Trigger Warnings

Some of my posts deal with rape and that means that bits of this blog may be triggering.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Girls to remain Gatekeepers of Sex for Forseeable Future

So the debate about the age of consent has reared its head again.

Need I mention that like practically any debate about sex in the media, it ignores the elephant in the room and completely misses the point?  Probably not, you probably already know that, but I can't help picking at it.

The latest argument for lowering the age of consent to 15, seems to be that 15 year olds would then find it easier to get sexual health advice.  But that's surely an argument for lowering it further, so that any girl of any age finds it easier to get sexual health advice.

I was especially irritated by a discussion which said that in order to cut teenage pregnancies, STI's etc. girls would need to be educated about their right to say no, having high self-esteem etc.

No need for boys to be educated then?  No need to let boys know that the absence of no isn't the same as the presence of yes, no need to educate them that if both people aren't fully participating and having loads of fun in a sexual encounter, then you have to stop - if one person looks like they 're not sure they want you to do whatever it is you're doing, you must stop, because otherwise you are at the very least doing sex very badly and at the worst you may be committing a sexual assault up to and including rape?    No need to educate them that they aren't entitled to sex, however much they want it and however much they thought they were going to get it that day, no need to educate them about respecting other people's physical and emotional boundaries?

No, no need at all.  Just concentrate on educating the girls, because clearly, boys have no role whatsoever to play in ensuring that sexual relationships are fun, happy and consensual.  It's all down to the girls.  They're the gatekeepers.  They're the ones our educational efforts need to target.

In a culture where 1 in 4 women will experience either sexual assault or rape and where most of that happens when they are young and inexperienced; where coerced, unwanted sexual activity is so widespread as to be a rite of passage when you're a teenager, it still appears to have escaped most commentators, that the best way to stop unwanted sex, is to educate potential perpetrators rather than potential victims.  Not one commentator that I heard today acknowledged how much pressure teenage boys put teenage girls under to have penetrative sex they don't want.  There is some oblique acknowledgement of the problem; Professor Ashton, President of the Faculty of Public Health and the dude who raised the Age of Consent issue again today, touched on the issue of how prevalent coercion is in teenage relationships, but in a safe, no-naming-the-agent sort of way.  "What we are seeing is more physical abuse and mental abuse in relationships".   Interesting.  Who is committing that abuse?  Do we think teenage girls are inflicting physical and mental abuse on boys, do we think they're coercing or blackmailing boys into sexual activity boys don't want at the same rate as boys are girls?  I wouldn't put money on it.

No-one suggested that it might be more useful to teach boys not to be rapists rather than raising girl's self-esteem. I'm not against raising girl's self-esteem, that's an excellent idea and I'm all in favour.  But high self-esteem doesn't stop you being coerced, blackmailed or forced into sex you don't want.  The only thing that will do that, is to cut the odds of meeting someone who will do that to you and the way you cut those odds, is to ensure that there are fewer of those types about.  The way to ensure there are fewer of them about, is to educate them into not being that type of boy. But the people the media chooses to quote, don't seem to have cottoned on to that.


  1. Well said Herbs and Hags because the elephant in the room is centuries old male enactment of male pseudo sex right to females of any age. So lowering the age of consent - meaning age a female can submit to male sexual demands will supposedly reduce number of teen females becoming pregnant! Really? Last time I checked, males play a 50% role in conception so therefore females cannot become pregnant all by themselves.

    As usual the issue not being raised is male pseudo sex right to female bodies because as usual men claim 'I didn't know she didn't want me to sexually penetrate her 'cos she didn't say no loud enough/she didn't mean it/ she seduced me/she wanted it!' The list of male excuses/justifications for male pseudo sex right to female is endless.

    STDS are primarily transmitted from male to female but this fact must not be stated because that would mean holding males accountable! Instead let's continue to pretend girls and women have so much sexual power over males that it is the female's role to gatekeep insatiable male sexuality! Excellent male excuse for not being held accountable for enacting male sexually predatory behaviour towards women and girls.

  2. "STDS are primarily transmitted from male to female but this fact must not be stated because that would mean holding males accountable!"

    This is just plain wrong. Whilst there was initially some evidence that HIV transmission rates were approximately three times higher for male -> female than female -> male subsequent studies have suggested approximate equality and the original finding may have been due to a higher than average rate of penile ulceration in the original (african) cohort studied. For all other sexually transmitted diseases transmission rates are approximately equal.

    Which you'd expect really as epidemiologically it's pretty obvious that asymmetric transmission would be less efficient and so selected against.

  3. You have to significantly alter society to get boys to hold themselves accountable. 1. You need to somehow recreate the masculine hero to one of purity (like the feminine hero sort of has been), not as hard... plenty of medieval heroes like that. But Hollywood basically has to stop making romances period. 2. Hold boys to the same standard as girls from a young age. 3. Make boys afraid of sex, women, and girls, punish them for even talking to them. Maybe this will overcome teenage stupidity and they will stay away from women. 4. Because if successful Men will never want to be intimate with women in general, make it mandatory for them to regularly go to a sperm bank, so when women want kids they can have them.