Saturday, January 26, 2019


Here's the summary of Judith Levine's Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex from the book's publisher, the University of Minnesota Press:

A radical, refreshing, and long overdue reassessment of how we think and act about children’s and teens’s sexuality 

Sex is a wonderful, crucial part of growing up, and children and teens can enjoy the pleasures of the body and be safe, too. In this important and controversial book, Judith Levine makes this argument and goes further, asserting that America’s attempts to protect children from sex are worse than ineffectual. It is the assumption of danger and the exclusive focus on protection — what Levine terms "the sexual politics of fear" — that are themselves harmful to minors.

The book's wikipedia page relates:

Because of its controversial nature and content, it was nearly impossible for Levine to find a publisher — one prospective publisher even called it "radioactive." University of Minnesota Press eventually agreed to publish the book, despite cries of outrage from the right wing of Minnesota's political establishment.

Levine related that: "America's fears about child sexuality are both peculiarly contemporary [...]" (xx) "Indeed, the concept that sex poses an almost existential peril to children, that it robs them of their very childhood, was only born about 150 years ago." (xxvii)

And like we related in The Allure of NymphetsLevine wrote that this fear was instigated in the US by feminists who "exposed widespread rape and domestic sexual violence against [...] children and initiated a new body of law [(i.e., age-of-consent)] that would punish the perpetrator and cease to blame the victim. (xxviii)

But American feminists soon learned that teens were often the perpetrators and seducers of men who couldn't resist the allure of nymphets. For example, Levine found that in:

1984: Just under 50% of unmarried fifteen to nineteen-year-old nymphets had [consensual] sex
1990: 55% of unmarried fifteen to nineteen-year-old nymphets had [consensual] sex
2002: 50% of unmarried fifteen to nineteen-year-old nymphets had [consensual] sex

However, "[...] in Western Europe whether and when aren't the burning questions either. Sex education in those countries begins with the assumption that young people will carry on a number of sexual relationships during their teen years and initiate sex play short of intercourse long before that (which they do) and that sexual expression is a healthy and happy part of growing up. (xxii)

Lastly, Levine wrote in the introduction that: "Child or teen sex can be moral [i.e., post-marital] or immoral [i.e., pre-marital and sexual abuse] [...] sex is not ipso facto harmful to minors; and America's drive to protect kids from sex is protecting them from nothing. Instead it is harming them [...] sex, meaning touching and talking and fantasizing for bodily pleasure, is a valuable and crucial part of growing up, from earliest childhood on." (xxxiv)

Interestingly, Harmful to Minors won the 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Award for Current Interest.

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