Some Thoughts On Sex And Sexuality (In Reaction To Katie Hopkins’ Comments On The Adam Johnson Trial)

First of all, we must remember that Katie Hopkins exists solely to provide incendiary commentary about every known incident in the World and that the publications that continue to employ her aren’t even worthy of lining the bottom of a toilet- they themselves exist only to sensationalise stories by blowing up controversy and defaming anyone they can in any conceivable way. In this instance, the case of the 28-year-old footballer, Adam Johnson, being served a sentence of up to ten years for engaging in sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl, I do think that her opinions are and should be made part of a wider discussion.

Katie Hopkins’ comments regarding anything occurring in the World are considered as dangerous and poisonous by many, including myself, for the sheer levels of mindlessness and ignorance that they contain. While I could talk at length about these ignorances and dismantle them with good sense as I go, with regards to this case and others similar, I believe that the topic of sex involving sexual consent and the sexualisation of people from a young age, irrespective of gender or sexual preference, regarding the messages they receive from the media, the adults around them, about sexuality is one that should be opened up and, I believe it is critical to do so.

Firstly, so as not to digress too much at the moment and, so I don’t forget to include them at a later stage, I will get my thoughts on this particular incident out of the way now. Adam Johnson is a 28-year-old man with a (now ex-) partner and a child. Although engaging in sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl makes him disgusting because of her age, if he had done the same or more with someone aged 16 or over (using it as a marker as the age of sexual consent), he would still be equally as disgusting for cheating on his partner and ruining both his and his family’s life- these facts would remain the same regardless of age, but it would be legal. With regards to the young girl, if she initially failed to disclose her age and was only forthcoming about this once asked by him, the responsibility was also partly hers to protect herself as a young woman knowing that she is underage and that he is an older man and should have rejected his advances or told a responsible person about it. The reasons why she didn’t do either of those things remain a matter of speculation, but, further to the previous point, from accounts I have read and heard about during this case, it seems to be agreed that the girl looks older than her 15 years, leading people aside from Adam Johnson to have believed that she is older than she really is. Prior to knowing her age, it would have otherwise been a consentual act between two people of legal sexual age, however, the fact that he engaged in sexual activity with her even after finding out her age makes him irresponsible and sickening, but I don’t believe that her part in it should be overlooked and dismissed as a ‘thoughtless’ and ‘innocent misjudgement’ either, as she has a responsibility to herself as a growing young woman and, also to protect herself from potential harm regardless of her age. If the behaviour of enticing an older man and not being forthcoming about your age for fear (I’m guessing) of being shunned or rejected is not punished, then it will create a problem in adult life as she may choose to play the victim later on, as she would know that there is lack of consequence for her actions based on the outcome this case. Again, her motivations behind her part in it are up for speculation and I am not accusing her of anything, however, I do think her actions must also be looked at with regards to how she might have encouraged him as nothing seems to have been made apparent until after the fact. I am not saying that both participations are equal or should have equal punishment, but I think it is negligent to only punish the older person because they are in an accepted ‘position of responsibility’ and, hence, to blame them for everything, when it is also naïve and ignorant to think that anyone under the age of 16 ‘doesn’t know what they are thinking/feeling/doing’ because they are ‘a child’, when nobody is legally considered an adult until the age of 18 and, when we expect and, often, force people aged 16 and under to make very adult decisions about their lives regarding careers, education and choosing where they want to live if dealing with parental divorce and what they want to do with the rest of their lives, for example. Not only is this mindset incredibly patronising, but it is just as dangerous as expecting, or assuming, that someone aged 16/18 or over will make a responsible and morally ‘correct’ decision just because they are seen as and, are put in a position of responsibility based on their age. I think that each case must be judged by the circumstances and personalities unique to it and, that no assumptions should be made about a person and their so-called ‘responsibility’ to another based solely on their age. I know this is not how the legal system works and, often, it does not work at all as it is laden with holes and hypocrisies- there are so many cases that bring forward these oversights and contradictions and, unfortunately, some of them are an extension of the confusions in our already presumptuous and sensationalist society.

The culture of teenagers of all genders acting and dressing far beyond their physical years is certainly neither a new nor a modern phenomenon. The desire to express yourself through clothing and physical imagery, I think, is part of the growth process of all young people in wanting to establish their own identity and to locate their own sense of individuality during the process of becoming an adult, the turbulence of adolescence, which is, by nature, an incredibly emotional, stressful and comprehensively challenging time. The argument of what is age-appropriate depends on your preferences and personal moral perspective, however, for the most part, it is agreed that the sexualisation of people under 18 through revealing or explicitly adult clothing and related behaviour is reprehensible and, any such suggestive imagery is seen as child pornography, which is also what is stated by the law. What I don’t understand, then, is that if every person under the age of 18 is still legally considered a child, why it is then acceptable, or even legal, for the age of sexual consent, the standardised age of sexual ‘maturity’ in the UK, to be 16, when you are still legally considered a child, but are, by law, seen as old enough to engage in one of the most adult practices in the World, yet are not allowed to do other things or engage in other adult decisions until you are 18. Why is it not seen more widely as messed-up that it is legal in the UK for a 16-year-old to have sex, yet they can’t get married without parental consent or even legally drink or smoke a cigarette, for example, until they are 18? Whatever your views are on the latter subjects, the gravity that is placed on these situations and, the way that they are viewed in relation to one another and the consequent punishments for them is seriously disordered- a system that makes it legal for a 16-year-old to sleep with a 60-year-old, however morally repellent you think it may be, yet severely punishes a 28-year-old man for engaging in sexual activity with a 15-year-old who, in a matter of months will be of legal sexual age (it could be days, it could be 23:58 on the day before her 16th birthday) needs a heavy and serious upheaval as there is so much nonsensical injustice in it that it hurts your brain.

I stress the word ‘man’ as it not only relates to this case, but it is also emphatic of the fact that, if the genders were reversed and it was the question of a female over 16 and a male under 16, it wouldn’t be judged or penalised in nearly the same way, as males, particularly older males, are typically viewed as the ‘aggressors’ in society, especially in a sexual capacity. For younger males, being with an older woman would be viewed as a ‘right of passage’ and something to be applauded, instead of the fact that both of these mindsets are wrong and should be viewed so in the same way as above. There is also the hypocrisy of an older man being viewed as an exemplar or model character if seen with a younger woman on his arm, however, this also isn’t treated in the same capacity as above, especially if said male has a lot of financial worth or social standing of some sort (as if these two pardon paedophilia or excuse underage sexual relations in some way). All of this is a great big mind-fuck, however, the point about women not being penalised in the same way as men exposes the gender-based prejudices in this capacity, where women are more often seen as victims in society and, can play up to this persona, instead of being viewed and judged as human beings equal to men in their capabilities as aggressors and sexual deviants.

On the other side, it is also incredibly irresponsible and short-sighted to think that 15-year-olds (as this is the age in question) or teenagers under the age of 16 are not having sex and, also foolish and condescending to say that teenagers do not have their own mind or know what they are thinking and feeling because of their age. As a parent, you may forever want to chastise your kids and ignore the fact they might be sexually active at a young age, or rather, at an age that you don’t consider acceptable for having sexual relations, but, realistically, you cannot stop them or anyone doing what feels right to them, nor make it less of a fact by choosing to be ignorant about it. What people consider as right or wrong for them varies depending on their outlook and what they can rationalise to themselves, regardless of numerical age and, some people reach maturity about certain things at different times to others. There are people of and over the age of 30 (to pick a typically accepted ‘adult’ age) who get drunk, take drugs and have sex (it can be unprotected sex) and, who do these things regularly on a rotation and live to regret them the next day, however, just because they are well over the age of consent and into adulthood, does this mean that they are any more mature and well-adjusted and knowing what they want from life just because they are older than 15? Similarly, to the view of under 16s being ‘taken advantage of’ because of their legal inability to give consent, does this mean that a 30-year-old cannot be taken advantage of in the same way because they are older and ‘more aware and in control of themselves’ based on their numerical age? Physical maturity is not a direct indicator of mental or emotional maturity, nor does it pre-dispose any kind of behaviour or make you less vulnerable as a human being just because you are of numerical age and I wish more people understood this to its core. Just because something may have worked for you or you may have thought and acted a certain way at a certain age, you cannot expect that your personal ‘rules’ are going to, or should apply to everyone, this including your own children, as everybody’s personal circumstances are different and the way that each individual experiences life is unique to them. To expect your kids to be a carbon copy of your wants, your thoughts and your desires, or to want them to do things in opposition to how you did them in light of your regrets and thoughts following these experiences (‘do as I say, not as I do’ etc) is oppressive and you can’t expect them, or anyone, to learn anything if they are not allowed to make and learn from their mistakes. On the subject of mistakes and irresponsible behaviour, if somebody continues to act in a negative way and doesn’t think that they are making a mistake, you also cannot force them to change unless they want to- an uncomfortable reality though it is, but you cannot do anything to change a person’s damaging ways, to themselves or to other people, unless they want to. The desire to change must come from within people through exercising their own judgement and, if that does not exist, you must make peace with the fact that it is never going to instead of berating someone and exhausting yourself in the process as well.

I feel, at this point, I have digressed, however, what I wanted to put forward is that, with regards to helping your kids and young people in general, the greatest commodity you have as a responsible human being and adult is to educate them about safe sex, to be open with them about consent and contraception and the ways you can protect yourself in sexual situations and, to let them know about the various support systems and networks available to them if ever someone did take, or try to take advantage of them. Education and communication are the only ways we can protect each other and ourselves, to ask for help and to arm ourselves with knowledge and, if that knowledge is not conveniently accessible, go and find it and educate yourself- don’t rely on or expect someone else to do it for you. I think I have covered everything I wanted to for now, but if something else does come up, I’ll be sure to add it in.

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