The weird saga of the underaged teen lesbian romance…

…makes for some fascinating reading, in that seriously-dysfunctional/sex-scandal sort of way.

Something said at one of the blogs caught my attention (the blog was itself quoting another blogger; for the sake of clarity I have color-coded the inset to make it clear where the voice-change occurs):

So, do you think that was very savvy of the parents?
I don’t think so, but the question is what can they do once the other girl has shifted the rhetoric?
The younger girl’s parents made one drastic decision: to report behavior that is, under the law, a felony.
The accused girl got control of the narrative, with much support, making it about homophobia.
There’s really no way back for the younger girl’s parents. They can present their point of view and make it somewhat better, but they must regret going to the police.

What happened, Professor Althouse, was that Kaitlyn Hunt’s parents lied. And why should lying — “shift[ing] the rhetoric” to gain “control of the narrative,” as you say — be rewarded? It seems important to me that liars should never prevail in a situation like this, or else the rule of law will be subverted by dishonesty.

Legally, the case is about an 18 year old seducing a 14 year old. In the media, it’s about whether the parents who are prosecuting the 18 year old are motivated by anti-homosexual sentiment.

What’s interesting to me here is the question of whether the parents did the wrong thing in pressing charges. Their daughter had already run away from home once, and the older girl refused to be warned off – it sounds like the daughter was “pressured to reject her parents” long before the parents pressed charges.

So what should have been done?

I tend to think the parents should do what they honestly feel is right and is best for their family – but do whatever is within their power to make it clear they’re not trying to be vindictive, but are trying to do what is right. This might make for unpleasant consequences in the short term – but doesn’t the long term matter more?

update: another blogger raises the question of whether the running away from home thing is linked to “grooming”.

Remember that any type of abuser wants to isolate the victim from any source of help.  In this case, peers and persons unknown are helping Kaityln Hunt by convincing her victim that the people that reported the crime are the problem, and “don’t understand.”

This, to me, raises the question of how one distinguishes “grooming” from “dating”.

I assumed (without really thinking much about it) the distinction is to be found in the concept of secrecy – “the rest of the world won’t understand” – but in this case, the rest of the world does seem to understand. Yet there is controversy – not everyone agrees.

I believe that there is more to “grooming” than simply having the process be viewed as inappropriate or disapproving – clearly, there are other issues involved: imbalance of power, manipulation, and so on. A better explanation of exactly what differentiates “grooming” from regular dating would be helpful in clarifying the boundary. (I can’t stop putting “grooming” in scare quotes because dropping the scare quotes just feels too much like comparing the victim to an animal, and that makes me uncomfortable.)

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4 thoughts on “The weird saga of the underaged teen lesbian romance…

  1. Pingback: The #FreeKate Meltdown Continues : The Other McCain

  2. Pingback: A Small Town Sex Scandal Turns Into The Most Bizarre Story Of The Year | That Mr. G Guy's Blog

  3. I agree with your description of “grooming” and share your discomfort at the term. But it fits the facts if not the “narrative” – this is exactly WHY it is criminal for an adult to seduce a 14 year old: a child of that age isn’t able to soberly evaluate the situation, probably is having power issues with the parents already (I did, don’t most 14 year olds?), and is particularly vulnerable to the sort of manipulation by an older person that makes it criminal.

  4. Yep, that’s exactly it: a fourteen year old simply does not have the ability to evaluate the situation. That’s why they’re legally not allowed to sign contracts.

    We have a culture where we confer the benefits of adulthood at an ever-earlier age, while promising them freedom from consequences. The problem is, that’s a promise we can’t make. The only way we can guarantee freedom from consequences is to protect them from getting into the sorts of situations that are known to produce the unwanted consequences in the first place.

    The reason we protect children from inappropriate sexual contact is not because we hate children, or lack respect for them. It’s because we really do know something they don’t.

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