“Sex offender” is used in two senses. First, it is a legal category that defines individuals who have been convicted of specific sex crimes. These crimes range in degree and severity but predominantly consider themes of violence, predation, and propriety. In popular representation and discourse, sex offenders are often constructed as sexual predators, oscillating between the rapist and the child molester. The second sense is a cultural category that relies upon highly racialized discourses and representations of sexual deviance and masculinity to define individuals as perpetrators of sexual violence in the absence of legal convictions or even criminal behavior. Both result in hyperpunitive policies that reproduce the state’s capacity to manage, regulate, police, and define what constitutes illegal forms of sex and illegal sexual subjects. This keyword will explore the constitution and consequences of these usages and the limits they place on projects of justice.
Keyword 4: Sex Offender
terrance wooten is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in the Department of Black Studies. He is currently working on his first book manuscript, tentatively titled “Lurking in the Shadows of Home: Homelessness, Carcerality, and the Figure of the Sex Offender,” which examines how those who have been designated “sex offenders” and are homeless in the Maryland/dc area are managed and regulated through social policies, sex offender registries, and urban and architectural design. His scholarly interests are located at the intersections of African American studies, gender and sexuality studies, studies of poverty and homelessness, and carceral studies.
Terrance Wooten; Keyword 4: Sex Offender. differences 1 May 2019; 30 (1): 82–90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-7481246
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