Talking about…

So… A former NFL cheerleader is busted for “raping” a 15 year old boy.  47 and 15? Hmm. Yeah, I kinda GET 21 and 15. Or even 24 and 15. I remember being that age and having a former Dallas cheerleader as substitute teacher. She was… distracting, but greatly loved by everyone.  Then again, she was in her early twenties at the time.  This would have been 1980, and she was quite the knockout.

At fifteen I was definitely having sex of my own volition. Not a lot of it, but some. Very few women would have needed to “rape” me.

Yeah, I know. This is one place I veer off from the feminists. It’s not the same thing, culturally or biologically, for a young male as with a young woman. Not to say it can’t go bad in a hurry. But it’s not necessarily an assault. There is no sense that the boy is “ruined” for example. We have sex ed classes in this country that teach little girls that to have sex before marriage is to become like chewed gum. We don’t teach the boys that.  In some cases the response might actually do more harm than the “crime.”

I question our damn age of consent laws anyway, especially when paired with our tendency to charge minors as adults in criminal cases. Are they minors or adults? If they can be assumed to have the agency to commit an adult crime, why aren’t they assumed to have the agency to decide to have sex?

Can’t have it both ways.

(To me this is more of an argument against trying children as adults than the other thing, but it still stands).

I honestly don’t think there’s enough of a difference between, say, a 16 year old and a 22 year old. There’s a lot of flexibility in that age range, in terms of possible emotional, mental, and physical maturity. In twenty years those eight years are all but meaningless anyway. Hell, in ten years they don’t mean a lot. Who’d say much about a 26 year old dating a 32 year old? Regardless of the gender dynamic?

It’s not inconceivable that two people with a 16-22 age spread in today’s society might have a LOT in common. Neither has a fully mature brain. Both are prone to impulsive action, the brain not completely finished resolving that early adventurous biological urge.  They can have similar pop culture touchstones.

Power dynamics do matter somewhat, which is why I really don’t care for teachers doing this crap. I might be more concerned in general if we lived in a culture that taught young people to respect and/or obey older folks, but we don’t. As long as there aren’t specific power structures in place it is less of a threat than, say, an older man chasing a younger woman. There’s innate power stacked in the man’s favor, and no number of ways he can use that for leverage against a more innocent girl.

And I’ll put it another way. While it’s possible for a fifteen year old boy to be an “innocent,” that rarely extends into his own mind. He’s done it all, or everything he can imagine, in his head already. I know I had.

I took no harm from my initiation into sex, as far as I know, regardless of the relatively advanced age of my partner. Then again, considering my upbringing, I’m not sure there was much more harm to inflict. From a household that never talked about sex, or even acknowledged its existence, to a free-wheeling life with my father where we still didn’t “talk” about it, but the fact that I was expected to go find some at the earliest opportunity was not… shall we say, well hidden.

I still remember when I brought a girl home to a place my old man was staying in Sac. He was out at his girlfriend’s house. It was probably disrespectful on one level, but it’s not as though my father ever taught me anything about respecting anyone else’s boundaries.

I brought a girl home… we’d already had sex somewhere else, so we literally just slept together. When we got up the next morning, the woman of the house (the wife of my dad’s friend) had a shit-fit. She asked me how I could bring a slut into the house with her 3 year old son (as if the kid would have thought anything of it, had he been curious. You just tell the kid that she’s a friend and she stayed over. That doesn’t mean anything to a goddamn 3 year old). Of course, I was 17 and the guy had already told me that it was too young to be having sex.

They were Kenfucky hillbillies, btw. Or close enough to it. Backwoods folks transplanted to the city.

I saw nothing wrong with any of it. Oh, I get their objections NOW, but only through the lens of perspective I didn’t have when I was 17. I couldn’t believe they would be any less open than my father in this regard. Hah.

It was a weird experience. Everyone ended up pissed at me over it. And my old man didn’t say a word in my defense. Then again, he rarely did. Even if I was doing what he taught me to do, he wouldn’t lift a finger to back my play. And people wonder why I no longer talk to him.

My dad’s girlfriend caught me screwing this girl (who’d initiated the whole thing, btw) in her daughter’s bed (with permission, btw). She freaked out on me, thinking it was her daughter at first. (I wouldn’t have minded, but I don’t think her daughter was into geeks, even relatively athletic ones).

This girl was at least my age. Hell, for all I knew, she was 18 or 19. I didn’t care. I knew she wasn’t younger than I was, though I didn’t ID her. I kinda feel bad that I don’t remember her name, but she’s the one who walked out in a huff when I tried to explain she wasn’t a “slut.” (I don’t approve of that term. Never have.) Hell, maybe she WAS a slut, whatever the hell that was. She certainly didn’t want a “boyfriend.”

I’ve never been the one-night-stand sort. Don’t have sex with me if you’re not serious about a continuing relationship of SOME kind. I don’t consider it a frivolous pursuit, even though my initiation into sex was never anything but an initiation. Oddly enough, it was the only time I ever had sex I didn’t think it was meant to start something more.

I have a cavalier approach to other people’s sex lives. As long as no one is getting hurt… and I might have a slightly different perspective on “hurt” than other folks. Some unspecified possible psychological damage isn’t “hurt.”  Damage is when you can point at something and say “You can see where this has negatively impacted their life.”

My personal initiation into sex likely did far less harm than my introduction to the concept in the first place, which was a complete psychological clusterfuck.  My stepmother hated sex, avoided all mentions of it, apparently punished me for sleeping naked once (though I don’t remember it, thankfully), and sent me to the store on days she felt obligated to have sex with my father.

I knew next to nothing about the subject.

She turned out to be gay.  I wasn’t surprised.  My father, in his infinite idiocy, decided it was about HIM, somehow.  Of course he did.  Everything was about HIM, including, apparently, a few years later, the fact that he had a geeky, awkward teenage boy who couldn’t get laid.  That, in his mind, was somehow a black mark against him.  Or so it seemed to me.

Oh, yeah.  He eventually left my stepmom… got himself a wild Italian girlfriend who lasted a couple months.  That worked out GREAT.

Not so much.  She’d snatched her own two kids from where she came from (Indiana, I think) and fled west.  To my father.

Anyway… I got completely confusing signals about sex growing up.  No one talked to me about it at all.  I learned the scientific/biological details in junior high–and, unlikely most of the boys, I paid close attention to what they were teaching me.

Believe it or not, it was less help than one might expect.

I had very little skill in communication, or reading other people’s behavior, when I was a kid.  I think it probably spawned my love of psychology as an adult.  I truly want to understand what makes people tick, because they confused the FUCK out of me when I was little.  Now I understand most of that behavior, even the bullies at school who made my life hell.

There’s always something to be said for perspective.