Interview with Judith Levine

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[Judith Levine:] The book was originally bought by a commercial press. The book says that kids can have pleasure and also sexual pleasure and also be safe, which turned out to be an even more radical statement than I thought is was going to be. So many commercial presses turned it down and then finally my editor was fired, not because of my book, it went to many other presses and finally made it's way to the University of Minnesota. [...]

It's hypocritical for us to be trying to protect kid from sexual dangers when we don't seem to care whether their mothers are homeless or whether they have good food in their bellies and as a matter of fact poverty is the greatest correlated [?, difficult to hear] with all kinds of negative outcomes about sex. 80% of teen mothers are from poor families, one third of black gay youth are HIV positive and even sexual abuse is correlated with poverty. So that if you are a child in a family that earns less than 50,000 dollars a year you're 18 times more like to be sexually abused than if you come from a family that's middle class. And that is not because poor people are depraved, it's because they have stresses in their lives, they may have drug and alcohol problems, they may have unstable and crowded housing, poor education and so on.

[Interviewer:] I realized twenty, thirty years we've seen growing tolerance in this country [USA] for sexual minorities of all sorts, a great acknowledgement of sexual autonomy of women, well we got a long way to go, but at the same time we've seen this growing hysteria about child sex and child sex abuse and all this madness about, well this most in the eighties, all the day care scandals, satanic ritual abuse stories. Why do we have these things happening together?

[Judith Levine:] Well they're related. The right has reacted against - the very same people who are attacking me - also have a well built up agenda against abortion, against homosexuality, they're trying to cure homosexuality, that's sort of their latest chapter in their campaign, they do believe that all kinds of sexuality outside of heterosexual marriage is wrong according to their interpretation of the Christian bible and that the more of this stuff there is out there the more our culture is sort of falling apart, going to hell and hand-basket and so. Child sexuality is sort of the last queer sex, it's their last innocence to protect. But you know it's not just the right that's worried about this. Feminists also commend this from a protectionist standpoint. And what I mean by that is, there was a really really important revelation of feminism in the nineteen seventies and that was that the family was not a safe and harmonious place necessarily for every woman or every child. That incest was real. That is was not just a fantasy of little girls wanting to have sex with their fathers. And what happened to that revelation was that psychologist began to develop practices that were really based around the idea that everybody who had sex with an adult in childhood would necessarily have some sort of psychological pathology when they grow up. Or if they had a patient who came in and was anxious or depressed or had some other problem not per se a sexual problem, you could find sexual abuse in that persons past, even if she didn't remember it. So soon, you had organizations and journals and clinics.

[Interviewer:] You're in denial.

[Judith Levine:] That's right. If you deny it you're in denial. And then they do recovered memory were they would do hypnosis to try to suggest to you that even if you didn't remember this couldn't this have happened and that have happened. And that was were the daycare abuse scandals came from and there seem to be all of a sudden huge huge incidents of child abuse. I think we've started to come back a little bit from that. But both the right and the left are worried I think that, they tend to see child sexuality as something that is imposed upon children by adults. Either by propaganda, that is by advertising and the media, or because adults are literally forcing kids to have sex. Now, I'm not a big believer in nature, I don't believe that sex is always the same throughout history and everybody has these drives and no matter what culture you live in they're gonna feel the same and be the same, nevertheless kids around the world and throughout the history have seem to have sexual desire and to act upon it. So the idea that this is somehow being foisted upon them by adults, I think is a misconception. [...]

[Judith Levine:] And not only Freud but everybody subsequently who's done any sex research. Kinsey is a huge... I mean if you think I'm evil in their eyes. Alfred Kinsey, who is the first person who did behavioral research; and went out and asked people: what do you do? Well it turned out that about ten percent of people had some homosexual desire. It turned out that everybody was masturbating. And the way that the right reacted to that was to say that what he was doing was normalizing what they considered to be deviant behavior. And they think that if I talk about child sexuality or minor adult sex that because I'm reporting on the existence of these things, I am promoting or trying to normalize what they consider to be deviant and evil behaviors. [...]

[Judith Levine:] In addition to this, as a sort of outgrowth of this idea that everybody was abused there began to be about ten years ago, a new sub-specialty of abuse therapists who were looking at little children who were say playing with each other in the bath tub, whether this was brothers and sisters or little friends at nursery school. They were touching and poking little things into their orifices and so on. [...] But doing what even ten or fifteen years earlier every child psychologist would say don't worry about it that's just how kids are. Suddenly these children, especially if they were like a year older than the other child were being charged as molesters. Even as pedophiles, even if they themselves were children. And without any data whatsoever. We know very very little about normative child sexual behaviors.

source: 'Interview with Judith Levine 1/2'; Journalist Judith Levine interviewed on the radio show 'Behind the News' by Doug Henwood about her book 'Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children From Sex';; Publicized on Youtube: 20 December 2015; Interview: 30 May 2002