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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: 19 September 2021

Reflection IV

Reflection IV

(p.281) Reflection IV

Rachel Hope Cleves

University of Chicago Press

How do I weigh the balance of Douglas’s life? Throughout the writing of this book, my fear has been that people will judge me for being too sympathetic. Any treatment of Douglas that sees him as other than a monster is probably too sympathetic for most readers. But I don’t think the archetype of the monstrous pedophile is helpful for making sense of the history of adult-child sex. Monsters stand outside society. Douglas, despite his frequent claims to stand apart and above society, was very much a man of his times. He took part in thriving markets in child sex. He supported himself by writing for an audience who were seduced by his erotic accounts of curly-haired boys. He moved in a circle of friends who either shared his sexual tastes or accepted them with little judgment. He was desired, admired, and even loved by many of the boys he seduced. By not dismissing Douglas as a monster, we are forced to acknowledge a historical moment not too long ago when adult-child sex was part of a norm of unequal and exploitative sexual relations that empowered privileged men to do as they pleased, and left women, children, and the poor to make the best of it....

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