December 24, 2008

Kate Winslet is "so offended" by the use of the term "statutory rape" to describe what she does in "The Reader."

Even though we see her having sex with a 15-year-old boy.
Q: Do you ever have any trepidations about approaching controversial material like abortion in "Revolutionary Road" or statutory rape?

Winslet: I'm so sorry, "statutory rape"? I've got to tell you, I'm so offended by that. No, I really am. I genuinely am. To me, that is absolutely not this story at all. That boy knows exactly what he's doing. For a start, Hanna Schmitz thinks that he's seventeen, not fifteen, you know? She's not doing anything wrong.
Check the statute books before acting on Kate's legal advice.
They enter that relationship on absolutely equal footing. Statutory rape – really please, don't use that phrase. I do genuinely find it offensive actually. This is a beautiful and very genuine love story and that is always how I saw it.... She wasn't cruel to him. She didn't force him into anything at all.
Don't all statutory rapists say this sort of thing? It's more of an argument for abolishing the crime of statutory rape. Do you think 36-year-old women should be free to seduce 15-year-old boys?
There's nothing I believe to be remotely inappropriate or salacious about that relationship.
Defamer adds this:
Salacious? Well, we've never seen a teenager's ball hair lit so romantically in a film, but then, we haven't yet caught up on our Criterion editions of the Bel Ami catalog.
I'm just going to assume I know what those last 3 words refer to. I'm afraid to Google them!

(By the way, the actor playing the role was only 17 when most of the scenes were filmed. They did some last minute filming of the naked parts "literally days" after he turned 18.)

Winslet should have talked about how complex the story is and how difficult it was for her to understand how the character could believe what she was doing was simply beautiful and loving when there was so much else that she should have seen. Winslet is there to promote the movie and to promote herself as an actress, so why would she simplify the moral context of the movie?

One answer is that she is genuinely afraid that the movie will be ruined if people get the impression that to see the movie is to see teen pornography. If what the character does in the movie is a crime, and if the scenes involve graphic nudity, then it seems criminal or at least morally wrong to go to see it.

ADDED: Eugene Volokh links here and says:
Ann Althouse discussed Kate Winslet's rejection of the term "statutory rape" for the relationship in The Reader (Winslet's new movie) between a woman in her mid-30s and a 15-year-old boy. As best I can tell, Althouse does take the view that the behavior is indeed properly labeled "statutory rape," both legally and morally.
No, I say for legal advice, check the relevant statute. It depends on the statute applicable at the time and not, as Winslet seems to think, whether it was a loving, consensual relationship. But the interviewer was really using the term "statutory rape" to just mean sex with a person who is too young, and that was what Winslet seemed obtusely unreflective about.

I'm critical of Winslet for being simple-minded, probably to promote the movie -- so people won't think it would be wrong to view the movie (since we know to steer clear of child pornography). A great actress, like Winslet, ought to want to explore the moral complexities of her character's situation. It doesn't much matter whether her character is committing a crime. Characters in movies often commit crimes, but the actors should know when they are playing characters who are engaging in behavior that many people consider to be morally wrong and that is often criminalized because it is considered wrong. If her idea is I thought I was playing a lovely person that's just dumb.
I will say that my intuition is that 15-year-old boys are unlikely to suffer lasting emotional harm from affairs with 30-something-year-old women, any more than from any first sexual relationship, whether at 15 or 16, and whether with a 35-year-old or another 15-year-old.
It wouldn't be much of a movie if the relationship didn't have a profound impact. I think the story is about how deeply it hurt him. Do you have a teenage son? How would you feel if a 36-year-old woman seduced him? How would you feel if she not only gave him his first sexual experience, but captured his romantic imagination for years, keeping him from developing in relation to girls his age?

Now, Winslet herself at the age of 15 began a relationship with a 28-year-old man, and this relationship continued for 5 years, so you can see that she has some motivation to idealize this sort of thing. Do you have a teenage daughter? Picture a 28-year-old man seducing your 15-year-old daughter. Although, Winslet's parents accepted the relationship, I think most Americans hate this sort of thing.

Where to draw the lines of criminal law is a distinct, but not entirely separate, matter. But, again, this is a work of art, and what matters most is the artist's understanding of the human mind.

IN THE COMMENTS: Linus wrote:
... I find it a little strange that so many men (including Professor Volokh, whom I admire) think that it's unlikely the boy would be damaged, simply because when they were 15, they had fantasies about scoring with an older woman. Man, when I was 15, I was an idiot. I thought I wanted a whole bunch of stuff that, I know now, would've scarred me for life if it would've actually happened.

I mean, when you are asking the question "is this a good idea?", is it really persuasive to answer with "well, my 15-year-old self would approve"?

121 comments:

Darcy said...

Wow. I'm surprised, but I guess I shouldn't be, to read that Winslet wants to dismiss the idea that her character does something immoral in this movie. I'm sure that she knows that clearly a lot of people would disagree strongly with her.

This is going to provoke an interesting discussion though, I think.

peter hoh said...

Dan Savage offers some related advice:

When You're On the PTA and the Police Find a "Half-Naked" Teenage Boy in Your SUV, you'll get in less trouble if the boy's top half is naked and not, you know, his bottom half.

Sofa King said...

Well the obvious point is would she be saying the same thing if it were a middle-aged man seducing a high-school girl? Somehow, I doubt it.

The Drill SGT said...

Let's be gender neutral here, and I propose this thought exercise:

Do you think 36-year-old men should be free to seduce 15-year-old girls?

and what would Kate say to that?

after all, in my experience, 15 y/o females are more mature both physically, socially, and in terms of maturity, than 15 y/o boys

The Drill SGT said...

SK

beat me to it

Simon said...

Ha ha. It's so cute when celebrities get all offended by outsiders who don't buy into their little bubble.

Simon said...

In related news -- really happy to read that Kate Winslet finds "nothing I believe to be remotely inappropriate or salacious about" sex with fifteen year old boys: all fifteen year old boys.

Pogo said...

This follows the Althouse rule of feminism that the female method of doing or being is always the right way, or rephrased in a manner that evokes Richard Nixon, that when a woman does it that means that it is not illegal/immoral/wrong.

Sofa King said...

What I find interesting is what is the real rationale for the double-standard?

Is it an assumption that teenage females are less able to consent than teenage males?

Is it a belief that when older women seduce kids it's because of "love" but when older men seduce kids it's because they're perverts?

Maybe both?

Maguro said...

Check the statute books before acting on Kate's legal advice.

Better yet, give Mary Kay Letourneau a call and see how it all worked out for her.

ricpic said...

Kate could rape me and I wouldn't be offended, not even a little bit.

Expat(ish) said...

Was it Day-By-Day cartoon that had a strip where Hollywood had been destroyed and a character said: What will we do without all their razor sharp political advise?

-XC

John Althouse Cohen said...

What I find interesting is what is the real rationale for the double-standard?

Is it an assumption that teenage females are less able to consent than teenage males?

Is it a belief that when older women seduce kids it's because of "love" but when older men seduce kids it's because they're perverts?


I doubt it's either of those. My suggestions are:

1. People get more upset about men who commit statutory rape because they're simply much more common than the women who do so. But that wouldn't be a good reason, since you could apply that to just about any crime.

2. I think a lot of it is just a really old-fashioned belief that "we must protect our daughters!," while meanwhile it's only natural that our strapping young sons will have sexual exploits. "That's not abuse -- he just got lucky!" We value chastity in girls but we value the loss of chastity in boys (or at least look the other way). Of course, there's nothing particularly rational or respectable about this double standard -- as another commenter pointed out, if anything the double standard should go the other way since girls on average mature at a younger age than boys.

Shawn Levasseur said...

"They did some last minute filming of the naked parts "literally days" after he turned 18.)"

I forget what I got for my 18th birthday. But damn, I know it wasn't that good.

Cedarford said...

Pogo said...
This follows the Althouse rule of feminism that the female method of doing or being is always the right way, or rephrased in a manner that evokes Richard Nixon, that when a woman does it that means that it is not illegal/immoral/wrong.


I really like that. Perhaps Pogo has stumbled onto a new, highly useful term:

Nixonian Feminism.

Which can be applied in numerous situations:

1. When a male co-worker comes on too strong about a relationship, if the female chooses to complain, the offender should be fired. When a female worker pushes romance...well, you silly men, that is called empowerment and it's wonderful and natural. Deal with your insecurities, *spit* - you men!

2. When a cro magnon conservative gropes a woman, that is harassment. When a pro-feminist President does, it is simply an honest attempt to communicate his intentions - which the woman is free to accept or reject..

3. It isn't wrong, or statutory rape, when a woman, who of course has higher morals than any *spit* - man - initiates it.

4. Abortion is never wrong if a woman chooses to do so, even for reasons like wanting to spend money on fun stuff instead of a kid. However, a boyfriend that wants a woman to murder a baby she wants to keep so he is free to spend money on fun stuff instead is one-immoral-male-monster!

5. Women can do any job men can do in the military, but unlike men in war, should be free to accept or decline risky jobs only if they choose to

Richard said...

Why the analysis? What Winslow thinks is not important. Why are we behaving as if it is?

Crimso said...

I think JAC nails it (no pun intended).

Whole thing reminds me of both "Pretty Baby" and Roman Polanski.

Maguro said...

I think a lot of it is just a really old-fashioned belief that "we must protect our daughters!," while meanwhile it's only natural that our strapping young sons will have sexual exploits.

Right, but the "old-fashioned belief" has a sound biological basis. Child-bearing too soon can injure girls and impair their ability to reproduce later in life. There's no such physical risk factor for boys, therefore we tend to worry less about them.

Meade said...

"...the Althouse rule of feminism that the female method of doing or being is always the right way..."

What? Am I missing some irony in that comment ? Or I must have missed that day of class. When did Althouse establish that rule?

Oligonicella said...

John Althouse Cohen --

1. People get more upset about men who commit statutory rape because they're simply much more common than the women who do so. But that couldn't be a good reason, since you could apply that to just about any crime.

Really? How about you check the frequency of male vs female on child abuse, which is basically the topic.

I'll go with the suggestions of others: It's more likely the cases aren't reported as frequently. The current ramping up of cases we see is a welcome trend that this blind eye is now going away.

Bissage said...

The actor who cannot hate the character she portrays is no artist but rather a cowardly whore.

Joe said...

If the male character were depicted as 17, Winslet may have an argument (though not from a purely aesthetic standpoint, IMHO.) With the character being 15 her argument falls flat on its face. Why not 12? After all, it's love and beautiful and all the nonsense. Yes, there are some 14 and 15 year olds that are mature enough to make relationship decisions especially in relationship to a full adult, but it's likely a minority.

I did some reading about the book upon which the movie is based and my immediate conclusion (again, not having read the book) is that Winslet has it all wrong--that in fact, she is a predatory and abusive character.

PS. Roman Polanski didn't simply commit statutory rape; he committed actual rape and is hiding behind a version of the Winslet bullshit. I wish someone had the balls to extradite Polanski so his ass could be tossed in jail.

Simon said...

John Althouse Cohen said...
"I think a lot of it is just a really old-fashioned belief"

Branding something "just a really old-fashioned belief" is generally the rationalist's callow, arrogant way of dismissing tradition as insufficient.

Anthony said...

Kate could rape me and I wouldn't be offended, not even a little bit.

Word.

I, um, very often feel rather like I'm still 15.

We definitely need to study the scenes in question very closely.

PatCA said...

That sound you hear is of another Hollywood "edgy" movie bombing at the box office.

If it's not about pedophilia, our savage military, or the supposed emptiness of suburbia, it won't get made.

bearbee said...

Do you think 36-year-old men should be free to seduce 15-year-old girls?

What do you think the commentary might be if Lolita was released today?

Here is the Wiki summary of the plot and the relevance of the sexual encounter. At the end one of the characters expresses condemnation saying it had damaged the boy but it is not fully clear how he was damaged.

I wonder if the movie does nothing more than exploit the sexual aspect while ignoring or minimizing the larger theme.

Fatmouse said...

I don't call it statutory rape.

I call it statutory awesome.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Branding something "just a really old-fashioned belief" is generally the rationalist's ... way of dismissing tradition as insufficient.

If that's what I'm charged with, I plead guilty.

Frank said...

"Simon said...
In related news -- really happy to read that Kate Winslet finds "nothing I believe to be remotely inappropriate or salacious about" sex with fifteen year old boys: all fifteen year old boys."

_all_ fifteen year old boys?

I for one would have been terribly uncomfortable and confused if Ms Winslet had come on to me when I was fifteen and absolutely _mortified_ if she had forced us to have relations.

Of course in truth, I may very well have been as uncomfortable if it were Leonardo Di Caprio who was forcing himself on me.

At that age many (if not all) gay young men are very skittish about the entire idea of sex.

Preferring only what goes on in the closed off confines of their mind and, errr, taking matters into their own hands.

So not all fifteen year old boys, how about 95-96%?

Meade said...

Easy, Simon.

JAC followed that observation with "there's nothing particularly rational or respectable about this double standard."

And he's exactly right, although I think omitting the modifier, "particularly," would' have made his conclusion stronger.

But "callow and arrogant" does not fairly critique his comment.

More like "perceptive and mature."

Why is Kate Winslet promoting that double standard? For the sake of her art? For love? Defending a guilt conscience?

Pogo said...

When did Althouse establish that rule?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005, in fact.

And yes, you did miss that day!

Fatmouse said...

More to the point, why are fifteen-year-olds allowed to ruthlessly seduce fifteen-year-olds, but those of age eighteen are suddenly pedos? "Fuck all you want, kids! Just wear a rubber!"

And screw Polanski. That has nothing to do with age, is was simple drug-and-defile rape.

Anonymous Blogger said...

Do you think 36-year-old women should be free to seduce 15-year-old boys?

Yes. Oh, yes.

I think statutory rape should be abolished except in situations where:

It is a much old guy and a girl below the age of consent and he has no reason to be mistaken about her age.

The prosecutions of 16 year old boys doing their 15 year old girlfriends must stop.

Meade said...

"nothing I believe to be remotely inappropriate or salacious about [sex with fifteen year old boys]"

Depends on what she means by "sex" doesn't it. For instance, the Bill Clinton definition of "sex" seemed to be that there had to be coital intercourse.

But if "sex" could include being taught by an older and far more world-wise 16 year-old girl how to kiss when I was only 15 and a half... well damn, I guess I might have been statutorily raped too.

And what's troubling me is... I liked it.

Simon said...

John: well, as I said above, I think that the rationalist's demand that "the social, political, legal and institutional inheritance of his society [be haled] before the tribunal of his intellect," as Oakeshott put it, is callow and arrogant. Our society has traditionally deemed interference with underage females by older males a graver offense than vice versa, and when a traditional practice or belief bears the stamp of hundreds of generations, to decide that one is smarter than the combined wisdom of Anglo-American civilization is unbearably presumptuous.

It might be one thing for you to come in with a clear and compelling argument that anylyzes the traditional understanding, shows where it is flawed, and suggests carefully-tailored and reasoned modifications. Tradition is organic, and no one suggests that change is forbidden. But as I read your comments above (and perhaps I misread them), you're not even doing that: you simply dismiss the traditional view and, in effect, advocate a de novo look at the issue, starting from scratch. In the rationalist's mind, Oakeshott warned, "[e]ach generation, indeed, each administration, should see unrolled before it the blank sheet of infinite possibility. And if by chance this tabula rasa has been defaced by the irrational scribblings of tradition-ridden ancestors, then the first task of the Rationalist must be to scrub it clean."

Far better, I think, to defer to tradition while examining it critically. The President-elect made use of a good metaphor during the debates: that we should prefer a scalpel not a hatchet. He is right, although I doubt he realizes how right he is: like many a reformer, I think he tends to "lustily eye the branch." Reformers should put away their hatchets, examining traditional understandings with the appropriate modesty, due deference, and respect. As I said here, those who would change a tradition must "first identify clear and compelling problems with current practice and then link them to a solution that offers substantial improvement on current practice ..., one closely enough tailored as to pose little (or at least acceptably limited) risk of unforeseen and deleterious consequences."

If there is an argument to be made against the traditional understanding, identify it and make it. Simply advocating sweeping away the traditional understanding, as if it were a gauze obscuring our view of the matter, as a prelude to de novo review, won't suffice.

Meade said...

Whew! Thanks, Pogo, for letting me borrow your class notes. Another irony-infused lesson that day I missed. Guess I'd better not skip anymore.

mydismalswamp said...

It's called "statutory rape" because it violates a statute (law on the books) and has noting to do with choice because the law establishes the age of consent. Don't like the law, change the age of consent. It's no different than the age to buy alcohol, just because you 'want' to buy it, if your not over a certain established age you can, nor can someone sell it to someone less than that age just because they want to buy it.

rhhardin said...

You protect girls because intercourse leaves girls as damaged goods, which effect she might not be weighing in, in her decisions.

There's no damaged goods effect for boys. Their wife is supposed to be their last partner, not their first.

So it's a double standard because of another double standard; the latter probably arising from men not wanting to raise the offspring of another man.

And that double standard comes from the woman knowing who the mother is, and the father not knowing who the father is.

Synova said...

There's no such physical risk factor for boys,

Actually... sex is a high risk behavior for anyone these days, isn't it? The idea that boys should be protected from catching something due to their age isn't really any different from thinking that girls should be protected from catching anything.

The age difference does matter and I think that there are a whole lot of adult women who've had to deal with men with really screwed up ideas about women and sexuality who would find Kate Winslet's attitude beyond vile because we would prefer to protect our male children from predators, male and female, because we want them to grow up with healthy attitudes about their sexuality.

And we do hear about older women collecting boys, and the dynamic is just as creepy and controlling as when an older man takes advantage of young girls.

And whoever pointed out that girls of the same age are MORE mature, generally, than boys, made a very good point.

And whoever pointed out that the laws about statutory rape that prosecute 16 or 17 year old boys who have sex with their one or two years younger girl-friend... that's a good point. (I think an "age of consent" should be the age of consent even if both kids are the same age, but lifelong punishment as a sexual predator is just wrong.)

Oligonicella said...

Anonymous Blogger --
I think statutory rape should be abolished except in situations where:

It is a much old guy and a girl below the age of consent and he has no reason to be mistaken about her age.


But not a much older woman and a boy below the age of consent and she has no reason to be mistaken about his age?

Maguro said...

Actually... sex is a high risk behavior for anyone these days, isn't it? The idea that boys should be protected from catching something due to their age isn't really any different from thinking that girls should be protected from catching anything.

True, and I'm not suggesting that consent laws shouldn't apply to boys. What I'm suggesting, though, is that the physical dangers of early childbirth is one of the reasons for the traditional "double standard" attitudes described above.

Also, what RH Hardin said makes a lot of sense.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

I haven't read the other comments yet, but I have seen the movie twice.

The question of what we (and the central character, Michael, who starts out as a 15-year-old boy) should think about Kate Winslet's character (Hanna) is the central theme of the movie. Is she an evil person, or is she an uneducated, simple person who did terrible things out of not understanding the moral choices she had? The relationship which may or may not have been statutory rape (depending on what the laws were in Germany in the 50's) fits into this. Did she manipulate a young boy she had no real feelings for, knowing that she would ruin his life, or did she actually love him?

This is all done in as ambiguous a way as they could do it. At no point in the movie does she express her feelings in a way that is clearly honest. She says contradictory things to the boy about her feelings towards him, and everything she says about the past may be motivated by self interest. Perhaps the only point in the movie when we know she is being up-front and honest is when she says to Michael, "It doesn't matter what I feel. It doesn't matter what I think." The ambiguity of how we should see her character is the subject of the movie, and it is what changes Michael's life.

So why does Kate Winslet apparently not see the relationship in ambiguous terms? The ambiguity is there in her performance. She gives contradictory signals throughout the movie about what her true feelings towards him are. At one point, he asks her if she loves him, and the sincerity of her response couldn't be harder to determine.

Playing this kind of a role is difficult. You want the audience to be unsure of your motivations, but you may want to be sure of them yourself. Kate Winslet may have become set in a certain idea of what Hannah's feelings are deep down--one that is apparently pretty flattering to the character-- for the sake of being authentic and convincing, but her actual performance in the movie is much more complicated than that and, I believe, is meant to be open to interpretation.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Some background on Kate Winslet:

When she was 16-years-old (and fat) she began a 5-year long relationship with a 28-year-old named Stephen Tredre. This could've been considered statutory rape in some places, and it's not that far from the age difference in the movie (15 and 36 vs. 16 and 28). The man this happened with, Stephen Tredre, died of bone cancer shortly after their breakup.

http://www.actressarchives.com/news.php?id=13797

Cedarford said...

mydismalswamp said...
It's called "statutory rape" because it violates a statute (law on the books) and has noting to do with choice because the law establishes the age of consent. Don't like the law, change the age of consent. It's no different than the age to buy alcohol, just because you 'want' to buy it, if your not over a certain established age you can, nor can someone sell it to someone less than that age just because they want to buy it.


Shorter version ---the Law is The Law!

Except it isn't really The Law, because like "stiffly" prosecuting "underage drinking" relentlessly and enforcing maximum fines, career damage, even jail on 15 million "perps", pursuing 6- million felony prosecutions for statutory rape would be an insane abuse of the law, and the taxpayer.

Prosecution is rare. And that is common sense. And young men are now unwilling to even cop to a lesser plea because it could land them a lifetime sentence as a "sex offender" or a drug&alcohol abuser conviction employers would see - if they are simply unlucky enough to have an ambitious feminist prosecutor or a cop that gets his rocks off busting kids caught with beer.

Practical advice? Ignore it if you think it is stupid, like the 55 mph speed limit - and as long as you think you have money or enough community sympathy. It's America. Justice can be purchased. And over-zealous law enforcement people strongly deterred by gay rioters following a gay bar raid or a community smashing a few windows or bashing a few cop cars if the cops start busting too many homies for chickenshit beefs like having a can of beer on them, or hauling off some kid they catch in flagrente delecto with his eager 15-year old GF.

mariner said...

It looks like few men are willing to be honest about the emotional effects of very-youthful affairs with older women.

Of course, I didn't have the chance to find out for myself. If I had, I'm sure I'd have gone for it.

Now I can look back and say that while I'd have loved the sex, the experience would probably have screwed me up emotionally.

Boys that age are no more able to offer fully-informed consent than girls, and deserve every bit the same societal protection.

mariner said...

Simon at 11:53:

I wish I'd written your defense of tradition.

Pogo:

Thanks for the look into the wayback machine.

(I wonder what happened to Sippican.)

MrBuddwing said...

Does nobody remember "Summer of '42"? War widow Jennifer O'Neill tenderly seduces teenager Gary Grimes, and it was considered A Very Beautiful Thing. Yeah, in your dreams - but it was supposedly based on the author's real life.

Trooper York said...

I don't know but I think she is kinda creepy.

And that was before this movie.

Duscany said...

"Child-bearing too soon can injure girls and impair their ability to reproduce later in life."

Is this really true? I thought nature had designed females so that by the time they were capable of getting pregnant they were also capable of safely bearing a child.

Even so I think there is a difference between a 15 year old boy having sex with an older woman and a 15 year old girl having sex with an older man. In the case of the girl, it seems to me the opportunities for exploitation are so much greater.

On the other hand if an older woman had taken me in hand when I was 15 and introduced me to the mysteries of her body I would still be lighting candles in her honor today.

Darcy said...

Very interesting comments, coming from someone who has seen this film, Christopher. Fascinating that the question of the damage/morality is very obvious and present while viewing the film, but not at all apparent to the actress who played the role.

Synova said...

Did she manipulate a young boy she had no real feelings for, knowing that she would ruin his life, or did she actually love him?

If she actually loved him, does the damage go away? If she actually loved him, does the manipulation go away?

We have very strange ideas about love, these days. Wouldn't *love* mean protecting the other person? Wouldn't *love* mean forgoing your own desires in favor of what is best for the other person?

Instead of viewing love as a motivation for self-sacrifice, for doing what is right, we view love as an excuse to be self-centered and careless of who we hurt through our actions.

This is twisted.

Ann Althouse said...

"I thought nature had designed females so that by the time they were capable of getting pregnant they were also capable of safely bearing a child."

Nature designed us so that we frequently die in childbirth. It's some screwed up design, I say (as someone who had 2 C-sections and, I presume, would have died if left to natural childbirth). If you believe the literal Genesis story, the pain of childbirth is God's curse. Whatever, we are designed with a great capacity for injury and a certainty of death. Be careful.

rhhardin said...

Horses are an accident looking for a place to happen too.

Simon Kenton said...

Benjamin Franklin said the ideal was

-- 30-year-old male weds 15-year-old girl

-- 30 year old woman weds 15-year-old male

-- each such starter marriage lasts 15 years, and ends in automatic divorce

-- the 45-year-olds then marry each other and grow old in sedate bliss

Oligonicella said...

Althouse --

"Nature designed us so that we frequently die in childbirth."

11 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2005

We are no longer at nature's whims and things are improving daily.

"Whatever, we are designed with a great capacity for injury and a certainty of death."

And that's a good thing. I would never wish upon the world a cacophony of Strom Thurman's. The youngers need room.

jeff said...

"Do you think 36-year-old women should be free to seduce 15-year-old boys?"

When I was a 15 year old boy, I would have been all for it. As a 47 year old man, it's kind of creepy.

John R. said...

Hmmm. I will have to remember this one in case I ever get arrested -- does the "so offended" defense generally work?

Andre Kenji d said...

A man doesn´t do sex against his will. It´s preposterous to say that a woman rapped a boy. That´s why people outside the US make jokes about woman teachers being accused of rapping fifteen year old boys.

Petro said...

Oligonicella:

That is in 2005 with EXTRAORDINARY medical care available to any woman in the western world (show up at a hospital in labor and you'll get *EVERY BIT* of care they can give you, insurance or not).

In the late 1800s IIRC it was closer to 1 death in 10 live births.

Prior to the 1500s a caesarean section ALWAYS resulted in the death of the mother (either before or after the procedure)--it was only done to save the life of the child. Through the early 1900s the survival rate was under 20% (meaning less than 20 of 100 survived the C-section).

So yes, child birth without modern practices IS highly risky.

bearbee said...

Rotten Tomatoes at 53%.

We have very strange ideas about love, these days. Wouldn't *love* mean protecting the other person? Wouldn't *love* mean forgoing your own desires in favor of what is best for the other person?

Too much emphasis on romantic, selfish love; not enough on a more heroic, self-sacrificing love. God forbid we should forgo any scintilla of pleasure.

Horses are an accident looking for a place to happen too.

Boo, hisssss Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary

toadold said...

OK let's make it gender neutral and non specific on age. So a 65 year old man can have a relationship with a 6 year old boy. A 36 year old woman can marry an 8 year old girl. Where do you start and where do you stop. Well I'll see you later, I'm off to Arizona to buy a Chinese sex slave......NOT!

Anthony said...

Aside from the physical dangers of pregnancy, there's also the consequences of being abandoned with a child. A 16-year-old girl who gets knocked up by a 36-year-old man who then leaves is in a much worse situation than a 16-year-old boy who knocks up a 36-year-old woman who then leaves, because the boy doesn't have the burden of dealing with a child at an age he's not really capable of it.

Even though in today's society, the boy could end up on the hook for child support, that's not as likely, as a 36-year-old woman who deliberately chose a boy to knock herself up would be unlikely to pursue the boy for child support.

Edmund Ironside said...

Why are people discussing the practicalities of the aftermath of statutory rape? What is important here is that statutory rape is a crime, and Kate Winslett won't accept the stone-hard reality of that fact. A perfect illustration of the mental world of our pathetic generation of 'actors'. If something is inconvenient to the actorly mind, its obviously wrong.

Ice Nine said...

Leaving aside for the moment the just general inappropriateness of a 36 y/o woman seducing a 15y/o boy and the psychological aberration attendant to that, I just have to tell you, as a former 15 y/o boy who has known many other 15y/o boys - it is not possible with an act of standard sexual intercourse for a woman to rape a 15 y/o boy. She can seduce him; she can use him; she can visit her sexual intentions upon him; she can commit statutory rape against him. But she cannot actually rape him, for in commiting this statutory "rape" she will have as her "victim" only a willing and receptive - if not a bit dismayed - sexual partner whose wildest dream she will have improbably fulfilled.

marriedrambler said...

"a 36-year-old woman who deliberately chose a boy to knock herself up would be unlikely to pursue the boy for child support."

Why? Because she's a woman and therefore soooo much smarter? Why couldn't she hit up the boy's parents for CS? What on earth would stop her?

Watching you all spin your way towards approving one kind of adult-child sex and not the other kind is hilarious. Are we really to pretend that having grown women fill their beds with teenage boys is something we must cheer? That this is in any way a relationship based on legal or emotional equality? If the boy is unaware that he is being used, because he is a boy, how does that make it all right?

Let us dispense with pretension: an adult chooses an adolescent sex partner for one of two reasons, and probably both: 1) aesthetic appreciation of the youthful body, 2) emotional manipulability/disposability. An adolescent simply does not know what is fair, or what is right, or what is expected in a relationship of equals. Their emotional flux means they will give anything, anything, for the contentment/reinforcement the adult gives them. All the power is in the adult's hands, he/she may initiate and refuse at whim. And when they're done with them, to the trash heap they go. Just because a boy does not run the risk of pregnancy does not mean that his emotional growth and character will not be affected by a liason with a woman who ultimately views him as a flesh-encased dildo and nothing more.

And even if she should "love" the boy and desire a permanent union with him, do we really want to create a movement in society based on child-grooms?

Don said...

I just can't imagine a Hollywood Actress (capital A) wouldn't be believed at face value. What have we come to? I mean, she's and actress for God's sake people. They know all about everything... Law, Morality, Ethics... who better to listen to than a Hollywood Actress. I think we all need to take a moment and really ponder our own ineptitude and tiny stature when we listen to a Hollywood Actress.

Sorry, she's just as dumb as a bag of hammers and why are we surprised?

rosi said...

That is in 2005 with EXTRAORDINARY medical care available to any woman in the western world...

If it's available to any woman in the western world, what's extraordinary about it? Seems to be the norm to me.

Tatter said...

We've already tried to draw moral equivalences between too many things that are completely different under natural law than is healthy for us. There are already laws (albiet "international" ones) that pretend that killing in self-defense is identical to killing for profit, and that building walls to keep people out is identical to building prison camps to keep people in. We shouldn't be adding to it by pretending that teenage boys are just as likely to get pregnant from a sexual encounter as teenage girls are.

Bissage said...

Dear Fellow Althousians,

Please allow me to withdraw my 10:57, sort of.

It was intended to be tongue in cheek by jowl but it reads more kind of all-nasty-like the morning after-ish.

Nuts!

Sometimes such are we known by our limitations and then perhaps by a bit later our contrition and fries with that.

Anyway . . . Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men!

MERRAY CHRISTALMAS!!!!11!!!!

Meade said...

Simon Kenton said...
Benjamin Franklin said the ideal was

-- 30-year-old male weds 15-year-old girl

-- 30 year old woman weds 15-year-old male

-- each such starter marriage lasts 15 years, and ends in automatic divorce

-- the 45-year-olds then marry each other and grow old in sedate bliss


Early to wed; later reprise; perfect spousal proportion in ol' Ben's eyes.

(Good to see you, Simon K)

Meade said...

Merry Christmas, Bissage. Your limitations can never limit the high regard many of us have for you(the commenter). Please keep entertaining us in the coming new year and beyond.

sighned,
evah yore friend,
Meade

Huntress said...

The Drill SGT asks:

Do you think 36-year-old men should be free to seduce 15-year-old girls?
and what would Kate say to that?

Here is what Kate said:

" I was in a relationship for five years from the age of fifteen to twenty with a man who was thirteen years older than me who remains one of the loves of my life, and he passed away when I was twenty years old."

Is it any surprise she's was " so offended by" the term 'statuatory rape" ??



Kate- "To me, that is absolutely not this story at all."



"Denial is a river in Egypt"

TRO said...

She is from Hollywood for heaven's sake. Few of these people have any morals whatsoever so why is anyone surprised she would believe that?

And I may be the only man here who doesn't find her attractive, but you guys can have her. Although it seems she may be more interested in your middle-school son than you.

Tully said...

The infant mortality rate in the nineteenth century was nearly 25%. That's NOT counting miscarriages. The aggregate infant mortality rate in third world countries today still well exceeds 10%.

Maternal mortality ran about 1% and was the leading cause of death among women of childbearing age. Lifetime risk of maternal mortality was about 8%. In confined wards, it ran as high as 40%. Third world rates today are somewhat lower than historical rates, mostly because of antiseptic practices. By "somewhat" I mean a bit more than half. In developed nations it's about 1/10th or less of the historical rate.

Cross-country infant mortality rates are notoriously undependable as cross-country comparitives due to different reporting standards in each nation.

ventanar7 said...

"The actor who cannot hate the character she portrays is no artist but rather a cowardly whore."

Isn't Winslet essentially being paid by Hollywood to have sex on camera?

I'd say we've already established that she's a whore. We're simply quibbling over semantics.

Almost Ali said...

How does one "rape" a paid prostitute?

Tell you what, y'all bring your Victorian law books, I'll bring the jury.

Besides, the movie sounds exactly like the type of trash proper ladies are dying to see. To live vicariously in a liberating lightness of being.

The Non-continental said...

Andre Kenji d wrote, A man doesn´t do sex against his will. It´s preposterous to say that a woman rapped a boy.

We're talking about statutory rape here, not forcible rape. Underage girls consent to have sex with much older men. Such sex is not against the girl's will, but is still rape.

Under-age children cannot legally consent to sex. Men are prosecuted for it, and women (by and large) aren't. That's unjust.

The double standard is based on false views about female sexuality. Girls are at least as sexually motivated as boys, and girls sexually mature earlier than boys.

Contrary to what an earlier poster wrote, pregnancy complication rates in young females is a result of poor prenatal care not innate biological immaturity.

There is no legitimate reason to treat men and women differently under the statutory rape laws.

That´s why people outside the US make jokes about woman teachers being accused of rapping fifteen year old boys.

That's because people outside the US equivocate over the issue of consent, just as you have done.

From Inwood said...

C/ford:

My compliments. You’ve written, may I say, The Protocols of the Elders On Nixonian Feminism.

A friend of mine asked me what “legal” advice I could give him regarding his two sons, one of whom was about to start college. I said that I was not a criminal lawyer but, from my reading of Overlawyered.com & various conservative sites, it was my, perhaps unconsidered, opinion that the law in the minds of the PC Police &, more important, the implementation of the “law” at the level of police precinct & college security has apparently developed into a clear, bright line & that it would be prudent for them to observe the following guidelines (& I may have been plagiarizing, but then lawyers are wont to use form books, so I forgive myself; let’s just say that I contain multitudes):

If a woman says “no” she means it.
If a woman says “yes” she may mean no.
If a woman says “maybe” she may mean no.
If a woman says nothing she may mean no.
Whatever a man says means nothing but will be held against him.


Perhaps I’ve reached the delicate balance of gravity & lubricity of our host.

RebeccaH said...

If Winslet's character were 17, and the boy 15, then I could see it as consensual sex. What Winslet is doing, among other things, is denying her age. But pedophilia is pedophilia.

DADvocate said...

I happen to have a 15 year old son. If a 36 year old woman seduced him, there'd be hell to pay.

Nixonian Feminism - may be the best new term I've heard in over a decade.

Buford Gooch said...

Y'all are getting way too worked up about all of this. When I was 15, I would have screwed a bush if I had thought there was a snake in it. I didn't know of any of my brethren who felt any differently. In the minds of almost all heterosexual males, the boy who gets sex with an older women is very lucky, not a victim. Quit preening and pretending you are offended.

Lindsey said...

A friend of mine had a baby when she was seventeen. During the pregnancy, she only gained 20lbs. It was obviously a high risk pregnancy. She was induced. She has such extensive scarring on her ovaries that she cannot get pregnant again without surgery to remove the scarring. Pregnancy for underage women is still dangerous if the body is simply not developed enough for it, and science can't fix that.

Marauder said...

"Leaving aside for the moment the just general inappropriateness of a 36 y/o woman seducing a 15y/o boy and the psychological aberration attendant to that, I just have to tell you, as a former 15 y/o boy who has known many other 15y/o boys - it is not possible with an act of standard sexual intercourse for a woman to rape a 15 y/o boy. She can seduce him; she can use him; she can visit her sexual intentions upon him; she can commit statutory rape against him. But she cannot actually rape him, for in commiting this statutory "rape" she will have as her "victim" only a willing and receptive - if not a bit dismayed - sexual partner whose wildest dream she will have improbably fulfilled."

Oh yeah? What if she's so ugly or bad-smelling that he has no attraction to her (and don't tell me that guys only get erections when they have a true attraction to someone), or she's, say, his sister? What if he's gay? What if she's that bitchy teacher he's always hated and wouldn't touch in a million years? What if she's having her period and bleeding heavily and he's completely turned off? I can think of a bunch of scenarios in which a horny fifteen-year-old boy would not want to have sex with a thirty-six-year-old woman, and if one of these types of women, say, ties him up while he's asleep or drugs him and has sex with him, does that really sound like a willing and receptive sexual partner having his wildest dreams fulfilled?

I'm not speaking as to the likelihood of any of these situations, I'm speaking as to the possibility. If some fifteen-year-old boy told you that his unattractive and much-hated stepmother, for example, tied him up while he was asleep and had sex with him, would you really think he was willing, receptive, and having his wildest dreams fulfilled?

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Bissage: Actually, I agree with the idea that it's a problem that certain actresses, including Kate Winslet, have a problem of not being able to play an unsympathetic character without trying to make them sympathetic. Maybe women always want to play a "______ with a heart of gold." That's been I problem I've had with her for a while, and the ironic thing is that I thought this was the movie where she broke from that pattern and just let herself be a bit of a monster (and that's the impression I got while I was watching it). It's as if they can't get into a character unless they have a sense of love and respect towards the character. It's particularly true of Kate Winslet, who is constantly taking characters who've done terrible things and trying to make them fragile and lovable. Male actors rarely seem to have that problem.

Conserve Liberty said...

Haven't read all 84 Comments yet, so possibly redundant.

Clearly society has a double standard here.

Perhaps the double standard has something to do with the likelihood that a 36-year-old woman could make a 15-year-old boy pregnant.

Brian Macker said...

"Now I can look back and say that while I'd have loved the sex, the experience would probably have screwed me up emotionally."

Aren't relationships that screw you up emotionally par for the course regardless of age difference, or age?

Are we now going to ban sluts, bitches, gigolos, players, strippers, the vain, etc. from dating.

Should we make it illegal to date merely for sex since this may screw up the other person emotionally?

Oligonicella said...

Tully --

"The infant mortality rate in the nineteenth century was nearly 25%."

It is no longer the 1800's, a time of decidedly bass-ackwards thinking in the health world. Meaning - doesn't matter now.


Petro --

No - The historical level of maternal deaths is probably around 1 in 100 births.

"So yes, child birth without modern practices IS highly risky."

No. In 2000, the United Nations estimated global maternal mortality at 529,000, of which less than 1% occurred in the developed world. However, most of these deaths have been medically preventable for decades, because treatments to avoid such deaths have been well known since the 1950s. Wikipedia.

Roman said...

Somewhat odd a discussion about mature females using teen boys like vibrators.

That's all it is and well, can you blame a female for choosing human flesh over plastic?

Sadly, that's all it is and one can obfuscate the reality but it is what it is.

The continued discussion by Winslet and other females is merely the normal mind function of the species to deny any culpability or to reduce it so they can feel good about it.

Seems to be a common thing among women these days.

Johnny1A said...

The thing is, as a society,, deep down we really haven't changed our thinking on sexual issues as much as the superficial appearances would suggest.

Societally, deep deep down where we live, when we say 'protect children' we actually truly mean 'protect girls'.

On some level, we see the concept of a female sexual aggressor as a contradiction in terms, it's automatically the male who is the pursuer and the female who is the pursued, the reluctant.

When we encounter the opposite in the world of fact, we're thrown. We don't quite know how to process it, it doesn't 'fit'. We see the exact same phenomenon in other areas, too: we're more reluctant to execute women for capital crimes, we're more reluctant to accept that a mother could be a 'deadbeat mom', it just doesn't fit our deep-seated societal assumptions.

So a lot of people instinctively want to reject the idea that an adult woman could 'prey' on a teenaged boy, it just can't be true, he has to have wanted it, he has to have been the aggressor. The altenative for many people is just inconceivable.

That includes a lot of people who think of themselves as being 'liberated' about gender roles. What they think and tell themselves at the top of the brains and what they really believe, deep down, are two different things.

InternetFred said...

1. If the boy is volunteering, many people have a problem with using the word 'Rape'. It's more useful to use that word to mean 'forced sex'.

You could still make it illegal. Call it 'Corrupting the morals of a minor' or something.

2. There's a problem in that we've medicalized or psychologized what used to be seen as a moral problem. The morality was, and is, pretty crisp. The science is still in development, and is iffy.

3. I think it's dumb to assume the situation is gender-neutral or gender-symmetrical. Sex for teenage boys is something different than sex for teenage girls. It's physically very complex to force a boy to have an erection against his 'will'.

Penetration isn't symmetrical. The social meaning is different.

Interestingly, gender symmetry is more logical if you see it as a moral problem than if you see it as a psychological problem.

4. It would be difficult to prevent a 15-year old boy from having an orgasm his first time. It would be equally difficult to make a 15-year old girl have an orgasm the first time.

An orgasm will impact interpretation. Was it voluntary? Was it good?

5. Then there is pregnancy.

Christopher said...

A number of Althouse's readers jumped on Ms Winslet immediately, assuming that he position would be different if the gender roles were reversed. Additional information suggested that these commentators were wrong. Yet, strangely, there are no comments reflecting this. Althouse's readers simply continued to use Ms Winslet as a stand-in for a position that they disagreed with.

I can understand the impulse. Althouse's readers can't go around apologizing for being wrong or even acknowledging this, because they'd have little or no time to post additional ill-informed or spectacularly wrong comments.

More interestingly is that whenever issues of sex or gender come up on Althouse's blog, the emotionally stunted members of America's cubicle class jump right in to grind their axes about the perceived injustice of our cockeyed nation, where women abuse, rape, and otherwise oppress men with no consequences.

The fear of women required to maintain such a fantastic worldview would hilarious if it weren't so tragic.

Oh, before I forget, Dr. Helen just called: she wants her readers back.

Theo Boehm said...

So, Althouse readers are members of the "cubicle class?"

Never worked in a cubicle myself, and I've been a regular here since the 4th month. Most of the other regulars I know of do not work in cubicles, either. I have an idea: Any of you regulars (and you know who you are) pleeeze let us know if you're a Dilbertesque cubicle rat.

Next.

We're afraid of women, because they rape and oppress men?

Methinks Christopher doth protest too much.

This is the kind of story that gets males projecting big time. I checked the Sitemeter last night. Amazing. At one point, a large majority of visitors had come or gone through this thread, and there was a whole lot of traffic from Google searches on subjects like, "Kate Winslet teenage sex," etc.

From the looks of exit pages, there was also a whole lot of one-handed continued exploration of this subject.

Personally, I can think of a lot more "tragic" topics than the response to a titillation campaign designed to sell a movie. There are about three 15-year-olds in this country who have ever been lucky enough to hop in bed with a Kate Winsletesque MILF (despite the fantasies you may hear about), and we're supposed to think this is some sort of social issue, and/or that Althouse readers are more psychosexually stunted than other denizens of blog-land?

Give me a break.

Synova said...

Oh, Christopher, you're so funny!

As for this being the dream of a 15 year old boy...

Men who think they'd have loved the opportunity at age 15 imagine themselves the aggressor. What a score!

But Althouse's comment: "How would you feel if she not only gave him his first sexual experience, but captured his romantic imagination for years, keeping him from developing in relation to girls his age?"

Because a 15 year old boy "scoring" isn't the same thing as a 15 year old being seduced by an older woman, who has the same motivations as an older man who seduces a young girl... control, essentially. It's the way to make sure you're the managing, dominate half of the relationship.

So it's not a "score".

And if boys were so immune to being messed up by early sexual experiences, then why do we adult women end up meeting so many sexually messed up men?

This idea that boys are immune because for boys it's about the physical act, to be true, would mean those men don't exist.

The idea that boys can't be manipulated by women into unhealthy and damaging sexual relationships means that it's not possible for adult men to manipulate boys into unhealthy and damaging sexual relationships.

It's just not true that boys are immune or that they don't get screwed up, just like girls get screwed up, and take that baggage into adulthood with them.

Dan said...

Sexual mores these days are governed by what I've come to call the "college consensus"--that is, the constellation of sexual attitudes viewed by college students as typical of the more attractive and socially successful among their peers. This consensus is constrained by some conflicting pressures: women want to appear uninhibited enough to be daring and self-confident, but not trashy or desperate. Similarly, males want to appear uninhibited enough to seem experienced and sophisticated, but not creepy or desperate.

The double standard being discussed here fits neatly into this framework. Approving of the older woman-underage man scenario signifies experience and masculine appeal in college-age males, and not much at all in college-age females, who are too young to be implicated in the age-engendered desperation associated with fortyish female boy-seducers. Approving of the older man-underage girl scenario, on the other hand, signifies oversexed trashiness in college-age females, and creepy predatoriality in college-age males, and is therefore universally disdained.

Beldar said...

The idea behind statutory rape is that society insists upon drawing a bright line in the law, established by way of an irrebutable presumption -- which can be read here as the law saying, "I give not a fig for Kate's rationalizations, all that matters are the ages" -- that the sexual relationship is out of bounds and improper. In any two given cases, the sexual relationship might be cruelly exploitative or absolutely beautific; the statute doesn't care. It's illegal. Period. That's the whole point. And you're correct, Prof. A, that obviously Ms. Winslet doesn't get that, and therefore isn't equipped to discuss whether it's a good law or a bad law.

Beldar said...

(Ought to have mentioned: The irrebutable presumption is that the underage person is incapable of giving effective consent to the sex, thereby making it rape. Because the presumption is irrebutable, evidence as to whether the underage person was a "Lolita," "asked for it," etc., or whether the defendant was really very sweet and caring and thought she was 19 as she pleaded with him for the sex -- all of that is irrelevant and inadmissible.

len-sp said...

Fifteen year old boy? Unless he was really small or underdeveloped for his age, I can't consider it rape. Athletically, the top boy athletes start doing better than the top women athletes right around 14 (check out sprint times for those two groups or see how the US Olympic Women's Soccer team has fared against boys at that age in scrimmages). So unless the female used a weapon or blackmail, rape isn't the right term. As always, it's tough for the law with it's love for specifics to deal with individual situations (and gender differences).

Stephen C. Carlson said...

I vote for Ms. Winslet not having a clue about what "statutory rape" is legally.

Synova said...

len-sp

No one is saying that anyone was forced so the relative size and strength of the persons involved is irrelevant.


In any two given cases, the sexual relationship might be cruelly exploitative or absolutely beautific; the statute doesn't care.

The law can't care. Anytime something is taken out of the realm of subjective judgment it will end up being misapplied in some cases. But subjective judgment might be even worse.

We consider that young people, in general, are less likely to understand what they are giving consent to, even if some of them very well do. The law applies to all of them, the foolish and wise alike.

Linus said...

I know this has been mentioned, but I find it a little strange that so many men(including Professor Volokh, whom I admire) think that it's unlikely the boy would be damaged, simply because when they were 15, they had fantasies about scoring with an older woman. Man, when I was 15, I was an idiot. I thought I wanted a whole bunch of stuff that, I know now, would've scarred me for life if it would've actually happened.

I mean, when you are asking the question "is this a good idea?", is it really persuasive to answer with "well, my 15-year-old self would approve"?

Spedvet said...

I think V's point is that although society's perceptions of what seems like statutory rape (and therefore, laws change reflecting that changing view), society can only establish overall lines that are black and white. V makes the point that sometimes the lines might be blurry.

Certainly, no one would argue that all milestones of maturity are reached by all people/teens at the exact same points. Certainly no one would seriously argue that teenage maturity milestones, whether financial, ethical, emotional or sexual -- or any other kind of maturity measurement -- arrives in our teens within weeks or months of some kind of universal marked date. Surely, sometimes these milestones are off by several years between different kids/teens.

Certainly, we all know of adults well into their 20s or even 30s, that are still immature, and that can be scarred by relationships that are inappropriate for their maturity level. Or maybe they seems mature, but due to their inexperience in matters of relationships and emotions that go along with them, they are not ready, or are more susceptible to some kind of emotional damage?

Therefore:
Isn't it possible that *some* relationships occurring with people younger than the cutoff age mostly agreed upon by a society could be okay, and not inappropriate?

Spedvet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Troy said...

"Imagine a 28-0year old man seducing your 15-year old daughter".

That's what guns are for.

15 year olds....

Today's 15 year old is in very few ways like a pre-WW2 15-year old. When my grandparents or greats were 15 they had slaughtered animals, farmed their fingers to the bones, helped raise many siblings, seen death, Depression, etc. Earlier than that 15 was middle-age -- if you didn't start living by 15 half your life was over (especially for women bearing children).

With compulsory education (and other factors) and the 20th century creation of the "teen-ager" most 15 year olds are incompteent to make life or death decisions -- not because they're 15 but because we have created big babies -- legally, morally, culturally, etc.

Simon said...

Troy: Gingrich has argued that adolescence is a failed model that should be abandoned.

Patrick said...

How would you feel if she not only gave him his first sexual experience, but captured his romantic imagination for years, keeping him from developing in relation to girls his age?

I don't see why the age of my son's love interest should matter any more than any other attribute. The dynamics of physical attraction are highly personal.

To say otherwise is to suggest that it is intrinsically better to develop a relationship with someone who is ones own age rather than someone much older or younger than oneself. This cannot be proven. In fact, more often then not, quite the opposite is the case.

While the idea of two inexperienced young people discovering love's joys together may have romantic appeal, it is often awkward and cumbersome for the two young people involved, so that an older, more experienced partner for a first-time experience is preferable.

Synova said...

Love interest?

I thought it was consequence free sticking in of parts. Hooahh.

Instapundit linked this and added a link to the sentencing of a woman who had sex with her 13 year old foster son. Another foster son testified that he'd had sex with her when he was 16. The WOMAN who was discovered when her BABY was proven to be the child of the younger boy claimed she was RAPED. That she was coerced and intimidated and forced into sex with a 13 year old boy.

Do women never have to be adults? Apparently not, because the jury only gave her probation.

The other very famous case, also, involved the "adult" woman getting pregnant, violating court orders to avoid the boy, and getting pregnant again... because this is "adult" behavior and doesn't harm boys?

OTOH, parents and certainly mothers, who would rather that the old bitches and their twisted insecurities and manipulations stayed away from our sons, are responding to romantic notions of awkward yet romantic mutual discovery?

We know that people would react far differently to the scenario if it was a 13 year old girl having sex with her foster father and being impregnated by him at 14.

Would we also react differently if it was the foster *father* having sex with his 13 year old foster *son*.

Or would we just assume that the boy was gay?

Seneca the Younger said...

Um, if it's "statutory rape" we're talking about, how can it be anything but that which is defined by statute? Is the concept of "statutory rape not defined as rape by statute" even meaningful? Contrariwise, if it's a moral issue of the putative harm caused by apparently consensual sex between a 15 year old and a 30 year old, why does the "statutory" aspect come in?

Its hard not to think this whole argument is about unstated and unexamined assumptions.

Ann Althouse said...

Seneca, your comment is not comprehensible unless you link to particular statements that you find problematic. You should know that it's considered rude to begin an argument with "um." So you need to reword what you have to say. Quote something that you actually want to argue with and then make your argument.

philwynk said...

len-sp wrote:

Fifteen year old boy? Unless he was really small or underdeveloped for his age, I can't consider it rape.

You've completely missed the moral point of statutory rape laws.

The issue is that before people have reached a certain age and level of maturity, they don't possess the critical thinking or moral reasoning skills to assess their choices properly. It's assumed that the elder in the relationship does possess those skills, and is therefore liable for the choices made.

Children starting at around 11 are intensely curious about sex, and very, very willing to try all sorts of things; this usually gets tempered by reason at around age 17 or 18. During that period, children notoriously believe themselves adult and independent, though any adult with a lick of sense can see that they're not. Any mature adult who engages in sex acts with children in that age range are assumed to have taken advantage of the child's natural curiosity, and to have coaxed them into acts that, at that age, they lack the sense to refuse. That's why it's "rape."

The physical prowess of the young man means nothing at all. It's about moral culpability.

Almost Ali said...

Before getting to "The Reader," I'd like to know how in the world Winslet got the part in Titanic.

Meanwhile, in the entertainment business it's apparent that the age-of-consent is determined by 1) opportunity 2) tacit parental encouragement.

Barring social diseases, are there ANY post-15-year-old males out there who suffered - even in the least - as a result of having sex with an insistent adult human female?

Simon said...

To rephrase Phil's point slightly: Our society believes that sex requires consent and regards sex without consent as rape. (It isn't violence that characterizes rape, but the lack of consent.) Morevoer, society deems some people incapable of giving the requisite consent, principally children, and it enforces this determination with laws providing a per se rule against sex with such persons. Consequentially, sex with an unconsenting person is rape, and sex with a person who purports to give consent but who has been deemed incapable of giving that consent is also rape.

David said...

It's interesting that Winslet wants us to use an O'Connorish facts and circumstances test but the movie producers were perfectly willing to use a bright-line rule to film nude scenes days after the actor's 18th birthday.

OK, maybe not "interesting."

PD said...

My son was victimized, yes, victimized, by a 39 year old mother of one of his "friends" when he was just about to turn 17 years old. She moved in on the two of them and set up predatory housekeeping with my son. It was absolutely traumatic to him and I had to send him off to wilderness therapy camp for this (and other) reasons. He recovered nicely from the experience, and he and I are closer than ever before, but for anyone to sugarcoat this type of relationship, presumably because it involves a woman as the older participant, is quite irritating to me.

pchas said...

Do you have a teenage son? How would you feel if a 36-year-old woman seduced him? How would you feel if she not only gave him his first sexual experience, but captured his romantic imagination for years, keeping him from developing in relation to girls his age?

This presupposes that the only healthy sexual relationships are with partners that are one's own age.

A relationship is not necessarily harmful or exploitative simply on account of the age disparity of the partners. Harmful and exploitaitive relationships may occur between people who are close in age just as loving and nuturing relationships may occur among parters with great age disparities. In the case of a young, inexperienced person, it may be preferable that the other partner be older and more experienced.

While many people are digusted by intimate relationships between partners when the age disparity is great, it is entirely subjective and should not be confused with some absolute moral standard.

And as for statutory rape, as Prof. Volokh has noted, it was legal for a 15 year old to have sex at the time and place where the movie is set, just as it is legal in many jurisdictions today.

Synova said...

This presupposes that the only healthy sexual relationships are with partners that are one's own age.

No it doesn't.

As you point out, unhealthy relationships can occur in any case. But I don't think that anyone is assuming that a large age difference is always unhealthy. It's just far more likely to be unhealthy.

Because if we want to talk delusion, it's that a young girl has something other than sex to offer a relationship with an older man, unless the man is deficient enough not to be able to compete for an adult woman... ie. he's a loser.

The same is true of a woman who is reduced to seducing boys. Trust me, guys, a 15 year old "stud" offers nothing to an adult woman except that she is a loser and can't get a fully mature man.

And if some unlikely pair do fall in love, and the older person is actually not a loser, not abusive, and cares about the well being of his or her true love. It won't kill them to wait until said true love is *legal*.

Katharine Lindgren said...

According to this site, in no American state is it legal for both boys and girls under 16 to have sex with significantly older people.

And in only 6 states is it legal for 15 year old boys to have sex with significantly older women.

Jim Lindgren

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Katharine: The affair in the movie takes place in Germany in 1958, though.

Here's the current law in Germany, which may or may not have been the law in the 50's (from Wikipedia): "The age of consent in Germany is 14, as long as a person over the age of 21 does not exploit a 14-15 year-old person's lack of capacity for sexual self-determination. In this rare and special case, a conviction on an individual over the age of 21 requires a complaint from the younger individual. Otherwise the age of consent is 16."

zdunham said...

For one, did you read the book? It's pretty much a love story. Bullshit morality discussions don't have anything to do with their actual relationship - it's put forth as a very real and fulfilling love affair, until it ends abruptly.

Statutory rape is offensive in this context. It's a story that's about pureness of feeling. The betrayal the kid feels is due to the fact that he was sleeping with the enemy, not because she wasn't 17 years old with 35 year old boobs like she said she was or something manipulative.

That's how I remember it anyway.

Christopher said...

So, Althouse readers are members of the "cubicle class?"

A lot of them certainly seem to be, yeah. It has nothing to do with Dilbert and everything to do with male blog commentators who've been emasculated by their own flaws but, instead of addressing these, they tilt after imaginary conspiracies of oppressive women. The cubicle here is metaphorical, not literal.

I notice, however, you dodged my main point, which was that in their knee-jerk race to become America's new victims, the whiners of the cubicle class tagged Ms Winslet with a supposedly feminist position that she doesn't actually subscribe to.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

zdunham said...
For one, did you read the book? It's pretty much a love story. Bullshit morality discussions don't have anything to do with their actual relationship - it's put forth as a very real and fulfilling love affair, until it ends abruptly.

Statutory rape is offensive in this context.


The relationship in Lolita is depicted as true, fulfilling love, in the book and both movies. That doesn't mean the reader isn't supposed to or even allowed to have a moral and philosophical discussion about it.

I haven't read the book, but I've seen the movie three times and my impression is that she did something very wrong to the boy, and whether she really loved him is open to interpretation. In fact in the movie Ralph Fiennes says, "She had done much worse to other people," implying that she had done him wrong.

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