Here's a response I wrote to the recent men's health magazine article on child sex abuse:
Let's unpack the shame around sexual abuse while making clear distinctions between sexual orientation and sexual abuse.
Abuse happens when there are power dynamics in relationship and a lack of clear consent. It is not defined by what's done in bed, or by gender.
I can have consensual sex with an adult man. This is not abuse. To take this deeper, when I have kinky sex with a man it's not abuse either. When one of us ties the other up, it's not abuse, because we both consent and communicate. We work to constantly understand and respect each other's limits.
However when a perpetrator grooms and molests a child, it is abuse because the child can not consent to sexual play- because his sexuality is still developing, and he does not yet fully understand what it is. That's also what makes the abuse so destructive, because it takes so long for the victim to understand what has happened to him or her.
The power dynamic between an adult an a child, the lack of consent, and the manipulation of the child by the adult is what creates abuse. Our laws around age of consent reflect our understanding of human development. Children are, by their vary nature, MUCH more vulnerable to exploitation. Their boundaries are not yet fully developed, especially in the area of sexuality. That is why we, as adults, should never play sexual games with children.
We don't call child sexual abuse 'gay' abuse or 'straight' abuse. It is simply abuse.
My straight father sexually abused me. Simply abuse. It's not about gender, it is about the stealing of children for the gratification of adults who have not learned sexual respect. Abuse prevention should consist of teaching sexual respect, not of demonizing and criticizing gay sex, kinky sex, or any other consensual adult forms of sexuality and love.
Human beings, and indeed all animals, display a huge range of sexual and relationship behaviors. Some behaviors are harmful. But what is harmful is not the same as what offends us. Some behaviors may outright disgust us, or rub up against our religious beliefs (I'm reminded of a religious leader who advocated polygamy)...
We must draw a clear legal line between what is between consenting adults and what is done WITHOUT CONSENT, with the potential for grave harm. The wounds of sexual abuse come from the boundary violations where my limits as a child or adult were not respected.
Regardless of our religious beliefs, we must draw the line where one person's power directly infringes on the human rights of another, especially a child.
Let's use our power to educate and end the exploitation of children. At the same time, let's celebrate our human need to connect with and relate to one another. Let's celebrate sex in all its forms, so long as it is between consenting adults. Let's give thanks for our chance to love and cherish one another, regardless of our gender. Let's honor men who find the courage and the strength to be vulnerable with one another, to love instead of kill. Let's acknowledge the potential we all have to hurt another. And for God's sake, let's see the distinction between rape (where there is no consent), and tieing someone down in the bedroom because they've asked you to do that!
Let's do all this not only for our own gratification, but because we are examples for the next generation of children.
Do we want children to grow up terrified of sex, or googling porn because we have failed to teach them about sex? Or do we want to step up and teach consent, teach love, teach respect, teach how do we play with one another in an age appropriate way-- starting with our own example.
If our example is to criticize and demonize every form of romantic and sexual activity that doesn't fit our beliefs, then we are simply teaching children to be bigots and bullies. If our example is one of understanding, respect, love, tolerance, and humility (as in, I don't know what's right for anyone else), then children will learn that.
The responsibility for the sexual health of the next generation of kids rests squarely on our shoulders. And it's not going to happen by ignoring abuse. And it's not going to happen by blaming gays. And it's not going to happen by becoming prudish. Don't we all have sexual needs? And it's not going to happen through anyone else, except how we live our own lives.
For your reference, here's the article: MH Article