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UnspeakableA Life beyond Sexual Morality$
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Rachel Hope Cleves

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226733531

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226733678.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

Reflection II

Reflection II

(p.149) Reflection II

Rachel Hope Cleves

University of Chicago Press

What should we make of René Mari’s and Eric Wolton’s expressions of affection for Douglas? Can we take them at their word? Their feelings challenge contemporary assumptions that sex with adults is inherently traumatic for children and therefore abusive by definition. Neither Mari’s nor Wolton’s writings or actions give evidence that either considered their long-lasting relationships with Douglas to be traumatic or abusive. Both seem to have looked on their experiences within the positive framework of pederasty that held meaning during their own time, rather than through the negative framework of pedophilia that predominates today. In the pederastic model, sexual relationships between men and boys were seen as a loving and healthy form of erotic mentorship. It’s one thing for historians of sexuality to accept that people separated from us in time by 2,500 years, like the ancient Athenians, lived in a context where sex between men and boys could be defined by love rather than abuse, but it’s harder to wrap our minds around the possibility that this historical context could define people’s affective experiences in the twentieth century....

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