Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a persistent and widespread social practice (Gilbert et al., 2009) predominantly perpetrated by men. In considering the sexual abuse of male children, one is faced with a number of explanatory accounts that say little about the experiences of boys. These can broadly be divided into those that focus on the individual and those that focus on society. Thus, over the last three decades feminist perspectives have challenged individualist accounts (see Ward et al., 2006) that construct the perpetrators of CSA as somehow weak or ill and fundamentally distinct from the wider male population (Cowburn and Dominelli, 2001) whilst ignoring the gendered aspects of sexual exploitation and abuse (e.g. Kelly, 1988; Rush, 1980). According to Seymour (1998: 422) ‘it is evident that the nature of gender socialization in our patriarchal society predisposes males toward child sexual abuse.’

However, both positions are problematic (Brackenridge, 2001) and according to Liddle (1993) there is a missing ‘theoretical linkage’ between the micro (psychology) and the macro (sociology) that frustrates a satisfactory account of this social problem. Cossins (2000) has argued for a sociological theory of CSA but still presents abuse as a pathological response to childhood trauma, albeit prompted by the demands of masculinity.

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