Sometimes, it's just a cigar

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Pearl clutching and willful blindness

Content note, this post links to the rape and abuse of young girls in Oxford.

Scene One;

*Picture a young lad around 15 or so being offered £10 to suck someone off. He is unsure about his sexuality, and as so often happens has found the men who are unsure themselves, or in denial. He would have done it for free but is savvy enough to not mention this. £10 is more than enough for his Saturday night out. Technically he is an exploited child, so exploited he returns next week, and finds other men, some who just want to masturbate and watch porn, others who want to pay. As he grows older he cuts out the middle man and simply goes to gay bars and gets his drinks brought, a setting which offers more comfort and a better selection of men,

Does it matter if I tell you he was a public school boy who went on to Oxbridge, with a loving and attentive family? Does it matter if I tell you he stopped cruising because he got bored with it, but still goes to the odd gay sauna from time to time? Does it matter if I tell you he is happily married and at peace with his sexuality now in a way he never dreamed as a young teen?

Today people were tweeting about a 16 year old who has apparently been told she is too young to have an abortion. I dont have the background to the story, I was struck by how young people are constantly harmed by the idea that magic numbers are more important than their consent. How nuance is thrown out of the window in defense of rhetoric and tweeted out to that effect. To be instantly accused of supporting the rape and molestation of children.

Scene 2.

** A 13 year old girl gives evidence in court, she has been beaten , raped, moved around the country so men could pay her abuser to  rpae her. So devoid of love has her life been that she thinks this attention is love, and as many survivors of childhood abuse will tell you any attention is preferable to returning to a life of nothingness, of loneliness.

The authorities see her as the problem, a run away, a bad girl, a problem to be solved rather than a child to be listened too, after all no good girl would sell sex,  Complaints to the police ignored, running away simply meaning you are caught and returned to the care system that has left you feeling unloved and unlovable.

Both these are underage sex, both technically could not give consent. Indeed when the boy in question was picking up men for beer money the age of consent for men was 21. Those who insist that the two cases are the same are blinded by their internalized whorephobia. They see money changing hands and focus solely on that, and so disgusting do they find it they blind themselves to the realities of the world.

Oddly this is exactly the same attitude the police and social services in the UK have shown over and over again as they have failed exploited and vulnerable children. In Oxford, in Rotherham, in Rochdale they saw the girls as willing partners because money was involved, we still have the oxymoronic label of child prostitute even though a child cannot consent to sex.  The fact they were children overshadowed by the fact they were (supposedly) prostitutes, and therefore less worthy, less important, lesser.

Some people under the age of 18 have sex for money, this is a fact. Some people under the age of 16 have sex, this is also a fact. Sometimes those two groups intersect. (Remember underage in a sex work context means under 18). Each individual has their own story as to why they are having sex. Recent cases in America of underage sex workers escaping from their supposed rescue highlighted how little use a pearl clutching black and white approach has. A study in New York of underage sex workers showed that very few of them had pimps or were on drugs, they were just kids getting by in the best way they could.  Was their best ideal? The answer to that is long, complex, and yes, nuanced, but is a 16 year old having an abortion ideal? Until we live in an ideal world is it not time to look at reasons, and choices instead of attacking anyone who dares say the world if a complex place?

* The boy grew up and reader I married him.

4 comments on “Pearl clutching and willful blindness

  1. punterthoughts
    April 11, 2014

    As a man who avails himself of the services offered by working women I am well aware that although the age of consent in the UK is 16, that for engaging in selling sex is 18. It seems strange to me that men and women are deemed mature enough at 16 to have sex with people who are (sometimes much older than they are yet, the moment cash is brought into the equation it becomes a criminal act punishable by imprisonment. I have never knowingly paid for sex with a woman under the age of 18 but short of asking for proof of age prior to having sex it is impossible to know with absolute certainty that the person with whom I am having sex is at least 18. The law puts clients of teenage sex workers in a difficult position. Either they desists from seeing those in their teens and consort with those who are (clearly) in their twenties or thirties thereby avoiding any risk of accidentally seeing a woman aged under 18, or they use their judgement to assess whether a working girl is, in fact 18. If the sex provider lies (and the desire for money is a powerful incentive for a person to lie about their age) then it is the client who ends up in legal hot water (possibly prison) rather than the sex worker. The fact is that some women and men are very mature at 16 or 17 while others behave (and sometimes look) like children in the mid to late twenties. Vulnerable people (E.G. those with severe learning difficulties who don’t understand what sex entails) obviously need to be protected from exploitation but I do wonder whether the present age of consent law is the best way to go about protecting those who clearly do require protecting.


    • jemima2013
      April 13, 2014

      Thank you for your comment. I always say re the age of consent i wouldnt start from here. We focus on the idea of magic numbers rather than consent,which helps no one.

      Re underage wsex workers, I would prefer if no one started until they were able to assess the risks, but is there a magic age for that? 18 is i presume the law so people are more mature, but i know some immature 40 year olds! A very dear friend first sold sex to survive on the streets of London when she was a teenager. She points out it was her choice to do so to escape her abusive home…there are rarely the cut and dried solutions people who oppose sex work seem to believe in.


  2. punterthoughts
    April 16, 2014

    Reblogged this on thoughtsofapunter and commented:
    An interesting post. On balance I think the age of consent (the age at which people can legally have sex, which is set at 16 in the UK) is about right. However it is, as I have said previously somewhat bizarre that although a man in his 60’s can legally have sex with a 16-year-old where no money changes hands, that same transaction is illegal once cash is brought into the equation (the age at which people can legally become sex workers is 18 in the UK and it is illegal to pay for sex with someone aged 16-17 despite the age of consent being set at 16). As the poster says, her partner wasn’t damaged by selling sex at a young age. I would, however be wary of having no age of consent but it is, as the poster points out a very complex issue.


  3. kidvelociraptor
    May 9, 2014

    I loved the last line, it made me smile 😀


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This entry was posted on October 8, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , .

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