Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What the Foley Scandal Doesn't Illustrate:

Any kind of connection between child sexual abuse, pedophilia, and adult homosexuality. First off, Foley isn't a pedophile (indeed, the Drudge Report just noted that the "victim" in question may have been 18).

I agree that Foley's revelation of abuse by a Catholic Priest, while simultaneously "coming out" was oddly done. It gave the false impression of a link between his homosexuality and the alleged abuse (though he was most likely trying to find blame for his inappropriate Internet behavior). Keep in mind that Foley claims to have been between the ages of 13 and 15 when the abuse occurred. And while legitimate debate occurs regarding homosexuality's origin as biological or developmental, no serious person who has studied the issue believes that the orientation is created that late in development. Even James Dobson (I think) agrees that the developmental factors which may be involved in homosexuality occur before the age of four.

One study trotted out by the antigay right in response to all this apparently shows:

Forty-six percent of the homosexual men in contrast to 7% of the heterosexual men reported homosexual molestation. Twenty-two percent of lesbian women in contrast to 1% of heterosexual women reported homosexual molestation.


Keep in mind that 7% of heterosexual men and 1% of heterosexual woman refers to "homosexual" not heterosexual "molestation" (i.e., straight people admitting to homosexual molestation). I haven't seen this study in detail, but I really want to know how they define "molestation." If such abuse includes consensual behavior -- which it almost certainly does -- then common sense dictates that a homosexually oriented youth is likelier to consent to sex with an adult of the same gender. The logic of Occam's Razor therefore suggests that someone interested in a younger partner of the same sex will take the path of least resistance and hence would likelier target a homosexually oriented youth. In other words, the adult looking for same-sex contact with the underaged could simply "put out the vibe" and the homosexual teens with the raging libido that all teen males have likelier will respond to the advances.

So it may be true that 46% of homosexual men report having sex before they were 18 with a party over 18 (I don't know; I haven't seen the study). If that qualifies as "molestation" then no doubt similar figures exist among heterosexuals. That is, if a 22-year-old male having sex with a 16-year old girl, etc. qualifies as "heterosexual molestation," then similarly high numbers of such heterosexual conduct probably occur. I blogged about this before where I reminded folks that according to such logic, Jerry Seinfeld is a child-molester.

Indeed, until recently Western culture (and even presently most non-Western cultures) saw nothing wrong with such heterosexual "ephebophilia," provided it took place within the context of marriage.

Finally, check out the reaction to all of this by Bill Donahue, a far right defender of Catholic Dogma. His reaction supports the notion that an adult interested in a same-sex experience with a teen (though not a young child) will likelier target homosexually oriented ones, or at least will have better "luck" with them.

"As for the alleged abuse, it's time to ask some tough questions. First, there is a huge difference between being groped and being raped, so which was it Mr. Foley? Second, why didn't you just smack the clergyman in the face? After all, most 15-year-old teenage boys wouldn't allow themselves to be molested. So why did you?"


I'm not saying I agree with Donahue's sentiment completely. It's entirely possible for a clever Priest in their revered position of authority to manipulate a straight teen to consent to sex. It would be a lot easier for a Priest, however, to seduce a homosexually oriented teen, which is no doubt what happened with Foley.

2 comments:

Karen McL said...

I've really had to think about how to respond to this post of yours in a way that is neither too glib, dismissive or offhand - and yet explain what I think is *wrong* with your rationale that this is NOT pedophilia or to minimize it as a crime.

In one (and only one) sense you have captured a partial truth...it is not similar to ~or~ analogous to a violent, forced kind of crime. (i.e. a flasher who intrudes upon children in a surprise attack, or a child abducted and held or molested against their will type of assault scenario.)

This is not necessarily a “SEX” crime in that vein (just like rape is not really about the SEX), And while I can agree that Teens are interested in a curious and open to sex(with their bodies more developed than their minds). This is about the disparity of their development to make these judgment calls and the nature of the adult breach of ethics and trust to take advantage of this situation.

Where you seem to fundamentally miss the point is in the recognition that this is a breach of a relationship difference measured in the disparity of the both the actual *power* *rationality* *experience* of an adult to a teenager. Teenager are developing towards their adult rationality...but have not yet *arrived*. While one minute they can seem veery mature, they can also be terrible naive, vulnerable and immature all at the same moment. Their pre-frontal cortex 9and not being a medical person...I apologize if I have it slight off here in my explanation) is not to the crucial balance of impulse v rational decision making processes.

While every teen "thinks" they know it all and are SOOooo mature...we as adults recognize they have a lot more development and socialization to reach adult maturity. And it's this distinction that makes for the vulnerability to an adult sexual advances wrong.

And even more so in a circumstance with a Congressperson to a Page (or Prof to Student, or Supervisor to Employee). And I don’t’ care if its Women to Boys (as you’ve already discussed), or Men to boys, or Men to girls or Women to girls…it’s still an issue.

And it's wrong. And it has nothing to do the teens *willingness* to engage in the behavior…but of the adult involved in breaching that line of what is taking advantage of any willingness.

Jonathan said...

-- Where you seem to fundamentally miss the point is in the recognition that this is a breach of a relationship difference measured in the disparity of the both the actual *power* *rationality* *experience* of an adult to a teenager. Teenager are developing towards their adult rationality...but have not yet *arrived*. While one minute they can seem veery mature, they can also be terrible naive, vulnerable and immature all at the same moment. Their pre-frontal cortex 9and not being a medical person...I apologize if I have it slight off here in my explanation) is not to the crucial balance of impulse v rational decision making processes. --

I agree with this entirely and support age of consent laws. My point is that an adult who lusts for an underaged physically mature teen is not a pedophile. It would still be wrong, however, for even consensual relations to occur for exactly those reasons you mentioned.