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NEWS QUIZ: Which of the following comment(s) about pedophilia garnered downvotes in the Men's Rights subreddit

Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry

Popular British TV personality Stephen Fry recently complained to BBC’s Newsnight that he thought the Jimmy Savile scandal has led many to unfairly assume the worst about other 70s era disc jockeys and “light comedians.” He went on to say:

If you want to talk about rock stars, do we have to name the rock stars that we think almost certainly had sex with 14-year-old children? But those 14-year-old girls were so proud of it that they now in their 50s wouldn’t for a minute call themselves ‘victims’.

So here’s a little one-question news quiz:

QUESTION: Which of the following comments about Fry and his attitudes toward “historical” pedophilia – sorry, ephebophilia – were downvoted in the Men’s Rights subreddit?

A) I agree with him. It’s probably the one place where I diverge with the MRM. I think the age of consent for both men and women needs to be lower, and accepting the inevitable sexuality of high schoolers would do everyone some good. Equality is my top concern though. If we are jailing men for having consensual sex with 16 year old “girls”, I guess we need to jail women who have sex with 16 year old “boys”. I would prefer to see the insanity end though. I’m not so sold on 14 though. I think every year there is a percentage of people who are ready, and through the puberty years the percentage changes drastically. At 14 it’s probably kind of low. Yet, I have met men and women who gave up virginity at 14 with a positive experience and no regrets. More unbiased research would be nice here.

B) It’s almost like young people can seek out and enjoy sex with older people.

C) I can’t really argue, my parents mention that it was how things were back then, my mum knew a good few ”good girls” who would be playing celebrities for drink/drugs/clothing, it’s only become unacceptable now.

D) Once again i find myself asking why people think so much of Fry’s intellect. He has made some reasonable points in the past, but nothing brilliant — and this one is just plain dumb. And hey, if a woman had said this shit about 14 year old boys this sub would be up in arms! …

BONUS QUESTION: Which popular British rock star sent a roadie to kidnap a 14-year-old girl, informing her “[Name of rock star] told me that he’s going to have you whether you like it or not,” then adopted her as his “girlfriend” and hid her from the public for three years so he wouldn’t get arrested?

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.

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ANSWER: The only downvoted answer was D, a comment from ThePigmanAgain.Yes, the guy behind this bizarre and terrible web comic is practically the only voice of wisdom in that thread.  All the other comments above had positive karma at the time I wrote this.

They are truly human rightsing it up over in the Men’s Rights subreddit!

BONUS ANSWER: Jimmy Page. Yeah, that Jimmy Page. Read more of the sordid details here.

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skiriki
7 years ago

Sadly, this is not the first time I’ve heard Stephen Fry to drop a toad like this from his lips. 🙁

manhattansbalcony
7 years ago

Well “anonymous”, here in the US we have something called “Romeo and Juliet” clauses to statutory rape laws that require a minimum age difference before the law kicks in. For example, where I live (New Jersey) the age of consent is 16, and the R+J factor is 4 years. So, while I can’t have sex with anybody 15 or younger, a 19 year old could have sex with a 15 year old without breaking the law. That usually prevents teenagers from going to jail for having sex with each other.

vaiyt
7 years ago

Wow, even Stephen Fucking Fry isn’t immune to dropping stinkers.

It’s okay, I will manage. One more for the “no heroes” pile.

Mnemosyne
Mnemosyne
7 years ago

@mahattansbalcony:

I was just about to say the same thing. I think “Romeo and Juliet” laws are a good thing. It encourages teenagers to safely explore their sexuality, but protects them from being exploited by creepy adults.

blahlistic (@blahlistic)

If you did shit back then that “was okay for the time,” that someone is still upset about now, years later, all that fucking means is that it was NEVER okay, and your damn society was lying to itself.

QFFT

…one thing that I do know is that I’m sick on hearing people comparing gay/lesbians to pedophiles.
“Pedophiles are misunderstood like gay/lesbians!” Eww.

Oh…I am so right there with you,fruitloopsie.

….Lecture time, folks:

When I make love to my (same genitals-bearing) GF, I do not wreck her life.
This is because she’s an adult and she consents to be made love to.
Grownups can consent, because grownups are mentally mature enough to consent.

If an adult interacts sexually with a child in any way, that’s sexual assault, because children are NOT MENTALLY MATURE ENOUGH FOR THAT.
Even if the child has reached puberty, because puberty happens pretty early now.
The hormones may be telling the kid it’s a good idea, but it’s not. It’s really not.

As an adult, it is YOUR JOB to control yourself.
It is YOUR JOB not be sexual, ever, with a child.
NO MATTER WHAT THE KID DOES!
If you fail at that, it is 100% your fault.

I’m not explaining this to mammotheers, who do not need this lecture.

alaisvex
alaisvex
7 years ago

@bhalistic:

When I make love to my (same genitals-bearing) GF, I do not wreck her life.
This is because she’s an adult and she consents to be made love to.
Grownups can consent, because grownups are mentally mature enough to consent.

If an adult interacts sexually with a child in any way, that’s sexual assault, because children are NOT MENTALLY MATURE ENOUGH FOR THAT.
Even if the child has reached puberty, because puberty happens pretty early now.
The hormones may be telling the kid it’s a good idea, but it’s not. It’s really not.

As an adult, it is YOUR JOB to control yourself.
It is YOUR JOB not be sexual, ever, with a child.
NO MATTER WHAT THE KID DOES!
If you fail at that, it is 100% your fault.

QFFT

DJG
DJG
7 years ago

He’s certainly much better at taking on homophobes. Same-sexer experience often doesn’t apply to opposite-sexer standards (and the reverse). He should concentrate on his strengths.

greebo
greebo
7 years ago

Seeing the reaction to this post from a couple of mammotheers in defence of stephen’s BS is really disheartening. I am a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and IDGAF if it was ‘the 70s.’ What a load of ass. People find it so easy to brush off things that happened a long time ago and that is really bloody disturbing. Grabbing a 14 year old girls ass does a pedophilie make. Please stop making excuses for your faves when they say horrible shit like this. How does being Stephen fry or 70s girl bait absolve you of morality? When you make excuses for grown men who are handsy with girls the age of my sisters you sound like mras. My own family erases my experiences, and any attempt at erasure, even if unintended is completely gross to me and a lot of other survivors. ‘But you had to be there 11!’ Is not an excuse to shit on survivors regardless on how other people feel about their experiences with grown men who fuck neophytic little girls. I seriously had to delurk for this. On WHtM. (And being a girl who may have been ‘up for it’ does not excuse the fact these men choose to fuck them, my sisters think they know what sex is. They have had sex education and they have Internet connection so, (arguably) they know more about sex then a girl from the 70s and they’re still squeal at kissing scenes in teen wolf.)

greebo
greebo
7 years ago

Sorry if my grammar is shit, I’m on my phone. 😛

greebo
greebo
7 years ago

Noes! blahlistic ninja’d me! Yeah, whut they said.

Ellesar
7 years ago

I thought it was Bill Wyman – then I remembered that Mandy Smith was 13. And kind of pimped out by her mother.

kittehserf - MOD
7 years ago

Stephen Fry often says things that are dubious, sexist and sometimes close to misogynistic, so this twaddle doesn’t surprise me. Sort of when he’s right he’s very very right, and when he’s wrong he’s horrid.

Also, yeah, putting “girl has crush on star” into the same sentence as Jimmy Fucking Saville as if they’re remotely comparable is beyond ridiculous. Saville raped children, old people, the disabled, possibly even corpses. He was monstrous (and no, please don’t do the “calling someone a monster is othering” because this is about his behaviour, and as far as I’m concerned, humans are the only monsters that exist).

I rather thought it’d be Jimmy Page re: that girl being kidnapped. I only read a mention of that for the first time the other day, never having taken interest in Led Zeppelin. Only song of theirs I know is Stairway to Heaven.

Ironic that Rolf Harris should have covered that, isn’t it.

katz
7 years ago

Sort of when he’s right he’s very very right, and when he’s wrong he’s horrid.

IME this is often true with very smart people. They’ll be brilliantly on-point about one thing but completely off-base about something else.

Boogerghost
Boogerghost
7 years ago

Sigh. Stephen’s a personal hero of mine, but I agree every now and then something slips through that’s poorly thought out or tactless. He has so much rockstar sway over me that when I first read his comment I thought it sounded reasonable – imagining it in that calm, melodious voice that seems always to be right. He’s mentioned that even though he was never actually that confident, he could always influence those around him with mysterious command. It’s this very lulling sort of sorcery he has that draws you in and makes you thirst for more of his knowledge and opinions. And of course he is a brilliant entertainer, as well.

He made me imagine a bloodthirsty public swarming these poor men, who after all were simply misguided by the times, to burn them at the stake.

But then I thought a little harder about it and read some of the comments here. Sorry Stephen, but this is getting filed along with the generalizations and misinterpretations of statistics you made in the “Gender” episode of QI. I still love you, but we got a few things to work out.

Just because someone enjoyed something that was done to them unjustly doesn’t mean it wasn’t wrong. A stranger in a theater kissed me without permission once, and I happened to feel flattered instead of violated because I was insecure and sexually frustrated, but he didn’t know that. Edward from Twilight does shit like sneaking into Bella’s room at night and watching her sleep. She’s fine with it, but would you be? And what about the perpetrator’s perspective? Would you go around kissing people unannounced in the hope that a few of them liked it?

Look, I understand those aren’t perfect comparisons, and the relationship between celebrity men and their female fans is a chewy thing. Power imbalance blurs. The fantasy that being passively attractive to someone is the height of female sexual empowerment, coupled with the fact that the baseline level of respect women have for men magnifies into sexual idol worship when the men are famous, means that it might be hard for those men to distinguish between immature and mature potential groupies. Plenty of emotionally unprepared women in their 20s or older can be just as vulnerable as girls to the fantasy of being used by a rock star. I’ve experienced this myself, and I’m a big ol’ feminazi liberal arts grad who lives on gender blogs.

But there is one complexity of sexual relationships that is not that complex: don’t have sex with actual children. It’s not worth it. A handful of them MIGHT be ready for it, but it’s not worth taking that risk emotionally or even legally. Just like @blahlistic said, there is no such thing as a child seducing you against your better judgment. Unless the child violates you by force or serious coercion, you are the rapist. And if a lot of people were having sex with children in a previous decade, don’t say “it was a previous decade, people thought it was okay, don’t judge them.” Say “it was a previous decade, people thought it was okay, let’s try not to do that again.”

Seranvali
Seranvali
7 years ago

There’s far too much talk of “it was the ’70, NBD”). I was around in the 70s and rape was a thing. Perpetrators don’t get off the hook that way. Harris and Saville deserve what they got and Polanski deserves it as well. I’m not exactly certain as to what evidence they can provide so many years after but that’s that’s jury’s problem, not mine.

The age of concent laws can be a bit of a blunt instrument, though. I think I’d prefer to license people to have sex if they so desire and if the person isn’t licensed it’s statutory rape regardless of the age of person concerned. And you can hand in your license if you want to.
I like the idea that when a person feels ready they can have some kind of written exam about consent, contraception and safe sex, have a physical exam and a psych evaluation and if they pass all three they’re issued with a license.

Obviously, there are problems with this but I think it could work and it’s far more vigorous than just giving an arbitrary point when everyone is considered mature enough, when some people are actually ready a little earlier and others may not feel ready for years.

kittehserf - MOD
7 years ago

I think I’d prefer to license people to have sex if they so desire and if the person isn’t licensed it’s statutory rape regardless of the age of person concerned.

Interesting idea, but I think it leaves a huge out for pedophiles who’ve been grooming their victims, as so many do. I also raise my eyebrows a bit at the idea of having to have a psych exam for sex – I’m more of the “it won’t kill you to wait till the legal age of consent” thing (said to the young person, I mean).

Lolly
Lolly
7 years ago

I like Fry, but he’s ill-equipped to comment on some of these issues because he’s never been a 14 year old girl. Fourteen year old girls do make dumb decisions, and adults should be discouraging those decisions rather than entertaining them for personal gain. I regret my dumb 14 year old decisions and many women I’ve spoken to do also, even if, at the time, they thought they were doing something kind of good. Now they shudder at the memory and wish they’d been better judges of what was appropriate and good for them.

It’s all a bit face-palmy and oh dear, really. No surprise the common sense comment was down voted.

booburry
7 years ago

You guys! Times were different back then! If a woman was coerced into sex or assaulted by a man she would be laughed out of the room if she complained. Men were under the impression that grabbinh women was funny and their bros thought so too. I mean…can you imagine that kind of thing happening NOW? We just can’t understand the times they lived in (we are all young apparently as well).

/sarcasm

katz
7 years ago

The age of concent laws can be a bit of a blunt instrument, though. I think I’d prefer to license people to have sex if they so desire and if the person isn’t licensed it’s statutory rape regardless of the age of person concerned. And you can hand in your license if you want to.
I like the idea that when a person feels ready they can have some kind of written exam about consent, contraception and safe sex, have a physical exam and a psych evaluation and if they pass all three they’re issued with a license.

It’s one of those things that is an interesting idea in theory but cannot, cannot ever be allowed to happen in real life. Controlling the sexuality of oppressed groups has often been used as a way to control them–sometimes genocidally. And that’s what would happen, guaranteed.

katz
7 years ago

Alas, the blockquote mammoth. First two paragraphs were a quote.

A.L.
A.L.
7 years ago

heh. when i was 14 or 15ish, i had a huge crush on my friend’s father and would have been thrilled if he had shown any romantic feeling towards me. i am appalled that stephen fry thinks a grown man should have been able to have sex with me, a flipping ninth-grader, because with my childhood-brain i did not have the ability to distinguish between a healthy ninth-grade relationship, and a skeezy adult attempting to have sex with a child.

Bina
7 years ago

I think people should wait until they are in their 20s to have sex when their brains are fully developed.

I did, and I’m strongly inclined to concur. Some lucky people ARE ready as teenagers (and usually wind up doing it with someone their own age, whom they love enough to do it with — lucky ducks!), but I was not one of those people. And even less would I have done it with an older person. At 14, 15, or 16, I may have had wild crushes on like 4/5 of Duran Duran, and a goodly number of other lesser lights in mid-’80s pop too, but if any of those guys had actually come on to me, I’d have bolted out of there like a scared rabbit. And that was because they were grown men, and I was just a girl. I was well aware that they were NOT age-appropriate for me, nor I for them. I was not ready for sex, much less on such an unequal footing. And the idea of becoming just another too-young wham-bam for them would have put me off them for life. Better to just enjoy the music and sigh over how cute they were, and leave it at that.

katz
7 years ago

But then I thought a little harder about it and read some of the comments here. Sorry Stephen, but this is getting filed along with the generalizations and misinterpretations of statistics you made in the “Gender” episode of QI. I still love you, but we got a few things to work out.

Oh, the “Girls and Boys” episode. I weep for that episode. If only there had been an evo psych forfeit.

kittehserf - MOD
7 years ago

Alas, the blockquote mammoth. First two paragraphs were a quote.

It probably hasn’t got back from turning my whole comment into a blockquote over at Pharyngula yet.

Has anyone noticed that the Mods kitty has split into THREE Mods kitties on the sidebar?

Bags I for the frowning marmie in the middle.

Bina
7 years ago

This wouldn’t be the first time Stephen Fry has shat from the mouth regarding sex, would it. I distinctly recall him making weird excuses for gay men doing it in public toilets, parks, etc., claiming it was because men allegedly have so much bigger libidos than women and so just can’t help themselves, or some such. Hogjaw twaddle, stuff and nonsense, and oh yeah: BULL-FUCKING-SHIT. Assuming that libido could actually be measured (and it can’t, so far as I know), I strongly suspect men would still come out on the short end of the stick. Men don’t actually have greater libido than women, only greater privilege, and hence, more social leeway to indulge it. He later apologized for saying that, but it was still one of the stupidest, most sexist, and stupefyingly privilege-blind things I’d ever heard out of anyone.

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