The teenage sex thing
I love that there are a lot of conversations happening around sex and consent and what constitutes a crime but also, wow.
I have heard some opinions that beggar belief.
Women are prey and men are predators.
Testosterone is the reason men can’t control themselves sexually.
Men need sex on a primal level. Women only have sex to bond.
It goes on and on and on.
The key points that stand out to me are that women – including teenage girls – don’t want sex and that sex for women – outside the accepted traditional candlelight and mushy Usher soundtrack sex – is shameful. There’s nothing new or interesting about this but there seems to be a prevailing belief that meaningless drunken sex is not OK for women.
Which brings me back to women as prey.
The idea that teenage girls go to parties, get drunk and have sex for fun seems to get ruled out.
There’s a lot of shame being lobbed at teenage girls who go to parties, get drunk and then wind up being sexually assaulted or raped.
What were they doing there in the first place? What are their parents doing letting them go? Why weren’t their female friends looking after them?
But here’s the thing. Why can’t a teenage girl go to a party, get drunk and have sex for fun?
Consenting sex between teenagers – while generally not popular with parents – is not a crime.
What is a crime is sexual assault and rape.
So why are we blaming girls for the crimes committed against them?
The biological defence that boys are pumped up with testosterone and have uncontrollable sexual urges doesn’t stand for me. If we’re talking biology, surely teenage girls – at the peak of their fertility – are perfectly ‘designed’ for sex.
The idea that girls can fuck around just as much as boys – and enjoy it – seems to really upset people.
The idea that girls can get drunk and fuck around and not get raped also seems to confuse people; the former pretty much guarantees the latter, according to some.
Why am I focusing on teenagers? Because it’s during this formative time when young people of all gender and sexual orientations are souped up on hormones – including the brain development stage that makes them less risk averse – and embarking on their sexual journey.
The way society talks about teenage sexuality is critical for the kids absorbing those messages.
The downward pressure we exert on our children to (understandably) protect them from harm causes a different kind of damage.
Teenage girls grow up to be women who have had it hammered into them that sex is shameful. That men are predators. That anything outside the ‘love sex’ domain is deviant for women. That we are doing something wrong and that’s why we get raped and sexually assaulted.
That’s why we stay quiet when it comes to reporting sex crimes. Because we know – based on the conversations that are going on right now – that we will be shamed if we tell anyone we were doing anything outside of what is considered acceptable and appropriate for women (what were you wearing? What were you doing there? How many people have you slept with? Are you promiscuous? Why were you drunk? Where were your friends?).
It goes on and on and on.
Brittney Higgins got drunk and went into the office with her colleague.
Does that mean she was inevitably going to be sexually assaulted.
Christian Porter is accused of raping a girl on his debating team. He’s the Attorney-General now and there’s a stack of evidence to suggest he did it but there’s still no independent inquiry.
Is it because it involves a teenage boy and a teenage girl? (What was she doing there? What was she wearing? Did she say yes and then change her mind?)
What we say to teenagers – and about teenage sexuality – matters.
Teenagers grow up, sometimes to become powerful, agenda-setting, law-makers.
So let’s be clear. Teenagers are allowed to have sex with each other. What is not acceptable or legal is sexual assault and rape.
These two things – as much as we want to push them together – are completely separate.
It’s like saying that because a drunk girl is in the passenger seat of a car, it’s her fault the male driver crashed.
The driver crashed the car. There might have been distractions and ameliorating circumstances and incidental information surrounding the accident – all of which can be taken into account when trying to understand the situation – but the fact remains, it’s not the girl’s fault that the car crashed.
We’ve been trying to stop girls from getting into that car forever. It’s a losing battle. Teenagers are always going to have sex with each other.
I agree that situations are co-created where crime becomes possible and indeed, more likely, but the crime itself is 100 per cent the responsibility of the perpetrator.
Let’s teach the boys to become better drivers – and impose justice if they crash.