Queerness, Crime, and the Politics of Knowing
This chapter traces the historical emergence of the “sexual deviant” in late-19th and early-20th century sexology and medicine. Notions of both homosexuality and sex crimes took shape during this period, and at the time both were considered part of the same phenomenon. The same body of laws targeted homosexuals, pedophiles, and rapists alike. Though some early thinkers argued that homosexuality was “benign variation” and advocated for the decriminalization and depathologization of homosexuality, it was not until the mid-20th century that conceptualizations of homosexuality and other categories of sexual deviancy began to diverge significantly. The removal of homosexuality from the DSM helped this process, but stereotypes of the “homosexual pedophile” continue even today. This chapter therefore contends that it would be wrong to see no enduring relationship between the legal and knowledge politics of queerness and sexual crimes today. Indeed, 21st century approaches to studying sexuality—attempts to “locate” pedophilia and homosexuality in the same areas of the brain, for instance—keep this specter alive.
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