This post was originally published on Teen Skepchick on 1-29-2013 by Lux.

Obvious trigger warning is obvious

The geek blogospheres blew up a little this past week when Glee basically ripped off Jonathan Coulton’s cover of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”. This has a host of its own problems, which have been covered extensively elsewhere. (Seriously, did they just expect JoCo to be small enough that people wouldn’t notice the unoriginal cover?)

Apart from the plagiarizing douchenocity of this episode, there seem to be other questionable things happening in the plot that Elyse brought up over on Skepchick. You’ll want to read that article, since this is a response to what she said and not the music stuff.

I’ll go ahead and say that I’ve never watched Glee–obsession with that show made me lose respect for someone a long time ago, and it just never sounded fun. The whole ‘covering music with a choir of kids’ thing was already tacky back when we had Kidz Bop commercials between our cartoons. So, I know very little about the show, and basically everything I do know I learned from reading Elyse’s article and doing some minimal background research. This amount of information should suffice, but don’t get mad at my guesses.

Diluting the storyline as far as possible, Kitty the High School Student is flirting with Puckerman the High School Graduate. My understanding is that Kitty is about 15-16 and Puck is 18-19 (see that awesome research?). If seasons work like years, Puck has graduated since the beginning of the show and he’s a pretty fresh adult. The dialogue and mood of the show tell us that these characters end up having sex.

We define ‘rape’ as sexual contact that occurs without consent of one of the parties involved. Elyse says several times that this sexual encounter is bold-faced rape because Kitty is unable to consent to sex due to her age. To address the strictly legal aspect of this argument: If we assume that Kitty is 16, she is legally able to consent to sex in the state of Ohio, as well as 29 other states. If she’s not yet 16, we may be more likely to consider this statutory rape, but I don’t think we should be calling this ‘rape’ at all.

One of the phrases we like to use is “enthusiastic consent” when we’re referring to what should be ideal in terms of consensual sex. Based on the dialogue of the show, Kitty is absolutely enthusiastic about the encounter. This is someone she seems to be familiar with, that she probably knew before he was an adult. They may have been classmates. The age gap is not big enough to warrant a huge fuss over how old her partner is, and she seems to know what she’s getting into.

At what point, exactly, does someone’s consent become valid? Kitty is consenting all over the place. There is not a magic wand that waves at midnight on someone’s birthday, suddenly granting them the power to decide what things to put in their orifices. If we use the blanket standard of ‘you can’t consent to sex until you’re 18′, following that logic would mean that a 17-year-old woman engaged in sex in the moments leading up to her birthday would be being raped from 11:57 p.m. to 11:59, but would suddenly be having consensual intercourse at 12:00 a.m. and beyond.

Following that logic, the majority of times I’ve had sex, I was being raped. I’m 18 and I became sexually active when I was 14, two of my partners were over 18 while I was a minor. However, I’ve never been the victim of sexual assault and not a single one of those encounters was rape. This is just one example, but there are probably a substantial number of young people who engage in completely consensual sex with their peers, give or take a few years.

Back when my husband and I first met and were hanging out as friends, he was very recently 18. Very shortly into this friendship, my mother wildly threatened to “have him thrown in jail” for statutory rape. Thanks to that, I kept my sex life a complete secret from everyone for the duration of my “childhood”, even though I was and have always been a pro-actively sexual person and have never had sex without mutual consent. Someone else’s (particularly my mother’s) power to overrule my consent and have my partner arrested plagued me for years.

It’s incredibly insulting to make the blanket statement that someone is incapable of consenting to sex until they’re 18. 16 is fairly understandable, but this isn’t something that can be easily diagnosed based on the number of star-revolutions you’ve lived through. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand being incensed about the exploitation of children. But how we define “child” is seriously a problem.

If we in the skeptic, atheist, feminist, social justice communities truly value young people and want them to be interested in our causes, we have to give them more consideration and more credit than this. It’s extremely condescending and off-putting to have your right to bodily autonomy thrown under the bus by the people who are supposed to understand sexual freedom and support informed decision-making.

Lux, the author of this post, has requested that comments be left on the original post.

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Mindy

Mindy

Mindy is an attorney and Managing Editor of Teen Skepchick. She hates the law and loves stars. You can follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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128 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Matt Borgard
    January 30, 2013 at 1:23 pm —

    Is this honestly a Skepchick article defending statutory rape? Is that honestly what this is? We draw an arbitrary line specifically because we have no other choice. Once you start saying “Oh, well, she was underage but consenting,” you start to allow that logic for 30 year olds raping 8 year olds. It’s not okay, and this article makes me feel gross in so many ways. Not to mention that there *are* Romeo and Juliet laws that allow for minor consent if the age difference is only a year or so.

    The issue here isn’t that 16 year olds (or 14-year-olds … sigh) can’t consent to sex. It’s that the age (and therefore power) discrepancy is so great as to make consent impossible.

    I’m really looking forward to the Internet ephebophiles throwing this article in my face to claim that feminism supports them obsessing over 15-year-old girls. Jesus Christ.

    • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
      January 30, 2013 at 1:28 pm —

      I’m really looking forward to the Internet ephebophiles throwing this article in my face to claim that feminism supports them obsessing over 15-year-old girls. Jesus Christ.

      I don’t think we can be held responsible for “ephebophiles” who are too stupid to read through to the fourth sentence to see that this is a disagreement between two feminists who both write for the same network.

      • Profile photo of sevendaysofnot
        January 30, 2013 at 8:36 pm —

        It was irresponsible for this article to be endorsed by Skepchick. The partner’s that had sex with her are rapists by law. That means a judge could label the men involved as sex predators and they will have miserable lives. The law and morality should not confused. The legal system will destroy lives over things like this and objections on philosophical grounds will be completely ignored. If the author is comfortable with everything that happened then that’s fine but for fuck’s suck post this stuff anonymously because it has the potential to fuck up people’s lives.

    • Profile photo of Edward Strickson
      January 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm —

      That sounds like a slippery slope argument to me. There’s a huge difference between what this is talking about at a 30 year old raping an 8 year old, that’s not using the same logic. There’s are big differences between a 16 year old and an 8 year old (puberty for one) that stop this being an applicable extension of this argument, especially when you contrast one against a 30 year old.

    • Profile photo of donboc
      January 30, 2013 at 2:25 pm —

      Slippery slope arguments depend on the inability of human beings to think rationally. Your argument depends on an inability to see the difference between an enthusiastic 15/16 year-old having sex with an 18/19 year-old and an 8 year-old being raped by a 30 year-old. You might be unable to see a difference, but everyone else can. Sometimes it’s okay to have two standards, because there are two things.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      January 30, 2013 at 2:40 pm —

      I’m really looking forward to internet homophobes throwing the president’s support of marriage eqaulity in my face to claim that he, and those of us who support full equality, also support bestiality and marrying your uncle.

  2. Profile photo of msweetwater
    January 30, 2013 at 1:23 pm —

    Don’t some states also have a an age difference clause in their statutory rape laws? Something along the lines of 16 is the age of consent, except if one of the parties is more than 2 years older than the other…?

    • Profile photo of punchdrunk
      January 30, 2013 at 1:35 pm —

      Romeo and Juliet laws:

      Close-in-age exemptions
      Some jurisdictions have laws explicitly allowing minors under the age of consent to engage in sexual acts with partners who are close to their age by enacting legal close in age exemptions: for instance in Canada the age of consent is 16, but there are two close-in-age exemptions: minors 14–15 may have sex with a partner who is less than five years older, and minors aged 12–13 may have sex with a partner who is less than two years older.[13] These different defenses can change dramatically from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, even between neighboring states of the same union with the same age of consent. Other countries state that the sexual conduct with the minor is not to be punished if the partners are of a similar age and development: for instance the age of consent in Finland is 16, but the law states that the act will not be punished if “there is no great difference in the ages or the mental and physical maturity of the persons involved”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close_in_age#Close-in-age_exemptions

  3. Profile photo of SidBB
    January 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm —

    Although I didn’t agree 100% with Elyse’s post, I have to mention in her defense that Mindy seems to have missed one of her central points. (Then again, Elyse emphasized it more in the comments than in her main post, so I can see why Mindy might have missed it).

    That point was that the guy specifically asks her, “Aren’t you underage?” She replies, “I have a fake ID” thereby establishing that whatever the laws in her fictional universe may be, she’s legally unable to give consent. The guy comes back with, “Good enough for me.” I think Elyse was saying that judging from a point of view outside of the two characters, the show appeared to be condoning (or at least turning a blind eye to) statutory rape through the guy’s cheerful indifference to the situation.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      January 30, 2013 at 1:55 pm —

      Yes. This. Which is basically what I just said, but I didn’t catch your comment before I made mine :)

    • Profile photo of SidBB
      January 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm —

      Oops, I should have referred to Lux who authored the response on Teen Skepchick, not Mindy.

      • Profile photo of marilove
        January 30, 2013 at 1:57 pm —

        I can’t comment at Queereka from work booo :( But skepchick works lol

    • Profile photo of muddgirl
      January 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm —

      I think Lux’s objection still stands. No matter what the laws in this ‘fictional world’ were, the show is portraying an enthusiastically consenting 15-16 year old having sex with an enthusiastically consenting 18-19 year old. If it this fictional universe, it was illegal for a 16-year-old to have sex with another 16-year-old, and they both had fake IDs in case they got caught, would that scenes still be objectionable?

      • Profile photo of marilove
        January 30, 2013 at 2:35 pm —

        I don’t think I’d find it objectionable if a group of skeevy men hadn’t been the ones to write this scenerio.

    • Profile photo of donboc
      January 30, 2013 at 2:33 pm —

      Mindy might have missed that, but her post dealt with that possibility anyway: “If she’s not yet 16, we may be more likely to consider this statutory rape, but I don’t think we should be calling this ‘rape’ at all.” Mindy explicitly argues that whatever the law’s opinion might be of Kitty’s ability to consent, the show did not portray her as an un-consenting party, or as an unable-to-consent party to the sexual encounter. It’s true: the guy was willing to break the law. But the show did not portray this as a moral issue, just a legal issue. Plenty of TV shows portray marijuana smoking not as a moral issue but purely as a legal issue (as I suspect most of is here regard it, too).

  4. Profile photo of marilove
    January 30, 2013 at 1:54 pm —

    You know … I don’t know if anyone really disagrees that there should be “exceptions”, though. So-caleld ??“Romeo and Juliet” laws are good things, and I think we can all agree on that.?

    I honestly think this disagreement has to do with this episode of Glee being discussed, rather than the ?greater issue of statutory rape.?

    I think people are disagreeing on whether or not Puck was committing statutory rape.?

    I’m going to say – yes, at least in the CONTEXT of what was written.?

    They were utilizing statutory rape as a way to titillate.?

    Which is rather icky.

    • Profile photo of Jack99
      January 30, 2013 at 2:34 pm —

      This discussion is very messy because the parameters of age and age of consent are not clearly established in the show. Depending on the assumptions we make we end up with wildly different conclusions. The context is muddied by the possibility of future plot twists.
      In short, I think the discussion is still useful, but only has value in so far as it reflects the real world.

      • Profile photo of marilove
        January 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm —

        Agreed. But I do think the writers of this show have shown in the past that they really, really love utilizing the virgin/whore theme, and also that they love sexualizing young girls. This isn’t the first creepy situation.

        So, in the real world, this whole scenerio might be FINE, but in this context, it’s freakin’ creepy!

        • Profile photo of Jack99
          January 30, 2013 at 3:35 pm —

          I totally agree with you. In the other thread I suggested that the same trope was in Grease.
          What do you think of that?

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm

            Agreed. Grease is SO similar, in my opinion! Kind of funny, actually. Grease is a fun movie but man, it gets awkward, especially watching it now.

          • Profile photo of Jack99
            January 30, 2013 at 4:02 pm

            Marilove, I bet you they GOT this from Grease. It’s probably their main “textbook”. Remember “Glease”?

    • Profile photo of Will
      January 30, 2013 at 2:52 pm —

      marilove said: “They were utilizing statutory rape as a way to titillate.”

      Yep. This exactly.

      Jack99 said: “the parameters of age and age of consent are not clearly established in the show.”

      I know we already had this disagreement in the other thread, but I don’t agree. The dialogue between Kitty and Puck clearly indicated the parameters of age of consent for the characters.

      • Profile photo of Jack99
        January 30, 2013 at 3:02 pm —

        Well, you know we agree on the main point, but I have a confession to make.
        I watched TWO episodes of Glee back to back and I enjoyed it!
        I know I am a horrible, horrible person..

        • Profile photo of Will
          January 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm —

          Nah, I have never missed an episode of Glee. Even the one being discussed. I was creeped out by the exchange that Elyse brought up, too. But then again I’m kind of used to seeing that sort of crap on the show–which is exactly the problem that I address at the end of my absurdly long comment below. ;)

          • Profile photo of Jack99
            January 30, 2013 at 3:28 pm

            Yeah, the gay guys were cool! (no reply button below)

        • Profile photo of marilove
          January 30, 2013 at 3:15 pm —

          Nah, it’s a fun show. Not my kind of show, but a fun show — I watched the first season (and then got bored). Plus JANE LYNCH!!!! <3 <3 <3 If I didn't find soap operas (which is what it is) so very boring to begin with (SO MUCH MELODRAMA), I'd totally watch it JUST for Jane Lynch.

          • Profile photo of Will
            January 30, 2013 at 3:18 pm

            SUE SYLVESTER FOR PRESIDENT 2016!

            Honestly, I watch it mostly for Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) and Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer). It’s obviously a problematic show (sometimes that’s putting it mildly), but I enjoy the openly gay (and now openly trans) characters and their storylines.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 30, 2013 at 3:25 pm

            Yeah, it’s got it’s pluses and minuses. The fact that they showcase so many gay and trans characters is great. At the same time, even those characters are flawed. But, you know, TV in general is very problematic and flawed.

            I must say, the only real “feminist” show I can even think of, at least in the mainstreem, is Burn Notice. Highly underrated show. But, they don’t seem to have gay characters … hmm.

          • Profile photo of Will
            January 30, 2013 at 3:26 pm

            Parks and Rec just had an episode that was all about feminism (and Leslie Knope is constantly referring to herself as feminist and talking about strong women)! It’s rare that I find problems with Parks and Rec, it’s a fantastic show.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 30, 2013 at 3:54 pm

            YES! Parc & Rec. You are correct. Wonderful show.

          • Profile photo of Konradius
            January 30, 2013 at 5:31 pm

            Feminist show: Bomb Girls
            This is something from Canada, and it’s about the women in a Canadian bomb factory at the start of WW2. Most main roles are for women, and it features loads of feminist storylines. It’s not on my local (dutch) tv, so I have to download (eztv).

  5. Profile photo of marilove
    January 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm —

    Ok, I need to stopy copy/pasting from word!

  6. Profile photo of Nicole Introvert
    January 30, 2013 at 2:06 pm —

    This makes me think of something I recently read on Rookie Mag about young adult women dating “older” men. http://rookiemag.com/2013/01/older-men/

  7. Profile photo of Jack99
    January 30, 2013 at 2:57 pm —

    I have another comment awaiting moderation but I also wanted to say this.
    Kitty is a sophomore, typically 15-16 but could be 17 if she repeated a year.
    Now if she is 17 I have a big problem with that being characterised as rape. Indeed I find it to be quite offensive.
    I met and was engaged to be married to my dear wife of 37 years at the age of 17.
    This was fully legal in South Australia, I posted the age of consent laws on the original thread.
    That established consent, willingly and freely given, would not change by migrating to LA where the age of consent is 18.
    So ability to consent follows the couple, not the local law.
    If Kitty is 17, I side with Gazetteer on the original thread. and I ask why Elyse is oppressing young couples of 17?
    I have a huge problem with the notion of Gleehio,,where Hollywood imposes fake Hollywood age of consent rules on any other place/

  8. Profile photo of Will
    January 30, 2013 at 3:08 pm —

    Many of your (Lux’s) objections were addressed in the comments in the thread of Elyse’s post, but there are a couple of points I’d be interested in discussing here.

    Lux wrote: “There is not a magic wand that waves at midnight on someone’s birthday, suddenly granting them the power to decide what things to put in their orifices. If we use the blanket standard of ‘you can’t consent to sex until you’re 18?, following that logic would mean that a 17-year-old woman engaged in sex in the moments leading up to her birthday would be being raped from 11:57 p.m. to 11:59, but would suddenly be having consensual intercourse at 12:00 a.m. and beyond.”

    My question to you: then what is the point where we draw this arbitrary line? If it’s not 18, is it 17? 16? 15? 14? 13? 12? 11? 10? 9? 8? 7? 6? 5? 4? 3? 2? 1? Newborn?

    At some point, we must draw a line. Where do you propose that line goes and why?

    Re: Your sex life as a teenager and your husband: I would never try to tell you that any of that was sexual assault if you say it wasn’t. However, at least some of that **was** statutory rape. As unpleasant as that may be to think about, the law saw you as unable to consent, and it was therefore rape according to statutes. Does this mean that your husband is a horrible person or that you did not want to engage in sexual activity? Nope. It just means that according to the law you were not legally able to give consent.

    It seems as if we are conflating moral arguments with legal arguments here. Statutory rape may or may not be a moral problem depending on the context (I don’t really find it all that problematic that Kitty and Puck hypothetically engaged in sexual activity–what I find problematic is the appeal to jailbait).

    Lux said: “It’s incredibly insulting to make the blanket statement that someone is incapable of consenting to sex until they’re 18. 16 is fairly understandable, but this isn’t something that can be easily diagnosed based on the number of star-revolutions you’ve lived through. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand being incensed about the exploitation of children. But how we define “child” is seriously a problem.”

    This seems in contradiction to your earlier point. Why is 16 “fairly understandable” but 18 is completely unfathomable? I would also pose that it’s not only how we define “child” that is a problem, but also how we define “adult.” Our culture has an extremely extended period of non-adulthood as compared to the rest of human history and most other cultures. This line, much like the line of statutory consent, is arbitrary.

    Lux said: “Based on the dialogue of the show, Kitty is absolutely enthusiastic about the encounter. This is someone she seems to be familiar with, that she probably knew before he was an adult. They may have been classmates.”

    Actually, in the show, they were not classmates and they were not on familiar terms. And one aspect of the encounter that we all seem to be leaving off is how it came about. Puck was there to **threaten** her about leaving his brother alone. This is not an equal power relationship–he’s a big guy and he’s threatening someone half his size. Now, Kitty is the sort of vindictive head cheerleader who goes around making people’s lives a living hell, so it was really easy for the writers to turn this situation around and make it out so that Kitty is “just begging for it.” This is a common trope in our society, especially with teenage girls having sex with older men.

    So, as much as I agree that there is certainly some nuance when it comes to age of consent, I think Elyse’s complaint is largely about the ways that these tropes show up in our popular culture and normalize really creepy behavior to the extent that people think it’s okay and normal to do this sort of shit. The point really isn’t about age of consent–it’s about pop culture criticism.

    • Profile photo of Buzz Parsec
      January 30, 2013 at 10:13 pm —

      I haven’t seen this episode (or any episode of Glee, for that matter), but one thing you mentioned (quoting Lux) struck me. Lux said: “Based on the dialogue of the show, Kitty is absolutely enthusiastic about the encounter.”

      Could they possibly be doing a Roshomon thing here, where so far they have only shown the story from Puck’s own self-serving, extremely creepy point of view? In other words, can we even assume the truth of what we have been shown? Of course, this is probably giving the writers way too much credit. And most likely the answer to my question is that what we see is all there is.

      I don’t know why I’m trying to save the writers from themselves.

      • Profile photo of Jack99
        January 30, 2013 at 11:54 pm —

        Buzz, like me, you are probably hoping for a plot twist to make it better.
        I am so pissed with the writers if that does’ not happen.
        But damn it, now I have to watch to find out!
        Curse you Skepchick!

    • Profile photo of Lux
      January 31, 2013 at 12:07 am —

      To address where the line goes and why 16 is “fairly understandable”: I don’t think it’s morally acceptable to have a hard line by which someone’s consent can be overridden due to their age. I say that 16 is an understandable choice for the law because I realize that there has to be some solid line on the books, and that while older teenagers may be more capable of making these decisions, those who are pre-high school or just starting are in greater need of protection.

      “As unpleasant as that may be to think about, the law saw you as unable to consent, and it was therefore rape according to statutes.” This is the main motivation behind writing a response. According to the law, I’ve been raped. But that’s completely false. I think bandying about the term ‘rape’, especially in a consensual context is inflammatory and offensive to the consenting parties.

      Yeah, I’m not very familiar with the background of the show. Sad to hear that they do this kind of stuff regularly.

      I can see how Elyse was mainly complaining about pop culture and the normalization of creepy behaviour, but it came across to me (and several others in my age group) as condescending and marginalizing. So, when I started thinking of how to respond, it was from a place of “my age group is being flippantly disregarded as children!” instead of looking at it as a societal criticism.

      • Profile photo of marilove
        January 31, 2013 at 1:02 pm —

        I just want to say that you bring up some really great points that are very important and should be discussed. You’re not wrong. :)

  9. Profile photo of marilove
    January 30, 2013 at 3:15 pm —

    Gonna take this out of Wil’s comment because it’s rather important:

    I think Elyse’s complaint is largely about the ways that these tropes show up in our popular culture and normalize really creepy behavior to the extent that people think it’s okay and normal to do this sort of shit. The point really isn’t about age of consent–it’s about pop culture criticism.

  10. Profile photo of marilove
    January 30, 2013 at 3:17 pm —

    So, I think my conclusion is this: In the REAL world? Not rape. Clearly Kitty consented.

    In the context of this show? It’s promoting statutory rape. Gross.

  11. Profile photo of spellwight
    January 30, 2013 at 3:43 pm —

    Thank You! Statutory rape laws were established way before I was a teenager and I had fully enthusiastic and consensual encounters starting when I was 14 and I’m over 50 now. Some teenage girls are coerced by an older partner and statutory rape laws should be enforced, but some are completely aware of their own sexuality. I watch GLEE and Kitty was fully aware and enthusiastic with Puck. If GLEE wanted to have a teaching moment, Puck should have said no. The fact that he bothered to ask the question shows he knows better but she told him she was underage and still consensual (actually she was the predator in this particular scenario) might make it a bit icky. But by no means was Kitty being coerced. That would have been a perfect moment for discussing safe-sex considering Puck has already fathered one child with classmate. Nowadays, girls are having consensual sexual relationships younger than 17 (though back in the pioneer days girls were married at 14-15) and automatically calling it any kind of rape, to me, is undercutting the horror of actual non-consensual rape.

    • Profile photo of Jack99
      January 30, 2013 at 3:54 pm —

      Actually an even better teaching moment might have been if they had stepped out of character for a moment.
      “Aren’t you underage?
      “We are in Ohio”
      “No, we are in Hollywood” (Looks to camera)
      ” Oh well – I have a fake ID card”

    • Profile photo of punchdrunk
      January 30, 2013 at 4:07 pm —

      Just to be clear, are you talking about sexual relationships between young people? Not a hypothetical 40 year old ‘dating’ your 14 year old self? Because I would want that adult in jail.
      Part of the murkiness is inevitable, I think. Everyone between,say, 16-22 is in a peer group. That’s really different from the kinds of rape the law is intended to address.
      Law is a hammer, though, so we get into these weird areas.
      And the show sure went out of its way to exploit the barely-outside-the-law naughtiness.

  12. Profile photo of omfgscience
    January 30, 2013 at 4:04 pm —

    I think what annoys me about Elyse’s post is conflating a legal issue with a moral one. Is a legal technicality (and yes, that’s all this is, because it would be legal in another country or just another area code in America) really worth this kind of moral outrage? Are we supposed to take some kind of legal compromise decided on by bureaucrats as a moral authority or something? If the scene had been Puck asking her if she’s underage, and her replying, “Actually, in this state you can legally have sex with someone within 3 years of your age if you’re under 18, so it’s fine,” suddenly not make it rape? The question of where, practically, to draw the line of legal age of consent is a tricky one, but if you’re arguing about the morality of it, then that compromise has little to do with it.

    Presumably, Elyse doesn’t believe in God. Why she’s willing to hand absolute moral authority over to local bureaucrats is beyond me.

    • Profile photo of Elyse
      January 30, 2013 at 4:23 pm —

      The issue isn’t about whatever age the consent laws state. It’s that the writers made it a point to determine that she wasn’t able to consent. They set that up. Then immediately turned around and had her “consenting”. It’s the show blurring the lines of what is okay and not okay.

      I’m not giving absolute moral authority to local bureaucrats. I’m calling out the creators of a story for the way they use that story to trivialize consent. Is establishing ability consent important to their characters? Apparently yes, because they went through the trouble to ask. But that consent also doesn’t matter because regardless of their characters’ established inability to consent, they’re writing them having “consenting” sex.

      • Profile photo of omfgscience
        January 30, 2013 at 4:34 pm —

        In the dialogue you quoted he doesn’t ask, “are you able to consent?” He asks, “Are you underage?” He’s asking a legal question, not about her relative level of maturity in making the decision. In your article you explicitly mix the two up, by quoting the dialogue and then claiming they established that she can’t consent, using it in the moral sense. No, they established that she’s under the age where it happens to be legal in that particular jurisdiction.

        • Profile photo of Will
          January 30, 2013 at 4:48 pm —

          That’s some pedantic horseshit right there that completely ignores the context of the discussion Elyse quoted.

          I don’t know how many times it has to be stated, but Elyse was not arguing about the legality or morality of consent laws. She was arguing that this exchange contributes to rape culture and was criticizing how pop culture normalizes rape culture.

          I don’t get why people are so damned focused on the age of consent. That. Is. Not. The. Issue.

          • Profile photo of omfgscience
            January 30, 2013 at 5:00 pm

            It’s not pedantic, it’s the heart of the issue. The characters in the story are clearly consenting. The only justification for calling it “rape” is that she’s legally under the age of consent in that particular fictional universe. Essentially she’s arguing that there is no such thing as “statutory rape,” only rape That some legal technicality is what makes it morally OK or not.

          • Profile photo of Elyse
            January 30, 2013 at 5:04 pm

            So…. what exactly were the writers trying to achieve with that dialogue? Something not having to do with having sexy sex with girls deemed too young to consent? Why bring up age of consent laws at all in the script being used to set up a plot having to do with them having sex?

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 30, 2013 at 5:12 pm

            omfgscience, this show and its writers don’t exist in a vaccuum. Context is important — the context of the show’s universe. The context of the dialog. The context of our society. It is all important. You can’t ignore WHY these writers made sure to mention that this girl was “not of age”. They did that for a reason.

            You’re utilizing a circular argument.

          • Profile photo of Will
            January 30, 2013 at 5:37 pm

            Arguing that since he didn’t ask “are you able to consent?” means that “are you underage?” is not a question about consent is a pedantic semantic argument that has nothing to do with “the heart of the issue” (which, by the way, has been explained **multiple times**).

            “Essentially she’s arguing that there is no such thing as “statutory rape,” only rape ”

            I’m assuming you’re referring to Elyse here? Pretty sure she never said anything like that, and she’s clarified exactly what she meant both in the comments of her post and in this post.

          • Profile photo of Konradius
            January 30, 2013 at 5:46 pm

            I havn’t seen the show and won’t, but I do have this question about it:
            might this be a leadup to a later episode where for instance the Puck character can be blackmailed for having committed statutory rape?
            It could be that the message of this episode gets changed later on into the “moral” that Puck should have stopped after the negative response to his question.
            (I agree this should not be rape, but I also think the st. rape laws are there for good reasons)

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm

            No, it won’t, Konradius. I’ve only watched a handful of episodes, and I can already tell you that this show is NOT that smart or forward-thinking.

          • Profile photo of Elyse
            January 30, 2013 at 5:58 pm

            And one of the graduated characters was fed alcohol until she was drunk enough to “consent” to giving up her virginity to him, got pregnant, and SHE spent the rest of her career on the show talking about how SHE makes bad decisions and she learned her lesson and she’s sorry and she cheated on her boyfriend and blah blah blah. I’d be shocked if Puck is suddenly responsible for raping girls now.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 30, 2013 at 6:15 pm

            Oh, Elyse, shouldn’t you be giving him and this show the benefit of the doubt? Even though we have no reason to?

          • Profile photo of Lux
            January 31, 2013 at 12:12 am

            Ack, that’s my bad! Elyse’s post was about pop culture and mine focused on the consent issue in a more comparative, real world context. Soooorrryyyy for bringing the argument to a different place.

  13. Profile photo of omfgscience
    January 30, 2013 at 5:11 pm —

    A cheap joke? To establish that Puck doesn’t actually about the legality of it, as long as he perceives he has a plausible out (her fake ID)? Maybe just because the audience knows that Puck is over 18 and the writers assume the audience would think about it?

    • Profile photo of marilove
      January 30, 2013 at 5:13 pm —

      A cheap joke? Why do you think it’s a “cheap joke”? WHY? Don’t tell us WHAT it is — we’re asking WHY.

      “Maybe just because the audience knows that Puck is over 18 and the writers assume the audience would think about it?”

      AND WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?

      • Profile photo of omfgscience
        January 30, 2013 at 5:26 pm —

        I haven’t seen Glee since the first season, but as I recall that was a major characteristic of Puck’s character, and the basis for a lot of the jokes about him: That he would do what he wanted, insofar as he thought he was able to get away with it. Having a dialogue like that just sounds like another joke about the type of person Puck is.

        • Profile photo of Will
          January 30, 2013 at 5:33 pm —

          Yes, we get that it was supposed to be a joke. Let’s back away from the humorless-frigid-bitch-feminist line and get back to the crux of the issue that you keep overlooking. Namely:

          The “joke” exists in the context of rape culture. The “joke” is meant to make light of statutory rape. The “joke” exists in a society where “she was asking for it” is a real thing that is used against girls and women. In these ways, the “joke” normalizes rape culture. This is the criticism, it’s very plain. This scene did not occur in a vacuum free of any context.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 30, 2013 at 5:35 pm

            “Let’s back away from the humorless-frigid-bitch-feminist line ”

            hahaha i adore you.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          January 30, 2013 at 5:35 pm —

          So. What you’re saying is that Puck is the sort of person who would get away with statutory rape if he thought he could?

          You do realize that … this is not helping your arguments AT ALL? And I can I also say, no shit sherlock?

          This comment of yours has added nothing we didn’t already know. Yikes.

          Does rape culture not exist in your world, or something?

  14. Profile photo of Elyse
    January 30, 2013 at 5:36 pm —

    This post confuses me.

    1. Trigger warning obvious… so… probably statutory rape laws are needed because its discussions involve trigger warnings.

    2. 18 is too old to be the age of consent. 16 is reasonable. 14 year olds can enthusiastically consent to 18 year olds.

    3. Statutory rape laws are bad because my mom is mean. So I couldn’t talk about sex.

    I sort of feel like this is “I’m 14 and I’m a grown up and I can do what I want. Law, you’re not my real mom. Mom, you just don’t get it.”

    We do need statutory rape laws to protect kids from adults. And sometimes each other. And we have to draw that line somewhere. There is no universal “you can consent” hour for everyone, so we have to go by averages and developmental milestones and societal considerations, sometimes, arbitrary other factors. It’s not perfect, but the other option is no law at all… and that’s not better.

    • Profile photo of fenrirthewolf
      January 30, 2013 at 6:03 pm —

      We can always change the law to 16, but yes we of course need some law. But Glee I am sure was just trying the shock factor to get people to watch, if you don’t mind me asking what is it about this that made you so upset? Are you worried that people will start thinking that its ok to sleep with a minor?

      • Profile photo of marilove
        January 30, 2013 at 6:11 pm —

        “what is it about this that made you so upset?”

        A little thing called “rape culture”.

        “Are you worried that people will start thinking that its ok to sleep with a minor?”

        What, you don’t think many people do already, or something?

        That’s not what she’s worried about.

        She is trying to have a discussion on rape culture.

        • Profile photo of fenrirthewolf
          January 30, 2013 at 6:35 pm —

          Yeah there is no such thing as a pederass I am not stupid thanks, and I am sorry but i doubt Glee is going to make some 18+ year old go well shit if they did it on the show that means its ok. I don’t consider a 16 year old hooking up with a guy who is 19 or 20 rape regardless of the law, if it was in the U.K. it would be legal and there would be no issue. I just don’t find this case to be a good example of rape culture, but she dose and I wanted to know why is this case so offencive to her.

          • Profile photo of Elyse
            January 30, 2013 at 6:39 pm

            I’m just going to start every single comment everywhere on the internet with this:

            It’s not that he’s 19 and she’s… 15 or whatever (though, gross) but that he asked her if she was “of age”, which was SPECIFICALLY PUT INTO THE SCRIPT BY WRITERS to establish that she CANNOT consent. Then she said she has a fake ID and “that’s good enough” for establishing ability to consent. That’s rape culture.

          • Profile photo of fenrirthewolf
            January 30, 2013 at 6:54 pm

            Ok, I have to ask this first though I am a little confused about the lay out of this site so was all that snark directed at me? Cus if so thats really fucking unnecessary, I was just looking to understand your position and to be mocked as some misogynist is highly offencive.

          • Profile photo of Will
            January 30, 2013 at 7:02 pm

            No one called you a misogynist. You’re the *****ONLY***** person who has used that word.

            What happened was that you asked some stupid fucking questions and got some snarky answers in response.

            You were not looking to understand Elyse’s position, because she stated it quite plainly in her original post, in the comments in that post, and in the comments on this post. And you show up and ask “y u mad???” and then get pissed when people find your question ridiculous. Good grief.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 30, 2013 at 7:20 pm

            How many fucking times do we have to repeat the same shit over and over again before you get it? You still don’t get it!

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 30, 2013 at 7:21 pm

            I was just looking to understand your position and to be mocked as some misogynist is highly offencive.

            YOU are being offensive. No one has called or even implied that you’re a misogynist. I have no idea. I have nothing to go on. I would probably go with INCREDIBLY DENSE, before I went with misogynist. And a fucking martyr to boot.

          • Profile photo of fenrirthewolf
            January 30, 2013 at 7:25 pm

            Lol I am not “pissed” I just said its offencive I can find somthing that was said about me offencive and not get pissed off, but you sir are being an ass hole, I did not read that post and now that she explaned it I get it and tend to agree that it is kind of trashy as is a great many things on TV now days, and if you don’t think there was an implication of being a misogynist with the whole oh we are just balls of emotion then what else was that trying to convey? And as for the reason I did not read that comment I have Dyslexia and I read very slow and have a hard time comprehending what I read so fuck me for skipping some of the comments, this is also as I am aware why my questions may seem kind of odd or worded stupid as you put it, and yeah I was trying to understand her position regardless of what you think.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 30, 2013 at 7:31 pm

            , and if you don’t think there was an implication of being a misogynist with the whole oh we are just balls of emotion then what else was that trying to convey?

            WOW. Just because we use snark doesn’t mean you’re calling you a misogynist. Also, just because you’re utilizing sexist language to argue (seriously, stop it) doesn’t mean you’re necessarily a misogynist.

            Just because we are feminists that are being snarky doesn’t mean we think you’re a misogynist. Talk about getting defensive.

            And you’re not “pissed” but you find what Elyse is saying is offensive? Offensive enough to mention your offense like, 3 times? Well, okay, then. I’ll just take you at your word, because honestly? I don’t even care if you’re angry! Honestly.

            If we think you’re a misogynist, then we’ll straight-up say it. So until then, just assume we’re mocking you because we think you’re being rather dense.

          • Profile photo of Will
            January 30, 2013 at 7:33 pm

            Right, so instead of reading the link in the OP and trying to educate yourself on what’s being discussed (and has been referenced numerous times), you come in here and ask Elyse “y u mad??? SPLAIN WHATS WRONG TO ME!” After she wrote a whole goddamn blog post about it. And repeatedly said what she found troublesome. You manage to read these comments, you could have taken the time to go read her OP if you were truly “just trying to understand her position.”

            “if you don’t think there was an implication of being a misogynist with the whole oh we are just balls of emotion then what else was that trying to convey?”

            It was trying to convey that you were drawing on common sexist (not necessarily misogynist) stereotypes and coming across as a typical sexist troll in your questioning and in your approach to this thread. How about instead of asking “why are you upset?”, go read her original post and then maybe ask “why did you find this episode problematic?” Do you see the difference? One is finding a problem with her emotional state, the other is asking her for an intellectual discussion.

            And to top all of that off, you were making arguments against her even though you admit that you had not read any of the previous discussion. Which has already been addressed. Repeatedly. And yet you demand an answer for why she’s upset!?

            All of that comes across as trolling, whether or not you intended it to.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 30, 2013 at 7:34 pm

            And I mean “I don’t care. Honestly.” because I”m tired of this idea that showing any sort of emotion is always bad. Anyway. That’s irrelevan.

            If you are honestly asking questions because you want to know her position, but she’s really explained it nine ways ’til Sunday. She repeated it VERY clearly in several different comments. **II repeated it for her a few more times. Then WIL repeated it! So I’m not sure what else we can say to make you understand.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 30, 2013 at 7:34 pm

            And there I am, leaving out entire blocks of words! I will clarify if needed, just ask.

          • Profile photo of fenrirthewolf
            January 30, 2013 at 8:09 pm

            lol Yeah bunch of cynical pompous bullies, you guys really are a huge fucking joke.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 30, 2013 at 9:19 pm

            Oh. lol. Well, then. It didn’t take long to get out how you REALLY feel!

          • Profile photo of fenrirthewolf
            January 31, 2013 at 10:34 am

            Yeah thats how I REALLY feel why all caps, I get it your yelling, if you talk to a person like they are a piece of shit its a crazy thing they tend to think of you as an ass hole. But I don’t know i kind of think you enjoy being a totally repugnant cynical shit to people who don’t fit your mold of how a person should speak or think and if they say something in the wrong way oh fuck boogie man, boogie man, I think you look for things to get pissed off at so you can point out your perceived sexist slights and try to make that person feel like your moral inferior. Pointing out the short comings of others dose a great job of busting ones own ego, guess I don’t have to tell you, I know you see us lesser mortals as simple or thick but you should try taking the ten foot stick out of your ass and realize life is a bit more fun when your not being an rude obtrusive creep to those who are a bit different. Any way I see now why people on this site and A+ are so hated, so I am going to treat this like the huge fucking joke it is and find people who are not full of self important shit, so bye.

          • Profile photo of Elyse
            January 31, 2013 at 10:43 am

            Why are you so upset?

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 31, 2013 at 1:35 pm

            I put one word in caps — REALLY — because I was too lazy to italisize using HTML and … I’m … yelling? Okay.

            I’m not even bothering with the rest. It’s clear to me you had a bias the moment you walked in. And now you’re just throwing a hissy fit. Yawn.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 31, 2013 at 1:37 pm

            “and realize life is a bit more fun when your not being an rude obtrusive creep ”

            Aka: Stop being such un-fun feminists blah blah blah I’m going to throw a huge hissy fit but tell YOU to calm down blah blah blah…

            i am cracking up. Thank you for the laugh.

            But, seriously, dude, I’m not angry. It’s cool if you are … anger isn’t a bad emotion. But at this point you’re just throwing a hissy fit and it’s kind of hysterical to watch. Please, keep going! :)

          • Profile photo of fenrirthewolf
            January 31, 2013 at 10:51 pm

            amug Elyse I think your a cool perspn but I am not happy with your mora not l jackassesm your a coool woman but damn I mean I v e my limouts. look I reallly do like u your an interesting person but zi hate that you see me as s bigot I am really trying, I feeel baD abdou blanket judgeing you I am better thAN THANT.

          • Profile photo of fenrirthewolf
            January 31, 2013 at 10:55 pm

            I sm thoroeing a hiddyfit you know what fuckiu anf your ass hole exhitetan ce we aee alll fucked anyn way som I hope u die in a car fier yiu sad fucckig wsre DIE! ASS HOLE,\.

          • Profile photo of fenrirthewolf
            January 31, 2013 at 10:58 pm

            lOOK Elyse I QAM OK JUST FUCKING FIRGET ME. zi AM NOTHINNG OK JUST BE HAPPY.

        • Profile photo of fenrirthewolf
          January 31, 2013 at 11:00 pm —

          lOOKN i DO NOT CARE, JUST END NE aaam[

          • Profile photo of fenrirthewolf
            January 31, 2013 at 11:03 pm

            You know what why do u care?!

          • Profile photo of Elyse
            January 31, 2013 at 11:26 pm

            Go home, angry man.
            You’re drunk.

      • Profile photo of Elyse
        January 30, 2013 at 6:13 pm —

        I’m always upset. It’s all the lady parts and hormones and my husband keeping the toilet seat up. I just LOOK for shit to get upset about. Sometimes that shit ends up being rape. I’m sorry. Just sometimes when I’m in my hysterical frenzy, I start thinking rape is terrible. Like REALLY terrible. Maybe I should go knit something instead of getting my head all dizzied.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          January 30, 2013 at 6:16 pm —

          Apparently women can’t have discussions about anything at all without “overreacting” (Rebecca’s post yesterday) or “getting upset” (your post on this today, and the other day). We’re just balls of emotions!

      • Profile photo of Will
        January 30, 2013 at 6:36 pm —

        JAQ ALERT! JAQ ALERT!!!! RELEASE THE HOUNDS!

      • Profile photo of omfgscience
        January 30, 2013 at 8:39 pm —

        You asked why I think the writers put that in. I said the most likely reason was to have Puck act in character. The quote isn’t about statutory rape laws, it’s about Puck’s view of rules in general. And I’m not sure how it’s even promoting the normalization of statutory rape, though, when Puck is explicitly the amoral asshole character.

        But this is all kind of superfluous. The problem I had with your post is the moral equivalence of breaking some legal technicality to actual rape. You use an episode where a character is enthusiastically consenting, and arguing that Puck is actually raping her. Of course we need statutory rape laws, but this type of absurd equivocating between breaking a somewhat arbitrary law and actual rape is the kind of moralizing rhetoric that motivates politicians to push for harsh sentences on relatively innocuous encounters. There’s a significant % of the sex-offender registry made up of people who were just having normal, consensual sex with their slightly underage girlfriends. There’s real consequences to this kind of over-the-top moral outrage.

        • Profile photo of Will
          January 30, 2013 at 9:33 pm —

          Hear that, Elyse? It’s YOUR FAULT that guys are being FALSELY IMPRISONED for RAPE! Posts like yours MAKE POLITICIANS ADD PEOPLE TO THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY WHEN THEY DON’T NEED TO BE THERE!

          “There’s a significant % of the sex-offender registry made up of people who were just having normal, consensual sex with their slightly underage girlfriends.”

          Citations or fuck right off.

    • Profile photo of Lux
      January 31, 2013 at 12:28 am —

      I put the TW up for discussion of rape in general–I’m not a victim, so I have a hard time telling what may or may not be triggering for someone. I try to be safe and give as much warning as possible in an attempt to be considerate.

      In general, I think using someone’s age only as the basis for whether or not their sexual lives are consensual is unreasonable. However, I realize that there has to be *some* standard to protect people who *are* being exploited. I grant that 16 is understandable because older teens are likely more able to make “adult” decisions than younger teens, but the point at which one becomes the other is subjective.

      Hah, I guess I do sound a bit whiny about that. The point is that my consent could have been deemed invalid by someone else’s authority, which is particularly annoying to me because I’ve had an adult mindset and decision-making ability since well before my 18th birthday.

      I’m not very active in the comments (or at all, really), so I haven’t seen the discussion happening on your post. I’ll keep in mind to look at that stuff before responding to the hard material. Instead of seeing your post as a critique of rape culture and normalizing borderline-rape situations, I saw it as marginalizing and diminishing the ability of young adults to make these types of decisions, which was my mistake. I’m still pretty recently a legal adult, and I had a lot of issues with not being taken seriously when I was a minor so it’s hard to pull out of that subjective viewpoint of age-related assumptions.

      Looking at it from a ‘normalizing creepy behaviour’ point, I definitely understand where your original article was coming from. Knowing more context from other people who watch the show has helped throw some more objective perspective into the mix for me, and shown that this situation is pretty creeptastic.

  15. Profile photo of Benny
    January 30, 2013 at 5:55 pm —

    I’m really glad to see you take this on here. Age of consent laws are supposed to be designed to prevent the exploitation of young people who are not yet mature enough to make informed decisions, but they also often serve to limit the choices for those minors. In fact, they are often used simply to punish young people for having consensual sex desired by all involved, not to put limits on exploitative adults. When a group of people without social and political power are having decisions made for them about their own bodies and sexuality, we should be aware of that as feminists. We should seriously consider when it is right to support the autonomy of young people, and their right to make decisions about their own sexuality. When age of consent laws are used to police consensual sexuality, instead of to protect vulnerable people, we should be supporting the right of a young population to their own autonomy, not the state’s desire to control them.

    • Profile photo of Will
      January 30, 2013 at 6:42 pm —

      I agree with you 99.9%. You say, “When age of consent laws are used to police consensual sexuality” — isn’t that exactly what they’re for?? They are in place to draw a line between who can consent to sexual activity and who cannot (legally speaking). It seems to me that policing what is consensual and what is not is necessary for protecting vulnerable people, no? Maybe I’m misunderstanding your point there. Do you mean when the consent laws are used as in the situation Lux mentioned in the OP?

      Anyway, I doubt Elyse disagrees with you (though I don’t wish to speak for her). I’m pretty sure she said in the original post or the comments there that she’s not against young people’s sexual autonomy.

      And once again I feel I must point out that Elyse’s post really was not so much about age of consent as it was about rape culture. Everyone who’s getting all hung up on the age of consent thing seems to be overlooking the real problem.

      • Profile photo of Elyse
        January 30, 2013 at 7:04 pm —

        Will, I’m just going to officially make you my official spokesperson. You may now speak for me. You do it better than I do pretty much all the time.

    • Profile photo of Jack99
      January 30, 2013 at 7:00 pm —

      Nicely put, Benny. That addresses one of my main reservations as well.
      I am sure Elyse is not out to oppress young couples’ autonomy, but her post could possibly have been interpreted that way.

      • Profile photo of Will
        January 30, 2013 at 7:06 pm —

        Perhaps, but she’s clarified it multiple times and yet people keep on harping her about it. And then when she says, “I’m not talking about age of consent laws or how they may or may not be problematic, I’m talking about rape culture,” people reply “why do you hate teenagers Elyse? Age of consent laws are oppressive!” And she says, “I’m not talking about age of consent laws, I’m talking about rape culture,” and they say “but AGE OF CONSENT LAWS!”

        And round and round we go.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          January 30, 2013 at 7:38 pm —

          They are both valid discussions to be had, and while they do have some things in common/are related in some ways, there are separate things to be discussed. But it seems people are having a hard time doing that.

        • Profile photo of Jack99
          January 30, 2013 at 7:45 pm —

          Will, Elyse, Sure and I’ve already agreed to that so no problem.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 30, 2013 at 7:48 pm

            Right, and Elyse (and Wil … and me…) have clarified nine ways to Sunday before Benny left his comment (which was just a repeat of other comments, honestly)…

            So yeah, I think we’re all basically on the same page, but for some reason, Elyse — even though she’s clarified over and over — is being accused of trying to rid teens of their bodily autonomy. Sigh.

          • Profile photo of Jack99
            January 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm

            Marilove,” I am sure Elyse is NOT out to oppress young peoples’ autonomy” is the crux of what I said to Benny.
            I was surprised to see Will’s reply come up before mine, if it had seen it I would have kept quiet.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 31, 2013 at 1:44 pm

            You are correct, Jack99 :)

        • Profile photo of Adam M.
          January 30, 2013 at 8:47 pm —

          Don’t you love it when you write a post and then in the comments section nobody talks about what you wanted them to talk about? ;-) But actually I think Elyse is the one bringing in age of consent laws. Elyse’s article says Kitty was raped, but many people disagree. In justifying her statement, Elyse repeatedly expressed the sentiment that being underage means you cannot consent — specifically, that when the show established that Kitty was underage it was sufficient to determine that she was unable to consent. In short, “underage = cannot consent = rape” and “the show was wrong to make light of rape”. Since age of consent laws are what determine whether somebody is underage, her argument depends on them, and that’s the part of her argument that most people disagree with. Then to say the point is just about rape and rape culture only raises the question: if there was no rape involved, why talk about rape and rape culture? (People like Lux are basically saying “but she wasn’t raped!”) Everyone agrees that “cannot consent = rape”, so the whole discussion turns on the “underage = cannot consent” part and it’s no surprise to me that people are discussing age of consent laws. If Elyse just wanted to have a discussion about rape culture, I think she should have said “I know Kitty wasn’t raped, but this still perpetuates rape culture because…” rather than “Kitty is underage, so she was raped. The show is encouraging rape.”

          To go back to the parent post, if you say that underage people “cannot consent” and to have sex with them (if you’re above that certain age) is rape even in the most favorable situations (i.e. when the younger person is enthusiastic and literally asking for it, the age difference is small, there’s no apparent coercion or deception, etc), it doesn’t seem like you’re leaving any room for teenagers to make their own decisions. So it does sound like Elyse’s position on the matter, if it could be enforced, would “oppress young couples’ autonomy”. I realize that Elyse said she doesn’t mind teenagers having sex in general, but I don’t see how she can square that with her other statements.

          • Profile photo of Lux
            January 31, 2013 at 12:34 am

            THIIISSSSSS^^^^^^^^

            One of the big things that bothered me about Elyse’s post was the black and white language used, like you said “Kitty is underage, so she was raped. The show is encouraging rape.”

            “Underage = cannot consent = rape” especially the “underage = cannot consent” because that’s not an ambiguous statement. It’s just saying “You are underage, therefore you ARE NOT able to consent, therefore any sex you have is rape.”

            At this point, it’s clear that that wasn’t her meaning, but there wasn’t really another way to interpret that.

      • Profile photo of Jack99
        January 30, 2013 at 7:55 pm —

        Damn, that should have been “previous” reservations. Never mind, we’re all good. I’m at work, cant’t concentrate.

        • Profile photo of Jack99
          January 30, 2013 at 8:12 pm —

          Damn, and I meant about the original post the other day.. Sorry to you all.

    • Profile photo of Lux
      January 31, 2013 at 12:37 am —

      Exactly, Benny. This is just anecdotal, but I and others I’ve known have been threatened with the enforcement of statutory rape laws to have their sexual behaviour policed. That’s why I referred to my mother, because in that instance statutory rape laws were not protecting a minor from exploitation, they were being used as a looming threat to control my sex life.

      Sometimes I can’t put thoughts into words and it’s just a jumble of feelings and other, more eloquent people put it in language so others can understand. :)

  16. Profile photo of Meghan Conley
    January 30, 2013 at 6:43 pm —

    It seems to me that the rest of the details of this episode comprise a pretty good argument for the necessity of statutory rape laws. Kitty’s consent may have been enthusiastic, yes, but she enthusiastically agreeing to have sex with someone who has, if not outright contempt, then at least close to zero interest in her as a person. Having sex is a little perk for doing an annoying favor for his brother (distracting Kitty’s attention). They’ve written Kitty as a naive little girl who’s jumping at the chance to do a big kid thing with an older boy, and I’m guessing that if she were a little older and more self-aware, she’d be able to read Puck’s grody disinterest for what it is. And that’s the point of statutory rape laws, to protect young people from the machinations of older, more sophisticated manipulators.

    Whether laws governing the age of consent always function to protect the spirit as opposed to the letter of the law is a valid debate, but Elyse’s argument that this episode represented a pretty clear cut example of statutory rape is pretty solid.

    • Profile photo of Will
      January 30, 2013 at 9:31 pm —

      This! 100%. And, like I said earlier, not only does he either have contempt for her or zero interest in her as a person, he approached her TO THREATEN HER.

  17. Profile photo of dr. dr. professor
    January 30, 2013 at 10:54 pm —

    Well Glee sucks, terribly. So I think optimally no one should watch it.

    But on the subject of statutory rape, here’s my view from the viewpoint of my unique experience. When I was a teen, I used to be really into using & selling hard drugs. I was completely immersed in hood & drug culture. And as far as sex with minors goes, I saw many MANY liasons between underage people and adults (of all combinations uf/am, um/af, uf/af, um/am) and the things I saw were this:
    – A lot of kids in this culture lost their virginity early (I’m talking like, 11 or 12), so they had basic or even heavy experience in sex
    – Some liasons were “true love” or at least genuine relationships
    – Some were “true lust”
    – More liasons were a hookup situation due to some inherent power dynamic (the adult had the drugs, the adult was socially high on the ladder, the adult had the appearance of something tantalizing to offer…)
    – The typical age difference from the teen to adult ranged from 4 years (these were typically more the relationship cases) to 8-14 years (more the exploitation cases, but not all)
    – Some were explicit transactional exchanges for drugs or money

    And when these cases were occassionaly taken to the police & court, the end result was that some people who were true offenders got off, and some people who really weren’t (like as in, they were in loving relationships) were prosecuted, it all depended on the parties involved, evidence, available, prosecutor’s agenda, police involved, etc.

    And from this I’ve formed the following opinions
    1. The laws exist because exploitation is very real and VERY common. I’d postulate exploitation, coercion, prostitution, or flat out rape makes up a majority of statutory rape cases, although I have no data to support this postulate.
    2. There should be better tools in the legal system for dead-reckoning who the exploiters & bad people are. Because sometimes these people get off completely free because of some very shitty reasons & loopholes. On the contrary, some people who were definitely in love with their partner & planning a future get burned at the stake.
    3. There should be some consideration when both parties were in agreement that it was consensual and non-exploitative for a much lesser punishment or dismissal (zero tolerance laws are poorly written and usually bullshit), but some strong due diligence to determine whether the victim is being coerced into protecting their exploiter.

    In short, like most policies, there’s a lot of shitty laws & processes on the books in these cases, and many could use a good second look to help better prosecute victimizers and better evaluate more legitimate situations.

  18. Profile photo of cupcakelindzay
    January 31, 2013 at 2:19 am —

    In my state the legal age of consent is 16. Any 16 year old may have sex with any other 16 year old or a 17 year old. A 17 year old may not have sex with an 18 year old. When I was 16 I lost my virginity to a guy who was 17. We got together again many times after that, a few times after he turned 18. Even though I gave consent and it had been legal a few days prior to that when he was still 17, legally I was raped? That’s kind of messed up if you ask me.

    • Profile photo of Jack99
      January 31, 2013 at 4:10 am —

      That is messed up. There ought to be a principle that preexisting consent, freely and legally given, trumps everything.
      Our state avoids your dilemma by having only 1 year of grey area
      16-16 ok, 16-17 ok 16->17 not ok, AOC 17
      I think. Nobody knew what “shall be a defence” meant (I posted the legislation on the original thread). By the time we got around to checking subsection 43a we had all turned 17 anyway!

    • Profile photo of marilove
      January 31, 2013 at 12:34 pm —

      No. You weren’t raped. I mena, unless you think you were, but I don’t get that impression. Can we not play this game? Thanks.

  19. Profile photo of Adela Doiron
    January 31, 2013 at 3:39 am —

    Being the audience and knowing more than the the characters do for the scene is both an advantage and a problem. Many defending the scene seem to be doing so from a first person character perspective of being in Kitty’s shoes (and she’s not a telepath) but many condemning it are doing so from a 3rd person limited omniscience because we’ve been selectively shown something of why he’s there(that doesn’t happen in the real world). Both on the assumption that Glee’s fictional world parallels ours for rules.
    Now I remember why I didn’t enjoy discourse analysis.

  20. Profile photo of Giliell
    February 1, 2013 at 4:12 am —

    OK, I can’t comment on the show cause I’ve never seen it, but my 2 cents about statuary rape laws:
    They are, in essence, necessary. But just because a law in itself is necessary it doesn’t mean that every version of such a law is a good law and that breaking the law is in itself a problem.
    Teens and adlescents are sexual beings. No matter what you tell them, how much you try to frighten or shame them, they will fuck. So it seems to me that the only thing we can do is try to establish frameworks and educate them so they don’t get hurt, which is where, among other things, statuary rape laws come into play.
    One thing I’m missing from the discussion (and many statuary rape laws!) is that they only talk about age but never about power. There is a pretty big difference between a 16 yo and a 19 yo who are members of the same peer group falling in love and a 16 yo and a 19 yo where the 19 yo is in some position of power (coach, adult who leads a youth group etc…)
    And actually I think that what would protect our teens much better from sexual abuse isn’t statuary rape laws but people relaxing about the idea that teens have sex so they can have a respectful relationship with the adults in their life where they can discuss whether having sex with that person might be a good idea or not, and how consent looks like and how they should never feel obliged to do something.

  21. Profile photo of Otoki
    February 3, 2013 at 5:59 pm —

    X-posted from the comment thread for Elyse’s piece. Short version: I agree that much of this statutory rape is ALWAYS RAPE RAWR attitude is not helpful and denies teens agency, but I also think that sometimes it IS rape, even if there is consent, due to grooming and the realities of how an age gap can translate to a power gap:

    OK then. What if she was 13 and he was 19? I mentored a girl whose first sexual experience was “initiated enthusiastically” by her, after her mom encouraged her. Context? Dude was her mom’s drug dealer, and by her fucking the dude 6 years older than her her mom got a discount on weed. But hey, she initiated the sex, and she was enthusiastically consenting because she wanted to be grown up and cool, so clearly there was nothing morally problematic with that sexual scenario.

    Statutory rape laws can be ridiculous sometimes, I agree. But they exist BECAUSE there are so many ephebophiles who groom their victims until the younger person “initiates” the sexual encounter. There are so many people who in their younger days thought they were in a loving, supportive relationship with a misunderstood older person, only to figure out a decade later that they’d just been groomed by a pedo/ephebophile.

    I think any sort of black and white take on this is problematic. I agree that acting like teens can’t consent morally just because they can’t consent legally is not necessarily true. I also agree that it’s gross to make statutory rape seem like something that isn’t a big deal because the younger person consented.

    So, what if she was 14, and he was 28? What about the teacher who fucked her 13 year old student? Where we draw the line both morally and legally has to do with context, and I agree that contextually I don’t think this is rape, but I also think it was established as illegal, and because it is in a show aimed at a younger audience (among others) it’s pretty fucked up to send a message that statutory rape isn’t a big deal at all because LOLS.

  22. Profile photo of Kasandra McKenna
    February 7, 2013 at 9:28 pm —

    The things is, a 28 yr old who has sex with a 16 yr old -even though that 16 yr old walked up to his front door ripped off her shirt and bent over- has an unfair advantage over that 16 yr old. Firstly, the adult has a completely different lifestyle, values, goals and circumstances that the 16 yr old may not understand or at the least thought about. At 16 you are not in tune with much other than our own life. Secondly, a 16 yr old has an incredibly romanticized view of the world and of people, while by 28 we are generally very grounded, realistic and skeptic. Feelings that a 16 yr old may develop are most certainly more intense than an adult who has experienced many more relationships. Third, being so much older – in a way that this adult in another position could play the role of authority such as a teacher, coach or parent over the child – it is very dangerous for the minor to be involved because not everyone is a person capable of a healthy equal relationship. The truth is at 16 you are far more vulnerable to an abusive relationship this vulnerability is magnified when they are in a relationship with someone who could be “subconsciously confused” as someone with authority. They do not have the life experience needed to identify the red flags. Not just for abuse but for any number of potential exploitation.

    All around it is a breeding ground for heartbreak and exploitation. I am sorry but if you are an adult no matter how mature you might think this potential lover is- they will always have the life experiences of a minor and the brain chemistry of a minor. The only right way to handle a situation like this is to avoid it. Thank them for admiring you and move on. Why not move on any ways? There are nearly just as many 22 year olds as 16 year olds. And those six years make an incredible difference in a persons development.

    • Profile photo of Otoki
      February 8, 2013 at 10:01 am —

      Yes. This.

      No one here is flipping out over the thought of 18 yr olds fucking 16 yr olds. In that case the two parties are close enough in age and that’s legal in most states anyway.

      What many of us are pointing out is that while ANECDOTALLY we can find 16 yr olds who initiated and safely enjoyed relationships with 21 yr olds, that’s going to be much less common compared to 21 yr olds going after 16 yr olds because they’ll be easy to control. That isn’t to say that IF YOU’ RE 16 YOU’RE DUMB LOL. It’s saying that STATISTICALLY SPEAKING, on a broad demographic-based scale, 16 yr olds are going to have a lot less control in a relationship than someone who has already legally gotten the right to vote, someone who is statistically far more likely to have moved out of their parents’ house to pay their own bills, someone who statistically is more likely to have bought their own car and driven it for a while, and someone who has not legally been tied to their parents when it came to decisions they make in life.

      There is a vast difference in maturity between people of the same age: that’s a given. But sometimes laws are in place to protect the statistical majority (teens who may not be very assertive or mature) from predatory behavior (you know, like all of the “barely legal lol!” porn and jokes that show our cultures attitude towards going after younger women/girls) because it had become a problem.

      Sure, there are 15 yr olds who are very mature, smart, and assertive. That’s nice. But OVERALL, they aren’t representative of a vast majority of 15 yr olds, many of whom may be naive, spoiled, immature, passive, submissive, and just generally unaware of all of the SHIT that they’ll be facing once they leave the house.

      I think it’s important to realize that when we speak in generalizations, we should emphasize that that is, in fact what we are doing. That there are exceptions out there. But we also need to address our stance that those few exceptions do not change our mind about the vast majority of teens who DO benefit from the protection this law is meant to provide.

      Sure, I often think it’s worthwhile to just lower the drinking age to 18, because shit, if we’re old enough to go to war and vote…

      But then I think about my maturity level at 18 vs my maturity level at 21, and I realize that among other things, being out of the house, paying my own bills, working my ass off to pay tuition, seeing people at my work who were clearly alcoholics, all of it changed my perspective on drinking dramatically. So while I STILL feel that the drinking age should be lowered to 18 (although if anyone has stats to share with me on alcohol-related injury and death rates falling since the change I’d be open to changing my mind), I also temper my argument with the understanding of where a lot of these arguments to keep it at 21 come from.

      So similarly, while statutory rape laws may be frustrating for many teens due to the implied condescension, most of us who support the law probably do so because we remember what it was like to be that age, and know how OUR lives might have been impacted if it was legal for much older people to pursue us sexually.

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