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Erotic Innocence: The Culture of Child Molesting Hardcover – May 19, 1998
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From Library Journal
According to the media, the sexual abuse of children has reached epidemic proportions, and those who do not think so are in denial. English professor Kincaid (Annoying the Victorians, Routledge, 1994) uses the model of the Gothic novel to explore the origin of this concept, showing that by employing Victorian and Freudian ideas our society has simultaneously idealized and eroticized images of children and youth. Citing examples from the tabloids, celebrity trials, and popular movies starring children, the author explains society's need for horrors such as ritual abuse, "kiddie porn," and accusations against clergy and day care workers. Preoccupation with this misguided sexuality allows the public to ignore the poverty, neglect, malnutrition, and poor education that constitute true child abuse. Kincaid suggests abandoning the Gothic model and acknowledging that erotic feelings are a normal part of life that rational adults can control. Written with clarity and wit, hers is a timely, interesting book. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.?Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L., CA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A compelling cultural history of children and sexual desire. Kincaid, a professor of English at the University of Southern California, seems to have screened every movie that ever featured a child, and his reading list is extensive as well. He takes on some obvious targets, like the legions of child actors whose images are the very essence of innocence and purity, but whose photos and mannerisms belie a darker knowledge of desire. It's no accident that child stars seem always to be photographed in the same way: eyes wide, mouth opened in a smile. It's a sexual gaze, says Kincaid, and while adults may argue that childrens images are entirely free of sexual connotations, there can be no doubt that these children serve as erotic objects and fetishes to the culture at large. He also calls attention to widespread hysteria over childhood knowledge of sex: the threat of kidnapping, the fear of abuse in day-care centers, the fear of the Internet being used by pedophiles. Never mind the fact that only about 100 children a year are abducted by strangers, that the McMartin day-care case was a horrible sham, or that Internet ads for ``kiddie porn are nearly always police-run dragnets. The war against such nonexistent crimes, Kincaid writes, masks the real abuse to children, like poverty, physical abuse, and simple indifference. What Kincaid proposes in this cogent work (though it's marred by some overly snide asides) is that we accept that our children are sexual creatures and dispense with hysteria in favor of a frank and reasoned approach to a subject thoroughly obscured, at present, by fear and sensationalism. Often fascinating and sure to spark controversy among the recovered-memory and Courage to Heal set. (24 illustrations) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Top Customer Reviews
James Kinkaid has made an even bolder claim a half-century later, that pedophile fantasy can be found at the heart of our most revered movies like "The Good Ship Lollipop" or "Home Alone." "Our culture has enthusiastically sexualized the child while denying just as enthusiatically that it was doing any such thing," he writes, capsulizing his argument. I think this claim in intuitively true. A lot of films show kids in their underwear gratuitously and use the ambivalence of art to insinuate what taboo dictates cannot be directly stated. Macaulay Culkin in the "Home Alone" movies is a beautiful blonde with unnatural cherry-red lips like Harlowe or Monroe!
But the conclusions Kinkaid draws from his observations aren't as forceful and eloquent as the debunking observations themselves. If he is right, what does this mean? His answer seems to be kind of vague. He suggests we rewrite the Gothic script and stop overrating innocence and panicking about the burgeoning sexuality of the young. His pervasive humor throughout the book suggests a kind a campy scholarship. I am all for humor, but I think Kinkaid needs to write another book about how our society can get out of the quandary of its sexual hypocrisy. It's a larger and more complex subject than he seems to think.Read more ›
Kincaid thinks that we are trapped in a never-ending gothic story of a monster that comes after our children and violates their innocence .We then do a lot of porn babbling about the events as if to say, "It is an awful unspeakable story. Please tell it to me in every detail again." The child molesting stories serve prurient interests in adults, sexually titillating them.
Kincaid goes over films and books and pulls out the sexual overtones of child characters in entertainment such as Shirley Temple with her flirtations and kids in their underwear for half of the movie. When a child star reaches adolescence people often forget them since they are no longer cute, but are gangly, awkward looking teenagers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
good discussion. this topic is, as are most things having to do with sex, loaded down with so much baggage that it is difficult to have a reasoned exploration of it, which is... Read morePublished on August 1, 2014 by Steve Johnson
A few contentions Kincaid has are already well proven- the Satanic Panic was a terrible, shameful case of mass hysteria. Read morePublished on February 14, 2014 by charlotte simmons
I had this recommended as a look at the current behavior of "adults protecting children" and it did delve into a less spoken side of the issue, the question about if much... Read morePublished on June 14, 2013 by H. W. Stone
While Kincaid makes a number of interesting points on the way Western culture venerates The Child (and includes some insightful historical and literary evidence), the book falls... Read morePublished on January 31, 2013 by Robyn
It would be both easy and comforting to dismiss Kincaid as being prone to over-generalization, as projecting his own sick fantasies onto the world at large, and as being dismissive... Read morePublished on December 26, 2006 by S. Seaman
This is a dreadful book, one of the worst I've ever read.
In brief, Kincaid cannot write. Admittedly he can put nouns with verbs and form sentences into paragraphs. Read more
I'm not a child molester or a pedophile by any stretch of the imagination, but I picked up this book because it had an interesting thesis- that our culture eroticizes youth and, in... Read morePublished on August 23, 2005 by Gully
I meant too review "Harmful to minors" which I read not this one which I didn't read (in its entirety)-- but I'm against the fear mongers that wish to frighten and repress young... Read morePublished on January 15, 2003