opens the door to a future where young people are allowed to enjoy sexual interactions with whomever they choose to be with.
Let's start by looking at some excerpts from the article and break them down:
"In a 2003 New York Times magazine profile about her, well-known trauma therapist Daniel Brown lashed out at Clancy's 'political agenda,' and Clancy's hate mail has included accusations of cheering on child molesters and even abusing children herself."
Whenever someone challenges the established orthodoxy of the sex abuse industry that allows for lucrative careers for people like Daniel Brown, even though their careers are based on treating nothing but a myth (and therefore perpetuating it), you must be a defender of "abuse" in their eyes. Despite Clancy's hysterical attitudes and even a degree of anti-male sentiment (yes, she is that type of "feminist") toward the subject, she is nevertheless a seeker of truth who may one day change her tune on other aspects of this sex abuse industry in the future, and her willingness to challenge the industry even to this limited but important extent is deserving of commendment.
Clancy: "The title [The Trauma Myth] refers to the fact that although sexual abuse is usually portrayed by professionals and the media as a traumatic experience for the victims when it happens meaning frightening, overwhelming, painful it rarely is. Most victims do not understand they are being victimized, because they are too young to understand sex, the perpetrators are almost always people they know and trust, and violence or penetration rarely occurs. 'Confusion' is the most frequently reported word when victims are asked to describe what the experience was like. Confusion is a far cry from trauma."
It's thoughtful of Clancy to point this out, but what she sails over, of course, is exactly why a youth is "victimized" if they are not traumatized by the incident. Is it possible that the "confusion" may be the result of the fact they enjoyed a mutually consensual experience while always hearing from others that such interaction constitutes "abuse"? One can indeed argue that sexual interaction with older family members can be considered abuse, since young people are in no position to say 'no' to such authority figures (but this may be a complex issue in and of itself that is not entirely black and white, and I will perhaps tackle it in a future essay). What I am talking about here is non-familial adults who do not live in the home and therefore do not have such direct and extreme authority over the young people whom they may have mututally consensual interactions with.
Clancy: "You get all these people who are keeping it a secret because they're ashamed because what happened to them is not what is portrayed in the media or psychological and medical circles."
Hmmmm...is this perhaps more indication that people are ashamed of mutually consensual experiences in their youth because this is how the various institutions of society tell them they should feel? And are they actually made to feel guilty because they were not traumatized by the experience? Once again, I am not talking about definitvely non-consensual and unwanted sexual experiences with older people that occur within the home...I am talking about those that occur with adults whom they trust who do not have direct authority over them, and especially those whom the younger person may even initiate such contact with (though I strongly recommend that both minors and adults avoid breaking these laws due to the possible consequences for both people if they are "found out"...I am fully law-abiding myself and I would never advocate breaking the law).
Clancy: "For 30 years we've been working on preventing sexual abuse. But we've skirted around what sexual abuse really is. The kids don't know what's going on, and they often enjoy it. They're not going to resist [emphasis mine]."
Of course, the fact that someone enjoys something and receives pleasure from it, and the fact that they don't resist as a result, isn't cause for Clancy (or too many other people, for that matter) to question whether we should continue to categorize something as "abuse." Instead, it's assumed that the youth in question "doesn't know what's going on," because if they did, according to the logic being presented here, they would resist. This is a case of stereotyping younger people as much as it is "abusers."
Clancy: "In the 1950s and 1960s, psychiatrists were very open and honest about sexual abuse, but there was also that tendency to think it was the child's fault. Feminists were naturally infuriated, because it's not the children's fault! But the way they got attention to it was to portray the sexual abuse in a way that would shock people. They did that by comparing it to a rape. Before that, the reaction from the medical and psych communities was, 'This is not something we really care about.' It wasn't until feminists and child-protection advocates misportrayed it that we were able to arouse massive medical and scientific attention to the topic."
No one from the MAA community has ever suggested that intergenerational sexual interactions are "the child's fault." What Clancy and the establishment cannot conceive of is the concept that it's actually possible for the youth to initiate such contact, or that it's actually possible for a younger person to desire an older person, because the prevailing "wisdom" on this subject is that kids (even those as old as 16) do not understand their sexual desires and have no conception of sexual pleasure unless such contact is foisted upon them. Further, it's an established belief on this topic that blame has to be assigned to either party when two people of disparate age groups act on a mutual desire, and the blame is always on the older person since adults are always expected to "know better." Once again, this is a case of stereotyping in both directions. Also, Clancy seems to suggest that the attempt by certain elements of society (which she identifies as "feminists" and "child-protection advocates") to bring attention to the problem of child sexual abuse by misportraying it in a way that would "shock" the public was ultimately a good thing, a case of the ends justifying the means, despite this attitude being responsible for creating a huge mess that Clancy is working to clear up.
Clancy: "Ninety-five percent of sexual abuse victims never seek treatment because of what they falsely assume and fear about sexual abuse. Many of them do not even think they were sexually abused [emphasis mine]. This is a huge problem."
Could it be that such cases are a "huge problem" because society cannot accept the idea of young people finding pleasure in sexual interactions with others, particularly older people? Now don't get me wrong...if force or coercion was used, I would expect the event to be an extremely negative one for the youth in question, and such youths would indeed be victims in a true and accurate sense of the word. And, of course, adults who are responsible for such coercion should be considered to be guilty of a crime and treated accordingly by the law. I am not saying that youths cannot be victims, because they most certainly can; anyone of any age can. I doubt a young person, or someone of any age, would experience pleasure and "feel good about" a forcible rape or a sexual interaction they capitulated to as a result of blackmail. But how the young person felt about the interaction, and the important question of whether or not it's always the adult who initiates such interactions, are important things to consider that Clancy completely shunts aside because she cannot conceive of the validity or possibility of either. And it's very telling that Clancy never goes so far as to question the fact that the bulk of real sexual abuse goes on within the home, often by parents, stepparents, grandparents, etc., even though this "open secret" and shameful condemnation of the current hierarchal nature of the prevailing family unit is readily available via FBI statistics. She never seems to consider that the legal and civil empowerment of youths, and society taking their potential, intelligence, and desires seriously may be a good antitode to the problem. But since Clancy doesn't consider young people and their desires any more worthy of consideration than the establishement she opposes on various issues, she never reaches these conclusions (at least, not at this point in her career; I am giving her a chance).
Clancy: "You have people who call me and say, 'My uncle attempted sexual penetration when I was a child, but I'm not sure if I qualify as a sexual abuse victim.' I say, 'How in God's name do you not think you're a sexual abuse victim?' It's because in most cases of sexual abuse, it was not traumatic when it happened [emphasis mine]."
As everyone in the MAA community who knows me is aware of, I am not a fan of adults engaging in full sexual penetration of pre-pubescents, even if the young person requests it, because I do not think it's a responsible thing to do for reasons of physical safety (but I am not against the mutually consensual practice of outercourse, i.e., mere "sex play," between adults and willing pre-pubescents who may initiate the contact with both peers and adults they like and trust). I do not believe that pre-pubescents are miniature adults, and I do believe that the type of sexual interaction they desire with others (peers or otherwise) are quite different in many ways from those that adolescents and adults desire to engage in, and this needs to be considered. Also, I am not someone who encourages or supports incest for a variety of reasons (which I will get into in a future essay; however, for the record, I do not believe that mutually consensual incestual activities should result in prison for any of the participants). Nevertheless, I need to point out that Clancy doesn't distinguish the age of the person she is discussing when they say they were penetrated as a "child," and some of her other statements make it clear she is one of those willfully blind people who considers adolescents under 18 to be "children" simply because they share a legal status with pre-pubescents, and her conception of them appears to be no different than her conception of pre-pubescents.
Also, Clancy makes it clear once again with her above statement that she considers all sexual interactions between adults and youths under 18 to be "abuse" regardless of the fact that the younger person wasn't traumatized or emotionally "damaged" by it in any sense. She will justify this by uttering the popular attitude, "Children can't consent." This is a cultural belief and a stereotypical attitude towards younger people that grew out of the Victorian era mindset that children are essentially asexual beings who are "tainted" by sexual experiences, and that only adults would initiate sexual activity with them, never the other way around. And in case someone accuses me of "blaming the victim," I am not assigning any blame at all on either party, regardless of who initiated it, as long as the sexual encounter was willing and pleasurable to both people who participated in it. It takes two people to tango, not just one. If someone can concede that sexual activity between people of disparate age groups where no force or coercion was involved is not only non-traumatic but even pleasurable to the younger person as well as the older person, why is it still considered "abuse"?
Rogers then makes the following observation: "It's a very fine line between what you're saying and saying that children aren't hurt by sexual abuse."
Eager not to allow him to go further in that direction, Clancy forcefully responds with: "I will never say that. I could not be more clear. This is an atrocious, disgusting crime. People have a tendency to assume I'm saying it's not a big deal or it's the child's fault."
Okay, let me try to understand Clancy's logic here. She concedes based on objective study of her own (regardless of how uncomfy the conclusions of such studies make so many people) that "most" kids (meaning, perhaps, those who weren't forced or coerced into sexual interactions with adults?) who have non-coerced sexual interactions with adults are not traumatized by it, and often actually report deriving pleasure from it, but it still hurts kids nevertheless because, as conventional wisdom tells us, kids are incapable of understanding sexuality. Hence, according to this logic, even if they aren't harmed by mutually desired contact of this nature, we must always cry foul when it happens.
As for Clancy's concern that taking a morally neutral stance on non-forced and non-coerced sexual interactions between youths and adults will result in her being accused of "blaming the child," I again respond to such a ridiculous and loaded assertion by asking, why must blame be assigned to anyone in a situation where both participants found it pleasurable?
Clancy continues: "Most people don't want to think too hard or thoroughly about these things."
Good observation, Susan. Now why don't you ponder on that statement further and take your own advice?
Thomas then further cautions Clancy: "One could argue that your claims could encourage child abusers or convince them that what they're doing isn't wrong. How do you respond to that?"
Clancy replies: " Forcefully! As I hope to have made clear in the book, sexual abuse is never OK. No matter what the circumstances are, or how it impacts the victims, sexual abuse is an atrocious, despicable crime. Just because it rarely physically or psychologically damages the child does not mean it is OK."
So in other words, according to Clancy (and our esteemed conventional wisdom that she iconoclastically opposes, albeit only to a certain extent), despite the fact that sexual interactions between adults and kids under 18 are rarely physically or psychologically damaging to youths (with those "rare" occasions perhaps being the occasions when force or coercion of some sort is used), no matter what the circumstances are (e.g., even if the youth initiates it themselves), or how it may impact the "victim" (e.g., even if the youth finds it entirely positive, pleasurable, and conducive to the enhancement of their life experience) it's always "atrocious" and "despicable," it should always be considered a crime, and it always constitutes "abuse." Is Clancy, and those who make similar pronouncments, in any way conscious of how much they sound like they are engaging in nothing more than petty moralizing here? And not to mention how they sound as if they are condemning something that she admits causes no discernable or demonstrable damage to those who participate in it willingly simply because it offends their personal sensibilities and the cultural conception of younger people that they have been indoctrinated with all of their lives? However, since Clancy is still a highly courageous woman, I am not going to go so far as to say she is taking this stance simply because she hopes that by doing so it will lessen the condemnation she is receiving from society for making the observations that she has in her book.
Clancy further ruminates: "Harmfulness is not the same thing as wrongfulness."
So, just because something doesn't cause any harm and may even be positive and pleasurable to experience that doesn't mean that it isn't wrong in some intrinsic sense. Hasn't the same things been said in the past about women enjoying sex, homosexual sex, masturbation, and the "doggie style" sexual position? I am hoping that Clancy does more thinking in the future since she has shown that she is indeed capable of it.
Clancy then goes for the gold: "And why is it wrong? Because children are incapable of consent."
Leaving aside the too commonly accepted stereotype Clancy uttered above to justify her moralizing about this topic (there is no proof that children are cognitively incapable of consent, especially not if they receive objective and comprehensive sex education early in their lives), does the fact that young people are capable of experiencing pleasure and reporting positive experiences with mutually consensual sexual interactions with adults mean absolutely nothing? Does that not make it clear that kids are fully capable of understanding sexual activity? The Rind Report made it clear in the past that even pre-pubescents are capable of something that Dr. Rind et al. referred to as simple consent, and that those who experienced interactions of this sort with both peers and adults felt, upon becoming adults, that they were capable of consenting to activity that clearly feels pleasurable to them. Once again, I am not condoning incestual advances by family members or other adults who have such a heavy degree of authority over the kids in question; I am talking about adults they trust who they may share an interest in interacting with in such a way, and who do not have such a high and direct degree of power and authority over them.
Clancy then goes yet another step further to distance herself from taking the next logical step in understanding the intricacies of sexual interactions between underagers and adults: "Children do not understand the meaning or significance of sexual behavior. Adults know this, and thus they are taking advantage of innocent children using their knowledge to manipulate children into providing sexual pleasure. Sick."
Can Clancy possibly be any less overt with her spewing of pure emotionalistic rhetoric rather than reasoned analysis of the subject? The term "sick" is often used to denote something that offends someone's sensibilities regardless of whether or not it's actually harmful in any demonstrative sense. Yet Clancy engages in it without a second thought when it comes to such a topic. According to Clancy, children (again, without even specifying her exact definition of the word) are "incapable of understanding the meaning or significance of sexual behavior." What is the meaning and significance of sexual behavior? Progressives seem to agree that sexual behavior is often done for the mutual giving and receiving of pleasure, because it's fun to engage in, because it can further a strong emotional bond and affection between two people or perhaps work to establish one that didn't already exist. Is its significance not the fact that when done with mutual respect between two people who seek to exchange pleasure with each other it can be a positive experience on one's self-esteem and personal growth? Is sexual activity not an important learning experience in life? With those observations in mind, and with Clancy's concession that sexual activity is often reported to be positive and pleasurable by young people under 18 who have engaged in it in a mutually consensual manner either with peers or with adults, is this not a strong indication that young people are every bit as capable of "getting" and understanding the meaning and significance of sexual behavior as well as anyone who is older?
Of course, according to Clancy, children are always "innocent" (she actually used the word in her above statement), which by our societal definition means inherently asexual and therefore their conceptual image and what they represent to society is "tainted" if they experience something as "dirty" and "impure" as sexual behavior. And Clancy never seems to recognize the cultural significance of such attitudes, nor does she, as a self-professed feminist, even seem to realize that such an attitude was once applied to women to deny the validity of their sexual nature and desires.
But adults, according to Clancy, always know the meaning and significance of sexual behavior which, as I mentioned up above, is about the mutual exchange of pleasure and emotional bonding between two human beings, and as such they are being "manipulative" when they engage in a mutually pleasurable activity with younger people (perhaps because they "taint" the spiritually pure cultural image of these young people) because adults who either respond to young people's advances (something Clancy seems to deny the possibility of) or initiates the advances themselves are "manipulating the kids into providing sexual pleasure," something that kids should never be engaging in (because of the "damage" this does to their cultural image, even though it does no damage in a purely physical, demonstrable sense) and the assumption being that the adult only cares about their own sexual pleasure and couldn't possibly care about the youth they are interacting with in any possible way, the latter of which is nothing more than making a huge and totally unsubstantiated assumption based on nothing more than a stereotype.
Also, I think in the future Clancy needs to talk to some gerontophiles who have passed the Magic Age, who will make it clear to her that some people under 18 are not only sexually aware--sometimes at a surprisingly early point in their lives--but have a sexual and emotional preference for significantly older people and often make the advances themselves. One thing the MAA community needs to do is gather together all of those we have met in the past who I would like to get to speak on behalf of both themselves (i.e., youth sexual rights and youth rights in general) and our community in the future. Clancy and other researchers need to hear their stories and acknowledge the reality of their existence, along with what it implies about the validity of the conception of youthful "innocence" that our society is so fond of preserving and perpetuating.
When Thomas asks Clancy why she is so opposed to the "repressed memory" concept, she responds: "Because it doesn't exist. There is not one single research study showing that people exposed to horrifying, overwhelming, painful events 'repress them' and recover them later on. Rather, people exposed to horrifying events report that they often remember them all too well [emphasis mine]. Ask any child exposed to the recent earthquake in Haiti if they 'repressed it.' None will. True trauma will always be remembered. Richard J. McNally's Remembering Trauma is a comprehensive critique of repression. Repression is a psychiatric myth [emphasis mine]."
In this good statement, Clancy helps rebuke one of the most glaring examples of junk science and (as she calls it) "psychiatic mythology" used to justify and perpetuate the sex abuse hysteria of the past 30 years, one which began with the publication of the utterly debunked but socially influential and destructive book Michelle Remembers (which also started the equally infamous and socially destructive "satanic ritual abuse" hysteria, now likewise debunked). Now she moves on to tackle and debunk another myth perpetuated by the sexual abuse hysteria, the belief and assumption that young people under 18 are always traumatized by sexual interactions with adults (in particular, at least).
However, despite her doing something that takes a good degree of courage and open-minded critical thinking, which is commendable, Clancy (at least at this point in her career) refuses to take this critical thinking to the next level to repudiate the sex abuse hysteria itself, even as she denounces two of its most sacred though terribly incorrect tenets. The next logical leap, of course, would be to actually do what she is already accused of doing by her detractors: to consider that if it's not true that kids are traumatized by sexual interactions with adults as long as such interaction is not the result of force or coercion of some sort, then maybe their ability to experience pleasure from it is an indication that kids do indeed have a sexual aspect to their nature that is every bit as legitimate for them to explore and experience as that of adults, and that it can potentially have the same benefits for them as it does for adults. Perhaps society's prevailing image of kids is wrong; perhaps kids aren't inherently "innocent." Perhaps kids can sometimes initiate sexual contact with adults and it's not always adults who foist their advances on kids. And perhaps adults who have a sexual attraction to kids may have more than a selfish desire for their own personal sexual satisfaction and they may have at least as great an interest in the pleasure and emotional comfort of the younger person as they do their own. Maybe it's possible for an adult to actually love a youth in a true romantic sense, and vice versa. Maybe "manipulation" can work both ways in some isolated cases, not just on a one-sided adult-to-youth manner. And maybe, just maybe, kids have the potential to make their own decisions in other matters not related to sexuality (thus resulting in a comprehensive pro-youth stance by Clancy and feminists like her in the future). And if such is the case, should we perhaps stop defining the term "abuse" so broadly and in such an absolutist fashion? And maybe, just maybe, should we consider that perhaps other factors in society, such as poverty, warfare, and (just perhaps) the oppressive third class citizen status of kids are far, far more harmful to kids than mutually desired sexual experiences between these youngsters and anyone they may choose to share such intimacy with?
In fact, Judith Levine (further to her credit and pro-youth credentials) devotes a whole chapter in her book Harmful To Minors to poverty and how it negatively affects kids in many more ways than the expression of their sexuality ever could, even going so far as to make the bold declaration that poverty doesn't simply cause child abuse, but poverty is a form of child abuse. And, of course, Levine challenged the validity of the "pedophile panic" in another chapter of her aforementioned book. Can it be, as Levine suggests, that the priorities of the "child advocates" are totally mixed up and single-mindedly focused on things that aren't the worst problems that kids have to face in modern society?
But Clancy has yet to take these steps and seems to define her conception of "child safety" and "child advocacy" almost soley on the basis of protecting kids not simply from sexual abuse (which is an admirable goal that those in the MAA community fully support) but from protecting kids from their own sexual desires. That is a case of suppression masquarading as "protection."
Continuing on this subject, Clancy then makes this telling observation: "The idea of repression ultimately hurts victims. It reinforces the notion that sexual abuse is and should be a traumatic experience when it happens something done against the will of the victims. Since for most victims this is not the case, they end up feeling 'alone,' 'isolated' and 'ashamed.'"
Once again, though Clancy concedes that sexual activity between older and younger people (which she always labels "abuse") is not normally traumatic and not even against the will of the younger people it is nevertheless always wrong and harmful. The question I raised before remains: is such mutually consensual activity harmful to kids, or harmful to society's conception of them and perhaps the continued civil oppression of people under 18?
And is it possible that the reason so many kids feel "ashamed" when they think back to their sexual interaction with adults is because of the attitudes society has against younger people's expression of their sexuality, and that sexual behavior is a "dirty" thing to engage in, and not because sexual activity has an inherently "shaming" affect on younger people?
When Thomas asks Clancy about how she was treated back at Harvard when she first proposed her controversial work on the myths of the sex abuse industry, she said: "It's bad enough I moved to Nicaragua. When I was at Harvard the peak of my career, at the university you want to be, surrounded by all the people who were the titans in the field there was just so much bullshit going on. People focused on a type of abuse that affects maybe 2 percent of the population, millions of dollars for funding that doesn't apply to most victims, bestselling books written by therapists misportraying sexual abuse. I would try to tell the truth. I would be attacked. Grad students wouldn't talk to me. "Professors would tell me to leave for other fields. I just felt disillusioned. I got this opportunity from the World Bank to do cross-cultural research on how sexual abuse is understood in Latin America. I came down to Central America, and I've stayed."
So, Clancy had to move to another nation on another continent to escape the chastisement of her peers in the academic and intellectual field for daring to make even a moderately controversial challenge to the accepted orthodoxy of our culture even though she remains firmly entrenched in society's overall belief system and cultural conception of younger people as inherently "innocent," asexual, and incompetent. Isn't that interesting considering how many people in the MAA community have either done the same thing (i.e., self-imposed exile from their native land) or strongly contemplated doing the same thing for the exact same reasons as Clancy did? I guess maybe in the future Clancy will be able to understand exactly how this community feels for having desires and/or views that challenge society's most sacrosanct beliefs. And it should be noted that Clancy is all too well aware that some of the greatest intellectual minds in academia, who are present at Harvard, are less capable--or perhaps less willing--to make even a relatively modest challenge to the existing orthodoxy regarding youth sexuality and the intrinsic nature of those we today label 'minors' than many people who are not college educated but do so on the basis of their personal experiences (like the bulk of gerontophiles who have described positive and both physically and emotionally fulfilling sexual interactions with adults even prior to reaching the vaunted Magic Age).
I am sorry that Clancy felt forced into self-imposed exile from her native country in order to continue her work, but I think this should be all the more reason for her to consider questioning the Western cultural attitudes and assumptions even further than she has already to see what other firmly held beliefs and policies may be based entirely on social or psychiatric mythology. And it's probably a good thing that Clancy is now living in Latin America, because not only does that section of the world have a much more open-minded view on the nature of "abuse" than does the Western nations, but there is even an emerging tendency there to be more respectful of the sexual desires of younger people and of the damage that legally enforced repression of their sexual expression can cause, a state of affairs made clear when one Latin American nation--Peru--recently lowered its age of consent from 17 to 14.
When Clancy is asked to address how depictions of sexual abuse of kids in movies that are based on the type of psychiatric and cultural assumptions that she has worked to refute, she says:
"I think it does a disservice to victims. There were a number of movies in the last few years where people were so traumatized by sexual abuse that they needed hypnosis to bring back the memory. In 5 percent of cases it is awful, and medical attention is required. For 95 percent of victims, that's not what happens [emphasis mine]."
Can it be that the 5 percent of the cases (and probably a bit more) that Clancy mentions above which are "awful" may perhaps be cases where actual force was used, and actual beating of the child occurred, and thus physical and emotional damage did indeed result? In such a case, no sane or compassionate person would argue that the youth was anything other than a true victim of genuine abuse. Of course, I am not saying that physical damage needs to occur in order for a case to be genuine abuse. Coercion can take other forms, such as blackmail or threats where the violence wasn't actually carried out due to the youth's unwilling compliance as a result of the threats. In such cases, the youth is also a genuine victim, and I have little doubt that a youth (or someone of any age) that experienced such a thing would feel extremely violated and emotionally devastated as a result, but such cases are extremely rare outside the home. And as Clancy's research (which matches with FBI statistics) seems to indicate, the great majority of kids who experience sexual interactions with adults do so in a manner that is fully consensual and thus non-traumatizing and without any type of psychological damage, save a possible degree of shame and guilt that is not an inherent result of the experience itself but rather is based on society's reaction to the interaction or how society conditions the youth to perceive the experience (i.e., an entirely sociogenic effect). That latter condition can be remedied by a combination of sex positive education for kids at an early age and a strong challenge to the attitudes of a society which insists (against all available evidence) that sexual activity is always negative for people under 18 no matter how positive it generally is on many levels for people who passed the Magic Age.
Clancy gives an example of the above:
"Look at Mystic River. In that movie child sex abuse involves a faceless priest. The child is destroyed for life. There's a sadistic aspect to it that has nothing to do with what happens to most kids."
Well said. Yet, Clancy will then turn around and argue that even if an intergenerational sexual interaction is totally bereft of any sadistic aspects and the youth is not "destroyed for life," it is still always wrong because "harmfulness" is not always commensurate with "wrongfulness."
When Thomas asks Clancy if she is aware of any movie or TV show which depicts a sexual interaction between an adult and a minor in an accurate way, she says:
"There's a moment on HBO's True Blood in the first season, where Sookie Stackhouse is talking to Bill, her vampire lover, about what happened between her and her uncle, and I thought that was a very good depiction. She said it didn't ruin her life, but it's sad that something like that has to color her feelings about sex and intimacy as an adult."
Um, if the sexual interaction wasn't traumatizing and didn't ruin her life, and if the interaction was mutually consensual, then how would it "color" her feelings about sex and intimacy as an adult? Is it even remotely conceivable that an experience looked upon as positive by a youth may enhance her ability to achieve successful intimacy with another person later in life? Clancy won't go there, of course.
In regards to the matter of accurate depiction of an attraction between an adult and a youth on TV, I would like to refer her to the storyline from the defunct but greatly missed TV series Once And Again, where high school student and regular character Grace Manning (played by Julia Whelan) fell in love with her drama and creative writing teacher August Dimitri (played by Eric Stoltz), and he ended up reciprocating the feelings. It should be noted that Grace pursued August, not the other way around. This was a rare acknowledgement in our popular culture that sometimes the younger person can be the initiator, not only the adult. Though their physical intimacy never went beyond a single kiss--Grace moved in and kissed August (not the other way around)--and he neither moved away nor responded in kind despite his desire to do the latter. Fearful for the consequences that both would face if he allowed things to progress any further, he immediately suggested that they proceed to the play that both of them had plans to attend. The storyline came to an explosive head when Grace's stepmom Karen Sammler discovers a semi-romantic poem that August wrote for Grace and all hell broke loose after that. Grace is terribly upset that due to society's conventions she is unable to have a relationship with her teacher, someone she loves, respects, and trusts and would therefore greatly enjoy sharing her first intimate sexual experience with, and when her mom sees how the ensuing investigation by the school board that Karen initiated against August due to a relationship that she pursued first is devastating her daughter, she does something extremely selfless that is nearly unthinkable for a "concerned" parent in our current society: she considers her daughter's feelings for her teacher and what the investigation by the school board will likely result in for August, and she drops the charges and even allows her daughter to say goodbye to August as he packs up and leaves the school for good. August tells Grace that the whole thing was his fault, not hers, but she declined agreeing with him, likely because it was something that she wanted as much as he did [does this perhaps suggest that there is absolutely no need to assign blame to either participant?].
This didn't mean that Grace's mom was as forgiving of him, however; as August was leaving he ran into Karen Sammler, and when he attempted to talk to her to explain his side of things to her, she simply closed her eyes and said firmly, "I don't want to hear it." Despite her continuing disdain for August, however, at least Karen Sammler ultimately respected the feelings of her stepdaughter and came to reluctantly accept the fact that, in words passionately spoken earlier by Grace, "I don't need to be protected from this person!"
That particular storyline of a great drama series that left the air after a mere three seasons was the only open-minded depiction of intergenerational love on a TV series where the adult was not condemned as an utterly deplorable human beings for his feelings that, and where the feelings (if not the competence) of a girl under 18 was honored in the end (though I do recall an episode from the truly awesome first three seasons of the radical 1990s TV series Picket Fences where the age of consent laws were duly questioned, but it that case it was a situation involving a 16-year-old girl having consensual sex with an 18-year-old boy, so the American audience may have been somewhat more sympathetic for that situation than the one depicted in Once And Again). Maybe Clancy should have watched the episodes of this series containing that storyline, and think hard and critically about the themes presented therein.
Interesingly, at least in the past few years, reruns of the show were aired on the Lifetime channel, a station that is notorious for producing telefilms that are not just poor in quality, but which espouse strong anti-male and anti-youth rights themes, including propping up the main tropes of the sex abuse industry whenever possible, and you would think Clancy would have an interest in whatever airs on that network for these reasons. The Once And Again reruns must have stood out as a shining gem compared to the usual stuff seen on that channel when you consider the themes seen on many of its self-produced telefilms, especially that one particular storyline involving the romantic feelings between Grace Manning and August Dimitri. But even if Clancy cannot watch the reruns on Lifetime anymore (either because the network isn't available on any Nicaraguan stations or because the series is no longer rerun on that channel) the entire series is now available on DVD. I would urge Clancy and other 'feminists' of her particular stripe to purchase the series and watch it with an open mind and heart.
Clancy concludes her thoughts about the above fictional example of the accurate reminisence of an intergenerational sexual experience on True Blood with this:
"It wasn't out of control. They didn't make it sensational."
Imagine that! But isn't the continuation of the current attitudes towards youths and adults interacting with each other sexually even with the acknowledgement that non-coercive experiences of that nature do not automatically traumatize and damage the youth for life, as well as society's attitude towards youth sexuality and any expression of it thereof (not to mention the broader issue of youth competence in general), going to prolong the existence of the hysteria for much longer than it has to even as we incrementally undercut all the popular myths associated with it, and therefore prove that the main beliefs used to justify it in the first place are nothing more than myths? Shouldn't that encourage us to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the entire gamut of beliefs and assumptions regarding youth sexuality and even youth competence in general? And, perhaps most importantly, shouldn't we perhaps listen to what the youths themselves have to say about this, and how they feel about non-coerced interactions and relationships with both peers and adults, without telling them how we think they should view it?
This is what Clancy had to say about the legal use of the term 'statuatory rape':
"It's outside my bailiwick to comment on legal terms, but in an ideal world I don't think that's the term we should use. I think there should be clear legal terms to differentiate sexual abuse that involves touching and no force, and sexual abuse that's penetrative, and sexual abuse that involves force and violence. You have to make it clear that in all cases it is a crime, but clumping all of them under one title when they range from genital stroking to anal penetration is a bad thing."
That's an interesting and not overly bad idea, leaving aside the fact that Clancy insists that all instances of youth and adult sexual interactions, even when no force or coercion is involved, should be considered a crime and be labeled "abuse."
Now, here is what Clancy had to say when asked about whether or not Roman Polanski should be put in jail:
"The Roman Polanski case is a clear case for sexual abuse. It's infuriating that people are losing the main point. He's a guy who had sex with a child. If she had been beaten or if she had been rushed to the hospital, it would have been an entirely different situation, but because she wasn't physically traumatized nobody cares. She was drugged, the poor thing. If he had slapped her around, if he had pushed her up against the wall, he would have been locked up. Ninety-five percent of children don't fight it because they don't understand what's happening and because when they tell the truth nobody cares."
Okay, let's look at the various portions of Clancy's totally predictable response and do some analytical nitpicking:
"He's a guy who had sex with a child..."
Why doesn't it surprise me that a supposed progressive like Clancy views an adolescent girl--even a younger adolescent--as a "child"? Obviously, she cannot see beyond the legal definition of "child" and willfully confuses someone who is subject to that label with empirically evident reality.
"If she had been beaten or if she had been rushed to the hospital, it would have been an entirely different situation..."
Yes, it certainly would have, and that is one of the main points of my essay.
"but because she wasn't physically traumatized nobody cares..."
Nobody? I see plenty of people out to hang Polanski by a noose simply because he had sex with a girl under the age of 18, with none of the other factors usually being relevant in the least. I believe it's entirely possible for a youth to be a victim of genuine abuse even if no actual physical violence had occurred, but there are too many questions and holes involved in the Polanski situation, especially when you consider that Polanski was not known for being either violent or for coercing any lady of any age into sexual situations with him, and he has been friends with many young women in his life due to his predilections as a hebephile (please see my essay "The Roman Polanski Circus" for my detailed analysis of the Polanski situation).
"She was drugged, the poor thing..."
Yes, there is good evidence that Polanski gave Samantha Geimer a Qualuude prior to having sex with her. But though she implied that she was "out of it" in her famous grand jury testimony and told Polanski "no" and that she wanted to go home repeatedly, it was revealed by the judge who tried the initial case that Geimer had taken Qualuudes before and was familiar with how they would affect her, especially if washed down with alcohol. But she took the pill anyway, and considering how the drug scene was in the '70s when this incident took place, it can be argued that Polanski gave her the pill to relax her, not to dope her up to the extent that she couldn't resist his advances
[please permit me to point out that this is something I do not personally agree with; I would never give any hypothetical teen girl I was about to be intimate with a recreational drug or alcohol of any sort to relax her or to "get her in the mood," no matter how familiar she was with its effects on her or even if she requested these things herself...I would simply put on some sweet music, and if that didn't work, I would simply have lunch or dinner with her and that's it].
But I don't get the impression that Geimer was totally zonked out of her mind when she and Polanski had sex. If Clancy was reading this, she would likely ask me, "How could you be so insensitive? You're simply defending Polanski because he is a hebephile like you and you would probably defend him even if he did beat her to a bloody pulp before having sex with her!" Not true, and a very poor assessment of my character such a statement would be. As I wrote in a previous essay on the Roman Polanski situation (noted above), there is something fishy about that grand jury testimony that Geimer disseminated when you consider that she has never made any disparaging comments about Polanski at any point in her life following the incident, not even 30 years later, and she has recently said she wants no part of the sensational media circus surrounding Polanski's arrest in Sweden, except to say that she holds no ill will over him and that she thinks the case against him should be dropped.
But there is something even more important to take into consideration when analyzing the veracity of that grand jury testimony. Clancy should be well aware of the fact that police and social workers often do a bit of coercing themselves, especially when it comes to their highly suspect method of interrogating minors whom they are trying to get to help them make a case against an adult (or even another minor in some cases) who is accused of sexually abusing them. Clancy must also be aware of how this situation was exposed beyond a shadow of a doubt with the infamous McMartin pre-school incident.
Of course, Clancy, like many other authors who recently appeared on Salon and elsewhere, would respond to Geimer's request that the charges be dropped by saying that how she felt about the situation, even from the perspective of her current adult mind (which Clancy would presumably have more respect for than the judgment capabilities of a 13-year old), was totally irrelevant, and that what Polanski did should be a crime and the situation should be considered a clear case of "abuse" no matter what Geimer's emotional reaction to it was, either then or now. Sexual activity between adults and people under 18, no matter how mutually consensual, no matter how pleasurable it was to the younger person, no matter who initiated the contact, no matter how much love and affection may have been shared between the two as part of the experience, and no matter how evident it was that no trauma or emotional damage of any sort had occurred to the younger person, is always wrong in some intrinsic absolute moral sense because kids can't understand sex, and as a result of that, they just don't "get" the fact that it was wrong.
"Ninety-five percent of children don't fight it because they don't understand what's happening and because when they tell the truth nobody cares..."
Wrong on both counts. I think kids, particularly adolescents (though Clancy doesn't make the distinction anyway), are fully capable of understanding sexual intimacy and are well aware of the difference between something that gives them pleasure and something that hurts them, and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. If a parent, stepparent, or grandparent does push them into the situation, yes, it can be confusing to the kids in question, which is why it's important to question the power imbalance that exists within the hierarchal family unit of the present in a society where kids under 18 are effectively without most of their civil rights and are little more than the legal property of their parents in one sense and wards of the state in another sense (if the prevailing family unit was democratic in structure, as it would be in a youth liberated society, however, things may well be different; again, I will try to tackle this issue in a future essay). Clancy has yet to do this, of course, so she has yet to go to the root of the problem where a good 85% of all genuine abuse directed towards kids by adults occurs. A situation with an adult that did not have direct power over them would be much different, especially if the youth initiated it. Even pre-pubescents often engage in sex play with each other and they fully understand that this type of experimentation is fun when conducted between two willing individuals. Why would it be any different with an adult that does not live in their house and does not have direct power over them?
And Clancy says that nobody cares when kids tell the truth? At the risk of being impolite, I think Clancy has a lot of nerve to complain about people not listening to kids, since she only considers listening to kids if they tell her something in harmony with her worldview regarding youth sexuality, and though she will believe them if they insist they weren't traumatized or damaged by the experience since that goes along with the conclusions of her research, she will argue with them until she is blue in the face if they should also insist that what they did wasn't intrinsically wrong regardless of how they felt about it.
When asked how sex abuse victims should be treated by the system, she says:
"I think practically, sexual abuse victims need to hear loud and clear that what happened to you is what happens to most people. It was wrong and not your fault, and you should report the crime, and the perpetrator should be punished. I don't think that sex abuse victims in most cases need years of therapy to get over the betrayal. What they need first and foremost is the straightforward truth: You are not alone, you have nothing to be ashamed of, it's his fault, and this is a crime."
What if the young person insists it was not abuse? What if they question the absolutist edict that their experience was "wrong" if they felt it was a positive experience? Yes, it's a crime in the sense that it is against the law, but shouldn't what we have learned thus far open the door to questioning the wisdom of these laws? And once again, as for telling them it wasn't their fault even if they initiated it or pursued the adult because unlike them adults always "know better," why must any blame be assigned to either participant in the first place? And if you keep telling them that what they did with an adult that may have made them feel loved and gave them pleasure was inherently wrong, isn't that all the more likely to make them feel ashamed about what happened if they see things differently than you do?
With her next statement, Clancy goes a bit off the deep end and displays how much of her attitudes are based on raw emotion rather than reason when she makes it clear how much of her attitude is based on her interpretation of "feminism":
"There's something I would like to add. Despite all of this media and research attention on sexual abuse for the last 30 years, I still don't hear the answer to one question: What the fuck is wrong with all of these men?"
Um, considering all the media and research attention on sexual abuse for the past 30 years, this is the one question that Clancy wants the answer to? As if none of the other questions I raised above in this essay should even be considered?
"Sexual abuse is not women; it's men [emphasis mine]. Every once in a while a woman will sexually abuse, but in 95 percent of cases it's a man that is known to the child a teacher, a friend, a family member."
It was very revealing of you to point out this bias of yours, Clancy, which adds more credence to my theory that age of consent laws are largely based on negative stereotypes our society has on men. But is it true that a whopping 95% of all those who engage in actual abuse against kids are men? Could it be that reports of women committing acts of abuse are simply underreported to a huge extent because if the reality was made crystal clear via the media, it would besmirch the warm and cuddly image society has of women being inherently nurturing and loving of kids? This would be in constrast to the cultural conception of men being inherently predatory and possessing a disproportionately voracious sexual appetite in comparison to women. Hence, would this serve to encourage society to ask uncomfortable questions about various institutions--including that of raising kids--that favor women? More on that in a bit.
Clancy elaborates further:
"These are high-functioning people in society who are choosing to molest children. All this focus on the psychology of the victim is a way to sidestep this central question: What is going on in society that so many men are choosing to get off on small children? I can find almost no studies on the subject. People will go into jails and interview a perpetrator, but most of these people don't go to jail, and most of them aren't caught."
Now she says "small children," which implies very young kids as opposed to adolescents even though she has previously made it clear that she doesn't make a distinction, so I will continue to go with that; perhaps Clancy believes that by saying "small children" this will pack a greater emotional punch to her readers by emphasizing what she considers to be the inherent helplessness of kids.
Now, as for what is going on in society that makes so many men "get off" on kids...that depends on whether you are talking about MAAs, child fetishists, or situational offenders. Of course, Clancy will not make the distinction at this point in time and will likely rank all of of the above three categories under the blanket term "pedophile" just as much of the media does. But that is highly inaccurate, as members of this community are well aware, but I will get to that after answering Clancy's main question raised up above.
First of all, sexual/romantic attraction and admiration of those who are today labeled as 'minors' is not rare, nor is it a trend that suddenly appeared in society out of the blue 30 years ago. This is especially true in regards to adult attraction to adolescents, who are basically young adults themselves. The three sub-categories of MAA (Minor Attracted Adult)--pedophiles, hebephiles, and nepiophiles--have existed throughout human history in equal numbers to what each of these groups exist today. The beauty of youth among all age groups has been recognized by many artists and writers throughout history, and it was only during the Victorian era of the mid-19th century that the concept of everyone labeled under the term "child" (a term that has since been expanded to include adolescents under 18 by the beginning of the 20th century) were considered to be pure and asexual, and this was due to a general disdain for sexuality and sexual expression itself that was the hallmark of this era. Since adult women were gaining more rights and gradually making it clear that they were capable of feeling sexual desire and having a positive reaction to sexual experiences, Victorian society took advantage of the gradually decreasing rights of younger people that were occurring at the same time to treat them as a political and cultural "consulation prize," and to use them to take women's place as paragons of asexual purity. At this time, it was also 'minors' that took the place of women as being the individuals in society who were considered to have an inability to make competent decisions outside the realm of some other group's authority (men in the case of women in the days before their suffrage, adults 18 and over in the case of those we today label 'minors'). The onset of the Industrial Revolution that happened shortly after the Victorian mentality gained a foothold in Western society delivered the final blow to what was left of youth rights, along with the expansion of the definition of "child," including the creation of an intermediary phase of youth between childhood and adulthood, which came to be called adolescence. All but the oldest people under the latter intermediary stage of human development were relegated to the legal status of "child" and were no longer treated as young adults but rather as older children.
As a result of the above, society began to see adult attraction to people under the arbitrary age of legal adulthood as unnatural and pathological, and utterly ignored the existence of art and literature from the classical and medieval world that made it clear how common adult attraction to both pre-pubescents and (especially) adolescents have always been throughout history, and did its best to legally and culturally suppress all newly produced works of art carrying this theme by condemning them as "obscene." Youths under a legally designated arbitrary age, now bereft of most of the rights that young boys at least once enjoyed and firmly entrenched at the bottom rung of the hierarchal nuclear family unit, were harshly disciplined for expressing their sexual nature in any way, a situation that occurs to this day when tweens and teens under 18 are actually brought to court and put on sex offender registries for expressing their sexual side by doing things such as taking nude or otherwise provocative pics of themselves and posting them on socnet sites like MySpace or sending them to other people via their cell phones (i.e., the sexting pheonomenon), or even when pre-pubescents are caught "playing doctor" with each other. This recent state of affairs forced almost all expressions of adult attraction to kids into the closet as it now became an "issue" in society.
But the issue didn't truly explode until the beginning of the sex abuse industry that coincided with the conservative takeover of the government that started with the Reagan years, where liberals were beaten back and felt compelled to repudiate their previous development of an open-minded stance on certain "hot button" issues, including this one, which led to the type of progressive we most often see today that is epitomized by Clancy and the other Salon writers I mentioned in my essay "The Roman Polanski Circus." This is in marked contrast to the progressives who existed during the truly liberal era of the early 1970s that applauded books like Show Me for their educational and scientific value to kids without worrying about whether a "pedophile" might become aroused after viewing the pics in that book. Imagine how Clancy and most other modern progressives would react to that book if it was published today? Judith Levine and possibly Robert Epstein would be among the relatively few lone voices even in the progessive world who would be arguing on its possible merits rather than falling all over themselves to come up with stronger words of condemnation for the book. Progessives of today are reluctant to even fight for sex education of young adolescents that doesn't have a high moral emphasis on abstinence.
That is what created the illusion in the minds of Clancy and others who think as she does that adults (erm, okay...men) with a sexual attraction to kids is some deviant aberration that sprang up out of the dark depths of decadant 20th century society. This only seemed to occur when the idea of adult attraction to those we today label 'minors' became a major "issue."
Needless to say, the great majority of MAAs probably do not get involved in sexual relationships with kids in their respective age of attraction, and even less initiate such mutually consensual experiences that do still occur. Instead, the bulk of modern MAAs who enjoy having kids in their lives seek to interact with minors in legal and socially acceptable ways, and there are many (like myself) who steer clear of having underagers in their lives altogether because they fear being accused of something even if they didn't actually do anything illegal and/or because they find it emotionally troubling to always have to stifle their true feelings for minors they interact with should a greater than platonic interest develop on either end, or because they may be activists who are "out" as MAAs in real life and therefore do not find it wise to interact with kids even in a legal and socially acceptable manner due to the risk of being accused of something by a panicky bigot (this author belongs to the latter category; as a heterosexual hebephile who is not in the toybox at all, I stay as far away from adolescent girls as possible in almost all cases out of fear that I might get accused of something illegal despite the fact that I am entirely law-abiding). Regardless, the popular belief that it's MAAs of any of the three aforementioned sub-categories that are involved with the bulk of intergenerational sexual interaction that does occur in this society in spite of the laws is another major myth that needs to be addressed much more often than it has been thus far.
Secondly, there are individuals that may best be called child or teen fetishists. There are probably a lot of these individuals in society today, and they have likely been around for as long as human history has been around too. What distinguishes them from bonafide pedos, hebes, and nepis (i.e., those who together make up the broad political categorization of Minor Attracted Adults, or MAAs) is that their interest in kids is strictly sexual, and can even harbor violent fantasies to a much more prevelant degree than that which occurs among bonafide MAAs. This is in contrast to those better defined as MAAs, who tend to possess an attraction for kids that is as much emotional, social, and spiritual as it is physical. However, child fetishists rarely act out their fantasies and most of them are quite harmless from a demonstrable point of view. Most of the relatively small number of them I have met personally when they gravitate to the MAA community display varying but often high degrees of guilt over their strictly sexual attraction to kids as a result of the societal condemnation of it, and do not believe it should ever be acted out, though many of them believe that viewing and possessing child porn should be legal. The only crime child fetishists are routinely found guilty of is downloading and viewing child porn. Hence, I think few child fetishists (save for the small number of them that may lack good self-control) are involved in the genuine abuse of kids discussed in this article. It should come to no surprise to Clancy that large numbers of these child fetishists exist, because human beings can have almost anything you can possibly imagine as a sexual fetish. If there can be whole groups of people with sexual fetishes for depictions of animals having sex, plushies, dolls, and even shoes it should come as no surprise to anyone that children and teens could be the subject of many adult's fetish too.
Next, we come to the situational offenders, and it is from individuals like these that most genuine abuse of kids occurs, including outright force if not by various types of coercion. To Clancy's credit, she does not push the "stranger danger" myth, and she recognizes that most people who initiate sexual acts on minors are those who live with them or who they otherwise know (though this can be a rather broad definition, since kids would obviously be said to know any adult whom they developed an interest in). As has been noted in FBI statistics and many other sources but not at all acknowledged by Clancy is that the great majority of situational offenders do not have a sexual preference for minors, but initiate sexual acts with them for a variety of other reasons, including severe emotional stress resulting from things like marital problems, the detrimental effects on behavior and judgment that can result from alcoholics who do not get any help and frequently consume alcohol, or simply from particularly severe power trips that are the natural consequence of the hierarchal nuclear family unit that is the socially dominant model of today. Such adults initiate non-consensual sexual contact with kids for much the same reason that heterosexual prisoners rape fellow inmates of the same gender, i.e., not because of a simple sexual desire alone but rather as a way of exercising power in an utterly corrupt way and establishing dominance and inflicting humiliation on an easy victim.
There are a minority of situational offenders who do not operate in the home, of course, and this small number of individuals simply see kids as easy victims due to their small size and are malevolent opportunists. It's these people who are responsible for the tiny number of kidnappings and murders of kids that the press often make sensationalistic stories about. However, it should be noted that the very tiny number of situational offenders who are strangers to the kids they kidnap or even murder pales enormously in comparison to the number of kids who are sexually abused or physically abused in many other ways, including murder, by parents every year. Clancy has so far refused to ask the very difficult questions about the nature of kids' politically disempowered status in society and the hierarchal structure of the present day family unit and school system that are together the cause of by far the greatest amount of real demonstrable harm inflicted upon kids every year. Judith Levine took a halting step towards identifying these things as major problems for kids in Harmful To Minors, but she didn't go into it in detail, possibly so as to avoid offending a major target audience of her book any more than she had to.
Hence, situational offenders, who are the cause of the vast majority of actual sexual interactions with minors (and not MAAs or child/teen fetishists), including most instances that are truly abusive and non-consensual in nature, tend to "get off" on power and dominance more than they do on simple sexual interaction with kids, and to them kids are simply targets of convenience due to both their present disempowered status in society (including within the schools) and their current servile role within the dominant family unit.
Okay, with that out of the way, let's turn to Clancy's contention, a popular one in society, that it's "not women, but men" who abuse kids and see if it holds up to scrutiny or is nothing more than a myth perpetrated by "victim" feminists. This is going to be lengthy, because I want to gather as much evidence to back up my contention as possible, and any or all of this info may be highly valuable to future researchers on this or related topics.
First, note this section of the Canadian Children's Rights Council, which is not a youth liberationist org but rather one of those "child advocacy" orgs that Clancy seems to be so fond of, but it devotes a whole section of the site to the phenomenon of female sex offenders across North America. The site proves its "CA" credentials with its attitude towards all sexual activity between kids under 18 and adults, and it ignorantly combines articles from various places where the sexual relations between adult women and minors were clearly consensual with articles that are clearly describing acts of true abuse and outright sadism perpetrated by women against minors (such as the Melissa Huckabee incident), a shameful practice that perpetuates the idea that all sexual activity between adults and minors constitutes "abuse."
However, despite the wrongful equation of mutually consensual acts between women and minors with true acts of violent sadism committed by women against minors, the articles and statistics on that site make two things clear that will make "feminists" like Clancy quite uncomfortable: 1) It's not all that uncommon for women--be they MAAs or those without a sexual preference for minors who simply happen to unexpectedly fall for a minor--to have mutually consensual sexual relations with minors; and 2) a large degree of actual violent abuse committed against minors by adult women, including mothers, is a problem that is much more widespread than society is willing to face up to for a variety of reasons. Let's look at some of the hightlights from the above site:
"Female sexual predators go unreported because of a lack of awareness by the public."
"75% of sexual predators are male and 25% are female."
Though the majority of sex offenders in North America are indeed male, the number of women who engage in illegal sexual acts with minors are much greater than the mere 5% Clancy imagined, according to this report.
"86% of the victims of female sexual predators aren't believed, so the crimes go unreported and don't get prosecuted."
This is in contrast to the situation faced by men, where almost all accusations against them are believed no matter how unfounded the accusations may be in many instances, and which greatly discourage men from taking jobs where they will be working closely with kids, such as teachers or babysitters. This is due to the very different cultural perceptions of men and women that I mentioned up above. Hence, these statistics suggest that contrary to Susan Clancy's claim that few women commit such crimes, in actuality it may simply seem this way due to the fact that women are rarely arrested for them. But "feminists" like Clancy do not, of course, consider this, since if they did it would conflict uncomfortably with their worldview about men being more violent and/or sexually voracious than women.
Now, check out this section of the site, which features a detailed analysis of female sex offenders by author Lisa Lipshires, which, of course, includes both mutually consensual experiences between women and minors and those who suffered genuine abuse at the hands of female situational offenders, though both are labeled as "abuse" here. Some highlights I would like to point out and maybe comment on:
"Betsy K. and Marcia Turner are part of a small, growing number of people confronting the issue of female-perpetrated child sexual abuse. Many feel they are fighting an uphill battle against societal denial and cultural stereotypes of women and men [emphasis mine]."
"In her 1993 doctoral dissertation, 'Female Sex Offenders: Societal Avoidance of Comprehending the Phenomenon of Women Who Sexually Abuse Children' (University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, MI), Boston psychologist Laurie Goldman analyzed the ways society minimizes the scope and impact of sexual abuse by women."
So it would appear that some women academics who are not blinded by "feminist" stereotypes not only acknowledge the existence of women who have sex with minors, as well as women who commit actual acts of violence against them (I will distinguish between the two though the article and Clancy herself does not), but actual studies have been conducted on it. Hasn't Clancy ever read any of these studies? Let's take a look at what Dr. Goldman has to say about this phenomenon.
"Unable to obtain subjects for her study, Goldman decided to focus on the societal denial that makes female perpetrators such an elusive population [emphasis mine]."
This should be interesting...
"Goldman discovered that denial of female perpetration is woven into the very systems meant to protect children."
Translation: the very system that pushes the sex abuse hysteria in the interests of "protecting" children from their own sexual desires works to suppress not only the culturally unacceptable idea that kids could be sexual beings, but also the almost equally culturally unacceptable idea that women can possibly be anything other than nurturing in a strictly maternal way towards minors.
"In the State of Washington, for example, one human services professional reported that when an accused female offender was brought before a judge, the judge declared, 'women don't do things like this,' and dismissed the case. In another case, a New England prison warden told Goldman that she had only one woman in her system who had been convicted of child sexual abuse because 'public sentiment did not allow for such charges to be brought to trial in her conservative state.'"
Imagine that! I see that our esteemed Harvard scholar and expert on child sexual abuse Susan Clancy needs to do more research, and just as she commendably works hard to dispell certain myths perpetrated by the sex abuse hysteria, there are certain myths she needs to work to dispell from her own psyche.
"This comes as no surprise to Gail Ryan, facilitator of the Kemp Center's Perpetrator Prevention Project in Denver. She has found that female adolescent sex offenders 'are much less likely than male adolescent offenders to be caught or charged.'"
In other words, adolescent female "offenders" who have sexual contact with pre-pubescent kids are much less likely to be charged than their male counterparts who engage in the same activities for the reasons mentioned above by Goldberg, and they are also much less likely to be caught because people no doubt keep less of an eye on them around kids than they do with adolescent boys. This is very similar to how black shoplifters are much more likely to be caught while doing the deed than white shoplifters, not necessarily because whites shoplift less but simply because store employees and security guards tend to watch black shoppers much more closely than they do white shoppers due to common stereotypes of blacks as being more prone to commit crimes than whites.
"Iowa State University sociologist Craig Allen, who conducted a study Of 75 men and 65 women who had been convicted of sexually abusing a child, refers to this process as a form of societal 'gate keeping.' By the time female offenders could be referred to a therapist for treatment, he writes in Women and Men Who Sexually Abuse Children: A Comparative Analysis (Brandon, VT: Safer Society Press, 1991), 'only those women would be left whose behaviors were so deviant' that their abusiveness could not be denied 'at any of the preceding 'gates' in the system.' Allen's gate keeping hypothesis could account for why female perpetrators appear so rarely in therapists' case studies and why, when they do, they are generally described as psychotic or otherwise severely disturbed."
The above observation by Allen is easy to interpret. Basically, in his case studies conducted on female sex offenders, it was clear that the only female perps who received state enforced therapy were those who were likely to have truly abused minors in a real sense, including the use of violence. Those who engaged in what was most likely mutually consensual relationships with minors were let go. This is certainly fair IMO, but the point of the above is that men are hardly ever given this type of deal, and they tend to be sent to therapy regardless of whether their sexual interactions with a minor was clearly mutually consensual or actually abusive. This can largely account for why there are so many more male sex offenders in prison and therapy than females.
"Ruth Matthews, a St. Paul psychologist who has worked with 50 adolescent and 70 adult female sex offenders, says another major reason why adult female perpetrators are rarely seen in treatment is that many are mothers. In such cases, she says, dependent children are generally reluctant to turn in their mothers."
Hmmmm...imagine that. This is an uncomfortable fact that youth liberationists have been trying to get across to the public for many years now. Most of the cases alluded to in the above excerpt probably did constitute actual abuse and coercion, since the bulk of all real abuse--sexual, physical, and (rarely considered to be a problem) emotional--are committed by parents or any other adult who lives within the home and therefore wields great power over the kids. I have no doubt that kids are much less likely to report a mother than a father, and even if they do, a guilty mother is much less likely to be investigated, let alone convicted, than a guilty father, as the above evidence makes clear. And the above study displays (however inadvertantly) the fact that kids are forced into dependence on their parents much longer than is necessary, and because there is no community overview of younger children who could not be on their own even in a youth liberated society, is a major reason why kids would be much more reluctant to turn in a parent than they would a total stranger, or a person who lived down the street that may have genuinely abused them. And since mothers are usually awarded custody of their kids when a divorce occurs via one of the most blatant examples of favoritism given towards them due to the cultural belief that women are inherently more nurturing and thus make better parents in all cases than men do, it stands to reason that much parental abuse inflicted on kids results from mothers.
"If children -- whose disclosures still provide the primary means of reporting offenders -- are being abused by mothers who are single parents or who carry out the abuse with male partners, disclosure would cause them to be removed from their homes and placed in foster care. By contrast, when there is an offending father and a non-offending mother, a child's disclosure would not mean 'as much of a loss,' says Matthews. 'They still will have their home, they still will have a parent, and their family will stay intact.'"
Very good observation on Matthews' part. And one Clancy and her fellow "feminists" need to pay attention to.
"If children seldom disclose, and if female abusers are often winnowed out of investigations and court proceedings, how much female perpetration is actually going on? Because of the hidden nature of child sexual abuse [at least within the home] and because of problems with the way in which child abuse data are collected, nobody can provide a definitive answer to this question."
The above is a point that makes it all the more clear that Clancy's claim of 5% for female perps of sexual abuse--and most importantly, real abuse that actually harms kids--was simply pulled out of her...well, you know where. In other words, it was a total assumption on her part based on "feminist" ideology and nothing more.
"In a 1981 study, 60 percent of 412 male and 10 percent of 540 female undergraduate psychology students at the University of Washington who recalled childhood sexual contact with a post-pubescent person at least five years older than themselves said their abusers were female. (Fritz, G., Stoll, K., and Wagner, N. 'A Comparison of Males and Females Who Were Sexually Molested as Children,' Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 1981, vol. 7,54-59.)"
Despite the biased comment in the above quote that refers to all the instances of sexual interaction between kids of both genders and females who were at least five years older than themselves as being "abuse" without even taking the issue of consent into consideration, the aforementioned study nevertheless makes it clear that older kids who are female engage in sexual contact in a general sense with other kids several years younger much more often than is commonly believed.
"Researchers do not know why some studies uncover a higher rate of female perpetration than others, but The National Resource Center on Child Sexual Abuse (NRCCSA) asserts that because of a lack of standardization in reporting and inconsistencies in research methods and definitions of sexual abuse [emphasis mine], 'the firm statistics everyone desires' on the prevalence of abuse 'simply are not available.' (NRCCSA News, May-June 1992, vol. 1, no. 1.)"
This excerpt makes it clear that one of the problems with getting consistent statistics of illegal sexual activity involving adults of either gender with minors is often because the definition of "sexual abuse" tend to be inconsistant from one study or another, and all based upon often loaded and culturally biased definitions of what constitutes "abuse."
"The abuse that females perpetrate can range from subtle, non-contact forms such as exhibitionism and voyeurism to overt sexual touching and/or penetration."
"Other therapists, including those specializing in male survivors of sexual abuse, have noticed an apparent pattern in clients' reports of female-perpetrated abuse. Minneapolis psychologist Peter Dimock has counseled 400 to 500 male survivors of sexual abuse since 1980. He found that, for the 25 percent who recall being abused by a female, most experienced the abuse as subtle or seductive. Very often, Dimock says, if the female abuser is in a parental or caretaking role, she will perpetrate the abuse 'under the guise of caretaking, where it has involved putting medication on the child's genitals, inserting suppositories or enemas,' or she will make an excuse to expose her body to the boy, 'clearly with an intent to arouse, but, again, under the guise of normalized behavior.'"
"Nic Hunter, a psychologist from St. Paul, author of Abused Boys: The Neglected Victim of Sexual Abuse, and editor of The Sexually Abused Male, Volumes I and II (all from Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1990), has also found in his work with hundreds of male survivors that approximately 25 percent were sexually abused by females and that in general, the abuse was 'very covert in that it was disguised as something other than a sexual contact.' Dimock adds that female abusers frequently treat their victims like romantic partners, taking them on 'date-like outings.'"
Okay, the above excerpt contains the conceit that an adult and a youth cannot actually be romantic partners, and that the adult taking their younger partners on "date-like outings" (maybe to the movies, the park, out to dinner, etc.?) is a form of "abuse." It would appear that any type of interaction between kids and adults that remotely contains romantic connotations can be labeled as "abuse" these days. These were most likely instances of mutually consensual relationships that were "found out," and the boys were then "convinced" it was abusive and that they were "victims" after being forced into "therapy" (just a theory of mine, but quite likely to be accurate since I'm sure not only girls are forced into therapy when mutually consensual relationships with adults are discovered; such "therapy" sessions are a routine part of the state intervention process). But again, such statements would make it clear to Clancy that many more women engage in romantic relationships with minors that she is willing to believe.
"Not all survivors or victims report that sexual abuse by females was subtle or covert. Of the 93 women who perpetrated in Michigan therapist Bobbie Rosencrans' recent four-year study of survivors of maternal incest, 65 percent reported that their abuse had been violent. Karen K., a survivor of maternal incest from Washington State who edits the newsletter S.O.F.I.E.(Survivors of Female Incest Emerge!), has read nearly 500 letters from survivors in the past 18 months. She feels that 'women are more creative and more brutal in their abuse' [emphasis mine]."
Since the above analysis was based on studies of maternal incest, it's far more likely that these incidents constituted actual abuse by women who were situational offenders rather than MAAs. And to think that it's been said by some survivors of maternal abuse that women are more creative in their abuse than men, and also more brutal. This proves that women can be as violent as men when it comes to abusing the power that society grants them over their biological kids in the currently dominant family unit.
"One of the most common reactions to female-perpetrated abuse is shame about gender identity. Phyllis E, who was sexually abused by both her mother and her father, remembers feeling a deep disgust for her mother's body -- a disgust that carried over into a hatred of her own female self. 'I couldn't stand my own body for years,' she says. 'I couldn't understand how men could stand women's bodies.'"
Very interesting. "Feminists," take heed!
"Tom, a therapist and survivor of abuse by three females, including his mother, has also felt a deep confusion about his gender identity. Along with subjecting Tom to unnecessary enemas, masturbating him in the bathtub, and making him sleep in her bed and watch her dress, his mother perpetrated against him a type of behavior that Indiana therapist Christine Lawson refers to as 'perversive abuse.' Perversive abuse, Lawson writes in 'Mother-Son Sexual Abuse: Rare or Underreported? A Critique of the Research' (Child Abuse & Neglect, vol. 17, no. 2) is abuse of a child's sexuality and 'may include behavior such as forcing the boy to wear female clothing ... and generally discouraging the child's identification with males.' Tom says that 'until I was five, I hadn't the foggiest notion that I wasn't a girl.'"
It would appear that the above report constitutes a case of actual abuse conducted by a female situational offender with many issues that she took out on her son, and it serves as a chilling reminder to the depth that mothers can sink to when they turn abusive on their kids. In fact, though I have no idea if it has happened or not, I have yet to hear of a father or other male authority figure who forced kids under their care to undergo enemas, which are highly unpleasant to endure even if necessary and done by yourself.
"A widespread societal belief that female-perpetrated sexual abuse is improbable -- particularly if the abuser was one's mother -- has made it especially difficult for survivors of female abusers to disclose their experiences and has left them with perhaps an even deeper sense of isolation."
"Karen K. remembers believing for years that she was the only survivor of mother-daughter incest. 'I felt completely isolated and alone with who my perpetrator was,' Karen says. In response to Rosencrans' study (Safer Society Press, 1994), one woman wrote, 'I've never met anyone who was sexually abused by their mother. I didn't know that 93 other people existed.'"
Yet another allegation that suggests the real number of female situational molesters who assault their own kids is not as rare as many seem to think, but simply swept under the rug.
Now, to further refute Clancy's specious and arguably sexist claim, let's take a look at this article by Karen Richardson, which is specifically devoted to sexually abusive mothers. That means it's likely that real abuse was occurring in all of the true accounts by female situational offenders who were operating within the favorite and safest place for all situational offenders who are parents to operate--within the loving home. In almost every single one of these cases, I would agree with Clancy that they constitute a real problem, though I am not quite sure our respective suggestions at solutions would coincide.
"Sexual abuse perpetrated by mothers is an uncomfortable subject for many people. A mother committing sexual acts on their child in unthinkable yet it happens. It defies everything we want to believe about mothers. Yet statistics validate that sexually abusive mothers do exist."
"ChildLine is a helpline operated by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). According to their 2008/09 statistics, 2,142 children who called about sexual abuse reported that the perpetrators were women. Out of these children, 1,311, or 11% of all calls cited their mother as the abuser [emphasis mine]."
"Other female perpetrators reported by children who called ChildLine were a female acquaintance, aunts, sisters, stepmothers and grandmothers."
Wow. What a humbling stat for "feminists" like Susan Clancy to digest.
"Dr. Christine Hatchard has a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology and Human Services and a doctorate in Clinical Psychology, with a specialization in Psychological Assessment. She founded Making Daughters Safe Again in 1999 and has worked with hundreds of survivors of mother-daughter sexual abuse."
Imagine that...this is the second organization I came across in the course of this research that is exclusively devoted to abuse survivors who were victims in the home by mothers, and not fathers. Are the "feminists" of Clancy's stripe absolutely certain that her immortal declaration--"Sexual abuse is not women; it's men"--are based in reality?
"According to Dr. Hatchard, the vast majority of female sexual abusers are married and heterosexual. The mother may be a survivor of abuse and act out her experiences on her daughter or son. She writes on her website, 'The mother may find it unbearable to see any part of herself in her daughter, and displace her own anger and shame over her sexuality onto her daughter. The mother often wishes to dominate and control her daughter [emphasis mine], while also seeking emotional support from her, sometimes resulting in a reversal of roles.'
Though I think the claim that someone who was sexually abused by parents will likely grow up to become abusers of their own children in turn is a highly dubious one, I think the crux of the above excerpt is the commonly reported observation that genuine sexual abuse of kids is often the result of the power that parents currently have over their kids, something that few if anyone outside the youth liberationist movement are seriously challenging for obvious political reasons. This is because such power all too often results in a desire to dominate and control those who are in a subservient position to themselves, and the above is a disturbing reminder that women are just as capable of taking advantage of this power they wield and resorting to abuse as men. This is also evident in how many female politicians tend to be every bit as warmongering and inimical to the civil rights of those under their rule as any male politician (e.g., Indira Ghandi, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, the female perpetrators of prisoner abuse in the Abu Ghraib scandal), but that is a whole other subject that I will not go into now; I just mentioned it here quickly since that is a further bit of evidence to refute the common societal belief that women are inherently nurturing and more peaceful than men when in positions of power and authority.
"There is agreement that this is a highly under-reported crime. An NSPCC report on female sex offenders in 2005 suggests that determining a precise prevalence rate is difficult because sometimes even professionals do not acknowledge that a woman is capable of committing such a heinous crime against her own child [emphasis mine].
"Less than 1% of members at Dr. Hatchards 'Making Daughters Safe Again' report that they had intervention as a child. Dr. Hatchard states that some of the reasons this is highly under-reported include:
"Therapists, doctors, social workers and other professionals know very little about this form of abuse or they simply do not consider it a possibility [emphasis mine].
"Perpetrators overwhelmingly appear like a caring mother.
"Low physical evidence that cant be detected upon a routine physical exam.
"Lack of protection by physically or emotionally absent fathers or abusive fathers.
"Abuse is hidden under the guise of normal medical care or hygiene routines."
So societal biases against men and in favor of women cause abusive mothers to get away with their bullshit far more often than abusive fathers do. Nice. Also, it amazes me that "feminists" like Clancy and others who look the other way in regards to the prevelance of maternal abuse of kids due to a belief that abuse against kids (as well as spouses) is a thing that almost only men do never seem to consider the fact that since women do not produce semen and men do, it can be much more difficult to use laboratory testing to prove (or disprove, admittedly) that a woman committed an act of sexual violence than men.
"For the sake of the children whose mothers have sexually violated them, its time society acknowledges that women can and do commit sexual abuse [emphasis mine]."
Granted, men may indeed commit acts of abuse against their kids much more often than women do, and there is undoubtably many more male situational offenders than there are female in a general sense, but ignoring the sizable number of cases that women are responsible for is totally unjustifiable and yet another result of cultural beliefs being confused with facts. And the number of female perps is well above a mere 5%.
Here is the link to Making Our Daughters Safe Again, the site mentioned above that is devoted to the cause of raising society's awareness that many kids (specifically girls in this case) are abused by their mothers, much more so than is commonly believed. Didn't Clancy ever happen upon the site of this org before? Or did she do so and just willfully block it out of her mind?
Next we find this article by Charlotte Philby. Though, as we might expect, this article contains a certain number of ignorant assertions (that I will nitpick a bit), such as the claim that child sexual abuse is a result of "pedophilia" in general--which is not accurate, as the bulk of real sexual abuse occurs in the home by situational offenders who do not have a sexual preference for minors--pedophilia (as well as hebephilia) is a set of feelings and a state of being, and does not denote any type of action. The article also fails to diffrentiate between mutually consensual sex between women and minors and the type of genuine abuse all too often inflicted by those adults who have direct power over kids. And of course, the article refuses to take the next logical step of some of its findings and suggest that perhaps the civil disempowerment of kids and their forced role as "lowest person on the family totem pole" within the confines of the present family unit may be the biggest source of these problems. But it does at least provide a lot of good info that further refutes Clancy's claim.
"The story that Sharon, who is now 40, has been unable to tell before today is one that few would wish to hear: from as far back as she can remember until the day she left home at the age of 16, Sharon, an only child, was sexually abused by her mother. The particulars of her abuse are too horrific to bear repeating in detail; this was sustained sexual violence, which she suffered silently at the hands of the one person who was supposed to love and protect her above all others [emphasis mine]."
Do parents in general, including mothers, really do such a stand up job of protecting their kids from harm when statistics show that it's most often parents who commit acts of violence, including murder, on their kids than either peers or strangers every year? Granted, many parents are decent and caring human beings, but that doesn't make their current level of power over their kids any less justifiable (a benevolent dictator is still a dictator). Let me make it clear that I do not believe it's the institution of parenthood itself that is the problem, but rather the type of near-absolute power they currently have over their kids. Parents are not the enemy of kids, and are in fact potentially the greatest human resource they have in their lives, but the type of hierarchal power that they and other adults currently have over youths under 18 may very well constitute an "enemy" to these minors.
"It was at the age of 30, when she became pregnant with her own daughter, that Sharon finally summoned the courage to speak to her GP for the first time about what had happened to her. Her fear was that if she didn't seek help to overcome her issues, they could in turn have a damaging effect on her unborn child. But her doctor's response was: 'Don't be silly, mothers don't sexually abuse children. You're understandably worried about becoming a parent yourself, but don't let your imagination run away with you.'
"And it seems this reaction is all too common."
Is it really that hard to believe that a mother, who wields the same type of power over their children as their father does, is any less capable of abusing that power?
"While researching this piece, I spoke to a number of adults men and women who as children endured horrific sexual abuse at the hands of their mothers, aunts, grandmothers and female carers [emphasis mine]. Very few of them had ever had a chance to tell their story before, and the effect of keeping their experiences to themselves for so long has had a disastrous effect on their mental state."
Though I think there is a good amount of evidence that even kids who suffer genuine abuse are not destined to be "damaged goods" for life because of it, and should be able to heal fully with sufficient support and some competent therapy, I can understand that the perceived need to hide abuse committed by a close family member, particularly a mother, can cause extreme anxiety and depression.
"The systemic denial of female sexual abuse is one of the scandals of our times. While in recent years the issue of male paedophilia has been placed firmly at the forefront of public debate in Britain, with endless high-profile media and Government campaigns bringing this formerly underground issue into the public spotlight, it seems that the involvement of women in cases of child molestation is an enduring taboo, and in order to break that wall of silence we must start by addressing a series of serious shortfalls that run throughout the child protection services in this country."
For starters, as I said above, the issue of genuine sexual abuse of kids has nothing to do with the topic of "pedophilia" per se. And the existence of MAAs has never been an "underground" issue; they have existed as long as human history has existed. It simply wasn't an issue at all until recently in history because it's only in recent history that youth sexuality, along with their general potential and competence, has been denounced and suppressed. It can be argued, though, that the sexual abuse that all too often occurs within the home by mostly situational offenders has been an "underground" issue for obvious reasons.
As for the shortfalls that "run throughout the child protection services" in any Western country, these governments do not dare address that issue directly, because it would risk undercutting one of modern society's most revered institutions, as well as bringing up the matter of youth rights. So instead, it's much safer to blame the existence of MAAs for this problem and attributing all the cases that involve arresting adult perps who live in the home to the problem of "pedophilia" rather than parental power and the civil disempowerment of youth.
"Yet, while such figures have forced us to face the reality of male child sex abuse in the UK, there are enduring myths that surround our ideas of paedophilia including ideas about the type of people who abuse."
It's nice of the author to recognize the above, but it's a shame that she won't consider the idea that there may be other myths regarding adult attraction to minors also.
"As well as founding Kidscape, Elliott is also a child psychologist with 40 years' experience and the author of Female Sexual Abuse of Children: The Ultimate Taboo. She understands all too well that predators come in all shapes and sizes, male and female. In the early Nineties, while researching her book on female sexual abuse, Elliott was a guest on the Richard and Judy breakfast show. During her brief television appearance, she invited viewers with personal experiences of female sexual abuse to phone in and share their stories. Immediately, she says, the lines started buzzing. There was barely enough time on air to answer a fraction of the calls she received from men and women of all ages, from across the country, getting in touch to share their stories."
Though I would question the definition that Elliot uses for "predator," I think it's quite telling that there has been enough hoopla about females who abuse kids--or at least those who have mutually consensual sex with them--that a book has actually been written about it. I guess Clancy and other "feminists" of her particular stripe didn't see that, either.
"Since then, Elliott has been contacted by some 800 victims, 780 of them in the UK, each desperate just to talk. In a large percentage of these cases, the abuse took place within the family home, which is one of the reasons why cases of female sexual abuse are so incredibly hard to spot [emphasis mine]. Yet, sadly, this doesn't mean that the abuse isn't happening. As Elliott points out: 'Considering that I am just one woman working for one relatively small charity, and this many people have managed to get in touch with me, I dread to think of the true scale of the problem.'"
Please note what the author said up above (which I italicized), because it's a very important acknowledgement and it is something that the welfare agencies purporting to "protect" kids need to open their eyes to and start criticizing the real reasons why so many kids get physically and sexually abused so often in the Western nations. And I wish Clancy would see that too.
"Extraordinarily, in the vast majority of cases involving female sexual abuse (of both boys and girls), the child's mother turns out to be involved in that abuse, whether offending alone or with another woman or a man [emphasis mine]."
Are you getting all of this, Susan Clancy?
"Very few have ever before felt able to talk about the abuse because they feared they would not be believed and those who have already come forward, to a doctor or therapist, have usually had their worst fears realised. One man, now 60 years old, recalls: 'When I tried to tell my therapist of my abuse when I was 35, I was told: 'You are having fantasies about your mother and you need more therapy to deal with that.' In reality, my mother had been physically and sexually abusing me for as long as I can remember. The abuse was horrific, including beatings and sadomasochistic sex.'"
Again, are you getting this, Ms. Clancy?
"And this view is one corroborated by a number of frustrated officials currently working in child welfare organisations and different parts of the British justice system, who wish to remain anonymous. These individuals say they just aren't being given the tools they need to address this issue, or even being made aware that it is an issue at all. This is perhaps not surprising when you learn that there is hardly any official information available pertaining specifically to the area of women who sexually abuse children, and barely any research being carried out, either [emphasis mine]. There have been a couple of Government-led initiatives to educate officials in welfare agencies about the issue including a conference held in Manchester last April entitled 'Child Abuse: The Female Offender'. But still nowhere near enough is being done."
I guess Clancy never heard of that conference in Manchester. Maybe the communications were down in her area of Nicaragua at the time.
"All things considered, we might do better to look somewhere other than the Government data for an idea of the prevalence of cases of child abuse involving female offenders in the UK and the most widely respected sources for this are the independent studies from ChildLine and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which are believed to provide a much more accurate picture. Suddenly, the issue of female sexual abuse doesn't look quite as uncommon as we might otherwise have believed [emphasis mine]."
"...as Zoe Hilton, the [The National Center for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children] policy advisor for child protection, suggests: 'The true extent of female sexual abuse is still a hidden picture.' Furthermore, it is not a picture that many seem in any hurry to clarify [emphasis mine]."
"One of the biggest problems, of course, is that the idea that women can and do sexually abuse children [or at least be sexual with them in a benign way--D] is highly provocative in itself [emphasis mine]."
Doesn't Clancy know that!
"'Women are perceived as the nurturers, those who are there to look after our young people," explains a spokeswoman for the online child protection act in Britain, adding that female sexual abuse is often even more threatening than male sexual abuse as it undermines what we understand about the way women relate to children [emphasis mine]. In order for us to recognise it, the spokeswoman continues, we have to set our preconceptions aside. Otherwise, children will continue to suffer in silence: 'How can a child be expected to understand they are being abused and that what they are enduring is wrong if we as a society cannot recognise women as abusers?' she asks."
It's relatively easy for a kid to tell if something that is done to their body by another person is right or wrong: if it gives them pleasure, if it doesn't cause any physical or psychological damage, and if they want such activity, then it shouldn't be considered "wrong." Most often (at least in our culture) kids do not grow up thinking of their parents in such a way (the Freudian concepts of the Oedipus and Electra Complexes notwithstanding), which is why such actvity often bothers them when initiated by a parent. Also, with the very direct power that parents have over their kids, the latter are in no position to say "no" to such sexual advances (which are why I have reservations about supporting in-the-home incest during a time period when youths do not have most of their civil rights recognized by the law). As for the particular sentence I italicized up above, that one is on target.
"Understandably, this is a sensitive and highly emotive subject, the fallout from which Michele Elliott of Kidscape has witnessed at first hand. In 1992, she held a conference in London while compiling her book on the subject of female sexual abuse. She recalls how 30 women turned up to disrupt her address: 'They stood up and started yelling about how terrible it was that I was detracting from the fact that male power was to blame [emphasis mine]. It is very disappointing when you encounter such extreme and closed-minded reactions [bwah-hah-hah! The pot calling the kettle black here? Sorry, I couldn't resist--D]. I was simply responding to what victims had told me."
Instead of blaming the abuse of kids on specifically male power, why not the dangers of female power also? Since when do women act any kinder than men when in positions of power? Has any of these people ever studied the policies and positions of female politicians, or had a female boss at a job in the past? And isn't parental power, which women share with men, one of the most prominent examples of power granted to women in society? I think parental power in general needs to be blamed here. And yes, I agree with Elliot that close-mindedness, particularly in its extreme forms, is truly a negative force in society. People in both this community and the youth community know that all too well. Which is why I couldn't help laughing when I saw that comment Elliot made in the above excerpt.
"And such closed-mindedness is rife in the criminal-justice system too, Hilary Aldridge confirms: 'There is a tendency in the courts to see the woman as a victim of a male counterpart.' But this isn't always the case by any means. Even when there is a male co-offender, this doesn't automatically mean that the female partner is an unwilling accomplice."
The above point made by Aldridge is extremely important, because the courts in all the Western nations, not just Britain, all too often make the exact same stereotypical assumptions, i.e., that all women who commit horrendous acts of abuse on minors, even murder, are most likely a dupe of some monstrous man. A very glaring example of such a thing was the case involving the horrific Canadian serial killer Paul Bernardo and his very willing accomplice--his wife Karla Homolka. Bernardo is especially loathed by hebephiles like myself (as well as the entire MAA community, of course) because he was one of those rare serial killers who targeted teen girls. His first kill was the most shocking one of all, as it was Karla's own younger teen sister Tammy (even though he only intended to rape the girl after drugging her, which was abominable on its own), but the most horrible part of the entire incident was that Karla helped him drug and rape her own little sister at his request. Since Karla worked at a veterinary clinic, she stole some halothane, a chemical used to anesthetize animals before surgery, and Bernardo used it to keep Karla's sister unconscious after knocking her out by slipping a halcion pill in a drink he made for her without the girl's knowledge. In fact, while the rape was going on, Paul requested that Karla join in on the sexual assault, and she complied. Think about this for a minute...she did this to her own sister. Unfortunately, an already horrific situation got far worse when Tammy choked to death on her own vomit. As per another of Bernardo's requests, Karla helped him hide the drugs and the camera they used to film the rape-turned-deadly and to cover up the fact that they were responsible for Tammy's death, thereby convincing her grieving parents that she and her husband had nothing to do with the fact that the girl choked to death. After all, how could the Homolka's possibly suspect that their daughter was remotely capable of doing such a thing to her own little sister? Since Karla was home that night, they couldn't imagine she would let her husband do anything to her sister without fighting like mad to protect her.
After this, the horrid activities of Bernardo continued as he targeted two other teen girls before he was found out and arrested, but he couldn't have successfully kidnapped either of those girls without Karla's help. Bernardo and Karla's modus operandi for kidnapping these girls would be for Karla to drive up to the curb near where the girls were walking without her husband in the car and call the girl over to her vehicle to ask for directions. Both girls did so in succession because, as Bernardo had anticipated, they would be much more likely to trust approaching a strange woman than they would a man. When the girls were talking to Karla, Bernardo, who was hiding nearby, would sneak up behind them and force them into the car at knifepoint. What followed for both of his following victims was days of torture and sexual abuse, all of which Bernardo caught on camera--and all of which Karla directly participated in, which included her sexually assaulting the girls in various ways at Bernardo's direction. Bernardo then killed both of his victims, deliberately this time, and disposed of their bodies, and Karla helped with that, too. Luckily, Bernardo's obsessive and perverse need to get the sexual abuse on film proved to work against him when he finally went to court since the films provided proof of what he did. What the confiscated films also showed the jury during their trial was Karla's direct involvement, and though her attorney pleaded with the jury to accept his claim that Karla only did this because she was forced to do so under threat of death by her husband, the jurors noted that she participated in the sexual assaults of the girls with a lot of evident enthusiasm, and she seemed to be very aroused while doing so. Could she fake that and put on such a good performance under duress? And even if she was threatened by her husband to help him drug and rape her little sister, wouldn't anyone expect her to defy her husband and fight to protect her sister even if it may have meant her own death? Couldn't she have told her husband she would go along with it and then shove a knife in his back when he wasn't looking, before they actually went through with it? Needless to say, the jury had trouble believing the claims of Karla's attorney and found her as guilty of the horrible crimes as her husband was (as noted before, not only did she directly participate in all of them, but Bernardo couldn't have gotten his hands on those girls--including Tammy Homolka--nearly as easily without Karla's help). Despite the verdict by the jury, the judge decided to go soft on Karla with the sentencing, so she only got a mere seven years in prison while her husband (thank God!) got life imprisonment. Why didn't Karla get put away for life also? This partial travesty of justice wouldn't likely have occurred if Bernardo's loyal accomplice had been male.
Next up, there was an article that appeared on Salon.com on the very same day and under the very same category (Sexual Abuse) as Clancy's interview that further blows holes in Clancy's rather sexist assumption.
Here is a link to the entire 'Sexual Abuse' section of Salon.com featuring recent articles on that topic, including Thomas Rogers' interview with Susan Clancy about her new book that is the main subject of this essay. Scroll down to the article "Nuns on the run from the truth" by feminist progressive author Frances Kissling and you will see yet another set of allegations of sexual abuse towards minors in the Catholic hierarchy, only this time not perpetrated by priests but by nuns. I am not making any judgements on how true all of these allegations are since I have not yet conducted a detailed study of these claims against the Catholic clergy, but since priests and nuns are authority figures and Catholic boarding schools are extremely authoritarian in nature, with kids being oppressed there to a heavy degree, it doesn't surprise me too much if situational offenders would flourish in such places. This is because most situational offenders operate within the home, boarding schools, or other places where adult religious authority figures have such a huge degree of power over kids, and where the environment takes the place of the home for students residing there. So it's not surprising that the same type of abuse that all too often goes on in homes would go on there too. And since several Catholic priests and nuns may have serious personal issues as a result of forcing celibacy and general sex negative attitudes upon themselves, that may indeed be the reason why some of them segue their natural authoritarian attitudes into particularly corrupt power trips. Such power trips may cause them to "act out" their frustrations on those who currently are compelled to be under their authority. And since (contrary to Clancy's attitude) nuns in these authoritarian institutions often have the same degree of power over kids that the priests do, should it be surprising to anyone that they will often take advantage of their power and authority in ways similar to their male counterparts in the hierarchy? This is an especially good question when you consider how nuns are at least as notorious as any male members of the clergy for dispensing cruel abuses of their authority, sometimes including outright physical abuse, against kids under their charge in such places. Please look at this one single excerpt from Kissling's article:
"Instances like this [i.e., numerous reports of physical abuse by nuns] were child's play compared with some of the stories told by boys and girls abused by U.S. sisters at the same time as lucky girls like me were flourishing in Catholic girls' schools. Pamela Miller, a reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, reported on a press conference of survivors of nun abuse held in June 2006. Five women who were among a dozen Minnesotans and an 'estimated 400 men and women who have recently come forward to talk about being sexually abused by nuns' [emphasis mine] told their stories."
Please keep in mind again that the above article was composed by a fellow female feminist of Clancy, and it may be surmised that Kissling is a member of a class of feminism that is closer to the true essence of a noble movement dedicated to achieving female empowerment and equality of opportunity in society, which includes being harsh on members of the female gender when necessary, rather than the man-hating spin-off of the movement that wrongly uses the same moniker ("feminism"), the latter of which can see women and girls as being nothing other than victims, and rarely if ever perpetrators of abuse when in positions of power themselves.
No analysis of this subject can be complete without reminding Clancy (and other "feminists" of her stripe) of the truly horrifying murder of a teen girl that was taken under the wing of Gertrude Baniszewski. In 1965, Baniszewski, who was a single mom that adopted several kids, viciously and brutally tortured Sylvia Likens, one of the teen girls she had adopted whom she grew to despise. This torture continued over a prolonged period of time and left the girl in extreme agony for far too long before the mercy of death finally released her. Not only that, but Baniszewski had her own adopted kids join in on the brutality inflicted upon the hapless girl, and also invited young boys from the neighborhood to likewise join in. The horrors inflicted upon Likens ran the entire gamut of psychological and physical brutality of the highest extreme, and this included sexual abuse such as frequently raping the girl with a Coke bottle to the extent that Likens' vagina was almost swollen shut by the time her body was discovered and an autopsy was peformed to determine the extent of the damage (as horrible as the actions of Jefferey Dahmer were, at least he typically drugged his male victims into unconsciousness before dismembering them). The sexual abuse inflicted upon Likens by Baniszewski was so extreme that Likens became incontinent as a result, and because of this Baniszewski kept her chained in the basement, often naked and with a minimum of food, from that time onwards.
The full extent of the unspeakable brutality that this teen girl suffered under the hands of Baniszewski and her young accomplices is described in detail in the link provided above, and a warning is in order: that particular entry on Wikipedia is not for the weak of stomach, and because of that I will not repeat any more of it in this essay (and what I did report here was, sadly, merely the tip of the iceberg). Needless to say, what happened to Sylvia Likens as a result of Baniszewski's extraordinary cruelty was labeled "the single worst crime perpetrated against an individual in Indiana's history" by one of the people involved in her court case when the woman was tried for first-degree murder. Ultimately, Baniszewski was sentenced to 18 years in prison following an appeal, and despite the intense protests by groups such as Protect the Innocent and Society's League Against Molestation, as well as an equal degree of protests all over the media by Sylvia Likens' family, Baniszewski was paroled and released from prison due to almost two decades of good behavior behind bars (mm-hmmm). If Baniszewski was a man, it can be readily assumed that her appeal would have been denied and she would have gotten life imprisonment without the possibility of parole (Baniszewski died in 1990 of lung cancer). Baniszewski should never have been released from prison, and had her parole occurred in more recent years, you can rest assured that the MAA community would have been foremost in protesting her release. The Baniszewski incident was chronicled in the recent film An American Crime starring Catherine Keener as Gertrude Baniszewski and Ellen Page as Sylvia Likens, and it was released on Showtime in 2008. It's now available on DVD, and I urge those with reasonably strong stomachs to watch this film and think upon its implications. I further urge anyone who may have doubts as to the capability of women committing such horrible crimes against kids under their charge to watch this film regardless of their gastrointesinal constitution because they need to experience the shock out of their current mode of thinking that this film will help provide.
Of course, Clancy and other "feminists" of her camp would insist that cases like Baniszewski's were incredibly rare, but based on the rest of the info on this subject I have presented in the latter portion of this essay, such horrible abuse inflicted upon minors by women within the home or other institutions where adults have such near-total control under the kids in their care (such as the Catholic boarding schools mentioned above) is much more common than "feminists" such as Clancy--and our entire society in general--are willing to admit.
Yes, women can be very nurturing and caring to kids under their care, and in the majority of the cases, they are. So can men, however. There are any number of single fathers out there who treat their kids quite well under the circumstances. And yes, men do commit acts of violence against kids under their care much more often than women do. But the fact remains, however unpleasant it may be for certain elements of society to admit, that women who are in positions of extreme authority over minors commit acts of often horrifying abuse against the kids under their care much more often than is frequently believed. And as the above reports suggest, such women often commit acts that are of even greater savagery and brutality than their male counterparts do, which often includes severe cases of sexual abuse and murder. Further, the above info makes it quite clear that many decent, non-abusive women will engage in illegal but mutually consensual relationships with minors of both genders, and that female MAAs are certainly far more common than our society will admit.
As I have often said in my various writings within the MAA community, the problem is neither men or women, but rather the degree of power that adults are given over kids in the modern nuclear family unit and in most of its educational institutions. You will note, for example, that I have never heard of a single case of abuse inflicted upon kids by either the men or women who are part of the staff of the democratic schools based upon the Sudbury model, and this speaks volumes as to the future solution of the problem of child abuse once society gets over its love affair and consequent blind eye turned towards the current hierarchal institutions in society that are run like totalitarian governments. Since Clancy is a woman dedicated to uncovering truth no matter how uncomfortable society is with hearing it, I think there is a good possibility that she is capable of eventually embracing the tenets of youth liberation in the future. Time will tell, but lets all give Clancy a chance.
Finally, here is a link to another book (again written by a woman, natch!) that Ms. Clancy seems to have missed:
Sexual Abuse of Children by Women by Michelle Elliott.
I trust I have made my case on the above point. If Ms. Clancy believes that either mutually consensual sex between adult women and minors or genuine sexual abuse of minors by mothers or other female relatives and those who are in positions of heavy authority over kids (and yes, I will make that distinction, unlike her, because it's a major distinction), she needs to put her "feminist" biases aside and do a lot more research. If I could do it, so could she.
If Ms. Clancy ever reads this, I hope she will one day forgive me for coming off as so harsh on her, but I would like to think she can understand the strong degree of passion that an activist of any stripe can have. And I am sure she can fully understand the strong desire for anyone to make the truth about a certain controversial subject known, regardless of how uncomfortable society may be in confronting and acclimating to that truth.
Okay, in overview of all the above in this essay:
The Trauma Myth is probably going to become one of the most important books written in terms of its impact on both the MAA community and the youth community for the first decade of the 21st century since Judith Levine's Harmful To Minors and Robert Epstein's The Case Against Adolescence. It contains a highly controversial--but very necessary--refutation of one of the most powerful myths used to propogate the sexual abuse hysteria that causes both the media and the government to mercilously persecute Minor Attracted Adults, as well as wage a war on youth sexuality and any possible expression of it. This includes the passing of more and more Orwellian laws that not only increase the already prodigious chains around the freedom of youths under 18, but also attacks the civil liberties of everyone in this country under the auspices of "protecting children." The main objective of such laws and the hysteria that bolsters support for them is to keep youths under 18 in their current place, and a major part of that is to suppress their sexual nature. MAAs are simply the equivalent of "collateral damage" in the hysteria and accompanying witch-hunting by the government (to borrow a very apt usage of military vernacular from a fellow Girl Lover activist, qtns2di4).
After the publication of this book, Clancy has made it very explicit ("forcefully," as she puts it in her Salon interview) that she has not written this book to advance the rights of MAAs (who she seems to loathe as much as anyone else), nor has she written this book to advance youth rights or legitimize their sexual nature (as has Judith Levine, another fellow feminist progressive writer, albeit one who takes her status as a progressive much more seriously). She simply has the stated goal of helping victims of sexual abuse, and she feels that the continuation of any type of sociological, psychological, or cultural myths that may hinder the understanding of what sexual abuse victims go through is wrong and must be opposed no matter how controversial and politically unpopular pointing out these truths may be, and no matter what the personal costs to herself may be. For this, as I said before, Susan Clancy is to be commended and admired. She deserves a lot of props, and despite the ignorance of many of her claims against MAAs and men in general, she is a courageous woman and I am going to give her the accolades she deserves.
I will also remind everyone in the MAA community and youth communities, as well as all of those in the ever-growing youth liberation movement, that the publication of this book is no small thing. What Susan Clancy calls the "trauma myth" was perhaps the most powerful socio-cultural myth disguised and mistaken for some sort of objective truth used to justify societal condemnation of intergenerational relationships. It has made crystal clear what pro-choice members of the MAA community, a sentiment echoed by many gerontophiles who have had positive relationships with adults as youths, have been saying for as long as I have been an active participant in this community, and also much longer. It is a validation that mutually consensual and mutually desired romantic/sexual relationships between younger and older people do not automatically and magickally cause trauma or lifelong emotional damage to the younger person involved in the relationship. This book proves the contention of the activists in both the MAA and youth communities that progress towards change is indeed occurring incrementally, and that there is hope for the future. Once again, Clancy did not intend the book to serve this latter purpose and she makes it very clear in her interview that she is not "pro-pedophile" in any way, shape, or form. Nevertheless, the book still serves to dispell one of society's greatest myths in the sexual abuse hysteria, one used as an extremely potent weapon to justify all the draconian laws designed to prevent youths under 18 from any type of sexual interactions with legal adults--or oftentimes even with peers--no matter how much it may erode our democracy (or pretenses to it, at least).
I am not saying that we don't still have a long way to go before making the case for the legitimization of our orientation, as well as the achievement of respect for youth competence that will lead to the establishment of all of their civil rights. There are many important questions that Clancy does not bother to tackle in her book, such as the manner in which the legally disempowered status of youths and their forced dependence on adults for the first 18 years of their lives may play in the rampant amount of abuse of all kinds (including but not limited to the sexual) that is perpetrated against them, the role that the authoritarian and hierarchal nature of the currently dominant family unit--the nuclear family unit, where the majority of actual abuse of all kinds, including the greatest number of non-accidental deaths, inflicted upon minors occurs-- plays in this situation, the way the "pedophile panic" is rapidly transforming the Western nations into borderline police states, the manner in which the war on youth sexuality is causing many young teens who express themselves sexually to be arrested and placed on sex offender registries (e.g., the 'sexting' phenomenon), and the questioning of why she still considers it intrinsically "wrong" for adults and youths under 18 to enjoy mutually consensual romantic/sexual relationships with each other if the evidence she has compiled for this book--which has been stated in similar objective studies in the past, including the Congressionally condemned Rind Report-- establishes once and for all that no trauma or emotional damage automatically occurs as if by some mystical force when two people of disparate age groups share a mutual desire for intimacy with each other. These are all questions that need to be confronted and addressed in the future, and though Clancy is not going to be the one to do this (at least not at this point in her career), what she has done in this book is still exceedingly important and ground-breaking. Though the antis and much of academia will do their best to either denounce it or ignore it, it's not going to go away, and its implications on the validity of the war on youth sexuality and the expression and legitimacy thereof cannot be denied.