Review of Sarah Goode

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Not Traumatic, But Still Morally Wrong

For Amazon, US.

Draft Review of Sarah Goode's Understanding and Addressing Adult Sexual Attraction To Children: A Study Of Paedophiles In Contemporary Society

Before 1948, the annus mirabilis of the Homophile Movement, you could publish nothing favorable or even neutral about homosexuality in the good ole USA. In that year came Kinsey, Vidal, and the Bachelors for Wallace, out of which grew Mattachine. It organized the first ever petition, demonstration, parade, case that dismissed charges of lewd behavior, college level courses, and our first ever magazine. One, which after a two year struggle won in 1958 from the U.S. Supreme Court the right to be distributed by the U.S. Post Office, and thus blazed the way.

Today, just as about homosexuality before 1948, you can't publish anything even neutral, much less positive, about pederasty -- now conflated with pedophilia, and demonized (as witchcraft was by the Inquisition and communism by Joe McCarthy). At long last, the Roman Catholics, traumatized by the priest sex scandal, which just now even penumbrating His Holiness the Pope himself, are trying to distinguish the two: pederasty being with adolescents and pedophilia, supposedly much more damnable, with prepubescents. Three brave but demonized women have succeeded in publishing studies of intergenerational sex which are not so extremely negative: Harmful to Minors by Judith Levine (University of Minnesota Press, 2002), The Trauma Myth by Susan Clancy (Basic Books, 2009), and Understanding and Addressing Adult Sexual Attraction To Children: A Study of Paedophiles In Contemporary Society by Sarah Goode (Routledge, 2009).

Questioning and interviewing fifty six willing adults (54 males, 2 females) attracted to minors, Goode arrived at virtually the same conclusions that Susan Clancy, who interviewed in contrast the prepubescent victims after they reached adulthood, namely that the younger partners were not necessarily immediately traumatized. Like Clancy, Goode got her data from people who were not undergoing prosecution or treatment. Both of these women, coming from opposite directions, concluded that the mantra of the child sex abuse industry demonizing all adults involved in intergenerational sex, with pedophiles lumped together with pederasts were wrong and we were inspired in part by selfish gain. Thus, like Levine's Harmful to Minors (2002), Goode's is an essentially fine piece of research, but it hardly goes beyond Rind's "Meta-Analytic Examination Of Assumed Properties Of Child Sexual Abuse" (1998), which unlike these other studies is limited to male-male. Unlike Rind, the three women all condemn such relations as immoral because they supposedly infringe the right of those under 18 to make informed consent. The damage is not physical or psychological, but, according to Clancy and Goode, moral. Unlike mainstream coverage, based mainly on those undergoing prosecution or treatment, Goode concluded that there is a great variety among adults attracted to minors, and not all are monsters who should be eliminated from society.

Goode acknowledged that there is not necessarily universal harm of any sort, even when prepubescents are involved, but insists, nevertheless, that without out any demonstrable harm, intergenerational sexuality with those under 18 should be, like Clancy holds, prohibited because it violates the "child's" right -- due to their inability and incapacity -- really to thoroughly consent to sex. Unlike Clancy's, Goode's book is less well written and suffers from its origin as a doctoral dissertation and its overly long title.

Goode categorically denied that people should be vilified because of what they are rather than what they do, and thus in my opinion helps to deconstructed the monster myth.

While Goode regularly gets vilified in the mainstream media for allegedly being soft on pedophiles, e.g. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=408084, Richard Yuill, unlike me an expert in this field, has remarked, that Goode does not go far enough in fostering the understanding she has developed about this population.

"In a recent ethnographic study on paedophiles in contemporary society, Sarah Goode certainly recognises the lowly position of self-identified child lovers within contemporary Western society, yet fails to fully theorise the implications of this when it comes to core epistemological issues of knowledge production, scientific veracity, and what cultural stories are able to be disseminated," wrote Yuill in an email to me. "The central reason for this oversight is her naive adoption of an essentialist perspective on adult-child sexual relations and subsequent failure to engage with constructionist and deconstructionist insights on childhood." 

"Furthermore, the attitude Goode displays to her research respondents is far from empathetic or ethical. Indeed, most of her final summation amounts to a rubbishing of the “supposed” positions taken by self-identified paedophiles, and tends to take the form of a self-congratulatory monologue on how convincing she finds the child sexual abuse (CSA) paradigm in her understanding of adult-child sexual relationships. Goode also doesn’t hide her complicity in current legal strictures on paedophiles, by openly declaring her intent to contact the police, and in positioning her work as an important tool in “child protection.” 

"Her basically unreconstructed modernist approach to sexual epistemology ultimately fails to provide significant theoretical or practical insights. In contrast, Goode’s reliance on developmental and neurophysiological approaches lead her down a blind alley, one which supposedly presents a liberal notion of progressive toleration, but in fact ultimately binds sexual theory and praxis to a bureaucratic, monolithic regimen, and consigns both paedophiles and children to a sinister and dystopian future.  "

Other major studies, but only in of male-to-male intergenerational sex, which actually tried to justify it in most cases, still remain unpublished. Bruce Rind et. al., "A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse (CSA) using college samples," in Psychological Bulletin (1998) was, after a hysterical media outrage, unamimously condemned by both houses of Congress, but he since has written a far longer and deeper comprehensive defense and, independently, Richard Yuill’s Ph.D. thesis, Male Age Discrepant Intergenerational Sexualities and Relationships (2005), a dissertation carefully supervised at the University of Glasgow, is also yet to be published. Rind's is a more nuanced work (with attached appraisals by other and his own rejoinders to them) is, in my opinion, a masterpiece. Another gripping and very well written pertinent study that some fans are desperately trying to suppress is the in press book Michael Jackson's Dangerous Liaisons by Carl Toms. Male-to-male is still the most condemned type of intergenerational sex, (as in the priest "scandal"), a holdover from homophobia, but less than half as frequent as male-female intergenerational sex, and both are less frequent than female-to-female (which often just amounts to cuddling or petting without penetration or climax, which therefore makes it hard to assess or enumerate) and female-to-male, which was formally praised as making a man out of the boy until not so long ago!

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