Milo Yiannopoulos has been uniformly excoriated for some remarks he made about sex between older men and teenage boys, in which he indicated that in some cases consent is possible. He’s lost a book deal, a speaking gig at GPAC, and has resigned from Breitbart as a result.
You can find a transcript of his remarks here. Judge for yourself what he said and what he meant, keeping in mind that Yiannopoulos is gay, and that he also claims (and I have no reason to doubt him on this) to have been sexually molested by an older man or men when he was a young teen.
Some have interpreted his remarks as actually advocating cross-generational sex. Such a thing is hardly unheard of (see NAMBLA). But I would instead characterize Yiannapoulos’ remarks as excusing or condoning cross-generational sex under certain circumstances rather than actively advocating it.
Yiannopoulos has claimed that he deplores pedophilia, but that term is defined as the abuse of (and sexual attraction to) children who are not sexually mature, and Yiannopoulos seems to exclude teens (or at least some teens) from that category. In this he shows a failure to appreciate the reason that the law against child abuse includes teens as victims in the crime of sexual abuse, and why physical sexual maturity has little to do with the law of child abuse.
There are several categories of sexual crimes having to do with consent. Rape is probably the first one that comes to mind. Child sexual abuse is certainly another, but it’s for a different reasons than with the rape of an adult: a child by definition cannot give consent. Even a sexually mature teenager cannot give consent to sex, although he/she can say “yes,” and even want sex physically. For teens—especially teenage boys, as most teenage boys can attest—if you stimulate the body, the body can certainly want something, and quite insistently at that. But children, including teens, are at the mercy of powerful adults—and by “powerful” I also mean psychologically powerful—who can manipulate and use them, cajole them and convince them, and therefore exploit them for their own pleasure. And that exploitation can be present even when the child or teen is actually saying “yes.” It can even be present when the child or teen thinks he/she is giving consent.
That’s why sexual contact between two fourteen-year-olds is not defined as child abuse, but sexual contact between a 25-year-old and a 14-year-old is. The key is the power differential combined with the inability of a 14-year-old to give consent.
The law is probably about right, [the age of consent is] probably roughly the right age. I think it’s probably about okay, but there are certainly people who are capable of giving consent at a younger age, I certainly consider myself to be one of them, people who are sexually active younger. I think it particularly happens in the gay world by the way. In many cases actually those relationships with older men…This is one reason I hate the left. This stupid one size fits all policing of culture. (People speak over each other). This sort of arbitrary and oppressive idea of consent, which totally destroys you know understanding that many of us have. The complexities and subtleties and complicated nature of many relationships. You know, people are messy and complex. In the homosexual world particularly. Some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of coming of age relationships, the relationships in which those older men help those young boys to discover who they are, and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable and sort of a rock where they can’t speak to their parents.
As an abuse survivor, Yiannopoulos thinks he can say that consent can be given in such a case, apparently because he thinks he gave it. But that shows one of the problems with sexual abuse, and it’s not just the problem of an adult exploiting a child sexually. It’s the problem of an adult messing with a child’s mind. Because the relationships Yiannopoulos describes are actually betrayals of the child/teen in the guise of “helping” the child, betrayals that may even feel good to the child/teen in certain circumstances but exploit the child/teen’s psychological, emotional, and physical vulnerability.
In other words, if an adult wants to give a child or teenager “security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable and sort of a rock where they can’t speak to their parents,” then that adult should stay away from them sexually. Be a counselor, be a buddy, be a mentor, be any sort of helper you want. But don’t think you’re helping that child by using him or her sexually. That’s one of the oldest tricks—the oldest excuses—in the book.
I have a fair streak of libertarianism in my nature, but not about this topic.
[NOTE: And I’d prefer that the comments section here not turn into some sort of gay-bashing festival. I deplore sexual abuse of children and teenagers, and there’s plenty of blame to go around about such both in the gay world and in the heterosexual world. I’ve done a lot of reading on the question of whether gay adults are more likely to be child molesters than straight adults (which is of course not the topic of this post, but my guess is that the subject will come up in the comments), and in my opinion the jury is still out on that. If you want to read about the question in depth, I suggest this article for the “yes, they are more likely” side, and this article for the “no, they’re not more likely” side.]