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Social Response to Age-Gap Sex Involving Minors

Empirical, Historical, Cross-Cultural, and Cross-Species Considerations

Bruce Rind

Social response to age‐gap sex involving minors has become increasingly severe. In the US, non‐coercive acts that might have been punished with probation 30 years ago often lead to decades in prison today. Punishment also increasingly includes civil commitment up to life, as well as scarlet‐letter‐like public registries and onerous residence restrictions for released offenders. Advocates and the general public approve, believing that age‐gap sex with minors is uniquely injurious, pathological, and criminal. Critics argue that public opinion and policy have been shaped by moral panic, consisting of unfounded assumptions and invalid science being uncritically promoted by ideology, media sensationalism, and political pandering. This talk critically examines the basic assumptions and does so using a multi‐perspective approach (empirical, historical, cross‐cultural, cross‐species) to overcome the biases inherent in traditional clinical‐forensic reports. Non‐clinical empirical reviews of age‐gap sex involving minors show claims of intense, pervasive injuriousness to be highly exaggerated. Historical and cross‐cultural reviews show that adult‐adolescent sexual relations have been common and frequently socially integrated in other times and places, indicating that present‐day Western conceptualizations are socially constructed to reflect current social and economic arrangements rather than expressions of a priori truths. Analogous relations in primates are commonplace, non‐pathological, and not infrequently functional, contradicting implicit assumptions of a biologically‐based “trauma response” in humans. It is concluded that, though age‐gap sex involving minors is a significant mismatch for contemporary culture—and this talk therefore does not endorse it—attitudes and social policy concerning it have been driven by an upward‐spiraling moral panic, which itself is immoral in its excessive adverse consequences for individuals and society.

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Boys, Inclusive Masculinities and Injury

Some Research Perspectives

Adam White and Stefan Robinson

Clements , Ben , and Clive Field . 2014 . “ Public Opinion toward Homosexuality and Gay Rights in Great Britain .” Public Opinion Quarterly 78 , no. 2 : 523 – 547 . 10.1093/poq/nfu018 Connell , Raewyn . 1995 . Masculinities . Cambridge

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The Concept of Sentimental Boyhood

The Emotional Education of Boys in Mexico during the Early Porfiriato, 1876–1884

Carlos Zúñiga Nieto

causing emotional distress to parents. Honor had to be protected and defended at all times. Boys, as well as adults, were capable of tarnishing honor. Maintaining a good reputation in public opinion was a constant task, and hearsay and malicious speech

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April Mandrona

blogs of the young women could “also be seen as performative and public spaces: that is space to extend, differentiate, and negotiate social norms and cultural values; voice issues of common concern; and contribute to forming public opinion” (2011: 350

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“I Love You, Guys”

A Study of Inclusive Masculinities among High School Cross-Country Runners

Luis Morales and Edward Caffyn-Parsons

. doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0376-1 . 10.1007/s10508-014-0376-1 Baunach , Dawn Michelle . 2012 . “ Changing Same-Sex Marriage Attitudes in America from 1988 Through 2010 .” Public Opinion Quarterly 76 ( 2 ): 364 – 378 . 10.1093/poq/nfs022 Burn