The missing mechanism of harm

The “virtuous” debate over the last few days (see latest two previous posts) has been a remarkably lively one, and genuinely virtuous as regards the courteous terms in which it has been conducted. My thanks to all who have taken part. Much was asserted from the self-styled virtuous side about the potential harmfulness of adult-child sexual contacts. It is very timely, then, that I have just received a piece submitted by Dave Riegel as a guest blog which addresses this issue based on information rather than speculation. A remarkable aspect of this piece which I have not seen formally set out before is that those who are so loud on the subject of harm have no explanation as to how harm could be intrinsic to non-coerced sexual contacts: hence the “missing mechanism” of the title.
Dave started his extensive researches and writing in retirement. He has had a number of articles published in peer-reviewed journals, including the prestigious Archives of Sexual Behavior. He has pioneered the use of internet surveys to reach minor-attracted persons, especially BLs, thus providing a valuable source of information not reached by research based on clinical and offender samples. As will be seen, his guest blog is formatted like an academic article, complete with Abstract and References. Dave tells me he may develop and refine it further for journal publication.

The Missing Mechanism of Harm

Abstract

For decades there have been claims that all sexual interactions between children and older persons “. . . cause harm, [that] this harm is pervasive, . . . [is] likely to be intense, . . . [and] is an equivalent experience for boys and girls . . .” (Rind, Bauserman, and Tromovitch 1998, p. 22). [1] There is, however, no mechanism (anon, 2013) offered as to how these sexual interactions actually cause harm, and, as noted by Bailey, “a surprising . . . lack of scientific evidence” (2011, p. 3) for these claims. Clancy (2009) took the position that at least initial trauma is a “myth,” and as far back as 1981, Constantine described the effects of interference based on this assumed/assigned harmfulness as “psychonoxious” (p. 241). This paper reviews a sampling of the literature in this area, takes issue with these unsupported claims, and argues that, instead, much real damage is done by assuming the existence of intrinsic harm when the only harm that occurs apparently is extrinsic.
One of the earliest proposals for this assumed damage is to be found in Finkelhor (1979), where he presented his research data purporting to show intrinsic harm from boy/older male sexually expressed interactions. However, when this research was shown to have a “near-fatal skew” (Sandfort, 1987, p.9) and to have been based on “a loaded questionnaire . . . ” (Bauserman, 1990, p. 305), Finkelhor abandoned any pretext of scientific objectivity and fell back on subjective “moral issues” as the “final arbiter” of the question:

 Ultimately, I do continue to believe that the prohibition on adult-child sexual contact is primarily a moral issue. While empirical findings have some relevance they are not the final arbiter. . . . . Some types of social relationships violate deeply held values and principles in our culture about equality and self-determination. Sex between adults and children is one of them (Finkelhor, 1990, p. 314).

Finkelhor did not extend his emphases on the above mentioned “equality and self-determination” to juveniles; he instead presumes to impose unilateral judgment on what they may or may not do with their own sexuality. “Victimology,” as his model came to be known, and his principal theme, “child sexual abuse” (CSA), dwell on unidirectional, assumedly traumatic “sex between adults and children.” Ondersma et al. (2001) also asserted that CSA is “a moral and legal term. . . with a sociological [i.e “opinion based”] rather than an empirical [i.e., “fact based”] foundation.” Victimology, which seems to be more concerned with the social control of juveniles than with understanding them as they really are, also largely ignores the documented examples of children willingly seeking out sexual encounters with older persons (e. g. Bender & Blau, 1937; Sandfort, 1987).
As for the significance of “deeply held values and principles in our culture,” it is well to remember that for over 200 years eminent “social scientists” like Finkelhor steadfastly “held” that young male masturbation resulted in everything from acne to lunacy, and it was only in the 1950s that this “masturbation insanity” finally was dismissed as the utter nonsense it had always been (e.g. Hare, 1962; Laqueur, 2003). Finkelhor and Brown (1985, 1986, etc.) have offered an elaborate scheme of “traumagenic dynamics,” but they still failed to provide a valid mechanism as to how a willing sexually expressed boy/older male interaction becomes harmful. Clancy also admitted that she “cannot offer a clear theoretical model as to exactly how and why sexual abuse damages victims” (2009, p. 142).
From a non-sociological and strictly physical point of view, it seems reasonable and likely that most boys would, apart from and prior to cultural negative brainwashing, find gentle stimulation of their penis pleasurable, whether they do it to/for themselves, or they willingly allow/encourage another person to participate. So why and how do such experiences become “harmful?” If the boy is coerced, or if some aspect of the experience becomes emotionally or physically distressing, then the potential for harm exists. But if a willing boy initially finds the incident pleasant and desirable, only iatrogenic outside influence would seem to be able to “reconceptualize” (Clancy, 2009, p. 121) it into “harm.” Kilpatrick also posed a very relevant question: “What has been harmed—the child or the moral code?” (1987, p.179).
Sex is basically simplistic and instinctive, especially for boys. Wilson noted “Priests, doctors, psychiatrists, and others have invested sex with magical powers . . . [but boys] . . . saw sex as being no more than just a game. . . ” (1981, pp. 129-130) whose principal purposes and motivations would seem to be the simple physical pleasures of arousal and orgasm. As such, any requirement for formalized “consent” is irrelevant; simple “willingness” is more than adequate for such initially uncluttered and essentially inconsequential experiences. However, denying this instinctual drive has the very real potential for emotional frustration and social maladjustment (Prescott, 1975).
While the sexophobia that is the basis and fundamental principle of victimology must be learned from an outside source before consensual sex can be twisted into something negative, any unwanted and unwilling sexual encounter has the potential for harm, not from the sex, but from the intrinsic infringement of the victim’s self-determination. This is true with males and females, with adults as well as children, and no attempt is made here to excuse or justify such violations.
It is unpleasant to be reminded, but the social sciences have a long history of getting things horribly wrong, from the hyper-behaviorism of Watson and Skinner through “repressed/recovered memories” (Loftus & Ketcham, 1994), “disassociative identity disorder” (Piper & Merskey, 2004), and “Satanic ritual abuse” (Nathan & Snedecker, 1995), to mention just a sampling. The decades-long gradual exorcism of homosexuality as a harm-based mental illness from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association is well known, as is the previously mentioned depathologization of masturbation insanity. The current victimological assumption of harm in regards to sexually expressed boy/older male relationships has neither objective foundations nor offers any rational mechanism of cause. It is not logically defensible, and needs to be superseded by fact based and empirically supported legitimate science.
REFERENCES
anon. (2013) Mechanism of Harm. Internet posting by “shy guy” 22 January 2013: http://www.boychat.org/messages/1330899.htm
Bauserman, R. (1990). Objectivity and ideology: Criticism of Theo Sandfort’s research on man-boy sexual relations. In T. Sandfort, E. Brongersma, & A. van Naerssen (Eds.) Male Intergenerational Intimacy. Binghamton NY: Harrington Park. 297-312).
Bailey, J. M. (2011). Book Review: Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Liaisons. Archives of Sexual Behavior, DOI 10.1007/s10508-011-9842-1
Bender, L. & Blau, A. (1937). The reaction of children to sexual relations with adults. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 7, 500-518.
Clancy, S. (2009). The Trauma Myth. New York: Basic Books.
Constantine, L. (1981). The Effects of Early Sexual Experiences. In L. Constantine & F. Martinson (Eds.) Children and Sex: New Findings, New Perspectives. Boston: Little-Brown.
Finkelhor, D. (1979). Sexually victimized children. New York: Free Press.
Finkelhor, D. (1990). Response to Bauserman. In T. Sandfort, E. Brongersma, & A. van Naerssen (Eds.) Male Intergenerational Intimacy. Binghamton NY: Harrington Park 313-315.
Finkelhor, D. & Browne, A. (1985). The traumatic impact of child sexual abuse: A conceptualization. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 55(4), 530-541.
Finkelhor, D. & Browne, A. (1986). Initial and long-term effects: A conceptual framework. In D. Finkelhor; S. Araji; L. Baron; A. Browne; S. Peters; G. Wyatt(Eds.) A Sourcebook on Child Sexual Abuse. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. pp. 180-196.
Hare, E. (1962). Masturbatory insanity: the history of an idea. Journal of Mental Science, 108, 1-25
Janus, S., & Bess, B. (1981). Latency: fact or fiction? In L. Constantine & F. Martinson (Eds.) Children and sex. New findings, new perspectives.(pp. 75-82). Boston: Little Brown.
Kilpatrick, A. (1987) Childhood sexual experiences: Problems and issues in studying long-range effects, Journal of Sex Research, 23:2, 173-196
Laqueur, T. (2003). Solitary sex. A cultural history of masturbation. New York: Zone.
Loftus, E.F. & Ketcham, K. (1994) The Myth of Repressed Memory. NY: St. Martin’s.
Nathan, D. & Snedecker, M. (1995). Satan’s Silence. New York: Basic Books.
Ondersma, S., Chafin, M., Berliner, L., Cordon, I., Goodman, G., & Barnett, D. (2001) Sex with children is abuse. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 707-714.
Piper A., & Merskey H. (2004). The persistence of folly: a critical examination of dissociative identity disorder. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 49 (9): 592–600.
Prescott, J. (1975). Body pleasure and the origin of violence. The Futurist, IX, (2) 64-74.
Rind, B., Tromovitch, P., Bauserman, R. (1998) A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 22-53
Sandfort, T. (1987). Boys on their contacts with men. Elmhurst, NY: Global Academic.
Wilson, P. (1981). The man they called a monster. North Melbourne, Australia: Cassell.


[1] Note: Some of the evidence and arguments offered in this essay are to some degree applicable to other younger/older gender combinations (girl/older male, etc.), but there is evidence that boys are more forward in sexual explorations (Janus & Bess, 1981), likely to seek out older males for information (Sandfort, 1987), and less prone to experience the assumed/assigned harm cited by Rind et al. (1998).
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Cyril

the Childhood trauma questionnary is not reliable enough to test “childhood sexual trauma”:

Cyril

many victimologic studies I find are made with exactly this questionnary used, and if it is not so reliable in evaluation of “sexual trauma”, then all the studies have proven nothing

Last edited 1 day ago by Cyril
Cyril

there is a study on how PTSD influences the child’s testimonies:

Cyril

a new study on secondary victimization:

Cyril

There is a new study, where “The (CSA-selfinjury) correlation analysis results were contrary to previous findings, such as those of Thomassin et al. (2016) who reported a correlation between sexual abuse and NSSI in a sample of adolescent hospitalizations. This difference may be due to cultural causes.”

It proves Clancy hypothesis.

Cyril

different people evaluate how traumatic one’s sexual experience is differently, and their evaluations overlap “moderately”:

Cyril

the CSA-loneliness correlation is “mediated by perceived social support, social connectedness”:

It seems to prove Clancy hypothesis

Cyril

CSA does not cause non‐suicidal self‐injury! Suicidal ideation correlates not with the CSA directly, but rather with “facets of emotion dysregulation (i.e. clarity, non‐acceptance)(,) automatic negative reinforcement, social negative and social positive reinforcement” whatever it mean:

Cyril

it is “found that undergraduates growing up in rural and suburban areas are more vulnerable to the adverse psychological effects of CSA”:

That sounds weird: what is the difference whether one was raped or something in a city or in the countryside? It seems that Rind et al. were right when said that CSA-insanity correlation is not casual [T. O’C.: think you mean “causal”; also mental “trauma”, or “harm”, rather than insanity: readers please note that English is not Cyril’s first language], but rather a result of two correlations family-CSA and family-insanity, so that poor families subject children to both CSA and insanity, not connected to each other.

Cyril

“sexual trauma” influences “Maternal, fetal, and neonatal health”:

sounds like the theory of degeneration

Cyril

“watching porn, masturbation, sexting (text, photo and video), extramarital heterosexual intercourse by nonpayment, sex in return for payment, homosexuality, child abuse (sexual and behavioral), and abortion… can harm physical and psychological health of young people”, i.e., the university students (of adults!) — proved by Iranian scientists, still living in the 19ᵗʰ century:

Cyril

the correlation between chilhood sex “abuse” experience and adulthood sexual dysfunction depends on what is called abuse: https://doi.org/10.1177/15248380221113780

Cyril

a new study has shown that maternal experience of “mental abuse affected existing risk factors (of her child abuse) more directly over time compared to physical and sexual abuse. Additionally, the impact of early life maltreatment and maternal depression on child psychopathology varied by rater.” The most predictive ratings were school one and self-evaluation of emotional problems: https://doi.org/10.1159/000525760

Cyril

“Suspected (child abuse and neglect) was detected in both children with (functional constipation) as in healthy controls. The possible association between CAN and FC in children could not be confirmed.” https://ubmed.com/m/35648803

Cyril

what news do you want to be informed of? May be I should send them to your email address?

[…] guest blog, today, comes from Dave Riegel, who also contributed The missing mechanism of harm back in February. His theme this time, as will be seen, is very much related to recent debates here […]

Mike

Think of it this way, Tom: how would you react to the statement: ““Sex is basically simplistic and instinctive, especially for negroes” or “Sex is basically simplistic and instinctive, especially for women.”
[TOC: Yes, reading you loud and clear, as before. For the third time, you have a good point. Now please give me some peace until at least tomorrow!]

Mike

I wish to appeal your yellow card, Tom. My boyhood sexuality was anything but simplistic and instinctual, and I suspect yours was as well. It was anything but simplistic to navigate who I could express physical intimacy with, when were the appropriate occasions, and what forms were acceptable to what partners. Even the most basic concepts of ‘sex’ (am I male or female?) is hardly a simplistic question for many boys and girls. To contend that the sexuality of minors in our culture is ‘simplistic’ beggars the imagination of any informed student of childhood, or any ex-child. Additionally significant aspect of my boyhood sexuality involved gaining access to, and experience with, pornography. Since photography is a mid-19th century invention, I’m at a loss at how to explain how my almost obsessive enjoyment of porn can be dismissed as ‘instinctual’. Maybe Riegel could come up with a complex theory of transference or something to make that connection, but that again begs the question of boyhood sexuality being ‘simplistic’. [CUT: ABUSIVE COMMENT DELETED]
[TOC: As I said, I feel you have an interesting point. My yellow card related solely to your final para. two comments ago when you were personally abusive. Now you have compounded the error, this time in a remark I have deleted. Just calm down a bit, please. In soccer a 2nd carding offence would see you shown the red card and sent off the pitch. I’ll be generous this time, though, and assume you’re having a bad day. But don’t bank on me acting the nice guy again!]

Mike

Please check your facts, Tom. I used Google Scholar confirm whether “He has had a number of articles published in peer-reviewed journals, including the prestigious Archives of Sexual Behavior.” And I found that not to be the case. One note specifically states that Riegel’s submissions (letters to the editor) were rejected by the peer review process.
[TOC adds: How about checking your facts? Peer-reviewed published articles by Dave Riegel include the following:
Riegel, D. (2011) Pedohebephilophobia: Response to Commentaries by Janssen, Malón, and O’Carroll . International Journal of Sexual Health 23 (3)165-167.
Riegel, D. (2011) The Role of Androphilia in the Psychosexual Development of Boys. International Journal of Sexual Health 23 (1)2-13.
Riegel, D. (2010) The Participating Victim: Complement to Malón. Archives of Sexual Behavior October 2010, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 1027-1028
Riegel, D. (2009) Boyhood Sexual Experiences with Older Males: Using the Internet for Behavioral Research. Archives of Sexual Behavior 38 (5) 626-630.
Riegel, D. (2009) ‘Querying’ the Queering of Science: Response to Yuill and Durber. Sexuality & Culture 13 (2), 115-116.
Riegel, D. (2005)Abused to Abuser”: An examination of new non-clinical and non-prison data. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 16(4) 39-57.
Riegel, D. (2005) Pedophilia, Pejoration, and Prejudice: Inquiry by Insinuation, Argument by Accusation. Sexuality & Culture, 9 (1) 88-97.
Riegel, D.(2004)Effects on Boy-Attracted Pedosexual Males of Viewing Boy Erotica. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 33(4) 321-323.]

Mike

I find this little piece as slanted in tone as the authors it critiques. One example especially stood out: “Sex is basically simplistic and instinctive, especially for boys.” Such a contention has behind it several misleading assumptions of its own. For example “sex” is our culture is not one simple concept that is liable to be defined in such a ‘simplistic’ way. The manipulation of our desires for intimacy is integral to how culture functions. It is so complex, laden with so many assumptions and other ‘baggage’ that to dismiss it as ‘instinctive’ is also an extreme oversimplification. Riegel seems to be just as interested in constructing a fantasy about boyhood as Finkelhor, et al. But Riegel constructs his boys as unaware of and mere ignorant spectators in the complex social and cultural pressures around sexuality, and whose exercise of sexuality lacks agency (being merely ‘instinctive’). In short, Riegel is as guilty as those he critiques of ignoring the complexity, diversity, and agency of boys. He objectifies them as nothing more than simplistic, instinctive sexual appetites, while Finkelhor, et al objectify all boys as sexually innocent ‘blank slates’ whose can only be molded into a morally acceptable adulthood by a well-regulated and over-weening sexual education.
Riegel would be well served to keep his own immature, uninformed ideas about what boyhood is to himself when he critiques the manipulations of others.
[T.O’C. adds: Interesting comment, Mike, but keep it sweet, please, in future. Last para. is a yellow card tackle i.e. a touch too ad hominem.]

Gil Hardwick

Re-entering this thread, and again, I point out the quintessentially simple human fact not only are individual beings each extraordinarily complex, but we live as social beings in even more complex relationships with others.
Disregarding the ‘internal’, so-called ‘sexual’ life for a moment (better, kill off Upham, Freud, the rest of them finally), and let’s assume that a sexual liaison between boy and man is OK, is legal, is broadly acceptable, it still remains that they are not and can never be the sole parties to the transaction.
There are always many other people involved – parents, siblings, age peers, and many others – whose lives are affected. In traditional societies sex is public and social, not because there is a mass orgy but because the impact of a sexual relationship ripples widely back and forth and needs to be managed.
In the contemporary West, social relationships have broken down and in its wake sexual activity has become distorted, self-serving and awkward, and above all very badly managed. That is the sole reason we have having these discussions.

Gil Hardwick

My apology.
Thomas Cogswell Upham, 1799 – 1872.
– Principles of Interior or Hidden Life. New York: Harper Bros., 1858.
– Mental Philosophy. Vol. 1. The Intellect. New York: Harper Bros., 1869.
– Mental Philosophy. Vol. 2. The Sensibilities and Will. New York: Harper Bros., 1869.
I mean, Freud (1856 – 1939) did not simply appear from nowhere. He had a ready-made audience; a pre-existing discussion to join, and to influence.
The precursors and foundations of modern psychology and with it theory of normality was being raised . . . a bit of cross-threading there . . . you get that.
This particular Upham is far better known in theological, evangelical circles, as was Freud of course until all the litigation started, as mentioned.
[TOC: Thanks, Gil, for educating us. Well, me anyway. Perhaps I was the only one who didn’t know, but I rather doubt it!]

Gil Hardwick

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Cogswell_Upham
[TOC: Strange, nothing came up when I searched Wikipedia for just “Upham”.]

jedson303

A 502 error! Oh my God! Is there a nerd in the house? But what I really wanted to say is nice comment Richard. It is important to understand that the establishment does not hold the high ground on this issue.
Jim

faustfor11s

Well said, Richard Kramer! M T-W.

adamjohn2

Richard,
I think that at least some us should organise a meeting with David Finkelhor to ask him these questions but to do it in a way that is sickening polite.

m.

Uh, did somebody miss a paper?
The traumatic impact of child sexual abuse: a conceptualization.
by D Finkelhor, A Browne
Psychology › Miscellaneous Papers
The American journal of orthopsychiatry (1985)
Volume: 55, Issue: 4, Publisher: American Orthopsychiatric Association, Pages: 530-541
PubMed: 4073225
Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
or…
Abstract
A framework is proposed for a more systematic understanding of the effects of child sexual abuse. Four traumagenic dynamics-traumatic sexualization, betrayal, stigmatization, and powerlessness-are identified as the core of the psychological injury inflicted by abuse. These dynamics can be used to make assessments of victimized children and to anticipate problems to which these children may be vulnerable subsequently. Implications for research are also considered.
http://www.mendeley.com/catalog/traumatic-impact-child-sexual-abuse-conceptualization/
———–
The hypotheses are crap, of course. But they beg rebuttal. Anyone got the whole paper?
m.

willistina556

Another bloodless peterhoo-massacre by the good, greying speccy gent.
Blind belief in Father White-Beard Christmas, leads straight to the also great Marx Bros. This one from cheeky non-specs Chico asked to sign a dodgy contract by a bent lawyer/proven liar (is there a straight one?).
” Whatdya mean, the last page is the ‘Sanity Clause’ ?! You can’t fool me. My Mama told me just last Christmas, there ain’t no such thing as a Sanity Claus !”

peterhoo

I have read a number of David Riegel’s papers and I must be honest some of them I find a bit emotionally charged (I have no wish to offend David in the slightest by the way, I have a very similar response to texts by John Pilger); this item, “The Missing Mechanism of Harm”, is well written and I look forward to his next piece. The topic written on here is very important in my view, there is a feature of our current situation that I see as similar to a belief in Father Christmas. People prefer to retain a belief, defend it, fight for it, become deeping passionate about it, despite having empirical evidence the view is not based in the real world. I welcome the recent willingness to look at this feature in our societies and cultures. It is not just about notions of trauma and where it can be found, it is also about our origins (creationism and the use of arguments that use the idea of intelligent design) and what we mean by mental health (recent debates around the DSM V text).

Gil Hardwick

The well-attested phenomen, Peter, is as you know ‘reflexivity’. Bourdieu especially made a thing of it, as did Geertz and many others since. It is now standard fair.
In short, each of us reflexes in some way or other. Nobody is free of it; it is not possible to free ourselves from it. There is no admonition to avoid reflexive response to data since it is always in the form of sensory input, but to be aware of it, acknowledge, if necessary declare it.
Pilger and Riegel both do so, with style and panache if I may say so. They are visibly upset by great wrongs, and rightly so.
The experienced practitioner will likewise acknowledge it, yet will not allow it to interfere further with his own assessment of the facts being presented. To do so risks confusing affect. Better to stand back, and seek to minimise such stochastic noise so as more reliably to discern just what is being said.
I dare suggest that a lot more students should study high level data analysis; survey design, questionnaire formation, because it provides real discipline in clarifying, as precisely as we are able, what it is we are seeking to discuss.
It is only then, once we can be confident of what we are talking about, that questions of validity and reliability emerge.
Which, back to the very good and long overdue point David is making, is exactly where the Finkelhor school fails in its duty to truth, and with it truthfulness.
I am prepared to admit, for my part, that I may be perceived as somewhat blunt, confronting, yet from my view merely presenting human anatomical and behavioural facts in as raw a state as I can, leaving the reader to respond in their own way, make up their own mind.
And like David too, I deplore their thoroughly disreputable reliance on the straw man of ‘morality’, and their ad hominem pursuit of it. For that reason alone, topic aside, I view their doings with utter loathing and contempt.

peterhoo

The tone here is positive, it shows a lot of the skill and experience you have as an anthropologist, working in the field and inside the academic community for years.
The methods we adopt need to include elements that allow us to manage what we bring to a situation in such a way that our bias does not control us, and yes I agree with you, those who are the ‘rulers’ of the domininant discourse on the sexuality of the old and the young really need to become a lot more self-aware. I am not surprised by your feelings of frustration at what is being done.
I am told by a ‘good fairy’ that there will be some new material soon on this blog site, a discussion of sexuality as lensed through the eyes of the young, an examination of their concerns. This will allow our adult gaze to be tempered by another perspective, and we can all benefit from seeing things differently.
It is my view this discussion/blog space is proving to be a very positive space, I have to convey my feelings of gratitude to Tom O’Carroll for making this space take the shape it does. [T. O’C.: Much appreciated!]

Dave Riegel

“I read ‘missing’ here as ‘unsubstantiated’, by which I do not mean the ‘dark figure’ of ‘crime’ in ‘society’ but failure of enlightenment; of the rule of scientific method; of the rule of objective, disciplined, independently replicated and replicable enquiry.” (Gil Hardwick, above)
This is precisely what I was trying to get at in the original piece. I have nothing but the highest regard for empirical facts, legitimate science, and those that employ these. But I find far too much of what my elderly friend described as “diversionary and distracting bullshit” in what passes for the current social science discourse. Hypotheses, to be legitimate science, must be falsifiable, and I am quite happy to have my offerings thusly tested with factual observations and examinations. But I reject superstition, cultural assumptions, ad hominem attacks, and other psychobabble which purport to pass themselves off as legitimate scientific arguments.
Just the facts, please.

willistina556

With the ‘no harm’ science long since proven beyond all reasonable doubt.
What all good peds, adultos, and caring humanity (exclude sex-obsessed Fascist Anglos) should be about, and only about.
Is that all living creatures HATE THREATS – LOVE SEX, covering all known evidence before or since Freud.
End of – move on.
To stop ‘Full Stop’ Serious Child Abuses, also long known to be a vast 92% NON-SEX Serious Child Abuses, about which the sex-obsessed Fascist Anglos just don’t give a damn.

Son of Nietzsche

It is worth recollecting, perhaps, that sciences are as much a matter of faith as religions. The call for the assumption of harm to be “superseded by fact based and empirically supported legitimate science” is therefore a hollow one. “Harm” is only ever a normative question. Finkelhor conceded this to an extent, whereas later commentators – such as Sarah Goode – continue to conceal moral investments within a veneer of ‘science’ (her approach, as readers of this blog will be aware, was to construct “inherent harm” at a ‘neurophysiological’ level).
In short, perhaps we might say that the mechanism of harm is not “missing” – it is always-already *presupposed* precisely in those cultural values that produce those voices that ‘discover’ ‘harm’. What are the cultural investments that produce those voices? This is the question worth considering…

Gil Hardwick

I read ‘missing’ here as ‘unsubstantiated’, by which I do not mean the ‘dark figure’ of ‘crime’ in ‘society’ but failure of enlightenment; of the rule of scientific method; of the rule of objective, disciplined, independently replicated and replicable enquiry.
In short, please, to be consistent, come up with facts that, independent of ‘me’, after ‘my’ death, or better whether ‘I’ even exist, anybody is free to go check for themself, not preempt or ‘presuppose’ from some sort of ‘cultural values’ or ‘social norms’.
Somebody here, please, tell me what would you as a human scientist do when (not ‘if’) a 12 year-old boy comes up to you, naked and fresh from his shower, and stands there with an erection, retracting his foreskin wanting show you and experince with you what he’d discovered for the first time beneath?
What are the moral and ethical dilemmas inherent in this reality, without the hysteria and violence; the physical beating and ridicule and abuse and regimenting and indoctrinating ‘children’ to ‘stop doing that’, and men to ‘be responsible’, when all they want is to know, for someone to explain to them, to experience?
That’s science, and in the current climate MANY MANY moral, social, ethical, political and intensely personal confrontations to be faced. This business takes courage quite as much as discipline and intelligence.
Science, for all that, is only ever concerned with establishing the validity and reliability of information; with whether the data are tightly grouped and on target, relative to the question being posed.
The matter is not recursive, tautological, culturally investing, it is very primal and direct. It is neither a matter of faith; you can take it or leave it as you will.
In short, you pose the question, don’t complain when somebody seeks to answer it – don’t keep shooting the messenger.

willistina556

Forget endless diversionary navel gazings, semantic deconstructions/reconstructions, and cowering, defensive appeasements to Anglo-asshole so called ‘social stigmas’.
Their unholy role-models the no fun, up-their-own-fundaments elite Victorians even made a detailed statute on how to walk down a street ‘without giving offence’.
“Steadily, not hurriedly, nor lazily, but purposefully, neither gazing too much to right nor left”. WTF !
[T.O’C.: WTF indeed. What’s the reference for this willistina? Sounds more like something from a sermon than a statute. Could this be an urban myth? I’m sure you’re quoting accurately, probably from an internet source, but I’m wondering if the source is accurate.]

Gil Hardwick

Virgina Woolf, ‘Street Haunting: A London Adventure’, AKA, ‘The Pencil’, or a reasonably close approximation. I couldn’t be bothered checking right now.
Am I far off the mark, from away around here on the other side of this planet?
It can’t be that hard . . .

Radical Queer Diva

If molestation is really so intrinsically traumatic, you’d think you’d hear more about children being traumatized at the paws of predatory pooches. After all, dogs are some of the worst serial molesters– humpings, crotch-lickings, etc.–
and surely there is a great power imbalance between a large dog and a child, not to mention the imposition of alien and confusing dog sexuality.
Perhaps I’m being too cynical here. I mean, trauma is a real thing after all. Take, for instance, a Vietnam veteran who watched his comrade get impaled by a bamboo spear, his intestines unraveling like yarn. Now we see the aforementioned vet, decades later, prowling the streets of Times Square, covered in his own shit and accosting passers-by with blood-curdling renditions of Paula Abdul songs. I won’t question that man’s trauma– I’m nice like that.
However, if we’re talking about a 16-year-old who’s female teacher blew him–
well, let’s just say that my sympathies are only promiscuous up to a point.

Gil Hardwick

RQD, yes, Vietnam, that’s where a lot of this trauma psychology bullshit started, as if there has never been such war before or since, or anywhere else.
What on earth is war about anyway, but to hurt and destroy?
The rest of us get over it, and on with our lives. Millions of us, not just a few Vietnam vets who shouldn’t have been there anyway. How do you think the Vietnamese people feel having 500 tons of high incendiary bombs dropped on them per day, Agent Orange, napalm . . . a bamboo spear . . . #WTF!!???
No matter, eh? What really does piss people off is historical scabs being forever picked, and never allowed to heal.
The very real issue yet to be addressed, currently, and I wrote on this topic in my essay for admission to university back in 1985, lies with people who presume to appropriate other people’s trauma, mobilise it to their own ends, yet never go out there and face the risk of their own trauma, or find healing.
Such is definitive of the current state of Western Anglophone ‘society’.

Radical Queer Diva

Note to self: Facetiousness goes over like a lead balloon on the internet.
I don’t think I’ll be commenting here anymore. Seacrest out.
[T.O’C.: Lead balloon? What ever do you mean RQD? Your posts have gone down very well with me and I haven’t heard any complaints. Am I missing something?]

peterhoo

Tom I know you have a good analytical mind. What this guy is saying is that a text has an impact, and how a text is to be read is better discussed from the point of view of the reader than it is viewed from the perspective of the author who wrote it.
I have no doubt Gil will let the reader know he did not intend to offend anyone, but when Diva read “The rest of us get over it, and on with our lives”, what he read was for him “facetious”. I am sure of Gil’s sense of “I intend no harm”; but I am also just as aware of how this process of offense works. I hope Gil responds, not so much to say “I meant no harm”, but more to say “we need to show each other respect and although I did not intend harm, that experience of harm has happened, … and I regret it”.

faustfor11s

FFather CChristmas? I believe in tree spirits! Every time I pass a mighty tree — and my garden is full of them — I commune with its living, whispering spirit. But that’s just ME…
But yes, I do think Gil could tone it down a bit. Especially where the lasting harm from war is concerned. My grandfather suffered the agonies of the damned after WWI; my father after WWII. I sleep with my widow and my door wide open — and try to avoid small rooms in the day time — after the Borneo Confrontation. This is not imagination, but the direct result of of: eg., trying to rescue some Iban children — only to find the kids plastered all over a wall by a mortar bomb.
Don’t get so ANGRY, Gil? Love — M T-W.

Gil Hardwick

No, Peter, Tom, RQD, my reply is that any ‘harm’ caused is so trivial, so peripheral, especially to some hyeprsensitive soul, it is barely worth a mention. I really don’t give a shit. We have better things to do here than worry about it.
Yes, I grasp Barthean death of the author, impact on reader, engagement between characaters and readers, it’s what I do. I have an Honours degree in Literature and English, and I now have 5 published novels to my name with a 6th well in train (I am archiving these pages for later use, as discussion between its characters).
Having said that, one might as well consider the impact of the initial comment on the reader as the impact of that reader’s rejoinder to the initial author, who then becomes the new impacted reader. And so on.
Such things go around and around in ever-diminishing circles, until one or the other flies inevitably up somebody’s arse.
Standing back, away from all that, is no disdain, merely acknowledgement that this is a hot steamy kitchen with spicy fair on the boil. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out.
Or as reasonably, just don’t buy into it.

Gil Hardwick

Angry, Michael?
Is it not a VERY large part of this issue we seek to address here, of people crying TRAUMA at the most minuscule affront, while as you say children are spattered along walls by mortar bombs?
I really do think all this needs to be kept in perspective, and on track.
Are we talking about harm being done to children from sexual contact with adults, or is it all just relative?
Years and years and years go by, over 30 years of my life, perpetually it seems to be bogged down all over again in some trivial offense being taken by someone whose life is spent, from what I can gather, wrapped in middle class cotton swabs.
That’s the game they play seeking to prevent public issues being resolved; as I sought to point out of the Americans recently here, while on the other hand people are beaten up, arrested, humiliated, imprisoned, their lives destroyed, not because they have committed a crime, or done wrong or harm, ONLY because the ongoing confusion allows those who perceive themselves to be in ‘power’ to continue getting away with it.
While the likes of Icke are deemed ‘harmless’ no matter what real harm comes of his rantings.
I simply do not see that we will get anywhere at all by refusing to face the facts, by obfuscating them all the time, which is what I understand David intends by his post.

peterhoo

You will see further down in this discussion a post where I view your contribution as very thoughtful and from my viewpoint, plain valuable. At the same time I have to be equally transparent in my comments and say you can show amazing indifference to what impact your text may have on a reader. Is such an ability, a concern for the reader, unnecessary or a misdirrected concern, at times I think it can save us from a good deal of unnecessary suffering. I know, many men speak of the value of being tough, being ‘real men’, well I am cautious Gil.
As a contributor in a group I am genuinely pleased you are here writing texts for readers; at the same time surgeons who cut into bodies when how much blood escapes the patient on the table matters little are practitioners to be feared.
I make a commitment here to not raise this point again, I respect what you offer Gil, and I am quite willing to move on.

Gil Hardwick

Well, yes, Peter. When a writer knows his audience, his readership, goes out of his way to connect his characters with his readers, and his readers with his characters, the task is heart-warming and enjoyable no matter what is being discussed. That is the virtue of good literature, it’s great redeeming value.
When a presumably prospective reader, on the other hand, refuses to identify themself, lurks on the periphery, waits in ambush of the poor unsuspecting writer, then launchs an attack crying “I’m upset he offended me I don’t want to be here any more”, believe me the task becomes a veritable hell on earth.
I know you, I know Tom, I know David, I know Michael, many others. Sorry, I do not know whoever lies behind these loose avatars and I take no responsibility at all for how they might react to something I might have posted.
People, please, do yourselves and the big world out here a favour finally; come out and show yourselves, introduce yourselves, let’s get to know you, and you us.
WillisTina, for one, I really do like your style but unable to express it. Send an email, introduce yourself. Anyone else, likewise.
Then this situation will simply not arise. It’s mundane human social behaviour to want to be friends, and to know with whom one is talking, to whom one is writing, without all this lurking paranoia which does, watch my lips, give the very serious creeps.
OK, already?

Gil Hardwick

While I am still pondering this matter (sometimes I stew, I’m a writer – a writer’s brain is a dangerous place), I must say that it is not only founded in ‘science’, even sustained field anthropology, but in our literature and culture and law.
When I say that I do not only mean Victorian literature, or modernist literature, as dear witty currently dismayed willistina rightly indicates, but contemporary literature. There is very good reason I returned to university (the government paid for that too, at a far cheaper rate than six months inside, sitting twiddling my thumbs) to complete a second degree and explore the matter further.
What do people think we are doing these days, going face to face with the likes of Finkelhor? I mean, get a grip. He’s nobody, passe. His back has given way to years of crawling for ‘research funding’. He stands in a walking frame. He simply won’t be around for much longer. We do know these things – no sympathy whatsoever.
Back on track, to gain a valid perspective on the reality of boy’s lives in this respect, please, read ‘Alexander’s Choice’, read my ‘Educating Nicolas’.
It’s not the money. Email and I’ll send you a copy if you’re short right now. Else get them very reasonably from Amazon.
And think about what is being said.

faustfor11s

Thank God for clear-thinkers like Dave Riegel! That man Finkelhor has done so MUCH damage. Time to turn the tables?
faustfor11s

Gil Hardwick

Apology here, at risk of overly long commentary, and feeling I guess that a defense of the social sciences is in order; it does need to be pointed out that the signal difference between anthropology and sociology is between the traditional empirical field research of classical anthropology in contrast with what is known as normative research of the kind propagated by the likes of Finkelhor et alia nimis.
There remains great tension between the two approaches; bitterly divided and entrenched conflict between the various practitioners.
I am often criticised for not being ‘scientific’, not citing ‘the literature’, as David does here above most thoroughly and professionally. No, I cite detailed, extensive long-term field observations, my own and colleagues’, in the trade called ‘fine-grained ethnography’, known to piss on ‘the literature’ from a great height.
They do not like to see us showing up back on campus. There have been fist-fights, rooms demolished. The sociologists turn and say, your research integrity has been compromised, Gil, you’ve ‘gone native’, ‘off the planet’.
Too bloody right I have. The other side of the frontier entirely, mate, after years of standing there watching helplessly while lives are destroyed, whole cultures and societies wiped away . . . in the name of ‘morality’ . . .

Gil Hardwick

I agree with David’s analysis, yet wonder still that we are not even beginning to address the tip of the iceberg in these matters.
Firstly, the thing with the male is that we are full frontal, stand up to piss, usually in public in lines at a trough, and as Freda Briggs is wont to complain, ‘handle ourselves’ several times a day. The female anatomy is ostensibly hidden, they are taught to sit in privacy, though I have known quite a few girls to drop their panties and standing hip forward pissing with the boys. They don’t dribble any more or less, and instead of shaking will pat the mons as I’ve seen a lot of boys do anyway. So, to dispense with that bit of nonsense finally, it’s a cultural not a physiological thing from which girls might well be liberated finally.
I dare suggest that childhood curiosity and self-exploration, exploring the body, examining the parts and finding them enjoyable (another word for lexical deletion – ‘masturbate’), alone or in company, is the quintessential norm.
Doing so with an older person, who may well know something about it, in contrast with doing it alone with no knowing beyond ‘finding out’, and again with an age peer with whom the first might as well be teaching the second, is plainly a minor subset of the whole.
My considered view is that what ‘society’ most fears, here pertaining to a few very disturbed people presuming to form something they call ‘majority opinion’ propagated selectively through the media, reinforced by ‘research funding’, the resulting stridency [hysteria] making it merely appear as ‘majority opinion’, is not the self-exploring or masturbating child, alone or in company, but the knowing child.
The hysteria, using this epidemiological model, is not concerned with the penis or clitoris and who may or may not be playing with it from time to time, only with the idea that such knowledge might spread, and ‘infect’ others. The knowing child cannot be manipulated and controlled like an ‘innocent’ child, more likely to assert their rights, as a child and as a human being.

faustfor11s

The trouble is, Heretic, that children are not recognized as “human beings” To the authoritarian, a child is cipher — in other words, NOTHING… M T-W.

Dave Riegel

This is a deliberately short and hopefully concise piece. Many more examples could nave been cited, and many more pages could have been written, but, as one of my senior colleagues, a retired and published PhD, said: “This is effective because it is brief and directly to the point. There is no diversionary and distracting bullshit.”
Constructive comments, critiques, and suggestions are welcome, and may be sent through
http://www.shfri.net/dremail/

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