(Courtesy of watching Dr. Phil with Sparkly.)
1. Young teenage girl has a relationship with an older man.
2. People act like this is an “acting out” type thing, something she should be blamed for and lectured about, on par with skipping school or smoking cigarettes.
People seem to keep forgetting that the reason we worry about teens having relationships with adults is because of how easy it is for adults with much more experience and many more resources to manipulate, pressure, etc. teenagers.
Now stick those together. People blame teenage girls for being manipulated.
And totally ignore the adults doing the manipulation.
Like, yes, it’s frustrating when someone insists on doing risky things even when they’ve been told not to. But when there’s an obvious specific person there encouraging them to do risky things, why would you be harder on the person feeling pressured than on the person doing the encouraging? Why is the message always “she’s so disobedient, she yelled at her mom and also sexted a 25-year-old!” rather than “what is a 25-year-old doing sexting her knowing her age?”
(Sexism. The “but we could never even imply that someone might have done something sexually inappropriate without obvious ironclad proof” aspects of rape culture. The “sexual assault is like sudden rainstorms, it just happens sometimes so it’s your job to remember your umbrella” aspects of rape culture. Slut-shaming, by which I mean the idea that men who have sex are normal, and women who have sex are dirty/have a nasty character flaw.)
She shouldn’t be seeking things like that out, but the nature of the situation is, she probably didn’t seek it out totally on her own, she was probably under some degree of pressure from “this is what you do if you’re cool and adult”. Possibly she was directly pressured that way by the person she ended up sexting. Convincing her not to go straight out and find someone else is part of what needs to happen, but making the point that the 25-year-old should never have agreed to it is important, too. Otherwise it’s like punishing the kid who tried drugs and totally ignoring the drug dealer.