It is OK to Entice 16-Year-Old Boys to Have Sex

I have absolutely no problem with Rep. Foley's actions, specifically IMing and corresponding with 16- and 17-year-old boys in a sexual manner. I would have no problem if he induced them to send naked pictures of themselves to him. I would have no problem if he convinced them to meet him and have anal sex. The issue is his moral hypocrasy, not his actions. And to condemn his actions may betray one as a rank homophobe. I generally think that 16 is a reasonable age of consent. It is the age of consent in many states, so it seems to have widespread approval. Yet, the discourse about Foley has often been implicitly, and in some cases explicitly, about the age of the boys involved. I would hate to see the righteous indignation exhibited by many Dems find itself lost in a thicket of its own hypocrasy. Let's look at two declarations and see if there are any corollaries involved. 1. Heterosexual lust for teenage girls saturates our society for better or worse and most people do not get lathered up into a rage about it. 2. Homosexuals and heterosexuals should be treated equally in all substantive areas of the law and should furthermore have moral equivalence when one debates their actions. If you don't agree with both these postulates, then stop reading. But if you do, then the only natural conclusion that can be drawn is that the level of ire directed at Foley's actions should be the same level of ire directed at the sexualization of 16- and 17-year-old teenage girls or more specifically, the level of ire directed at an older man trying to seduce a 16-year-old girl. Girls that age are often sex objects and openly referred to as such both in private conversation and in the media. Many may find an older man lusting after a younger girl to be uncouth and possibly disgusting, but it is accepted enough that there is little public outrage when one encounters such a scenario. The dark undercurrent of the Foley affair is that people and the media seem to be implying that it is sick and wrong, to the point of it almost being criminal, for Foley to have sexual conversations with boys that young. Because this response is so divergent from the equivalent response to such heterosexual shenanigans, it implies a deeply-rooted homophobia saturating not only the media, but the pundits from both parties. The arguments centered around the use of public office or power to entice sex, the moral hypocrasy of speaking one way and acting another, or the covering up of worrisome practices by those in power are all possibly valid condemnations of Foley and the Republicans in general, but this subtlety is lacking in much of the discourse I have been seeing in both the MSM and the blogosphere. I hope that once the furor dies down, a more careful dissection of this scandal can be conducted, without the pall of homophobia infecting the conversation. ADDENDUM: Consider the story of Representative Dan Crane, who did more than possibly solicit sex with a 17-year-old page, he actually did have sex with the page! But she was a female and he was merely censured. But to be fair, the Studds debacle did not generate as much media heat, and that situation was more egregious than the Foley situation (minus the hypocrcasy). FURTHER ADDENDUM: Drudge Report is reporting that the Foley accuser was 18. Are we upset with Foley because he abused power, because he is a supposed pedophile, or because he is gay? The first is legitimate, the second is untrue, and the third is the dirty secret that fuels some people's outrage whether they realize it or not.

  1. Whether or not you believe 16 to be a reasonable age of consent, it is still ILLEGAL for an adult to attempt or succeed at sex with a minor. Dudes who screw their 16 year old girlfriends go to jail, dudes who screw 16 year old pages while on Congress’ time are especially loathsome, and deserve the same jail time anyone else would get.

    The REAL problem is that this guy was obviously too worked up into a lusty lather to do his job properly. It has nothing to do with homophobia and everything to do with moral incontinence in the workplace.

    October 4th, 2006 at 6:03 pm
  2. “Many may find an older man lusting after a younger girl to be uncouth and possibly disgusting, but it is accepted enough that there is little public outrage when one encounters such a scenario.”

    Have you never seen that show “To Catch a Predator”? You know, the one where they cart away the older men in handcuffs after they sexually solicit teen girls? It’s pretty popular…

    Do you REALLY think that a Democrat found to have a history of sexually soliciting 16 year old female pages wouldn’t get strung from the rafters of Congress that afternoon?

    I mean, c’mon… consensual heterosexual sex between two ADULTS almost cost one man the presidency.

    October 4th, 2006 at 6:08 pm
  3. Kate: moral opprobium aside, 16 is not considered “minor” for purposes of statutory rape laws in many states. It is definitely cutting it close though.

    numlok: I haven’t seen “To Catch a Predator” but are the pedophiles they entrap going after late teen girls or pre-teen or early teen girls? I think there is a difference, not just in the law but also morally. Early adolescents are clearly not yet ready to make choices about sex and their bodies. Older teenagers are most likely mature enough to make such choices. Whether or not we agree with those choices, teenagers should have a certain degree of autonomy over such personal decisions.

    October 4th, 2006 at 6:14 pm
  4. I think the ages on the show run the “teen” gamut, though I know some are listed as young as 13.

    I do understand where you’re coming from as far as the sexual awareness/responsibility of older teens, however, I still think it would be a huge deal if the “shoe were on the other foot” here, so to speak.

    Nevermind the fact that Foley’s own federal “anti-solicitation” law considers anyone under 18 a minor, trumping the District’s 16 year old age of consent.

    I honestly think the homosexual nature of Foley’s folly is more a titillating side-bar, and not the crux of the issue.

    Beyond that, the homosexual aspect of this story only amplifies the GOP’s hypocrisy… The party pushing for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage rights claiming it didn’t want to say anything about Foley earlier for fear of being labeled “homophobic” is just RICH!

    October 4th, 2006 at 6:43 pm
  5. This has already been brought up in a general sense, but I would like to point out that there is a difference between enticing and pressuring. Some of the chat transcripts make me think Foley was doing the latter.

    October 4th, 2006 at 8:30 pm
  6. First of it was not a consensual relationship. Foley repeatedly made unwanted advances to this boy who told him he was not interested. It put him in a very awkward situation also. His boss a powerful congressman was making unwanted sexual advances to him and as a teenage boy obviously he did not know what to do.
    To answer your question do I find it personally disgusting that a 50 year old man was trying to engage in a relationship with a supposedly 16 year old boy. That is my opinion and I am entitled to it. I experienced seeing it first hand. My ex girlfriend’s friend was 16 at the time and dating a 40 year old man. His parents were okay with it and allowed him to stay that their house. Seeing it first hand it just seemed wrong. The guy definatley struck me as a predator and it was not a healthy relationship. The 16 year old’s brother, who is also gay, did not approve of the relationship and wanted to beat the shit out of that pedofile as he put it. So even gay people have issue with older men lusting after young boys. It is not a homophobia issue but an issue of predators preying on young children who are not mature enough to engage in a sexual relationship, no matter their gender.

    D Wallz
    October 4th, 2006 at 11:23 pm

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