Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Requisite Mark Foley Post

In other news, Mark Foley is going for the fundie right-wing gay stereotype trifecta: (1) molested as a kid, (2) substance abuser; (3) sexual predator. Thanks a ton for jumping on that bandwagon, asshole. I'm not even going to address your contorted attempts at justifying or rationalizing or explaining his behavior. You are not the victim here. The kids are.

I will, however, repost a comment I wrote over at Daily Kos earlier in the week, now that more and more rightish commentators are coming out from under their rocks to discuss the technicalities of the boys' ages and, even worse, to suggest that the pages themselves were somehow at fault for Foley's actions. Forthwith:
Attention from an older guy in a position of relative power is a heady, heady thing for a 16-year-old (or, as in my case, 17). It's flattering, it's exciting--wow, he actually wants to talk to me! He wants to take me to dinner! He wants to talk to me about my future career interests! It's exhilarating.

Then he pulls you down on top of him on the couch in his office and jams his tongue down your throat and, wham, it's not fun any more. It's terrifying. Even if you manage to stop things in their tracks, the creepiness and guilt take a long damn time to subside. You don't tell your parents because you don't want them to be angry--whether with you or with your attacker, you're not quite sure--and you don't want them to think (know?) you're stupid enough to have gotten into this situation in the first place. You don't even tell your friends because you don't want them to look at you differently. You look back at everything that led to that awful moment and kick yourself for not putting the brakes on sooner, for not recognizing what was happening until it was too late.

I feel for the kid or kids who are sure to be identified sooner or later as the other parties in the IMs and e-mails. I'm certain my own experience shaded the way I read them, but I sensed the discomfort coming through the kid's side of the messaging. You don't want to go along with where you're being led, but at the same time you don't want to not go along because you think maybe you're misinterpreting and don't want him to cut you off. You don't want him to think you're the one reacting inappropriately.

All the debate about whether Foley is technically really a pedophile or an ephebophile or pederast or just garden-variety sleazebag misses the reality that teenagers are not equipped to deal with sexual situations involving older, more experienced, much more powerful adults. Arguments about terminology and semantics obscure the point: I don't give a rat's ass what the age of consent is in DC, or what that means for the 18-year-old boyfriends of 16-year-old girls. Foley exploited kids who were not experienced enough to know how to handle him. And that's a crime.

Given the developments out of the Foley camp over the past couple of days, I'll add that it's also reprehensible that he's now playing to the fears and stereotypes held by homophobes in an attempt to abnegate his personal responsibility for his actions. That's the funny thing about the anti-homo camp's view of gay people: they think we have the power to choose our orientation, but simultaneously are somehow unable to choose appropriate people to express it with. The reality is that we're just like straight people: you either do the right thing or you don't, and individual orientation has exactly zero to do with that.

1 comment:

Damien said...

yeah, you're right about their views of us. I wish I found all this genuinely funny, instead of horrid. This is what it took to get him to come out, and he still is trying to put his (and other's) sleazy politics over honesty and some attempt in redemption...let's hope this is the last nail in their coffin come November.