All heterosexual intercourse is rape. Obviously — I mean, we all know that men have more power in this world than women — as far as political power, and having their desires addressed and met, and for the most part men are physically stronger than women, too. Even when it comes to finances, men still have the upper hand. There’s just no way to claim that a man having sex with a woman isn’t exploiting a power imbalance. Okay, sure, there are women who say that they’re freely choosing to be involved sexually with men, that it’s completely consensual… and I suppose that it’s at least possible to allow them their stories and to acknowledge that they genuinely believe that they weren’t raped if they say they weren’t… but at the same time, it’s critical to condemn all men who have sex with women, for knowingly taking advantage of them.
All sex work is exploitative; it’s not even a huge stretch to say that it’s paid rape. The fact that you have someone with money — which essentially equates to control — and they’re using that control to get the sex that they want… well, what else could you call that but coerced, forced, exploited?! I mean, okay, fine, there are sex workers who say that they choose to do the work they do, or that they have control over their own situations, or maybe that they feel comfortable with their particular means of income, but how does that possibly square with the obvious exploitative, controlling nature of the job? Maybe it’s possible to say that these people feel like they’re doing okay, or that they’re making the best out of a difficult situation or that they’ve looked at their limited options and chosen the least horrible of those options. But that doesn’t excuse anyone who chooses to use the controlling power of money to patronize these types of workers.
Still with me? Good. Hopefully those last two paragraphs made you sick — maybe fueled up a little bit of rage at the complete bullshit they’re made of, or left you wanting to start penning an angry rant in reply to point out just how completely flawed and horribly wrong pretty much everything in them is? It was certainly tough for me to write all that crap.
But how about this? Compare and contrast:
All sex — in fact, all relationships, period, between people whose ages are significantly different… is rape. It’s exploitative for someone older, bigger, stronger, with more money and power, to prey on someone vulnerable and weak. Oh, and if one of those people happens to be under a particular randomly-chosen magic number age defining (in any particular region) what constitutes an “adult”? Well, then let’s lock the older of them up forever, throw away they key, and visit every kind of horrible torture on them! What kind of horrible person would dare to use a child like that?! I mean, okay, sure, there might be some people who say that they were willing participants, that they chose to fuck and don’t regret it, and maybe we can believe that they don’t feel like they were exploited… but we absolutely must condemn the sickening perverted freaks who would exploit someone powerless and vulnerable like that! I mean, that kind of difference in power and wealth means that anything you do is inherently imbalanced, and it’s impossible to say “yes” and mean it since it’s just as impossible to say “no.”
Most of the thoughts in this post have been rolling around in my head for quite some time, with the idea that I’d blog about them at some point. But with the internet blowing up about a supposed “child rapist” the last week or two, it gave me the little bit of a push to finally sit down and write.
So, you want to claim that at 13, 14, 15, it’s impossible for someone to know what they want? I mean, okay, that they know what they want sexually? Because of course it’s not all that impossible to know what your desires are regarding music or fashion or entertainment or pretty much anything else… and by middle school we expect at least the beginnings of a life plan (college, career, get started now so you can get into the best school for the job that you’ve decided on!) but sex is its own special category completely separate from everything else. Or… wait, I thought that sex was just one of many things we can do with our bodies, which is why “sex work is work” and not some inherently degrading and dirty thing just because there’s sex involved?! Sure, I suppose that since we do a damned fine job of preventing access to accurate, honest, non-judgmental information about sex to pretty much everyone until way past when it would actually be useful, so that we can continue to believe in the myth of “innocent” and “pure” little children… then yeah, it’s likely that most 14-year-olds aren’t going to know what they want in terms of sex, and they’re not going to have the best skills for negotiating what they want. But the solution isn’t to act as if anyone who chooses to listen and respond favorably to a young adult with sexual needs is somehow the worst kind of pervert monster rapist… but to instead arm our youth with more knowledge and more power and more ability to make choices for themselves! And, to borrow a phrase, “I’m not saying that a person is the smartest they’re gonna be at 14…” but it certainly seems to me that if we started treating people as if they had the capacity to make decisions for themselves, and then providing tools and resources for them to make the best decisions they could, and allowed them the decisions they made, acknowledged those decisions as valid — even when they differ from the decisions we might make for ourselves — that we’d be a lot better off. Even if that choice is to be sexually interested in, or sexually involved with someone older (and potentially more sexually experienced, hey! Imagine, maybe it’d be more satisfying to fuck someone who has an idea of what they’re doing than someone fumbling cluelessly?) than they are. And we’d be a lot closer to having an answer to the very important question: “how old is 15 really?“