Sunday, October 28, 2007

Decriminalizing Teen Sexuality or Decriminalizing Teen Sexual Abuse And Rape?

With the freeing of Genarlow Wilson, I've seen people (Adolescent Sexuality, Crooks and Liars among others) using this case as evidence for their demand that teen sexuality needs to be decriminalized -- as if all sexualized actions by those who are teens is non-predatory except when knives or guns are used to gain compliance.

What gets labeled as consensual is often far from the image people have of kids freely and mutually interacting during sex acts. This perception matches the general attitude many people have that it isn't rape unless the victim has an immediate fear of death and that they accept that the victim would have good reason to fear of death with no possible safe way out.

All those who don't agree with them are at risk of unfairly being slapped with the label prude. At 15 shortly after being raped twice by my boyfriend, it was not helpful at all to be told that the only reason I felt bad about not being a virgin was because of society's hang ups about premarital sex. Those who told me that nonsense fell into the same traps that people want to open back up now. They were no more right in their assessment than those who looked down on all girls who didn't save their virginity until their wedding night.

In their minds these two groups might have see the other group as opposite, but both groups are often the same in making a rape victim responsible for actions taken against her. Those who say, "It's all good" are no more right or helpful than those who say, "It's all sinful."

This demand for the stripping of statutory rape laws, if met, would put younger children and teens at even greater risk of rape and sexual abuse than they are now -- and with the blessing of the government and those who demanded this change in law.

Too often it is only the statutory rape laws which leads to the conviction of rapists since victims who say "I never consented" or "I flat out said no and that didn't even slow him down" or "I went to bed alone and woke up mid-rape" are frequently considered unreliable or liars for a variety of reasons.

I've heard too many people say, "if it happens twice, it had to be consensual." Sex abusers love these people.

I've heard too many people say that girls shouldn't be given the right to call what was done to them against their wishes rape and have that designation respected. If the guy decides what he did wasn't rape for whatever reason (didn't use a knife, didn't threaten death, etc), then that's the only decision the law should pay attention to.

The other charge against Wilson which ended in an acquittal was for the rape of a drunk -- to the point of unconscious -- 17-year-old girl. I don't know why the jury who watched that video believed that girl consented or why they believed there was reasonable doubt that she might have consented. Maybe they thought she may have said earlier, "When I pass out, please go ahead without me." Because of this assessment by the jury, I have no real trust that what was labeled consensual oral sex really was the result of freely given informed consent on the part of the 15-year-old. In short, I have little confidence in the spin about this defendant's actions.

Unfortunately, the active pushing of alcohol, to the point of putting a child's life in danger, is also seen as a normal teen activity and is also frequently described as experimentation.

For many people being a manipulative sexual predator (vs. an immediately violent sexual predator) isn't considered truly criminal unless the offender is an old man who preys on toddlers. Then he's a monster.

Frankly, the Romeo and Juliet description of sexual contact used to justify stripping away statutory protections are as fictional as the play with only the rare exception. For the Romeo and Juliet analogy to fit there can be no coercion, no use of substances to lower resistance, no use of isolation to gain consent, no use of peer pressure, no exploitation of another person in any way.

In true Romeo and Juliet relationships there are fully mutual and lasting care and respect so that if consent is given that it will still be there in a day, in a week, in a month.

In true Romeo and Juliet relationships there is no such thing as coercion or assumed consent.

In true Romeo and Juliet relationships there is no passing Juliet around to Romeo's friends.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:29 AM   0 comments links to this post


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