Chapter 4 - Summary

Chapter 4:
The Rise of the Child-Victim: Children’s Vulnerability and the Changing Politics of Victims and Saviors ...

  • [* Here is the summary as given by the author in her Introduction. The next file will give the text - Ipce]
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... examines the ways that the groups from the preceding chapters framed themselves and the figure of the child as victims of violence and argued that their groups’ missions contained the solution to the widespread cultural problem of child exploitation.

I reveal the ways that the libratory politics involved not only battling persecution but also redefining what constituted violence within popular and political culture. That is, through the groups’ various libratory strategies, violence against children became a site to illustrate the victimization of group members.

Forexample, feminists framed poverty and rape culture as violent to women and children, just as NAMBLA presented the repression of child as a violation of both children and the men who loved them. Despite their investment in libratory politics, groupmembers’ use of the child to establish legitimacy forced them to adopt protectionist stances in addition to libratory ones.

To understand the coexisting liberation and protectionist stances, this chapter sheds light on the ways that “the victim” was described, defined and deployed on the American political stage and the extent to which children factored into political responses to and interpretations of victimization. By positioning themselves as both saviors of children and victims of the same violence that persecuted children, members
of these social movement groups staked their legitimacy on occupying savior and victim positions simultaneously.

This tension forced them to grapple with a radical politics of liberation on the one hand and a conservative politics of protection on the other.

Finally, I explore the broader implications of this rhetorical shift toward protectionism by examining day-care abuse panics of the 1980s as evidence of a national consensus regarding child-victims. Ultimately, the figure of the child framed the limits of the libratory discourses advanced by these social movement groups, and their rhetorical reliance on that figure contributed to a broader shift towards a culture of (sexual) conservatism.