Re: Show me on the doll where you touched yourself.

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This kind of incident is why I store all the child porn people send me in the spam folder. Plausible deniability.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 3:47 PM
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This is too fucking much like a trolley-car problem. I hate it when The Law makes analytic philosophers look sane.

Recipients of the images are prosecutable too. If she had spam skillz, she could put millions in jail.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 3:52 PM
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The original ABC story has a helpful graphic showing a cell phone and pictures of a partially obscured naked woman, just in case you didn't understand what was going on in the story.

Don't worry, though, Ohio judges are elected, so there won't be any pressure to throw the book at this girl in order to prove that you are tough on sex offenders.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 3:59 PM
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Maybe the judge will have to have a one on one, over the knee special punishment session. And then he will post the pictures to the internet to prove that he is tough on sex offenders.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 4:16 PM
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Post title is full of win.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 4:17 PM
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From last week's New Yorker, I learned that Bush's ranch in Crawford was, at the time he purchased it, a pig farm. Is this part of Emerson's pig farm schtick that I just didn't get, or is it serendipity?


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 5:22 PM
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It won't be long before the 15-year old sex-disenfranchised are a major constituency. Stupid people with arrest powers and a big DB = bad things. Ask Charlie Stross.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 5:48 PM
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Of course, part of the problem here is that the age of consent in the US is ridiculously high.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 5:51 PM
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Do people really think that children under the age of 18 should be able to produce child-porn featuring themselves without any repercussions?

If two under-18 year olds make a porn video featuring the two of them and distribute that, should they also not be punished?


Posted by: Andy R. | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 5:52 PM
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I believe they should be punished by their parents.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 5:54 PM
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The deliberate blurring of the use of the term "child" should be fought on all fronts. The person who pervs over a 17-year-old is not as offensive as the person who pervs over an 8-year-old, nor is the 17-year-old drug dealer shot by his customer as tragic as the 8-year-old shot by his drunken uncle. Yet all are referred to as "children" when it suits someone making a political point.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 5:57 PM
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The girl does not belong to herself. The girl's purity belongs to her father, and when she spoils her purity by sending nude photos of herself to other people, she must be punished for molesting her father's property.

That's what purity balls are all about. Be good to daddy, girl, and daddy will take you to a purity ball. You know it makes sense.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 6:05 PM
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The deliberate blurring of the use of the term "child" should be fought on all fronts.

Word. This kind of thing drives me insane.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 6:23 PM
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If this 15 year old is declared a sex offender, can I have her sent to jail if she pervs on me?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 6:28 PM
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What's the statute of limitations on this kind of stuff? If you hooked up with someone as a "child" in HS, can any authority who wants to ruin your life come after you when they feel like it? And does it matter if there are no pictures- if you saw a minor naked, are you guilty? Some statutory rape laws are written somewhat more sensibly to address age differences, but pornography laws seem to be as broad as the prosecutor's discretion.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 6:33 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 6:41 PM
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This is a matter for her parents and the school. Putting her in jail or on sex offender lists is just one step above honor killing.

You know that when your local news picks this up, the angle will be "Is your child using her cell phone to make pornographic images of herself? Find out after the break. But first, the weather!"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 6:44 PM
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15

Of course, part of the problem here is that the
age of consent in the US is ridiculously high.

The age of consent is the age at which you can lawfully consent to sex and is often lower than the age (18) at which you can lawfully consent to have pornographic pictures of yourself taken.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 6:46 PM
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18

15 should be 8.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 6:46 PM
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15

What's the statute of limitations on this kind of stuff? If you hooked up with someone as a "child" in HS, can any authority who wants to ruin your life come after you when they feel like it? ...

If you have pornographic pictures of the encounters and they find out about them, yes.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 6:49 PM
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Well, legally speaking, yeah. But casually speaking, since the law is such a big mess anyway, there's not much point in being too careful with terminology.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 6:49 PM
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It's not seeing a minor naked that's the problem, it's creating pictures of them. And I'm pretty sure that this aspect of the law (taking pictures of yourself naked being illegal) was bitched about at Reason or somewhere similar back when it was created, to widespread mockery.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 6:50 PM
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Sheerer has an important point in 18. More over, when I think of San Fernando Valley-style commercial porn, I think the age should be raised to 21. But unfortunately, it is getting harder and harder to distinguish commercial from non commercial photographs and movies, and harder still to distinguish between public and private.

The weird thing is that it was the use of the cell phone that triggered the law. If she had simply let a boy she liked see her naked, no law would be broken. When the same act is mediated by a cell phone, it's child pornography.

Of course, it is the cell phone aspect that will actually drive a lot of the fear around this case. "Kids today, with there text messages and their cell phones...how can we keep them safe from themselves!"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 6:59 PM
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I believe they should be punished by their parents.

Which will itself be taped and distributed through private IRC channels.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 7:34 PM
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||

David Hilbert. Pure awesome.

|>


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 7:34 PM
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24 totally pwnd by 4.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 7:34 PM
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Judges-in-robes spank videos and angry-daddy spank videos are totally different marketing niches, pdf23ds.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 7:36 PM
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water moc is correct. A 15 year old is not the same as a 8 year old. Those lines shouldnt be blurred.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 7:36 PM
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A fifteen year old is practically the same as an eight year old with a seven year old, though. I speak here purely in moral terms, of course.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 7:39 PM
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Garlic salt in beef ramen. Overkill? I don't think so.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 7:39 PM
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Needs more MSG.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 7:40 PM
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I'd take a hint, but I'm constitutionally incapable of it--plus I have to link to this song.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 7:47 PM
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7. That was a good motivation for that character.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 7:50 PM
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This is a matter for her parents and the school.

Why the school? Other than that she goes to one. Why not the library too, if she goes there?


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 7:54 PM
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Well, obviously because the chain of authority over an adolescent goes: school administration, peers, parents. I thought that was obvious.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 7:56 PM
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obviously obvious


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 8:11 PM
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Ahem.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 8:28 PM
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25: Photoshopped Emerson in a hat, shurely.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 8:33 PM
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17: ew, why the school?

she should get some privacy. no way school administrators, who are not always the sanest of people, should be involved in this in any way. irrelevant.

ew! i get grossed out just thinking about it.


Posted by: murphy | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 8:41 PM
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Be sure to add in to your thinking about this the fact that, if this case goes forward, this girl could end up on sex offender registry lists for the rest of her life.


Posted by: Brianz | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 10:07 PM
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40 comments and no Hanna Montana jokes?


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 10:16 PM
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She could finesse the sex offender thing by explaining the situation and warning people that she might send them naked pictures if they weren't careful. Might be a net gain for her sex life, if anything.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 10:19 PM
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Why would there be Hanna Montana jokes?


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 10:21 PM
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That's not to say that some punishment -- whether it's meted out by their parents, the school or the law -- isn't reasonable in this case. After all, the general reaction to a teenage boy sending out explicit photos of himself to female classmates would likely, and rightly, be that it was sexual harassment -- why should it be any different if a girl is the sender?

*groan* Complete equivalency between the social-sexual situations of boys and girls? Really??

And two, regarding the reasonableness of punishment, if the parents and teenage girl want to fight about this amongst themselves, fine. But it's quite unseemly here for the pundit to pretend to have the authority to lay out moral blame.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 10:26 PM
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43. B/c she's 15 and takes naked pictures of herself with her cell phone. Don't you read the news?


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 10:28 PM
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also, LICKING VALLEY HIGH. Just to emphasize that.

You can get t-shirts! (and sweaters)

and there's a create a custom design link at the bottom...


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 10:32 PM
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So much crazy shit with child porn laws...parents getting busted for taking cute pictures of their infants in the bath naked, people being elaborately entrapped by lascivious messages from cops pretending to be 15 years old.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 10:32 PM
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But it's quite unseemly here for the pundit to pretend to have the authority to lay out moral blame.

But that's what pundits do.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 10:39 PM
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Not if they're any good.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 10:47 PM
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Can you really perpetrate child abuse on yourself?

I did it almost daily for like five years, and they never caught me. Nuts to you, Johnny Law!


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 10:48 PM
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I did it almost daily for like five years

Bit behind the curve, I see.


Posted by: hall pass | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 10:50 PM
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This is a matter for her parents and the school.

Fuck no. Schools should stay the fuck out of their students' private lives. What I want to know is, what the hell were school offcials doing looking at her/i> cell phone in the first place? What business of theirs was it what she had on her phone.

Also, that stupid pundit at Salon nattering on about some punishment needed for sending naked pictures to boys that may have been unwilling to receive them... Suuure.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 12:26 AM
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Just wait until high-schoolers everywhere learn that being on a sex-offender list means you can't go near a school.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 12:41 AM
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The whole sex offender list idea is horrible. Once you get on the list it's damn near impossible to get off it, and people are being put on for trivial reasons as in this case. The political optics of the situation make it impossible to fix. We need a revolution. Of perverts.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:37 AM
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Fun fact: in the UK you can be put on the sex offenders registrator for having a completely legal relationship, by being a teacher and having a consentual relationship with an adult pupil.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:18 AM
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Yes, Martin. For some reason, in the UK we think it's a good idea for a high school teacher not to have sexual relationships with their pupils, even if the pupils are 16+ and technically it's legal.

I agree with Tog that it should be easier to have your name removed from the sex offenders register after enough time has passed without any instance of reoffending, and that a girl whose "offense" is to share photos of herself should not go on it at all.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:31 AM
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re: 56

It seems crazy to me that enforcing that should be dealt with through the sex offender process rather than through a normal disciplinary procedure connected to employment as a teacher.

It's unprofessional misconduct on the part of a teacher. It's not an instance of sexual abuse on a par with sexual contact with a minor if a 23 year old teacher, say, is having an affair with an 18 year old pupil.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:59 AM
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We need a revolution. Of perverts.

I'm out in the streets agitating every weekend.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:41 AM
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38: More like W-lfs-n, I'd say. I am less kempt.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:21 AM
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On the question of school administrators not necessarily being sane -- they sure aren't.

Some completely ordinary, problem-free kid was permanently expelled from a Minnesota school because an official person saw a box knife in his parked car. He had an after-school job in a grocery that same day where the box knife was is primary tool. There were no ambiguities about this; the administration probably knew about it.

It was a "zero tolerance" case. "Zero tolerance" looks good to administrators because, by making their actions automatic, it exempts them from using their own judgment and thus, above all, makes them immune to lawsuits. In other words, if you make stupidity a strict policy nothing you can do can be wrong, whereas if you're stupid once you're in trouble.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:30 AM
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I have zero tolerance for zero tolerance.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:35 AM
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To state that the way I wanted to, if you're wrong once you're in trouble, but if you're frequently wrong, by policy, you're safe.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:41 AM
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17: ew, why the school?

Yeah, maybe it as a bad idea to include them. I just got the impression that the bust occurred at the school as a part of a school program, and they were basically already involved.

I have zero tolerance for zero tolerance.

I have a 1% tolerance (on average, subject to contextual factors) for zero tolerance


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 9:14 AM
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I suppose as a kind of 'test case' or whatever the legal term is it would be useful to refine the law.

Aside from that, though - geeze, yeah, unless this was coerced or forced I think it is between the parents/guardians and the 15 year old. And would someone getting the unsolicited photos need to take legal action to protect him/her from future prosecution?

Geeze, what a mess. All these 'what-ifs' and 'it depends' is one reason why I stuck to math. And I don't even mean that liberal topology stuff (do NOT google rubber-sheet geometry!) or chaos theory. No, I mean the good old-fashioned boolean 1's and 0's and that is IT math.

I don't even use CASE statements in my programming. It is all If-THEN-ELSE. And I really dislike the THEN-ELSE-IF the Asians are sneaking in. Reverse Polish notation was bad enough.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:38 AM
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Reverse Polish notation was bad enough

OMG I hated that. Still use my HP though. Nothing beats it for figuring out what the mortgage payment will be.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:46 AM
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Reverse Polish notation was bad enough

Isn't that the illegal bidding convention that got a team kicked out of the world contract bridge championships?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:48 AM
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Philistines. Once you're used to Reverse-Polish, it is fantastically easier to get through a multistep calculation without screwing up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:49 AM
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People still use calculators? Weird.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:54 AM
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LB,

Philistines. Once you're used to Reverse-Polish, it is fantastically easier . . .

Do tell.

Go on . . .


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:55 AM
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67

I agree.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:03 AM
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69: I'm not sure that I know why it's easier -- I just know that before my first HP, a multistep calculation meant writing each intermediate step on paper because I'd inevitably mess something up halfway through. With an HP, once I got comfortable, it just flowed naturally.

I did assume for years that "Reverse Polish Notation" was an ethnic joke, and was very suprised when I found out that no, that's the real name.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:15 AM
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Once you're used to Reverse-Polish, it is fantastically easier

Is that like "Reverse Cowgirl"?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:19 AM
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Prefix and postfix notations are clearer and less ambiguous than infix notations. Scientific fact.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:19 AM
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Clearer and less ambiguous, prefix and postfix notations compared to infix notations.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:23 AM
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I did assume for years that "Reverse Polish Notation" was an ethnic joke, and was very suprised when I found out that no, that's the real name.

Far from being an ethnic joke, it is a reference to one of the productive periods in recent Polish intellectual history, the Lw├│w-Warsaw school of logic. The notation itself was developed by the great logician Jan ┼?ukasiewicz.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:33 AM
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67 is exactly correct.


75: Right, hence `reverse polish notation' from HP when the swapped the order around. And from there, `reverse polish lisp', as well.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:54 AM
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Clearer and less ambiguous, prefix and postfix notations compared to infix notations.

notations prefix postfix and notations infix clearer less-ambiguous and are.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 12:00 PM
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There are two major ethnic groups in Poland, distinguished primarily by their footware.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 12:01 PM
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There are two major ethnic groups in Poland, distinguished primarily by their footware.

Also, whether they have stars upon thars.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 12:03 PM
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in 77, the first use of "and" functions differently from the second use of "and".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 12:07 PM
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if to include Lipkas it's perhaps more then three


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 12:11 PM
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ah, major you meant


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 12:12 PM
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I don't think I'd ever heard of this notation before. Now I see I can install it on my mobile phone, which ought to make the calculator actually useful instead of irritating.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 12:37 PM
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57 - If a 23-year-old teacher hasn't got the brains to know that they is not allowed to have sexual relationships with school students, they isn't got the brains to be a good teacher and putting them on the sex offenders register is one way of making sure they never come back for a second try.

Contrariwise, if they knows it's not allowed but goes ahead with the sexual relationship anyway because that young, lovely, terribly-mature-looking pupil was just so temptingly irresistible, then they belong on the sex offenders register, because that's where an adult with such poor impulse control around minors belongs.

This comment has been brought to you by the We Will Be Neutral and Use Neuter Pronouns At All Costs Society.

Having said that, I'd agree that it ought to be easier for certain categories of offender to be expunged from the sex offenders register. But I have no problem with a teacher going on it for having a relationship with a high school student.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 12:37 PM
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69:

LizardBreath, you kill me! You are so delightful.

Someday I sincerely hope we meet in real life, although the chances are very slim on that. I can't tell if you are playing along with your earnestness, or it is an honest reaction, or even a faked reaction. It doesn't matter - the ambiguity is very intriguing.

Are you aware of that?

(obviously no offense intended in any way)


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 12:40 PM
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You've said this a number of times. I think what's going on is that our senses of humor are far enough out of sync that even after you've pointed out that you're joking, the humor in whatever you've said goes right by me, so my initial response assumes you were serious.

This just seems to happen with you, mostly. Other people kidding around are perfectly comprehensible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 12:51 PM
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They're called the Boot Polish and the Shoe Polish.

Ho, ho ho. A friend of mind claims that the Rice Polish are the third.... and then maybe the Silver Polish.

Sorry, Read. The Lipkas are fascinating, longtime Muslim Poles of Turkish/Mongol descent. Charles Bronson was a Lipka.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 12:54 PM
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This kinda reminds me of my second introduction to a programming language designed to keep the priesthood safe from the hoi polloi(DTKTPSFTH-P).

The first introduction to a language DTKTPSFTH-P was to Lisp. The second introduction was to a programming language. Literally. A Programming Language. APL. Get it? GET IT? Isn't that clever!?!

This little flavor of the month was designed with such interesting assertions as this:

We in the Western world read left to right, and we parse mathematical expressions left to right, and yet in programming assignment statements the flow is right to left. For example, the statement X = X+1; means take the value of X, add one to it (notice the left-to-right in figuring out the arithmetic), then put the result back in X (right to left).

Now, since the most important thing is the world is consistency and the most important programming statement is the assignment statement then let us confuse everyone except the insiders by parsing every statement right to left. That would be backwards for those of us in the Western hemisphere, but too bad so sad.

Yeah, and since matrix arithmetic is the most important function we will ever use let's make a special symbol for that, and speaking of special symbols, since no one can ever type in character strings let us use special symbols for everything and make people buy a special keyboard as well!

Yeah, that is a great idea! That will keep the pikers out and keep our programming jobs here in the US of A. At least for twenty years or so. Or until someone else decides that the most important thing is eliminating the extra 2 keystrokes in X=X+1; by making it X++; Now there is a worthwhile improvement. Think of the increased productivity!


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:04 PM
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In my high school around 1970 a recent graduate married the football coach shortly after graduation. (Ages ~30 / ~18). They ran the local newspaper for awhile, then he got a better job at a different school. She got her law degree and is now practicing law, and their still married.

On the face of it I can't see the harm, in theory or in practice. They probably were fooling around while she was still a student, but I don't actually know that. There's no way at all I think he should have been prosecuted or labelled a sex offender for life.

The real disaster stories from that era were young women who got pregnant by jerky guys their own age. My own sister's marriage, which was completely kosher in every way, made her life a living hell. 20 years after divorcing she's still paying a price, as is one of their kids.

I think that the woman who married the coach was someone who wanted to get serious immediately and didn't want to shit around with youth-culture games. I can't see anything wrong with that.

Somehow the "delicate little flower" label has been removed from women in general, but intensified greatly for women (and men) under 18. It's like they're in this cage, but are released and magically transformed on their 18th birthdays.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:05 PM
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86: You are very tactful. Personally I think I am not clearly expressing my leer, or you are too polite to notice it. Again, you have no fault in this matter. (obviously)


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:08 PM
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Somehow the "delicate little flower" label has been removed from women in general, but intensified greatly for women (and men) under 18. It's like they're in this cage, but are released and magically transformed on their 18th birthdays.

To be fair, women were an item to be taken care of in those days.

I graduated hs in 1985 and there were several such situations in the years ahead of me and in my year.

See also, every single Cary Grantish movie where the guy is 40 and the leading "lady" is 18.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:09 PM
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89: True story, around these parts a similar story happened around 30 years ago with the genders reversed. It was a female drama coach and a male student. They are still married. Admittedly they are a rather odd couple but in my opinion there was and is nothing criminal there.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:10 PM
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See also, every single Cary Grantish movie where the guy is 40 and the leading "lady" is 18.

The verisimilitude of "High Noon" in particular is a bit compromised by this. Grace Kelly at 22 and Gary Cooper at 50.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:20 PM
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We've gone around about this before -- the issue with teacher/student or big age differential relationships is the power imbalance. A teacher is (generally? often? more often than the reverse?) going to be able to bully or persuade a student into doing stuff, ostensibly voluntarily, but not really as a result of the student's free choice, and the same for a much older person and a teenager.

That didn't look unseemly back when the standard model for heterosexual relationships was "Man establishes his domination (kindly and lovingly or otherwise) over woman". A good healthy relationship was supposed to be unequal, so some more structural inequality was harmless.

Once you start from the presumption that the parties in a sexual relationship are supposed to enter into it as independent free agents, power issues look problematic, and there's more attention to protecting teenagers from being bullied or seduced into relationships by people in a position to push them around.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:21 PM
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It's like they're in this cage, but are released and magically transformed on their 18th birthdays.

I saw that movie
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051658/


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:22 PM
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the issue with teacher/student or big age differential relationships is the power imbalance.

Or POTUS and intern? (Ducks)


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:24 PM
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'twas was not the Troll of Sorrow criticizing "High Noon", 'twas I.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:24 PM
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To a degree it's carried beyond the "age of consent" issue to any relationship where there's an age discrepancy, even if it's 40-25. It's new, and the intensity of it is weird. It's like an anthropological transformation, or the birth of a new taboo.

It also strikes me as odd that, in a world which is otherwise overwhelmingly defined by hierarchies of wealth and power, sexual relationships should be obligatorily equal.

A lot of the post-Sixties radicalism involved changing gender relationships while leaving society in general untouched, either because the other issues were impossible to deal with or, in many cases in my experience, the non-gender inequalities were not regarded as problematic.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:29 PM
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89: Somehow the "delicate little flower" label has been removed from women in general, but intensified greatly for women (and men) under 18.

There was a very good essay in n+1 about how this happens at the same time that the sexualization of childhood advances. They didn't put it online, but here's a blurb:

In a remarkable essay, "Afternoon of the Sex Children," which appeared last spring in the journal n+1, Mark Greif makes a persuasive argument that the possibility of such a pedophilic scenario coming to pass is neither futuristic nor even all that unlikely. In fact, as Greif envisions it, the scenario has already begun without our even noticing. The trend of the last 50 years, he observes, has been toward focusing our lascivious gaze with ever greater intensity on the prenubile rather than averting our eyes from them: "The representatives of the sex child in our entertainment culture," he writes, "are often 18 to 21 -- legal adults. The root of their significance is that their sexual value points backward, to the status of the child, and not forward to the adult." One doesn't have to look far afield for confirmation.

Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:34 PM
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Leech, a lot of liberals and Democrats really despised Clinton for what he did, though I didn't, but without regarding it as an impeachable offense. Even I thought he was guilty of letting the side down.

The Republican performance during that episode was disgraceful and imbecile, and not just because they had to run four guys through the Republican House leadership before they found a good non-whoremonger Christian.

But of course you know this, because you're not a Republican at all, just a guy who says dumb Republican-seeming things a lot.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:34 PM
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91: Love in the Afternoon gave me the absolute creeps on those grounds. The end, where Audrey Hepburn's father ushers her onto a train with a man thirty years older than she is and takes her cello away is very disturbing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:37 PM
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94: Did we ever reach comity on whether it's truly much less squidgy for a teenage boy to have sex with an adult female teacher than the reverse? Because there's a prejudice in that direction that I won't say is powerless on me.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:40 PM
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98: Well, if you're talking about it as "power differentials are questionable", it makes sense to react to it along a sliding scale. Adult messing around with a teen? Prohibit. Person in their 40s messing around with someone in their early 20s? Look askance.

There's an argument that no one should ever be looking askance at anyone else's sexual relationships as long as they're not the sort of thing that we prohibit, but few people hold themselves to that standard.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:41 PM
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101:

Yes, but wow, she was beautiful.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:41 PM
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without regarding it as an impeachable offense.

Again, as usual, it wasn't the fucking, it was the lying under oath (about the fucking). And the wagging the finger, that just pissed people off.

He let the side down, but even more so did the NOW, selling out a sister for political expedience. Sucks to be you. A sordid chapter, to be sure, but no where near Nixonian levels.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:41 PM
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And JE, just to reassure you, I have not changed my registration. Just not voting for McCain/ Palin. And I would be a lot happier without the Xians in the Party, but I don't get to choose.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:46 PM
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The juxtaposition of the Articles of Impeachment against Clinton which were acted upon versus those of Kucinich against Bush, which have been generally ignored or laughed at*, will go down in history as an indictment of our age and all of us in the USofA. Utterly unserious people playing with serious firepower, a nation with nuclear weapons treating its governing processes as an unfunny joke.

*Cheered on and ignored respectively by reprehensible idiots like *DAVID BRODER*, may that name live in infamy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 1:53 PM
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even more so did the NOW, selling out a sister for political expedience.

I know I shouldn't get into this, it's ten years ago and there wasn't any point in arguing about it back then, but which feminist spokesperson sold Lewinsky out, and how? What should they have done differently?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:00 PM
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We have gone around on this before. But beyond certain obvious cases (children, prisoners, etc.) I view the "power differentials" thing as somewhat bizarre and an intrusion of the driest sort of legalism into everyday life. For now, suffice it to say that I don't think adults are in a position to push 17-18 year olds around. Certainly the parents I know with 17-18 year old kids don't seem very successful at it.

If this rests on anything, it has to rest on the belief that teenagers are too dumb to understand their own long-term interests and hence should not be allowed free control over their own sexuality. I'm more sympathetic to this argument, but it applies much more broadly than teenagers.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:02 PM
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Certainly the parents I know with 17-18 year old kids don't seem very successful at it.

Parents are in an extremely unique position with respect to their own teenage kids. This seems to be a silly point.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:08 PM
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I hate to use anyone else's story, but remember Alameida's story about her asshole high school art teacher? He told her he was in love with her, and fooled around with her, for a couple of years, but didn't have sex with her until it she was old enough that it wasn't statutory rape? There's something seriously fucked up about a guy who'd do that, and I think a whole lot of highly intelligent, strong-willed, teens are nonetheless very vulnerable to being pressured/seduced/bullied into doing things that in retrospect they wish hadn't happened.

"Too dumb to understand their own long-term interests" is a weird way of putting it, to me. And I can't really understand the perspective of someone who doesn't believe that adults (generally, and making allowances for individual circumstances) are in a stronger position with respect to pushing even older teens around than teens are with respect to resisting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:10 PM
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Alameida's story, for anyone who hadn't seen it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:12 PM
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105: The Clinton impeachment brought the term "perjury trap" into my vocabulary. There was no part of that whole long soap opera that was not more disgraceful for the Republicans and the media than it was for Clinton. An attempt was made to cripple a sitting President on the basis of nothing much, and when the initial assault failed, work a fishing expedition was authorized to look for a crime until one was found or was created.

To this day, after hours of hooplah, not one person in a hundred knows what the supposed original Whitewater offense was, or what would have been wrong about it if something had been wrong.

Talking about that lame bullshit is the standard mark of one kind of moron, so much so that the better class of morons has learned to shut up.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:14 PM
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110: But PGD's point is that a typical adult with no other relation to the 17 or 18 year old would have even less leverage. Where does the power differential between a late adolescent and a non-teacher non-parent adult actually arise?

I agree with him that there really isn't much intrinsic inequality in a relationship between a 22-year-old and a 45-year-old. At least not anymore than there may be in a relationship between a wealthier friend and a poorer friend. Still doesn't make them surprise me any less, but that's mostly because I really don't understand dating someone in such different life circumstances.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:18 PM
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The parental thing is rhetorical, but the point isn't silly. The relationship between adults and teenagers just isn't a simple power differential where one gets to push the other around. Certainly the teacher/student relationship isn't like that -- the only power the teacher has is assigning grades, which for the great majority of students gets you at most grudging cooperation with the academic minimum.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:23 PM
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Where does the power differential between a late adolescent and a non-teacher non-parent adult actually arise?

(1) Wealth. Most adults have access to much more money than most adolescents.

(2) Knowledge/experience, both practical and interpersonal.

(3) The ability to command respect from third parties.

(4) Greater legal rights; drinking, driving.

I'm finding this conversation very surprising. Doesn't 'maturity' to you guys name something that people tend to acquire with age and which is of great assistance in persuading/bullying the immature?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:26 PM
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115: Have you read Alameida's story?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:27 PM
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Sorry, hadn't seen the comments re: Alameida. But she was a 13 year old junior high schooler when her teacher started seducing her! Yes, I do believe in statutory rape laws, and you don't have to have sex to violate them.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:29 PM
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So, what if he'd just made himself friendly and approachable and taken cool pictures of her and so on, and say he'd started when she was sixteen, but didn't make a sexual move until she was seventeen. I can imagine someone thinking "Hey, sixteen is old enough, that's not wrong", but I have a really hard time with someone who can't see that his being 30 didn't make it much easier for him to seduce her.

I didn't bring Alameida up as a guilt-trip (how dare you say this isn't so bad! It happened to someone you know!) but as an illustration of how the power-imbalance thing works.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:34 PM
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111, 112: Well, yes. Teens are flattered by attention from someone who considers them hot. Alameida says in the story that "it is very satisfactory as a young woman to have an adult so much in your power."

I think the big pull there is that your late teen years are the first time that youth suddenly becomes a big boon. Sure, before that time you got the benefits of being judged against a lowered bar, and could be considered adorably precocious, but your late teenage years are when you can first start competing on the adult's terrain. When you're able to run faster, look fitter, and speak as eloquently (or more so, in the case of a bright teen and more average adult). The idea of a relationship with an adult is so seductive because of the power it entails for the teen, even if that power is derived from the teen being young n' nubile and the adult being an ephebophile sleaze.

Now, there are countervailing considerations regarding how teens just tend to be fucked up mentally thanks to all their hormones. That's why they manage to screw up all their relationships with one another as well. Adults are presumably better equipped to handle the drama of the relationship, or less likely to fool themselves about what it really is, but I would be less likely to ascribe such signs of maturity in relationships to adults clamouring for adolescent partners.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:38 PM
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I guess the point is that older people have more power even if they don't have any actual power, in the sense that they have more experience learning how to emotionally manipulate other people, which is one of the aspects of "maturity".

In my experience, a minority of people at any age ever consciously try to emotionally manipulate other people anyway. It seems like the odds are that in any given relationship that sort of imbalance just doesn't exist because neither participant tries to make it exist.

But I guess people who enjoy indulging in emotional manipulation would also be more likely to seek out less mature people who would be more vulnerable to it.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:38 PM
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116: just because someone has more of something than you doesn't mean that getting into a sexual or romantic relationship with them is somehow illegitimate. E.g. being attracted to someone because they are more worldly/experienced and you would like to learn from them seems like a perfectly legitimate reason for one adult to get romantically involved with another.

Wealth differentials driving romantic relationships gets into prostitution issues.

Expanding on the Alameida thing: there are certainly ways for a teacher to abuse their relationship with a student (by using access they get to do academic work in order to seduce the student). These should be firing offenses or in the case of a particularly young student, potentially criminal ones. I don't think anybody was arguing with that.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:40 PM
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I feel like I would not have a hard time convincing a 17-year-old to agree to a particular political view, for example, even if it went pretty against the rest of their beliefs (and wasn't tagged ABORTION or GAY PEOPLE.) As long as the 17 yr-old isn't being knee-jerk contrary, you could talk circles around most kids without too much trouble. (I could talk circles around Heebie-at-17.)

It makes the knee-jerk contrariness seem more sympathetic - it's your only defense when you know you can't compete verbally.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:40 PM
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Teens are flattered by attention from someone who considers them hot. Alameida says in the story that "it is very satisfactory as a young woman to have an adult so much in your power."

Right. And yet somehow, despite the fact that she was the powerful one in the relationship, she's angry and upset by the fact that it happened to her. Doesn't that suggest that there's something about the structural setup that didn't work to her advantage?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:41 PM
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(My point was to illustrate where a power imbalance can come from, in a non-sexual context.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:42 PM
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123, 125: Absolutely -- that sort of thing is a big chunk of what I'm talking about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:44 PM
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but which feminist spokesperson sold Lewinsky out, and how? What should they have done differently?

No statements. Silence , mostly.
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9805E3DD113AF931A35751C0A96E958260


Talking about that lame bullshit is the standard mark of one kind of moron, so much so that the better class of morons has learned to shut up.

Which was why, initially it was introduced as a joke. But Emerson goes to feminist proportions of humorlessness in defense of the DLC, just because there's a D somewhere in the title.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:47 PM
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127: What feminists have been saying? Clinton lied about having had sex with her, but there was very little (I can't remember any, frankly) of anything that could be described as Clinton or his advocates attacking her. Should they have been condemning any sexual relationship between a man in his fifties and a woman in her early twenties? Because while I'm arguing about teens, I'm not taking the same position about someone who's graduated from college and is in the workforce (oh, I'd interpersonally look askance, probably, but only if I knew the people). Or condemning all workplace sexual relationships?

What position should feminists have taken on Lewinsky's behalf, in your view?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:51 PM
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89 is good and reflects what I see as a trend towards preserving "childhood innocence" up until the last moment and then throwing the kid out into the adult world without any preparation. I think the driving dynamic is the same one that leads to zero tolerance idiocy. The result is very harmful, IMO. Young people are forced to adapt rapidly and tend to look to their slightly older peers rather than to people who know what the fuck they're doing.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:51 PM
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I think I oversold my 120 slightly. It should especially be noted that I'm (and particularly, was) a really obstinate little so-and-so, so people had a very hard time convincing me of things that I didn't think would be in my interest. Others who actually have some respect for a typical adult's opinion could probably be more easily led by the nose.

Cryptic Ned's 121 strikes me as summing up a lot of what I feel, too. Someone would have to deliberately act very Svengali-ish in order to even have a shot at manipulating the teen without hurting themselves in the process. They'd have to be quite a bit brighter, and fairly heartless. I'd give decent odds that Alameida's teacher was a garden-variety idiot who got about as hurt from the whole thing as she did. Kinda like the dudes in The Corrections or Lolita, where both partners have some sort of leg up on the other and the whole deal is fundamentally screwed-up. Everyone ends up feeling impotent in the relationship, depending on what aspect they focus on. After all, there's gotta be some sort of powerful pull on the adult that leads them astray from the sensible path of dating people their own damn age.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:51 PM
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I'd give decent odds that Alameida's teacher was a garden-variety idiot

Yes.

who got about as hurt from the whole thing as she did.

No.

Kinda like the dudes in The Corrections or Lolita, where both partners have some sort of leg up on the other and the whole deal is fundamentally screwed-up

Okay, isn't the fact that Lolita fits neatly into the pattern you're discussing a tip off that the angle you're taking is fucked up? Lolita didn't have a leg up on Humbert in any way that enabled her to protect herself or control the situation at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:54 PM
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109

If this rests on anything, it has to rest on the belief that teenagers are too dumb to understand their own long-term interests and hence should not be allowed free control over their own sexuality. ...

No, it can rest on the belief that allowing teenagers to maximize their own interests in this area is bad for society in general. And a lot of the objections to old men young women relationships are from older women motivated by self interest.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:54 PM
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Sure thing, James. If my husband had access to that sweet, sweet teenage pussy, I'd never keep him at home with my aging, saggy, ass.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:56 PM
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What position should feminists have taken on Lewinsky's behalf, in your view?

I had had this argument with feminists prior to the Lewinsky scandal about workplace harassment, in that senior executives could never have a sexual relationship with women in the company because of the power differential, even if the employee was in another department. I seem to remember lawsuits to that effect. The power differential between almost anyone and POTUS would imply that any extra marital affair could not possibly be consensual, even given agency to the other party.

The Lewinsky Scandal was a political hit job, but that doesn't absolve those whose existence is predicated in standing up for women against the powerful keeping silent because they like they guy.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:59 PM
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118

... Yes, I do believe in statutory rape laws, and you don't have to have sex to violate them.

You don't?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 2:59 PM
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I had had this argument with feminists prior to the Lewinsky scandal about workplace harassment, in that senior executives could never have a sexual relationship with women in the company because of the power differential, even if the employee was in another department. I seem to remember lawsuits to that effect.

This is certainly not an accurate statement of sexual harassment law. And I'd say that any feminists you'd argued with who'd taken the position you describe would have been inconsistent if they spoke up for Clinton's behavior as unexceptionable.

But I still don't get how that's selling Lewinsky down the river. She wasn't calling for Clinton's hide, or looking for allies in her quest to show the world what a terrible person he was. She had a workplace affair, which she wanted to keep private, and a Republican witchhunt dragged it into the open. All the condemnation of Clinton's behavior any feminist could have engaged in wouldn't have done Lewinsky any good at all that I can see.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:03 PM
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135: I was wondering about that a bit myself, but they are state laws, so there are 50 different ones, and I don't actually know. There could be language about 'grooming' underage sexual partners short of having sex with them in at least some states.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:05 PM
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111

... There's something seriously fucked up about a guy who'd do that, and I think a whole lot of highly intelligent, strong-willed, teens are nonetheless very vulnerable to being pressured/seduced/bullied into doing things that in retrospect they wish hadn't happened. ...

Sure but that happens a lot with their peers also. You need an argument sex is more likely to be harmful with an age difference.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:08 PM
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131: Sorry, I think I've expressed myself incorrectly.

I don't think that the teen actually controls the relationship with an adult. But at the same time, I think they bring something to the relationship that gives them some power (typically the youth that the adult fetishizes), so the adult is not in complete control either.

I'll admit to some lack of familiarity with Lolita, as I've only seen the movie, but my point with those examples was that the teen/student gets screwed up by the relationship, but the adult also has their life wrecked. Losing jobs, black marks on the CV, maybe having to move to a new community... There's a lot of risk in any adult entering such a relationship, and I'd say that the risk taken is the evidence of some form of power over the adult. Whether the teen knows about it and is able to use it is another story.

Basically, I just think those relationships are fucked up. But they're somewhat symmetrically fucked up, since both sides can end up very hurt by them.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:09 PM
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11: No, I need, and have, an argument that the age difference increases the teen's vulnerability to pressure to an unacceptable extent. The fact that one peer can bully another, so statutory rape laws don't protect teens against all bullying, doesn't get you to a claim that they don't do any good at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:10 PM
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And a lot of the objections to old men young women relationships are from older women motivated by self interest.

But perhaps even more are from young men motivated by self interest.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:11 PM
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127: No, it's because it's you, TLL. You do as much Republican BS around here as you can get away with.

You quit, I quit. You keep on, I keep on.

I really can't joke about politics with Republicans. I can't even listen quietly to Republican jokes. After the last 14 years of meanminded sabotage and disinformation, I'd just as soon joke about race with the KKK. I don't care if the joke is funny, I don't care if, in itself, it's mild, and I don't care if the guy's from the moderate branch of the KKK.

IRL I'm subjected to too much of that, and I don't come here for more.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:13 PM
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132: A key phrase when interpreting "Lolita" is Humbert's "She had nowhere to go, poor thing".

I'm not really pro child abuse.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:16 PM
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The "power differential" thing makes sense to me in cases where one person has direct power of coercion over another. Otherwise, I have this sense that sexual and romantic attraction is too tied up with what might loosely be called "power" for that kind of language to be appropriate for a romantic context at all. Strong attraction immediately puts you in another person's power. I also think it's not just legitimate, but part of the human dimension of romantic love that we use it as a means to explore the world more broadly, including by falling for people who have dimensions of power in their lives that we wish we had in ours. I always found it sort of viscerally off-putting when people were scandalized by this kind of inherent messiness in romance.

But it's definitely true that a manipulative, seductive svengali-type asshole can do a lot of damage in romance. I'm sure the powers of such a type are increased by additional age, experience, and money. But as CN says above, I think such manipulative types are rare. I don't want to hand romance over the sexual harassment lawyers based on their existence.

I think it's sensible to say that there's an age below which you're just too young to handle the emotional trickiness of romance. I just object to the way that age keeps getting pushed up and up, and "power differentials" defined more broadly. It seems to me to be based on a mistrust of romance as anything. Romance doesn't easily fit into a society based on concepts of liberal individualism, like rationality, independence, free agency, etc. Of course, it's ancient wisdom that we *should* distrust romance, protect our youth from the temporary insanity of romantic attraction, our aging males from seductive young femme fatales, etc. There's a lot of legitimacy to that view too. Perhaps I'm just a romantic.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:21 PM
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LB- this article outlines what I am talking about re supervisory suicide even in consensual relationships
http://www.govexec.com/features/1098/1098s4.htm


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:21 PM
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I'd just as soon joke about race with the KKK.

Did you know that black people, aided by liberal intellectuals and bureaucrats, created recent financial crash? No really, it's true!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:23 PM
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What I really am always talking about is the extraordinary extreme sharpening of attention to the age-differential in relationships at the very same time that there's been a general slackening of concern about sexual misbehavior either within the adult community or, to a degree, within the youth community.

It's as if a deal was cut: adult sexual liberation, OK. Youth sexual liberation: maybe up to a point, we can talk about it. But there has to be a line between the two, so the adult liberation doesn't slop over to youth.

It's really a lot like the legalization of alch=ohol, which also reinforced the adult / youth distinction.

And it increased and exaggerated the already-existing tendency to box kids off in their own imaginary world.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:27 PM
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But perhaps even more are from young men motivated by self interest.

I'll cop to that. I can't find one of my earliest comments here, under my previous pseudonym, which came up in a thread discussing May-November relationships. I mentioned that there are times I want to collect a list of rich people under the age of thirty in my neighborhood, along with appearance and frequented bars, print up a pamphlet, then hand it out to every attractive 20-something woman I see with a 50-something guy in the neighborhood near me.

I recognize this makes me a bad person.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:31 PM
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the extraordinary extreme sharpening of attention to the age-differential in relationships at the very same time that there's been a general slackening of concern about sexual misbehavior

Its not peculiar at all. Sexual ethics has moved from dealing with various arbitrary purity rules and control of women's sexuality to a focus almost exclusively on consent. Cases where consent is ambiguous are natural hotspots.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:33 PM
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protect our youth from the temporary insanity of romantic attraction

Nah. They should embrace the insanity. Just with each other, because it's not like anyone else should be able to stand talking with them for that long.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:34 PM
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147: youth sexuality is the only kind of sexuality we get to regulate, so all the conflict and discomfort about sex that is hard to express in the wider culture amps up the hysteria about youth sex. Pretty soon people are on the internet pretending to be a 15 year old girl to pull the next clod in for a "Dateline NBC" special.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:34 PM
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Rob put it better than I did in 149.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:35 PM
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140

No, I need, and have, an argument that the age difference increases the teen's vulnerability to pressure to an unacceptable extent. The fact that one peer can bully another, so statutory rape laws don't protect teens against all bullying, doesn't get you to a claim that they don't do any good at all.

It seems to me that if you going to make a certain type of sexual relationship illegal you should have evidence that such relationships are actually significantly more harmful on average than the typical sexual relationship. You have a mechanism by which they could be more harmful but no evidence (so far) that they are. You could just as well ban relationships with an income difference of more than 2 to 1.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 3:41 PM
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Rob, it's very peculiar, because people otherwise regarded as incapable of consent are sometimes regarded as being capable of consent iff the other party is also not capable of consent.

The "abstinence only" people don't think that, but many or most others do.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:02 PM
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154 - the power differential includes differences in ability to understand the larger consequences of one's actions. Also differences in social status, which is very hard to quantify but which clearly does have an age element in it.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:05 PM
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As in many medical situations our ethics have not caught up with the technology. Specifically the Pill unleashed a sexual revolution that has all previous knowledge called into question. Remember that people used to get married much earlier. Modern society has a prolonged adolescence that has all sorts of weird contrasts in what is allowed and what is doable. Perhaps we need a G7 coming of age ceremony at 15. I don't know what it would look like, but hopefully not too much scarring.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:21 PM
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Part of what's going on here is that we already have a legal concept saying that people under 18 can't legally consent to anything in a binding sense - they're under the age of majority, and can't enter into enforceable contracts for that reason. And that's for all the 'they can be persuaded, or bullied, or tricked, or pushed around by adults' reasons that I'm talking about in the romantic concept. It's not as if a teenager's incapacity to deal equally with an adult is something we only worry about in the romantic realm -- we worry about it generally, including in the romantic realm.

And I think that worry is a realistic one -- the worry, in financial contracts as well as sexual relationships, that an adult is going to be able to bully or persuade or seduce a child or adolescent into 'consenting' to some arrangement that the child/adolescent in retrospect, or an impartial observer at the time, don't believe was consented to in a meaningful sense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:23 PM
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East Coast folks should take a look at the moon. Right now.

This is one of those issues that looks a whole lot different as the dad of a then-teenage girl, than as a 20 somthing guy.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:23 PM
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East Coast folks with teenage girls, or those without?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:26 PM
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158: Yep. Sally's nine, but she's five foot tall and growing like a weed, and wears a women's size six shoe. She looks like a very large nine-year old now, but based on family history she's got three or four years until she looks pretty adult. By then, of course, she should have both a TKD black belt and a surly and hostile personality, so I'm not all that worried, but the combination of memories of being a teenage girl, and looking at raising one in the near future, are certainly shaping my thoughts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:27 PM
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I think that "people used to get married much earlier" is something of a myth, or at least far from a universal truth. My great aunt got married at age 28 in 1937, for example.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:28 PM
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East Coast folks with teenage girls

Well, East Coast girls are hip, I really dig those styles they wear.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:30 PM
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If my husband had access to that sweet, sweet teenage pussy, I'd never keep him at home with my aging, saggy, ass.

Don't fret, LB. You're approaching the eligibility criteria to be a femme d'une certaine age, so you could sexually initiate teenage boys with wild abandon. It's a win-win all around.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:30 PM
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I think that "people used to get married much earlier" is something of a myth, or at least far from a universal truth

Older than I would have thought.

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005061.html


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:33 PM
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161: Yeah, I think that's right -- average age of first marriage hasn't changed all that much. What's changed is the acceptance of very early marriages with a big age mismatch -- they used to be fairly rare but not strongly deprecated, and now they're strongly disapproved of.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:35 PM
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I think that "people used to get married much earlier" is something of a myth, or at least far from a universal truth

Older than I would have thought.

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005061.html
But also
http://www.philosophyblog.com.au/historical-age-of-marriage/


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:35 PM
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I think that "people used to get married much earlier" is something of a myth, or at least far from a universal truth

Older than I would have thought.

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005061.html
But also
http://www.philosophyblog.com.au/historical-age-of-marriage/


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:35 PM
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What, are you drunk?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 4:39 PM
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What, are you drunk?

No, it's just full. And newly risen.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:00 PM
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Losing jobs, black marks on the CV, maybe having to move to a new community... There's a lot of risk in any adult entering such a relationship, and I'd say that the risk taken is the evidence of some form of power over the adult. Whether the teen knows about it and is able to use it is another story.

I am trying to put this delicately.* Because there is some power that the teen, after the relationship might have over the adult. But before the relationship starts? And with the caveat that the teen has the real power even if they don't know about it? The power's in favor of the adult, especially if there's a supervisory relationship involved, but in terms of wealth, experience, etc.

I don't think there's anything magic about age 18 (universities sometimes draw it at 'all students' or 'all students to which the instructor bears a supervisory relationship'), and it's surely not that an 18-year-old isn't capable of having sex, but a line has to be drawn somewhere if there is to be a line. 18 fits with the other lines.

I think sex offender lists are ridiculous, though I suspect that's a minority position.

I think that "people used to get married much earlier" is something of a myth, or at least far from a universal truth.

According to a historian friend, a younger age of marriage is mostly correlated with economic prosperity and stability (in her studies of early modern peasants), and it's one reason men have been usually the older party in the marriage.

*Fine, screw delicacy. This is like arguing that the real harm in prostitution is to the john because he loses self-esteem and the hooker at least gets money which can be exchanged for valuable goods and services.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:03 PM
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I think sex offender lists are ridiculous, though I suspect that's a minority position.

The concept of a list is fine, due to the fact that there is such a high recidivism rate for sex offenders.
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/crimoff.htm#sex

But being put on "the list" should not be automatic. More zero tolerance bullshit.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:09 PM
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157

Part of what's going on here is that we already have a legal concept saying that people under 18 can't legally consent to anything in a binding sense - they're under the age of majority, and can't enter into enforceable contracts for that reason.

IANAL but I believe there are numerous exceptions to this. Necessities of life for one.

And I think that worry is a realistic one -- the worry, in financial contracts as well as sexual relationships, that an adult is going to be able to bully or persuade or seduce a child or adolescent into 'consenting' to some arrangement that the child/adolescent in retrospect, or an impartial observer at the time, don't believe was consented to in a meaningful sense.

But the financial protections are not limited to adults are they? You are equally protected from being financially exploited by other children.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:12 PM
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The concept of a list is fine, due to the fact that there is such a high recidivism rate for sex offenders.

I might actually argue the stronger claim; the concept of the list is wrong. If they're that likely to re-offend, then they shouldn't be out in society. If they're not, then it's stigmatizing someone who has already paid his debt. And pragmatically, a) most sex offenders aren't grabbing random victims and b) no one is going to take the list as a reasonable guide for action ('well, i wasn't going to take candy from a stranger, but now that I know that mr. jones isn't on the list....')


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:14 PM
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And pragmatically, a) most sex offenders aren't grabbing random victims and b) no one is going to take the list as a reasonable guide for action ('well, i wasn't going to take candy from a stranger, but now that I know that mr. jones isn't on the list....')

Many sex offenders plan their conquests carefully and deliberately, choosing the victim for grooming. Knowing this might occur but could be prevented with proper intervention, wouldn't a list be the way to go? More like "Sorry Mr. Jones, we would like to hire you as our church Youth Minister, but there was that incident in Ohio..."


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:21 PM
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156 - In High School in Botswana a bunch of my friends had to do the whole coming of age ritual thing. They only circumcise the boys (thank ceiling cat), but damn if they didn't have some stories. Particularly scary when you're 13 thinking about some old guy with a shaky hand taking a razor to your johnson.

I also had a Korean friend in HS who voluntarily got circumcised because he thought it would improve his performance in bed. Rode back from the hospital after the procedure on a 125cc dirtbike. Koreans are hardcore.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:30 PM
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The concept of a list is fine, due to the fact that there is such a high recidivism rate for sex offenders

Wrong -- sex offenders have pretty low recidivism rates, significantly lower than the general criminal population anyway. I think the "high recidivism" thing is a way of expressing the sentiment that they have the Mark of Cain on them, they have violated a taboo and will never recover from that. Plus, of course, as in any crime there is an incorrigible subset for sex offenders.

Recidivism rates are very complicated to measure, but studies generally find recidivism rates of under 50 percent for sex offenders , indicating that the majority won't reoffend. Treatment can reduce those significantly too. Undermeasurement of sex crimes is a problem here, but many studies have been conducted which track offenders for a long period of time -- all it takes is one detected crime to count as recidivism.

Of course, American criminal justice is much more about revenge than prevention anyway, and maybe it should be that way.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:31 PM
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171, 174 -- do you have a name?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:33 PM
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170: Geez.

First, how many times do I have to say that I'm not saying the teen has the "real power" in the relationship. I'm just saying that it's not a clear one-way street of power and that older people don't have incredible irresistable seductive powers over younger people (though many of them are in positions of coercive power over younger people, and we already addressed how that's a very very different issue).

Second, the power of legal coercion isn't the important one that a teenager might have in the relationship, for the reason you point out. The only power they really have in the relationship is the stupid fucking lust of the adult that would cause the adult to do something so idiotic as try to get involved with a teen in the first place. I.e., the teen is probably dealing with a lust-addled fool. Such people are often not exactly in control of relationships.

Third, all of what I've been saying has mostly been in the service of pointing out that these relationships are fundamentally fucked up, on both sides. Like I've said, ohhhhh, three times or more in this thread? I'm not advocating for the removal of statuatory rape laws, since I think they prevent some absolutely stupid shit from happening.

LB's 157 makes a great point that I'll be turning over in my head on the way home. My gut feeling was that, though kids around 15 or so can probably make their own decisions without fouling up too badly, they don't have the financial or human capital to be worth entering a legal contract with anyway. So it's somewhat of a moot point until they hit 18, even though they're really learning a lot about how to handle themselves as adults before they hit that age.

Anyway, the way my whole line of this argument started was by saying that teenagers are not these delicate flowers or braindead idiots who have no idea what they're doing and can be lead astray by any thirty-something perv who lusts for teen flesh. I'm saying teens have basic reasoning and fucking agency! Please don't ever think I'm saying something so stupid as johns being the victims of prostitution.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:34 PM
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Sorry- 171, 174 was me. Couldn't you tell?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:37 PM
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Ah, the reference to grooming young victims for seduction should have tipped me off, TLL.

Seriously, any employer or the like should be able to find an adult criminal record, those are not sealed. Widely publicized sex offender lists are gifts to the lynch mob, sometimes for not very serious crimes either.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:40 PM
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It would have been legal for her to parade her nude body around for other 15-year-olds to ogle in person. She just can't show them a photo of herself parading around naked. That was her mistake. She should have just stripped for them.


Posted by: Dr X | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:40 PM
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I have had to take training classes in order to be able to volunteer at school (thanks Cardinal Mahoney! Your priests fuck up, and I'm the one in remedial molesting?)

Hearing an admitted and convicted child molester describe how he would choose the victim and slowly gain his/ her trust was really eye opening. The focus of the training was that if it happens, parents, it will be your fault, not the priest's.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:46 PM
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178 - If I understand you correctly you're making an argument homologous to what Emerson and I talked about upthread: 18 (or 21) isn't some huge discontinuity in human development. People grow up to that point and continue to grow past it. Power differentials between people below the arbitrary line and people above it depend on exactly where the participants stand in relation to the line. Am I in the ballpark?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 5:49 PM
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183: More or less. With extreme frustration in 178 due to feeling like a couple people in this thread thought I was apologizing for ephebophiles.

I think I figured out where that misunderstanding may have arisen, though. When LB mentioned Alameida's story, I made a couple comments that focused on the power which the teenager has in such relationships, which does seem like an odd place to start when it comes to everything wrong with a teacher seducing a middle schooler.

However, the reason I started with that was because I was trying to figure out what the appeal of such a relationship to the teen could ever be. I just assumed the adult was fucked up, but there seem to be enough somewhat-together teens getting tangled up in such relationships that there must be something it offers them. The feeling of power resonated with my time as a teenager, since I remembered how nice it felt to finally have adults treating me like somewhat of an equal and taking me seriously. I could understand how the step beyond that, where an adult's lust-addled brain gives the teen some element of power in their relationship, would be flattering to the point where it overcomes the intrinsic weirdness and creepiness of being hit on by an adult.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:18 PM
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It would have been legal for her to parade her nude body around for other 15-year-olds to ogle in person. She just can't show them a photo of herself parading around naked. That was her mistake. She should have just stripped for them.

Given the ease with with pictures can be distributed around the world, it makes sense to treat the pictures and the stripping differently.

Of course, it makes even more sense to treat taking pictures of yourself and pictures of someone else differently, but whatever.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:21 PM
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Until naked teenagers themselves can be distributed around the world easily, no peace.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:24 PM
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All Power to the Naked Teenagers! Teenagers of the World, You Have Nothing To Lose but Your Clothes!


Posted by: Horny Karl | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:27 PM
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And the reason I was so concerned with finding out why it would appeal to the teen is because I honestly feel that adults don't have too much leverage over teens unless they're in a coercive position or position of authority such as teacher, administrator, etc.

Still, pace the discussion in 98, 103, 109, etc., there seemed to be something about the teenager-adult relationship that wasn't as innocuous as the 25-40 relationship. There had to be something motivating the teen to enter such relationships unwisely that would not necessarily be the case for twenty-somethings, and I really don't believe people actually get much wiser with time. So instead I cottoned on to the explanation that what differs for teenagers is the incredible newness of feeling full-grown, and the resulting seductiveness of being treated like a peer or finally having a smidgen of power over an adult.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:29 PM
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As for the student teacher thing I must confess to such a relationship. I was a senior at boarding school and she was a TA, or whatever they called them. Basically it was a just graduated from college job for one year, usually before going on to grad school. I have no idea why, but she was definitely the aggressor. Being a lad of seventeen, it wasn't exactly that difficult for her. The age difference was what, four years , not more than five. I didn't feel exploited, and the lurking about was exciting. Almost got busted, too.


Posted by: Jack Kennedy | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:39 PM
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184: Something further along those lines, is that the adult in such a relationship, while they're very likely to be fucked up, isn't necessarily stupid. And they can figure out that the heady feeling of power over, and therefore equality with or superiority to, a genuine grownup, is a powerful piece of bait with which to entice an adolescent longing for adulthood. It's not just a neutral feature of the relationship, it's something that's very manipulable by the adult to manufacture consent.

A very ordinary pattern (anecdotally) for adult/teen relationships is a grown man and a precocious, intelligent, mature teenage girl, who's vulnerable precisely because she thinks she's mature enough to interact with adults as an equal, but is through lack of life experience not really able to stand up for herself. And I'm sure some of those relationships turn out harmless, but all the ones I've heard about have been regretted and emotionally traumatic in retrospect.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:39 PM
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189 re-raises the question of 102. My best guess is that it is less squidgy, but not less squidgy enough to justify legal distinctions on the basis of gender.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:40 PM
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There seems to me to be something particularly wrong about a teacher perving on his or her students, since students already are asked by the educational process to put some faith and trust into the teacher. I've read a number of pieces about how the teacher--student relationship is always already sexualised, but it really does seem abusive, not to mention in poor taste, to literalise that transference.

Now, all of these analysis is coming out of academia, where everyone is very familiar with the student/teacher relationship and not really at all conversant with other forms of hierarchical relationships, like bosses and underlings, priests and parishioners, Presidents and interns, or what-have-you. Maybe the student/teacher thing is especially off-limits, maybe it's just one version.

(I'll be really bummed if this double-posts, seeing as how I'm previewing it right now.)


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:41 PM
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188: Once you get to late teens, it's maybe not so much a matter of 17-40 being inherently more problematic than 22-45 as that 22-year-olds are more entitled to fuck up if they choose to do so.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:42 PM
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like bosses and underlings

Somehow I read this as "horses and underlings." The nobleman might feel left out.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:42 PM
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189, 191: Yeah, in our current culture I would buy that the gender asymmetries are great enough that an adult-teen relationship is less likely to be messed up if the teen is male. I don't really have much of a sense of what to do about that -- my snap reaction is that such relationships should be firmly discouraged anyway.

Although 17-21 isn't really a surprising age gap in either direction; the problem there would have been the job, not the age difference.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:44 PM
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190: Yeah, I suppose. That's the one desire where I agree that teens are more vulnerable to manipulation, and it seems like that desire for feeling superior to an adult lends itself particularly well to a weird seduction relationship.

Still doesn't change my amazement that so many people seem to have been suckered by it. They're old! And come off as desperate since they can't find someone their own age! Isn't disgust for skeezy old people like one of the fundamental emotions?!


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:52 PM
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Knowing this might occur but could be prevented with proper intervention, wouldn't a list be the way to go? More like "Sorry Mr. Jones, we would like to hire you as our church Youth Minister, but there was that incident in Ohio..."

Requiring a background check for people involved in child-supervisory capacities is fine, and makes sense for the reasons you describe. That sort of thing has been policy for a long while longer than there have been laws making it generally available and publicized, no?

With extreme frustration in 178 due to feeling like a couple people in this thread thought I was apologizing for ephebophiles.

Let's be clear; I don't think you were, though "extreme misunderstanding" is close.. If all we mean by 'power' is 'some adults find fourteen-year-olds hot and they're powerless', well... I'm not sure what that 'power' is trying to explain then. If I see a hot person, I'm at fault if I let that fact overwhelm my better judgment. It doesn't really matter if they were really hot, you know?

Teens might find it exciting for all sorts of reasons. The person is older, the person is more mature, the person is someone they look up to, etc. I don't think it's power over the adult as much as being a peer or in the inside circle (uh, so to speak) of someone they look up to.


Maybe the student/teacher thing is especially off-limits, maybe it's just one version.

I think it's just one version, but probably a stronger version than e.g., an office taboo, because the division is usually very clear between person-who-is-teacher and person-who-is-not, plus, there's usually an age gap.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:54 PM
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such relationships should be firmly discouraged anyway.

The whole thing took place spring semester of my senior year. Definite ending date. I think she was lonely. It wasn't Tea and Sympathy.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049829/


Posted by: Jack Kennedy | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:58 PM
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Anyway, the way my whole line of this argument started was by saying that teenagers are not these delicate flowers or braindead idiots who have no idea what they're doing and can be lead astray by any thirty-something perv who lusts for teen flesh.

This, by the way, I agree with. On the other hand, we generally don't think teens are complete adults in other areas; we cut them slack if they commit crimes, for example.

There's also a presumption, given American ideas on what a teenager is supposed to be, that adults rein you in when you've gone too far. They're adults; you're a teen, you're supposed to be pushing limits. They're supposed to tell you when you're messing up.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 6:58 PM
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I tried to check TLL's assertion in 171, because I thought it was based on lumping together different classes of sex offenders. Google yielded this interesting study by the Sentencing Advisory Council, an Australian government body. Here's a summary quote of the recidivism section

research based on both official reports of offending and self-reports of offenders shows that sex offenders typically have lower rates of recidivism than do other kinds of offender and that these rates vary for different sub-groups of sex offender.
I was surprised also to see that people who rape adults have a higher recidivism rate than child molesters
And sex offenders whose victims were adults had higher rates of recidivism for any offence: for those with no prior imprisonment, the recidivism rate for sex offenders against adults was 9% compared with 4% for offenders against children...This finding is consistent with more recent research from around the world that shows that rapists tend to have higher rates of recidivism than do child molesters


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:01 PM
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196: I think you underestimate how attractive having your own job/car/apartment seem to a teenage girl.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:05 PM
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More from the Australian report, summarizing the findings of another study,

The authors concluded from these analyses that child sex offenders are not specialist offenders - instead, there appears to be 'considerable versatility' in their criminal careers (Smallbone and Wortley, 2000, p.20). Thus developmental and early intervention programs that are known to reduce rates of general criminal offending may well be equally effective in reducing sexual offending. ...Sex offenders should thus not be seen as sexual deviants, but as opportunity takers who have generalised difficulties with self-control, especially within their interpersonal domain (Wortley and Smallbone, 2006, p.12).


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:07 PM
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They're adults; you're a teen, you're supposed to be pushing limits. They're supposed to tell you when you're messing up.

This is why I am not to squicked about it. It was not my first sexual encounter (which had occurred the previous summer with an age appropriate partner). Had it been, I might feel differently. As it was, I knew that it was ok with my teenage hormones, so if her adult hormones were ok with it, who was I to complain. All in all it was never going to be a healthy relationship, so I can't say I put much emotional effort into it. That is the only thing I feel slightly guilty about, if at all.


Posted by: Jack Kennedy | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:09 PM
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The person is older, the person is more mature, the person is someone they look up to, etc.

You see, to me, those were all the reasons I could never understand a teenager finding an adult sexy. I have a major aversion to sex with older (or younger) people, so it would never occur to me to see that as a plus. As for the "more mature" or "someone they look up to" reasons, I was a cynical enough teen that I found it highly suspicious if someone I looked up to treated me as anything other than a promising up-and-comer. If someone like that actually pretended to see me as an equal, alarm bells would be ringing and any feelings I had that they might be mature would be thrown out the window. Part of the whole maturity thing is wanting relationships where you're on the same level as your partner.

So yeah... These reasons just seem utterly foreign to me apart from the flattery of being treated like an adult. And I suppose the flattery of someone else being so obviously physically attracted that they're willing to contemplate something very stupid, but that's a vulnerability at all ages. Hence the "pity fuck".


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:09 PM
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Someone told me that at a big management consulting firm, partners are fired if they have a relationship with the person who's at the straight-out-of college level.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:09 PM
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185: Given the ease with with pictures can be distributed around the world, it makes sense to treat the pictures and the stripping differently.

How so? Does the "damage" get multiplied by the number of viewers? If she's stripping in person she's physically accessible, that's not necessarily the case with a picture.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:13 PM
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Again, part of the weirdness of this is that there's a registry of sex offenders but not a registry of murderers or burglars. Rightly or wrongly, we tend to let punished criminals start over again from GO, but not if they're sex criminals, especially not if children are involved. And the way the laws are written some very mild offenders or even non-offenders gut put on the lifetime registry.

I'm not really arguing for having more registries. Just saying that there's something odd about how this issue is treated, and discontinuous with the way a lot of rather similar things are treated.

And again, the rawing of a bright line between 18+ and 18-, where the 18- are sexual victims if the 18+ are involved at all, but are harmless to each other unless there are specific problems like physical abuse. It's like the armore is strapped on at 18.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:16 PM
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Given that the lists are more like zero tolerance for pervs, and zero tolerance is a bad idea, I may have to moderate my support of such lists.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:18 PM
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Again, part of the weirdness of this is that there's a registry of sex offenders but not a registry of murderers or burglars.

I wouldn't have thought this odd until I read the link I provided in 200 and 202, which asserts that sex offenders are likely to be general purpose criminals, rather than a discrete population with different behavior patters.

And lumping people together here seems especially wrongheaded, since the recidivism rates are very different for different kinds of offenders.

As can be seen from the comparison, the lowest rates of sexual recidivism (6%) were found among offenders who had only ever been convicted of incest, or intra-familial child molesting. Extra-familial child molesters had a recidivism rate for sexual offending of 15%, while rapists had a recidivism rate for sexual offending of 16%. The low rate of recidivism for incest offenders in particular is consistently supported in the literature,

The Australian report does seem to cover things that will get you listed as a sex offender in the US, like taking nude pictures of yourself or exposing yourself in public. I have heard that most states treat "hands-off" sex offenses the same as rape and child molestation, and this seems exceptionally bizarre.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:22 PM
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Does the "damage" get multiplied by the number of viewers?

That's the theory; as a child you are harmed by people viewing pictures of you naked. Or at least a theory, but it seems like a reasonably sound one to me.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:22 PM
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196.2: Still doesn't change my amazement that so many people seem to have been suckered by it. They're old! And come off as desperate since they can't find someone their own age! Isn't disgust for skeezy old people like one of the fundamental emotions?!

I gather you're not trolling here. No, disgust for older people isn't a fundamental emotion for all.

204: Part of the whole maturity thing is wanting relationships where you're on the same level as your partner.

Yes and no: maturity with regard to some things doesn't necessarily come with age. This seems obvious. Being with someone like-minded, with respect to, say, politics or lifestyle, can be just as important. If we're just talking about 15 or 17 or 19 year olds, no, I'd say they don't know their own minds yet; older than that, it's an open question, so a liaison with someone older doesn't necessarily enter skeezy territory.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:28 PM
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Well, as I said when the hilarious Dr. Laura nude pictures hit the net, if you don't want your naked pictures on the internet, don't take naked pictures in the first place. The internet is a naked picture positive attractor, and any prurient material ever conceived at any time in any medium will end up there for the entire world to see, forever until the end of time. Amen.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:28 PM
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212: I'm pretty sure we're well past that point, and that the Internet is spontaneously generating naked pictures of everyone who uses it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:30 PM
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You peeked!


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:30 PM
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If someone's viewing a nude picture of you, you feel a tingling at the back of your neck, and if it's millions of people, it becomes unbearable and can cause third-degree burns.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:31 PM
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And I should say that I'm not arguing for anything more than the statutory rape laws we've got now (which could use a certain amount of rationalizing, but along those lines), with societal disapproval of adult-teen relationships, and that the whole sex-offender registry thing seems loony to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:32 PM
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No, disgust for older people isn't a fundamental emotion for all.

Disgust for skeezy older people. It's the unique combination of desperation, lust without respect, and having to look among young people to find someone unaccomplished who you can feel good about screwing that seems so common among older guys that hit on teenagers and undergrads. A few of my female friends ran into a fair number of them (especially taking classes at the business school as undergrads), and the requests for dates were pretty often seen as pathetic.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:38 PM
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I should add "People look at naked pictures of you, but you never find out about it" to my list of hypothetical scenarios for discussion about the nature of objectivity and the good life.

Right now I ask questions like "which would you choose, a marriage where you fight all the time, but you know everything that is going on, or a marriage that seems blissful, but really your spouse is having a series of affairs you never find out about" and "would you be like Cypher and choose to go back into The Matrix and forget about the real world."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:40 PM
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217: Well, manipulation doesn't always work, and if you see through it, it does look pathetic. That doesn't mean manipulation never works.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:48 PM
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Hey, speaking of pictures of underage girls, you want to see something really cute? My daughters grabbed our Obama sign and took it down to the corner to accost passers-by. Huge attention-getter: honks, thumbs up, laughs all around. A hipster-looking couple rolled up and there followed this conversation:

Guy in passenger seat: What's that say?
Daughters: Obama!
Guy: Who are you voting for?
Daughters: Obama!
Woman behind wheel: You guys rock.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:53 PM
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217: I know. I elided the "skeezy" modifier, mostly because you also said in 196 They're old!

Which amused me. But as I say, if we're talking up to 19 years old (or so), fine, such people don't know their minds, and should be left alone.

That said, a prof. in my department (50+) wound up marrying a grad student (30 or so), to everyone's quiet wonder and mutterment, and the 30 year old woman was an occasional friend whose decision to be with the older man I completely supported. She had a hard time going with her own damn wishes. It actually is important to separate any ageism in these questions from issues of too-young people who we think aren't mature enough to make consenting decisions. I wasn't sure you were doing that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:53 PM
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And I should say that I'm not arguing for anything more than the statutory rape laws we've got now (which could use a certain amount of rationalizing, but along those lines), with societal disapproval of adult-teen relationships

Yeah. I'm all for the statutory rape laws, even though I recognize that, of course, there's always something a bit arbitrary about setting age limits into law. And I guess I'm suspicious enough of the language of sexual emancipation that I can't even pretend to be a liberal on this score. I think teen (by which I mean, teenagers under the age of 18) sex should not be encouraged (not that it should be criminalized, at least not for the teens), and the thought of a 15-year old girl pornifying herself just about horrifies me, or at least sounds to me like something rather grim and ugly and depressing. I wish that girl could find other sources of self-realization and self-esteem, which maybe she could if she weren't living in a culture which encourages her to become a willing subject of the pornocracy.

Oh, and I'm not a "Puritan," btw.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 7:54 PM
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I don't think that most of us who support sexual emancipation believe that teenage sex should be encouraged or that 15-year old girls should pornify themselves.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:02 PM
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222: Did you see 99?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:05 PM
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Does the "damage" get multiplied by the number of viewers?
Ask the MPAA and RIAA about that one.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:12 PM
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221: Yeah, I'll admit there's some ageism mixed in with my attitude. I do have a knee-jerk aversion to imagining anyone my parents' ages as a sexual partner, and am kind of mystified by the relationships where there's a big age difference. But hey, among people like your friend and the professor, it's obviously something they both consent to as mature adults. And let's face it, I do not cast any judgment on consenting couples who do far odder things.

believe that teenage sex should be encouraged

I don't think it needs encouragement. We were pretty capable of it on our own, and I bet the teens of today are as well. I don't think it should be particularly discouraged, so long as the kids know how to be safe and have someone they trust who they can turn to.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:14 PM
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Theoretically, youthful enthusiasm and mature experience ought to be able to have a mutually-beneficial relationship, particularly as a short-term thing. Practically, the set of 40-year-olds who are interested in screwing teenagers is likely to skew away from the sorts of folks who might be able to make such a thing work.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:15 PM
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I think teen (by which I mean, teenagers under the age of 18) sex should not be encouraged

To merrily flip-flop, I'm not sure about this -- "encouraged" is an overly enthusiastic sounding word, but older teens are, IMO, the right age to be figuring out their sexuality. When any given person is ready for anything is going to vary by that person's individual circumstances, but I wouldn't draw any kind of bright line at 18. What I've been arguing about all thread is about teenagers being pushed into things they're not ready for and haven't genuinely consented to, not about teenagers finding their own limits and setting their own courses without coercion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:15 PM
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Just realized that 223 is a response to 222. In that context, I shouldn't joke about encouraging teen sex.

But seriously, no one particularly wants their teens to have sex. There's just various levels of how accepting they are that it may happen.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:17 PM
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223: Well, I'd like to believe that, B, but frankly, that's not always the vibe that I get (not from you, I hasten to add, but still: certain lines of argument do have certain "unintended [eh, perhaps entirely predictable] consequences."

||

And holy crap! mes canadiens errants: is Harper about to come up short for a majority? What a wanker, God.

|>


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:18 PM
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Oh, sorry. 230 was me.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:21 PM
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231: As if we couldn't tell.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:25 PM
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222: Probably a Jansenist.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:25 PM
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Encouraged, no. Required, yes. "There will be homework".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:27 PM
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||

Harper re-elected, but it's still not clear whether he can form a majority government. Hey gang! let's form a hockey pool...

|>


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:42 PM
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226: I do have a knee-jerk aversion to imagining anyone my parents' ages as a sexual partner, and am kind of mystified by the relationships where there's a big age difference.

You're pretty young, aren't you, PoMo? Somewhere in your 20s? Which means your parents are maybe in their 50s? Maybe you're older; I'm not sure. At any rate, people in their 40s and 50s can be desirable sexual partners.

Age difference in relationships: is a matter between the partners in question, assuming they're both adults. Age differences of 20 or so years do trouble me, but it's not my business; if it's friends of mine who are doing such a thing, I ask a few questions here and there, then let it go.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 8:53 PM
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At any rate, people in their 40s and 50s can be desirable sexual partners.

No, no, surely this is impossible!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 9:27 PM
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Don't go shocking the kids, now.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 9:31 PM
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One of the nineteenth century utopian colonies (Oneida, maybe) had a policy that the 40 year olds who were not otherwise attached would initiate the teenagers into sexuality. I'm curious how well it worked in practice.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 9:34 PM
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I'm curious how well it worked in practice.

I bet you are.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 9:38 PM
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Some nice woman in her 40s should definitely take PMP in hand and show him that the glory of good sex extends throughout life. I'm sure it will be very reassuring for him to discover that he won't have to switch all his passion to golf when he turns 40.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 9:41 PM
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If not seeing anything wrong with the prospect of 17 year olds having sex makes me a gross nasty enabler, so be it.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 9:42 PM
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I'm glad people have already stepped in to point out that having sex as a teenager is totally awesome.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 9:45 PM
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I'm sure it will be very reassuring for him to discover that he won't have to switch all his passion to golf when he turns 40.

Eh, he is in the financial services industry, right? So golf might be where it's at, with maybe the occasional age-inappropriate trophy wife for variety.

If not seeing anything wrong with the prospect of 17 year olds having sex makes me a gross nasty enabler, so be it.

Me too. OTOH, the prospect of their having sex with me is now lost in the mists of time. Fucking wasted opportunities.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 9:51 PM
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236.2 is how I try to feel. It's the most sensible policy, for sure.

241: Oh, I know that sex continues for many many more years. I just seem to have something like a more restrictive version of the "1/2 + 7" rule hardwired in my head. People outside my immediate age range don't even register as potential sexual relationship partners. I'll love 40-year-olds when I'm 40. For now, I get to have sex with early 20-somethings.

Though I will admit to shamelessly flirting with a 38-year-old lesbian with an MBA from Wharton who I met at The Matchbox one night. She and her friend were very sweet, and drove me home at the end of the night.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 9:53 PM
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sqrt + 12 is a better rule than half + 7. I've said it before, I'm sure I'll say it again.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 9:55 PM
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One reason adolesence sucks is that people don't get laid enough.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 9:56 PM
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I'm sure it will be very reassuring for him to discover that he won't have to switch all his passion to golf when he turns 40.

This is funny. But, um, mean. PoMo is, I'm sure, just saying that the age discrepancy is disconcerting to him.

And who said that 17 year olds having sex is bad? Besides Mary Catherine, except she just said it shouldn't be encouraged (yet not discouraged).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:00 PM
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Besides Mary Catherine, except she just said it shouldn't be encouraged

Right, I'm encouraging it. Gooo, 17 year olds! Fuck like little bunny rabbits! Get to it!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:03 PM
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248 before I saw 245.

I think it's fair to say that as you get older, you register age differences more liberally. What was once an intolerable 4-year difference you can shrug off; later, a 4 year difference seems negligible and you might wonder about an 8 year difference, and so on.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:08 PM
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Yeah, whatever with the valorization of teen sex. Look me in the eye when you're the father or mother of a 14-year old daughter, and tell me what you will. But ah well, all this sex talk is boring as hell, actually: I mean, really, what's left to say?

||

Justin Trudeau on his way to Parliament Hill, he beat out the Bloc Qu├ęb├ęcois incumbent. Well done, Justin!

|>


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:09 PM
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Look me in the eye when you're the father or mother of a 14-year old daughter, and tell me what you will.

Clever rhetorical strategy: the unrebuttable counter-argument!

Since we're using disingenuous argumentative styles now, I'll leap to an analogy: look me in the eye when somebody in your immediate family is murdered and tell me you don't support the death penalty.

Well, Governor Dukakis? Well?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:17 PM
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I think sex is endlessly interesting, but really only at the price of TMI.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:19 PM
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is Harper about to come up short for a majority? What a wanker, God.

Yes, yes he is. Which is at least preferable than him not coming up short. Shame he couldn't actually lose, but too much to hope for.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:29 PM
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I think sex is endlessly interesting

On the veldt, sex was what enabled the species to continue.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:34 PM
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Sifu, that's silly, because sex is not at all like murder, last I heard. Funny that's that the analogy that would come to your mind, though. You just trying to ├ępater les bourgeois, or are you actually in earnest? No hard feelings either way, but it's a bit weird how you get so vehement and, well, personal, at the slightest whiff of non-agreement with your own perspective.

You want to advocate for teen sex, well, be my guest, I'm sure as hell not going to try and to stop you. I'm not going to agree with you, though. Analogizing to the death penalty? Don't even make sense, unless you've already conceded the point that teen sex is a grand moral issue (which I don't even agree with, btw, but if that's what you truly believe, well, fair enough).


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:34 PM
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that's that s/b that that's


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:39 PM
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but it's a bit weird how you get so vehement and, well, personal, at the slightest whiff of non-agreement with your own perspective

Oh please God, not *this* rhetorical strategy. If there's anything Unfogged should stand for, it's a higher class of slanging match. Do better, MC.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:43 PM
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I argue in favor of teen sex out of sympathy with my sixteen-year-old self. If I'm ever to have sixteen-year-old daughters, I will probably ignore that sympathy in reconsideration, but I think it's reasonable to admit it to the argument.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:44 PM
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And the bourgeois pay good money to get epatered. Don't anybody start giving it away now.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:45 PM
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One reason adolesence sucks is that people don't get laid enough.

no need to project...


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:47 PM
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it's a bit weird how you get so vehement and, well, personal, at the slightest whiff of non-agreement with your own perspective.

Kee-riste, it's a bit weird how you drag out this old chestnut every single time you talk about anything on this site.

If I seem exercised, it's because arguing with you is irritatingly fruitless, you having recently adopted this profoundly obnoxious combination of disingenuousness, moral superiority, know-it-allness, and a fake-ass attitude of being above the it all, which combination taken as a whole makes me cast about desperately for some way to show you just how stupid you sound.

But shoot, here I've just fucked up my plan to make my occasional drop-in comments more light-hearted and funny and less grumpy and final. I think I'll move on.

Hooray, teen sex!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:48 PM
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And to be less meta, you do realize that saying "Look me in the eye when you're the father or mother of a 14-year old daughter, and tell me what you will" is pretty much equivalent to your parents telling you "you'll understand when you're older", and just about as likely to be persuasive, right?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:49 PM
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But shoot, here I've just fucked up my plan to make my occasional drop-in comments more light-hearted and funny and less grumpy and final.

stras? Is that you?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:50 PM
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stras? Is that you?

I know, right?

Grrr, recycle!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:51 PM
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all this sex talk is boring as hell, actually

Chances are, UR DOIN IT RONG.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:55 PM
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LB put it very well in 228.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 10:58 PM
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If I seem exercised, it's because arguing with you is irritatingly fruitless, you having recently adopted this profoundly obnoxious combination of disingenuousness, moral superiority, know-it-allness, and a fake-ass attitude of being above the it all, which combination taken as a whole makes me cast about desperately for some way to show you just how stupid you sound.

Like I said, Sifu, let someone disagree with you, and you get all vehement and personal. And what's weird is that I never singled you out, never mentioned you by name, never even had you in mind at all; was just disagreeing with a strain of argument in this thread which I didn't even associate with you personally. And yet you took it personally, wow. A line of argument with which you identify against a line of argument with which you do not, and you get all exercised and desperately want to make me know that I am stupid and who knows what else.

So let's move on, yeah. Let's agree to disagree on principle, and ignore each from here on in, okay?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:24 PM
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No, really, MC, it's just you. And you just sound stupid. Those are the parameters.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:28 PM
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Unless you have reason to believe that Sifu is a member of the Dukakis family, there was no reason to call 252 personal. Vehement, perhaps, but he was arguing.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:28 PM
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270: Don't tell anyone... Tweety's secretly Olympia Dukakis.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:29 PM
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The Stu Sutcliffe of the Golden Girls! Awesome.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:30 PM
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Let's agree to disagree on principle, and ignore each from here on in, okay?

What about those of us who aren't Tweety who thought your argument in 251 was inane at best?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:31 PM
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I know Mike Dukakis. Mike Dukakis is a friend of mine. And Josh? I'm no Mike Dukakis.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:33 PM
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274: I'm gonna need to see a picture of you in a tank to confirm that.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:34 PM
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275: would a nitrous tank do? And instead of in it, is it okay if I'm super high from it? Because I could totally get right on that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:37 PM
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this profoundly obnoxious combination of disingenuousness, moral superiority, know-it-allness, and a fake-ass attitude of being above the it all

You know she's Canadian, right?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:38 PM
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What about those of us who aren't Tweety who thought your argument in 251 was inane at best?

Well, what about you? I'm okay with people not agreeing with me, really I am. But if you don't put forth an argument or a counter-argument, there's not much more to say, I guess.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:38 PM
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You didn't put forth an argument, Mary Catherine, you put forth an untestable counterfactual and sat back, satisfied, like a million before you who were equally crappy at making an argument. Now you're asking people to make counterarguments against your stupid, untestable point. This is why nobody else like arguing with you, and why I complain at you (well, that and because I can be kind of a dick online, but I'm sure you see my point).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:43 PM
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But if you don't put forth an argument or a counter-argument, there's not much more to say, I guess.

What possible counter-argument can one make to "you'll understand when you have kids of your own", if one doesn't have kids?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:43 PM
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Look me in the eye when you're the father or mother of a 14-year old daughter, and tell me what you will.

I mean really! What comeback is there to that? "Okay, I will!"

Then you can say "no you won't!" and I'll say "well maybe I will, but it doesn't matter", and you'll say "yeah it does, you'll see when you're there" and I'll splutter because now we're both fifth graders again and voilà! It's a YouTube thread!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:45 PM
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Pwned. Don't that figure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:46 PM
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And you know, even taken on its own merits... why exactly should I find it persuasive that you personally are uncomfortable with a relatively permissive attitude towards teenage sexuality? Am I to take it that you're somehow representative of parents in general?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:48 PM
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Pwned. Don't that figure.

If the cool kids pwn you, you just tell them you don't need to be first to be happy with yourself.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:50 PM
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284: yeah but what if you do it?

OHOHOHOHO!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:52 PM
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For what it's worth, I believe that Mary Catherine was chiefly concerned with the pornification of adolescents, girls, and the encouragement they might feel to pornify themselves. Hence her resistance.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:56 PM
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Geez, why is everybody unloading on MC like this? 262 was really personal.

Sure, there's no answer to her argument, but what's wrong with that? It's the standard unanswerable parental argument, primal parental instincts compel her to make it, and no teen sex thread would be complete without it. Hell, it's making me feel nostalgic for when I was a teenager. Just call her a square and move on.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:57 PM
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262 was really personal.

Yeah, I mean, it was about my personal reaction to things, and I just needed to get it off my chest. I said "keee-riste" because, you know, these are things that really mean a lot to me.

It's like, "hooray, teen sex" when I'm crying and alone, you know? I thought I could share that with you all.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-14-08 11:58 PM
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It's a YouTube thread!

It'd be easy enough to port the "read your comment aloud before you post it" to Unfogged.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:01 AM
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It'd be easy enough to port the "read your comment aloud before you post it" to Unfogged.

I SEE A GREAT NEED.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:03 AM
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288: There, there. This will all be better when you go to college.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:04 AM
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Also, I find it really hard to imagine that teenagers showing their naked bodies to other teenagers to get attention is anything new or indicative of an increasing pornification of our society. Shocking, I know...


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:04 AM
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Between no Blume and the Red Sox losing Sifu is very emotional tonight. It's OK, we're here for you. Just like you'll be there for your 14 year old daughter someday. You'll understand everything then.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:05 AM
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I SEE A GREAT NEED.

Ah, crap. They added some signing so you can't just make the ajax call. I'm sure it's not the most secure thing ever. W-lfs-n could probably figure it out.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:08 AM
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292: That's a conversation that might be had. But probably not at this time, it being late.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:11 AM
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Who knows, maybe the increased infantalization of teenagers drives them to the one area where they can wield power - using their nubility on older (albeit sleazy) people. I don't think I fully believe it, but I bet there's an argument to be fleshed out there.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:16 AM
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The decline of the American empire dates to Elvis's first appearance on Ed Sullivan. Or so I've read in the better history texts.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:17 AM
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you do realize that saying "Look me in the eye when you're the father or mother of a 14-year old daughter, and tell me what you will" is pretty much equivalent to your parents telling you "you'll understand when you're older", and just about as likely to be persuasive, right?

That doesn't make it not true, you know. And for what it's worth, it *is* true that a lot of things one believes *do* change when one has kids. Every parent I know says this. And yet people without kids insist on disallowing experience as a qualification on kid-related issues.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:20 AM
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That doesn't make it not true, you know.

It doesn't make it true, either.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:22 AM
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Yes, dear.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:23 AM
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I mean, look, ready? Watch this:

"If you had the experiences I did in high school, you would realize that teens having sex is an unalloyed good for most, perhaps the best thing that can't happen to teenagers who aren't sure of the world around them, a description that applies to a clear majority of high schoolers."

Go ahead, make a counter-argument.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:24 AM
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Damn. I underestimated your inanity, B, and for that I apologize. I should never have doubted your ability to make things even more pointless.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:25 AM
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Yes, dear.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:26 AM
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I know you are, but what am I?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:29 AM
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You guys are making me laugh, but really, playing the trump card of "you don't know until you've experienced it" is about on a par with arguing by, or from, analogy.

Can we ban such experience trumps? Call it the trump ban? The experience trump ban? Unconvincing in the absence of further explanation and so on? This applies to 'you don't know if you're not a woman' as well: must be supported by explanation. This would be good, this ban.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:38 AM
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playing the trump card of "you don't know until you've experienced it" is about on a par with arguing by, or from, analogy.

The secret message behind 252 revealed at last!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:39 AM
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And for what it's worth, it *is* true that a lot of things one believes *do* change when one has kids. Every parent I know says this.

Sure, just like it's true that people really *do* understand when they grow up. It's still an obnoxious thing to say. Worse, it's not persuasive. At least, not on its own.

And yet people without kids insist on disallowing experience as a qualification on kid-related issues.

So the obnoxiousness goes both ways.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:43 AM
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The breakdown of the analogy ban is only a symptom of a declining moral order and jeremiads are called for. Not that I expect anyone over or under the height of 5'9" to understand this.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:43 AM
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I'm sorry you're short, foolismortal.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:44 AM
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Short? At 5' 9"? Go to Bolivia for a month, and then look me in the eye and tell me 5'9" is short.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:47 AM
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then look me in the eye

I'd have to bend down to do that. Sorry again.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:49 AM
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306: Yes, Sifu. Skip ahead to the call for a ban.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:51 AM
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Every parent I know says this.


Posted by: Pauline Kael | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:51 AM
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Returning to the theme of manipulation / power imbalances in relationships, I really lose respect for anyone if I detect that he/she is consciously exploiting a power imbalance in a romantic relationship. And exploiting the power imbalance of being more sexually attractive inspires especial resentment since it's somethnig I coujld never do.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:56 AM
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312: hey, I'm with ya.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:57 AM
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You don't have to CALL for a ban, parsimon, you can just ban somebody.

For example, peep is banned, for forcing us to confront the consequences of our carnivory in the snack food thread.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:01 AM
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316.1: I ban the form of argument that adverts to personal experience(s), in the absence of further explanation as to its relevance, import, implications.

Done.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:09 AM
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How does one actually call for a ban, given the existence of the formulation, "x is banned"?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:12 AM
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307: it's worse than that, though, because it assumes the lack of understanding is a one way street; you'll understand when you're [ like me ] whereas since I was (at one point) [ like you ], it is impossible that I don't understand everything you're feeling. I mean, I think teenagers are idiots, too, but to assume that because you were once that kind of idiot you remember perfectly what it was like, and can therefore make sage judgments about what they, with the benefit of hindsight, will wish they had done? That's a failure of empathy, at least.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:12 AM
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I've seen, with my own eyes, the consequences of bans like these. They lead, inevitably, to genocide. Trust me.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:12 AM
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But Ari, I want to perpetrate genocide really bad!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:15 AM
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You can only ban a person, not a style, par simon.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:16 AM
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317: But that is far too strict. I could say, "VB is a joke language, and I should know, I'm a programmer." That would be a perfectly valid argument; I know more about joke languages than your average caveman, and thus your average caveman should listen to me. The objectionable part is citing experience that is difficult, impossible, or stupid to obtain, thus allowing a protected rhetorical position.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:17 AM
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323: eh, I dunno, you could easily rephrase that argument as an appeal to facts rather than authority.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:19 AM
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241, Meet 163.

Good Lord, I think I've exhausted my monthly quota of sexually charged comments involving LizardBreath, and it's not even the 15th yet.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:21 AM
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Look me in the eye when you're the father or mother of a 14-year old daughter

It does seem to me that the "argument from presumed parental ick" is much too strong and could be used to support all sorts of entertaining arguments about things that hypothetical fathers might not want their daughters to do. And that the number 14 could probably be increased to ages well past majority.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:22 AM
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326: ayuh. Why not wear a Burqa, really? Much less distracting when you had ought to be studying.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:25 AM
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Furthermore, experience also biases, as 301 and 222 demonstrate. I doubt there are many parents out there who are crazy about their teenage children having sex, and I doubt there are many teenage children who aren't crazy about having sex, or having more, as the case may be. Those biases are positionally inherent. Absent a fair minded eunuch, arguments from personal authority don't matter too much.

But if I had to choose, I'd go with the sex.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:27 AM
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With respect to the dispute between Mary Catherine and Sifu et al, I take the sensible, moderate, middle ground position that teenage sexual activity is a delightful blessing that should not be feared or discouraged, except to the extent that it involves my daughters, in which case, ikk, over my dead body, etc.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:31 AM
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That said, argument from authority.
.1, obviously.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:39 AM
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330: hey, he isn't a senator yet.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:41 AM
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331: Wikipedia claims that Jack Handey is a real person, and was responsible for Toonces and Caveman Lawyer, among other things. You're probably thinking of Daily Affirmations.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:55 AM
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And while I wish Mr. Franken the best, he could never hold a candle to Phil Hartman. I'd've voted for him: "Hi, I'm President Hartman. You may remember me from such wars as "Destination: Tehran" and "Three Nights in Honduras."


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:00 AM
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I'm sure there are stupider things than deprecating the argument from experience, but none are occuring to me just now. Oh wait, maybe blanket rejection of 'you'll probably feel differently when you have a completely different stake in the game' is a good competitor. How do I know? Not only have I lived it, nearly everyone I know has lived it as well. It's a very rare 40 year old who agrees generally with her/his 20 year old self on the social issues.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:50 AM
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It's a very rare 40 year old who agrees generally with her/his 20 year old self on the social issues.

But this really isn't proving anything either way, as the world tends to change over the intervening 20 year period. After all, for the majority of the 20th century across a significant proportion of the world, "Look me in the eye when you're the father or mother of a (14-year old) daughter" could be, would be and was used as an argument against legalising interracial sex.

Would also note that this argument from hypothetical parental ick (which is not actually a form of "authority", by the way) also depends for its entire rhetorical force on a piece of fairly stinky sexism - would MC or anyone else have tried to stir us up to condemn teenage sex by trying to get us to think about how we'd feel if we had a teenage son?

I think Sifu's right on this; the argument "I have special secret information which would totally convince you, but sadly the nature of this information is such that you can't have it" is right up there with "lurkers agree with me in email". Look me in the eye when you're head of the FBI and tell me that you're against warrantless wiretapping.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:08 AM
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generally s/b completely


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:08 AM
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334: It's a very rare 40 year old who agrees generally with her/his 20 year old self on the social issues.

Yes, but in my experience as many become hypocritical kneejerk "do as I say, not as I did" dickheads versus wise voice of experience types. hence, "Just Say No", abstinence-only etc.

Plus what d2 said.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:09 AM
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I think that what MC was saying was that even though we're all theoretical adults, many of our ideas about family are formulated from the point of view of a teenager and what we didn't like (or in some cases, liked) about our own upbringing, and that once we see it from the parents' side (the other half of family, in the US) our ideas might change.

I have seven nieces who I know pretty well. Two of them were so virginical that I was surprised when they got boyfriends at all, one got into a really destructive party-girl scene but is doing fine now, one got into a destructive cult and probably isn't doing fine, one seems like she'd be ecstatic in the PDX bi scene, and the two who are entering puberty are frighteningly wild and crazy. The Portland hip scene, which they are well placed to join, does have a dark side, like lots of hip scenes, ad you end up thinking about that.

In my son's high school two of the top kids dated all through high school and then split up freshman year of college. Both fathers were PZ Meyers-ish science teachers and you wondered whether it wasn't an arranged hookup. But that destroys the very purpose of wild and crazy liberation, of course. Sinister carceral behavior by the Man who Knows.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:13 AM
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I don't know, maybe I'd worry more about boys if there were more 20-something women looking to go out with high school freshmen.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:18 AM
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I've argued this before to general disagreement, but there are a variety of physiological and social reasons why you worry differently about sons and daughters. Not necessarily more in every way, but differently.

Daughters are less likely to join street gangs and get killed that way, for example, and probably less likely to turn into Nazis, but more likely to get into abusive relationships or get pregnant, and many STDs are worse for girls.

i'm guilty of being a nice guy, too, but I have known a certain number of women whose lives were ruined or ended by charming, sexy bad guys. I'm trying to think of analogous F2M disasters and coming up short.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:22 AM
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(further to 339 -- I am the father of a male high school freshman. I would certainly object to a relationship that seemed predatory to me. If my advice were sought, I'd suggest that sexual activity even with a peer probably isn't a good idea.)

337 -- I have this kind of conversation often enough. 'You know, I did X and it turned out to be a real mistake because of consequences A, B, and C' may or may not work, but it's all you've got sometimes. The "bad" things I did that I don't think harmed me I stay quiet about . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:25 AM
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I can see raising kids to be tough and not worrying about them, but there are also reasons to raise kids to be nice, and if you do, you worry about their entry into the great world.

I've know tough people who were unreasonably suspicious and confrontational even in civilized circumstances, and there's a cost to that. But it's safer than being trusting and defenseless is harsh circumstances.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:34 AM
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there are a variety of physiological and social reasons why you worry differently about sons and daughters

well, surely it ought to be possible to make the case against sex in terms of those reasons then, rather than the parental-ick. At the very least, anyone making the HPI argument ought to recognise that it is actually a very weak one.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:38 AM
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I deny that hypothetical parental ick is a familiar enough concept to be acronymed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:42 AM
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341.2: Yes, I was painting with a rather broad brush. I have certainly had those discussions as well. However, I would rate the effectiveness of that rhetorical approach as rather poor. And my general impression of its use among my peers is that the discussions generally focus exclusively on the behaviors rather than the underlying root cause motivations for the behavior, which of course are often rooted in all the complexities of parent/child relationships. (Which of course often lead to destructive behavior, low self-esteem, rebellion, acting out etc. ... and you should see how the kids react!)

But of course your mileage may vary. I am now mostly through my third adolescent. As it turns out our family challenges through adolesence have generally not been the stereotypical ones. My views on teens have changed. My views on the parents of teens has changed as well, and generally not for the better.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:43 AM
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OK, let's go at it again. When a parent starts to sound like their own parent, even though they hated the way their own parents talked when they said those things, maybe it's not simply a good, free person going bad. Maybe in both cases the parent has some good points, even though in both cases the kid doesn't want to hear it. Parents have to be willing to be the bad guy. I could even see formally disapproving of something even though you know that they're going to do it anyway, and even though you're not really too terribly worried about that. I chose the straightforward path, but eveything has its costs and that does too.

Again, many parents are able to protect their kids by bringing them up in segregated upper middle class neighborhoods. You probably can be less watchful there than in a sketchy neighborhood. You'd really want to think about the ambient and customary level of predation in making these choices.

My own conclusion is that the parents of my cohorts who got the worst results were the rehab Christians and the weak, non-directional parents, two very distinct groups though some parents jump from one to the other in either direction. "Just do what makes you feel happy" isn't really usable advice; it's a goal, not a method.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:55 AM
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Specifically in regard to the topic at hand, I would say that in my suburban community (and others that I am aware of) the "standard" teen dating/sex/popularity system is basically an ongoing exploration of ways to unintentionally highlight the virgin/whore construction while encourging mindless consumerism. (And of course, YMMV.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:00 AM
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It's a very rare 40 year old who agrees generally with her/his 20 year old self on the social issues.

I'm not quite 40, but I agree with my 20 y.o. self pretty much across the board, though I was more mature at 20 than most of my peers. My girlfriend at the time nicknamed me "Old Man" because of my conservative temperament.

Other than that I pretty much endorse 334


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:05 AM
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I don't know, maybe I'd worry more about boys if there were more 20-something women looking to go out with high school freshmen.

I don't know, when I was a 17 year old boy, *I* was dating a 24 year old. They exist.

That's not 'freshman' age, but then again, neither is the hypothetical 17 year old girl either.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:08 AM
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You probably can be less watchful there than in a sketchy neighborhood.

In my experience, the kids being watched like a hawk are not the ones in the sketchy neighbourhoods. If you grow up in a genuinely sketchy neighbourhood, you don't really need it.*

I feel really sorry for people who move from non-sketchy ones INTO sketchy ones, though. They are basically stuffed.

* In the sense that most stuff you can probably handle, and the stuff you can't, your parents probably aren't much help with anyway.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:11 AM
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nd yet people without kids insist on disallowing experience as a qualification on kid-related issues.

One of my friends said, "now that I'm a dad, I believe abortion is definitely murder." He loves his new daughter. That's great. It doesn't mean he suddenly is a moral authority on abortion, or that he just has to say that and that's the end of the argument.

I think what's being disallowed is not experience, but nebulous references to that experience that assert X is right without giving reasons for X. Moreover, there's no particular connection (at least no one can articulate it) between Y having a kid and Y having a better reason for disliking teenage sex. (And note, it's not being the parents of a teenager that does it, just being a parent. How much "experience" do we have here? Emerson, CharleyCarp, Stormcrow.)

It's not the different experiences, it's the assumption that the mere fact of having a kid means you win the argument. (No, no, it's not being an intelligent woman. You must get knocked up before you can be a real grownup.)



Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:12 AM
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347 makes me think that I need to send Iris to Waldorf School until she's 20. She can learn to read in college.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:13 AM
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Oh wait, maybe blanket rejection of 'you'll probably feel differently when you have a completely different stake in the game' is a good competitor.

It's not rejecting the fact, of course, that one's opinions can change with time. It's that one's opinions changing counts as a trump card in an argument, without ever giving reasons why.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:14 AM
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It's a very rare 40 year old who agrees generally with her/his 20 year old self on the social issues.

I've got a month to go before 40, but I'm one of the rare ones, I guess.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:18 AM
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re; 354

Ditto, I'm 37 in a couple of months. I feel pretty much exactly the same about most things as I did when I was 17.

In all of these Unfogged threads---and there have been many on similar topics---I'm always surprised at how stupid and venal a lot of (male) Unfogged commentators think teenagers (especailly teenage males) are.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:23 AM
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Cala, you can say what you want, but judgments about parent-child relationships coming from non-parents are entirely from the child's perspective. An enormous proportion of the liberal / hip discourse about family is basically adult kids talking about their relationship to their parents. There's a pretty bad skew there.

I don't deny that some people use parenthood as an unarguable trump card, but there's a legitimate perspectivist argument there.

ttaM, in my son's sketchy neighborhood some parents were very strict and some (including me) were laissez faire. Some kids sank and some kid swam. From a novelist's point of view it was interesting, but all in all, I now think that my kid would have been better off if he hadn't had to negotiate his way through some of that stuff. I didn't think so at the time, actually.

In general, you do not want to live in places that exciting novels are written about. You want to live in places where novelists are frustrated because there isn't enough shit going down. (Poor John Updike.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:24 AM
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FWIW, I'm more pro-teen sex now than when I was a teen, but they fucked me up, my mum and the Roman Catholic Church.

I'm a lot more freaked out by the pre-teen sexuality that all the kids seem to be into these days, but the prospect of Iris as an actual teen having sex - well, it's icky, but so is the thought of my sister having sex (ick). I don't intend to object to it. Provide some stodgy advice, sure, but not actually freak out about it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:27 AM
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In my son's high school there was an enormous amount of stupidity and a fair amount of viciousness. One quite nice kid I knew, a kid I liked, ended up trashing his ex girlfriend. I think that some of my differences from the European commentators here come from having different datasets.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:28 AM
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ttaM, in my son's sketchy neighborhood some parents were very strict and some (including me) were laissez faire. Some kids sank and some kid swam.

There was a fair bit of strict parenting where I grew up, at the level of 'what I say in this house is law' but it didn't extend out much into the wider community. I'm not really sure it was about protecting the kid from the environment.

I now think that my kid would have been better off if he hadn't had to negotiate his way through some of that stuff. I didn't think so at the time, actually.

I don't know. I think the whole experience was a net positive for me. But I can see how it might not have been for someone else.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:30 AM
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Not only have I lived it, nearly everyone I know has lived it as well

Otoh, it's probably a mistake to think of this as progress.



Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:31 AM
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I think that some of my differences from the European commentators here come from having different datasets.

I came from a pretty rough area, all things considered. If there are differences in dataset they aren't due to social deprivation or those sorts of issues.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:31 AM
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354 - We ought to form a club of the people who actually did have it pretty much figured out at 20. Assuming you agree with me and my 20 y.o. self, that is.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:32 AM
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I don't deny that some people use parenthood as an unarguable trump card, but there's a legitimate perspectivist argument there.

No one is denying that parents have a different perspective, or that Having a Baby Changes Everything. [chimey commercial music.] The question is what that mere fact (as opposed to an argument based on that perspective) amounts to.

Why does JRoth's squeamishness about Iris getting it on trump Sifu's belief that he turned out okay, w.r.t. whether teenage sex is okay?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:34 AM
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Ditto, I'm 37 in a couple of months. I feel pretty much exactly the same about most things as I did when I was 17.

Likewise. Of course, I'd spent some time living on my own by then, which arguably put me in a different place than many 17 year olds (at least in this society).


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:35 AM
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Specifically, I think that the virgin/whore frame may have disappeared from most of Europe, even Catholic Europe.

Peripheral, but I really hated Madonna at the time. "Material Girl" and "Poppa don't preach" really were message songs, and sort of creepy too. Madonna played to the liberationists, and to the ironists, but she played to the stone age traditionalists too, and to the mall shopping culture, and so on. She was a master of niche-marketing and self-reinvention, two good reasons to hate her.

And like a lot of reformed sluts and whoremongers, she's raising her daughters strict. As did Normal Mailer.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:35 AM
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re: 364

I had left full time education and was working at 17, but not actually living on my own. But yeah, my life didn't have much in common with the stereotypical infant-18-year-old that gets invoked here sometimes.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:36 AM
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Specifically, I think that the virgin/whore frame may have disappeared from most of Europe, even Catholic Europe.

That might be true, yeah. Or at least US attitudes to sexuality do seem antediluvian.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:37 AM
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Specifically, I think that the virgin/whore frame may have disappeared from most of Europe, even Catholic Europe.

Maybe. Certainly not in rape trials, where it remains the favourite frame of defence lawyers.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:40 AM
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352: 347 makes me think that I need to send Iris to Waldorf School until she's 20.

I will say, however, that there are a lot of avenues available for opting out of that scene (and I actually do think the Internet "helps" in that regard), so you and your kids certainly aren't bound to it. But of course if you do that does carry the "costs" of being out-of-step with your community. Also take everything I say on this with a grain of salt, I am going through a grumpy re-assessment of just about every choice we've made as parents. "In the end, we don't like our community" is one small part of it, but of course we chose to live there. I surprised my parents and sibs by going on a rant in that vein over Labor Day. Them: But I thought xxxx was a good school district. Me: Yes, yes good academics, but fuck that fucking shit, fucking Republican asswipe, fucktards, conformist, hypocritical, backstabbing consumerist, control freaks.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:41 AM
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Yes, yes good academics, but fuck that fucking shit, fucking Republican asswipe, fucktards, conformist, hypocritical, backstabbing consumerist, control freaks.

Heh.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:44 AM
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369: And I recognize that it is a personal luxury to even be in a position to have such complaints about my community. But murderous, unprincipled idiots like McCain/Palin are still in the race due to the endless treadmill of unthinking conformist strivers that communities like mine continue to churn out.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:45 AM
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Yeah, Cala, and you apparently don't think it amounts to anything, from what you've said.

I'd say that MC's opening statement made sense as a vigorous introduction to an argument, though not as the whole argument.

We're actually getting into the dread analytic philosophy rant territory -- analytic philosophy believes that the way to truth begins with decontexting. From that point of view I suppose JRoth's thinking in terms of an actual daughter pollutes his judgment, whereas Sifu's thinking in terms of a hypothetical daughter is more objective.

there is a point of view according to which people who have direct experience of something have a specific advantage over people who don't, even if it isn't a kryptonite trump card.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:47 AM
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Why does JRoth's squeamishness about Iris getting it on

First of all, I hope AB doesn't pick this thread to read what I say here.

Second, to be clear, my point is that I expect to feel squeamish, but I don't expect for that to lead to an anti-sex position. AB was and is pro-teen sex, and I agree, so the issue will mostly come up at the margins - is she too young (at say 14), or is that boy a bad one to start with?

I'm still ten years out from really dealing with this, but my gut sense is that the anti-teen sex brigade is primarily working off of a traditionalist morality that is hypocritical in practice, but not in theory. By which I mean that, when they were having fun teen sex themselves, they never abandoned the traditionalism, but consciously bucked it. They never really believed it was OK when they did it, but they did it anyway.

Not sure if I'm making myself clear, and I hope no one gets defensive about it - I'm not trying to make accusations, but to be descriptive, based partly on my own experience as a traditionalist teen. I spent my 21st and 22nd years transitioning from conservative, traditionalist positions to very liberal ones, ones that haven't changed much in subsequent years. But when I was a traditionalist and did bad things, I was always conscious that they were wrong, not imagining that I was fighting the System, man. I would imagine that, had I stayed in that mindset, I would have ended up as a 40-y.o. with a big problem with teen sex.

"It was wrong when I did it, and it's wrong for you to do it."


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:55 AM
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373 by me, obvs.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:55 AM
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JRoth makes a good point in #357: A lot of us do have experience of having had a fourteen-year-old sister, and having all sorts of opinions about how she ought to be "protected" from the world. At present, I tend toward believing that most of these opinions were pretty much insincere, controlling, sexist bullshit - perhaps I'm going to change my mind again in ten years' time, but I'd like to know the reason why, because otherwise it seems to me that this sort of a preference is a really bad basis for any sensible discussion of the subject.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:57 AM
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Note that yesterday I was saying that the intense mostly-negative obsession with under-18 sex and with age-inappropriate sex is weird and relatively new, whereas today I'm saying that it's OK for parents to be concerned about underage sex. Paradox!

But since American life is antediluvian in some respects, you have to deal with it. In my son's HS a girl who trusted the wrong boy could have her life made a living hell.

And a lot of the problem is this curious sort of limbo sexual adult teenagers are in between 15 and 18. I've also argue that most smart kids should move away from home and start college at 16, and I wouldn't be upset if they behaved like 18 year old collge kids do, with hopefully some adults watching out for the worst problems.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 7:59 AM
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and also, I have not forgotten my earlier objection; that there are all sorts of sexual minorities who come out very badly from the "hypothetical parental ick" test; anyone using this argument surely has to be prepared to defend a much more general prudish and illiberal stance, because that's what it would lead to.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:00 AM
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Yeah, Cala, and you apparently don't think it amounts to anything, from what you've said.

No, I've said that merely asserting 'I have a different perspective' doesn't mean you win an argument. This has nothing to do with analytic philosophy, just that 'look me in the eye when you have a fourteen year old daughter' doesn't mean all that much unless you can explain it. Not discounting the value of a different perspective, just saying that merely asserting that it exists doesn't amount to much.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:02 AM
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Yes, yes good academics, but fuck that fucking shit, fucking Republican asswipe, fucktards, conformist, hypocritical, backstabbing consumerist, control freaks.

Something I feel pretty confident I will never say about my community. One of the most interesting things about switching schools is the radical shift in parental community. At Iris' old school/day care, downtown, almost all of the other parents were WAY more traditional/traditionalist than we are: suburban, consumerist, mass media-friendly, even a Republican or two. At Waldorf School, AB & I are much more at the right margin, near as we can tell. Maybe not by much - and there are a few suburbanites - but we don't feel like we're in the center of the group.

On a separate note, I must say that every time I see even a single McCain-Palin yard sign, I seriously want to ring the doorbell and ask, "WTF is wrong with you?"

WDYDTWTGOE? Got into a fistfight with a stranger.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:03 AM
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377: It's sort of asymmetrical though. If I had a lesbian daughter that would be a relief. A gay son, not.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:05 AM
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re: 375

Yeah. I have a younger sister. I didn't actually really feel most of these quasi-paternal urges to protect her but several of my friends did [about their sisters] which even at the time seemed really fucking hypocritical.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:06 AM
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375: No no, I mean it's still icky to think about my now-41 y.o. sister having sex. My dad too, for that matter (I don't know if it's better or worse that it's not with my mom).

I'm actually probably not that far to the icky side of the scale compared with society as a whole, but for someone without a lot of body issues or sexuality hangups, I'm still not esp. sanguine about thinking about family members having sex.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:08 AM
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Note that yesterday I was saying that the intense mostly-negative obsession with under-18 sex and with age-inappropriate sex is weird and relatively new, whereas today I'm saying that it's OK for parents to be concerned about underage sex. Paradox!

Fascinatingly, I did exactly the same flipflop in the opposite direction. I think of adult-teen relationships as problematic and cause for concern, because of the possibility of coercion or manufactured consent. Teen sex with reasonably age-appropriate peers, on the other hand, is something that I think they need to figure out for themselves, with the same sort of parental guidance they get for any other issue involving a transition to adulthood.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:09 AM
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Ooh, and I just want to highlight something good that water moccasin said way back in 11:

Yet all are referred to as "children" when it suits someone making a political point.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:10 AM
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When my mom was about 70 and had been widowed for a year or two, she expressed an interest in Baryshnikov. We put a stop to that: "Mom!!"

He's gay, anyway, right?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:14 AM
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And of course, LB gets it exactly right in 383.

I don't see any upside to big age-difference relationships for teens, especially starting out (ie, 16/14 bugs me a lot more than 18/16). I recognize the emotional maturity split complicates things, but I have a hard time seeing a senior boy dating a freshman girl as anything other than exploitative (and likely bad along other axes, introducing other behaviors prematurely).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:15 AM
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Isn't the difference just that attitudes towards risk change as you become older (and become a parent)? My 1 year old likes to grab a lot of random things from shelves and throw them on the floor, which looks like a lot of the fun but about 30% of the time puts her at risk of having something fall on her head. I want her to have fun, but don't really trust her judgment to assess the risks, which is why we keep out a watchful eye.

I'm not saying that teenagers are like one year olds, but I'd say, roughly, that teenage sex has about an 50% chance of being awesome and a 50% chance of going really, horribly awry in some way, and that teenagers aren't particularly good about calculating those risks, so it makes sense to keep out a watchful eye and try to mitigate the harm. I don't think banning your teenager from having sex is a particularly good rule (even if you could enforce it), but I'm not too persuaded by the "I had sex at 16 and it was frickin' awesome argument." Even though it was.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:16 AM
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I've seen, with my own eyes, the consequences of bans like these. They lead, inevitably, to genocide

LOOK ME IN THE EYE WHEN YOU'RE REICHSCHANCELLOR AND TELL ME YOU WOULDN'T WANT TO KILL ALL THE JEWS


Posted by: OPINIONATED HITLER | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:16 AM
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385: Now that's interesting: I have no problem with the concept of them as sexual beings - either of them commenting on the hotness of so-and-so - just with the thinking of the actual act.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:17 AM
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Maybe I'm just saying that the transition to adulthood should be at age 16 instead of 18. A fair amount of my apprehensions are oriented to the toxic American HS environment. I think that the whole 14-18 period is a disaster.

Of course, it shouldn't be hard to show that the American HS disaster is a disaster of policy with deep cultural and political causes, rather than a disaster of incompetence or inadvertance.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:19 AM
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Right. I'm reporting my instinct here, rather than having a well-developed argument, but my sense is that non-problematic age-differences are very small at first, and widen pretty quickly as they get older. In high school, I'm happiest with kids dating in their grade; in college, any undergrads can date any other undergrads; under 24 or so, you should probably keep it to people under or close to 30, and after around 24, I'm just not worried at all -- a big enough gap might leave me bemused, but not concerned.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:20 AM
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and after around 24, I'm just not worried at all -- a big enough gap might leave me bemused, but not concerned.

But surely the difference in "maturity" and the ability to manipulate others that goes along with it is quite significant between a 25-year-old and a 45-year-old as well.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:22 AM
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387.2: I think that your odds are pretty far off. The only "really, horribly awry" outcomes of teen sex are pregnancy and certain STDs, and those are nothing like 50/50 outcomes. Anything else doesn't require intercourse to happen - emotional distress? Sexual confusion? Physical humiliation? All can happen starting with a french kiss, or even holding hands in the cafeteria.

I think there's a tendency to look at the fucked-up emotional world of teens and blame it on sex, as opposed to blaming it on the fucked-up emotions of teens.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:24 AM
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Regarding an argument far above, everyone was once a kid, but some have never been parents.

Ever since my son was born I've just taken it for given that far too much of the discourse about parenting, especially the hip liberationist discourse, comes from non-parents, and far too much is dominated by the way people feel about their own parents. Not that their experience shoud be repressed, but that it shouldn't be dominant.

And in some cases, people are dominated by grudges against their parents.

And then you have the counseling entrepreneurs.

Dobson vs. Bradshaw. A plague on both of them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:25 AM
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391 to 386.

To 387: Isn't part of the riskiness problem that it's a realm where kids can't really turn to their parents for help or advice because everything's presumptively forbidden? I'm not talking about details, but there's a level on which you can talk about relationship issues that's very confused if the underlying assumption is "You're just telling me that he's a bad guy because you don't want me having sex with anyone!" If the latter isn't an assumption, a parent has a little more leverage to be helpful on the relationship issues.

I didn't have a terrible relationship with my parents, but they never knew who I was involved with, or that I was involved with anyone other than on the running around with friends level, because I didn't want to get into disapproval of my sexual behavior. Buck is literally the first guy they officially knew I was dating while I was dating him, and I met him while I was 24.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:25 AM
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392: Not really, IMO. It's a sliding scale, of course, and everyone keeps on learning and growing, but a 25 year-old's ability to say "Yeah, screw that" and walk away from a bad situation seems to me to be at about as adult a level as it's going to get. (And 25 there is an outside edge -- some people are still very emotionally young in their early 20s but plenty aren't.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:29 AM
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390 I agree. I think that by 16 youth should not be cut any slack of the "but s/he's just a kid" variety. Expecting bad behavior from teenagers just makes the problem worse. Maturity grows in part from within, but it's also imposed from without.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:30 AM
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Dobson vs. Bradshaw. A plague on both of them.

You Vikings fans are a bitter lot.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:32 AM
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I would feel wrong dating a 102 year old. It's not as though I have no concern for age-appropriateness at all.

The 83-year-old lady next door moved in with her 72-year-old friend. She was worried about her reputation, but everyone told her go ahead. It's really funny, too, because when she was young her reputation was awful.

The 72 year old is the brawniest guy that age I've ever seen. He has enormous forearms and is not a bit fat or decrepit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:32 AM
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393 -- Yeah, you might well be right that a 50% chance of a really bad outcome is way high, at least if we're just confining ourselves to teen to teen sex and not teen/adult sex. And you're probably also right that teen relationships probably do more harm than "teen sex" -- I remember some friends who got completely screwed up by dating assholes (both men and women) but the problem there was the relationship, not the sex qua sex. I mean, they were having sex, but the sex was probably the best thing about those relationships.

397 -- I had the same kind of relationship with my parents, and it sucked, so I'm hoping the same pattern won't replicate itself in the future. I'd like to find a way to talk at least semi-honestly with my daughter, when she becomes a teen, about relationships and not just avoid everything until she shows up with a fiancee. Maybe that will work. But this might just be a total pipe dream of a pretty new parent.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:36 AM
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397 s/b 395.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:37 AM
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I like foolishmortal's 328. If teens really want to have sex because, hey, who doesn't want sex, and parents of teens really don't want their kid having sex because, hey, they're little idiots and ewwww, then neither really count as unbiased opinions. There's not a particularly good reason to think that the parent's viewpoint is the most objective and correct in this situation. In fact, I'd say that the 20-something or 30-something who re-examines their teenage actions through the prism of adulthood could probably stake as good of a claim to understanding the long-term consequences of that teenage behavior and the parental actions regarding it.

400.2: It's quite possible to have a fairly open and friendly relationship with the teenage kid. I certainly had one with my parents. You may not ever approve of the sex, but they could easily know that you're willing to help and they can trust you should any problems arise.

I think a lot of this is easier if one is no longer living in the parents' house as a teen. This is why I support boarding school.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:07 AM
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LB is making sense. The other reason to say "yay, teen sex!" is that it's going to happen regardless, and if they trust you not to be a moralizing scold who deprecates their desires in favor of their presumed idiocy maybe they'll listen to your advice about how best to go about it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:07 AM
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Ooh! I just figured out the analogy I wanted for 373*: suburban kids moving to the city as young adults. For some of them, it's a real paradigm shift, and even if they don't stick it out in Park Slope (or Canarsie), they abandon forever suburban notions of the Scary City. But for most such people, the city is a stage of life, and you return to the 'burbs as soon as you get married, and you talk to your neighbors about how filthy and expensive it is there, and how it's filled with people like that, and how you'd have to be crazy to raise kids there.

* I'll say it - I'm glad ogged's not here, with his Rules for Discourse


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:16 AM
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but a 25 year-old's ability to say "Yeah, screw that" and walk away from a bad situation seems to me to be at about as adult a level as it's going to get.

25 is what I consider to be the age of accountability in terms of thinking through the big general ethical questions. As in, a 23 year old who hasn't thought about the war in Iraq makes me roll my eyes, but a 25 year old is negligent if they've never formed an opinion. A 23 year old who makes sexist or racist comments is grating, a 25 year old who does so is negligent. That sort of thing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:16 AM
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as opposed to blaming it on the fucked-up emotions of teens.

magnified by the fucked up way this society corals them having no better idea what to do with them.

Retrospectively, one of the best things I did was opt out of high school, but I can't say I'd recommend it. It worked out ok for me mostly because I'm unreasonably lucky.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:18 AM
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in 406 I meant recommend doing it the way I did.

There are probably much better options for some people.


heebie is right too (naturally), somewhere around 25 is a line where I cut people a lot less slack.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:20 AM
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But for most such people, the city is a stage of life, and you return to the 'burbs as soon as you get married, and you talk to your neighbors about how filthy and expensive it is there, and how it's filled with people like that, and how you'd have to be crazy to raise kids there.

You know, I get along fine with actual rural or suburban people when I run into them. The people you're describing here? Hate. Hate. Want to refer to them as "those people". Partially that's because as an urban twenty-something you end up socializing with them, and then you hear their rationalizations for moving out of the city. Ick.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:20 AM
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In all of these Unfogged threads ... I'm always surprised at how stupid and venal a lot of (male) Unfogged commentators think teenagers (especailly teenage males) are.

Somewhat tangential response:

I suspect that this is partially a result of people in the process of absorbing the lessons of feminism (and I mean that as a positive). If you believe that strict gender roles cause lots of problems and you believe that Middle and High School is a social environment that places a lot of emphasis on strict gender roles, you can find yourself uncomfortable about a lot of the social behavior of teenagers.

If you add to that an additional wariness about people claiming "male privilege" it can push strongly towards seeing a lot of teenage male behavior as obnoxious rather than neutral and just part of the learning process.

As I say, I think those are probably good instincts to cultivate, but it's also worth push back -- particularly in a discussion like this where that concern can dovetail so easily with the traditional model of boys as predatory and girls as vulnerable.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:22 AM
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Going back to the experience argument, I positively value arguments from experience, and don't wish to see any chilling effect on them much less a ban. One of the things I value about this place is the chance to get perspective from people who have had different experiences. Parenthood in particular, I want to hear about what life is like in that strange and distant country, in case I ever travel there myself.

I think it's more that the you'll-be-disgusted-when-you-have-a-daughter argument isn't a particularly good argument from experience. It's not saying, here's something about teenagers I have observed as a parent that makes me see how sex is harmful to them. It's just saying that family members are squicked by the sexuality of other family members, which we all already knew.

An enormous proportion of the liberal / hip discourse about family is basically adult kids talking about their relationship to their parents. There's a pretty bad skew there.

Very true, and you can add to that it's mostly adult kids that have grown up in a particularly family-unfriendly culture (the U.S.) where a very sharp psychic separation from your parents during adolescence/young adulthood is normative. It's be interesting to see if there's a difference in how liberal, hip, somewhat westernized types from really different cultures (e.g. India, Asia) talk about their parents.

Peripheral, but I really hated Madonna at the time...like a lot of reformed sluts and whoremongers, she's raising her daughters strict.

The aristocracy has layers of secrecy and hypocrisy that the lower middle class can only dream of. Have faith that her daughters will party hard.

The Portland hip scene, which they are well placed to join, does have a dark side, like lots of hip scenes, ad you end up thinking about that.

anecdotes, please.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:23 AM
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405 is purest condensed crazy.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:30 AM
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On the parent/child split in looking at things: Clearly being in the position of parent-of-teenager gives you new information, but it's also as fraught with perspective skew as the childs role.

Sometimes all you are doing is understanding why you are repeating the mistakes that your parents made. It doesn't make them any less mistakes, though it may be comforting to think so.

Take it away, Philip Larkin ...


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:30 AM
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I suspect that this is partially a result of people in the process of absorbing the lessons of feminism (and I mean that as a positive). If you believe that strict gender roles cause lots of problems and you believe that Middle and High School is a social environment that places a lot of emphasis on strict gender roles, you can find yourself uncomfortable about a lot of the social behavior of teenagers.

Right, and particularly American teenage gender roles suck. I'm remembering that ATM thread with Wodehouse/pants-off kid (who, if you're reading, W/p-oK, didn't seem like a bad guy to me at all, just a teenager), thinking about having sex with a girl he knew that he wasn't particularly interested in/impressed by, but who he was pretty sure would go for it. And almost all the Americans said don't, on the grounds that it would be a shitty thing to do, and dsquared (can't recall if ttaM was in the conversation) said, aaah, go for it. Part of that was dsquaredish contrarianism, but part of it seemed to be working from a different set of social assumptions, where the odds that a boy having sex with a girl he didn't think much of would treat her badly as a result were a whole lot lower.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:32 AM
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I suspect that this is partially a result of people in the process of absorbing the lessons of feminism (and I mean that as a positive).

No, I don't think it is. The rhetoric normally goes "I was a grubby little shit when I was 17, so I know what grubby little shits boys are".


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:33 AM
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411: Does it work better if you read it as "Somewhere between 2 and 4 years after you're off on your own, responsible for your own life, I'm going to start holding you responsible for your unseemly opinions?" College kids seem to think a lot of stupid stuff, and then get better, but the ones who are still stupid well into their 20s don't get better.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:34 AM
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405 is purest condensed crazy.

Why?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:34 AM
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re: 413

I was part of the conversation. I wasn't full on 'go for it' but I was against the whole pearl-clutching "oh no, she'll destroy her precious virtue".*

* possible mild exaggeration.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:35 AM
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||

LB - I saw a young woman wearing a Distinctive Classics-centric College t-shirt the other day, and she had on glasses that are like the ones that I think you wear, and I thought, "Dr. Oops!" But I realized that A. Dr. Oops probably does not walk around wearing college t-shirts and a backpack anymore, and B. Dr. Oops is probably tall, not short.

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:36 AM
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you talk to your neighbors about how filthy and expensive it is there, and how it's filled with people like that, and how you'd have to be crazy to raise kids there.

I think the city is a great place to raise kids (depending on specific schools or home-schooling possibilities, of course). It's a constant flow of learning and stimulus, and kids generally love that and are equipped to handle it. But it's harder on stressed adults, because of noise and cramped space. I think of moving out to the suburbs as something adults do to give themselves more space and quiet to deal with the extra stresses of childrearing.

405: 25 is the new the age of majority!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:36 AM
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416: fwiw, i didn't like your examples though I agree there is a very rough line where my expectations of people rise. I don't think there is a checklist of things people ought to have done by age X, though, so much as (if it's someone I actually know well enough) a vague sense of maturity expected.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:37 AM
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re: 416

25 is just an insanely late age to draw that line.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:37 AM
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Can it conceivably be true that British male teenagers are less likely to treat girls that they don't like but have sex with badly? Sounds like the propaganda machine from Brits looking to get laid is working pretty well.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:37 AM
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420: And it's not a hard line at 25, either, I have pretty high expectations of 20 year old compared to 15, etc.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:38 AM
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The rhetoric normally goes "I was a grubby little shit when I was 17, so I know what grubby little shits boys are".

The general social rhetoric or the unfogged rhetoric specifically. I've seen that argument on unfogged, but it isn't the only one. I don't think that's what Emerson, for example, is saying.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:39 AM
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417: Yeah, I think not just exaggeration but misunderstanding. I don't think there would have been any pearl-clutching (or much, anyway), if the W/p-ok had sounded like he was fond of, or liked, or didn't have contempt for, the girl; no one was worried about her virtue as such. The worry was that he'd have sex with her and then be a shit about it, and that was a reasonably well founded worry in an American high school social scene, but apparently, from your and dsquared's reaction, less so in an UK high school.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:40 AM
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Sometimes all you are doing is understanding why you are repeating the mistakes that your parents made. It doesn't make them any less mistakes, though it may be comforting to think so.

+10.

When I was a young adult, I viewed "Stop acting like such a baby" as one of the worst things a parent could deploy; now I use it with alarming frequency (yes, Iris's dirty secret is out - she's not always Pure Delight). I don't even know if I have a theory about why it's not so bad, but I don't feel bad about it, only hypocritical. If I have a rationalization, it's that I'm basically modeling my mom's parenting, which I thought and think was excellent, but I don't have the tool of spanking, which my mom deployed judiciously and effectively.*

* A single swat, delivered at the very moment of the infraction - no confusion about cause, no mucked-up issues about "wait until we get home/your father gets home."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:41 AM
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418: Notably so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:41 AM
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25 is the new the age of majority!

25 is just an insanely late age to draw that line.

I'm perfectly comfortable declaring that you're accountable for your actions earlier than you're accountable for your reasoning and forming opinions.

By 18, don't commit crimes because you'll go to jail. By 25, don't commit acts which violate your personal ethical code, because they violate your personal ethical code.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:42 AM
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At 15, you are old enough to be tried as an adult for criminal charges.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:44 AM
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422 gets it right.

What happened to the alternate narrative in which girls use their wiles and charms to get boys to fawn all over them and do their homework and buy them fancy dinners and whatnot, while boys are too clumsy and immature to really know what's going on beyond their immediate desires and therefore are unable to manipulate girls even if they tried?

That may not be true either but I remember more instances in high school that fit that narrative, although I was not exactly a disinterested observer.

John cited earlier all these things that could go wrong for teenagers as a result of having sex that were worse for girls than for boys. But most of these (diseases, pregnancy, ostracism) are not the result of some sort of power imbalance between the boy and the girl.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:45 AM
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I had the same kind of relationship with my parents, and it sucked, so I'm hoping the same pattern won't replicate itself in the future. I'd like to find a way to talk at least semi-honestly with my daughter, when she becomes a teen, about relationships and not just avoid everything until she shows up with a fiancee. Maybe that will work. But this might just be a total pipe dream of a pretty new parent.

I still have the kind of relationship that LB had with her parents and frankly I think it is awesome.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:46 AM
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re: 42

No, we just don't think that having consensual sex with someone that you later regret having sex with or who you turn out not to be in love with is a particularly horrific outcome. Plus, we don't buy into the 'boys try to get sex, girls try to keep it' thing. It doesn't fit well with reality.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:53 AM
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re: 428

It's still crazily late. 25 is WAY WAY WAY past any reasonable threshold of adulthood and that includes reasoning or whatever else.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:54 AM
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No, we just don't think that having consensual sex with someone that you later regret having sex with or who you turn out not to be in love with is a particularly horrific outcome.

This isn't just a cross-the-pond difference though. What many people relate as their experience as teens or the social expectations of same here bears almost no relationship to my experience, either.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:56 AM
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My parents were rather like LB's, with my dad referring to any boyfriend as 'your buddy' or 'your friend' until sometime after I was engaged. But the weirdest development post-marriage regarding parental relationships has been how open and relaxed my mother is about sex when she has a married daughter. It's like she's been waiting for years for sex to be okay to talk about.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:57 AM
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433: If I agree that it's way, way late, I'm in the uncomfortable spot of having to really condemn Jammies's younger siblings, which I prefer not to do yet.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:57 AM
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It's like she's been waiting for years for sex to be okay to talk about.

bizarre.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:58 AM
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433 -- Right, but the point's really that Brits don't think that it's that big a deal to be treated badly (or regret) having sex with someone you had as a teen, not that British boys treat British girls better, which is what I took LB to be saying.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:58 AM
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I'm in the uncomfortable spot of having to really condemn Jammies's younger siblings, which I prefer not to do yet.

But that's part of the job, Heebie. Sorry, but that's just the way it goes.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:58 AM
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re: 438

I didn't say ANYTHING about it being OK to be treated badly.

My point is that having meaningless but consensual sex with someone isn't an instance of being treated badly.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:01 AM
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No, we just don't think that having consensual sex with someone that you later regret having sex with or who you turn out not to be in love with is a particularly horrific outcome.

Of course, this wasn't the situation; it wasn't "I'm not sure I'm in love" but "I am nurturing contempt for her, but I think I need to get laid in order to go to college."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:02 AM
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re: 436

That's just cognitive dissonance, though, no?

You don't get to set improbably high thresholds of responsibility just because some people think stupid shit at an age when they really ought know better.

[Reading that back it comes off as a bit harsh, not my intention, honest!]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:02 AM
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re: 441

Well, yeah. but I wasn't in the dsquared camp. I was just reacting against the 'oh noes, she will be wounded for teh life' camp.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:03 AM
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433, 438: Huh. The whole "behaving like a shit" thing I was talking about is what you could also call 'slut shaming'; gossiping about how unattractive and sexually inappropriate the girl was, based on the undeniable fact that she had sex with someone outside of a stable 'true love' kind of relationship. My sense of American adolescence is that there's still a whole lot of that, and from the way the UK types talk, that it's a less available form of bad behavior in the UK.

So, not that UK types take the same kind of hurt feelings more lightly than people in the US, but that there are social dynamics that genuinely give rise to more hurt feelings here than there.

I could be wrong -- my knowledge of American high schools is twenty years out of date, and of UK high schools is nil.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:04 AM
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re: 434

Yeah, this has come up before. I suspect there may be some sort of class issue coming in to play.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:04 AM
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CJB, why are you having relationships with LB's parents? Does she know that you're pretending to be her?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:07 AM
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436 is half-joking, of course.

But I really do stand by 25, which I think gives someone time to disentangle themselves from a heavily influential hometown or family. Before that, it's easy to think through the issues if you're brought up in an environment that expects it of you. But it's never easy to think things through if you're from an environment that views independent thinking with suspicion. Those kids have a much bigger task at hand. I'm willing to grant them until 25.

I suspect 25 sounds ludicrously old to ttaM because there aren't enclaves that are so suspicious of critical thinking in England.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:07 AM
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I suspect 25 sounds ludicrously old to ttaM because there aren't enclaves that are so suspicious of critical thinking in England.

See, there's this thing called the Daily Mail ....


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:08 AM
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CJB, why are you having relationships with LB's parents? Does she know that you're pretending to be her?

Shhhhh. I am hoping to get a cut of the inheritance.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:09 AM
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But are people who read tabloids really determined to be cut-off from everything else? In the way that small towns in Texas are?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:10 AM
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Heh. If you're in for a proportional share of the costs of long term care, I could go for that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:10 AM
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I seem to remember that the alternative proposal was that he should sit down with her and say, unprompted "look, darling, I'm never going to have sex with you because you're ugly and boring", and that this would be a load off her mind which would leave her skipping off to college, happy and carefree (and since he had already decided to badmouth her to a bunch of complete strangers on the internet, what were the chances of him acting like a gentleman with his classmates?). Basically I had already assumed he was a horrendous ass, and was hoping against hope that the all-consuming rush of affection and gratitude when he popped his cherry might have had the effect of a crude susbtitute for hormonal therapy.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:10 AM
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440 -- So now I'm confused. Is there a claim that boys in the UK are less likely to have "sex with her and then be a shit about it" than Americans are? If so, what is the conceivable basis for this claim? Or is the claim just that Brits are more cool with the casual sex than Americans?

Of course, I am only harping on this critically important issue because my arch-nemesis in high school was an exchange student (from Eton, no less) who most definitely had a lot of sex and was most definitely a shit about it. USA! USA!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:11 AM
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re: 444

I'm sure that sort of shaming goes on. This isn't some post-feminist idyll. But it does seem less central. It seems to dominate discourse here in a way that's sort of freaky.

I can remember a little bit of "so and so did such and such with so and so at so and so's party" gossip at school which was fairly prurient but nothing like the sort of dynamic described here. Which, fwiw, soup biscuit says doesn't really reflect his experience either.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:11 AM
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Or is the claim just that Brits are more cool with the casual sex than Americans?

This, making the fact that a girl has had casual sex less likely to be used as social leverage against her.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:13 AM
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re: 450

Probably not. BBC, etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:13 AM
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my knowledge of American high schools is twenty years out of date, and of UK high schools is nil.

The Breakfast Club vs. St. Trinian's. Compare and Contrast.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:14 AM
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I'm willing to grant them until 25.

Perhaps 25 is a middle class privilege.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:15 AM
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In the way that small towns in Texas are?

That's pretty determined.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:15 AM
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re: 453

I don't know how to explain this to you in ways other than the ways I already have.

People having sex doesn't have to equal some shaming trauma. That is all.


Also, my teenage experiences were of girls actively trying to fuck me. So this whole "they protect their precious virtue while the boys try to wheedle it out of them" trope is just ... not reflective of my reality [and I don't think the reality of the majority of my peers].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:15 AM
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I was appalled at my son's HS 1987-1990. It's like 1970s feminism had never happened. Kids were more sexually active but also at least as sexist, though differently so.

Individual kids and individual subcultures were different, but the general public space was awful.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:17 AM
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My prejudice is that whenever Americans talk about how Brits are better behaved, it's heavily influenced by Masterpiece Theatre. Doesn't Britain have a very widespread chav culture of intense drunkeness, rape, brawling, etc.?

This is not because of a generalized American jingoism -- I put a lot more creedence about how youth are better behaved in other European countries.

Also, I went to a very socially fragmented urban high school and it didn't seem to me that people gossiped about girls putting out. But it might just be that I was in the geek crowd where there was less sex. But still, there was some.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:17 AM
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I guess I don't get how people having sex later in life is inherently better. I've said this before, but if you're going to fuck the wrong people, it's fine to do it while you're young, with a lot of protection. But starting sex later in life just means you're deferring all the screwing up you have to do to figure out what you want for yourself. The people I knew who had sex in high school were no more likely to get themselves into trouble than the people I knew who waited until college, and, in fact, a lot of the people who waited until college saw it as this huge opportunity to rebel and make dangerous sexual decisions. In high school, most of my sexually active friends were involved with reasonably nice people who at least weren't going to mess with their lives. YMMV, but postponing sex doesn't in itself seem to be the answer for protecting young people from dangerous sex. Education and a supportive community might be.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:21 AM
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Also, my teenage experiences were of girls actively trying to fuck me.

Die Welt des Glucklichen ist eine andere als die des Unglucklichen.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:22 AM
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462: I believe myself to be making a specific claim that Brits are less double-standardy, and less tense generally, about sex; I'd also say that they're on average drunker and more violent, just as you say. So, not so much with the Masterpiece Theatre.

And my high school wasn't particularly bad with with the slut-shaming issues; personal knowledge of that sort of thing I'm getting more from other adolescent venues, like the place I took sailing lessons in the summer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:22 AM
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I guess I don't get how people having sex later in life is inherently better.

I think AWB has a good point in 463. In fact, a couple of the worst "WTF where you thinking?" sort of moments in this context I've seen have been from middle 30s people who married as virgins, divorced and then went off the rails a experimenting with new found freedom. So there is that.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:26 AM
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I think that we should ban ttaM because he was a slut in high school. He's really too damaged for his opinion to matter.

Also, please add the heavy metal dots to 464. I'm not ignorant, just lazy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:27 AM
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I believe myself to be making a specific claim that Brits are less double-standardy, and less tense generally, about sex; I'd also say that they're on average drunker and more violent, just as you say.

Yeah, those are probably all true. But then again, I've never lived in the US, so I am only going on the media, conversations with American friends, and blog comments.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:27 AM
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re; 467

I left high school at 16. I'm more thinking of the general age specific period.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:32 AM
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I guess I don't get how people having sex later in life is inherently better. I've said this before, but if you're going to fuck the wrong people, it's fine to do it while you're young, with a lot of protection. But starting sex later in life just means you're deferring all the screwing up you have to do to figure out what you want for yourself.

I completely endorse this. I think the more you postpone sex past the point where you're emotionally and physically ready to try it, the more complexes you build up about it and the longer you postpone building a realistic view of sexuality, relationships, etc.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:33 AM
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I was appalled at my son's HS 1987-1990.

I hadn't realized, John, that I'm your son's exact peer.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:34 AM
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A lot of the early sexual freedom propaganda (Bertrand Russell, Margaret Mead) came from upper crust and/or Bohemian types and didn't seem keyed to street life, or even to lower middle class life. I seem to remember lovely, civilized upperclass Brits, like in the Summerhill experimental school.

Bertrand Russell, Margaret Mead, John Dewey, and Dr. Spock are the Ur-enemies of the religious right. My parents' generation or even older. And sexual liberation was one of the big issues. (Though it only took off with desegregation when !!RACE!! became the dominant issue).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:35 AM
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Making me two or three years older than the both of you Class of '88.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:35 AM
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I went to boarding school in both England and the US. Granted a very long time ago, so things may have changed. But I do remember writing home to my friends how "forward" the English girls were. I was taken aback. I guess I had watched too much Masterpiece Theater.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:35 AM
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473: I swear there was punctuation in that when I wrote it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:36 AM
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463 is an excellent comment and rather throws into sharp relief how "Look me in the eye when you're the father or mother of a 14-year old daughter, and tell me what you will" doesn't really make it as a response.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:36 AM
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The whole "behaving like a shit" thing I was talking about is what you could also call 'slut shaming'

Oh geez. Nah, I didn't see that happening in high school back in the good ol' days of 1999-2002. Slut shaming never really happened. People had sex, it was fine.

What did happen (and I know I was part of this) was that people were just a bit too blunt, trying to experiment with open relationships and other arrangements that they might not be able to handle, and generally fumbling their way through fairly complicated sexual politics when they didn't really know what they were doing. It resulted in some hurt feelings, and some bad resentment, but little of it seemed to stem from sexist background. It just stemmed from a lot of kids trying to work out how to handle more adult relationships.

Also, coming to grips with notions of "standards", and the conflict of what media-generated images you may have of sexual partners versus the people you actually have sex with (and the people you should have sex with, since they're sometimes different from either of the first two groups). Being a little shit about this learning process in particular got me into trouble in college.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:36 AM
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When my son's sketchy eighth grade basketball team played an elite West Hills school, who they whipped, one of the girls in the audience gave the sketchiest guy on the team her phone number, and pretty soon 3 or 4 guys on the team were talking to forward West Hills girls. But the parent-teacher grapevine caught wind of it and the operation was shut down.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:40 AM
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477: And to be fair, I honestly don't know how big a problem it is in most high schools now. Even twenty years ago, it wasn't a huge problem in my urban middle class wildly-liberal high school; not a complete non-issue, but not terrible. In the summers, on the other hand, things happened like the boys on our sailing team covering the bathrooms of another yacht club with obscene graffiti about a girl on our team. My media driven impression is that that sort of thing is still a problem lots of places, but I don't know first hand.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:41 AM
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I guess I don't get how people having sex later in life is inherently better.

I don't think it's inherently better (after all iterative application leads to lifelong celibacy), but there's a good case to be made that you're much better prepared to deal with sex at 18 than at 13. I know people whose first sexual experience was at 13 who managed to do OK, but they are not typical. Generally speaking I think a 13 year old is much more likely to make errors with using a condom, more likely to poorly assess potential partners, and more likely to suffer serious adverse psychological consequences is everything does blow up.

Thirteen is at the far end of the range, but the same reasoning applies to 15 year olds, albeit to a lesser degree. The number of 15 y.o. kids who can reasonably be expected to reliably handle condoms is higher, they are more psychologically robust, and their ability to read other people is better. However, if we're looking for a general prescription to apply to all teens we have to look at the margins - how many kids are we willing to subject to the negative consequences of sex (either due to their own negligence/immaturity or the negligence, immaturity, or malice of others) in order to move the cutoff age for everyone lower? My take is that deferring sex is not a huge burden to impose on everyone in order to reduce the potential harm which will fall on the few at the margins.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:44 AM
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My take is that deferring sex is not a huge burden to impose on everyone in order to reduce the potential harm which will fall on the few at the margins.

But deferring sex isn't really something you can easily do.

People will have sex. They will have sex younger than you'd like. It's how you choose to deal with that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:45 AM
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I suspect in my own case for say 14-17 or 18, in my social grouping teens having sex was not a big issue for teens, schools, parents, courts, etc. partially because it was so very far down the list of things that people worried about us.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:46 AM
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My wife and I have a very different view on the subject of teen sex, which is tricky because we have seventeen year old and eleven year old daughters. While not pimping my daughter I am comfortable with he fact that she will soon become sexually active, if not already (which I doubt, but hey). My wife would have her sent to the nunnery, but I think back to my teenage life and think it will be ok, especially if she knows she can talk to her mom (not my current wife). There may not be actual approval, but no slut shaming. The eleven year old, however, is another story.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:47 AM
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My take is that deferring sex is not a huge burden to impose on everyone in order to reduce the potential harm which will fall on the few at the margins.

The main problem with this idea is that it's nonsense in practice. You have to start from the idea that people will be having sex younger than 18, and move from there.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:48 AM
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I was in high school (in an urban center, in California) in the early 1990s and never saw anything even remotely like the slut-shaming LB describes. People would gossip, and obviously some girls had more sex than others, but there certainly wasn't shaming. If anything, it was just assumed that the coolest girls would be having sex. Not to say that people weren't treating each other badly, just that slut-shaming wasn't a big or obvious part of it.

This is from the (objectively pro-slut) guy's perspective, so perhaps things felt worse or different for the girls.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:48 AM
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But I do remember writing home to my friends how "forward" the English girls were.

Heh. I lost my virginity to a Scottish girl who plied me with alcohol and jumped my bones without so much as a by-your-leave. Not that I'd have said no, but still...


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:50 AM
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I wish I knew how many kids in my HS were having sex. My guess is that it was 25% or so, and that a fair proportion married their first sex partner, with or without pregnancy, with or without HS graduation. That's probably as successful as repression gets.

Teenage sex tends to become normative if it's not forbidden. It would be nice if it weren't ideologized at all. Were the 75% in my HS damaged by not having sex? Not really, I don't think.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:50 AM
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My take is that deferring sex is not a huge burden to impose on everyone in order to reduce the potential harm which will fall on the few at the margins.

A lot of people still screw up this whole "sex and dating" thing in their early to mid 20s, if the experiences of my female friends have anything to say about it. High school screwing is a hallowed tradition worldwide, togolosh. We can't carelessly ban such activities to protect the marginal cases.

We're liberals, we don't ban! We explain, then provide a safety net!


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:50 AM
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I also think sexual experimentation before having actual sex is a good thing. Should a 13-year-old be fucking? Probably not, and they probably won't really want to unless pressured a great deal. But 13yos kiss and hold hands. High-schoolers fool around, usually, before having sex. One of the big problems with the sex-negative no-you-may-not-be-alone-with-boys-until-you're-X-years-old thing is that, by the time you get "freedom," you're a really pent-up, frustrated teen who has no idea what you might want in bed. You have been taught not to trust your instincts and desires, or trust your own body.

Another thing that all the people I know who had really destructive first sexual relationships had in common was that they had all come out of situations in which they either weren't allowed to date or hadn't been in fooling-around relationships with equals before. My roommate in college, for example, who lost her virginity to a violent frat guy and then slept with five of his friends that same month had just gotten out of a two-year "courting" relationship with a boy who believed that God didn't approve of even 19yos kissing outside of marriage.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:51 AM
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My impression about the whole `slut shaming' thing is built mainly from people who experienced it around them, rather than personally seeing it. However, it always seem to me to have only the vaguest correlation with actual known sexual practice. Rather, it was a convenient form of social censure for a girl who wasn't popular anyways.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:51 AM
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Eight of ten Welsh women about the age of sixteen unchaste and insensible to female virtue. Shades of Elizabeth Emerson.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:56 AM
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489: I agree.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:57 AM
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490: But there are definitely environments where it's a bigger deal than others. A friend of mine who went to another high school seems constantly obsessed with whether she'll been seen as a slut or not. Part of this was her high school, a bigger part was her sexually super-conservative upbringing by overprotective Chinese immigrant parents. It definitely caused her to go wild as a teen and college kid, but in the weirdest ways.

So slut shaming is definitely an internalized thing, as well as being a social tool against unpopular people. It's just far stronger in certain environments, and I think the parents have a huge influence on how much a kid buys into it.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:57 AM
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My impression about the whole `slut shaming' thing is built mainly from people who experienced it around them, rather than personally seeing it.

Slut shaming: the rampant voter fraud of feminism?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:57 AM
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481,484: The fact that people will be having sex

The key thing about teenagers that tends to get lost in these discussions is that they are inherent limit-pushers: it's part of the process of growing up. Set the limit at X and there will be a substantial fraction who start doing whatever activity it is at well below age X. Say that it's fine (or good) to be having sex at 15 and you've substantially lowered the bar for sex at 13.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 10:58 AM
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489: I agree. We didn't do this, so much as jump right in the deep end, as with many other things. It was probably a relatively healthy outlet, considering. Given a less messed up surrounding though, I think the sort of pacing you describe makes a lot of sense. It's not like you're going to get sex out of the minds of 14 year olds, and trying to force them to repress it is just stupid. Having a normal exploratory path that isn't pressured make sense.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:00 AM
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Slut shaming: the rampant voter fraud of feminism?

No, just that I didn't (properly) go to high school, so my experience in this contexts is necessarily second hand at best.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:01 AM
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I got the fooling around bit done quite accidentally by dating a couple of sex-shy dudes my first two years of college. It was really frustrating, because I was ready and they weren't, but, in all, it was a really good thing for me. By the time I had sex, it wasn't like the whole enterprise, from beginning to end, was new to me. It was a lot less scary and, had it been scarier, I might not have kept my wits about me.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:03 AM
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Well, don't forget that all popular notions of teenage sexuality comes from the movies and tv, and is usually written by dorks who not only didn't get any in high school, they barely got laid in college. That is why so many teen sex flicks are about the nerds. Also why the stripper who wrote Juno was such a big deal.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:04 AM
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The key thing about teenagers that tends to get lost in these discussions is that they are inherent limit-pushers

That's a cop out. It's not like teens push arbitrary limits arbitrarily far. In fact, most teens are extremely conservative and easily led. They are just needing to experiment with group identifications outside of their family. The construct of those groups and the social norms within it have a lot to do with what the teens will do, sure. But arguably setting up a `big deal' about sex makes them more likely to do it simply because it's such an easy an relatively risk-free limit to push.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:06 AM
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489 is good.

I saw some of that pent-up sexuality exploding dynamic among my HS peers. There was one girl I had a fling with, however, for whom the dynamic was the opposite - She was from a conservative Pakistani Muslim family and in HS she was wild, knowing full well that her future was an arranged marriage and severe limitations on her contact with anyone not family.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:09 AM
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468: Whatever happened to the plan to get ttaM to tour the US, couch-surfing through the homes of the Unfoggetariat, and photographing/writing it up as a grand "Americans are *()&*( crazy" narrative best-seller?


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:12 AM
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410: Going back to the experience argument, I positively value arguments from experience, and don't wish to see any chilling effect on them much less a ban. One of the things I value about this place is the chance to get perspective from people who have had different experiences.

I realize this discussion is past, but just to be clear: PGD, no one is suggesting that references to personal experiences are out of order, just that they should not be used to trump and thereby shut down continued discussion. They require further explanation. This has been reiterated and expanded upon several times, mostly by dsquared and Cala.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:13 AM
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502 -- After reading this thread I'm in favor of doing a group road trip to Wales, Scotland, and Pakistan. I hear the chicks are easy and fun.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:21 AM
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Nobody[*] needs a road trip to get laid, Rob Halford.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:23 AM
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Offhand, I can think of one person who had a teenage sexual relationship w/ really bad consequences, a couple people who fooled around to much mutual enjoyment & no harm, but the two biggest groups were: (1) people who waited until college for actual sex out of a combo of lack of readiness & opportunity, (2) a lot of people who were not seriously harmed but whose experiences sounded like not much fun at all & I was not at all sorry I missed (I did wish very much that I'd had some experience in HS dating, making out, fooling around etc.--would not have chosen to have sex in any case). There were a fair # of relationships that seemed sexually unequal & focused on the guy's pleasure and not the girl's, where she goes down on him & not vice versa, he has orgasms & she doesn't, etc. This didn't correlate especially neatly with age of first intercourse, though--some correlation but not a strong one, and of course I'm going on anecdotes.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:27 AM
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In my experience there simply were not any "shaming" rumors based on the concept that Girl X was no longer a virgin and had engaged in some rather than no sexual experimentation. Having that be known might hurt her reputation among her parents, but not among her peers. Male and female teenagers were united in wanting to be seen as somewhat sexually experienced.

The rumors to be concerned about were those that depicted Girl X as following a pattern of promiscuous behavior, in a "THIRTY-SEVEN???" kind of way. And it's true that this sort of thing was more damaging for girls than for boys. But the power to spread these rumors largely didn't belong to the boys whom she had been with, but with third parties.

I really don't think boys had an advantage over girls in the area of being able to achieve social status at the expense of their sexual partners' reputation.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:31 AM
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One big problem about our high school experiences is that many of us went to high school when the standard AIDS response was to promote the hell out of condom use. That does a lot to end the slut stigma right there, because kids become desensitized to the idea of people having sex.

I would think in this age of abstinence education, the slut-shaming-stigma might be a lot more biting, because there's this aire of breaking taboos set by adults.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:32 AM
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508: Wait, I thought the emerging consensus among the late 20s / early 30s set here was that there'd been little slut-shaming in high school.

Certainly in my era (graduated h.s. 1982), slut-shaming was very destructive. My best friend during the latter half of h.s. was subjected to it, despite the fact that she'd actually never had sex. It was associated with allusions to her being from the wrong side of the tracks, lower-class (which wasn't necessarily true). Unclear why she was targeted, aside from her having fooled around -- nothing more -- with one or two of the wrong people, who spread the word.

Were the popular kids actually having sex? I have no idea, but I suspect not. It was really a class related thing; good girls didn't do those things. And the whole blow-job thing that one hears is prevalent now was nonexistent then, I believe.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:42 AM
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in a "THIRTY-SEVEN???" kind of way

Great, now all I have stuck in my head is "Try not to suck any more DICKS on your way through the parking lot! ...Hey, you, get back here."


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:44 AM
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Further to my 509.1: Oh, I see that heebie is saying just that. I tend to conflate the late 20s generation with today's teenagers, which is ridiculously wrong. Sorry.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:47 AM
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Wait, I thought the emerging consensus among the late 20s / early 30s set here was that there'd been little slut-shaming in high school.

Right. I'm saying our experience no longer translates to kids who have gone to high school since 2000, because of different political climates.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:48 AM
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It's not clear to me that the solution to a culture of slut-shaming is for us, or society, to make it a priority that teenage girls do not have sex.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:52 AM
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The age of reason is seven…forty-seven. Luckily we are all of us 47 years old.

ObSex: What about that Scottish comic video about teen sex that was linked here a few days ago?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:54 AM
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513: Is anyone advocating that?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:54 AM
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The people I knew who had sex in high school were no more likely to get themselves into trouble than the people I knew who waited until college, and, in fact, a lot of the people who waited until college saw it as this huge opportunity to rebel and make dangerous sexual decisions. In high school, most of my sexually active friends were involved with reasonably nice people who at least weren't going to mess with their lives. YMMV, but postponing sex doesn't in itself seem to be the answer for protecting young people from dangerous sex.

I sense opportunity here:

"I may be Mr. Wrong, but at least I am not Mr. Really, Really Wrong."


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:54 AM
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Wait, I thought the emerging consensus among the late 20s / early 30s set here was that there'd been little slut-shaming in high school.

It seems like what you're talking about is a scenario where a girl's reputation is either whore (bad), or virgin (good). What I remember is a scenario where a girl's reputation is either whore (bad), or person who has sex if she is in a stable relationship (good), or virgin (not quite as good, but worthy of respect in most cases).


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:54 AM
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I also think sexual experimentation before having actual sex is a good thing.... One of the big problems with the sex-negative no-you-may-not-be-alone-with-boys-until-you're-X-years-old thing is that, by the time you get "freedom," you're a really pent-up, frustrated teen who has no idea what you might want in bed. You have been taught not to trust your instincts and desires, or trust your own body.

Making out lots is the best possible training for being a good lover, so long as you don't make a stupid division between "real" sex and foreplay. The principles apply all through life.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:55 AM
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As always, AWB is very wise in 463.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:56 AM
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513: Is anyone advocating that?

I hope not, because that would be stupid.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 11:57 AM
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517 refers to reputation among peers, that is. Of course parents and other authority figures want teenagers to be virgins, except for the crazy libertine parents seen sometimes in places like Unfogged.

Your question:
Were the popular kids actually having sex? I have no idea, but I suspect not. It was really a class related thing; good girls didn't do those things.

It sounds bizarre to me that the road to popularity was being known to be not having sex. Unless popularity was based almost entirely on class, and upper-class people were from families that would be horrified to even consider doing such things, and that that attitude was actually transmitted from parents to children. Which I guess was the case, as you say.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:00 PM
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515: Isn't that the general tenor of the conversation? Teenage girls should be discouraged from having sex because the stakes are so high. The stakes for teenage girls having sex are high because of slut shaming. QED.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:00 PM
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"I may be Mr. Wrong, but at least I am not Mr. Really, Really Wrong."

This made me laugh, because ages ago there were three of us who kicked around together a fair bit, and a friend of ours would introduce us to her girlfriends as: Mr Right, Mr Wrong, and Mr. Really, Really Wrong.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:00 PM
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Of course parents and other authority figures want teenagers to be virgins

Most of them aren't so naive as to believe their preference in this matter has much of anything to do with reality, though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:02 PM
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I just realize that everything I know, even through my son, is 18+ years old. Most of my nieces are close to his age. If the world has changed while I wasn't noting, that's almost certainly a good thing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:04 PM
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517: Maybe so; I'm trying to remember if there was a category for "person who has sex if she is in a stable relationship (good)" in the late 70s/early 80s when I was in h.s.

Certainly there were established couples -- cheerleader + football player -- which, or who, were looked upon favorably, but there was really no sense that they were having sex. Rather that they were having nice, healthy, chaste dating relationship. Whether this was true is unknown.

So no, I'd have to go with the thought that the only two options in the public imagination were virgin or whore. With a twist on the virgin option: virgin with boyfriend (good), virgin without (loser). The latter being ripe for potential corruption to whore status.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:06 PM
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519 -- Yeah, I agree. 463 is really good. I think that 463 may have changed my mind on this issue. It's not just the sex, it's that the first sexual relationship can (sometimes, not always) send you on a really erratic emotional rollercoaster, and it might be helpful to be in the more regulated high school environment, not in college or out of school where you really have the opportunity to do a lot more harm for yourself.

Obviously, you can get on an emotional rollercoaster anyway, with any degree of sexual experience, but having a little bit of experience does rachet down the pressure a bit.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:07 PM
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Can we at least all agree that laughing down any attempts at `slut shaming' would be an unequivocal good?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:07 PM
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Isn't that the general tenor of the conversation?

I hadn't gotten that anyone was promoting abstinence, just lamenting or denying the existence of slut-shaming.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:12 PM
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So no, I'd have to go with the thought that the only two options in the public imagination were virgin or whore. With a twist on the virgin option: virgin with boyfriend (good), virgin without (loser). The latter being ripe for potential corruption to whore status.

Nowadays you would have non-virgin with boyfriend (good), virgin with boyfriend (religious), virgin without boyfriend (could be good, could be bad, depending on whether it seems to be her choice).

It's not just the sex, it's that the first sexual relationship can (sometimes, not always) send you on a really erratic emotional rollercoaster, and it might be helpful to be in the more regulated high school environment, not in college or out of school where you really have the opportunity to do a lot more harm for yourself.

GREAT POINT

This was one reason why I kept hoping that it would happen in high school, but it didn't. Then it became one of the many things that made the first year of college so disorienting and difficult.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:15 PM
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But if there's no more slut shaming, what are the rest of us going to use for dirty talk? Is "ohhh, yeah, we're healthy and unrepressed" really going to cut it?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:15 PM
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"I may be Mr. Wrong, but at least I am not Mr. Really, Really Wrong."

Heh. That line would probably work.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:18 PM
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531: You'll have to find a real kink, perhaps.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:19 PM
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523: Which one were you?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:19 PM
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That would be telling.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:20 PM
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Exactly.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:23 PM
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533: hey, humiliation based on fucked-up repressive programming is every bit as legitimate a kink as your foot fetish, soup.

I actually go with Freud that repression is inherent to socialization and therefore there will always be repression-related hot buttons.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:24 PM
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It's not just the sex, it's that the first sexual relationship can (sometimes, not always) send you on a really erratic emotional rollercoaster, and it might be helpful to be in the more regulated high school environment, not in college or out of school where you really have the opportunity to do a lot more harm for yourself.

Though I'm not sure what the high school environment has to say for itself. Utter hell, I thought. A sexual minefield.

I dunno, I got really lucky. First sex in the summer after h.s. graduation, initiated very very gradually with lots of foreplay (PGD is right about the value of this); so, outside the high school environment, and with a guy who was a real gem. Lucky.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:24 PM
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But honestly, slut shaming hasn't exactly disappeared.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:27 PM
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Though I'm not sure what the high school environment has to say for itself

Nothing that impressive.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:30 PM
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Of course parents and other authority figures want teenagers to be virgins

I doubt this is universally true. I'm pretty sure (ask again in a few more years) that I'm okay with Rory getting out and exploring when she's old enough* and ready.

* definition not yet available


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:35 PM
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541 was the victim of 524's selective quoting.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:36 PM
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Obviously, you can get on an emotional rollercoaster anyway, with any degree of sexual experience, but having a little bit of experience does rachet down the pressure a bit.

I feel like I am stepping on Emerson's territory here, but you know you can't have messed up relationships if you don't have relationships.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:41 PM
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Heh. That line would probably work.

"Being newly separated/divorced can be very unsettling. Why don't you make your mistakes with me? I wont stalk you or sleep with your best friend. (Unless you want me to.)"

Apo told me that that conversation can be very effective.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:46 PM
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I want my children to have happy, fulfilling lives. That will include sex. I would like them to have loving partners. The least I can do is not fill their heads with all sorts of controlling bullshit in that effort. Seems counter productive. If that makes me a hippie instead of Ward Cleaver, then pass the pot and the tie dye.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:46 PM
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Apo told me that that conversation can be very effective.

Will attempts to be come the next Arnie Becker
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.A._Law


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:49 PM
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pass the pot and the tie dye.

Have a seat, brother.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:49 PM
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Emerson is going to make me give up my Klan membership if I sit next to you, apo.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:54 PM
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545, 547: I read that, and thought: "Like, the pot you're dipping the t-shirts in the dye in? That's an odd way of putting it.... Oohhh." I've never claimed not to be kinda slow on the uptake.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:55 PM
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I heard that dipping your pot in t-shirt die gets you really f'in high.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:57 PM
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517: That's about what I recall. The scary position to be in wasn't "Hey, I know Susie is having sex with her boyfriend," but "Did you hear Susie had sex with Billy and he says she's a total skank."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:57 PM
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TLL as hippie. It's a new day. Audacity, indeed!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:57 PM
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Clearly, you're a lot safer having sex, in high school or in college, if you're among a community of friends who are not hateful about sex. I'd have been better off, I think, having sex in high school, when a lot of my friends were theater types who weren't creeped out by talking about sex. In college, for some reason, I seemed to be around a lot of guys who were scared of and hostile toward women (especially sexually active ones) and girls who were either saving their virginity for daddy or blowing frat boys.

I lost my virginity outside my college community, which protected me a bit from slut-shaming, but I still got quite a lot of it from my roommate (see 489) and other people. No one asked me whether I was happy about it, the way my friends asked our sexually active friends in high school.

HS can be deadly, but, again, it's not necessarily a less-safe environment than college, where there's a lot more access to alcohol and a lot of people are acting out.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 12:58 PM
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Dude, TLL, you could tie-dye that hood. Would look cute!

My sense of high school was that no one cared all that much about who was or wasn't having sex, but that the weak caring that did go on was roughly like CN describes. The message everyone seemed to take from growing up in the 80s and 90s was 'sex should be in the context of a loving relationship.' Combine that with the idea that a high school 'relationship' tends to be short (so everyone can be in a relationship, even if it's only a few weeks), slut shaming was relatively limited.

The virgin/whore thing strikes me as a little out of date.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:02 PM
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I don't think it's inherently better (after all iterative application leads to lifelong celibacy), but there's a good case to be made that you're much better prepared to deal with sex at 18 than at 13. I know people whose first sexual experience was at 13 who managed to do OK, but they are not typical. Generally speaking I think a 13 year old is much more likely to make errors with using a condom, more likely to poorly assess potential partners, and more likely to suffer serious adverse psychological consequences is everything does blow up.

I'll repeat my longheld belief, based on nothing but casual observation, that puberty is a uniquely malleable time. My usual two interpretations are:

You are a native of whatever country you spend puberty in, and
You have to be doing a sport during puberty do reach your full potential at that sport.

But I can see that there could be applications for being sexually active during puberty.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:04 PM
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The virgin/whore thing strikes me as a little out of date.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:06 PM
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556: Which virgin thing?

Virginity. in the face of temptation, as a signifier of upper-class/respectable family - out of date.

Now it indicates that you belong to a highly religious family.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:10 PM
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553.1: My experience was almost the opposite, as it happens: high school mostly dominated in the classes I took by the superficial and uptight (until the end, when I clued in to the theater crowd), college diverse and not really booze-addled, but smart and hard-working, and horny along with. Just different experiences we've had.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:11 PM
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Now it indicates that you belong to a highly religious family.

Right, if you're talking about it. If you're not, ime, most people won't really care. The handful of girls who ended up pregnant* weren't ostracized (at least as far as I know. Maybe they felt ostracized.)

The parents were freaking out, but the kids generally took the view that if Susie was pregnant, it was probably too late to try to tell Susie not to get pregnant, so they might as well be supportive.

*And who didn't have abortions. But the girls who had abortions weren't ostracized either.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:15 PM
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Teen pregnancy is far lower than it used to be, BTW. In my sister's HS grad class (1968 or so) there was a handful of pregnancies plus a little (n=7) but that was out of a total of maybe 40, close to 20%.

1968 was when the counterculture and repression met head on. I remember people in 1964 talking about places 25 miles away where you could buy condoms from a machine. People bought pornography showing women in their underwear. Barefoot in the snow uphill both ways.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:24 PM
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It is quite possible that the effects of teen sex are worse for boys than for girls:

Controlling for a wide set of individual- and family-level observables available in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, ordinary least squares (OLS) estimates show that sexually active adolescents have grade point averages that are approximately 0.2 points lower than virgins. However, when information on the timing of intercourse decisions is exploited and individual fixed effects are included, the negative effect of sexual intercourse disappears for females, but persists for males. Taken together, the results of this study suggest that while there may be adverse academic spillovers from engaging in intercourse for some adolescents, previous studies' estimates are overstated due to unmeasured heterogeneity. (JEL I10, I21, I18)

I don't think that there is a causual effect even for boys, it is probably more likely that low testosterone teen boys do better in school but are less likely to have teen sex.

I have a 9 year old daughter and while I wouldn't be happy if she has sex as a teen, the dangers of teen sex for girls are overrated.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:31 PM
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560: And this was after both the end of the Chatterly ban and the Beatles' first LP.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:44 PM
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Can I ask those of you who are of a younger generation than I -- i.e. the late 20s people -- is the sexuality that's no longer deprecated for girls still something that's cloaked in a sense of what's in good taste, and what is not?

I imagine it is; what I'm not sure of is what counts toward good taste, tasteful sexuality. Doesn't it still come with a sense of the demure, though perhaps slightly daring? What I'm wondering is whether the virgin/whore thing has simply migrated, with different borders now from those it once had.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:48 PM
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Wobegon gets movies 3 years late.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:49 PM
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You have to be doing a sport during puberty do reach your full potential at that sport.

This parts just wrong, I think. It's true for some sports, mostly because you otherwise won't have time to peak before you're too old. But others, not at all. Plenty of examples of cross overs, etc. I mean, it's pretty hard to prove that they wouldn't have been better but doesn't sound that likely.

It might be plausible to say you have to be involved in some sport around puberty to reach your full potential for sports in general. Still not sure I buy it.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 1:58 PM
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Why would anyone care about reaching his or her full potential in a sport by doing it at puberty? One could just as well argue that one can't reach one's full potential intellectually if one isn't engaged in intellectual pursuits in puberty.

Whether this is correct or not, what's with the emphasis on reaching full potential? Are we engaged in the social engineering of beings filling their potential, or with the raising of human beings?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:09 PM
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563: The only really scornful comments I recall from high school about a girl having sex were about someone who had managed to clock herself in the forehead while engaged in some sort of jacuzzi maneuver, leaving a giant bruise in the middle of her forehead. Jacuzzi sex was just too cheesy. Sex outside an established relationship was deprecated.

My prom date's friends did administer regular purity tests during our first weeks of dating and plot the lines on a graph to approximate his trajectory, but I didn't get the sense they were trying to slut-shame.


Posted by: Amber | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:11 PM
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I'm making the claim that your body molds itself in puberty for the specific demands of the sport you are doing.

I've said this here before and gotten yays and nays. I only have anecdote to support it. But that's my best read on what I saw at the very elite levels of tkd.

(I think it is a small increment, compared to natural athleticism and work and matching bodytype to sport. But I think the effect is there.)



Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:15 PM
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It depends on the sport, I think, and in some cases it can be much earlier (gymnastics, figure skating), but it's also the case that a) that's by and large true at the elite levels only and b) most people aren't going to be elite athletes even if they were to train like them.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:18 PM
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Why would anyone care about reaching his or her full potential in a sport by doing it at puberty?

Well, it kindof matters if your sport is your life and you spend thirty hours a week training for Nationals for years and years. If that happens to be your milieu, you end up parsing small differences.

Some people choose, or slide into by default, that life and they care.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:18 PM
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I would have been an elite athlete if I'd bothered, but, you know, fuck that shit. I mean really.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:20 PM
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Well, it kindof matters if your sport is your life and you spend thirty hours a week training for Nationals for years and years.

I'm guessing it's rare, though, for your sport to be "your life" but for you not to have been involved during puberty. In other words, both your achievement and your involvement are a result of your personal passion for the sport.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:21 PM
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Heck there are a number of players in the NFL and Div I from Nigeria who never even heard of American football before being recruited.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:31 PM
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572: Right, and you can point to elite athletes at the top of sports they didn't touch until late in their atheletic careers. Sure, they were typically already elite athletes, but it points out you can be at the top of a sport without having done it during puberty. Whether you'd have done even better if you had is unanswerable.

I think the effect Megan is hypothesizing isn't quite right, but if you are athletic while your body is developing, I suspect you'll affect the development to some degree.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:33 PM
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Well, it kindof matters if your sport is your life

No doubt. The thread was heretofore about child-raising, though. Or child-nurturing, as I'd prefer it.

But good enough. You're in a sport mindframe, I take it.

Hey, for what it's worth, my parents insisted on my taking as many classes as possible: tap, ballet, gymnastics, piano, swimming, golf. Also basics in throwing a football (spin off the laces!), basketball dribbling, softball league, bowling. I enjoyed some, probably most, of these things at the time, but wound up wanting to read Nietzsche by the time I was 15. I'm glad my parents did that though.

I fail to see the point about puberty being in any way about sport.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:42 PM
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Teen pregnancy is far lower than it used to be, BTW. In my sister's HS grad class (1968 or so) there was a handful of pregnancies plus a little (n=7) but that was out of a total of maybe 40, close to 20%.

My impression was that teen pregnancy is soaring compared to where it was 15 years ago.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:43 PM
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if you are athletic while your body is developing, I suspect you'll affect the development to some degree.

SO GET OFF THE COUCH, PUT DOWN THE PLAYSTATION AND RUN A LAP, LARDBUTT!


Posted by: OPINIONATED GYM TEACHER | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:44 PM
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is the sexuality that's no longer deprecated for girls still something that's cloaked in a sense of what's in good taste, and what is not?

This is a little confusing to me, but I think not. I think that sexuality is being percieved by people my age as more like "extrovertedness" or something: there's a scale, but not a heavy accompanying value judgement placed on the person. (Except there is a value judgement, but at least not a "good taste" value judgement.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:48 PM
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your body molds itself in puberty for the specific demands of the sport you are doing

What if I mostly spent my puberty sport-fucking?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:49 PM
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I'm making the claim that your body molds itself in puberty for the specific demands of the sport you are doing. I've said this here before and gotten yays and nays.

I gotta side with the nays here.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:49 PM
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What if I mostly spent my puberty sport-fucking?

It's still never the same as if you started in childhood. It's like learning a second language.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:53 PM
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teen pregnancy is soaring compared to where it was 15 years ago

About one-third of girls in the United States get pregnant before age 20. In 2006, a total of 435,427 infants were born to mothers aged 15-19 years, a birth rate of 41.9 live births per 1,000 women in this age group. More than 80% of these births were unintended, meaning they occurred sooner than desired or were not wanted at any time. Although pregnancy and birth rates among girls aged 15-19 years have declined 34% since 1991, birth rates increased for the first time in 2006 (from 40.5 per 1,000 women in this age group in 2005 to 41.9 in 2006). It is too early to tell whether this increase is a trend or a one-time fluctuation in teen birth rates.

Best I can tell, those are the most recent numbers available. So not exactly soaring, but up.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 2:56 PM
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Chart, 1972-2005


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:08 PM
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The main thing I've noticed about sexuality in the last few years has nothing to do with teens, about whom I know next to nothing, but among people, say, 35 and up: resistance to using condoms.

I get the idea that concerns about HIV are down, and (a) it's assumed that the woman is taking birth control pills, and (b) it's assumed -- I hope? -- that both parties are getting regularly tested for sexually transmitted diseases.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:08 PM
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It's still never the same as if you started in childhood. It's like learning a second language.

i.e. no matter how proficient you become at the mechanics of vocabulary and grammar, you can never master the accent?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:09 PM
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resistance to using condoms

Well, sure. Condoms are teh suck. Less sucky than incurable diseases, obviously, but still.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:11 PM
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582: if you read that correctly, teen pregnancy is way, way down from where it was 15 years ago. Just one recent blip upward, the first in many years.

I imagine it is; what I'm not sure of is what counts toward good taste, tasteful sexuality. Doesn't it still come with a sense of the demure, though perhaps slightly daring?

I think everyone's pornier and more shaved than ever. Oral sex actually used to be a little far out and kinky once upon a time.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:12 PM
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I think everyone's pornier and more shaved than ever

Evidence must be provided. In appropriate private venues, of course.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:16 PM
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The most interesting recent sex trend, to me, is that (especially teen) behavior doesn't appear to have changed at all even in the wake of a total revolution in people's ability to view pornography. I mean, any reasonably skilled 13 year old boy can now see in 5 minutes online things that would have shocked a longshoreman in 1988. Hoping to catch a blurry glimpse of a breast by watching the scrambled Playboy channel, the favorite pastime of boys in the late 1980s, now seems as quaint as the Gibson Girl. But this doesn't actually seem to have had much, if any, effect on actual behavior.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:17 PM
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way, way down from where it was 15 years ago

Yes. Weirdly, after holding fairly steady through the Carter and Reagan years, the big jumps happened during the GHWB administration. Then a steady decline from that peak every year.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:20 PM
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589: Oh, I don't know about that. My impression, largely from conversations here, is that there's a heck of a lot more anal out there than there used to be -- that a free-love casual sex type could have screwed around for years in the 70s without anyone mentioning anal sex, and these days it's a fairly conventional option. I would guess that that's porn related.

Also, the "straight girls making out with each other to show off for boys" thing is reasonably common, and also, IMO, causually related to porn.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:22 PM
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Not that the president has any bearing on teen pregnancy; it's just a weird set of numbers. Teen pregnancy skyrocketed while I was in college. Hmm.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:22 PM
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virgin without boyfriend (could be good, could be bad, depending on whether it seems to be her choice).

That was meeee! I was totally and completely oblivious to sex in high school. I couldn't tell you who among my peers was getting laid; that whole world simply didn't exist. It's not like I wasn't interested: I read about a lot of that sort of thing, in, uh, Victorian porn mags and Lady Chatterley's Lover (wocka wocka!), but as a devout Mormon in an East Bay private school, I was pretty much out of the sex loop.

Of course, as soon as I left town and met some people who didn't know my background or family, I started to branch out a bit.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:25 PM
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I wonder if some of the teen pregnancy numbers have to do with economic outlooks. I get the sense that for some young people, having a child seems like a stable identity in an uncertain and scary world.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:27 PM
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That chart is so counter to what I thought the abstinence education had done to teen pregnancy rate. Maybe there's a lagging effect, and the chart cuts off at 2004?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:27 PM
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Has abstinence education actually increased in the last decade? I thought it had just become more of an issue, as places that had used it for many years and had never considered changing it were being pressured to replace it with something that worked.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:30 PM
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I thought Bush got huge funding increases for abstinence-only eductation. I don't actually know if that translated into increases in practice, but I assumed so.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:35 PM
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This is a good time for me to say something about the way that ideological language sometimes fossilizes trend lines as permanent features of reality. I'm willing to bet that someone can be found who's been talking about "rising crime rates", for example, continuously since 1975. Talking about "rising crime rates" becomes simply a way of saying "crime is bad, I'm against it, and the police need to be tough". Once fossilized, it breaks free from any reference to any actual crime rate.

And the same for pregnancy. Teen pregnancy since 1950.

The illegitimacy rate has increased (about 4x) since a much smaller proportion of pregnant teens get married.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:45 PM
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I was practicing abstinence before it was cool.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:46 PM
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East Bay private school

Do I know you? I went to the EBPS probably most associated with liberal sexxoring. Did you go to the EBPS that starts with a body part, or the one that sounds like something that Llungberg demands in Office Space?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:47 PM
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586: Condoms are teh suck. Less sucky than incurable diseases, obviously, but still.

Sure they are. Still, you can't really have non-long-term relationships without them. Can you? I mean, you're going to trust that the person has been tested? You should be able to, but in my most recent experiences, I get the sense that people are a little cavalier about this.

This is what I mean: worries about sexually transmitted diseases seem to be lower than they were. Do you all who are single and sexually active get tested regularly?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:47 PM
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600: Next question: "Are you the guy with the corkscrew-shaped penis?"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:48 PM
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I would totally think the rate is related to the President. That is, when Reagan was in office they were working hard to cut down on sex ed and the like (such that it apparently had disappeared by the early 90's) and there was the corresponding jump in the rate. Then everyone got upset and they started working on the problem. And now the rate is starting to spike up again as budget priorities have gradually shifted to the abstinence stuff.

I would suspect that the availability of porn is probably working as poor teen's sex ed.

max
['Really, the current social climate (as affected by government) really resembles '87-'88, except on steroids.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:49 PM
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Talking about "rising crime rates" becomes simply a way of saying "crime is bad, I'm against it, and the police need to be tough".

Similarly, casualties are always "mounting". Well, the number of casualties can't go down. Casualty rates can be an indicator, but usually of more activity, not of ant particular side winning or losing.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:49 PM
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But the article in 538 cuts off at 2000, and my conventional belief is that under Bush and increased funding for abstinence-only education, teen pregnancies went up. I'm sure I've seen this data.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 3:51 PM
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All major social changes, teen pregnancy rates included, are due to deep foundational currents in the society and short-term shifts in DC policy are just ripples on the top of that. Sex ed classes are a pretty small influence on teen sex compared to parents, family, social milieu, etc. etc.

There's been one increase in teen pregnancy, the most recent year of data, and some have ascribed that (as well as the slowing of the decline before) to abstinence ed., etc. I'll bet the crappy economy of the last 8 years has something to do with it too.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 4:18 PM
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Sex ed classes are a pretty small influence on teen sex compared to parents, family, social milieu, etc. etc.

See, I've got a theory that they're very powerful. Not to actually explain how condoms work, but that sex ed classes desensitize kids to the word "condom", so that they're not so mortified to bring it up in the moment.

Furthermore - and my theory hinges on this next part - it's insufficient to learn about sex ed from your parents, because in the moment, you have to trust that your partner is also desensitized to the word "condom". If my parents talk openly, but I fear that my partner gets beat with the Bible belt, I'll be way too embarrassed to bring up contraception.

Kids have to be able to trust that their partners have also been desensitized, so it must be via the schools.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 4:27 PM
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605. The pregnancy rate data cuts off, but the birth rate data continues to decline. Looking at the graph, I'd expect to see pregnancy rate still declining proportionally to birth rate.

I'm going to hypothesize that the wide availability of netporn has led to a higher rate of external-ejaculation sexual behavior among teens. I was going to hypothesize that netporn was also leading teenage males to masturbate more, but reflecting on my own teenage years I'm not really sure that's possible, and it probably wouldn't lead to a reduction in sex-seeking behavior anyway.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 4:32 PM
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Did you go to the EBPS that starts with a body part, or the one that sounds like something that Llungberg demands in Office Space?

I didn't go to the first one. I'm having a difficult time identifying the second one, but I can say that my EBPHS has pretty much the most generic name for a high school ever, like "Good High School." Seriously.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 4:32 PM
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607. Internet internet internet condom condom condom v!agra. Sex ed classes, not so much.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 4:34 PM
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Quercus FAGinea? The Guardian's hot new commentator reveals all!


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 4:35 PM
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Do you all who are single and sexually active get tested regularly?

No longer single, but it's reasonably common for single people in my peer group to get tested and to continue to use condoms even in monogamous relationships as birth control back-up.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 4:37 PM
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I've been monogamous for some time now but I still get an HIV test with my annual obgyn appointment. It's somehow easier to do when one's not really worried about the outcome.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 4:39 PM
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609: Yep, I know which one you're talking about. I went to the school on the other side of the hills, but my best friend and classmate lived very close to your alma mater. Just so you know, we used to get drunk and piss on your campus all the damn time.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 4:44 PM
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Just for shits and giggles?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 4:48 PM
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615: Basically. I mean, if you're drunk and need to take a piss, it's more satisfying to do it on the grounds of a rival school, and it wasn't out of the way. We pissed on Billie Joe's house while it was being constructed plenty of times too, and that was even closer. A piss with semantic content is much more satisfying than one without.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 4:53 PM
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Could the Bavarian Illuminati take their code language elsewhere so as not to implicate people guilty of totally different things than they are?

Or: get a room! And send us pictures!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:00 PM
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610: I don't buy it. Seeing sexy spam does not make teenage Heebie any less embarrassed to bring up contraception to her boyfriend. Knowing that Mrs. Brown made everyone put a condom on a banana does make it slightly less embarrassing in the heat of the moment.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:02 PM
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Well I guess you're just an outlier, Heebie.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:05 PM
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**Smirk** Did you hear that Heebie's an outlier?

**Grin** Really! I always sort of knew.

**Giggle**

**Giggle**

...................


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:07 PM
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Stop saying that! I am NOT! I am not an outlier!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:10 PM
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She was with her boyfriend and nothing happened because they didn't have a banana.

**Giggle**

**Smirk**


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:11 PM
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WE DID TOO. I mean, we didn't have a banana. I mean...shut up.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:13 PM
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I can't tell you how pleased I am to be referred to as a Bavarian Illuminatus, John. To be fair, though, it was me initiating the codespeak, and ms. mormon did nothing other than answering my questions. So save your annoyance for me.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:16 PM
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She's been carrying around a banana for months, just in case. That acounts for the smell.

**ROTFL**

**smirk**


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:18 PM
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I don't know about testing/condom-wearing prevalence among single straight people these days (I haven't gotten tested, AFAICR, since I got married, if you don't count giving blood), but I have the impression single straight people are generally much less afraid of HIV than they were in the 80s and early 90s, and fairly realistically so. In the first decade or so of the epidemic, no one knew how high infection rates were going to go, but they're stabilized at a very low level among non-IV drug using, non-men who have sex with men populations.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:19 PM
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Besides, I prefer to think of Ms. Mormon up there on the tundra, gutting wolves with her grandfather like Sarah Palin.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:21 PM
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Lowest among non-IV drug using non-men who have sex with non-men populations.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:22 PM
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614-619: I think my writing partner went to Jackmormon's school. And another coupla friends of mine too. Classes of 91, 92 and 95.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:26 PM
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I was once exposed to an HIV prevention pamphlet describing safer sex for lesbians (dental dams, mostly). And I made fun of it, as kinda overkill, to a queer activist friend, who soberly informed me of the existence of a commune of lesbian bakers in Berkeley who were also all IV drug users. So it just goes to show you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:29 PM
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Goddam, I have to google before I comment. I've told that story twice already.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:38 PM
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I don't remember it. A good story should be told at least ten times.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:39 PM
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The dental dam has always struck me as one step up from the chastity belt. If you're a practicing lesbian, and accept all the consequences thereof, you shouldn't need to worry about AIDS. It's supposed to be one of the perks, but apparently not.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:41 PM
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the existence of a commune of lesbian bakers in Berkeley

You'd think I'd know them.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:43 PM
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A good story doesn't have to be true in the quibbly literalistic Old Europe sense.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:44 PM
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634: That was my reaction. But I'm not plugged into the lesbian scene, so I kept mt mouth shut. If they make bread half as good as the median lesbian makes coffee, I'm in favor.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:49 PM
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Hrm. (A) my friend may have been telling me stories; (B) a dozen years after the conversation, I couldn't swear that it was in Berkeley -- he lived in Berkeley, and it seemed like a plausible location for a commune of needlesharing IV drug using lesbian bakers, but maybe elsewhere in the Bay Area?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:52 PM
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Megan is banned. It was a damn good story. You people just don't understand.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:56 PM
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Some baseball games were rescheduled by half an hour so the big Obama ad can be aired. Keep an ear out for screams of rage.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:58 PM
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And I made fun of it, as kinda overkill, to a queer activist friend, who soberly informed me of the existence of a commune of lesbian bakers in Berkeley who were also all IV drug users.

I guess, but she sounds grumpy to me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 5:58 PM
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LB, you will have lost all credibility with me if this story isn't strictly true and thoroughly documented.

You will go from your current high rating of "usually reliable source", which would get you very good interest rates if there were any money to be lent, to "rumormonger on the internet" and you would receive loanshark rates even if you offer Dogbreath as your collateral if there were any money to be lent. So there's a lot at stake in the existence of these heroin-using baker communistic lesbians. I'm not rushing to judgment, but I note that I have never seen that breadlabel in Andronico's.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:01 PM
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He was a tad bit holier than thou about it. Seriously, I got the impression that safer sex pamphlets advocating dental dam use were more about solidarity ("All of us, regardless of orientation, are in this HIV epidemic together!") than about literal disease prevention, but pointing that out was uncool. I don't actually know -- any lesbians out there habitually using dental dams?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:04 PM
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637

... and it seemed like a plausible location for a commune of needlesharing IV drug using lesbian bakers, ...

They are needlesharing IV drug users and they are worried about getting AIDS from oral sex?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:04 PM
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This is a seekrit commune of lesbian IV-drug bakers. LB is trusted, FM and Megan are not. Tough luck, guys.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:04 PM
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offer Dogbreath as your collateral

Not an unmixed asset. She's nippy. Cute, but nippy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:05 PM
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maybe elsewhere in the Bay Area?

If so, it's recent. I left the BA in '02, but I have friends in the GBLT community, and this is the first I've heard of it.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:06 PM
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643: I have no idea why, but that cracked me up completely. Yeah, you'd think quitting the needle-sharing, to the extent any of this ever actually happened, would be a good first step.

Oh, and Sandford's not bad. I just picked up Certain Prey, and it's very respectable tripe, and he's written lots of them. Thanks for the recommendation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:08 PM
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646: I heard the story in 95, so if there's any truth in it at all, it goes at least that far back, and could be much longer ago than that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:09 PM
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LB, you will have lost all credibility with me if this story isn't strictly true and thoroughly documented.

This is just wrong. LB has a fucking silo of credibility. That she might have been taken this one time reflects more on the perniciousness of the myth than it does on LB's person.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:10 PM
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649: Anyone who really cared about my credibility would go out and organize such a commune. Talking all the bakers into becoming heroin addicts (or teaching the heroin addicts to bake) would be laborious, but worth it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:12 PM
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Specialties: anything with poppy seeds.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:14 PM
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LB is very credible, but like all liberal East Coast lawyers, a bit gullible.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:18 PM
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Thanks to those who answered the question about condom use among 20- and 30-somethings. That's 3 people, not exactly a quorum, and all women at that. I've been in the position of requiring a condom when the guy really wanted to avoid it (I understand), but we're not 17 here any more! So it's surprised me, and perhaps I was trained in an earlier HIV-fearing age, but it concerns me just a bit.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 6:59 PM
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Oh, and Sandford's not bad. I just picked up Certain Prey, and it's very respectable tripe

I like his Kidd novels better. There aren't nearly as many of those though and it is a slightly different sort of tripe.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:15 PM
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655

Crap, 654 was me.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 8:17 PM
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647

Oh, and Sandford's not bad. I just picked up Certain Prey, and it's very respectable tripe, and he's written lots of them. Thanks for the recommendation.

Glad you liked it. It seems our tastes in tripe at least are similar.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-15-08 9:32 PM
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What is supposed to be so improbable about a lesbian commune in Berkeley?

I mean, obviously they'd bake their own bread. Lesbians living in communes do things like that. Is it their all being IV drug users or their all using dental dams?

Dental dams are overrated, anyway. Cling film is better.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 10-16-08 2:22 AM
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Well, the number of casualties can't go down.

TLL doesn't believe in the power of Jesus.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-16-08 5:00 AM
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657: While the story may not be true, I understood it to refer to a commune of lesbian professional bakers -- like, they sold their products. I bake my own bread sometimes, but wouldn't call myself a baker. People weren't rejecting it as unlikely, but on the grounds that if there was such a commune, they'd be familiar with it through a combination of social contacts or buying stuff from them.

And this is hopelessly nosy, but why cling film, even? It seems like wild overkill for HIV protection -- has there ever been a documented case of transmission through F/F oral sex? Other STD's?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-16-08 5:14 AM
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has there ever been a documented case of transmission through F/F oral sex? Other STD's?

Herpes should be transmissible that way in both directions. I know there are cases of oral to genital transmission and vice versa. HIV should be transmissible in theory, but I am not sure of the real world chances of it actually happening.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 10-16-08 6:46 AM
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It's a genuine risk for herpes, but a small enough one in most people's minds that M/F oral sex is, IME and anecdotal impression, conventionally performed without protection; and my understanding of the HIV risk is that anything's possible, but it's really really really unlikely, to the point that there are no confirmed or strongly suspected cases of transmission that way, ever. I'm surprised if any substantial group of lesbians are actually more cautious in this regard than people having M/F sex; they'd seem to be statistically justified in being less so. So I'm wondering if I'm missing something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-16-08 7:40 AM
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