Sex is a major driving force in the human psyche, there’s no doubt of that, but nearly all cultures find forced sexual activity to be reprehensible. The exception is sometimes found within marriage when some people, women as well as men, presume that a man has the right to have sexual intercourse with his wife and that she may not refuse. Surely, though, forced sexual activity within marriage is as reprehensible as outside.
Sex is fundamental to reproduction, so the various taboos associated with it likely have as much to do with that and its associated rights of inheritance as it does to an abhorrence of violence towards women. Inheritance rights may explain why sexual taboos are stronger when they involve unmarried people, especially women, since a child born without the approval of the mother’s parents may diminish the family’s wealth and damage the possibility of a “good” marriage, i.e. a marriage that improves the family’s status in some way. This is supported by the easing of sexual taboos in western countries as efficient birth control methods have become more widespread, thereby lessening the likelihood of unwanted pregnancy. In addition to that, termination of the pregnancy is very often available should a women become pregnant. It must be said, however, that there is still less acceptance of promiscuity among young women than among young men, and this is certainly due to the fact that young women can get pregnant while young men cannot.
Since sex is such a driving force, it is to be expected that making oneself sexually attractive to potential partners is very common, as parodied by the joking expression, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” Nearly all cultures both expect and encourage young men and women to dress in finery and use bodily decoration so as to emphasise that attractiveness, although what constitutes finery and decoration varies for different times and cultures, of course. In the West we usually refer to this as “fashion”, but it is found in all cultures, and appears to be a normal, integral part of human society.
The purpose of this heightening of sexual attractiveness is to get the attention of members of the opposite sex (or, perhaps, the same sex for some) in order to mutually select a life partner. It is not an advertising of wares for sale, nor is it any kind of message about their availability for sexual relations. It is to get noticed by those looking for a mate. To that end unattached people may sometimes approach the extremes of what society tolerates, particularly when young and inexperienced.
There is no real secret about this and most young people have dressed this way at one time or another and understand perfectly well why it is done. Notwithstanding that, there are some who deliberately misunderstand its purpose. Many of these critics are overly straight laced religionists disapproving of the dress and behaviour of others because it does not coincide with their own opinions as to what is acceptable. They certainly have that right, but they do not have the right to enforce their opinions on others, as so many try to do.
Of more importance than these are the few who misinterpret the purpose of heightening sexual attractiveness and contend that it is an indication of lower moral standards than those who dress differently, and that it indicates sexual availability. That, at least, is what they claim. Anyone living in modern society understands the concept of fashion, and anyone seeing young girls dressed in a way that increases their attractiveness understand full well why they are doing so. Their presumption of low moral standards and sexual availability is false and just an excuse for their own unacceptable mind bent. The assumptions they make come from their own minds and not from the behaviour of the other person. For that reason, the obligation is on them to control their own behaviour instead of blaming someone else.
There is no excuse for sexually motivated attacks on anyone. Even if an individual does not like the way another dresses and considers it to be provocative, that is in their mind and thus something for them to control. Very few in our society can possibly claim they are unaware that some behaviour is just not allowed, coercion or violence when associated with sexual activity being one of the most fundamental of taboos. While some try to use the appearance of another person as a justification for their breaking of that taboo, there can be no acceptance of it, ever, under any circumstances. Our society requires self control and certain standards of behaviour. Failure to do so can easily lead to criminal acts and these should result in severe condemnation from a court and are likely to include imprisonment for sexually motivated crimes or crimes based on hatred. The same applies to attacks on homosexual men or women who are dressing and behaving in a way that emphasises their homosexuality as applies to heterosexual men or women who are dressing and behaving in a manner that heightens their attractiveness to the opposite sex.
Attacks on homosexuals are usually thought of as hate crimes since hatred for the homosexuality is often the prime mover for the crime, and there is no denying that to be the case. Nevertheless, it must also be stressed that attacks on homosexuals are also sexual crimes. Homosexuality, as the derivation of the word itself indicates (it means same sexual), involves sexuality. Admittedly this is of a different kind than most homophobes have experienced, but it is sexual nonetheless and legal in Canada by consent, as is heterosexual behaviour. The legal system recognises no significant difference between them, so what is permitted for one is also permitted for the other.
An attack by one heterosexual person on another heterosexual person is a sex crime, provided that the underlying cause of the attack has a sexual basis. This is independent of whether any sexual activity actually takes place during the attack. If forced sexual activity actually takes place then that is a second, different offence. The same difference exists for non sexual attacks, when an offence may include both assault and battery. So it is in the case of sexually motivated attacks, they may include both sexual assault and sexual battery. It may also be difficult to justify how a sexual assault could be made without it being plain assault as well, and how sexual battery could take place without it also being plain battery.
Physically attacking a woman because she is wearing a short skirt, tight pants which cling to her backside, or a tight fitting sweater which emphasises the size and shape of her breasts all qualify the attack as a sex crime. Attacks on prostitutes by outraged citizens are also sex crimes, since the attacks are motivated because of the sexual activity in prostitution by the victims, which is quite obviously a sexual motive. If the motivation is sexual then the crime is sexual, regardless of the actual gender of the attacker and the victim.
When the victim is homosexual and the attacker is heterosexual the attack is a sex crime if the victim’s homosexuality is in any way connected to the attack. If the homosexual’s style of dress, speech intonation, gait or body language are thought by the attacker to be offensive and they are the basis for the attack then it is a sex crime. It might also be pointed out that if the homosexual’s genitalia are touched, perhaps by kicking, or any other contact is made with the victim’s body in a manner that is usually considered sexual, even if that contact is not usually part of a heterosexual liaison, then the assault is also a sexual assault as well as being a plain assault on a homosexual. Perhaps this serves to emphasise that assaults on homosexuals by macho, manly heterosexuals are often the result of a deep rooted fear that the heterosexual man may actually be homosexual himself, i.e. he has a deep seated insecurity in his own sexual identity. If that is the case, of course, any assault on a homosexual by that person would be a homosexual assault in addition to being a sexual assault and a plain assault because it is based on a fundamental self perception of homosexuality. Gay bashers may themselves be gay or motivated by a fear of being gay!
This point in particular needs to be emphasised: a sexual assault does not mean that there must have been some sexual activity forced on the victim by the attacker, although that would be a clear indication that the assault was sexually motivated. It means that the underlying motivation for the assault was sexual, regardless of whether forced sexual activity took place or not.
Sexual crimes against children by adults are particularly disturbing and most people find these difficult to comprehend. I am not including among these the behaviour between children themselves, what used to be called “playing doctor” when I was a child. That is just inquisitiveness by children about an aspect of life that has been deliberately hidden from them and their attempts to find out what it is all about. Personally, I think this aspect of child sexuality is best met by teaching children about sexual matters as they are growing and maturing so they understand it at a comprehension level suitable for their age, rather than ban all discussion on the subject altogether and keep them in inquisitive ignorance. At any rate, this kind of behaviour by children is quite normal and should be expected.
Ages of consent differ throughout the world, so what defines a child in one jurisdiction may be different from what defines them in another. The assumption is also made that once one stops being a child one automatically becomes an adult, instantly, at the stroke of midnight and the birth of a new day, a child one second an adult the next. Does anyone really believe that in a jurisdiction where the age of consent is 14 years old, that on her 14th birthday a girl is emotionally equipped to reasonably resist the pressures from a 25 year old male who wants to take advantage of her? This problem has been handled in some places by allowing for a gradual consent, that is, there must be less than a specified age difference between the person giving consent and the person receiving it, usually of about two years. Thus a 15 year old boy may be given consent by a 14 year old girl, but an 18 year old boy may not. The same would apply to a 15 year old girl being given consent by a 14 year old boy.
I am not certain that this approach resolves the problem or merely partially delays it. The reality is that not too many 15 year old boys would be hesitant if a 14 year old girl said, “Yes”, regardless of whether she was legally able to consent in the first place. It also does not address the issue of both the girl and the boy being under the age of consent. Fortunately, inexperience may be its own saviour and the event may not go to completion due to it, although repeated opportunities would undoubtedly overcome that.
One major problem with sex between underaged and near underaged children is the potential for a pregnancy. Unfortunately, access to birth control methods is limited for those in their early teens and even if available, embarrassment may stop them from obtaining it. Frankly, I believe that parents should bite the bullet on this and make condoms available to their children at these ages without condemnation and certainly without counting the numbers used. It is surely in the child’s best interest not to have sexual relations at this age, but some do, regardless of parental advice. When they do, it is surely in their best interest not to become pregnant nor to make their sexual partner pregnant. In my opinion, providing a condom would be less traumatic than providing an abortion.
Adult sexual crimes against children, those where an adult obtains gratification from a sexual encounter with a child, is a different matter altogether. All of these should be classed as assaults or attacks even though not necessarily involving violence or physical coercion, since they all involve a child who is not legally able to give consent. Usually, we group all these crimes together as pedophilia but there are different faces to this. Some pedophiles do not care about the sex of the child because the age of the child is the focus, some prefer children of the same sex as themselves and some prefer children of the opposite sex. All are reprehensible, but it is important to note that one form is no less reprehensible than another. It is as reprehensible for an adult male to have sex with a young girl as it would be were he to have sex with a young boy. Heterosexual pedophilia is not more acceptable than homosexual pedophilia, notwithstanding the undercurrents in our society which may indicate otherwise, particularly if the young girl involved is precociously developed.
Pedophilia is pedophilia regardless of the child’s gender and degree of maturity or the relative sexes of the adult and child. While not approaching the number of pedophilic assaults by men on young girls, that latter point is becoming more important as the number of pedophilic assaults by women on young boys receives more notoriety. The boy is not “lucky” to receive this attention from an older woman to teach him about sex, it is a sexual assault no different from any other. Unfortunately, it is deeply rooted in our society that males, including young boys, are primarily motivated by their sexual desires. While not downplaying this aspect of male sexuality, it is grossly overstated and most men have no difficulty controlling their desires and behaving in a responsible and respectful way to women and young girls. To excuse a woman from pedophilic assault because she did so with a young boy is a disgrace, no different from excusing a man for doing the same with a young girl.
Perhaps the worst kind of pedophilia is that of fathers and mothers towards their own children, and the worst of these is when both parents take part. It is difficult to express the outrage at this behaviour without descending into hyperbole and causing the disgust that most parents feel towards these kinds of pedophiles to be diminished as a result. Children in such situations are triply betrayed: by the pedophile parent’s sexual assaults, by the failure of the other parent to intervene and by having no recourse to stop the assaults. The basis of the disgust that is directed towards parents like this is society’s expectation that they have an obligation to protect the child, not exploit them, that the child is completely at the mercy of an exploiting parent and that the relationship is so one sided that the child is completely powerless and has no choice but to comply.
The children are also being taught that close family relationships are no bar to sexual relations, so it should come as no surprise that sexual relationships among siblings may also arise. There is a tendency for these to be blamed on the children involved, particularly the eldest, but where one or both parents engage in sexually inappropriate behaviour of any kind in the presence of or involving their children, the responsibility must be laid squarely at their feet.
One possible outcome of incestuous pedophilia is that close kin children may be born: father-daughter, mother-son, brother-sister, although easy access to abortion may lessen the incidence of that. At the very least family dynamics are seriously dysfunctional, and very frequently lead to serious psychological effects on those involved later in life. This may well lead to problems spanning generations within the family, with the innocent victims paying the greatest price. This kind of pedophilia must be dealt with as a most serious matter, but is often treated as if observers are blind eyed, with a pretence that it does not happen because people do not want to face up to its reality. As the worst kind of pedophilia, those convicted of it should be sentenced to the severest penalties.
Almost as severe is the betrayal of children in religious pedophilia: the sexual assault on children by their spiritual leaders, priests, ministers, elders, and so on. The very people who children are expected to rely on for moral guidance and leadership during their most formative years are the ones sexually abusing them, teaching them that their bodies are there for the sexual gratification of church leaders. One would think that such episodes would become known in the church involved, but the children are often so distraught that they keep it to themselves, thinking that they are to blame and will be punished by god for their sin. There is no sin on their part. The sin is exclusively that of the religious hypocrite who takes advantage of them to satisfy his own perverted pedophile appetite.
Unfortunately, there are many instances where these pedophiles have been reported to their superiors in a church’s hierarchy without an appropriate response. Sometimes the child is blamed for the religious leader’s perversion, sometimes the religious leader is moved to another church, ostensibly for a new start but often with the effect of widening the number of children that he has contaminated with his pedophilic perversion, sometimes the complaint is just ignored. It is outstandingly noteworthy that there have been almost no instances of such pedophiles being reported to the police by their church so that charges of pedophilic sexual assault could be laid. Many churches consider it to be an internal matter but, of course, it is not. It is a public matter relating to the administration of justice in criminal activity and the state should have been involved in every single instance that has ever been uncovered in any church, Christian or not. Sexual assault on children is a criminal offence and the state has the right to establish laws dealing with it, laws that churches, particularly Christian churches, are obligated to respect if the church is to be in compliance with the instructions given to them by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, chapter 13, verse 1, which says,
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of god: the powers that be are ordained of god. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of god: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of god to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of god, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.”
How much plainer could this be. The higher powers, the political nations, have god’s authority to punish wrongdoers and failing or refusing to submit to that will result in damnation by god and should therefore violate a Christian’s conscience. There is no excuse, none whatsoever, for any church to hide this disgrace perpetrated by one of its representatives on its young adherents. For those who believe, or claim they believe, that the bible reflects god’s wishes and gives instructions for how Christians should behave, all the self serving rationalisations in the world will never overcome the direct instructions that Paul gave. It is time that all churches were doing what their god has ordered them to do: let the state punish these criminals and compensate the victims.
Finally, those church leaders who do hide these crimes or help the criminals to avoid state punishment are making themselves accessories to pedophilic sexual assault. As accessories after the fact, or before the fact if they knew of previous attacks, they are as culpable as the attacker and should be punished to the same degree. Facilitating pedophilic sexual assault is not substantively different from taking part in it, so both the perpetrator and those who facilitate it should be charged and, if found guilty, punished by the state including having to register as pedophile sex offenders.
On that surely both the religious and atheists can agree!
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