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Engendering trauma: Gender, race, and family after child sexual abuse

Clifton Shawn McGuffey, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Using extrafamilial child sexual abuse (CSA) as an example of family trauma, the author interviewed 62 parents of sexually abused boys on multiple occasions to analyze the organization of gender, race, and class in parental coping processes. Despite access to alternative interpretations of CSA that challenge conventional notions of gender, parents in this study typically relied on traditional themes to make meaning of the CSA experience. The author organized the data analytically around gender strategies and found that parents used race- and class-specific gender strategies in the aftermath of trauma. Most important, mother-blame is theorized as a form gender reaffirmation. The author uses the term gender reaffirmation to illustrate the way social actors recuperate after a situation has been interpreted as detrimental, challenging, or stressful to heteronormative gender relations. Mother-blaming accounts encouraged race and class enactments of gender that had negative consequences for women and helped secure men's cultural power.

Subject Area

Sociology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

McGuffey, Clifton Shawn, "Engendering trauma: Gender, race, and family after child sexual abuse" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3193924.