Youthful sexuality & age of consent
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From another email exchange with Jason. Part one: Pederasty.
I can only speak about the average American. Everything is reduced to sound bytes. Popular media are sort of a continuing education class in a Life for Dummies course. Youthful sexuality is viewed as impossibly na´ve and pure or a hot bubbling cesspool (the latter by the Christian fundamentalists). In a land where most people believe in angels and spend their lives watching TV you can't expect clear thinking about anything. Certainly not about something as knotty and obscure as erotic life. "Child sexuality is an ideological nuclear bomb" captures it perfectly.
I do think an adult is in a position to take advantage of a young man (not that the reverse isn't also true). An adult has command of freedom, money, social maturity that can easily be overwhelming. And I think a young man whose self is still forming can have his development seriously deformed. So many freedoms, even driving a car, are offered only after a certain chronological age is reached.
Arbitrary age limits are also deforming. I've often wondered if instead of a fixed age of consent if (in an imaginary society we'll never see) competency couldn't some way be determined in some more individual fashion. But that presupposes sanity on the part of whoever would make the determination.
It is hard for me to imaging my own country adopting the comparatively sane attitudes of most European countries, particularly Holland.
Not having given it much thought I've always used pederast and pedophile interchangeably. A quick search of Google isn't any help.
I tend to get carried away about gay assimilation, forgetting that most gay people have always already been mostly assimilated. Take away sex laws and discrimination and they are mostly like everybody else. I'm not sure I believe in a gay sensibility as such. I suppose a case could be made for literary high irony (Wilde, Vidal). A certain kind of feminine male is distinctly gay.
Instead of being free to express sexuality, people are free to confine themselves to a limited set of rigidly constructed social roles, such as straight, gay, lesbian, transexual, pederast/pedophile, or whatever, none of which are allowed to interact in any meaninful way.
Many gay men don't want to be associated with, 'tainted by' those people. They want social barriers. They only feel legitimized by conforming to 'normality.' People with exceptional sexuality threaten them as much as gay men do the more backward heterosexual.