Dear Penthouse

I am having a conflict and I would like to share it. Not sure how I missed this story but I just came across it today. It’s from November 2013.

“Garner — who is married — was subsequently charged with aggravated sexual battery and solicitation of a minor for rape of a child, but those charges were reduced to a single felony charge of reckless endangerment.”

Imagine if you will … NFL player follows 12-year-old girl into the bathroom, unbuckles her pants and attempts to perform oral sex on her. Tells police he thought the 12-year-old was a grown woman.

So there’s that. The lack of balance in how we judge these situations. The boy might be considered a lucky bugger, worthy of high fives from his friends. Or he might be panicked. Overwhelmed. Confused. Embarrassed. A girl could feel each of these as well, but if it were an NFL player she might also garner high fives from her friends.

It’s a fact that boys usually mature later than girls, both physically and emotionally. Any grade seven or eight class picture will back this up. Of course there are exceptions, like the guy who shaves in grade eight or the small girl who is a late bloomer, but it’s the norm and often why high school girls date older. Many twelve year old boys are just beginning puberty, while many twelve year old girls are two years into puberty and already menstruating.

Any guy will tell you that this is not a simple matter, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleader in the bathroom thing. I was twelve years old when I read my first Penthouse Forum letter and became good friends with my penis. Remember Penthouse Forum?

“Dear Penthouse. I never thought it would happen to me …”

Personally, I was thirteen when I had my first sexual experience with another person. It wasn’t with a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader but it was with a Robb Road Cougar cheerleader. She was grade ten, two years older than I was, and it wasn’t rape, believe me. I still remember it fondly. If anything, it caused me to feel that a girl should and would make the first move if she was ready. And that was really cool.

I had no idea what I was doing, only what I was feeling. And for the first time it wasn’t my own hand. No intercourse, just a nude roll in the hay and some sexual exploration. For me that was a pretty good deal. My two closest friends were also part of this evening of mentor ship, each with their own Robb Road cheerleader in their own room, and I am certain it had no ill effect on either of them. In fact it still invokes a knowing smile when I run into one of them, girls or guys, over thirty years later.

My second sexual experience was also with a girl who was older than me. And my third. And my fourth. By grade nine I was running out of older women who were interested in younger guys so I began dating girls my own age and things changed. The younger girls were no longer taking charge so my sex life took a fairly long hiatus. In fact it wasn’t until grade ten that I found myself in a position where a girlfriend was initiating sex again. And that was because it was a natural step after having dated for two months.

Some of my best sexual experiences were with girls and women who were much older than me, and though a few of them were manipulative and awkwardly persistent, I never considered it rape or sexual assault. Inevitably it was my choice whether I participated or not, and even at twelve years old I was able to make that decision. Was my cheerleader experience a stress-free situation? No. I was a twelve year old boy and it was my first sexual encounter. Though my penis was full grown, my pubic hair had not caught up so there was some embarrassment wondering what she would think, but that disappeared quickly. She was obviously pleased with my “manhood”, and that alone was enough to make me feel good.

Back to the article above. We don’t know all the facts so it’s difficult to know what went on. If the NFL cheerleader forced herself on the boy than he will certainly be traumatized by the experience. When I look back at my grade seven class I can definitely pick out a couple of guys who may have felt that way. But what if it was not forced, just awkward? What if, like 90% of the boys in my grade seven class, the kid enjoyed masturbating to Penthouse Forum and was actually an eager, active participant with the hot, older cheerleader? How much trauma would her unzipping his pants and pulling out his penis actually cause, aside from shock and awe?

Again, if she forced him to be an unwilling participant it’s a totally different story but, unfortunately, the law doesn’t feel that way. Even if he initiated the sexual contact and was mature for his age, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleader is now considered by law to be a convicted sexual offender, and lumped in with the tiny percentage of the population who are true predators, who seek out and prey on their victims, and pedophiles, who enjoy sex with young children. So the twelve year old boy must now go through the court process, with police and lawyers and victim assistance representatives pounding into his head that he should feel bad about what happened. That it was sick and twisted, and the cheerleader deserves to be punished for what she did. For a boy who was physically ready for this experience, that there is your trauma. It’s not the incident itself that’s going to have a negative effect on his emotional well-being, it’s the aftermath and the way society handles it that will inevitably shape his future.

Let’s digress for a moment. I have a friend who played junior hockey from age seventeen through twenty. He was a defenceman, about 6’3″ and 190 lbs, and very Nordic looking. Blonde kid. Model material. He never had to work very hard to get laid. It just happened. He was partying one evening with a few teammates and friends and had had too much to drink, so he sat down on the couch and passed out. The next thing he remembers he’s being led upstairs to a bedroom by a girl he recognized, but didn’t know. He’s very drunk but manages to make it to the bedroom with her assistance and flops down on the bed. She immediately climbs on top of him and they begin to make out.

Pretty quickly she begins undoing his pants and his thoughts turn to his whiskey dick. Embarrassment begins to set in as he sobers up enough to provide at least some resistance. Not going to happen, he tells her, but she believes she can make it happen. With her mouth. After several minutes of unsuccessful attempts to get him hard she gives up and moves back up beside him on the bed. She continues to give him a softy hand job while undoing her own pants, then grabs his hand and places it under her panties. My friend responds by finger-banging her for a few minutes before giving up when he notices her frustration at her own lack of success. Oh well, he thinks. I told you so.

My friend is far too drunk to drive and the girl offers to give him a lift home. When they arrive at his house she asks for his phone, and proceeds to enter her name and number into his contacts. She also enters his information into hers. Call me, she says.

The next morning he can barely remember the evening, let alone the encounter. She texts him numerous times over the next two weeks but he’s not interested. He regrets the incident, and is certain it would not have happened had he been sober. “How old was she?” He actually has someone else he is interested in and involved with so he ignores the texts. Two weeks later he is visited by the police at his home. They want to speak to him about the night at the party.

He’s obviously baffled by the police involvement but just wants to clarify what happened and clear his name. He gives a statement to police describing what he remembered, which was pretty much what I have explained above. He tells the truth, naively thinking it will clear things up. After completing his statement he is immediately charged with sexual assault and spends the night in jail. He’s released the following day with restrictions on where he can go and who he can be around. The process has begun.

A year and a half later he is convicted of sexual assault and receives a 12 month sentence, two years probation and a place on the sexual offender registry. The reason? He admitted that he “finger-banged her for a bit” and she claimed she was drunk. Nothing else mattered. He was guilty because she apparently could not consent, and the fact that he was far drunker than her did not matter, nor did it matter that she drove him home afterward.

There is so much that is obviously wrong with this that I really don’t know where to start. He is a good kid, and was on his way to a possible career in pro hockey. Likely the minor leagues or Europe, but professional none-the-less. The charge and subsequent conviction put an end to those dreams, and the 12 months in jail changed him drastically, and not for the better. Fortunately his friends and community understand the situation and recognize the injustice. Any stigma he feels from being a convicted sexual offender is somewhat countered by the support he has from the people who matter in his life. But still, how does this happen?

The girl who pressed charges felt jilted. Shunned. Embarrassed. She was what they call a “puck bunny”, someone who goes to every home game and even some away games, slobbering over these young “studs” as they get off the bus, as they head onto the ice and as they head back to the bus after the game is over. Like a rock and roll groupie. When he didn’t text her or respond to her texts, she broke down. Her friends and family questioned her and she lied, saying that he forced himself on her while she was drunk. That’s all it took. It was her way out of the embarrassment, I guess.

The hysteria surrounding pedophiles and sexual predators is understandable considering the misinformation that is out there. The interesting thing is many of those in the police, the courts and the correction system understand this. Rehabilitation is only offered to the 5% who are a true risk to re-offend. The true predators. The sociopaths. The others are sent to jail where they are made to attend courses that force them to take responsibility for things they did not do, and made to take psychological exams that assess them as manipulative or in denial when they stand up for themselves. This is all for show, however, as they are soon released back into the community with a set of restrictions that are meant to punish and inconvenience, rather than protect. Corrections and the police know who the 5% are, and they have little concern about the other 95% reoffending. The fact that they are not even offered counseling while in jail or while reintegrating into society will attest to that.

Why do you think it is that of all crimes committed, sexual offenders have the lowest recidivism rates? If all of these people are sexual predators and pedophiles, why do 95% of them never get in trouble with the law again during their lifetime. With all those eyes upon them, do they become better at hiding their twisted behaviours? Are the restrictions placed on them and the threat of punishment enough to scare them straight? Maybe they just simply never were sexual predators in the first place, and the experience of being framed has caused them to avoid situations where another false accusation could be made? Maybe they’ve decided it’s safer for them to withdraw from the society that has beaten them down and made them out to be something they’re not?

The really sad part of all this is that there are people who are true victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse, and these people and their experiences become minimized when the system creates these other “victims” from what amounts to nothing more than consensual sexual activity. There is no leeway with these “offences”, particularly now that we have mandatory minimums for any conviction that involves sex. In most of these cases there is no physical evidence so it’s just he-said-she-said, and if you are found guilty you will go to jail. And for the next twenty years you will be on the sexual offender registry, even though you have never forced yourself on anyone, ever.

My worry is that unless the laws are changed and the way we look at and deal with these situations changes, in ten years 30% of the population will be convicted sexual offenders. Maybe it’s your teenage brother who downloaded the wrong porn, or an old friend who rejected the wrong woman. And what will we do then? Will we recognize through our own experiences that it’s a farce, and begin to accept convicted sexual offenders back into society because we know several people who are on the list and did nothing to deserve it? How will we differentiate between the few who are actually predators and those who were caught up in this dragnet of hysteria? Where will we draw the line? Will we feel safer?

Maybe it’s time to reevaluate the way we handle these situations. If an attractive sixteen year old girl who has already been sexually active for two years decides that she wants to have sex with a twenty year old guy who is a virgin, it’s going to happen. She will find a way, and he will be a sexual offender because he didn’t resist. Or couldn’t resist. I can guarantee you that there are many guys out there who have had an experience such as this and are walking the streets today. Never charged. Should we be afraid of them? Should we arrest them?

Certainly the false accuser is filled with conflict over their decision, and no amount of “support” from the many women’s resource centers can help with that because these “support” systems are not open to the possibility that it may have been consensual. They need it to be non-consensual, or it doesn’t count and their funding will shrink. What kind of trauma is that causing an 17 year old girl who was forced to make a false accusation against someone she loved by her own mother and a bunch of “professionals”? She knows that she wanted it to happen, she knows that she initiated it and she knows that she enjoyed it. She knows it would not have happened had she not took the initiative, yet she is being told that he is sick and twisted because he couldn’t resist. And any attempts by her to express sadness or guilt are quickly squashed, and explained away as “victim behaviour”. “Of course you enjoyed it, that sick bastard!” “Of course he’s made you feel guilty, that manipulative piece of shit!”

This is just food for thought as it’s a highly sensitive issue, but since the number of sexual offenses that get prosecuted is rising while crime in general goes down, maybe we are going about this the wrong way. My intention is not to minimize true sexual assault or child predation. In my opinion there is nothing worse. And that’s why lumping these other non-agressive acts in with the truly predatory acts is wrong, and only leads to confusion, misunderstanding and future emotional anguish for everyone involved. It breaks up families, rather than healing families. It causes children to stuff true feelings for fear of rocking the boat and appearing “sick” themselves. I firmly believe that the consequences of prosecuting these “offenses” are far worse than the consequences of the incidents themselves. For everyone. Except the legal system and the corrections system, which need to be fed.


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