Girls Cannot Give Consent


Even if she puts on lipstick and arches her eyebrow.

In the third world, they stone a girl to death for being raped.  In the United States, we just give her rapist and de facto murderer a slap on the wrist, and reassure the world that she was asking for it.

Think I’m exaggerating?  Cherice Morales was fourteen when her 49-year-old teacher began to rape her.  Three years later, she killed herself. The reason her story is in the news is because her rapist, Stacey Rambold, got 30 days in jail for the rapes.

After Morales killed herself, Rambold was supposed to complete a sex offender treatment program, but he didn’t.  His case was revived when it was revealed that he was, among other offenses, having unsupervised visits with minors.  His sentencing judge, Judge G. Todd Baugh, who never met the victim, said that she was “as much in control of the situation” as Rambold was, and that she was “older than her chronological age.”  “It was not a violent, forcible, beat-the-victim rape like you see in movies,” he said.  (What kind of movies are you watching, your honor?)

Yesterday, after there was an outcry, the judge apologized for his statements about Morales.  He says that he doesn’t know what he was trying to say, and that his statements are not relevant to the sentencing.  But he isn’t rescinding the sentencing, either.  Thirty days is what the man gets, minus one day already served.

In this raw and profane piece in xo jane, a woman who suffered repeated statutory rape starting at age 13, reminds us why there are laws about statutory rape in the first place:

The fact is, a 14-year-old girl may be capable of agreeing to sex with a 49-year-old man, but she doesn’t have the emotional and mental maturity to consent.  I was 25 before I realized that every man I’d slept with as a teenager was a pedophile. It seemed to me that since I’d courted the attention, that I was fully culpable. What teenager believes she is not mentally or emotionally capable of full consent? I thought I was an adult, although when I look at the picture of myself from the time period above, I see a child.

I thought I was the exception for these men, the girl so precocious and advanced that it superseded social norms. I thought that I was “older than my chronological age.”

Well, what do you expect from the modern, secular world, right?  What do you expect from a culture that simultaneously glorifies and degrades human sexuality?  Of course you’re going to have needy girls and lecherous men.  Of course there will be suffering and heartache, and innocents will suffer and predators will go free.

But surely we Catholics know better than that, yes?  Surely the Church on earth, imperfect as she is, is a safe haven for the young and vulnerable.

Well, just yesterday I ran afoul of a prominent Catholic writer, a professor who often works with college students.  The last time I talked to him when he said in public that the way to deal with a teen mom who’d given birth at age fourteen is to tell the “slut” to “keep her legs closed.”

No long ago, I was speaking to a Catholic priest about how difficult life seemed when I was a teenager, and he went into a long reverie about the teenage girls that cross his path.  “Those short skirts, that heavy eye makeup—” he said . . . “Ohh, they know exactly what they’re doing.”

Think rapists come from nowhere?  Think they would dare to do what they do, if it were not for men like these?  You don’t have to be a rapist to be part of the problem.  All you have to do is make sure we all remember that the girl is to blame.  No matter how young she is, the girl is always to blame.

  • It’s her fault because she knows how to look like a woman (even though she’s not).
  • It’s her fault because she wears padded bras and skanky clothing (even though her body is tender and unfinished on the inside).
  • It’s her fault because she knows all the moves (because she’s been trained since toddlerhood to writhe to a beat, because that’s what makes the adults in the house point the camera at them).
  • It’s her fault because she works hard to look sexy (even though she really only wants to look pretty, and sexy is the only pretty she’s ever been shown).
  • It’s her fault because she’s loud and dirty because she knows it gets her something (and she knows that something is better than nothing).

It’s her fault because she’s learned that she has power, and she does wield it (because the only time men speak to her is to say two things, “Do what I tell you to do” and “I want you.”  If you were a lonely girl, which would you rather hear?).

The xojane writer tells us,

[I]t doesn’t matter if a young girl is saying yes, it’s an adult man’s job to say no.

And she’s not just talking to Rambold and other men who happen to have a thing for young girls.  She’s talking to all adults who should know better:  the judge, the defense attorney, the professors, the priests, the therapists, the school principles, the combox snipers, men and women.  She’s speaking to us.  To me.

What do I say when I meet a young girl in trouble?  What do I see when a teenage girl sashays by in skintight jeans, made up like a porn star?  Do I see a girl?  Or do I grimace and avert my eyes from just another young slut who’s out to ruin the world?

What do we tell girls, besides, “Do what I tell you to do?”  Do we tell them, “You are still young”?  Do we tell them, “Stand behind me, and I will protect you”?  Do we tell them that there is still hope, there is a way to get love and attention without being used?  Or do we tell the girls that it’s their fault, always their fault?

I don’t want to be the background music for the song and dance of the likes of Rambold and Judge Baugh, who say that there is no such thing as innocence.  Keep on saying it, and it will come true.

photo credit: Cat Eyes via photopin (license)

This post originally ran in 2013. I’m reposting it in light of recent conversations about Maria Goretti.

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7 thoughts on “Girls Cannot Give Consent”

  1. I like your writing, Simcha Fisher, but I don’t agree with everything you say your article above. Considering that the United States of America has become the deadbeat-teenage-dad capital of the world, I cannot understand why feminists insist that older men are the cause of all teenage girls’ problems. Regardless of where the statutory age of consent is set at (e.g. 16 years old or 18 years old), the offense of statutory rape should not be a strict-liability offense but rather an intent crime. Don’t get me wrong. If Davie Vanity were ever to be indicted for sexually victimizing Jessi Slaughter so many years ago and I were summoned to serve on his trial court’s jury, you better believe that I would vote him as being guilty. However, there is the other side of the coin.

    After Matt Koso and Crystal Guyer first got married, all they wanted to do was raise their newborn child and for everyone to get off their backs. Yeah, I get it. Matt Koso was 22 years old and Crystal Guyer was only 14 years old when they got married, and our grandiose nation deems such a relationship and marriage to be taboo. However, this was a situation in which Crystal Guyer and Matt Koso were in love with each other and wanted a future together regardless of what the law books had to say about it. Nobody molested anyone. Nobody groomed anyone. Nobody manipulated anyone. The Nebraska Attorney General, Jon Bruning, simply wouldn’t get beyond his obsession with them. He insisted that Matt Koso was a pedophile, which brings me to my next point.

    The Fifth Edition of the “Diagnositic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (“DSM-5”) specifies that a pedophile is someone 16 years of age or older who is primarly attracted to pre-pubescent children in Tanner Stage 1 who are five or more years their junior. Crystal Guyer was beyond that phase of her life when she and Matt Koso first fell in love with each other. Why can’t anyone get the definition of pedophilia right? It has nothing to do with teenage sex. Dr. Richard von Krafft-Ebing was a scoundrel psychiatrist for ever having conceptualized pedophilia in 1886, because he had to have known that he was opening Pandora’s box when he did so. It could explain why the approval rating here in our nation for psychiatrists is at a shameful low of 38 percent.

    Matt Koso and Crystal Guyer spent years fighting the criminal justice system’s efforts to break apart their marriage and their family. Sadly enough, the criminal justice system won, and my faith in our governmental establishment was forever destroyed. And it was all because of a stupid law that treats carnal knowledge as one cold, mathematical equation instead of taking other factors into consideration.

    Underage teenage fathers usually treat the underage mothers of their babies with such contempt and hostility. You always hear about a 15-year-old boy bullying the 13- or 14-year-old pregnant mother of his soon-to-be-born baby, and yet the law and society continue to do nothing about it.

    All Matt Koso ever wanted to do was to love and protect Crystal Guyer and invest in her future however way he could. He wanted to be a good father to their children. Yet the very same people who think nothing wrong of underage boys verbally abusing the middle-school and high-school girls they have gotten pregnant are so ready to put devil horns on Matt Koso. He was never formally diagnosed as a pedophile, so any such accusation against him is defamatory at best even coming from the mouth of Jon Bruning. It doesn’t say very much for the parents of deadbeat teenage fathers when someone Matt Koso’s age treats his pregnant 14-year-old girlfriend and wife better than teenage fathers treat the underage girls they’ve impregnated.

    I don’t mean to rain on your parade, Simcha, but I don’t think that Draconian age-of-consent laws is the answer to all of our society’s concerns. Moreover, I believe that prison rape should be punishable by the death penalty. Never mind the Coker vs. Georgia ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court can’t seem to ever get anything right with our laws. Of course, that’s another discussion for another time.

    1. On the first line of my post above, I stated, “I like your writing, Simcha Fisher, but I don’t agree with everything you say your article above.”

      I really meant to say, “I like your writing, Simcha Fisher, but I don’t agree with everything you say in your article above.”

      I apologize for any confusion that my typo may have caused.

    1. It doesn’t actually say that. It says that if they are under fourteen, they *cannot* be married; but that’s not the same as saying they *can* be married if they are over fourteen.

      Males and female of any age cannot be validly married in the Church except under three conditions:

      The couple must be capable of being married—that is, they must be a woman and a man who are free of any impediment that would prevent marriage.
      The couple must give their consent to be married — that is, by an act of their will they irrevocably give and accept one another in order to establish marriage (Canon 1057).
      They must follow the canonical form for marriage—that is, they must be married according to the laws of the Church so that the Church and the wider community will be certain about the validity of their marriage.

      In the first world in the 21st century, the first and the second condition would disqualify most young teenagers.

      1. You are incorrect about this. The context is a section on impediments. Age is specifically stipulated as NOT being an impediment if the age of 14 for girls or 16 for boys has been reached. They can be prevented from marrying on the basis of other, specified canonical impediments but age itself cannot be one of them barring special legislation by an episcopal conference. Barring such legislation (absent in most of the Catholic world including the United States), the most a priest may canonically attempt to do is to attempt to dissuade them. See Edward Peters, the foremost canonist in the Church.

  2. Depending on when the repost was, I must have missed the convos on St. Maria. But that’s probably for the best. However, our pastor mentioned her in his homily Sunday, and I can’t remember why, which is too bad, because I think the rest of it was good…wait, it was about actually desiring to be Saints and loving Jesus so much that to sin would be the ultimate horror. Anyway, he mentioned how she died rather than lose her purity, which I guess is kinda true, but isnt doing her justice. She didn’t consent for fear of “losing her purity”; she didn’t consent because *it would have been sinful*. There is a huge difference. She could have been stabbed for not wanting to join a gang, and the result would have been the same. *sigh*
    The reason you had to right the original post makes me livid, and I fear for my children, esp. my daughter.

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