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people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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why in the name of god am i thinking about this?
poor me
I hate hypotheticals. They always put me in a position of measuring my ethics against my imagination. Remember when Rodney was so frustrated with the team with the train and baby thing? I would be the one with a pencil and paper explaining how it is totally possible to do both. With stick figures and stats from www.outofmyass.com. Seriously.

But this came up on one of the snark communities in a link. Links under the cut.

Original Hypothetical

From booju_news: So a drunk girl and a not drunk guy go to a party....

Um, skip the comments. A few are kinda rage inducing.

For the first time, I took the thought from the opposite direction; if someone accused my son of raping their daughter when she was drunk, what would I do?


I posted one answer to a different comm that I'll paste here, but I'm still thinking on it:

I'm taking the thought from a slightly different direction since I don't have a daughter and that would be slightly too theoretical.

I--think I'd ask charges be filed on my son, to be honest. If the situation is as stated, at a three year difference, with a drunk girl, and possibly junior high girl to a junior boy in high school, or a freshman to a senior, that's not just irresponsible, that's a failure on my part to clarify what is ethical behavior and a completely failure of ethics on his part. That's not something I want to reward in any way.

In theory, that is; I have no idea of the reality I'd react to, or if I'll actually become one of the apologista parents that can't imagine their special snowflake could do wrong. I'm not *now*, but his worst behavior is poking his cousin and pretending he didn't, and it's fairly easy when it's minor behavior. I don't like the idea of my son ever coming home saying he banged a drunk girl at a party like this is an accomplishment, that this is something to be proud of, or something that's ever, ever acceptable.

Hmm. On the stat rape; my sister was involved in that with an older guy, along with two or three of her friends (not all at the same time), and there was a conviction. I think it was thirteen to seventeen in that case, and the boy had dropped out of high school, but that was a decade ago and I didn't live at home at the time to know the exact details. I'm pretty sure at the time of the original contact, he was seventeen and by the time of trial, either late eighteen or early nineteen. It *was*, for the value of a thirteen year old's ability to give consent, consent for all of them. And no, there is no way I'm asking my parents about that one.

Yes, tl;dr, totally.

Correction: One of the four was thirteen/fourteen at initial contact the others fifteen while he was eighteen and nineteen respectively. I was a year off on age.

I was thinking about how true my answer is; hypotheticals are so clean-cut. I keep debating which is more horrifying: letting my son get labeled as a sex offender, or letting my son become a potential rapist. One of them is easy for me because it's not something I'll probably ever know about until the trial faced with x number of sobbing girls. Or all my life, with x possible victims who never speak. And a child who is a monster and I love him anyway.

I love my son more than anything in my life, more than I've ever loved anyone ever. Loving him isn't an optional thing; it was inevitable. I love him enough to teach him to not hit his cousin, not to lie, not to steal; I have to reconcile loving him enough not to want him to become a monster, to want more for him. It's my duty as a human, to try and train my child to do more good than harm in the world, and my duty as a woman, that he always, always understands both equality and the fact his sex in society gives him a de facto advantage that he needs not only to be aware of, but also work against, and as a parent, to give my child the best of what I have and what I've learned. This isn't one of the things he should have; damaging another human in so personal a way, damaging himself by being party to it.

I'm a parent, though, and I love my child, and I wonder if belief he *couldn't* do such a thing, would take precedence over what I know is right. I suspect it's something I won't know unless I lived it, and I think I can live without knowing for sure.

I wonder if I'll feel this when he's seventeen, when he's eighteen, if it'll be that easy. It's so much easier to apportion blame fairly when neither party are your own.

It's also a lot easier not to think about, but this, I think, is going high on the list of conversation topics soon, I think.

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Some of those comments sort of make me see red.

I'm of the idea that a 14 year old drunk or sober, stoned or not, cannot consent to sex with someone the state views as an adult in these terms. (i.e. a 17 year old is not a minor with regards to sex.)

Do I think 14 year olds should be able to have sex with other 14 year olds? The idea makes me twitch.

Yeah. I twitched so hard I think I bruised a muscle.

I don't think fourteen year olds should have sex; that's RL banhammer offense right there for Child. I especially think so when the other party is older they are. There really *is* a huge gulf of maturity between the two ages. So--yeah.

*nodnod* I know some people on LJ had sex that young (I think) and don't feel whatever about it, but I just think it's too young. As me about 15, heck ask me about 16 having sex with 17, it's a much grayer area personally. I just-- 14 year old, DRUNK but didn't vocally say no-- therefore she should be punished for making bad decisions? I-- yeah. 14 year olds just-- should not think it's okay to make that choice and I don't think adults should think it's okay for 14 year olds to make that choice. Let alone for a 17 year old to make that choice for them. I don't care if she was SOBER, a 17 year old has too much on a 14 year old to make that legal.

I find that actually kind of odd, because here people over 14 can consent to sex if they want to, including sex with adults, though people over 21 have to be more careful when having sex with people under 16, because theoretically a court could judge that they took advantage of a lack of sexual maturity (but that is not automatically considered lacking because of age) if the parents of the teenager objected for example and tried to get them convicted. I say "theoretically" because it is rare for adults to have legal problems for sleeping with 14-16 year olds, i.e. there are very few court cases, and nobody would bother another teenager over it. Though paying for sex with people under 16 is always illegal (and they want to raise that to 18).

But it's my impression that 14 year old girls here quite frequently have slightly older boyfriends, and parents tolerate said boyfriends sleeping over with a tacit permission that sex is happening. I know that when I was a teenager plenty of my classmates had their parents' permission to have their partners stay over night.

I mean, when discussing scenarios of how to make the laws better (like the change making payment for sex with under 18 and not just under 16 year olds illegal, which was proposed to also contain not just payment with money, but also payment with goods and immaterial advantages and such), the example brought up in discussions what people do not want to see punished was 17 year olds inviting their 14 year old girlfriends on a date with some heavy petting afterwards, which is generally held up as example of "normal teenage behavior" in parliamentary discussions of this, so I don'tthink my view is non-mainstream or anything.

So if there was no drinking involved I'd find it not too unusual for the two to sleep with each other. I think that the girl was drunk makes it immoral to exploit that, though I doubt anybody would convict the boy here.

Edited at 2008-03-21 10:28 pm (UTC)

This is TMI, but: I'm one of the "did it at 14" persons... and most of my friends at that age, that's when they started having sex as well. (all of us with other 14 yr olds, though, not older teens) I think we all came out unscarred. I don't know if it would be/should be deemed wrong or right, or how one defines such things as healthy or unhealthy. But I don't remember any sort of drama or heartbreak coming out of it. *shrugs helplessly* But I think environment can be a big influence on this - I grew up in big city where kids started first pairing off bit by bit and actively dating in 6th grade. Me and other students had been discussing sex topics pretty casually for a couple years by 14 (straight sex and queerness), and all knew about safe sex.

I do think it's a whole different ballgame, though, when people are intoxicated [i.e. unable to make decisions as they would normally do so] and/or 1 person is several years older. I'm not trying to say that, oh, 18 with 14 isn't questionable. Not that I have ANY idea of what I was trying to say at all. Don't think I actually have any sort of point. oh well!

My stepbrother was accused of raping a 17 year old girl at a party when he was 19. She was admittedly drunk at the time (and well over the legal limit when tested at the hospital later), as was he. He spent 8 months in jail awaiting trial, which never happened because the girl changed her story and said she had made it up because she didn't want her boyfriend to be angry with her for cheating.

We're not sure to this day if she really did make it up, or if she changed her story because Andrew's friends were harassing her and her family and she couldn't take it any longer. We would be more inclined to believe his story (they were both drunk, she was willing) if he wasn't a notorious liar with very sketchy morals. And the fact that his mom, who is usually his most ardent defender, refused to post his bail kind of sent us the message that there might have been some truth to the girl's claims.

I have four brothers in total, six nephews, and now a son of my own. As a woman I am very much in favor of erring on the side of the victim of a sex crime. As a sister/aunt/mother I'm very leery of girls who are prone to abuse the system for whatever reason. I have no clue what I would do, and I very much hope that I will never have to find out.

*nods* Yes, exactly. I'd much prefer this one never come up in Parenting Choices Made in My Life.

And ouch on the stepbrother. I'm so sorry. That's just horrible for everyone.

Wow, interesting post. I'll be thinking about this for a while!

It's so much easier to apportion blame fairly when neither party are your own.

Which is why the "but wouldn't you want [punishment X] if [crime Y] was done to someone in your family?" argument makes me seriously see red.

Pretty much. There's no possible way family or close friends can ever do it. It takes a level of objectivity that people simply do not have, even when they think they do. Even if they *seem* like they do.

After a quick read of the comments, and yeah, I'm not sure some of them were thinking it through.

I retired from the criminal justice biz and (in California) the law is clear... where the girl is underage and the boy not... it is a sex crime.

that said, we represented so many cases (in this particular scenario) that really needed to be handled in ways other than the boy being branded a sex offender.

we know people lie under duress/stress/fear of "getting in trouble" in spite of being drunk/stoned and consent is such a subjective thing... unless you very clearly say NO... then that means NO...

I've been a victim of date (and husband) rape = non consensual but not criminally violent... and I have been the victim of egregious = at gunpoint job interview rape. And justice for that? a long unhappy story from back in the days that the prevailing prosecutorial attitude was "you shouldn't have allowed yourself to be put in that position" of NO justice.

I've got 2 sons and it was part of my parental educational duty that they should know #1 that it takes 2 to make a baby and that its not just the girl's responsibility and #2 there are laws out there that will make them very very sorry if they let their hormones have their way... finally, they had a father and uncles that were substance abusers and recognized that as a faulty path too.

Otherwise? I'm unhappy that there aren't other options for young men that do let their hormones run away with them ... education and moderate considered punishments... not being immediately stamped a sex offender...

But I think our society is so freaked out about the idea of sex in general that a shitload of parents never ever talk to their daughters OR sons about the risks and consequences.

::climbs off soapbox::

I like your point-- about how there should be another category. *nods* But yeah those comments in the post makes me-- I just--. They're debating it left and right I'm all-- she was 14. Why is this a question?

Agreed... all the way up to the age of consent isn't a debate in the eyes of the law. I, personally, don't think a 14 year old girl should be out drunk or even have a choice whether to have sex or not. That's why the law makes the age of consent clear (and it isn't consistent in the US).

additionally there are cultures that find 14 is quite adult enough... which is another complaint of mine, that these issues aren't discussed at school, community outreach or church (right;) to help integrate them into this new society and make them aware of our laws.

I do know girls that had sex at 14 and they didn't have a problem, I was 17 before I gave it up and it could be argued that I wasn't mature enough even at that age. (and by law, I wasn't)

But the bottom line for me is that she was 14 and doesn't get to make the choice, the law does it for her. Its unfortunate that she slipped by her parental controls because technically in most places they would be found guilty of parental neglect as a result of her drinking alcohol, drunk or not.

Kids sneak around and do what they want... not recognizing, realizing what the consequences can be. I guess it's a wonder some of us ever make it to adulthood.

Apologies for hijacking the comments... you'd think after a couple years of retirement that I would have calmed down... ;)

Can I say, I think the fact that you're struggling with this at all is seriously awesome?

In a weird way, this is why I was glad to have a girl. Because I know what to teach a girl about rape. I know how to teach her that it sucks that she has to think in terms of precautions, because she shouldn't have to, but here are a few, but they're not foolproof, so it doesn't mean it's your fault, and all that. But I just...I read stories like the baseball team in CA gang raping a girl who was too intoxicated to say no, and then painting themselves as victims, and I think...you can't tell me none of their parents taught them this was wrong. How do you teach a boy that the whole culture that tells him he's entitled to have any girl who isn't actively fighting him (and even that's sketchy) is wrong, that it's wrong enough to lose all your friends and go against everyone?

Possibly I've thought about this a lot.

What's sickening is when child molestors are said by journalists to have had sex with children. As if it would have been consensual. I mean NO, a child cannot consent so therefore the act was criminal and therefore, it wasn't sex it was molestation. Whenever I see sex used to describe when an adult molests a child it pisses me off so much!

Best case scenario, the hypothetical boy showed horrible judgment. That scenario isn't impossible; teenage boys do possess an incredible ability to be morons, especially when sex is involved.

But, you can't take that chance. The kid has to be charged so that there's a record of it if it ever happens again.

It's unfortunate for the kids who are just morons, they'll end up with a felony record and worse, listed as a sex offender.

http://www.swivel.com For your graphy-charty-diagramy-statisticaly needs.

To the more serious side of your post...

I was raped when I was fifteen by classmates I had grown up with. I feel pretty strongly about any discussion involving it, and I definitely feel with all certainty that any situation in which a minor and anyone older OR younger (such as a sixteen year old girl and fifteen year old boy) is automatically headed for illegal territory. In many states there are various situational laws that leave a lot of loopholes, but frankly when it comes down to it I think that charges should ALWAYS be filed somehow. And it's not only about teaching a young male that what he did was wrong, that he's to be punished, and to prevent lawless behavior elsewhere in our society, but in the cases of consent it is important to stress to girls that they made a wrong choice and to explain to them WHY. I'd also say that in addition to charging the boy involved with sexual assualt, the girl should be charged with underage consumption or whatever it's called, because girls should NOT be given the idea that they are off the hook for their own illegal choices because something bad happened to them. If that makes sense.

I also think it's important to remember that girls and women are not the only victims of rape. Boys and men can be as well, both from male and female rapists or molesters. Boys more than men of course, since when younger they are more vulnerable to manipulation (by threat or other means).

Medical and psychological experts frequently state that people are not psychologically (this includes emotional maturity, choice-making ability, so forth) truly adult and mature until at least age 24. I don't quite agree, but will loosely interpret that to mean that it's important that children be raised to value the advice of elders who have their best interests in mind even AFTER they become legal adults in ANY definition of the term.

As I said, I can get very worked up about this subject, and I doubt I've made a single clear point here, so sorry if it all comes across poorly.

Medical and psychological experts frequently state that people are not psychologically (this includes emotional maturity, choice-making ability, so forth) truly adult and mature until at least age 24.

It's not necessarily that they aren't mature emotionally, as such, but rather that regardless their frontal lobes haven't finished developing. While the frontal lobes--seat of judgement and rationality--are still developing, the brain routes through the amygdala--seat of emotional response--first, and the frontal lobes second. After full development of the front lobes, the brain starts routing through them first, the amygdala second.

This means that before age 24, most people react emotionally first and logically second. This is why it is *absolutely vital* that parents give their children a strong moral structure that they can fall back on even when their emotions are high. It helps immensely to just--have that structure there.

It's also why adults generally react to trauma with numbness and 'what needs to be done?' first and the shock hits later.

Thanks for expounding on that. I'm always amazed by how the brain manages everything throughout life, but I've been especially fascinated by the functions of the amygdala (which is a word that firefox's spellcheck flails at).

When I was 13 I was raped by an older guy in my school - I think he was 16 or 17. I was drunk and I had stupidly gone off with him and I had trusted him when he said he was my friend.

Now, personally, it was a really fucking stupid thing to do. I know it wasn't "my fault" but I could have made better choices. I shouldn't have had to, in an ideal world, but this is the real world.

I didn't tell anyone, simply because I just didn't want the hassle, y'know. I figured my parents would have freaked out.

I wouldn't have wanted the guy to be charged with rape - or branded a sexual offender. My behaviour may have been ambiguous enough tha he thought I was amenable to it. However I don't think he should have gotten away with no punishment at all. If I had to do it over again, with the wisdom of age, I think I would have told someone who was an adult, but not my parents.

I shall not read the comments to the comm, then

Underage sex and issues of consent are hot topics wherever one finds them. As I have neither son nor daughter of any age, I think I'll give my blood pressure a break tonight.

As to why you're thinking about this, I'd say it's because you're a good, responsible and concerned parent. No one thinks their little snowflake is capable of turning the horrible hypothetical into grim reality, but only the truly head-up-their-butt parent doesn't at least consider possibilities, along with preventatives.

The only ethical debates I ever come up with are along the lines of, I wonder if you switched bodies with someone, and had sex with someone in the other body - if that counts as rape?

For me, it would depend on how drunk the girl was, plus I'm not thrilled at the idea of a 17 year old sleeping with a 14 year old period. I saw a lot of that in high school, and I felt as a freshman/sophomore [14] that it was ridiculous behavior. [People taking advantage of either naiveté or clear emotional damage.]

I hope my brother is very aware if he ever does something like this, I will kill him, but I think I would encourage the people involved not to file charges. Unless, he got her drunk, and went forward with malicious intent, the lines of this kind of thing are blurred. I say this not just because it's my brother, but I also feel it makes it harder over-all for rape cases to be won, when it looks like someone involved is lying. [I really, really hope my brother is clear that I will kill him.]

HOWEVER, I would really like for it to be part of sexual education in schools [if that is still allowed] to be clear to everyone what consent is and isn't. I also feel that parents are a large part of this, but not all of them are going to bother, or have some other issues, so I want them to hear it in at least one place.

I see so many people who can't conduct standard discussions about sex, it worries me what their outlook on sex in general is - alternately, I would like a way to punish guys who behave like this without branding them sex offenders, and possibly ruining their entire lives. Of course, he could have ruined the girl's life in a lot of ways. Damn. Okay, I'm even less sure of how I would handle this now.

HOWEVER, I would really like for it to be part of sexual education in schools [if that is still allowed] to be clear to everyone what consent is and isn't. I also feel that parents are a large part of this, but not all of them are going to bother, or have some other issues, so I want them to hear it in at least one place.

I think that's an EXCELLENT idea.

My comment may very well be tl;dr but I wish to respond, as a parent of an 8yo boy.

Recently there was a terrible crime in my area - young boys (10-12yo - 3 of them) were accused of sexually attacking a young girl (~13yo). Parts of the story came out that two of the boys were basically told by another boy that they should do this, that it was okay to attack her.

This story has not been completed. There have been other parts of it and questions as to the validity of the accusation but the point is that the accusation was made.

So far as a parent, the most uncomfortable conversation ever with my son (my husband and I talked to him together) was about this case. We've done the sex talk so he understood, theoretically, what we were talking about (although the case didn't use the term "rape" but sexual assault - there are questions of penetration in the case) but what was difficult to explain was the other ramifications.

1. No person should ever force another person to do something.
2. Even if your friend(s) tell you something is okay, you have to decide on your own - because it is your action that is right or wrong.

Talking about sex was uncomfortable but what was the most difficult was talking about the ethics of choices. As parents, we want to believe that our children know this, that we've already shown them this. The point is that we may be leading by example (or I hope we are) but that cannot be enough. We have to talk about decision making and ethics and what can and cannot be done.

The strange part is that we are having this conversation with our children at such a young age. However, as my husband and I discussed, better to have it at 8 than at 18 when he's been accused of something else.

We love our children enough to hope that they would never do anything like this. But, imo, in order to show that love, we must not just hope and trust that they will not do things, we must talk to them about it. As parents of a boy, I believe we have another set of responsibilities to talk about - power and privilege and oh so many others.

Perhaps because we are being active in this discussion, we are forcing ourselves and our children into thinking of things differently. Because of our actions and discussions, we won't have that 2am call about our son and having to go to a police station for an accusation such as this. Or, even if we do, we will know that we have done what we could - in the end, we can only teach and lead, we cannot make the decision for our child at any one point in time.

And we can only love them, whole-heartedly and with all of ourselves.

I can't really comment objectively on the morals relating to age difference, as I was still in high school when I started dating a guy who'd already graduated college, and it actually worked out well for me. I saw similar stories end well during my time in high school, and similar stories end horribly, horribly badly. It's all about the intentions of the people in question, I think. However, I've never actually dated anyone my own age. It's so hard for me to moralize about it, because it would be hyprocritical in the extreme.

I'm not sure if this actually addresses the issue at hand, but I'm twenty years old, and very close with my family in general and my parents especially. And I can tell you that every time I see an episode of Law and Order where the teenager/young adult is clearly guilty, but they can't nail the guy/girl because the parents are covering for them, the very first thing that pops into my head is: I hope that my parents will cooperate with the police if I ever get arrested.

Life is about consequences. If you can't understand what might happen as a result of an action, don't do it. If I was ever arrested for something I did, it would have been because I considered the risk of getting caught and all that might come after, and did it anyway. My parents know that.

I don't know if this helps or not, but I wanted to throw my two cents in, from the other side. (Other viewpoint, rather. Certainly not the other side of the argument. I don't actually disagree with anything that people are saying. Just to make that clear.)

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