"Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest." ~ John Stuart Mill
Sex With Sixteen-Year-Olds
Exclusive to STR
October 11, 2006
The self-righteous are having a mouth-foaming field day with the Foley debacle.
Let me say right up front that the man is a hypocritical sleaze-ball of the highest order, in my very overrated opinion. I know only a little bit of the story of his salacious electronic messages with pages. I've not read the transcripts of those messages, nor do I need to nor have any desire to. I hope that my love letters and other things that I've written while under the influence of passion never become public, either. One thing is quite clear; the man did not use good judgment. Something about stones and glass houses and people without sin casting stones through windows comes to mind. Ms. More-Objectively-Pure-Than-Thou Rand had some pretty strange things in her closet, too, if I recall correctly.
It seems to me that primal human urges strangely happen to most of us. In fact, it seems somehow that they more often occur to those of us who proclaim our superior purity.
I do believe that the rampant fear in which we hold our most basic realities is not only not justified, but is perhaps the very cause of the very justification for that fear. That sentence may not appear coherent. Let me put it another way: the War on Terrorism has probably created more terrorists than all other possible sources combined. Wars seem to create their own justifications. The "War on Drugs" has created the cheapest, most powerful and most easily obtainable drugs in history. We couldn't possibly have created such a world awash in harmful drugs if we'd set out as that as our main goal.
And now 'our' policy of seeking peace and freedom in the world may just end up buying us a "newcular" war and the annihilation of humanity. Aren't we funny, even for all the seriousness of it all?!
But back to the 16-year-olds. I've been giving this thing some thought and here are some things that have popped up. Let's say that Foley was not afraid of admitting to the world that he preferred sex with men to women. I would imagine that he would not be under so much pressure regarding hiding his sexual encounters. The fact that he would not have been under so much pressure may have made it less likely that he would have sought out those who could be more easily intimidated into keeping silent about these liaisons.
True, the desire for young lovers may not be related to all of that, but even so, if he was able to lead a more open life sexually, it is much more likely that he would have led a more satisfied life, sexually, within more normal (and probably healthy-for-all-considered) relationships.
Let's look, for a moment, at the supposed 16-year-old. Once again, I'll make a lot of assumptions. What if this young man had been perfectly comfortable to openly express and discuss the nature of his sexual feelings, desires, and even perhaps his encounters? Don't you think that he would have been much less likely to sneak around with an old, hypocritical sleaze-ball like Foley? The terrible toll that the hidden nature of sex has in our modern American Puritanical hypocritical culture has on all of us is to raise the pressures far out of proportion to what they might otherwise be.
Even if he had desired to engage with Foley, a more open, tolerant society would have provided him with the ability to see this relationship more honestly without his having to hide and sneak around with it. That alone would go a long way towards ensuring that it would either be a healthy relationship or one which he could and would quickly and easily abandon.
We all make mistakes. We all experiment with things. It is when we can't escape from our errors that things get bad.
Look at rape and prostitution. Doesn't it just make sense that there would probably be a lot less rape if prostitution were openly available and as common as going to Borders to buy a Playboy magazine? I know that rape is more about power than sex, but even so, there would more likely be those who would provide simulated power stuff, like S&M, that would assuage those needs, absent the legal and cultural exclusions of such options.
And statutory rape. What's that all about? Two consenting people can engage in the most natural of human processes and someone else can decide to throw you in jail for this? This is crazy. Talk about separation of religion and state, this is certainly a place we need to take this more seriously. It is the fear of sex, the unwillingness to talk about and acknowledge it and its powerful force on our lives, which is the source of the problems, not the sex itself. If young people were comfortable discussing sex and the nature of sex and relationships with their parents and society in general, there would be a lot less of a need to "play that urge out" recklessly.
Sex is one of the most primal, powerful urges we have. It is central to our lives and remains so for a great portion of our lives. To pretend otherwise is like pretending New Orleans is safe from hurricanes. It's just insane. Sure, we should censure Foley. The man is a cretin. But more so for his hypocrisy and his desire for power than for the fact that he is a sexual being. We are ALL sexual beings. The problem with Foley and the 16-year-old is more the result of our own dishonesty as a people than the choices two horny people may have made.
I don't know what the right thing to do with Foley is, but I do know that the passage of more limiting and restrictive legislation regarding sexual matters is only going to improve the situation the same way that the wars on drugs and terror have improved those situations.