Sep
01
2002

Scuttling a Debate With Scandal

Harmful to Minors controversy a missed opportunity

Judith Levine is a Brooklyn-based journalist with a long history of writing about sexu­ality and gender. When her most recent book came out this year, she hoped, as all authors hope, that her work might provoke some useful debate. Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children From Sex (Minnesota University Press) is a scholarly text, full of footnoted research into the history and con­temporary effect of U.S. laws and attitudes relating to sexuality. Age of consent laws, Levine notes, originat­ed to protect patriarchal property--a daughter's virginity; ghastly things keep happening to kids whose sexu­al curiosity is cast as pathological; […]