I came across a letter published by the Guardian newspaper today. It brought to light a serious collateral damage caused by sexism: the false accusation.
According to the author, he was falsely accused of raping a 13-year-old girl when he was 15. He describes the event as a normal hook-up between two teenagers that escalated to a sleepover, which escalated to an eight-minute sex act in which both lost their virginity in a very casual and fun night. He was wakened up by policemen and realised he was being accused of raping the girl. Three months later, after he lost his friends and went through a very difficult path of being seen as a sex offender, the charges were dropped. He said he never recovered from it, never trusted a woman again. In fact, he was only able to open up again to one other man.
In an attempt to understand why the girl had falsely accused him, the author suggests that she was either ashamed of admitting she had sex so casually or she was scared.
I won’t go through the matter of truthfulness of the letter: it is anonymous and it the situation described is more common that we would like to admit. So, even if the letter would be false or just made up, it is still valid to analyse it.
Why is this sexism?
A teenage girl wanting sex sounds like a lie. When a 13-year-old girl admits she had sex, she is immediately confronted. She can be called several different insulting names saying she is just too easy to take to bed. Or people can just assume the boy, who is supposed to be the non-stoppable sex machine by the age of 15, lured her into it.
Poor girl. She simply doesn’t have the option of wanting sex. Fun sex, with a partner of her age. In a safe environment. She is the prize. For most of our sexist and conservative society, this girl would never be forgiven if she admitted liking sex. She would be too young and naïve to understand what sex is.
Poor boy. His role as the dominator, the one in control, is so strong that he doesn’t have the possibility of defending himself against false accusations. The same sexist and conservative society wants him away from every girl in town, but still reinforces upon him the role of the sex machine.
No way out
There is a broken concept of sex in our society. Sex should not be seen as something wrong. It is a fun and intimate relationship between people and there are so many fingers pointing what is right or wrong about it that we are constantly transforming it into a dirty action.
Teenagers have sex. They think of sex from as early as 11 years old. They experiment, they kiss, they are interested on finding out more about it and they reach to each other for it. What come out of these experiences are two completely different things for boys and girls. While boys are encouraged to pursue more sex and are fed up with porn by other boys, girls are educated to stay away from it because they can get hurt by boys.
If we continue educating our girls to treat sex as a prize and judging them for wanting sex, they will never be free to distinguish fun and liberated sex from a crime.
And, most of all, if we continue to raise our boys to be warriors that are willing to do whatever it takes for sex, we are pushing them straight to the sex-offenders bench.