Maggie Gallagher, whose deep and abiding interest in our sex lives is strictly professional, has a new column entitled "The Child Pornographer Next Door."
In one of those surprise twists for which she's famous, it turns out that the child pornographers in question are themselves children, whose activities with sexual partners of their own age is...well, not shocking, exactly. And not titillating, either (that'd be a dead giveaway).
Six high school students from Greensburg, Pa., were charged with possessing, manufacturing and distributing child pornography this month after nude pictures of several underage girls were confiscated from one of the boys' phones. The three 14- and 15-year-old girls who sent the self-made child porn and the three 16- and 17-year-old boys who received it were arrested.There are legitimate concerns here. One of them is that these kids — the girls, especially — may be humiliated, victimized or even physically attacked. The problem is, arresting them as "pornographers" accomplishes two of those cruelties right off the bat in the name of protecting them, and may make the third more likely.
The line between protecting children and pathologizing or criminalizing normal sexual behavior is not all that thin, in my opinion, but most people who share Gallagher's outlook couldn't find it if their lives (or, more realistically, the lives of their children) depended on it. As always, the most sensible methods of addressing these problems tend to be opposed tooth and nail by the people who make the biggest issue of them: if a sex-ed class that dealt honestly with the question of self-made porn were so much as proposed, it'd be listed on Rapture Ready before the day was out. (And feminism is responsible for our current bumper crop of girls gone wild, so it's clearly of no use whatsoever.)
Not surprisingly, Gallagher's description of these events is sicker and more disturbing than anything of which the children stand accused. As usual, she treats female desire as tepid and devious, and male desire as uncontrollable. That way, you always know who's to blame when the inevitable happens:
The sexting craze underlines the way the creation of pornography has been equally democratized -- in this case right into the hands of suburban 15-year-old girls pathetically trying to attract or keep the attention of porn-jaded boys.Good question! Girls don't want sex per se, you see; they want something else, and they use sex to get it. Which is what makes them contemptible, as opposed to merely bestial.
Why do girls act like this?
Oddly enough, whenever Gallagher worries herself over porn or sex, the "shocking" cases she cites tend to be shocking precisely because they portray the stark reality of her own view of male-female relations, minus the pietistic soft focus and the baby fetishism. The consequences for women of the "traditionalism" she promotes in her columns are routinely seen in porn, God knows, and constitute one of its main selling points.
But that's a discussion for another day. Now that we've learned all we need to know about boys and girls and sex, it's time to get serious and make some tough choices:
Right now we have a decision to make: Is underage porn (these aren't really children) a crime or not? If so, how do we treat girls and boys who engage in it "for fun" and not for profit?I think Gallagher has answered her own question, here and elsewhere: Boys will be boys, and girls who give in to them will be pathetic sluts (unless it was their idea, and they enjoyed it, in which case they'll be dirty sluts). A stern dose of public humiliation would seem to be in order, too...if not for their sake, then for ours.
Here's the punchline; bear in mind that it comes from a firm believer in the transformative power of sexual fearmongering:
If the thought that their fellow students, their teachers, their employers, their college admission officials, the entire football squad, their mothers and the local district attorney may well see these cell phone photos is not enough to discourage teens -- then we really have a problem on our hands.No kidding. Obviously, we need a lot more funding for abstinence programs!