Review of Susan Clancy

From William A. Percy
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Susan Clancy's Stake Through The Heart Of The Child Sex Abuse Industry

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).

The most spectacular and debated book on this subject is Clancy's boldly entitled The Trauma Myth. It has driven a stake through the heart of the dogmatic assertion of the child sexual abuse industry that intergenerational sex - even that of infants under 6 and children under 13 with adults over 18 - is automatically traumatic to the younger person. Clancy, who interviewed only victims not hospitalized or in treatment, says that it only traumatizes those 10% compelled by violence and intimidation. Rind et al. (see their meta-analysis in Psychological Bulletin, July 1998,) claimed that boys, who were abused only half as often on average were less frequently traumatized than girls, partly because they were less abused through incest and force than girls. That work was quickly unanimously censored by both houses of Congress.

While denouncing intergenerational sexual contact as - widespread and highly controversial, Clancy asserts that trauma only occurs years later, when a hostile society condemns it to the victim once an adult. One wonders whether if society were to accept such relationships as inevitable, as it has homosexuality, prostitution, and gambling, there would be no harm at all – a solution that she doesn’t seem to consider. Since legalizing those relationships often seems to have had positive results, she should at least consider having the age of consent lowered to 14, which would mark progress and reduce trauma and other damage.

The main reason why Clancy’s Trauma Myth has evoked such shock (26 reviews to date on Amazon.com, of which 15 give the book the lowest rating, one star) so soon after its publications is not only its catchy title compared to Sarah Goode’s tedious one - but because it asserts that intergenerational sex even involving pre-pubescent children does not immediately create a trauma. She asserts that the trauma comes only later, after the infant or child grows up and learns that what it did is considered horrible, and - internalizes incorrectly that he/she might have in some way encouraged it. Consequently, this work -–potentially opens the way to the claims of the still-suppressed, but more favorable to intergenerational male-male relations, works written by Bruce Rind and Richard Yuill. Rind has argued that in fact there is no harm at all in many cases of such male-male sexuality if it does not involve force, incest, or intimidation, and that in general, it is less-traumatizing than the far more common adult male with underage female encounter, and that it shouldn’t be called a pathological disorder as it currently is being considered to be cited as in the DSM-IV - diagnostic manual.

Clancy’s work is not without flaws. I think that she might have made greater distinctions about whether incest, force, and the effect on girls as contrasted to boys might have increased the adverse reactions as some think. Perhaps the most - crucial point is that she restricted her interviews to adults who were under age 12, when they had the sexual encounter --with - an adult. As some suggest, infants and younger children tend to have more negative experiences than adolescents in sexual encounters with adults. Still, the work provocatively explores a controversial topic, and for that its value should be rightly acknowledged.

As a historian, all I can say is that throughout most of recorded history, and as far as I can ascertain, throughout preliterate societies also, the immense majority of sexual unions, often commencing with marriages between males in their late teens (17-19) and females in their early to mid teens under 16, occurred without trauma, so that trauma from such a union surely must be a modern social construct as Susan Clancy has implied.

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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