Maggie Jones is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. She has been a finalist for a National Magazine Award, a 2012 Nieman Fellow and 2016 Senior Fellow at the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma at Columbia University. She is currently a visiting assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s undergrad and MFA programs.
Drew was 8 years old when he was flipping through TV channels at home and landed on “Girls Gone Wild.” A few years later, he came across HBO’s late-night soft-core pornography. Then in ninth grade, he found online porn sites on his phone. The videos were good for getting off, he said, but also sources for ideas for future sex positions with future girlfriends. From porn, he learned that guys need to be buff and dominant in bed, doing things like flipping girls over on their stomach during sex. Girls moan a lot and are turned on by pretty much everything a confident guy does. One particular porn scene stuck with him: A woman was bored by a man who approached sex gently but became ecstatic with a far more aggressive guy.
The Secrets in Guatemala’s Bones
One afternoon in 1994, during his senior year in college, Fredy Peccerelli sat at an anthropology conference in Atlanta and stared at the man onstage. Peccerelli had seen the renowned bone detective Clyde Snow before, but only in a textbook. Snow, who was in his 60s, leaned forward at the lectern, speaking in his genial Texas drawl about blindfolded skulls and bodies dumped in clandestine graves. He wore his usual attire of an Irish tweed jacket, cowboy boots and a fedora.
A few months ago, in an office near Guatemala City, a woman known as a searcher spread out a large map across her coffee table. The map was dotted with about 250 tiny, hand-drawn circles, each one representing a place where the searcher had tracked down a birth mother who had placed a child for adoption. Sometimes she found a birth mother after knocking on a few doors in Guatemala City. In other cases, she traveled for three or four days to remote indigenous areas in Guatemala or farther afield to Nicaragua, Honduras or El Salvador.
Laura Klunder’s newest tattoo runs down the inside of her left forearm and reads “K85-160,” a number that dates to her infancy. Klunder was 9 months old when her South Korean mother left her at a police station in Seoul. The police brought her to Holt Children’s Services, a local adoption agency, where a worker assigned Klunder the case number K85-160. It was only two weeks into 1985, but she was already the 160th child to come to the agency that month, and she would go on to be one of 8,800 children sent overseas from South Korea that year. Klunder became part of the largest adoption exodus from one country in history: Over the past six decades, at least 200,000 Korean children — roughly the population of Des Moines — have been adopted into families in more than 15 countries, with a vast majority living in the United States.
Around 10 on a clear May morning in 2008, two black helicopters circled over Postville, Iowa, a town of two square miles and fewer than 3,000 residents. Then a line of S.U.V.’s drove past Postville’s main street and its worn brick storefronts. More than 10 white buses with darkened windows and the words “Homeland Security” on their sides were on their way to the other side of town. Postville’s four-man police force had no forewarning of what was about to happen. Neither did the mayor.
In the early 1980s, a therapist named Robert Longo was treating adolescent boys who had committed sex offenses. Their offenses ranged from fondling girls a few years younger than they were to outright rape of young children. As part of their treatment, the boys had to keep journals — which Longo read — in which they detailed their sexual fantasies and logged how frequently they masturbated to those fantasies. They created “relapse-prevention plans,” based on the idea that sex-offending is like an addiction and that teenagers need to be watchful of any “triggers” (pornography, anger) that might initiate their “cycle” of reoffending. And at the beginning of each group session, the boys introduced themselves much as an alcoholic begins an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting: “I’m Brian, and I’m a sex offender. I sexually offended against a 10-year-old boy; I made him lick my penis three times.”
One morning when he was 15, Takeshi shut the door to his bedroom, and for the next four years he did not come out. He didn't go to school. He didn't have a job. He didn't have friends. Month after month, he spent 23 hours a day in a room no bigger than a king-size mattress, where he ate dumplings, rice and other leftovers that his mother had cooked, watched TV game shows and listened to Radiohead and Nirvana. "Anything," he said, "that was dark and sounded desperate."