Friday, May 24, 2013

News Commentary: Kaitlyn Hunt

I don't do a lot of news commentary here on this blog, because I feel that the issues I'm talking about are fundamentally timeless. That said, I'm pissed enough about the case of Kaitlyn Hunt to break from that just this once.

For those unaware, Kaitlyn is a young woman who turned 18 recently, and is being prosecuted for her sexual relationship with an underage girl from her high school. The media is painting this as anti-gay discrimination, and the conversations that have started because of it need to be addressed.

Let's start with the idea that this prosecution is because the girls are in a homosexual relationship. Yes, the parents of the younger girl are alleged to be prosecuting because the older girl "turned their daughter gay". That doesn't make the prosecution a case of anti-gay discrimination. Every high school boy who has ever been prosecuted and had his life destroyed because of the overprotective parents of his lover can attest to the fact that this is a shining example of equality, at least in the fact that the law is prosecuting.

There is some discrimination here, though. And it's the media who's doing it. No one gives a shit about the excesses of age of consent laws until it's a photogenic young woman who's suffering because of it. And once the media uproar inevitably subverts the legal system and ensures that this woman will escape punishment, everyone will go back to not giving a shit about the awful age of consent laws that will still be in place.

As I've said elsewhere on this blog, I do not support the age of consent. Kaitlyn should not be prosecuted or punished for a consensual relationship. I take Kaitlyn's lover at her word that the relationship was consensual, since she is the one who ought to get to decide that.

The conversation has also spawned much hand wringing about why this isn't covered under the "obvious" Romeo and Juliet clauses many states have in place for just this set of circumstances. First off, not every state's age of consent has an exception for minors who are close in age to one another. Secondly, no state should have such an exemption.

By setting an age of consent, the state is declaring that everyone under the line is incapable of consent, and it is under that justification that individuals who have sex with them are prosecuted. As such, whether Kaitlyn is an 18 year old from her same school or a 70 year old, what matters is that her lover is legally declared incapable of making her own choices about sex.

The very idea that you can be competent to consent to sex with teenagers but not to consent to sex with adults would be laughable if it were not the explicit law of the land, punishable by sentences harsher than some murderers get.

What these laws do is say "this group is particularly vulnerable, so let's create an entire class of people who are only legally allowed to fuck people in that particularly vulnerable class."

Either Kaitlyn's lover is competent to make her own decisions about her own body and who she shares it with, or she isn't. I think she very much is competent to make that decision, whether the person she decides to have sex with is a photogenic young woman or not.


Kaitlyn has accepted a plea bargain that nets her less than a year in jail and no need to register as a sex offender. We can all stop panicking now. The photogenic white woman won't suffer the insane consequences we always intended only for those evil, creepy men. Words cannot adequately express my disgust at the national dialogue. Though one emotion I can put into words is "unsurprised".

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree. This is yet another shining example of how arbitrary the age of consent law really is, and society failing to recognize that it's the fundamental problem in this case. Their sexual orientation really has no bearing on the fact that their relationship was consensual, and that consent is the target of this discrimination, NOT their sexuality. But of course, nobody really cares that the age of consent is wrong because the discussion of said topic is so stigmatized by the media associating it with issues like rape and sexual assault that any calls for change are immediately shot down by the misinformed and overprotective, conservative mothers of last generation. No doubt this will just get politically righted to shut the media up and then nobody will mention it again. For any real change to happen, something much bigger needs to occur that changes the entire general perception of how ineffective the age of consent law really is.