[Reader-list] Re: csa and homosexuality

Geeta Patel geeta.patel at verizon.net
Sat Jun 19 00:41:46 IST 2004

In response to Rahul's question about reading suggestions I have the
following.  I have picked them because Pinky Virani's analyses are replete
with badly rehashed conceptualizations about sexuality that emerge from the
writings of sexologists (primarily American but also European and British)
from the late 19th century through to the mid 20th century.  Many (not all)
of the positions espoused by Virani have been discredited and historicized.
Virani ought to have read those analyses before she ventured on her project
precisely because she was one of the first people in South Asia to assay
writing, in an analytic mode, about the very fraught issues on child abuse.
Rather than offering readers terrible and truncated rehashings (without
giving credit where it was due), Virani might then have given those who were
concerned about child abuse reasonable psychological conceptualizations that
helped people think through the issues.  For example: Among other things,
her revivification (again truncated) of Freud's theory of the libido taken
from his engagement with the theories of fluid dynamics turns into:
sublimation will help people control the urge to sex--which if allowed to
run amok leads people to abuse.  Awful--and it obscures what she also talks
about and which people who have worked long and hard on abuse believe is the
most important issue-- the imbrication of abuse with power.

These readings given below might also help people to take on some of the
positions held by people like Sudhir Kakar:

One recent title that takes on sexology:  Siobhan B. Somerville "Queering
the Color Line" (Durham:  Duke University Press, 2000)
Earlier titles and still trenchant and to the point are:  Janice M. Irvine,
"Disorders of Desire:  Sex and Gender in Modern American Sexology"
(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990)
Paul Robinson, "The Modernization of Sex:  Havelock Ellis, Alfred Kinsey,
William Masters and Virginia Johnson" (Ithaca:  Cornell University Press,

One recent book that thinks through capitalism; the emergence of childhood
as a conceptual category; sexuality and searches for causation (this is
simplified shorthand) is:
Roger Lancaster, "The Trouble with Nature:  Sex in Science and Popular
Culture" (Berkeley:  University of California Press, 2003).  Good book for
folks who want to think political economy and sexuality in the West, but
also generally useful.  Has a great bibliography.

For the production of childhood, Philippe Aries, "Centuries of Childhood" is
still worth reading, though researchers have begun taking him up on his
I am including the works on childhood to address Virani's discussions about
children and the place she feels they have not been given--her positions and
opinions cannot even begin to speak to the historical emergence of childhood
as a site of obsessive interest.

For South Asia, Meena Alexander's extraordinarily brave rewriting of her
memoir, her life and the abuse in it, in "Fault Lines:  A memoir" (New York:
The Feminist Press, 2004), offers another take on memory and abuse.  She
rewrote the memoir, first published in 1993, after she began seeing her acts
of forgetting -- see section 16, Writing in fragments.

Grace Poore's film, "Children We Sacrifice," offers stories, reminiscences
and analyses by survivors of childhood abuse who are from or live in South
Asia, broadly conceived.

Finally Ginu Kamani's "Junglee Girl" turns the sexuality of children and
power and class on their heads.  The stories focus on Mumbai.   They can be
very disturbing and should not be taken as paradigmatic.

Virani's bibliography at the end of the book is fairly substantive -- I know
some of those books but have not read them all.  There are so many.  I have
asked psychologists who work with children who have been abused for their
recommendations.  When and if those come in, I will forward them to the list

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Asthana, Rahul" <Rahul.Asthana at CIBC.com>
To: <vze24hwy at verizon.net>; "shivam" <zest_india at yahoo.co.in>;
<nkarani at hotmail.com>
Cc: <geeta.patel at verizon.net>
Sent: Friday, June 18, 2004 11:49 AM
Subject: RE: csa and homosexuality

> Is there any other literature on this subject besides Pinky Virani?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: vze24hwy at verizon.net [mailto:vze24hwy at verizon.net]
> Sent: Friday, June 18, 2004 11:41 AM
> To: shivam; Asthana, Rahul; nkarani at hotmail.com
> Cc: geeta.patel at verizon.net
> Subject: Re: csa and homosexuality
> > Dear Shivam:
> I think that I will say just one more thing on the subject.  Having worked
> for many years with people and children who have been abused and involved
> with a film made on South Asian women who have been abused, I can say both
> from my observations and research and writing conducted on abuse, there
> seems to be no correlation between abuse and homosexuality.  There is some
> correlation between abuse and sexual practices, but that is quite a
> different matter.  You yourself probably know quite a few people who have
> been abused in your own circle (however large or small you think that
> to be.  A person seems to be just as likely to remain straight as turn gay
> if they have been abused.  This is because abuse is not one thing.
> Pinky Virani is not the place to go to find out about abuse and its
> lingering effects.  One has to move away from strange presuppositions when
> dealing with abuse.   Because those presuppositions and causalities cloud
> one's expectations and the production of facts as well as feelings.  In
> case-- about people who have been abused (I won't say victims), and about
> queers.
> Geeta
> > From: shivam <zest_india at yahoo.co.in>
> > Date: 2004/06/18 Fri AM 11:32:48 GMT
> > To: Rahul.Asthana at CIBC.com,  nkarani at hotmail.com,
geeta.patel at verizon.net
> > Subject: csa and homosexuality
> >
> >
> > dear nitin,
> >
> >  we are talking about two things here really:
> >
> > 1) a homosexual abusing a minor with the INTENTION of
> > turning him or her a homosexual;
> > 2) a minor becoming a homosexual because of child
> > sexual abuse.
> >
> > Both are ideas coming from Virani's book, and though I
> > agree with you that the first may be debatable, I
> > think the second is undeniable. This is not to say
> > that every gay is a CSA victim or that every CSA
> > victim is a gay. But surely, if a person is sexually
> > abused in his or her formative years, it may have some
> > effect on his or her sexuality. Homosexuality,
> > according to Virani's book, can be one of these
> > effects. I suggest you pick up the book and try and
> > understand CSA and its trauma, though you and I can
> > never understand it the way a victim does. Virani
> > estimates that 1 in every 4 girls and 1 in every 6
> > boys in India are CSA victims. That's huge, no?
> >
> > Regards,
> > Shivam
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________________
> > Yahoo! India Matrimony: Find your partner online.
> http://yahoo.shaadi.com/india-matrimony/
> >

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