Review of "Violence, Prejudice and Sexuality" by Stephen Tomsen (Routledge, New York and London, 2009)

Dwyer, Angela E. (2012) Review of "Violence, Prejudice and Sexuality" by Stephen Tomsen (Routledge, New York and London, 2009). Current Issues in Criminal Justice, 23(3), pp. 481-482.

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Tomsen’s book Violence, Prejudice and Sexuality engages with important questions about sexuality and anti homosexual sentiment that criminologists have grappled with for some time. Tomsen’s work refines these questions in the context of essentialism, and notes how this concept has enabled only very specific ways of thinking about and analysing violence, prejudice, and sexuality. Indeed, thinking about the nexus between these three concepts are now almost taken for granted. As Tomsen demonstrates in his discussion of historical understandings of sexual desire, although social constructionism and queer perspectives have challenged essentialist notions of sexuality, research has in many respects upheld a binary understanding of heterosexuality as normal and homosexuality as abnormal. Interestingly, essentialist binaries like this have been conveniently employed in more recent times when activists align with minority status to gain basic human rights. While no one could deny the importance of access to rights and justice, Tomsen notes the danger inherent in arguments like this that draw on essentialism. He argues we are working through similar dichotomies of heterosexuality as normal and homosexuality as abnormal set up in very early research on sexual desire. The key difference now is that, in the rush towards public and political citizenship, ‘heterosexuals are recast as “perpetrators” and homosexuals as “victims”’ (Tomsen 2009: 16). Violence, Prejudice and Sexuality importantly notes this is no less an essentialist dichotomy and no less divisive....

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ID Code: 49281
Item Type: Review
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1034-5329
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Institute of Criminology Press
Deposited On: 23 Mar 2012 05:08
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2012 05:45

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