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The Politics of Child Sexual AbuseEmotions, Social Movements, and the State$
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Nancy Whittier

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195325102

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195325102.001.0001

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From Rare Perversion to Patriarchal Crime

From Rare Perversion to Patriarchal Crime

Feminist Challenges to Knowledge about Incest in the 1970s

Chapter:
(p.21) 1 From Rare Perversion to Patriarchal Crime
Source:
The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse
Author(s):

Nancy Whittier (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195325102.003.0002

This chapter describes the earliest feminist exploration of child sexual abuse as a political issue, showing how concern with the issue emerged from anti‐rape organizations and began to spread through the feminist movement. These first activists constructed new knowledge about child sexual abuse as a social and political problem rather than an individual pathology, and arguing that it was relatively common. They were highly decentralized, but a coherent view of child sexual abuse as grounded in patriarchy and akin to rape emerged from their work. This chapter documents multiple sources of the earliest activism, including: The International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women, in Brussels in 1975; the Child Assault Prevention Project in Columbus, Ohio, in 1976, which spread to other cities over the next few years; the International Women's Year conference, held in Houston in 1977; the emergence of feminist therapy within rape crisis centers; and the publication of key writings on incest and child sexual abuse. The chapter discusses the forces that facilitated emergence of this movement.

Keywords:   women's movement, feminism, rape crisis, International Women's Year, feminist therapy, Florence Rush

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