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Erotic Innocence: The Culture of Child Molesting Hardcover – May 19, 1998

3.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books; 1st Ed edition (May 19, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822321777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822321774
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,252,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Back in the 1950s, Leslie Fiedler stunned America with his thesis that the great American novels were homoerotic love stories: Huck and Jim in "Huckleberry Finn," Ishmael and Queequeg in "Moby Dick," etc. He seemed correct as well as sensational, and American writing since Fiedler's magnum opus "Love and Death in the America Novel" and his jarring essay "Come Back to the Raft again Huck Honey" has only buttressed his point.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Kincaid takes on a droll tone throughout this book that urges us to examine our relationship to children. Kincaid wishes to get rid of the paranoia and hysteria around the threat of child molesting and provides some evidence that adults are somewhat sexually attracted to children, but loath to admit it. If we admitted the attraction and stopped treating it like a sick perversion we could live in a saner, less fearful environment. Our culture also celebrates the childlike features as sexual, but we condemn those who get too turned on by them. Beauty contests for children are given as an example of our making children sexy. Kincaid suggests that we stop looking for monsters and sinister purposes in others, thinking that they are potential child molesters. We should stop passing draconian laws that give godlike powers to the police. And we should not accuse others of being child molesters for advocating a lighter approach to child molesting problems.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Kincaid begins from the premise that our culture's stories are flexible, and reflect our underlying cosmologies. He demonstrates convincingly that myths about childhood innocence and concurrent vulnerability arose historically as we created a separate cultural identity for children. This stoked a quasi-erotic love of children as innocents, and a hatred of those who act out that eroticism. There is a widespread obsession with children, and an obsession with those who act on that societally generated eroticism. Those who are inclined to hate have fostered a bitter hatred of those who are trapped by the wrong kind of love of children. Dahmers and Gacys are rare and twisted individuals, but they are held up by these haters as representatives of all who break the rules for touching and loving children. Kincaid shows, though, that society dotes on cute, eroticized children, as long as appropriate hypocrisies are maintained. He suggests that the frenzied hatred of child-abusers is fed by this same hypocritical eroticism. Up to this point, Kincaid is bold and persuasive. Children themselves become damaged by the myth, being taught that be be desired or contacted erotically by an adult is to become the most damaged of society's victims, and even potential abusers themselves, and that any love expressed in these relationships, perhaps by the only adult who has shown them love, is absolutely thereby discounted. The truth is that "hard-core" sexual contact with children is a harmful and abusive practice, and only the most blind or self-serving can deny this. Kincaid does not attempt to deny this, although he questions its frequency.Read more ›
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