Virtual Pedophilia: Sex Offender Profiling and U.S. Security Culture

Virtual Pedophilia: Sex Offender Profiling and U.S. Security Culture

by Gillian Harkins

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In Virtual Pedophilia Gillian Harkins traces how by the end of the twentieth century the pedophile as a social outcast evolved into its contemporary appearance as a virtually normal white male. The pedophile's alleged racial and gender normativity was treated as an exception to dominant racialized modes of criminal or diagnostic profiling. The pedophile was instead profiled as a virtual figure, a potential threat made visible only when information was transformed into predictive image. The virtual pedophile was everywhere and nowhere, slipping through day-to-day life undetected until people learned how to arm themselves with the right combination of visually predictive information. Drawing on television, movies, and documentaries such as Law and Order: SVU, To Catch a Predator, Mystic River, and Capturing the Friedmans, Harkins shows how diverse U.S. audiences have been conscripted and trained to be lay detectives who should always be on the lookout for the pedophile as virtual predator. In this way, the perceived threat of the pedophile legitimated increased surveillance and ramped-up legal strictures that expanded the security apparatus of the carceral state.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781478009153
Publisher: Duke University Press
Publication date: 04/10/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 286
File size: 10 MB

About the Author

Gillian Harkins is Associate Professor of English at the University of Washington and author of Everybody's Family Romance: Reading Incest in Neoliberal America.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction. Virtual Pedophilia  1
1. Monstrous Sexuality and Vile Sovereignty  29
2. Profiling Virtuality and Pedophilic Data  62
3. Informational Image and Procedural Tone  95
4. Capturing the Past and the Vitality of Crime  128
5. Capturing the Future and the Sexuality of Risk  161
Conclusion. Exceptional Pedophilia and the Everyday Case  194
Notes  209
References  229
Index  263

What People are Saying About This

The Queer Child, or Growing Sideways in the Twentieth Century - Kathryn Bond Stockton

“It takes a century to not catch a predator: to birth him as a white man we can never net. Why can't we catch him? We can't see him. He's a white needle in a very white haystack. With statistics pooling, information flooding, he more eludes. He becomes ‘virtual,’ which bears devastating racial effects for communities of color. Expect this original, astonishing weave in Gillian Harkins' arresting new book. Tying together racial critique, feminist and sexuality studies, and legal discourse, Harkins proffers razor-sharp claims that challenge several fields—even queer theory. At every turn in this gripping read, I feel the author's crackling intelligence.”

Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed - Lisa Duggan

“The explosive subject of pedophilia too often generates social hysteria. In Virtual Pedophilia Gillian Harkins counters that response with an impressively researched multidisciplinary analysis of the emergence of the cultural figure of ‘the pedophile’ in the late twentieth century. But even more importantly, her lucid, pointed, and politically urgent provocations make this one of the most important books on sexual politics published in the past twenty years.”

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