art by Andrew Hussie

(CW; child sex abuse)

This article is inspired by a thing I hate which Keeps Fucking Happening. To be less ambiguous for a few specific people who wonder why I’m typing, it’s about HypnotistSappho and SPLURT. Unlike most posts on my blog, it’s targeted to all age groups.

Let’s say you’re sixteen. You meet a ten-year-old who says “I’m mature for my age.”

As a sixteen-year-old, you know a few things about this ten-year-old based on that statement. They’re probably in elementary school. They’re probably a little undersocialized, they’re good at grammar, they’re not good at fitting into their peer group. It’s really unlikely they will come off as “mature” by your sixteen-year-old standards.

When you ask an adult “OK, but what makes me immature?” they give a stock answer. Grinningly they tell you that the things that matter to teenagers don’t matter to adults.

That’s not true at all — most adults remember high school as a war zone because it was, and they’re sensitive to the exact things they were picked on the most from elementary school onward. Frankly, the things that matter the most to a teenager are real and still painful at any age.

Even if it were true that adults cared about different things, it wouldn’t make immaturity an objective thing. There’s not a clear reason why an adult’s perspective on what’s important is more valid than a teenager’s perspective. I’m not saying this patronizingly — I really think the idea that adults’ opinions matter more is hard to defend.

Adults’ views are born out of experience, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the kind of experience that leads to realistic views. It’s a kind of experience that creates silent shame. A lot of adults spend a lot of time trying not to think about the things that hurt the most as teenagers. They also try not to think about old embarrassments. When adults have their yearly identity crisis, they try to present it to themselves as completely different from the yearly identity crisis they had as teenagers.

All teenagers are, at least, potential punks. You’re a teenager. You could, say, announce that you’re a communist and really mean it. You depend on other people in a few ways, but the things you depend on your parents for — food, housing — are your natural rights. In other words, you owe them nothing. An adult can’t ignore their mutual dependence on their landlord and their employer.

Part of this is because society tells adults that nobody owes them anything. From that perspective, the teenaged perspective looks like a charmed one. They’re even a little resentful.

A lot of an adult’s mutual dependence on society comes from something else. Adults are coached to want more and more as they grow up than they wanted as teenagers — meaning their interdependence on society cuts much deeper. People who can’t bite the hand that feeds them call their changed attitude “maturation.”

True punks exist in every age group, but far fewer adults manage to be that way. You’ll run into adults who engender very little of that dependence — they work twenty hours a week, have four roommates, and sleep in a tiny space, and likely they live in a state where the cost of living is still low.

So, I’m saying all this stuff to get at something.

There’s a lot of adults who want to fuck kids. There’s a lot of teenagers who want to fuck, period.

“I’ll have sex with you if you’re not going to make it weird or bad,” say some teenagers — which is economically rational, if what you want to do is have sex.

“Oh, of course not.”

So the teenagers make some stipulations. “You have to really love me,” they might say.

“Oh, yeah, obviously, of course I do,” the adult says. “And I really understand you, too.”

They have sex — and then the bargaining happens.

“You can’t tell anyone we did that,” the adult says.

The teenagers (who understand age of consent laws) say “Well, yeah, obviously –“

“I mean it,” the adult says. “I could get investigated by the FBI. I could go to jail.”

This is all true, but it sounds more like a threat.

I don’t want to essentialize anything.

In particular, I don’t want to act like “weird power dynamic” is the inevitable result of a huge, age-gapped relationship.

However, I think a lot of adults are going to say “well of course I can relate to you,” and they’re going to say it to get into your pants.

Adults who want to have sex with a kid are cognizant of the many ways it might hurt you, even if you’re not. They’re aware that you’re likely to feel used, like a toy, and they’re aware that they may later have to lie and discredit you if you tell anyone. It’s very common for adults who have sex to threaten the kids by saying “you’ll be in trouble if anyone finds out.”

Sometimes they say “we’ll wait.” (In other words, “I’ve said yes for you and made plans that entail you don’t leave me.”) Other times they’ll say “I won’t force you” or “I won’t rape you.” (In other words, “I could.”)

Someone you don’t even fucking know is not your mom or your dad, even if they draw the comparison themselves. Someone who you have only consumed on YouTube or Twitter is a face in the void. If they want to have sex with you, it’s not because they love you or understand you.

From what I can tell, a lot of people who are in a situation that isn’t normal or OK will say “well, of course this is normal. Of course this is OK.” This even happens when what you’re hearing starts to become threatening or controlling.

I’m also sad because, if you’re a twelve-year-old, there’s not really a responsible way for you to find a partner, and if you’re really pent-up — which is apparently possible for kids, probably half because porn is everywhere and half because puberty’s a bitch — you’re inevitably going to end up coming onto an adult.

Obviously I’d prefer you didn’t do it at all — because at this point I see more harm than anything else, but if you must pursue a relationship with an adult online, ask yourself some questions. Is it safe to say “no?” Did the relationship move faster than you wanted it to? Did you share your dark secrets and do you know theirs? And this is the big one — “will something bad happen if you leave?”

If you’re soliciting an adult, tell someone else your age what is going on. In any highly dangerous activity, whether that’s scuba diving or extreme sports, you have to use the buddy system. Soliciting MAPs is a highly dangerous activity.

If you’re not sold, read some stories!

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