oh beezy

miscellaneous cultural commentary from two urban twenty-somethings. on this here interweb, we go by "bee" and "zy."

a question of sexuality–or gender?

I’ve been thinking about this article on Seattle’s mayoral sex scandal a lot recently.  The author, Taylor Clark, contends that the mayor’s homosexuality–and the supposed leeway given to homosexual relationships when it comes to the age of majority–have prevented the scandal from decimating his political career.

Clark writes,

After all, there’s a massive double standard in how we think about the age of consent. When an older man courts a teenage girl, it’s predatory and sleazy; but when it’s a teenage boy receiving advances, gay or straight, we have trouble believing he’s being wronged. (Indeed, Breedlove was aggressively chasing Adams; he even has a dog named Lolita.) Critics see the movie The Reader, wherein a 36-year-old Kate Winslet beds a 15-year-old boy, and they speak of a “tender sexual awakening,” as every straight man in the theater (including me) thinks, “I would have sold my siblings into bonded labor to sleep with Kate Winslet when I was 15, you little bastard.” Portray a 36-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl, though, and you’re in … well, Lolita territory—no mercy there. Some have argued that if Breedlove were female, straight men would be high-fiving Adams, but this is preposterous. We’d understand the attraction—and when you peruse Breedlove’s unbelievably porny Myspace pics, you can certainly see what was on Adams’ mind—but we wouldn’t excuse the behavior. “Yes, she’s hot,” we’d say, “but they call it jailbait for a reason. You don’t touch underage girls, period.” The male-male relationship brings a moral gray area that helps Adams.

Reader ridiculousness aside, Clark’s examples cite heterosexual May-December taboos and kudos; they must, as he is comparing the Adams-Breedlove scandal (or relative non-issue) to the Monicagate-scale disasters that we’re used to.  But this doesn’t take the gender of the homosexual couple into account.  If this were a lesbian mayor who had had an affair with an underage girl, what would be the consequences then?  Would the younger participant be seen as aggressive, or victimized?  Would her MySpace profile be mocked as “unbelievably porny”–or would she be seen as innocent bait for the predatory?  And would the affair as a whole be seen as emblematic of a unique, and according to Clark, untouchable subculture–or as tawdry and salacious?  I, for one, feel convinced that were Adams and the younger person female, the office would now be empty.

Thoughts, please.

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2 Responses

  1. bee says:

    i agree with you…but then i think of that one monologue, “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could,” in Vagina Monologues where the young girl is describing the older woman who gave her healing sexual experiences. In the original, I guess the girl was supposed to be 13, but the age was changed to 16 (still minor, notably) in response to criticism. Regardless, I feel like that story–as with all the monologues, either via the simple act of expression or within the narrative itself–is meant to be perceived as empowering. Granted, it’s marketed to feminist audiences who are more likely to view it that way…

  2. zy says:

    Hmm. Yeah. I agree that that VM segment is positive, but it’s not quite the same. Maybe the difference is power dynamics? The woman is an older lady (and 13 would definitely be sketchy) but she doesn’t have control over other aspects of the girl’s life, if I remember correctly. Mary Kay LeTourneau was a teacher, Adams and Clinton politicians–clear authority figures. Although is she a family friend? I’m getting hazy, but maybe that’s an interesting double standard in the way that Taylor thinks the male-male minor-adult “pass” is.

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