"The Six Ways We Talk About Teenage Girls," recently published on Salon.com, sheds light on a devastating double standard that teen girls deal with every day. The article maps out six ways in which society redefines age in order to justify a legal and mental lack of consent. As a culture, we seem to have adapted the patterns of Nabokov's novel, in which the main character lusts after a 12 year old girl, completely blinding himself to her mere facade of emotional readiness and maturity.
In the three rape cases in cited in the article, the rapists pleaded that the victim in question “seemed older” or “seduced them”. Many of their legal sentences were reduced based on this ridiculous and dangerous logic. Which prompts the question:
The six factors mentioned in the article affect an adolescent girl's perceived age. NOT NECESSARILY THE AGE OF CONSENT, MIND YOU. This perceived age somehow means that if an adolescent is emotionally mature or physically mature that she must also be consenting to statutory rape.
As women, most of us grew up exposed to all sorts of “encouragement” to be sexy. I remember coming home from school on the first day of sixth grade and immediately running to the mall to get an underwire bra and some eyeliner. It's reflections like this that make the article all the more haunting.
The worst part is, we hear these sorts of casual statements all the time: “If she doesn’t want to have sex, then why does she dress that way?!” This cultural Lolita complex is robbing young girls of their bodies and their identities. The fact that rapists have been able to say "she seemed older to me" with the success of reduced penalties just opens the window for other creeps to say "she was leading me on..."
Check out the article HERE and tell me it doesn’t drive you into a feminist frenzy.
Respect your fellow humans people!
Image from "Lolita: The Story of a Cover Girl" by John Bertram and Yuri Leving / Cover design by Jamie Keenan