Webinar: A conversation about the re-emergence of political and moral panics about child sexual abuse and trafficking


Join Gira Grant and Nathan for a conversation about the re-emergence of political and moral panics about child sexual abuse and trafficking. How are QAnon-generated myths of pedophile cannibal rings related to the (long-debunked) daycare and satanic panics of the 1980s and 1990s? How are they different? What might we do about them? Judith Levine will moderate.

Debbie Nathan was among the first journalists to expose the daycare and “satanic abuse” panics of the 80s/90s; her book Satan’s Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt(Basic Books, 1996, co-authored by Mike Snedeker) meticulously unearthed the origins, context, and facts of scores of false allegations of child sex abuse during this time. Nathan also writes on immigration, sexual politics and the US-Mexico border. Her other books include Women and Other Aliens and the New York Times bestseller Sybil Exposed.

Melissa Gira Grant is a staff writer covering justice at The New Republic. She has reported extensively on QAnon, right-wing conspiracies, and the politics of the anti-trafficking movement. She is the author of Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work (Verso, 2014). Her feature reporting has been published by BuzzFeed News and the Guardian, and her commentary and criticism have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Bookforum and The New York Review of Books.

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The RSVP link is not working for me. Anyone else?

Just often enough something grabs the attention of a nation or multiple countries. With the passage of time it is often true similar incidents will occur giving rise to the same panic and outrage again. Extreme cases or even plausible rumors especially concerning disliked individuals are the sparks that light conspiracy theories, fuel imagination about illicit behavior, and cult rituals. Combined with inaccurate and inadequate explanations and a lack of effort to correct such explanations it is no wonder people have wild beliefs about what’s going on in the world. Abuse and trafficking do happen, but there’s a lot more to both than what a majority of people think because the legal definitions are very broad on purpose. Which means people should figure out what actually happened rather than assume “abuse, trafficking, or anything else” is what they imagine it to be.