Whittier 2009 Abuse

Title Information

Author: Nancy Whittier

Title: The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse

Subtitle: Emotion, Social Movements, and the State

Place: Oxford

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Year: 2009

Pages: viii + 251pp.

ISBN-13: 9780195325102 (hbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9780199783311 (pbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century, 21st Century | U.S. History | Types: Child Sexual Abuse

Full Text

Link: Oxford Scholarship Online (Restricted Access)

Additional Information

Author: Nancy Whittier, Department of Sociology, Smith College


  Acknowledgments (p. vii)
  Acronyms (p. xi)
  Introduction (p. 3)
    A Short History of Activism and Social Change around Child Sexual Abuse (p. 7)
    Social Movements, Social Construction, and Social Control (p. 11)
      Therapeutic Politics and the Therapeutic State (p. 12)
      Thinking about Success: Selection Processes and Mainstream Influence (p. 15)
      Social Movements and Moral Panics: Child Sexual Abuse as a Social Problem (p. 16)
    Studying Activism Against Child Sexual Abuse and Social Change (p. 18)
    Organization of the Book (p. 19)
  1 From Rare Perversion to Patriarchal Crime: Feminist Challenges to Knowledge about Incest in the 1970s (p. 21)
    "Women and Girls" The Anti-Rape Movement, Patriarchy, and Incest (p. 22)
    Incest as a Feminist Issue: The Beginnings of Movementwide Attention in the Mid- to Late 1970s (p. 27)
      The International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women (p. 28)
      The International Women's Year National Conference, Houston, 1977 (p. 30)
      The Child Assault Prevention Project (p. 32)
      Rape Crisis and the Emergence of Feminist Therapy (p. 35)
      Published Work (p. 36)
    Conclusion (p. 38)
  2 The Politics of the "Therapeutic Turn": Self-Help and Internalized Oppression (p. 40)
    Incest Resources (p. 42)
    The Pleiades (p. 44)
    Hybrid Organizations (p. 46)
    Self-Help Practices (p. 48)
      Co-Counseling (p. 51)
      Writing Workshops (p. 52)
    Experiential Knowledge (p. 54)
    Identity Politics (p. 58)
      Racial Identities in a Predominantly White Movement (p. 60)
    Internalization (p. 62)
    Transforming Psychotherapy (p. 64)
    Conclusion: Self-Help and Social Change (p. 67)
  3 Social Services, Social Control, and Social Change: The State and Public Policy in the 1970s and 1980s (p. 70)
    The Therapeutic State, Social Control, and Resistance (p. 71)
    Federal Legislation about Child Sexual Abuse in the 1960s and 1970s (p. 75)
    Federal Policy, Funding, and the Rise of Social Services, 1960s and 1970s (p. 77)
      Anti-Poverty Programs and Child Welfare during the 1960s (p. 78)
      "Maximum Feasible Participation" and Activist Access to the State (p. 79)
      Social Service and Grant Funding for Child Sexual Abuse in the 1970s (p. 80)
    Federal Policy, Phase Two: Expanding Concern and Constricting Funding during the Reagan Years (p. 82)
      NCCAN Funding in the Early 1980s (p. 84)
      Crime and Prosecution, Mid- to Late 1980s (p. 86)
      NCCAN Grant Funding, Mid and Late 1980s (p. 87)
    Ritual Abuse, Day Care, and Changing Political Alignments (p. 90)
    Conclusion (p. 93)
  4 Going Mainstream: Self-Help Activism During the 1980s (p. 95)
    The Emergence of Grassroots Self-Help (p. 96)
      Incest Survivors Resource Network International (p. 97)
    VOICES (p. 103)
      A Christian Survivors' Movement (p. 105)
      Twelve-Step Recovery Groups (p. 107)
    Conclusion (p. 108)
  5 Diffusion and Dilution: Mass Culture Discovers Child Sexual Abuse (p. 111)
    Beginnings: The 1970s (p. 114)
    Publicity and Concern: The 1980s (p. 116)
      "Coming Out" and the Flowering of Mass Media Coverage, 1980-1985 (p. 117)
      Television (p. 121)
      Selection, Effects, Experts, and Feminist Voices: The Impact of Activists on Media Coverage, 1980-1985) (p. 121)
      Shifting the Balance: Critique and Medicalization in the Late 1980s (p. 123)
      The Paradox of Therapy: Effects of the Movement on Late 1980s Coverage (p. 126)
      Self-Help Books (p. 126)
    Conclusion: Moral Panics and Cultural Change (p. 129)
  6 Turning Tides: Countermovement Organizing, "False Memory Syndrome,", and the Struggle over Scientific Knowledge (p. 133)
    The Contested Construction of Knowledge (p. 135)
    The Emergence and Consolidation of the Countermovement (p. 138)
    Reinterpreting Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse (p. 141)
      Cults, Alien Abduction, and Other Frame Extensions (p. 141)
      Memory Science (p. 143)
      Larger Concerns: Family Reconciliation and Genuine Abuse (p. 146)
    Science and Social Change: Countermovement Tactics (p. 148)
      Experiential Knowledge: Family Surveys and Speaking Out (p. 149)
      Picketing and Confrontational Tactics (p. 151)
      Legal Tactics (p. 151)
      Targeting Therapists and Therapeutic Practices (p. 153)
    Knowledge Battles (p. 155)
      Confrontations with Survivors Activist Organizatios (p. 156)
      Professionals Respond (p. 158)
    Alliances and Opponents: Feminism, Anti-Feminism, and Coalitions (p. 160)
      Accusations by Children (p. 161)
    Feminism and Anti-Feminism (p. 163)
    The Countermovement and the Left (p. 163)
    Conclusion (p. 164)
  7 The Politics of Visibility: Coming Out, Activist Art, and Emotional Change (p. 167)
    Self-Help Re-Politicized (p. 169)
    The Politics of Visibility (p. 174)
    Conclusion (p. 179)
  8 The Paradoxical Consequences of Success (p. 182)
    Joining the Government: Femocrats and State Agencies (p. 186)
    Circling the State: Quasi-governmental Organizations in the Social Services (p. 189)
    Clients of the States: Crime Victims and Disability (p. 192)
    Crime and Punishment: Activists, Sex Offender Policies, and Law Enforcement (p. 196)
    Public Health: Using Medical Discourse to Change Institutions (p. 199)
    Conclusion (p. 207)
  Conclusion (p. 208)
  Notes (p. 215)
  References (p. 237)
  Index (p. 253)


»As recently as 1970, child sexual abuse was seen as extremely rare and usually harmless. Over thirty years later, the media regularly covers child sexual abuse cases, many survivors speak openly about their experiences, and a thriving network of public and private organizations seek to prevent child sexual abuse and remedy its effects. This is the story of these dramatic changes and the activists who helped bring them about.
The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse is the first study of activism against child sexual abuse, tracing its emergence in feminist anti-rape efforts, its development into mainstream self-help, and its entry into mass media and public policy. Nancy Whittier deftly charts the development of the movement's "therapeutic politics," demonstrating that activists viewed tactics for changing emotions and one's sense of self as necessary for widespread social change and combined them with efforts to change institutions and the state. Though activism originated with feminists, as the movement grew and spread to include the goals of non-feminist survivors, opponents, therapists, law enforcement, and elected officials, participants were pulled toward formulations of child sexual abuse as a medical or criminal problem and away from emphases on gender and power. In the process, the movement both succeeded beyond its wildest dreams and saw its agenda transformed in ways that were sometimes unrecognizable.
A lucid and moving account, The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse draws powerful lessons about the transformative potential of therapeutic politics, their connection to institutions, and the processes of incomplete social change that characterize American politics today.« (Source: Oxford University Press)


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Added: November 9, 2013 – Last updated: November 1, 2014