Hi, I’m Dido! I’m a first-year and I’m thinking about majoring in theater.
Rubin makes some very good points, and debunks many myths about sexual identity. However, I want to talk about a point that she continuously brings up in her article which I tried to approach with an open mind, but which made me uncomfortable each time anyway. You have probably suspected what I’m talking about: pedophilia.
Rubin says that “It is harder for people to sympathize with actual boy-lovers. Like communists and homosexuals in the 1950s, boylovers are so stigmatized that it is difficult to find defenders for their civil liberties, let alone for their erotic orientation.”(272) and that “these men have been the victims of a savage and undeserved witchhunt” (273).
She later says that “fetishism, sadism, masochism, transsexuality, transvestism, exhibitionism, voyeurism and pedophilia are quite firmly entrenched as psychological malfunctions.”(280). With the way that she says it, one can infer that she believes that pedophilia deserves to be embraced as a different non-harmful expression of sexuality as much as other sexual deviances. The problem with pedophilia though, is that it’s hard to know if consent is really given, and in most cases, especially as the men get older and the age gap widens, it is very unlikely that the minor would be willing to give consent. (On that note, exhibitionism is also something that is imposed on victims. Exhibitionists do not ask for consent from the passer-bys that they expose their bodies to.) It is important that there are laws about minors and the age of consent, and that the court examines the cases with open-mindedness. It would not be right to delegislate all laws regarding pedophilia because one cannot be embracing of any and all practices of pedophilia.
Rubin tells us that at the time it was a crime for minors to engage in any kind of sexual activity, even with other minors, or that it would be illegal for a seventeen-year old and a twenty-year old to have sex. So maybe in trying to attack that very strict front that did not recognize any sexual maturity in the youth, she viewed any actions that were criminalized by those laws under a more favorable light.
So I guess the point that I am trying to make is that in an era when sexual deviance was so stigmatized, Rubin saw through that opression and kept an open mind about sexual identity. But perhaps she was seeing too much of society’s opression on people who didn’t deserve it, to be able to realize when legal intervention was actually helpful.