Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Gray Area

Normally I see my social commentaries in terms of right or wrong, black or white, good or bad. Rarely do I ever see things in shades of gray until I had to read a number of articles involving a crime out of Cleveland, Texas.

The crime is one in which there shouldn't be a gray area. But I am finding it and I need the people who read this column to express their thoughts about that dilemma.

First off, I need to make you the parent of an 18-year-old male. He's not perfect. He may be in school or have dropped out. He may have sold drugs or smoked some reefer. He's been raised around younger relatives and you trust him implicitly with them, especially when his little 10-year-old cousin has a best friend who is crazy about him and he dismisses the girl because she is just a kid. He even blushes when you mention that the child has a crush on him. He dismisses even the potential of his interest in the girl, because it is not within his realm or reality.

One day your son and his friends pick up a girl they are acquainted with to go for a ride. In the world of bravado, all three boys and the girl end up having sex. Cellphone videos/pictures are taken, and the images of the activity are soon shared amongst their peers.

These are 1990s children and technology for them is like air. They live it and breathe it. Weeks later, the images of the encounter make their way around to all the other kids' phones.

Soon someone in the girl's class sees the pictures and turns it in to a teacher who calls the police. It turns out the girl is 11 years old and a student in middle school. Your son and his friends are arrested and charged with rape. The headlines in the paper call it a "gang rape."

You visit your son in jail to learn "what" happened. Your son admits to having sex, but says the girl didn't object and that they all thought she was 16 since she told them that. Worst, it wasn't the first time. Over a period of months he and others had had sex with the girl. You believe your son. So, now, do you support him as he fights the charges or do you abandon him?

Now, the scenario I just pointed out may or may not have been totally what happened in the Cleveland, Texas case. Statutory rape (meaning that the law makes the sex act a rape because a child under a certain age cannot give consent) for most people involves an "involuntary" aspect to it.

Yet what is a parent to do when all indicators point to a percentage of culpability on the part of the girl? Are we to do as some have suggested and shout from the rooftops that "it doesn't matter?" Do we say "it doesn't matter" that the girl lied about her age? Do we agree that "it doesn't matter" if the girl allowed the sex to happen by consenting personally, even though the law says she doesn't have the right to give consent? Do we totally disregard her Facebook pages where she brags about being able to "pull" older boys?

How do we honestly judge the "wrongness" when in the eyes of a loving parent we can see our son's side, that his actions were "poor judgment" and not that of a molester hitting someone over the head and dragging them into the bushes?

As parents, we will be labeled quite a few names for wanting to protect our son by finding fault with the girl. Are we wrong for worrying about our son's future if he is labeled a sexual predator and/or child molester?

Now a little girl jumping rope who is pulled off the street and molested is very clear-cut. But in our oversexed world, where young girls are being inundated day and night with sexually explicit content - where the music that is played at a young child's party includes phrases like "sex in the morning, sex at night," where Abercrombie and Fitch are offering a bikini for young girls with a push-up bra feature and the Maury Show loves to show young girls acting like they are grown - then when those children purposely engage in sex, how do we judge both the male and female participants in the act?

Is there a gray area or is it cut and dry? And what does this society need to do about it? Are the males, because they are 18 or older, always guilty when nothing in this society is preparing them for proper adulthood? There is not a standardized "right of passage" that each young person undergoes as they turn 18.

Is there any culpability on the part of a willing female, or is she always the innocent victim? As a society we confer "adultness" to certain criminal acts like murder. Can the same be said for sex acts?

When you respond, please do so as the imaginary parent of the boy. I am most interested in opinions from that side of the fence. It will be a refreshing read.


Anonymous said...

There are certainly diffent degrees of culpability when men and older boys have sex with an underage child. Part of the difficulty in making distinctions is the use of word rape to describe both uncensenting forcible sex and consentual underage sex. Without making any excuses for those who have sex with an 11 year old, however mature looking, willing, and whatever age they represent themselves to be, forcible rape is worse. . Perhaps a diffent term
like illegal sex with an underage person rather than statutory rape would be a better term for the sex where the illegality is solely based on the age of the younger participant and force or threats are not used would --make the distinction clearer

In the Cleveland case, the news reports seem to suggest that the sex was NOT consentual but that the 11 year old victim was threatened with physical harm if she did not comply. And clearly she seemed traumatized by the experience she underwent--So the case some participants are trying to make to mitigate their guilt may not be based on the facts.

Anonymous said...

As the imaginary parent of the boy, I support my son. I do not send him out to be eaten alive by wolves. IF this little girl has falsely lead anyone to believe that she is 16 and not 11, where are her parents and why do they not know this? My son had sex with the girl and while I am not putting him on a pedastool for it, were it not for this age issue being brought up, would it matter? Because I refuse to sit back and allow my son to be labeled for te rest of his life for an act that we all may have committed, I am going to fight until the end for him and his future. The pictures got around to whomever and made their way to a teacher....where did they come from? I have to ask because if the girl is bragging about being able to 'pull older boys' (which, is odd because, because, again, where is the supervision for this child??????), I'm almost thinking that my son was not the first to visit her special place. How many others were there? What is the girl seeing/mimicking/trying to be? Dont attack my son when he wasn't the only one in the wrong here....yes, I said it, he was wrong; wrong for sexing a sixteen year old when he was 18. I expect (and so did my son) a 16 year old to have a lot more sense than an 11 year old, but hey, times are different now. Calling the act gang rape seems a bit much to me; it's like calling a fistfight between two people a riot. My son is not an innocent angel with a shining halo in all of this, but he is definitely not the moster that the media and anyone else would like to label him as.

Anonymous said...

Dear Arlene:
In response to your article about the ‘Gray’ dilemma, my opinion is as follows:
First of all, what is the point in creating or obeying man’s so-called laws when most are not obeyed by lawmakers, and are so biased, rigid and slow to be adapted to our modern changing times?
Can you imagine how foolish it would appear today if a person was murdered for committing car theft—as was once the case for stealing a horse? Just as that law does not apply today, neither should so-called rape cases where the female consented to engaging in it—no matter what her age is.
And I say that because many girls in our modern society, as we all know, are far more knowledgeable (and experienced) about sex and everything else, than you and I were at their age. And that alone gives credible reason as to why that law should be changed. Why should a males’ life be forever ruined and the females’ spared to continue her promiscuous behavior? That’s not right; that’s not justice. It’s the same as when a man used to go unpunished for fathering a child and then neglecting his responsibility of helping to support him/her. A law was enacted because enough women and sensible-thinking men stood up against it. When the oxy-moronic ‘consensual-sex-rape-law’ is changed (and I’m praying that it will soon be,) every male who was charged in one way or the other under it, should immediately be exonerated.
But let’s also look at this from a cultural and spiritual angle.
In many cultures child brides are not uncommon. It is a custom that has been from ancient times to the present. So what makes America so different and ‘enlightened’ when it comes to issues involving males and females, irrespective of their age? I’ll tell you:
A.) A deceptive and domineering spirit of always wanting to strip away God-given dominion (over the earth, air, sea and everything therein) from individuals men, women, children and couples. That spirit resides within law-makers that enact domineering and unfair laws over the ‘earth’ that comprises the human body and human sexuality.
B.) Perhaps, too, Satan’s sick children, in their perceived power over this world, may feel that if they can eliminate enough unwanted males through murder, incarceration, etc., then they themselves would have a better chance at exploiting (sexually and otherwise) more women and girls in the U.S. and around the world.
C.) The ‘gray area’ also speaks volumes about the on-going agenda to destroy particularly the Black male, by any means necessary. And unfortunately, contributors to that include: nasty girls, women, boys and men--Black, white and other. While willingly damning others, they damn themselves to never find true love, inner peace or sanity.—Margie M.