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RN23_04b_P: Sexual Violence: Policies and Narratives
9:00am - 10:30am
Session Chair: Pam Alldred, Brunel University London
Location:PC.4.25 PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences
136 Syggrou Avenue
17671 Athens, Greece
Building: C, Level: 4.
Telling (particular) sexual abuse stories: Exploring contemporary narratives of childhood sexual abuse in popular culture
University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom
Since the Jimmy Savile case in the UK, widespread media coverage of celebrity sexual abuse cases has raised public concern and large numbers of adults have identified themselves as victims of historic childhood sexual abuse (CSA).
In this paper I will draw on research with self-identified adult victims of CSA, self-help literature aimed at adult victims of CSA, and popular UK television drama featuring a CSA storyline, to look at contemporary narratives of CSA. I will argue that one particular story has become so dominant that it not only permeates all aspects of popular culture but its telling constrains or even prohibits discussion about the nature, causes or consequences of sexual abuse (or indeed sexuality) in childhood. This is a story based on an assumption of childhood sexual innocence and a belief that sexual abuse in childhood is inevitably psychologically damaging.
I argue that this story is underpinned by a fear of or about children’s sexuality, and a desire to maintain their innocence and protect them from sexual knowledge and therefore has implications beyond sexual abuse. Not only does this contemporary story deny what Liz Kelly termed ‘the other side of being a victim’ but it also serves to (re)position children as sexually innocent and lacking sexual agency, and denies them access to sexual knowledge and education. In addition it constructs particular adult behaviours or occupations (such as so called ‘promiscuity’ or sex work), seen as symptoms of sexual abuse, as wrong and thereby restricts the parameters of what is seen to be acceptable (sexual) behaviour.
Non-offending paedophiles – the pain of desire?
Palacky University Olomouc, Faculty of Arts, Czech Republic
Since the so-called sexual revolution, sexual pleasure has been often described as a liberating activity that should be open for all. At the same time, people who come out as paedophiles, who have not ever abused any child, and strictly refuse any sexual activity with a child are often labelled as (potential) child molesters and they seem to deserve almost no solidarity. The presentation will be based on a qualitative research among non-offending paedophile members of the support group Czech and Slovak Paedophile Community and it will address the issue of their (sexual) subjectivity. The main questions are: how they cope with their (sexual) desire and to what extent they view it as immoral or dangerous; what they view as sexual and erotic and what is seen as an abuse by them; what love for children means to them and how they cope with it. As communication partner H. says, paedophiles “tend to process feelings and responses triggered by children differently from those triggered by a potential [i.e. legal] ‘sexual partner’, even if in essence these may be the same feelings and the same responses.“ Paedophiles may (have to) perceive desire, love, sexuality, eroticism in a very different way compared to non-paedophiles. In contemporary capitalist society, sexuality is very often described as a fulfilling activity. However it can be a source of personal fear or trauma, if one is paedophile who often hardly finds some solidarity of majority.
Consensus and Consent: How sexual violence becomes a political tool in contemporary Turkey
Sanem Su Avci
Ankara University, Turkey
The political turbulence in Turkey in the recent years (2013-2016) has brought to our attention striking phenomena concerning sexuality, violence and power. Sexual violence, and more significantly, the threat of sexual violence have been used in this period as a quasi-public method of deterrence, especially by governmental and pro-government forces, against alleged political adversaries. This paper aims to discuss these phenomena from a perspective that focuses on the performativity of the act or threat of sexual violence. It takes sexual violence not as an act that is grounded upon pre-existing differences, but one that works to construct these differences. It studies acts/threats of sexual violence, asking the question: “what/how does the deed aim to achieve?” The study uses the methodology of discursive analysis to determine how sexuality and its role in constructing difference are seen by the various political groups involved in the aforementioned power struggle. The material for analysis are retrieved from the fundamental texts endorsed by these groups, from texts and speeches by leaders or organizations of the groups, and from politically engaged discourses in conventional and social media. Results of the discursive analysis demonstrate that the various sides of the power struggle commonly share a binary vision of sexuality, one that is humiliating and stigmatizing for one side while being rewarding and empowering for the other. The study argues that this shared vision enables sexual violence to become a tool and a weapon in power struggles - to the detriment of communities and individual lives. It argues that a slow but sure way out of this situation is the public endorsement of feminine sexuality.
Consent and Lack: The Problems and Possibilities of Sex without Reliable Consent
Edge Hill University, United Kingdom
Sexual consent is the ethical 'gold standard' of legitimate sexual conduct, and non-consenting sex is generally deemed both illegal and morally wrong. However, there are significant populations whose consent is unreliable but who make legitimate claims to exercising sexual desires: These include: people with intellectual disabilities; people with autism and Aspergers; people who have aged and have intellectually debilitating conditions such as dementia or Alzheimers. Such populations have been traditionally desexualised, but more enlightening thinking, new pharmaceuticals and technologies and the aging of the post-war generations with changed sexual attitudes is changing these cultural perceptions and creating challenges for professionals, care workers, families, partners, public authorities and these people themselves. Is the best solution to ignore risk and hope for no negative consequences, or emphasise risk and intervene to deny sex. At the margins, such as the early stages of dementia or mild intellectual disabilities, where it is not clear how far the capacity to consent is compromised, this is a delicate problem to address
This paper will explore the conceptual framing of this problem and identify its particular contradictions and nuances, and its implications both for how we balance risk and legitimate desire and how we understand consent. It draws insights from work by current empirical research with Allison Moore on UK examples, but its central focus is to map and frame the conceptual issues that force us to think about consent critically, and requires a fresh look at how sexual relations are conceived as ethically sound beyond the often simpl e'fiction' and 'insufficiency' of legal and conventional understandings of how sexual consent is un derstood and actioned.