Teenage fever

Recently two NRL players have been stood down for taking two high school girls back to their hotel room. The players had consensual sex with seventeen year old girls, and while the indiscretion was not illegal it was immoral and disturbing. They were ultimately stood down because the club policy states, that no women are to be bought back to the hotel.

Part of me is not surprised at all about the recent events, I am however somewhat disappointed in the response. This is valid example of our approach toward the hyper sexual lens we view minors and young adults. While everyone was of an age to consent, to assume the safety of those involved would be to overlook that these teenage girls met these men at school, in their uniform, where contracts were in action and safety was assured.

I am not overlooking the finer details I understand everyone is responsible not just the players, but I have started to consider how we view young women, purity, youth and the unattainable. To me, predatory behaviour runs deeper than a few stupid, entitled football players.

It should be acknowledged first, that the coverage of this exchange is as a result of the men’s profile. That perhaps one would empathise someone of less status would be awarded more privacy. It is also to be argued that the more status an individual has, the more leniency one is granted.

Drake for example is known for problematic behaviour, comments, interactions and allegations and yet for years we allow him to continue to groom girls that are fifteen or sixteen years of age. The late Paul Walker dated and moved in with a sixteen year old girl, who was only twelve months older than his daughter.

That’s part of the problem. We don’t attribute negativity to people we find attractive or aspirational. We look at actors, athletes and musicians and we see what we want to see. Sometimes, in glimpses we might see ourselves.

In the attitude that is accepted; there’s the inappropriate comments about your friend’s little sister, the leaked nudes we seek out and fawn over, while we turn our noses up to sex workers and liberated women owning their sexuality. We see the good girl bad girl complex, or the sensationalised construct of a girl’s virginity.

The phenomenon around our women and their worth, has historically been encouraged, legalised at times. From viewing women as property within a marriage, to painting women who stray from faith as witches, we slut shame, we use cancel culture. We conquer the girls and we criticise the women who grew up as a result.

Let’s talk about the age of consent disparities world wide. This includes Nigeria being 12 years of age. Italy, Estonia and Brazil 14 years of age. France, Poland and Sweden 15. Australia has a consent age of 16 as well as, Canada, the Cook Islands, Fiji and Malaysia. South Sudan, Egypt, Uganda’s consensual age is 18.

How could consent be seen so inconsistently? We have to consider the different politics and agendas within each nation, that would influence these laws. We must not overlook the fact that a majority of political agendas are set and endorsed by the protagonist of each political climate, men.

I have been told that I was on ‘Lay buy’ when I was fifteen, I’ve been told by a peer that I dress too promiscuously for our age at seventeen, I’ve been apart of rumours as a teenage that held no truth and the anxiety that came from being seen as anything other than pure put me in a frenzy.

Looking back I understand the context of my upbringing, that culturally, I was raised under specific beliefs, that growing up in a small town changes the way in which people round in on their behavior. I understand the climate we’ve created for our girls. I just can’t support it.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a boy from a house party in your home town, The man that won’t stop staring on the train, it doesn’t matter if it’s unsolicited messages, advances from football players or business men or drunk yuppies that bought you a drink you didn’t ask for. Predatory behaviour is something we can all call out and own up to. Let’s do better.

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