In Duggar-world, girls and women “tempt” men and boys, and “defraud” them with their sexual allure. In the real world…girls and women “tempt” men and boys, because they’re sluts and boys just wanna have fun.
20 middle and high school aged boys have been accused of participating in an electronic “trading card” ring involving nude photos of female students. Reading the coverage of it, it becomes immediately clear how these boys got their overblown sense of entitlement: Their parents and community have rushed forward to support the boys for their invasion of privacy —and have demanded, instead, that the girls be criminalized for being such alluring little temptresses.
One mother, eager to shift the blame, told the local news station, “The girls are just as responsible as the boys,” and that “The girls know that the boys trade them and it’s kind of a game that the girls want to be involved in.” She did not offer evidence of this supposed consent. Instead, she seems to be hiding behind the old boys-will-be-boys canard and implying that being sexual with one person means losing your right to decline sexual contact with others.
The Duggars, James Randi, the parents in New Jersey – it’s all the same old shit. Boys just can’t help using photos of naked girls as trading cards, because they’re boys, and they were drunk, and hey at least they weren’t violent.
This, of course, is what feminists refer to as “rape culture,” where male entitlement to women’s bodies is normalized while women’s ownership over their own bodies is shamed.
Marcotte goes on to say that the goal shouldn’t be to punish the boys harshly, but to intervene to make it clear to them that consent is all-important – and that this can be done.
As Irin Carmon reported for Salon in 2013, unlike adult sex offenders who often have ingrained and hard-to-fix personality issues, juvenile sex offenders are surprisingly easy to rehabilitate. More than 95 percent of juvenile sex offenders who get caught don’t reoffend. It’s not exactly a boys-will-be-boys problem, but it is true that a lot of young men who do this are simply experimenting with the social messages they get that glamorize non-consent and treat sexual aggression and misogyny as “manly”—and most will reject those messages in adulthood, especially if they receive early interventions.
The consequences don’t need to be severe to be a deterrent. Mild punishments, combined with consent education, can accomplish the goal of preventing the crime without provoking fears of “ruining” the lives of boys who cross the line.
Now while we’re at it can we somehow intervene in the culture as a whole, to kill with fire that message that sexual aggression and misogyny are “manly” and rebellious and funny and cool?