chapter  8
17 Pages

The ‘harm’ story in childhood sexual abuse: contested understandings, disputed knowledges


In this chapter I will be discussing the debates surrounding the harmfulness of child sexual abuse. The harmfulness of sexual violence (throughout the lifespan, but particularly in childhood) has formed key political axes for ‘second-wave’ feminist academics, practitioners and campaigners. Second-wave feminist campaigns, particularly surrounding sexual violence and child sexual abuse, are characterised by the principal focus upon action and praxis that engages with gendered bodies, gendered textual and social practices. Whilst I am not denying that these concerns remain (materially) very real – gender saturates our understandings of the social world – the position that I take within this chapter would argue that issues of power are not focused purely around the axis of gender. My approach is informed by a post-structuralist feminist practice in which there is no straightforward mapping of gender and power but intersections of gender, sexuality and ethnicity which produce a multiplicity of identity positions and inequalities without recourse to singularising ascriptions of ‘identity’.