Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 3.23

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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33 Comments

  1. Re: Double standard for rape?

    Yup. There is considerable variation in rape sentencing between judges, much less different jurisdictions. It’s ludicrous, but that’s how it is. Maybe it’s time to start working on getting some of these judges off the bench.

  2. I had this conversation last month with a law grad friend of mine and she said it to do with the idea of consent, in that an underage bloke is “better able” to give consent than an underage girl…?
    So many issues here, so little space!

  3. The prosecutor gets to choose the charge. And prosecutors are human, with their own irrational prejudices and failings. Part of the problem here is that rape awareness efforts, for all that their motives are worthy, have had the sad side effect of cementing irrational prejudices about male sexuality. Some antifeminists consider that misandristic bigotry; I merely call it a regrettable, but hopefully correctable, unintended consequence.

    (The same sort of differential prosecution can be observed in cases of domestic violence: women arrested for DV, generally, see significantly lesser charges, lower rates of conviction, and lesser penalties, though it is difficult to control for women’s general tendency to be less violent and produce less physical injury. It would be interesting to research whether there are differentials between prosecutions of same-sex and opposite-sex DV.)

    What really gets me is that a just-barely-major, convicted for having factually consensual sexual relations with a just-barely-minor with whom e has an established relationship, can then be marked as a sexual predator and a sexual threat to the community at large. For life, mind you: many if not most sex-offender registries make no provision for deregistration, not that deregistration would make any difference in a world where information gets circulated through databases for all time.

    It’s all well and good to try to eliminate false negatives — that is, to ensure that genuine sexual predators are registered. Stipulating that a sex-offender registry is really necessary (a separate question), it doesn’t have much utility if the rate of false negatives is high. But false positives have a different, more slyly corrosive effect: If the general public cannot know with certainty that any particular individual on the registry actually presents a threat … what does the registry mean? And what purpose does it serve?

  4. The statutory rape laws need to change in general.

    A friend of mine married a man about 5 years her junior – beyond the age difference, their maturity levels were also radically different. The marriage ended a few years later as they became less and less compatible.

    He was one of the kitchen managers at a chain restaurant, and after the divorce was final, he started dating the new hostess/greeter (whatever it’s called). He was 24, she told him she was 19.

    It turns out she was a few months shy of 18. He found out when the police came – sent by the girl’s father – and arrested him in the middle of his shift.

    The girl’s father hired some great lawyers, and he ended up in jail for 6 months, and is now a registered sex offender. This despite the fact that the girl admitted that she didn’t tell him her true age when they were dating. (The argument was that he had access to her HR file and could have looked up her birthday – but he probably would have gotten in trouble for doing that with his boss, since she wasn’t one of his employees.)

    He had to move back across several states to live with his parents, and to the community that knows him well enough that he most certainly is not a sexual predator. None of us were a huge fan of the guy, but we all felt so badly for him. He wasn’t a bad guy, he just wasn’t terribly mature at the time – he is now :(

  5. @Carmenego: Its not as if you are a child until one day magically you become either a man or a woman. Excluding alternative sexes and genders boys and girls are different. It is a matter of consent, but its also a matter of damage. You don’t consent to the things I do, but its not a crime because they don’t damage you. A Teenage Boy and Girl can both consent to the same degree to the advances of a 20 something, but the boy is a whole lot less likely to suffer psychological trauma from the event.

    Also looking at it all from an evolutionary biology standpoint (which I am prone to do on occasion) there are no members of society less useful than adolescent males. Because they are worth less the punishment for damaging them should be less severe.

  6. @Open:

    So, basically, you’re saying it’s okay to rape young boys because A) it doesn’t bother them as much and B) they aren’t worth protecting, anyway.

    Is that about right?

    Yeah, I’m just going to go ahead and assume this is a lame troll attempt. Have a good day!

  7. @Open:
    “Also looking at it all from an evolutionary biology standpoint (which I am prone to do on occasion) there are no members of society less useful than adolescent males. Because they are worth less the punishment for damaging them should be less severe.”

    WTF?! Wow, I was going to counter your views but something tells me that I don’t need to.

  8. @weatherwax: @Chasmosaur: Is there a lawyer in the crowd? I actually was wondering as well what a private lawyer could do during a prosecution. Of course being a powerful person with a lot of money you could, or hire someone, to put a lot of pressure on the prosecutor to push for a stiffer sentence.

    My opinions on the issue aside, my bro-inlaw was dating a classmate in community college who he thought looked a little on the young side. He checked her ID out of concern and found her to be of age. Later she admitted that she was 16 going to community college on a highschool advanced placement program and the ID was a fake. He dumped her on the spot.

  9. I’m not a lawyer but there’s something called an amicus brief. The intent of the amicus brief is to allow a “friend of the court” to provide helpful information regarding the case. I have no idea if this process is ever abused by hiring a lawyer to submit one to influence decisions, though.

  10. On a non-rape related note.

    pssssssst….Hulu has Carl Sagan’s Cosmos up! From killyosaur42.

    That is so cool. I’m watching episode 1 right now. I know what my lunch break will be for the next few weeks.

  11. Just FYI, in SC the legal age for consent is 16. Unless you get your parents permission to get married at 14, and then it is a ok!

    I have never understood why people are so focused on preventing teenagers from having sex. They can be taught to have sex responsibly, but it begins with giving them ownership of their bodies and their desires.

    I have always hated the “To Catch A Predator” crap on tv, mainly because so many of those men are so stupid they could not prey on a loaf of bread. Also, for an adult man to be sexually attracted to a 14 year old does not make him a pedophile, it makes him creepy. Pedophiles are attracted to prepubescent children.

  12. My understanding is that here in Ca, you’re considered underage until 18, but between 16 and 18 the state can’t get involved unless you decide to press charges.

    I’m not a lawyer, but that’s a police officer told me some time ago.

  13. @heidiho: I’m a man and I’ll have you know that I’m perfectly capable of preying on a loaf of bread, provided it’s been baked, sliced, wrapped in a plastic bag and placed on a grocery store shelf labeled “bread” in large, easy-to-read letters. I almost never pick up bagels by mistake.

  14. @weatherwax:

    Always possible. I know the father also tried to sue the restaurant (not just the franchise, but the entire chain) for exposing his daughter to this trauma. (not sure how that went…)

    I do know that he was immature, and that his ex-wife and her family – the first people to find fault with him – couldn’t believe it had happened to him.

    He wasn’t a pure sleazeball, but he was kind of a scatterbrain.

  15. @heidiho:

    I actually agree with you to some extent. The problem, though, is that everyone matures mentally at a different rate, and it would be impractical and unfair to enforce laws based on ability to give consent without drawing a hard line and saying that people below that age cannot legally give consent. That said, it could certainly be argued that 18 is too old.

    But that’s not even the point of the story. Whether or not the laws are a good idea is immaterial. The problem is that they aren’t being applied fairly to offenders of both sexes.

  16. We’ve discussed this previously and it appears that most states, including where I live, the age of consent for sexual activity is 16. That means a 16 year old can have sex with another person of any age over the age or 18 unless they are in a position of authority like a teacher. There is a scale of age differences that go from 24 months for younger teen ages and 36 months for older teenagers with regard to what is legal with lets say a 16 year old and a 14 year old (legal) or a 17 and 13 year old (not legal). This also varies fro state to state as to age and marriage laws.

    Some states have absurdly punitive and irrational laws that would/have put an 18 year old high school senior in prison and require lifetime registration for being a sex offender if convicted for having mutually agreeable oral sex with his 17 year old high school senior girl friend.

  17. @JSug: @skepticalhippie: @Vene: I’m not someone just trolling, I’m actually pretty active on the SGU forums hosted on this domain as Opcn. I was explaining a possible explanation for why I don’t care as much. Humans obviously care a lot more if say a 6 year old is murdered than say if a 36 year old is murdered. Did you think that wasn’t because of evolutionary biology? We have to accept our nature to build a just legal system, nothing good comes from ignoring it.

    Also, yes I think that young boys are not as damaged by statutory rape as young women, for one thing if the guy isn’t into it its not going to work. For another Typically even a 14 year old boy is stronger than a woman, so when it comes down to it physically he is in control of the situation, even if he is emotionally and psychologically not in control, I remember back to 6th grade when I was big enough that adult women would ask me for help when they weren’t strong enough to do something, sexual dimorphism.

    Also more ethology, A sexual encounter entails more resource commitment for women than for men, which leads to women being more selective, this in turn means that an unwanted sexual encounter is likely to be accompanied by more regret for a woman.

    Humans really are animals, we are subject to the same motivations and reward punishment systems.

  18. @Open:

    “Humans obviously care a lot more if say a 6 year old is murdered than say if a 36 year old is murdered. Did you think that wasn’t because of evolutionary biology? We have to accept our nature to build a just legal system, nothing good comes from ignoring it.”

    I couldn’t disagree with you more.

    Accepting our nature is to accept our bias and prejudges. We say justice is blind for a damn good reason. Unfortunately this is not always effective.

    Whites obviously care a lot more if say a white person is murdered than say if a black person is murdered. This can be seen in those who are on death row, pretty much all the victims of those people are white. Despite the fact that most murder victims are black or latino. This is probably because whites are the majority on juries and they’re evolutionary geared to look out for their own. Does this make it o.k?

    It’s o.k to recognize nature but part of being civilized is to have standards which require people, at times, to rise above their baser animal instincts.

    ….and another thing…
    “Also, yes I think that young boys are not as damaged by statutory rape as young women, for one thing if the guy isn’t into it its not going to work.”

    Your confusing statutory rape with actual rape. Statutory rape typically is with two consenting partner’s, one of which isn’t of age. A 16 year old woman is not going to be “damaged” by having sex with her 18 year old boyfriend, any more than if the sexes were switched. True it is harder for men to be forcibly raped by women but drugs and alcohol do help make this a reality. Also pressure from a partner can go both ways and the older partner (regardless of the sex) typically yields more power in a relationship.

  19. @Open: “Also, yes I think that young boys are not as damaged by statutory rape as young women, for one thing if the guy isn’t into it its not going to work. ”

    Uuuuuuh, that’s not true. Not all biological responses — especially when you’re 14 — can be controlled. Ever hear about morning wood? Or how about when teenage boys, especially those who have just hit puberty, get random wood for no reason at all? Just because someone shows arrousal does not automatically mean “Oh, boy! They were askin’ for it!”

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