Harmful to Minors: A Book Review

Yesterday, I was supine-style on the crisp Central Park grass reading Judith Levine’s Harmful to Minors: Perils of Protecting our Children Against Sex. I am completely engaged, though as a writer I’ve picked up on a few structural errors (That’s just me being anal). Otherwise, Levine is witty, solid in her facts, and steadfast to show the dangers in protecting our children from the “dangers” of sex.

Levine thoroughly investigates the multi-tiered processes dedicated to teaching our children about how to protect themselves from all unhealthy signals of sex or sexuality. While education is necessary in order for children to develop healthy sexual lives, the lines that define what is dangerous is ultimately blurred by overly conservative opinions, social misconceptions, and biases for both race, gender, and orientations that teach the young ones not for the purpose of safety but, rather, fear. The book bases its theories out of extensive research and interviews with scores of sex therapists, educators, and counseling programs. Harmful to Minors… is unapologetic in its argument that our intentions are grounded on facts that have been manipulated and ignores desire and sexual exploration children do experience at a young age. This is a must read for anyone and everyone curious about how our sexual systems function in society.

After reading Levine’s book, the television show Dateline:To Catch a Predator immediately came to mind. The entire setup seemed only to trap men caught in the middle of their fantasies, then go on to embarrass them in front of an entire nation. The police officers who go onto these chat rooms disguised as 16 year old girls… ha! I used to talk that way when I was that age to guys online. And it was fun! I didn’t feel like a victim; it was my sexual outlet without the chances of getting hurt. Now, I’m sure we have all said at one point or another, Well, any of these men could be a sexual predator. But, we don’t know that this is actually the case. There was one episode where a 20 year old college student was ridiculed for seducing a 16 year old girl (who was quite explicit and very willing to meet and experiment). Now tell me, what is this young man really in trouble for? And why do we assume that this girl can talk in such a manner, control the entire situation, then suddenly become a victim? Think about it. What upsets me the most is that innocent people get in trouble for exercising their fantasies and sexual freedoms. And ignoring the fact that children (at any age) are curious about their own rights to sexual freedoms doesn’t make that man (or anyone else) a criminal. Harumph!

Anyway, I suggest anyone who agrees or disagrees with me read the book. It’s an eye-opener and it’s honest.

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