The feminist and the sex offender

Remember Judith Levine? Author of Harmful to Minors?

Back near the beginning of the millennium, soon after the White House had been occupied by a certain William Jefferson Clinton, she wowed us with this wonderful book that challenged the trend towards the ever more suffocating “protection” of children, which she saw as harmful because keeping kids “innocent” actually meant keeping them ignorant of good sex and relationships education while also depriving them of their own sexual and romantic expression.

Widely praised, Harmful to Minors was named by sex education body SIECUS as one of the most influential books of all time about sexuality. Hell, it even carried a foreword by a prominent member of the Clinton administration, Surgeon General Dr Joycelyn Elders.

Now, Levine is at it again, with a book out recently titled The Feminist and the Sex Offender: Confronting Sexual Harm, Ending State Violence. It is co-authored with Erica R. Meiners, a professor of education and gender studies.

The title will ring alarm bells for some MAPs: feminist interest in sex offending has generally been bad news ever since feminism some decades ago stopped being mainly about greater opportunities and freedom for women, and began to focus on victimhood instead. This was a shift that saw more and more emphasis not just on tackling real evils such as violent domestic abuse and coerced sexual acts, but also on eliminating “child sexual abuse” (CSA) with willing child participants, and cracking down on alleged “harassment”, “rape, “grooming” and “trafficking” no matter how non-harassed, non-raped, non-groomed or non-trafficked the so-called victim happened to be.  Such feminists have tended to be as hostile to sex as any prudish Victorian “purity” campaigner, and have been firm supporters of draconian punishment.

Levine and Meiners take a very different approach, though, which we may feel deserves close examination. As the publisher’s blurb puts it, they make “a powerful feminist case for accountability without punishment and sexual safety and pleasure without injustice”.

The approach they reject, the one that is obsessed with often fabricated victimhood, and which promotes ferocious retribution via ever-longer prison incarceration, has been dubbed carceral feminism by its opponents, including Levine and Meiners. They distinguish it from abolition feminism, the latter being based on positive, not oppressive, ways to reduce sexual violence. They note, for instance, that the innovative, community-based, help for offenders available in recent years through Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) has been plausibly credited with achieving a 70% reduction in recidivism in crimes including sexual violence, such as real (as opposed to statutory) rape, and truly abusive acts against children. This is a massively successful strategy compared with putting offenders in prison and on sex offender (SO) registers, which make it all but impossible for them to lead a good and productive life.

Intersecting factors of our identity (see below, on “intersectionality”) that have a bearing on our social privilege or disadvantage. This diagram shows some of the most politicised and talked about factors these days.

Promoting enlightened ideas such as COSA is great, but the political forces favouring heavy punishment are immense. It’s not just carceral feminists: traditional conservatives are notoriously penal hard-liners too – pandering to their prejudices over the years has resulted in an ever-expanding prison system in the United States that now amounts to a huge industry, with over 2mn prison inmates detained in unproductive, wasted, lives at a cost of $ billions. This deeply illiberal thinking has even been adopted by politicians we might have hoped would take a more progressive line, notably the already mentioned Bill Clinton, whose 1994 crime bill played a major role in cranking up the punitive state, in part by throwing a huge amount of money into building more prisons.

And guess who was Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spearheading the bill into law? Joe Biden! The President Elect, as he has now become,  was responsible for bringing in the harsh three-strikes-and-you’re-out rule, which resulted in a massive upsurge in people being jailed for life over mainly minor and often poverty-related offences.

With so much backing for the carceral state, stretching right across the political spectrum from pugnacious “law and order” Trump to his more emollient successor, will it ever be possible to bring about meaningful change?

Levine and Meiners argue that a successful challenge to the system is going to need strategic alliances among those who are opposed to it. Until now, they say, opposition to the violent state has been too fractured, not least in the US along race lines. They note that activists against the prison industrial complex are more likely to be non-White, while those advocating for men on the registry are mostly White. Moreover, neither side has had much use for feminism: “For many on the registry, feminism is public enemy number one.”

But they say feminist analysis now has a vital tool that urgently needs to be put to work, a tool that can help not just females, including the mothers, daughters, wives, and girlfriends of men and boys who are on the registry and in prison for sex offences, but also these males in their lives, whom typically they love dearly and whose family life depends on them.

The tool is a conceptual one, called “intersectionality”.

White feminists, the authors tell us, tended early on to think in universalist terms, seeing women as a universal oppressed entity, regardless of race, social class or sexuality. Black feminists challenged this: they had many survival issues to deal with, not just rape; so their concerns were orientated more on race and class lines.

Only in very recent years has “intersectionality” exploded onto the scene as an all-pervading buzzword for activists across the whole Anglophone world, but the term was coined back in 1989 by black feminist scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw. It has been summarised as:

…a theoretical framework for understanding how aspects of a person’s social and political identities (e.g., gender, caste, sex, race, class, sexuality, religion, disability, physical appearance, height, etc.) combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege. Intersectionality identifies advantages and disadvantages that are felt by people due to a combination of factors.…

Levine and Meiners argue that any successful movement must be intersectional. It must take into account a range of cross-cutting, intersecting aspects of who we are, because we are all intersectional beings. And when they say all, they pay MAPs the compliment of counting us in as fellow humans (chillingly, as we know, many do not) explicitly naming us among the candidates who could fight to beat the vilification of which they speak:

Race, class, gender, sexuality, or ability cannot be separated from one another in thinking about people, systems, or politics. Nativists, racists, and the state’s punitive bureaucracy can defeat intersectionality by assigning labels – “illegal alien,” “felon,” “pedophile ” – that flatten identities to one vilified thing. If kept apart, groups of people are inevitably marginalized, and fissures open that resist healing. Movements falter. No movement can understand what it’s up against, or how to fight back, if it doesn’t locate itself at the crossroads of identities, situations, and oppressions.

OK, so what useful crossroads can we MAPs place ourselves at? Where can we find the strategic alliances we need? Whose identities intersect with our own?

From their American perspective, Levine and Meiners see great potential for SO registrants, who are disproportionately White, to join forces with others who suffer grave injustice in the legal system, who are mainly Black, noting that African Americans are disproportionately charged, convicted, and sentenced.

[CORRECTION: SO registrants, are NOT disproportionately White. What I meant, and should have written, is this: “There is a higher proportion of SO registrants who are White than would be expected from the relatively low proportion of Whites in the criminal population overall.” My thanks to “onkse” for pointing out my error. See comment below.]

A greater range of intersecting factors are shown here. We could make the diagram more personal, individual and arguably much more realistic by adding many more factors. For instance, even this multi-factor chart says nothing about height, or hair colour, which can and do affect how people are treated. The more we see ourselves as unique individuals, the less likely we are to be keen on identity politics, which labels us as belonging to various disadvantaged “tribes”. Douglas Murray and other critics of intersectionalism despise this grievance-oriented tribal mentality. But without it, how can we find allies and do battle against oppression?

It has to be said that such an alliance looks a very big ask. The authors tell us that for White registrants to join forces with the anti-prison movement would mean assuming a kind of kinship with Black folk, and acknowledging that in spite of the depredations they suffer as “predators”, they still enjoy White privilege – what the pioneering African-American scholar and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois called “the public and psychological wage” of Whiteness.

Really? At this point, I have to say, one begins to wonder what planet Levine and Meiners are on. It was perhaps broadly true, more than a century ago when Du Bois was making his mark, that nearly all Whites in the US were clearly privileged compared to nearly all Blacks. But those days are long gone. Try telling the poor White registrant how privileged he is when he has lost his job, family and friends, and is banished to eking out a desperate life under a bridge at a highway “intersection”! Who could possibly find headspace for such nonsense, we might think, except elite journalists and academics whose privilege is so secure they have lost touch with the lives of those on the margins?

We might even begin to see all this banging on about “White privilege” as anti-White racism. If so, we would be in good company: conservative gay writer Douglas Murray has argued very persuasively along these lines in his book The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity, which I recommend as an antidote to fashionable “wokeness” and “grievance studies” across a range of issues. Likewise, Andrei Arkhanguelski takes on the ugly, bullying excesses of some Black Lives Matter ideologues in a superb essay of around 10,000 words (take your time, he’s worth it!) titled “The destructive effects of identity politics and cancel culture on society”. Access is free, at Medium.com.

That said, it would be grossly unfair to Levine and Meiners to accuse them of racism. They are doing their damnedest to bring people together against state oppression, not split them apart along race lines – or other lines, for that matter: they counsel that White registrants need to stop seeing themselves as the only people who are unfairly targeted by the justice system despite not being criminals in any true sense; they need to take on board that Black lives really are held cheap by many police officers, and Black men, especially, may end up in prison effectively for no good reason. To Black anti-prison organizers, they say they must stop recoiling away in moralistic horror from White MAPs, and instead work with them. Also, “queers must not succumb to sexual McCarthyism, seeking safety and respectability by renouncing others more ‘despicable’ than themselves.”

That’s a lot of lecturing from these authors. Will anyone be listening?

Some will be reflexively dismissive, such as a conservative MAP friend of mine (yes, I believe in listening to people with different views to my own) whose antennae are well tuned to anti-MAP injustice but whose tribal instincts oblige him to Other everyone else who falls foul of the law: to him,  they are obviously the real bad guys. They are the real murderers, gangsters and rapists, he insists. Why would we want to make a strategic alliance with people like that? It is a view that completely misses the unnecessary incarceration of those who are unjustly targeted on a racial basis for trivial or concocted offences.

Other MAPs, such as Peter Herman, of NAMBLA, take a much more positive attitude. Writing as a guest blogger here at Heretic TOC not long ago, he said:

Those who have an innate love for boys and are White (heaven protect those with the double jeopardy of also being Black) may not be immediately visible, but in a different way are denied much of “White privilege” and are ideally positioned to understand Black anger.

I replied somewhat sceptically:

We can express our solidarity with Black Lives Matter. That’s good. But will they join our struggle in return? Can we expect to hear “Thank you, brother! Your life matters too! We will work with you to end your oppression!” Don’t hold your breath.

Also, in an email exchange to which I was privy, NAMBLA member Ben Lavry said he had tuned in to a Zoom event associated with the Levine and Meiners book. Nearly all the participants he could see on screen were White women, most of them elderly. Not a bunch of activists who would have a lot of street cred on the ’hood, we might think, or wing cred in Rikers Island or San Quentin.

Early days, though. The book is essentially a manual for activists, and its message needs time to filter through, with potential for finding its way into the hands and hearts of all manner of community groups – including all those mothers, daughters, wives and girlfriends I mentioned earlier: we should not underestimate the change-making power of women in this struggle.

There have already been some healthy developments along these lines. The National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL) in the US has had some notable successes. NARSOL’s former Californian chapter, CA RSOL, challenged ordinances governing registered sex offenders in federal courts across the state. During 2014 over 20 municipalities were sued by CA RSOL. These efforts culminated in victory the following year when the Supreme Court of California declared residency restrictions unconstitutional, citing their unfairness and counterproductive effects.

Women have been prominent in all this. Through peaceful demonstrations, educational forums, and political events, Women Against Registry has given the cause visibility and political credibility.  As Levine and Meiners say, the registrants’ rights movement is a women’s movement.

I mentioned “hearts”. The target of The Feminist and the Sex Offender, though, is also “minds” and “plans”: the book is all about intelligent political tactics, compromise and alliances, all of which are desperately needed but none of which is intuitively appealing to the heart. It is a crafty game, in other words, and one in which women could end up helping us MAPs more than we are able to help ourselves. How ironic would that be for those among us who hate feminism?

 

THE BARONESS OBLIGES

It you were choosing the name of a villainess for your next pulp fiction thriller you might well settle for Baroness Black: tradition, after all (black as sin, black-hearted) has no qualms about the racist implications of  equating black with evil.

Be that as it may, the real baroness of that name goes a long way to realising this “black sheep of the family” potential, having just come out with a deliciously wicked memoir in which she skewers her many enemies, sparing no details about her life of epic extravagance, sexual shenanigans (including with a Doberman!), and goldmine of a marriage to newspaper tycoon Conrad Black, who was later brought low in a corruption scandal, jailed, and latterly pardoned by his pal President Trump.

Her Ladyship was once so rich she could afford bedsheets at £10,000 each, a vast wardrobe of exclusive dresses, shoes, handbags and jewellery, and shopping trips by private jet, ending up for the evening in one of her many luxurious mansions dotted around the globe.

Oh, yes, and not just the one jet either: “It is always best to have two planes, because however well one plans ahead, one always finds one is on the wrong continent”, she said.

Priceless! Literally!

But that’s not how I knew Her Ladyship when she somehow graciously found time to write to me between all the shopping, the partying, the hobnobbing with presidents and princes, and the, er, dog pleasuring. Back then, maybe twenty years ago or more, to me she was just Barbara Amiel, a trenchant columnist for The Times, and later The Daily Telegraph. I knew Conrad owned the latter but I had no idea he was her husband.

Power couple: Lady and Lord Black

I can’t dig out the details because my desktop search is playing up at the moment, but it might have been soon after one of her articles, headlined “Paedophile hysteria is turning us into a brutish society”; or perhaps an earlier one in similar vein. Anyway, you get the drift. For a right-wing socialite, she had a surprisingly enlightened and humane view of adult sexual attraction to children, and was brave enough to express it. I wrote to tell her how pleased I was, and she replied with evident delight at finding at least one person who had not been appalled.

Before hooking up with Black, according to The Times,  she was much sought after by another media mogul, Australia’s Kerry Packer. On two occasions he is said to have paid her £100,000 for the pleasure of her company of an evening while he gambled in a smart London casino.

Happily, I can report that she didn’t charge anything at all for sending me a nice letter!

 

A MALIGNANT PETER PAN

Douglas Murray is on a bit of a roll this week for coverage in Heretic TOC. I mentioned his book The Madness of Crowds, above, and now I come to another I am sure many here would like to know about. This second one is Bosie: The Tragic Life of Lord Alfred Douglas, which was first published in 2000 and has now been reissued for the 150th anniversary of Douglas’s birth.

Famed as a lover of Oscar Wilde, “Bosie” plainly makes a fascinating subject for a biography, starting with his family. “The Douglases were mad”, declares reviewer Roger Lewis in The Times unambiguously. Flying into fits of rage, gibbering and snarling as an inherited trait was only the start of it. We hear that one ancestor impaled a cook’s boy on a spit and roasted him – which sounds a great deal more grotesquely criminal than the sodomy of which Lord Alfred’s father accused Wilde.

Bosie himself, we learn, was a ghastly narcissist, given to blaming all his self-made misfortunes on others. Mollycoddled and spoiled by his mother, he “remained at heart a little boy until his death”, according to Murray. Lewis sums him up as “a malignant Peter Pan whose chief mode of communication was the tantrum”.

One point of particular interest here is that Bosie’s life demonstrates the terrible power lovers have to retrospectively withdraw their consent, as it were, and to re-write history regarding the nature of a relationship. After Wilde’s downfall, Bosie eventually repudiated him and became vehemently moralistic. Lewis notes:

Paradoxically, the person he started to resemble was his own bigoted father as he started threatening to horsewhip Wilde’s old friends, like Robbie Ross, for being sodomites. As Murray discloses, Bosie now “felt anger, bitterness and hatred” about every aspect of Wilde, whom he declared was “the greatest force of evil that has appeared in Europe” since the Reformation. “He was the agent of the devil in every possible way.”

Extreme rejection of this sort, I suggest, has nothing to do with the original relationship with Wilde, or what the pair of them did in bed. Instead, it has everything to do with the disgrace heaped upon Wilde and Bosie’s keenness to distance himself from it. Such is the awesome power of a hostile culture.

 

 

 

 

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[…] naquilo que os une, que é o amor a Deus. Isso me lembrou de um texto que eu li semana passada, no Heretic TOC. Trata-se de uma resenha do livro The Feminist and The Sex Offender. Se aplicarmos o preceito de […]

Stephen James

Readers may be interested in reading the document linked below. I wrote this document to try to increase understanding of the problems minor-attracted people typically face when they try to obtain help from the mental health profession. All the case studies are from Britain, but I am sure similar situations have arisen in other countries.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/gbne5oloni4clgu/Therapy%20for%20MAPs.pdf?dl=0

Stephen James

I value that compliment highly, Tom!

Zen Thinker

Tragic and a sad indictment of the popular view towards a MAP sexuality. I hide it from everyone. And there’s no way I’d trust the NHS with my innermost soul, those people are perhaps well-intentioned but ultimately institutional stooges. As someone said, be a friend to all men, but be alone in your own mind. Don’t be naive and look out for your own interests. Times will change, but for now caution and reticence are abundantly warranted. Pray for a more enlightened Age, because:

It’s been a long
A long time coming
But I know a change gonna come
Oh, yes it will

Yure

Hey, Tom, I was having a discussion with someone on BC and he showed me that, in Harmful to Minors, Levine says that pedophilia can be cured. I re-read the quote, found in your old review of that book, and it seems to me that she is mistaking pedophilia for an act, centered on desire for childish attributes, that may be found in selected adults.

https://www.ipce.info/library_3/files/tomoc_rev_lev.htm

So, it’s implied that the cure for pedophilia would be finding adults with childish characteristics. I wanna ask if you have contact with Levine and, if you do, can you ask if she still thinks that way?

Yure

Thank you.~ Much appreciated.~

Stephen James

The issues discussed in this post (the main one, that is, about Judith Levine) are very important ones. The only reason I’m not commenting is that, as far as I can see, the Dear Leader has said it all!

Stephen James

It was, of course, the latter.

Nada

>>they counsel that White registrants need to stop seeing themselves as the only people who are unfairly targeted by the justice system despite not being criminals in any true sense

Do they present any actual evidence that Whites on the SOR believe this?
Given Levine’s earlier hostility towards pedophilia, and this recent flirtation with Intersectionality, does the authors state that straight white heterosexual pedophiles having sex with 6-year-old girls are NOT criminals in ANY true sense?

Here’s is one, of many, relevant episodes of the Unregistred podcast, featuring author expressing mild criticism of feminism’s role in police brutality and mass incarceration:

https://unregistered.blubrry.net/episode116-2/

Nada

In an effort to understand what pro-sexuality, hostility and sympathy towards a sexuality entails, as well as setup a level playing field:

Are religious Conservatives, who consider homosexuality a “life-style choice” or argue it can be “cured”, hostile towards it? Sympathetic? In this special case, are they pro-sexuality? Are they pro-sexuality in general?

You claim Levine is sympathetic to children’s sexual expression (possibility, at least for older children, including with adults) and sympathetic towards MAPs.

In NAMBLA’s review (https://www.nambla.org/levine.html) of HtM, we find:

“In fact, nothing in Levine’s book suggests that the author condones pedophilia. (“No sane person would advocate pedophilia,” she said in her interview with Salon.)”

While your own review contains this wonderful passage from Levine:

“In other words, there may be nothing fundamental about a person that makes him a ‘paedophile’. So-called paedophiles do not have some genetic, or incurable, disease. Men who desire children can change their behaviour to conform with the norms of a society that reviles it. Paedophilia can be renounced; in the medical language we now use to describe this sexual proclivity, it can be ‘cured’.”

Could younger children, who desire adults, also be “cured” (perhaps by sex-education, indoctrinating them in anti-pedophilia)?

Then your claim is at least plausible. But would having pedophiles and children “cured” or subjected to a “desire education” (of Levine’s invention?) be a trivial prize to pay?

I understand the desire of some MAPs to find any non-MAPs supporting them. But finding support for a small subset of MAPs does not imply support for MAPs.

Sugarboy

Do you know if Judith Levine thinks that teleiophilic homosexuality is not a sexual orientation either? And if she doesn’t think so, then why is homosexuality a sexual orientation and pedophilia is not?
If Levine seriously believes that pedophilia is something that can be cured/renounced, then I can’t see why she should be better than James Cantor or Virped on that point.

Nada

>What we typically see from the religious conservatives is extreme, visceral hostility, often with intense hatred expressed at the personal level.

We get such hostility for their opponents too, and they typically have the support of Big Tech and the state for their antics, such as forcibly detecing, “curing” or catching pedophiles.

>Christian suspicion of sexual desire in all its forms, even for the necessary business of reproduction, has very deep roots.

Yet, the societies the Christians inhabited were relatively tolerant towards us, in contrast with what we face today.

>Arguably, her good work in this regard would have been severely compromised by also trying to be a cheer-leader for paedophilia at the same time.

The work (of questionable utility) would be compromised by NOT claiming pedophiles could be cured? By insisting good groups, like gays or feminists, could be cured just as easily as the bad ones, pedophiles or some straights?

Kinsey managed to write about sex in a fairly neutral manner, and his work is good (at least in the sense of inspiring further work in the area), so it can be done under seemingly hostile political conditions.

>As for children, I see little appetite on her part for “curing” them of their sexuality, quite the opposite.

What I had in mind was analogous to cured pedophiles. I have seen children (girls) conforming to norms, despite the suffering it cost them and desisting at at the earliest possibility of marginal acceptance. (How fluid are girls, relative to boys or women?)

In closing, I find it Levine’s view about (some) straights chilling. They not only can, but have to change. Do they desire re-education, or will it forced upon them? In particular, this will be a hard sell to ex-convicts or people on the SOR.

Zen Thinker

Ok, I’ve had a chance to read the book. Here are my thoughts.

Reminds me in some ways of Roger Lancaster’s ‘Sex Panic and the Punitive State’, published a decade earlier. I agree that sex offender registries are morally wrong (whether public in the US or private in the UK), a way of shaming and stigmatising people and a double punishment. I like the idea of restorative and transformative justice, as I especially dislike the principles and philosophy of punitive justice, generally speaking. I agree that Black people in America are incredibly stigmatised, and mass incarceration is a kind of 4th wave of persecution (after slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow); therefore I am very sympathetic to the principles of Black Lives Matter. I despise carceral feminism but like the sound of abolition feminism. And I think political activism for an end to the violence of the State is very important.

I think with the election of Biden at least the worst injustices of the Trump administration will be consigned to the past. However Biden is a moderate, and the senate will likely remain GOP, so it is questionable how far progressive causes will advance in the next four years. I do not seek progressive causes for themselves, but as a useful alliance in the fight for an end to the discrimination against minor attracted persons, where one is forced to hide away one’s sexuality like the gay community of yesteryear. Also, I think it’s important to note, as Levine does in the book, that sexuality does not in any way define or label an individual, and the person in all their complexity, interests, and agency, far exceed such a narrow summation. And this is why SO registries are so inhuman, because they define and limit the individual to a legal transgression often based on sexual difference. There is nothing qualitatively different between the persecution of Oscar Wilde or Alan Turing, and the persecution of MAPs today, both societally and legally.

The policing and justice wing of the State, on both sides of the Atlantic, perpetuates a heavy violence against its citizens, especially marginalised groups. But the arc of history shows a continual improvement over time – in Elizabethan England they were hanging the starving poor for stealing food, and of course the infamous and brutal ‘hung, drawn and quartered’ used against religious opponents who were later made saints and martyrs. We simply cannot trust the morality of the State; it always overreaches and of course represents the interests, greed and selfishness of the powerful. If the price of securing MAP rights is allying with progressive causes, I think that is a small price to pay.

Dissident

I think the lot of this was well said, Zen! Just two things I would like to comment on:

I agree that Black people in America are incredibly stigmatised, and mass incarceration is a kind of 4th wave of persecution (after slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow); therefore I am very sympathetic to the principles of Black Lives Matter.

I am ambivalent about the movement for mainly this reason: it is not a fully united movement with a consistent focus and set of ideals. Like any movement these days that specifically puts a specific race or gender in its name, it will attract many reactionary elements among the Authoritarian Left, like SJWs, that will attempt to use the movement to pit blacks and other minorities against whites (particularly white hesterosexual men) and denounce the latter as the primary cause of all problems so as to downplay efforts to get all working people to mobilize as a class. This benefits people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations with six figure incomes to millions or billions only for obvious reasons–it helps people of color and women within this monetary range to “rise up” and be considered bastions of their community, while allowing affluent and outright wealthy white men pretend to play “martyr” or “progressive” while expunging their “guilt” over what they allegedly do just for being white while having the actual source of their privilege downplayed or overlooked.

There are doubtless many genuine progressives in the movement with basically good intentions and even outright noble goals, but to give the overall movement the appearance of unity they have chosen to tolerate the many bad eggs among them rather than denounce their words and actions, and to clarify the main purpose of the movement. This reflects badly on them as well.

I think with the election of Biden at least the worst injustices of the Trump administration will be consigned to the past. However Biden is a moderate, and the senate will likely remain GOP, so it is questionable how far progressive causes will advance in the next four years.

Alas, Biden has no progressive blood in him whatsoever. He was used by the wealthy DNC to sabotage the primary campaign of an actual (if somewhat milquetoast) progressive who was very popular with the people so that a centrist/moderate who serves Wall Street and will conduct business as usual (e.g., fighting wars for profit, passing pro-business legislation, keeping universal healthcare and other progressive economic policies off the table) got elected. Biden stands for the same basic world order as Trump, and it was in fact a confluence of Republicans and Democrats of the “billionaire class” (as Sanders called them) who made sure that Biden won, and it wasn’t to advance true progressive causes. That said, he just barely won against the likes of Trump (!!), and many allege that Biden’s slim victory with the popular vote was due to a combination of the bipartisan tampering noted above and because Trump messed up so badly on the handling the pandemic in the US.

But, you might say, at least with Biden the progressives in the Democratic Party will push him to the Left once his administration starts, correct? Not likely any more than they succeeded in doing the same with Obama over eight years, despite the fact that the Democrats enjoyed a majority of control in Congress at the time. This time around, Congress as well as the Supreme Court is dominated by Republicans, so Biden would have a very tough time pushing progressive legislation through even if he wanted to.

Zen Thinker

Thanks, Dissident. In terms of political questions I’m quite happy to hear different opinions. I think to target the carceral state one needs a broad coalition, clearly the Orwellian sentencing for some low level non-contact MAP infractions is matched in absurdity by the policy of locking up vulnerable (often Black) drug users.

On Biden, tbh I’m just glad Trump is out. Let’s see how his administration develops, we might be pleasantly surprised given the energy of the Democrats’ progressive wing.

Dissident

On Biden, tbh I’m just glad Trump is out. Let’s see how his administration develops, we might be pleasantly surprised given the energy of the Democrats’ progressive wing.

I’m thankful Trump is out, but very regretful that Biden is in. I feel no cause to celebrate, because the “Trump derangement syndrome” as many progressives in the media called it, caused too many progressives and all Democrats to focus all their energy on getting Trump out at any cost with no focus or major concern on getting an actual progressive into the White House. In other words, they made the mistake of loathing Trump on a personal level rather than focusing on his policies and the world order he stood for, which is why they were willing to hand the office to another wealthy with a horrible decades-long record that stands for the exact same world order as long as he “wasn’t Trump.” Where is the ire among Democrats for the very predictable screw-over that the DNC pulled on Sanders?

Let’s see how his administration develops, we might be pleasantly surprised given the energy of the Democrats’ progressive wing.

The progressive wing of the Democrats let us down big time during Obama’s eight years in office, going along with every move to the Right on economics and foreign policy that administration implemented, and during a time when the Democrats had a majority of seats in Congress. Throughout the mere four years of a Trump administration we saw them go along with everything Pelosi and the DNC did, including voting to continue spiraling the wealth upwards and keep every plank in the ‘Green New Deal’ off the table. I believe all the evidence suggests that the progressives in America need to stop looking to the Democratic Party and start looking for their own political solution. Otherwise, we are simply going to be in the same situation again, and over and over again: a disastrous Biden administration paves the way for a nutcase Republican administration who messes things up worse, but all the Democrats will only vote for the latest multi-millionaire nutcase they push through the primaries just to get the Republican nutcase out of office. And business as usual continues indefinitely.

Stephen James

>…they were willing to hand the office to another wealthy with a horrible decades-long record that stands for the exact same world order as long as he “wasn’t Trump.”

Yes, and we mustn’t forget how awful the Vice-President-Elect is too.

>Throughout the mere four years of a Trump administration we saw them go along with everything Pelosi and the DNC did, including voting to continue spiraling the wealth upwards and keep every plank in the ‘Green New Deal’ off the table.

Presumably, you would include the “Squad” in this criticism.

>I believe all the evidence suggests that the progressives in America need to stop looking to the Democratic Party and start looking for their own political solution.

I agree – including appropriate direct action, wouldn’t you think?

Zen Thinker

You say “going along with every move to the Right on economics and foreign policy that administration implemented” & “along with everything Pelosi and the DNC did, including voting to continue spiraling the wealth upwards and keep every plank in the ‘Green New Deal’ off the table“.

Just what is the end goal though? As far as my comment contributions to this blog go, I share in the goal of wider recognition and acceptance of MAP sexuality. However, that doesn’t automatically make me left wing on economic issues, lol! Fiscally I’m not too keen on the idea of high taxes. In some respects I’m conservative, in some moderate, in some progressive. MAP is just one progressive issue among many – it makes no sense to me that it is on the fringe of ‘polite’ and acceptable discourse, or that it is currently politically dead – but I am not necessarily just for that reason a Sanders/Corbyn supporter.

I doubt Sanders or Corbyn would have furthered MAP issues. Maybe they would have softened the edges but that’s about it. However as for their economic agenda, I happen to disagree with it. People could have faced a tripling or quadrupling of their council tax under Corbyn. Income tax would have risen substantially. That is less freedom, not more.

Now the Democrats are well known to be economically in bed with Big Tech and Wall Street, but socially they do have a progressive agenda. And it is really the social side that we need to see progress on. Sanders was no more likely than Biden to support MAP rights, however in Biden we have the ‘right’ party in office – or controlling the executive at least – and that is a bonus for socially progressive causes. Remember the corporate agenda is very keen on LGBTQ+, and there are faint glimmers of a sign, Netflix being one well-known example, that powerful elements in American culture are at least open to the idea of furthering child sexuality and normalising children’s sexual expression. Trump, Cruz and their ilk are the prime enemy of this – Biden is in a different league (he has even been called a ‘paedophile’ himself, by none other than Don Jr), Biden is way more open to a social-corporatist agenda of softening the edges around child sexuality.

Remember continental Europe – and I am thinking particularly of France – has always had a liberal approach to child sexuality, as evidenced by the slew of French intellectuals actually speaking out in this regard – but in the Anglosphere America takes the lead, and Britain follows behind like a so-called ‘pet poodle’. Therefore for the Anglosphere change must originate in America. No 10 could have the famous Victorian prude William Gladstone in office and it would make little societal difference if America was liberal.

So I honestly believe a Biden administration will, with a subtle hand, continue to at least abet if not actively participate in, the promotion of child sexuality which is being transformed anyway by technological change, and broad cultural forces outside anyone’s control. And MAP rights will follow, one day. But currently – an obvious point – MAP rights are completely outside the Overton Window of any acceptable political discourse, so the first goal should be to, with all patience, try and nudge the Overton Window a bit closer to the goal of MAP recognition and support.

And I think this does require a subtle approach, because the political reality just is not there at the moment.

Christian

If one considers that the main purpose of a society is to provide the material means of existence of its members, then the main social divide is economic, the stratification into social classes. You have wage workers who sell their labour force for a wage, and at the opposite capitalists who earn profit from the wage workers they employ; in between, you have the middle class living by directly selling the product of their labour. And it is well known that the first factor in health and life expectancy is social status.
Now I noticed that the two diagrams that you show do not include “social class.” Indeed, “intersectionality” was promoted first by people in upper middle class layers, such as academics and journalists, and in the USA, a country where the labour movement never had a political expression: the two parties that get almost all votes (Rep. and Dem.) correspond to the British Tories and Whigs, or the French LR and LREM parties, there is no Labour Party in the USA. So they can speak of “oppression” without looking at economic exploitation.
One can say that “intersectionality” is the political coalition of fashionable identities.

I have an argument against “intersectionality.” It claims that in lesbianism the two oppressions against homosexuality and against women intersect. However, in the whole era of Abrahamic religions, lesbianism never was demonised and repressed at a level comparable to male homosexuality, which was specifically singled out. In England, male homosexuals were hanged from the 16th to the early 19th century, female ones were not, and I know no lesbian counterpart to the trial of Oscar Wilde.

There are different forms of oppressions. Workers are exploited but not stigmatised. Religious and sexual minorities are often stigmatised, but not exploited. Workers from racial minorities can be both stigmatised and over-exploited. We need such distinctions.

In the USA, the war on drugs has been the driving force behind the establishment of the “carceral state,” where that country has the highest incarceration rate in the world. And there consumers of illegal drugs have been stigmatised, robbed of their property (through civil forfeiture), and massively incarcerated, with overly draconian penalties. Richard Lawrence Miller has compared their fate to that of Jews under Nazism, he has even expressed fear of an extermination of US drug users. It is astonishing that there is no mention of them here.

Nada

If Crenshaw claims poor whites are “privileged” when compared to any sufficiently rich black (including herself), she can rightly be said to ingore class. As evidenced by the article below, her Intersectional followers certainly do!

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/08/07/white-privilege-an-elite-ideology/

Dissident

For what it may be worth, Tom, I feel that Levine and Meiners deserve a lot of support for their courage and the multitude of things they get right despite the severity of the one or two major things they get wrong. I believe we can support them for the former while standing firm on our beliefs regarding the latter, which you do well in your essay. I think we have discussed before that you often have to accept some bad while applauding someone for serving the greater good, as long as we seek to make it clear where we do not agree and why we do not, with the hope of reconciling said grievances with the source in the future.

I think the main source of the “bad” in regards to Levine and Meiner, as has been touched upon well in this thread, is the fact that they are “upper middle class” journalists. As such, they are in a position to take the “universal white privilege” myth for granted as being true, along with a feeling that a focus on it somehow exonerates them, in the eyes of their readers, of any “guilt” their relative material affluence may confer upon them. Levine, to her credit, is not ignorant of class, as her first book devoted an entire great final chapter to how poverty impacts children far worse than exposure to sexual knowledge. Since that time, however, there has been a much larger degree of pressure to comply with the “privilege” theory among her economic demographic. I’ll have more to say on that in a day or two, so I don’t overload you with so much info to moderate in a single day 🙂

Zen Thinker

Excellent post Tom, and thanks for highlighting another valuable resource.

I for one really appreciate your efforts at bringing us the latest thought on MAP issues, I don’t know where else I would go for this information.

I totally get your scepticism about the woke left but let’s be glad for allies where we can find them.

dragon girl

Love this! Thank you so much! Will be great for that project I told you about in our last video meeting!! 😉

Last edited 20 days ago by dragon girl
Yure

The new Levine book looks quite nice. I fear I don’t have much time to read it at the moment, tho…

Stephen James

Interesting information about Bosie. I believe Robbie Ross was a much nicer man and stayed loyal to Oscar till the end.

onkse

Spoiler regarding Levine’s book
I might misremember it, but I believe The Feminist and the Sex Offender also discusses the history of feminists (at least in the US) protesting against age of consent laws. The authors themselves, iirc, seemed in one chapter of the book to be in favor of an AoC of 12 instead of complete abolition, though.

I assume this aspect of the book is probably the most likely to get many readers of the blog interested in the book.

From their American perspective, Levine and Meiners see great potential for SO registrants, who are disproportionately White, to join forces with others who suffer grave injustice”

I’d be interested in the source(s) for that. It seems sort of counter-intuitive that most SO registrants are disproportionately White. I think I’ve seen one or two academic articles noting that people of color receive much harsher sentences for sex crimes than White people (maybe it was also mentioned in a chapter in the War on Sex by Halperin). This, together with the stereotype of people of color as “sexual predators” and the history of a lot of innocent black men being arrested by racist juries for allegedly raping White women, it’d be rather unexpected if nevertheless SO registrants are disproportionally White.

Another review of the book even says the book directly contradicts this claim:

“They point out that these policies have produced the regressive result that the campus allegations have disproportionately targetted African-American males (pp. 27-28), even as the sex offender registries and carceral state also do (p. 50).

http://wapercyfoundation.org/?p=925

Try telling the poor White registrant how privileged he is when he has lost his job, family and friends, and is banished to eking out a desperate life under a bridge at a highway “intersection”!”

I think that’s a misinterpretation of the authors’ strategy. It’s probably not helpful if registrants start fighting with each other instead of against their common oppressors. So if White registrants can acknowledge that non-White registrants might sometimes experience even more oppression than they do that could be a step towards more solidarity. After all, if indeed African-Americans are disproportionally registered as sex offenders, then dismissing racism as irrelevant for an analysis of the situation non-White registrants are in would be quite dismissive. It’s been a while since I skimmed through the book, but if the authors haven’t already done so then my assumption is the best way to get more insight into such questions might be to start interviewing non-White registrants

onkse

It indeed is, though I fear for substantiating it more I’d need to somewhat exceed the word limit for comments. Hence I’ll link to it instead: https://pastebin.com/vHDWGtiw

gist of the main point within the word limit: The authors observing acknowledging White privilege can be beneficial for White registrants is not the same as them blaming White registrants for anything, nor them saying White registrants are less oppressed than e.g. Black billionaires. One can disagree with the authors that acknowledging White privilege would significantly help White registrants, but the oppression of White registrants living under a bridge might not be so different in severity (if not in nature) from that of many non-registrant poor Black people living under a bridge who live in constant fear of police brutality since their early childhoods. If asked, many might indeed express gratitude for not having to deal with racism on top of everything else, i.e. acknowledge their privilege in this specific dimension if we go by common academic conceptualizations of that term.

Dissident

I think that contradictory statement of Whites receiving disproportionate sentences for sex offenses may be related to the cultural bias that the majority of MAPs and even genuine situational child molesters are White males. Hence, while her statement doesn’t hold true for White sex offenders overall, if more properly worded, it can point towards the above bias in regards to White males incarcerated specifically for offenses against kids. Still, more research on that very specific demographic of sex offenders needs to be conducted.

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