Trigger warning for rape.
Amber Cole is a fourteen-year-old girl. She performed oral sex on one boy while a second filmed her. There is some suggestion (for instance, by her father) that she might have been coerced; the boys responsible have been arrested. The video surfaced on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, where she was widely mocked, thus proving that a large percentage of humanity is clinically lacking in anything that might approach a soul.
Amber Cole has become a litmus test for many people in the gendersphere. Some black feminists and womanists argue that the lack of coverage of Cole’s slut-shaming shows racism within the white feminist community. Other people are calling for honest discussions about sexuality within communities of color and with teenagers. Some person named Jimi Izrael is under the impression that the entire situation is all about Slutwalks, nice guys and fathers’ rights, which is Ahabing if I’ve ever seen it.
I’m thinking about the boys.
The Internet appears to be mostly under the impression that Amber Cole’s parents ought to have taught her better than to run about giving blowjobs. I can definitely see the argument that fourteen-year-olds should not be giving blowjobs, although I know some fourteen-year-olds who gave blowjobs and don’t seem any the worse for it; in general, fourteen-year-olds are not emotionally ready for sex to be a healthy choice for them. And that’s okay!
But none of these people seem willing to shame the boys. I mean, receiving a blowjob and giving a blowjob seem to be morally equivalent: if you’re disrespecting yourself by giving a blowjob, surely you’re disrespecting yourself by getting one? That’s not even getting into the whole “filming getting a blowjob from an underage person and putting it on the Internet” thing, which is, unlike receiving a blowjob, a felony. I do not think it is putting too much responsibility on parents to suggest that, in general, they should strive to teach their children not to commit felonies.
All this assumes that Amber wasn’t coerced. I must say, my mind blanks on how a parent can teach a child not to be coerced into sex, insofar as the whole not choosing it thing is a pretty integral part of being coerced. Do these people also comment on stories about children with cancer saying their parents should have taught them better than to get cancer? On the other hand, coercing people into sex, also known by a bunch of pedantic lawyers and no-fun feminists as “rape”, is definitely a choice that people can make, and it is, in fact, also a felony.
Why didn’t people shame the boys?
Some of it, of course, is the transactional model of sexuality. Men want sex and women want love; Amber should have respected herself and held out for a higher price, one that could only be paid once she was out of high school (a long-term committed relationship leading to marriage). The boys were victors in the sex war, since they not only got sex without commitment but showed off to everyone that they won.
But a lot of it is the misandry of low expectations.
Men are horny, cruel, rapacious beasts, whose cocks rampage the land like Godzilla, with women’s hearts and genitalia as Tokyo. It’s normal when a man doesn’t respect his partner, not even worth shaming him for; rather, one should shame the woman who allowed herself to be disrespected. A man will do anything for an orgasm; once he’s turned on, he just can’t stop himself. Men cannot control themselves. Men cannot know better. Men cannot make emotionally healthy choices. It is a woman’s responsibility to stop a man from having sex, because if she doesn’t, well, men are like Iran: ruled by nuts.
Ick. It creeps me out just to write that.
And when people are given low expectations, some of them– many of them– will live down to these expectations. Frankly, it is a testimony to the goodness of men in general that more of them aren’t rapists. The rape culture is doing its damndest to give them permission.
There will always be assholes in the world: male, female and other. Some of them will videotape their sex partners having sex and put it on the Internet. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put the blame squarely where it belongs– not on Amber Cole, but on the boys who abused her.