Chapter

The Sex Crimes of the Red Light Bandit (1948–1954)

Theodore Hamm

in Rebel and a Cause

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780520224278
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925236 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520224278.003.0003
The Sex Crimes of the Red Light Bandit (1948–1954)

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Longstanding stereotypes of the violent sex criminal were both contested and revised in the postwar period. From the 1930s onward, activists like Jesse Daniel Aames, the Communist Party, and the NAACP made constant public challenges to the Southern stereotype of black men as rapists. Simultaneously, a popular discourse about sex crimes emerged in which the sexual assailants who provided evidence of a “wave of sex crimes” sweeping the nation were almost always white people. Discussions helped define a new menace to America's women and children which can be found in popular magazines and journals. Postwar psychiatrists defined Chessman and other convicted sex criminals as “psychopaths,” a term with imprecise meaning but clear connotations during the era.

Keywords: sex crimes; psychopaths; sex criminals; popular discourse; black men

Chapter.  11695 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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