Sexual Socialization Gone Wrong

“He says ‘I don’t get it, why are you still a virgin at 24?’

He says ‘I don’t believe you, I’ve seen you walk, virgins don’t walk like that’

(…)

He asks ‘Why though? No offence though.’

I ask ‘When was your first time?’

He says ‘I was 12’

He says ‘I know what you’re thinking, that’s too young.’

(…)

He says ‘She was older than me.’

I ask ‘How old?’

And he says ‘It’s better that the girl is older, that’s how I learnt all things I know’

He licks his lips.

I ask again ‘How old?’

He says ‘I could use one finger to make you sob’

(…)

I ask again ‘How old?’

He says ‘Boys become men in the laps of women, you know?’

(…)

He says ‘I’d look after you, you know?’

I laugh, I ask for the last time ‘How old?’

He says ’34.’

He says ‘She was beautiful though and I know what you’re thinking but it’s not like that, I’m a man, I’m a man, I’m a man. No one could ever hurt me’.”

  Warsan Shire, Crude Conversations With Boys Who Fake Laughter Often

Compulsive heterosexuality is harmful to individuals who are not heterosexual, but it is also harmful to those who are and are the us expected to perform certain acts without ever deviating from the norm. In C. J. Pascoe’s article about adolescent homophobia and heterosexuality, he emphasizes the harmful nature of the “fag discourse” among adolescent boys. In this environment, a boy can be called “gay” for making a feminine gesture, eating the wrong food (something like a salad can be considered “too gay” for a boy to eat), or something as simple as raising his hand in class. While some of these behaviors may fall into a “feminine” category, which may or may not signal that the boy is “gay,” others are completely arbitrary, leaving adolescent boys not knowing when something they are doing may be considered “gay” by others. According to Pascoe, the adolescent understanding of sexuality which creates the ‘fag’ discourse is due to the understanding that “men or boys who do not conform to normative understandings of masculinity and sexuality should be mocked, humiliated, and possibly feared.” This piece is limited, however, by failing to extrapolate the ‘fag’ discourse into real-world results, such as the shaming of young boys who report sexual assault by older women, even by their own families. The ‘fag’ discourse of adolescent boys is directly related to the underreporting of sexual assault when the perpetrator is an older female and the victim an adolescent male.

The concept of the ‘fag’ discourse by adolescent boys is directly related to the concept of compulsory heterosexuality. According to this discourse, any action that may be perceived to be “gay” is to be avoided at all costs, and the only way to truly avoid being called gay by other boys is to instead call other individuals gay, perpetuating a vicious cycle. This concept also connects directly with sexual socialization of young boys. Boys are taught that sex is something they are supposed to strive towards, and that refusing it when offered it signals that something is wrong with you.

This link presents as article with the headline, “Louisiana student’s bragging about sex leads to arrest of two female teachers.” What this headline fails to mention is the fact that this relationship was, in fact, legally and statutorily not okay – not to mention morally. However, it stands to reason that moral discourse in our country rewards young boys who have sex with older women – that they have somehow ‘achieved’ something covetable. If the genders were reversed, society would see something wrong with the relationship between a high-school aged individual with a teacher who is more than twice their age.

This article is simply an example of how the dominant discourse surrounding sexual assault of young boys is not only troubling, but serves to silence male victims if they want to report their abuser. The comments on the original article displayed the attitude that the boys were “lucky” for having had the opportunity to have sex with these women. One comment specifically states “traumatized for life…like we all wish we were!” These comments are troubling and reflect the discourse that boys can not be sexually assaulted, regardless of their age, because males are always dominant in sexual situations, and males in general are tough, strong, and do not attach emotions to sex.

The age of the victim in this case was 16 years old, with two teachers being 24 and 34 who are accused of having sexual contact with him. Not only did the teachers violate the mentor-student relationship that is part of being a teacher, but they also committed statutory sexual misconduct with a 16 year old boy. Another particularly troubling thing to note about the comments on the article and the article itself is the lack of discourse as to whether the relationship was consensual. The only comment made regarding the student’s attitude towards the situation is that he was “bragging” about the relationship. Even if the

As the headline of this article states, however, the situation was discovered because the boys were “bragging” about their relationship with the two teachers. While we do not know the actual situation, we do know that media serves as a mirror for society’s dominant social discourses. Therefore, the idea that the boy may have been traumatized is not the headline, but rather that he was “bragging” about his sexual conquests and was then discovered.

These situations are directly related to the ‘fag’ discourse – if you refuse sex with an older woman, wouldn’t that be the ultimate sign that you are, in fact, gay? Dominant social discourse states that a boy is lucky to have sex with an older woman, regardless of their age difference or previous relationship, such as that established in a teacher-student relationship.

Is your gut instinct to think this boy was “lucky” to have had sexual relations with two older women?

What if the genders had been reversed?

What if the student had been gay and the teachers of the same gender and also gay? Do you think the public perception and your personal response would be different than it is for opposite gendered individuals?

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One thought on “Sexual Socialization Gone Wrong

  1. I agree that if the situation had been reversed, there would be a large amount of outrage surrounding the relationship, and the student would have been considered victimized by the two older teachers. This relationship will affect the boy, especially because it is (one of) the earliest sexual experiences he has ever had. The media portraying him as “bragging” about the encounter leads us to believe that the boy was consenting to engage in the relationship. He may not see himself as having been victimized at all.
    (I know it’s fiction, but) Christian Grey never considered himself victimized by Mrs. Robinson (Elena), he thought it was one of the best things that had ever happened to him [well at least until the third book when Ana convinces him it may have been wrong].
    I think a major reason why our culture doesn’t see this sort of relationship between older females and a younger male as wrong is because males are usually the ones in positions of power and dominance in our society. If a girl student in his place had had a relationship with older teachers, everyone would have thought she had been taken advantage of by them.

    Like

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