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Kincaid Diablog Summary


The Kincaid article proved to be a hot topic between our group and also in our class discussion. A lot happened throughout the course of the week, this entry will serve as a kind of "instant replay" or refresher course for those of you who missed out or just want to relive its glory :)

  • We begin our discussion asking why child molestation scandals are such a big deal in our society. This can be seen in the examples provided in Kincaid's article of Willy Nestler and also the cult-like following of the Michael Jackson Scandal. We posed the question... Why do you think that it is such a big deal to us? undisciplined Sara Puotinen

  • #qd2010 Why are molestation scandals such a big deal? What does Kincaid say--what do we think?

  • We then raised the question-- why do you think that women are held to the ideal standards of youthful beauty... what does this have to do with Kincaid's idea of the "erotic child." Does projecting women as childlike serve a purpose in society?? undisciplined Sara Puotinen

  • #qd2010 A Glee digression....@sparky brings us back with the blank slate and connections to women and expectations of youth.

  • Was there something attractive to us about the idea of a blank slate, an erotic child? Does this ideology appeal to us because we can experience it through scandal? undisciplined Sara Puotinen

  • #qd2010 Kincaid: pious pornography (11)...virus that nourishes us...emptiness...forbidden/protected/unattainable produces hysteria

  • The idea of the feminising of the molested child, the little white boy, then comes to the surface. We ask how heteronormative behaviors influence child molestation cases and the hysteria surrounding them. Society tends to feminize child bodies, what does that say about feminine bodies??

  • How does or should a person treat another person who has been through molestation? when is it ok to talk about it? How many people have been through this kind of issue?

Shown in this list are live tweets from Sara, for more information about how these things were referenced in our initial entries, you can visit the Kincaid blog page at title of link

All in all, our engagement with Kincaid's article raised critical questions about heteronormativity, eroticism, the rights and abilities of children, and how society can or should treat these kinds of offenders. I end our diablog with one question... How can this be dealt with? What kinds of things do we as a society need to do or look at in order to make children more able to tell their stories?

thinking for tomorrow...

Concerning Kincaid:
-What is the role of the molested (child) (p. 4)?
-How are simplicity and complexity complicit, necessary, or unwanted in constructing the child (p. 5)?
...connected to that, let's discuss the vague, the blank, the (un)knowing, the empty-waiting-to-be-"loaded"/filled, and Macaulay Culkin!

From Producing Erotic Children, Kincaid writes, "Even better, these open-ended, unanswerable questions generate variations on themselves, and allow us to keep them going, circulating them among ourselves without ever experiencing fatigue, never getting enough of what they are offering. And what they are offering is a nicely produced way of talking about the subject of child sexuality" (9).

"The major point and dilemma is that we are instructed to crave that which is forbidden, a crisis we face by not facing it, by becoming hysterical, and by writing a kind of pious pornography, a self-righteous doublespeak that demands both lavish public spectacle and constant guilt-denying projections onto scapegoats. Child molesting becomes the virus that nourishes us, that empty point of ignorance about which we are most knowing" (11).

"Childhood in our culture has come to be largely a coordinate set of have nots: the child is that which does not have" (10).

And what about scandal?
And that our compulsion to say that molestation happens is a must is an insistence that it must (12)?

Some thoughts on Stockton

Stockton names:
-the gay child
-the queer child
-fat (the fat child?), as a visible marker of difference
-the streetwise child (as not really a child?)
-the ghostly gay child
-the Black/Jewish child (A blurb on p.49 that touches on "minorities," Stockton's quotes, but seems to equate Jewish w/ Black as a visible marker of difference, and an analogy for gay self-identification.)

What I got from these different namings (and there are more than just these, I'm pretty sure) was (like @momentaryisle tweeted) a sense of (dis)connect.
Where do they connect and disconnect?
It seemed to me that Stockton was disconnecting the possibility of continuous self-identification. Instead, she focused on hyphenated identities (pre-gay, postgay, gayish, etc.) and temporalities. In her analysis of the gay child she segmented it into different periods, speaking of different stages of the gay child. It was difficult to follow, for sure.

On knowingness/unknowingness:
Stockton discusses William Blake's "The Little Black Boy":
whiteness = weakness, innocence, unknowingness
blackness = strength, experience, knowingness

And then to add in economic agency/money...the child then becomes constructed as white, unknowing, needing of money and protection. This child can only be white. Because to have experience, to be able to earn money, to not need help/protection, means to not be a child. Is this child is then queer, or queered by blackness?

And finally, Stockton talks about death in the identification of the gay child (page 18):
" There is a loss (a metaphorical death) and a "sinister" replacement: the specter of a "stranger in the family," who was often already haunting the family in a shadowy form." I think this has connections to the same sorts of processes that occur within a family dealing with undiagnosed special-needs kids (like kids with autism), who have dreams and preconceived notions about the future of their child/their future child, and how that is changed by a diagnosis.

(Really) finally, I want to ask, what are the implications of her "ghostly gay child" concept? What does it mean in terms of temporality, of relationships to self? And what are your reactions to her discussion of nostalgia?

Diablog: Kincaid Too


After reading the Kincaid article, I was taken aback at my own reaction. I'm the kind of person who likes to keep an open mind but I was having a really hard time reading it. While I agree that our society sexualizes youth, especially with the ideas of hairless female bodies, smooth "baby soft" skin, wrinkle free faces, and all in all appearing to be young, I don't agree with the hypothesis that he poses that these kinds of societal obsessions create potential sex offenders. I do not see how our society could possibly be to blame for a documented mental disorder which requires therapy and in some cases incarceration. I do, however, empathize with the dissolution of the child as a direct result, as with the Willy Nester example. The child was silenced and forgotten on the stand in the court where he was supposed to be able to tell his story. The images posted in cartoons and jokes after the Michael Jackson scandal also serve to ertoticze those images of children. Our society as a whole is obsessed with the image of children and youth. For me, this still doesn't justify child molestation. But I suppose on further examination of this article and further discussion I could really learn more.

diablogging 'bout kincaid


I'll admit that I had a hard time "rejiggling the terms" of child molestation. But the more I read and reread Kincaid's "Producing Erotic Children," I started to dig in to what he was saying.

My first reaction is to the language he uses to construct his critique: he uses imagery of vacancy and simplicity as indicators of the eroticized purity, innocence, and liberty. He argues that this lack of complexity in our construction of children opens up the possibility for writing our own fantasies onto that blankness. The 'vacancy' is thus filled by our constructions of eroticized, sexualized children. While I'm not positive that I fully grasp or agree with Kincaid's argument, his discussion of blankness, smoothness, blandness, blondness, bleached-ness (or whitening), youthfulness and vacancy as connected and the sites and sources of obsession and eroticization seemed to have some merit. If the equation of youthfulness = beauty = sexual desire makes sense when applied to socially appropriate sexual subjects, who's to say that there is some invisible line that protects that same logic from being applied to children?

I think what's on the flip-side of this vacancy/blankness/silence language is what's at stake. Kincaid talks about purity, innocence and liberty as qualities that are attributed to children, things to be protected and preserved. He also draws our attention to the connections that purity, innocence and liberty have to sexualized adults (particularly women)--the desire for purity, innocence and virginity is so overplayed it's ridiculous. But Kincaid talks about why these qualities are eroticized, arguing that they demand protection while simultaneously eliciting the desire to despoil.

I think what this leads to is to agree with what Kincaid argues, that the current terms of the conversation (the scandal-free kind) perpetuate all the wrong things. They allow us to know and yet not know about a 'taboo' topic--the possibility of sexuality in children. The current terms actually shut down different conversations, and instead, like Kincaid argues, the same answer-less questions get asked, leaving us feeling politically and socially conscious, but ultimately unmoved and inactive.

Direct Engagement 2-- Kincaid Reading

Appreciation: This article is all about the sexualization and eroticism of children. As a society we repeatedly sexualize and eroticize the image of the gender neutral child, while we punish those who act on the fantasies that we create as a society. Kincaid uses many examples, like Macaulay Culkin in his coppertone advertisement where pictures of an androgynous Culkin playing while a cute dog pulls down his swim trunks eroticize the image of the androgynous child, but when Culkin gets older he loses his appeal. He discusses how the Michael Jackson scandal and all the jokes that followed were a necessary construction of society, and had these events not occurred society would have created an instance where it was equally constructed through a different entity.
His thesis states that "erotic children are manufactured -- in the sense that we produce them in our cultural factories, the ones that make meanings for us. They tell us what 'the child' is and also what 'the erotic' is. I argue that for the past two hundred years they have confused us, have failed to distinguish the two categories, have allowed them to dangerously overlap."

Critique: This article raised many questions for me. While I was reading the beginning, I was getting mental images of Willy Nesler sitting on trial, ready to tell his story and his mom going crazy and shooting his molester. I was getting images of the Michael Jackson trial, and how the press went crazy over his alleged offenses and even though he was found innocent, how society had already found him guilty. The Macaulay Culkin reference also hit close to home, I was raised on Home Alone movies, and when Kincaid pointed out that after Culkin grew into a more sexualized body, that is, less androgynous, he became much less popular. These examples raised some questions for me:

  • Why is our society so obsessed with child molestation?

  • Why are small children exploited in the media for entertainment, and why are certain images of children so much more desirable than others?

  • Could the mediated representations of children really be somewhat responsible for creating them in an erotic paradigm?

  • Are child molesters really confused about the erotic nature of children?
  • Once I read his thesis I got a strong feeling in the pit of my stomach. I understand Kincaid's point of view, that mediated images of children as erotic beings and also as pure and innocent beings are contradictory at best. However, it seems almost as if he is justifying the molestation of children based on the idea that mediated images confuse normal people into thinking that it is ok. For me that is extremely problematic, child molesters are not to be given a reason to excuse their behavior. Children may be sexual beings by nature but they are not able to consent to sexual acts, and certainly should not but put into those kinds of situations.
    His argument that therapists and other adults can help in creating false memories of molestation is very interesting to me. It has been documented that some therapists are responsible for helping to create false memories, but it is problematic to suggest this as a basis of dismissal of a child's claim of molestation,
    The bottom line for me is that it is important that our children as a society are protected from unwanted advances from both trusted and unknown adults. It is normal for children to experiment sexually, but adults do not need to take part in that experimentation.

    Construction: There are two ways that I would like to think about what I can do with this article. It is important for me as an advertising and media student to realize the complications that the media might be making on its projected images of children. I certainly do not want to prolong or contribute to this problem.
    Also, I think this article has an interesting parallel to the concept of heteronormativity in children. Children are taught that opposite sex relationships are standard. I think that scandals like the Michael Jackson example are so much more outrageous than most because he was a Man preying on little boys. Same sex molestation tends to get a bigger buzz than opposite sex molestation, simply because it is more societally problematic. My feeling on the issue is that child molestation is not ok regardless of its orientation.

katy perry's comeback and other dirty little sesame street moments

katy perry.png
The picture's from Katy's guest appearance on SNL--obviously she's making a little jab at the Street.

The link (below) is to a posting entitled "7 Much More Offensive Sesame Street Moments Than Katy Perry's Cleavage." There were too many videos to embed them all on the blog--easier to just link it.

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