“Abnormal” My Ass

So, I’m reading my criminology textbook, because I’m behind and need to catch up for the midterm. (Joy.) And I bumped across something that really hacked me off.

Excerpt: “abnormal sexual activity” (page 120).

If I’d only run across it the once, I might have been able to let it go, but, well . . .

Excerpt the second: “. . . risky albeit non-criminal behaviours such as smoking, drinking, gambling, reckless driving, and illicit sexuality” (page 186).

And don’t even get me started on how many times “precocious sex” and “precocious sexuality” is listed as a risk factor for juvenile delinquency.

Now, we’re gonna stop right there. For a “scientific” textbook, this is coming across as really fucking preachy. There are implications all over the above about how sex is bad—just as bad, in fact, as smoking, drinking, gambling, and reckless driving. I am the first person to admit that sex must be approached with a certain level of responsibility, because with all the scary-ass STDs hiding in people’s knickers it definitely pays to be careful. BUT.

Young people have been having sex at young ages for forever, guys. It’s only been in the last hundred years or so that we’ve turned into prudes. In the Victorian era—the late 1800s, for those of you who aren’t nerdy enough to know that off the top of your head—girls could marry at age 12, boys at 14. There were street kids as young as EIGHT prostituting themselves. Let that one sink in for a second.

You good? Good. Now then.

What the hell do these authors mean when they use the term “precocious”? For centuries, women have been marrying, having sex, and popping out babies in their early and mid-teen years. Those kinds of practises were happening as little as a hundred and twenty years ago, but because we’ve suddenly become all manner of fucked up about sex, teens are supposed to wait. Because, you know, it’s dangerous now. Having sex is a sign that you will violently attack other people, commit robberies, deal and abuse drugs, steal cars, and murder someone at the first opportunity.

Let’s get real: if sex were really that socially destructive, there would be no such thing as “prison”, because anarchy would reign supreme.

Furthermore, what’s this holier-than-thou nonsense about “illicit” and “abnormal” sexuality? Everyone with a properly-developed brain should be calling bullshit right about now. Because let’s get one thing straight about sex: there is literally nothing new under the sun. The ancients in Greece, Rome, and Japan (at least) considered homosexual sex as nothing more than part of the spectrum of human sexuality. Sexual slavery, consensual sexual slavery, prostitution, threesomes, orgies, polygamy, polyamory, sadomasochism, and every other manner of kinky, strange, queer, and perverted sexual desires and acts have already happened. And the apocalypse didn’t descend. So.

And that isn’t even touching on the hypocritical, misogynist, religious-fed horseshit about what, exactly, is defined as “illicit” and/or “abnormal” sex/sexuality/sexual practises. Because the text didn’t say illegal sex practises, like molesting a child or banging a goat or forcing yourself on someone who is unwilling or having one last round of sex with the recently deceased. Those things are illegal, and for good reason—because they hurt someone, because they violate human dignity, and/or because consent is a very important thing.

But what’s being discussed is not something that breaks laws or causes harm—it’s “risky” behaviour that is “non-criminal” but still somehow immoral or wrong. And that is nothing more than shaming and name-calling. It’s passing judgement on someone else’s choices and life because you somehow believe you know better, because you think you’re someone important (your degree says so). It’s contributing to our culture’s cockeyed view of sex (pun wholeheartedly intentional) as something we should focus on, obsess over, and try to regulate for other people.

And I get it: we’ve been judgemental and self-righteous as a culture for a long fucking time. (Ex.: in the 1920s—not even a full 100 years ago—working-class girls could be imprisoned for being sexually active. And the good lad who banged the wretched little tart? Well, boys will be boys.) But the laws, practises, and prejudices of the past are not a free pass to act like an asshole in the present moment. If no one ever bothers to step up to the plate, when is anything going to change?


I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

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