Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sexual Predators: A Double Standard

Yesterday I read an excellent post on Blue Collar Atheist about sexual harassment, and after watching this video this morning on TheYoungTurks channel I felt it I needed to look at my own views, my own possible double standard when it comes to sexual advances towards a teenage boy on the part of a young, attractive woman. 

I am in no way going to deny that there is indeed a double standard in public opinion with regards to this issue. If a 24 year old man made sexual advances towards a 15 year old girl no one would be discussing whether or not that man is a sexual predator. On the other hand, when people look at this attractive, young, blonde woman hitting on a young, virile 15 year old boy, it doesn’t seem to be the same. As Cenk put it, if it had happened to him at that age “best day of my life!”

I’m not going to discount all that, but I want to counter it with a hypothetical of my own. When I was 15 or 16, I was among the girls that were “old for their ages”. Unfortunately for me, I was also overweight and not considered all that attractive. If I was in a tanning salon and a 24 year old, smoking hot Will Smith-type came up to me topless and tried to kiss me, trust me Cenk, best day of my fucking life.

I suppose the source of the double standard lies in the fact that, as a society we assume that there are far more teenage boys than teenage girls that would welcome such advances. This stems partially from the “horny boy” stereotype and partially with our societal prejudices against women or girls who are sexually active and enjoy it. The “sluts” of this world are dismissed as the oddballs, not “proper”, not what girls or young women are “supposed to be”, whereas the horny teenage boy is exactly what we all expect. Neither of these stereotypes are fair, you don’t have to be a “slut” if you enjoy sex (or would die and go to heaven if a hot guy wanted to kiss you), and not all boys at that age are ready to have sex. They shouldn’t be ridiculed for not being ready or not appreciating the advances (as Hank Fox alluded to in his post) any more than a teenage girl should be ostracized for being ready to have sex. Sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances should be and are already illegal for completely different reasons: if the boy in this case was uncomfortable with her advances and did not want to have anything to do with her, she is undoubtedly a sexual predator. If, on the other hand he was considering it to be the “best day of his life” up until the point that his mom walked in the question thus becomes: what should the age of consent be? If there really is a double standard, should the age of consent be different for boys and girls?

I definitely do not think that there should be any difference, but I find it difficult to pin down an age. Teenagers are so variable in their physical, mental and emotional development that this question is incredibly difficult to answer. I have known 15 year olds that may as well have been 20, and others that may as well have been 10 and very easily manipulated. Then again I have also known legal adults that were easily manipulated, so where do we draw the line?

I definitely think that there should be a different age of consent when it comes to someone in a position of power over the minor, like a counsellor or babysitter etc. If the two people are completely unrelated, on the other hand, I feel like somewhere between 15 or 16 is fair enough. Once again, if there is a 15 year old that is not ready to be sexually active and resists the advances that is illegal for entirely different reasons, just as it is illegal to sexually harass an adult. For those that are ready to have some kind of relationship at that age, however, I say leave them be.

It would be nice to have some science back up my shot in the dark, if anyone knows of any studies conducted on cognitive development in this regard please let me know.


  1. I think the actual key point in this who discussion is the 'hot' descriptor.

    If she were obese, or unattractive, then there would be no questions on the issue.

    Bottom line: Forcing yourself on a minor is wrong, regardless of difference in age, sex, or appearance. Further, engaging in sexual acts with a minor is wrong as well, regardless of previously stated differences.

    There is nothing wrong with finding a minor attractive, it is a basic, natural, attraction. And with the fact that people look younger longer, it can be an honest mistake.
    However, the responsibility of the adult is to check the situation, recognize the immorality of it, and do the mature thing, show temperance, discretion, and self-control.

    This woman did not. Thus it is a case for our courts.

    1. forcing yourself on anyone is wrong, so that's not the final question in this puzzle. The final question is from what age is it OK? I think that "18" is a little antiquated and short sighted, an easy fix (I don't think that there is anything immoral with a 19 year old having a relationship with a 17 1/2 year old, for instance) and needs revisiting

    2. Well, in my state, 16 is the age of consent, with up to 5 years in age difference considered Kosher with parental approval (still a bit backward, in my opinion).

      But that makes the problem a lot deeper, as it would also entail redefining when someone was legally an adult. That will be a hell of a fight in the US.

    3. why would it have to entail that? The US has age-related laws that go around the legal adult age, most famous ones include being able to get a driver's license at 16 and not being allowed to drink until you are 21. I don't see why laws relating to sex would have to automatically entail changing the age at which someone is legally considered an adult

  2. Mostly because of the emotional and psychological ramifications of sexual interaction, in my opinion.

    Again, this should be more of a guideline than a concrete rule, due to the nature of individuals.