Tom O'Carroll

Children’s sexuality? No latency. Period.

Sooner or later, of course, the adults intervened, called the police or the park attendants, and asked what in the world we were up to. Most of us were arrested at least once and got used to carrying thick wallets full of documents identifying us as members of a research team. Despite the fact that we were in no way conducting a participant observation study, and were merely attempting to understand children’s sexual thinking, it was very difficult to communicate this distinction to authorities. The experiences were painful, and so we began to train children in handling tape recorders. This worked …

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Everyone’s invited to reconsider childhood

  “Everyone’s Invited”: Sounds nice, doesn’t it? So welcoming, so inclusive. And to my pleasant surprise the Instagram campaign with this name, which went viral last month with its testimonies by (mainly) teenage girls to sexual harassment they have suffered at the hands – and occasionally penises – of their classmates, is not at all the shrill, vengeful, hyperbolic litany of righteous fury that might have been expected to follow the #MeToo hate-fest. Setting the tone, the campaign’s Homepage says: Moving forward, we know that our responsibility lies in improving and healing the wounds we have uncovered. We do not condone …

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As sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal

  As a bit of a night owl, these days, I usually close out my day nearly an hour after midnight. The late-night review of the morning newspapers on BBC News 24 is part of the routine, giving the pleasing illusion of knowing in advance what lesser mortals will only discover over breakfast the next day; then there is a solid session of dry academic reading to send me to sleep. Fortified in this way with the sense that I have been virtuously busy, I feel no compunction to be an early riser; seldom do I get up before nine. But …

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The cruel martyrdom of Steven Freeman

Remember David Blunkett? He was one in a succession of UK home secretaries hell-bent on being tougher on crime than their predecessor a couple of decades ago and more. Among his crowd-pleasing reforms was a “crackdown on paedophiles” in his Sexual Offences Act, 2003; but his most draconian measure was the sentence of “imprisonment for public protection” (IPP), introduced in the Criminal Justice Act of the same year. The idea was to keep in prison any offender considered too dangerous to be released when their original sentence had expired – a bit like civil commitment in the US. Being kept behind …

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Should a child ever get married?

  Heretic TOC is delighted to welcome a new guest blogger today. This is “Prue”, who recently completed a Master’s degree in critical theory, achieving a Distinction (first-class honours, in effect) with a dissertation on intergenerational sexuality. Prue, who goes by they/them pronouns, is not a MAP but is opposed to MAP demonisation. They plan further research on MAP / youth sexuality issues and aim for an academic career that will engage with related concerns, including pornographic literacies, asexuality, post-feminism (in contrast to victimological feminism), and contemporary fascism.   CHILD MARRIAGE: OFTEN IT WAS FOR LOVE, ACTUALLY Should you go down …

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Lovely letter to a laird of lad-love

Changes in how Anglo-American culture has understood intergenerational sex can be seen with startling clarity in the life of British writer Norman Douglas (1868-1952), who was both a beloved and popular author, a friend of luminaries like Graham Greene, Aldous Huxley, and D.H. Lawrence, as well as an unrepentant and uncloseted pederast. – From the publicity for a new biography of Douglas.   Hang on, we might think, that can’t be right, can it? How could this writer guy have been openly attracted to kids – and very sexually active with pre-teens, as it happens – while also being a commercially …

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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 …

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Carry on twerking – but don’t be mean!

Cuties is a brilliantly provocative work of art. It’s great. Y’all should see this controversial new movie if you haven’t already. Just thought I’d get that out of the way quickly because many here have already seen the film and read lots of reviews and comments, including at Heretic TOC. So, instead of focusing on the film itself, I feel it will be more useful to attend to a key aspect of the debate it has provoked. What have I in mind, do you imagine? The “sexualisation” of kids? The dangers of creeping censorship whenever we see political pressure mounted against …

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Building back better at Heretic TOC

Where was I when I was so rudely interrupted? Let’s think. It was back in June, I know that. Perhaps better questions would be How was Heretic TOC interrupted? and What has happened since? In a year so dominated by Covid-19 news, I could do worse than start by assuring former readers of Heretic TOC at WordPress.com that the sudden, unannounced, disappearance of the site two months ago owes nothing to the pandemic. Mercifully, despite being of an age that puts me in the “vulnerable” category, I have not yet been swept away into the mortality statistics nor even suffered so …

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Kindness looks too much like weakness

When Peter Herman has guest blogged here before, he has been introduced as a  “veteran NAMBLA activist”. After four such fanfares over the years, enough already! This description was a fine badge of honour, but for his post today, his fifth, I am upgrading him to “veteran Heretic TOC blogger” :-). The NAMBLA connection remains though: that esteemed organisation has kindly permitted me to re-publish Peter’s article following its recent appearance on their own site: a privilege indeed, and testimony to our harmonious relationship. My own commentary on Peter’s important thoughts follows directly after his piece.        WHAT DOES THE …

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