Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Grey Lady Gets Down Like That: NY Times Endorses Ephebophilia (But Only For Straight Women)

This article about why adult women should be allowed to have sex with 13 year olds (not kidding) has to be the oddest article in the NY Times in a long time:

Zernike on woman/boy ephebophilia

If you toggled the gender of the adults, it could have been issued from the desk of NAMBLA. Yet somehow I doubt the Grey Lady is quite ready to endorse sex between grown men and 16 year old boys (much less 13 year olds!) . So how did this get by the editors?

I can only imagine a coolerklatch of sexually frustrated NYT hacks (their newsroom is NOTORIOUS for having the most unapologetically ugly women in New York media-- seriously, this is a newsroom where the frumpy Maureen Dowd is considered a sex kitten) all like "Oh my god, Judith, you've been tempted by one of your 16 year old Mexican deliveryboys, too? I thought I was the only one!"

Witness the author (Kate Zernike? Never heard of her, but I'm guessing she's a Desperate Housewives fan) barely suppress her overheated lust:

... increasing numbers of female prosecutors and police officers who may not buy into the traditional notion that a boy who has sex with an older woman just got lucky. ...

... the willing sexual involvement of a mature 15-year-old adolescent boy with an unrelated adult. ...

... In the first case, serious harm may result, the article said, but the second case "may represent only a violation of social norms with no implication for personal harm." They suggested substituting the term "adult adolescent sex" for child abuse in some cases where the sex was consensual. ...

I think the basic point of the article is worth discussing (most other places in the world, including Western Europe, have much lower ages of consent than we do), except that it's only worth discussing if it's applied universally! Zernike goes out of her way to repeatedly limit the scope of her discussion. Over and over again she emphasizes that she's only talking about grown women who'd like to fiddle teen boys, so that's why it's OK. Only in the bizarrely hermetic fortress of Times Square (ironically close to lots of underage hos) is this totally arbitrary distinction at all compelling.

What's the difference between Jennifer 8. Lee shtupping her paperboy and Rupert Everett making out with some 16 year pool boy, or (and this is something I actually witnessed with my own two eyes this past summer) a major rap star bringing a ditzy 14 year old blonde girl as his date to the VIP room of Marquee?

I don't think the age of consent should be lowered (unless maybe by a year or so for people roughly the same age, perhaps), but I do think that the Times didn't put much thought into running this double-standard-ridden, batshit crazy article. And it was in the Week In Review, which means it wasn't an off the cuff decision to run it! Those editors need to get out more

The only thing I like about the article is that the author just barely manages to repeat the phrase "raise the question" rather than "beg the question" (which would have been nonsensical but increasingly common in this context).

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  • At 3:51 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    I'm not sure it's necessarily a problem to treat girls and boys differently in this case, if it is in fact true (as the one actual piece of evidence in the article claims) that boys are less damaged by these kinds of experiences than girls. Of course, I really doubt that this the article was particularly evidence-based--seems more like it just uses the assumption that teenaged boys want to have sex more than teenaged girls, and certainly need to be protected from it less. And you couldn't justify a legal distinction, just a medical/psychological one.

    Where dealing with sexes differently is totally unjustified, though, is with regard to the sex of the older person. Here I have to agree with you: all people, male and female, should be able to have consensual sex with sixteen-year-old boys.

    That was your point, right?

  • At 8:45 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Ha I'm not sure I meant all people should be able to have sex with 16 year old boys. I mean, think of the pimples.

    What I meant was that it made no sense for the author to classify adult men and women differently. If Gail Collins wants to get down like this, she's logically got to endorse adult men getting down like this, too. Which of course seems creepier.

    So really my point was that this article wasn't about logic, it was about rationalizations of some long masturbation fantasy in the NYT ladies room. Which is kind of amusing.


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