Raising Awareness

With underage girls and big boobs:

underagegirl2.jpgunderagegirl3.jpg

This is an ad campaign intended to raise awareness about statutory rape by suggesting that just because a girl looks older, it doesn’t mean that she’s mature enough to make decisions about sex with an older man. That’s a fine idea. I’m all for recognizing the fact that just because a girl has a body that you perceive as sexual, it doesn’t mean that she is automatically interested in having sex with you. I’m all for recognizing that breasts are not indicative of adulthood or sexual activity or anything other than nice lumps of fatty tissue on one’s chest.

I’m all for raising awareness about statutory rape. But the execution here is… lacking.

As for “Just because she has the body doesn’t mean she has the brains,” well, she could very well have the brains (shockingly, not all minors are complete idiots) — it’s still breaking the law.

Author: has written 5281 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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46 Responses

  1. Sara no H.
    Sara no H. February 1, 2008 at 7:33 pm |

    That and, er, it’s pretty clear that those are little girls. Stat rape becomes a lot more difficult of an area when the girl is, say, 14 or 15 and could reasonably be misguessed on first appearance at 17 or 18. I mean, I definitely support what they’re doing in terms of raising awareness, but yeah — execution lacking.

    Plus, they suck at Photoshop … and if that was intentional, they still suck at Photoshop.

  2. Kelsey Jarboe
    Kelsey Jarboe February 1, 2008 at 7:51 pm |

    They mean well, and I’m glad this campaign exists, but please please please hire a different design firm.

  3. Mikey
    Mikey February 1, 2008 at 8:06 pm |

    Wow. No.

  4. Hawise
    Hawise February 1, 2008 at 8:16 pm |

    Bad ad, missed message.

    I have a friend with a 13 year-old daughter who looks 17. It is a good thing that she is level-headed because he could become a grandfather waaaaaay too soon otherwise.

  5. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne February 1, 2008 at 8:21 pm |

    I think that second one is supposed to be that she doesn’t have “the brain” as in an adult brain, not as in that the girl is stupid.

    I don’t think it’s a terrible idea for a campaign since the idea seems to be that girls with fully-developed bodies may still have brains that are not as mature, but I agree that the execution is lacking.

  6. SEK
    SEK February 1, 2008 at 8:22 pm |

    What’s with the bi-racial thing? Did they really think that if the photos were visibly altered, their message (such as it is) would be lost?

  7. SoE
    SoE February 1, 2008 at 8:34 pm |

    The left one sounds more like a campaign against rape of “actual children” like 6 years or so and the other like girls can be just stupid…

  8. Holly
    Holly February 1, 2008 at 9:02 pm |

    They could have just said “Just because she has the body, doesn’t mean she’s an adult.”

  9. sophonisba
    sophonisba February 2, 2008 at 12:01 am |

    I think that second one is supposed to be that she doesn’t have “the brain” as in an adult brain, not as in that the girl is stupid.

    Yeah, but she doesn’t have an adult body, either. Bigger breasts aren’t any older than smaller ones.

    Stat rape becomes a lot more difficult of an area when the girl is, say, 14 or 15 and could reasonably be misguessed on first appearance at 17 or 18.

    Holy Jesus God you must be kidding. Maybe if you gag them. But seriously, no, not even then is it plausible. Not if you’re over sixteen. Anyway, if you sincerely can’t tell if a girl is fourteen or eighteen by looking at her and talking to her, you already know not to sleep with her.

    This meme (that once they grow tits, you stop being able to look at their face or hear their voice or listen to what they say) is very silly. The only place it comes close to being true is on TV, and that’s because they’re all played by 22 year olds anyway.

  10. Trixie23
    Trixie23 February 2, 2008 at 12:39 am |

    Well, HOLY CRAP have you seen this!?

    Store Pulls ‘Lolita’ Bed for Young Girls
    Reuters
    Posted: 2008-02-01 18:33:11
    Filed Under: World News
    LONDON (Feb. 1) – A chain of retail stores in Britain has withdrawn the sale of beds named “Lolita” and designed for 6-year-old girls after furious parents pointed out that the name was synonymous with sexually active pre-teens.

    Woolworths said staff who administer the Web site selling the beds were not aware of the connection.

    In “Lolita,” a 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, the narrator becomes sexually involved with his 12-year-old stepdaughter — but Woolworths staff had not heard of the classic novel or two subsequent films based on it.

    Hence they saw nothing wrong with advertising the Lolita Midsleeper Combi, a whitewashed wooden bed with pull-out desk and cupboard intended for girls aged about 6 until a concerned mother raised the alarm on a parenting Web site.

    “What seems to have happened is the staff who run the Web site had never heard of Lolita , and to be honest no one else here had either,” a spokesman told British newspapers.

    “We had to look it up on (online encyclopedia) Wikipedia. But we certainly know who she is now.”

    Woolworths said the product had now been dropped.

    “Now this has been brought to our attention, the product has been removed from sale with immediate effect,” the chain said.

    “We will be talking to the supplier with regard to how the branding came about.”

    Reporting by Peter Apps, editing by Paul Casciato

    Copyright 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
    2008-02-01 16:39:07

  11. kmach
    kmach February 2, 2008 at 12:50 am |

    sophonisba says:

    Holy Jesus God you must be kidding. Maybe if you gag them. But seriously, no, not even then is it plausible. Not if you’re over sixteen. Anyway, if you sincerely can’t tell if a girl is fourteen or eighteen by looking at her and talking to her, you already know not to sleep with her.

    Yeah.

    I work with teens, and have very little trouble judging ages within a couple of years’ margin. I’ve sometimes thought a girl who developed early was a little older (like thinking an eleven year old was at least thirteen.) But girls of twelve or fourteen or sixteen look different than girls in their late teens. Their faces are different. And their bodies look different – the secondary sexual characteristics like boobs and ass look different than those of an older teen or young woman.

    Wonder why I can someone magically tell their ages? It must be some innate talent that only females have. Or maybe it’s because I look at their faces? Listen to them when they speak? Can somehow compare the bodies of pubescent girls with more mature women (by mature, read “eighteen or so and older”,) and evaluate the differences? Whatever it is, I’ve never mistaken a fourteen year old for an eighteen year old. Even a fourteen year old girl with really large breasts looks like a fourteen year old to me.

    I also have this magical talent for being able to tell the difference between a seventeen year old boy who’s tall because he’s gone through a growth spurt, and an equally weedy twenty-something male. So the difference in skill for judging age can’t be completely explained away by the fact that I can recognize a female teenager’s body, because I once was a teenage girl.

    Is this kind of age evaluation truly impossible for males? Aren’t they supposed to be the visually-oriented sex? And they’re supposed to be smarter and more rational than us, right? Can’t they apply the same linear thinking they’re so valued for to something as simple as age estimation? There are male doctors, who presumably have to evaluate age and physical condition of a variety of patients. They must somehow figure out how to do this.

    At any rate, directing age-of-consent awareness at males is a losing battle, I’m sad to say. Banging jailbait is a badge of honor for a lot of guys. And expressing interest in jailbait is pretty much required for guys to avoid the “fag” stigma among their peers, whether their peers are twenty or fifty. It’s far more practical for the effort to go into teaching girls that self-esteem isn’t somehow dependent on their sexuality and attention from males, as impractical and seemingly overwhelming as that attempt may be.

  12. BAC
    BAC February 2, 2008 at 3:16 am |

    When a culture doesn’t respect women, this is what you get.

    BAC

  13. JenLovesPonies
    JenLovesPonies February 2, 2008 at 10:48 am |

    Wonder why I can someone magically tell their ages?

    Maybe because you work with teenagers? I have never been good at guessing ages, be the person an infant, child, teen or adult. I am usually a decade off on adults, and I can rarely guess the ages of teenagers. Now, I am not trying to sleep with any of these people, because at this point and time in my life, casual sex is not my thing, but I can absolutely see why people get confused… and I am female. There is no law that says you have to get to know a person before you sleep with them, and if I were in a bar or something, I would assume the bouncers checked the IDs. Perhaps that would be a mistake; when I was in college I knew plenty of legal-but-under-21 underagers with fake IDs.

    Maybe I am jerk, but when I read about guys who thought the girl was 18- well, I get that, and I usually feel bad for the guy, because it usually seems like the kid was in adult places. Its amazing what dim lights and a face full of make-up can do to a teen.

    I also think part of the problem is that many of these guys haven’t been around teenagers since they were young. If you aren’t around teenagers on a regular basis, and you know that people in bars tend to sound stupid anyway, I can see where the confusion comes in.

  14. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte February 2, 2008 at 11:21 am |

    I don’t think PSAs should pretty much ever go with, “Because it’s the law.” People only follow the law for two reasons: They think it’s just or they think they’ll get caught. Sex with a minor seems fairly low-risk, so the only way to be effective is to convince people it’s wrong.

  15. BabyPop
    BabyPop February 2, 2008 at 1:10 pm |

    Those images are disturbing. I think that the message of the campaign is very very poorly executed. I’m left thinking, “Who the fuck would look at a 6-year-old in a sexual way?”

  16. Oskar
    Oskar February 2, 2008 at 1:33 pm |

    “if you sincerely can’t tell if a girl is fourteen or eighteen by looking at her and talking to her, you already know not to sleep with her. ”

    I basically agree with this, especially with the part about talking with her, but it’s also possible to look at this from another perspective. There are some people who are in their twenties who look much younger. One woman I knew of looked about 12 when her real age was 20-something. She had the worst time getting served alcohol because even with a valid ID, the bartenders just stated flat out they thought the ID was a fake. It wasn’t possible to convince them. You would think talking with her would show a mental development level appropriate to her age, but nontheless, if I didn’t know the backstory, there’s no way I would ever sleep with her for fear of her age.

    Another friend also looked young for his age and was annoyed to have people incorrectly assume he was in high school instead of a college senior. People assumed his younger brother was older than him, and some people had a hard time believing the truth. His social skills were underdeveloped such that although you would probably realize his age, you might have a hard time getting a positive ID.

    Also, there are some underaged kids who will actively try to deceive about their ages. it’s not like there’s a magical switch that flips once someone reaches the age of consent. Real age and age of appearance are both a continuum, and they don’t always match up.

    So your rule is generally correct. The greater problem is clearly people not being careful enough around underaged kids, but an unintended consequence of following the rule too strictly would be people who look or sound young would be ineligible for a one-night stand with people of their own age.

  17. Mold
    Mold February 2, 2008 at 2:16 pm |

    Kmach is correct. You can pretty much guess the age of a teen because of mental development. The pervs that claim they were misled are hoping her bod fakes out a judge or jury. After ten minutes of conversation most adults can pick the true age. It has to do with the level of stoopid. Kids have more.

  18. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe February 2, 2008 at 3:38 pm |

    This reminds me of something I saw in a cheesy classified ad years ago. It was for a poster with the exact same concept—a little girl’s head grafted onto a sexy woman’s torso—with the headline, “THE MOST EROTIC POSTER EVER MADE?”

    I remember looking at it and thinking, “Uhhh, no. Unless you’re a serious perv.”

    That same classified section used to sell posters of Hitler as “memorabilia.” Nice.

  19. sophonisba
    sophonisba February 2, 2008 at 4:08 pm |

    Those images are disturbing.

    Yes. The intention is to produce an idea of teen girls as confusing, messed-up chimeras, with the minds of children and the bodies of mature women. Except over in reality, they have teenage minds on teenage bodies. Puberty isn’t maturity. Breasts and makeup don’t make you look 25. And we are so convinced that young teens are fair game for predators that the way to argue against predation is to pretend that they’re mentally six years old.

  20. preying mantis
    preying mantis February 2, 2008 at 4:40 pm |

    “but an unintended consequence of following the rule too strictly would be people who look or sound young would be ineligible for a one-night stand with people of their own age.”

    Meh. If a side-effect of no adults negligently having sex with thirteen- or fourteen-year-olds is that adults who look very young can only get laid with people well-known to them or people who are willing to take the risk and trust the DOB on an ID that seems legit, I’d have to say it’s not much of a side-effect.

    You don’t exactly have a right to sex with whomever you want, even if they don’t want to have sex with you. Surprisingly enough, that even goes for people whose reasons for not wanting sex with you are erroneous, bigoted, stupid, crazy, etc. You might as well bitch about anyone who believes one-night-stands are unethical or immoral and so chooses not to have them.

  21. Mold
    Mold February 2, 2008 at 4:47 pm |

    Teens are mixed-up and confused. It’s part of the def. for teens. Adults usually have their stuff together.

    I’ve lost count of how many teens told me how adult they are…hoping I might believe their fantasy. Nearly 50 now and they still be teening. One of the easiest ways to a teens pants is to tell them how old and mature they are. Since it works, maybe we should keep teens on the do-not-touch list.

  22. charles
    charles February 2, 2008 at 5:18 pm |

    At any rate, directing age-of-consent awareness at males is a losing battle, I’m sad to say. Banging jailbait is a badge of honor for a lot of guys. And expressing interest in jailbait is pretty much required for guys to avoid the “fag” stigma among their peers, whether their peers are twenty or fifty. It’s far more practical for the effort to go into teaching girls that self-esteem isn’t somehow dependent on their sexuality and attention from males, as impractical and seemingly overwhelming as that attempt may be.

    i’m afraid you’re right about the difficulty in reaching men. so i agree completely with your idea that the primary focus should be on girls’ self-esteem based on something other than attractiveness to amles.

    but on the other hand, since it’s actually a problem of male behavior more than anything else, we can’t completely let men off the hook. i do think, despite the obvious flaw in that no one thinks they’ll be caught, this is where a focus on the criminality can help. to convince young men that what they are doing is a crime (as with anti-date rape campaigns).
    and, as always, i think while younger males reject this message coming from their elders and women, they sometimes will listen to this message coming from their peers. a 20 year old man telling his peers it’s a crime, a form of rape, to have sex with 15 and 16 year-olds is surprising in our society, and thus can have impact.

    so i think an image of a good looking or popular young man saying the same thing as these posters do would have more of an impact – without the creepy visuals, which may have the opposite effect as wanted with some men.

  23. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers February 2, 2008 at 5:28 pm |

    While I chose not to have sex until I was 23, the guy who I had sex with, who I’d known for two years at that point and was three years younger than me, had asked of me the day he met me, “Who’s the 12-year-old with the big hair?”

    One time as a grad student I was walking in my neighborhood and was stopped by a group of girls who asked where I went to school. They were stunned to hear “Emory University”; they thought I was their contemporary. They were in 8th grade.

    At age 22 I was stopped from buying “Crying Freeman”, an adult manga, by a female comic book store worker who screamed at me, “You can’t have that!” When I responded in my most ice cold voice, “I most certainly can; you want to see my driver’s license?” she backed down.

    At age 30 I went to H&R Block with my prepared return to get a Rapid Refund. The receptionist asked me if I had ever done my taxes before. Confused, I told her yes, I’d done them myself for several years. She asked how that was possible. It turned out she thought I was 18. And she was so stunned that I was 30 that she went in the back to get some friends to come gawk at me and marvel at how young I looked.

    So no. People apparently cannot tell a teenager by looking at them, because people apparently cannot tell an adult by looking at them. I don’t do casual sex, but if I did, I probably would have had a hard time getting laid until I was 30, because of the fear I might be jailbait.

    I think that men need to stay away from girls who look younger than 18, yes, because a 14 year old can look 18, but I have to take exception to the belief that normal people, or women in general, or people experienced with what kids look like, can tell the difference between adults and children. When *children* mistake you for their own age, when women gawk at you because of how young you look, there’s obviously an issue with people being unable to tell other people’s ages.

  24. Emma Rose
    Emma Rose February 2, 2008 at 6:01 pm |

    God, I was totally one of these girls with big tits pretty young, pretty precocious, and I got a lot of attention from older men. Interestingly, I still have the same breasts and get LESS attention from men. Which leads me to think that it’s not that men who prey on young girls are unable to judge ages, but they they are actively interested in adolescent women BECAUSE they have fewer social skills and less personal power (some girls, anyway). I know I didn’t have the social skills or boundaries to get men away from me when I was in middle school or early high school. As soon as I gained those skills, they stopped sniffing around.

  25. firecracking
    firecracking February 2, 2008 at 6:05 pm |

    At any rate, directing age-of-consent awareness at males is a losing battle, I’m sad to say. Banging jailbait is a badge of honor for a lot of guys. [...] It’s far more practical for the effort to go into teaching girls that self-esteem isn’t somehow dependent on their sexuality and attention from males, as impractical and seemingly overwhelming as that attempt may be.

    I would say that trying to change male behaviour or attitudes is most certainly an uphill struggle – in fact, I might say it’s “impractical and seemingly overwhelming”. The view of jailbait as a “badge of honour” (and, of course, the corresponding attitude that all sex is a conquest) *is* ingrained in a lot of men’s perceptions. But I don’t see why changing that should be more impossible than changing girls’ views about themselves and men – which you admit is an uphill struggle too. That’s just as much a question of changing very deeply ingrained assumptions and beliefs about how society works and what men’s and women’s places should be in it – and quite possibly just as challenging. And it’s going to be especially difficult if the prevailing view of the men around them is to view sex with young women as a badge of honour.

    And as charles says, the major problem isn’t with the young women, it’s with male behaviour. So if it’s a choice between two very difficult programmes of education on deeply held internalised attitudes, then I would prefer to see the focus put on changing the male attitudes which lead to criminal behaviour.

    of course, I don’t say that it *is* a choice – I’m all for educating girls and women to have higher self-esteem which doesn’t depend on attracting men, but not without a corresponding focus on certain men’s shitty behaviour and attitudes about sex and women. The only reason I can see not to try to change both, to say it’s a “losing battle” in the case of men, would be to accept that men have these overwhelming urges and girls just have to learn how to fight them off better… which, no.

  26. Doug
    Doug February 2, 2008 at 6:20 pm |

    As a pushing-30-year-old dude living in a neighborhood in my city that has a fairly active nightlife, I have to point out that if you go to a club that’s 21-only (or even 18-only), your chances of meeting, say, a 16-year-old girl is pretty minuscule. I guess this is my way of saying that if a dude picks up a 16-year-old girl, the chances are pretty good that that’s what he was looking for in the first place.

    The view of jailbait as a “badge of honour” (and, of course, the corresponding attitude that all sex is a conquest) *is* ingrained in a lot of men’s perceptions.

    To some extent this is true, but there’s a subset of guys that doesn’t go chasing after teenagers and a subset that does, and as a member of the former, I can tell you that the vast majority of us don’t look terribly favorably on the latter. And I’m no sociologist, but it seems as though the teenager-chasing demographic seems to coincide pretty closely with the lower-class, non-college-educated, shitty-job demographic (at least here in the Southeast where I live). After all, if you’re educated and holding down a decent paycheck, you’re more likely to travel with an equally educated, of-age crowd. It’s the prospectless dead-enders who are of no interest to women their age who go chasing the more easily impressed (and impressionable) teenyboppers.

    And I’m not trying to be a bleeding-heart wuss, saying, “Oh, it’s not these guys’ fault they’re hooking up with 16-year-old girls, it’s society’s fault,” because we make our own choices. But I really do think there is a connection there. How we go from there, of course, I have no idea.

  27. Shana
    Shana February 2, 2008 at 6:49 pm |

    I think this ad doesn’t hold men responsible for their actions. Yes, there are some girls who look older than they really are. But these numbers are small compared to the number of girls who looks and act their age and older men choose to sleep with them anyway. That is the real problem and this ad does not address that.

  28. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte February 2, 2008 at 7:16 pm |

    God, I was totally one of these girls with big tits pretty young, pretty precocious, and I got a lot of attention from older men. Interestingly, I still have the same breasts and get LESS attention from men. Which leads me to think that it’s not that men who prey on young girls are unable to judge ages, but they they are actively interested in adolescent women BECAUSE they have fewer social skills and less personal power (some girls, anyway).

    Observing the predatory gawking from middle-aged men on a college campus confirms that the less adult she looks, the more leering she gets.

  29. Marksman2000
    Marksman2000 February 2, 2008 at 8:13 pm |

    predatory gawking

    That’s a new one. Predatory gawking? Just because a man looks a woman who is years younger than him doesn’t mean he’d a predator. If she’s in college, she’s an adult. Right, Jill?

  30. harlemjd
    harlemjd February 2, 2008 at 8:44 pm |

    Marksman – Not necessarily. She could have skipped grades. She could live in the neighborhood and be walking by. And even if she is 18, she still may lack the social skills to handle sexual attention from a middle-aged man.

    Amanda isn’t saying (at least, I don’t think she is) that every man who looks at a pretty girl/woman who is significantly younger than him is a perv or a predator. She’s saying that she has noticed the existence of a sub-set of men who like young girls because they see them as “easy targets.” These guys absolutely exist, though they seem to be easy to ignore if you’ve never had them leering at you. (at least, most women I know have run into that type of guy when they were young and most men who aren’t that type of guy are shocked and horrified to hear they exist)

  31. Kay Olson
    Kay Olson February 3, 2008 at 1:57 am |

    I don’t think PSAs should pretty much ever go with, “Because it’s the law.” People only follow the law for two reasons: They think it’s just or they think they’ll get caught. Sex with a minor seems fairly low-risk, so the only way to be effective is to convince people it’s wrong.

    It may not be the most effective point to make, or the biggest print, but I do think stating the law on a PSA is important. Without it at least present there somewhere in the ad campaign, there’s a big (perhaps obvious, perhaps not) piece missing from the effort. Without the bottom line legality mentioned I always think PSAs look like they’re possibly missing the larger moral point and insultingly failing to mention basic human or legal rights.

  32. A.J. Luxton
    A.J. Luxton February 3, 2008 at 8:48 am |

    Mein gott those fill me with hate. I’m with Alara Rogers, upthread.

    When I was sixteen, living in California, and trying to integrate myself with the first community of people I’d ever found worth being friends with — a bunch of gamer geeks, smart, mixed queer and straight and just plain unusual — those kind of billboards were responsible for my being treated as a non-person.

    Because that was the year the police were earning their bonuses by busting older people for merely spending time with younger people. Most of them would hang out with me at game, but if I wanted to see them more often — as friends — well, that was just too dangerous. A few saw past it. But the cumulative effect of the rest was just… well, pretty shattering. By the time I was eighteen, my self-esteem had dropped seriously.

    I still haven’t recovered it all, and despite two college degrees and a teaching job, part of me still feels like someone’s going to come along at any moment and kick me out for not being a real human.

    Oh, and you know what — a fair number of predatory types were still interested in me. The ad campaigns just drove off most of the more trustworthy guys.

  33. bellatrys
    bellatrys February 3, 2008 at 2:39 pm |

    At age 15-17 I was frequently mistaken for a teacher by visitors to my high school.

    I didn’t have big tits (still don’t, barely A-cup) and I wasn’t tall, but I wore glasses, had long hair that I wore pinned up, always had books other than textbooks in hand, and on the days when I was dressing retro (instead of proto-goth/hippie) because I had to go to work after school at the library, visiting parents thought I was a staff member and asked me for assistance – even some teachers who didn’t know me mistook me for one sometimes.

    And, though I say so myself, I was then (as are many teenagers) smarter and more “together” mentally than a lot of adults around – including my parents, who (despite lots of education and world travel) were prone to melodrama and irresponsible/abusive behavior, leaving me to take up slack around the house with the other children, the chores, and covering up the interludes of drunkenness, fighting, running away and other parental dereliction.

    Subsequent years, including the task of reading nightly police reports for a news job, haven’t done a damn thing to convince me that most people magically gain wisdom when they hit 20, or 30, or 40, or 50, or…

  34. bellatrys
    bellatrys February 3, 2008 at 2:40 pm |

    –I’m surprised that no one has pointed out yet that it was the black girl they picked to illustrate “no brains”, either.

  35. bellatrys
    bellatrys February 3, 2008 at 2:42 pm |

    Oh, and I regularly get carded trying to buy alcohol, even now.

    I’m closer to 40 than to 30.

    (And they haven’t even seen me climbing trees in the park, or in the comic store, to justify it!)

  36. shartheheretic
    shartheheretic February 3, 2008 at 2:57 pm |

    I just have to comment to “Doug” above…just because the bar SAYS the girls are 18 or 21 and over does not mean that they are. When I was 16, I was getting into 21-and-over bars…and only using my fake ID half of the time. I wasn’t looking to get hit on by older guys or anything…I just had lots of friends in bands and wanted to go watch them play, so I found a way to do so. Luckily, I had a pretty good head on my shoulders (thanks to my dad teaching me that brains were my best asset), and I never got into any trouble until years later when I had to explain to some bar owners that I was just turning 21. :)

  37. shartheheretic
    shartheheretic February 3, 2008 at 2:59 pm |

    bellatrys:

    The funny thing is, people thought I was older when I was young…now that I am older, I get people thinking I am younger than I am. I still get carded occasionally as well, and I’ll be 40 this year.

  38. Elinor
    Elinor February 3, 2008 at 4:53 pm |

    I’m not sure how to react to this because I’m not sure how I feel about statutory rape laws generally. Of course I’m coming at it from the Canadian context where the age of consent is 14. The notion of being “too young” to have sex legally at 16 or 17 strikes me as really weird. (I did not have sex at that age, but it’s extraordinarily common to do so.) And I think plenty of 16-year-olds are perfectly competent to have sex if that’s what they want to do.

    It’s the predatory older men we worry about, and those are the men who are going to be most turned on by having sex with someone who “doesn’t have the brain” of an adult. So I don’t see quite what these ads will accomplish.

  39. Sara Cole
    Sara Cole February 3, 2008 at 5:58 pm |

    I agree that the images are deeply disturbing. If they are supposed to be representing 12-13 year old girls, they have chosen to do so by erasing the actual girls the ad is supposed to serve, and replacing them with an obviously false, fabricated myth of a person. No-one thinks a person with a 22-yo body has a 6-yo mind, even if she IS only 14– so I think the ad discredits itself immediately with any viewer– and it’s fun for that minority of sickos who will be turned on by an image that combines sexualized children AND decapitation. From their perspective: cool free erotica from the anti-rape advocates!

    My sister looked 18 at 12, and 21 by 14. She was routinely mistaken for an adult and she got a lot of attention for it– including intense negative attention in school. Even teachers who KNOW the girls’ ages will often automatically treat more-developed or large-chested girls as slutty and dangerous, no matter what those girls do or how they act. My cousin was the same as my sister. I’m 30 and most people think I’m underage- as long as my saggy boobs are in a sling. Lol.

    It seems like the ad might work just as well or better with real girls in it. A picture of a girl like my sister at 12, with the words underneath “She’s 12!” A picture of a girl like my cousin at 14 with the words underneath “She’s 14!”

    “At any rate, directing age-of-consent awareness at males is a losing battle, I’m sad to say. ”

    This is just a variation on the argument that it is women’s responsibility to avoid rape and that men can’t be taught to control their behavior.

    I also just don’t believe anyone who says they can ‘tell anyone’s age.’ How do you know you’re always right? You know the ages of the teens you work with because you work with them– anyone who is there to work with you is obviously a teen. Many people’s age ranges will be indicated by context, giving you anecdotal positive feedback every time you guess correctly. Have you experimented with strangers in public to find out if you’re actually accurate? Have you guessed lots of people’s ages, then gone up and asked them to find out if you were right? Even if you DO have a magical ability to tell anyone’s age accurately, it’s unreasonable to expect that everyone will have an ability you developed through years of working in a particular field.

  40. sophonisba
    sophonisba February 4, 2008 at 12:04 am |

    Even if you DO have a magical ability to tell anyone’s age accurately, it’s unreasonable to expect that everyone will have an ability you developed through years of working in a particular field.

    Oh, come now. Unlike the other commenter, I have no specialized training, no background in teaching, and no children, and it took me all of a week working retail to learn to distinguish a group of high school girls from a group of college women. It just isn’t hard. We are not wizards, okay? We don’t have to be.

    And who has said they can ‘tell anyone’s age’? I mistake forty year olds for thirty year olds all the time, and so what? What we can do is tell a girl in her early teens from a woman in her late teens. Sometimes, it is quite true, we have to talk to her for all of a couple minutes before we can tell. But this is something anyone can try, not only high school teachers and other such magicians.

  41. kmach
    kmach February 4, 2008 at 6:05 am |

    Sara Cole says:
    February 3rd, 2008 at 5:58 pm – Edit

    I agree that the images are deeply disturbing. If they are supposed to be representing 12-13 year old girls, they have chosen to do so by erasing the actual girls the ad is supposed to serve, and replacing them with an obviously false, fabricated myth of a person. No-one thinks a person with a 22-yo body has a 6-yo mind, even if she IS only 14– so I think the ad discredits itself immediately with any viewer– and it’s fun for that minority of sickos who will be turned on by an image that combines sexualized children AND decapitation. From their perspective: cool free erotica from the anti-rape advocates!

    My sister looked 18 at 12, and 21 by 14. She was routinely mistaken for an adult and she got a lot of attention for it– including intense negative attention in school. Even teachers who KNOW the girls’ ages will often automatically treat more-developed or large-chested girls as slutty and dangerous, no matter what those girls do or how they act. My cousin was the same as my sister. I’m 30 and most people think I’m underage- as long as my saggy boobs are in a sling. Lol.

    It seems like the ad might work just as well or better with real girls in it. A picture of a girl like my sister at 12, with the words underneath “She’s 12!” A picture of a girl like my cousin at 14 with the words underneath “She’s 14!”

    “At any rate, directing age-of-consent awareness at males is a losing battle, I’m sad to say. ”

    This is just a variation on the argument that it is women’s responsibility to avoid rape and that men can’t be taught to control their behavior.

    I also just don’t believe anyone who says they can ‘tell anyone’s age.’ How do you know you’re always right? You know the ages of the teens you work with because you work with them– anyone who is there to work with you is obviously a teen. Many people’s age ranges will be indicated by context, giving you anecdotal positive feedback every time you guess correctly. Have you experimented with strangers in public to find out if you’re actually accurate? Have you guessed lots of people’s ages, then gone up and asked them to find out if you were right? Even if you DO have a magical ability to tell anyone’s age accurately, it’s unreasonable to expect that everyone will have an ability you developed through years of working in a particular field.

    No, there’s no special training involved. I work in a public library, and so I don’t have prior expectations of the patrons’ ages before I see them. I also deal with people who are three years old, and people in their seventies. I see women who are in their late teens and twenties. But I can confirm my guess at adolescents’ ages by seeing their school IDs or looking at their library records. And I tend to be right – because – amazing revelation! – people’s bodies change with age. As does their speech, and their mannerisms.

    I had no special training in guessing ages. I rely on things like voice, mannerisms, what they say, and I rely on what they look like.

    It’s automatic . And I’ve yet to meet a twelve year old who really looked liked an eighteen year old. I’ve met twelve year olds who have really developed bodies (read: big boobs and shapely figures). But they don’t look like eighteen year olds. They look like girls in their early years of adolescence who are built, to use a crude and kind of anachronistic term. I may mistake a twelve year old for being thirteen, but I’ve never been off by six whole years. The body is very different between a developed twelve year old and an eighteen year old, no matter what the body type is (voluptuous, or slim-hipped, or whatever). And the six years between twelve and eighteen is an important six years in terms of physical changes. Where I really have difficulty is determining the spectrum between twelve and thirteen or so, which is a necessary distinction with the way our system works (over twelve and one gets “adult” privileges). Sometimes a kid will lie, and say she’s twelve when she’s fourteen, or that she’s thirteen when she’s only twelve. But I haven’t had any young teens try to pass themselves off as eighteen. They know they can’t get away with that big a lie – even though they may get frequently leered at on the street or at the library, they’re pretty cognizant of the fact that they can’t really pass for a legal adult.

    Your sister must have had a really unique physiognomy to truly look eighteen at the age of twelve. Then again, unlike my situation, you’re not unbiased when “guessing” how old she looks. You did have prior knowledge of how old she was. So you “guessed” that she really looked eighteen.

    Like Sophonisba said, you don’t have to be a wizard. You just have to look. And I’m not that terribly observant a person – I can know someone for years and be unable to remember what color eyes they had. It really didn’t take any effort on my part to figure out guessing ages – it’s kind of automatic, like how a pug looks different from a labrador retriever.

    And, sorry, Sara Cole, it’s not the same as saying that men can’t be held accountable for their behavior. They certainly can. It’s just that men who are drawn to jailbait obviously don’t care to control their behavior. Everyone knows that there are statutory rape laws. The ads are preaching to an audience that couldn’t give a fuck about the message. You’d really need to have a combination of particular circumstances – a girl lying about her age, meeting a guy who doesn’t know anything about her, the girl being up for some anonymous sex with a stranger, and the guy being so clueless that he can’t catch obvious cues in mannerisms, speech, and physical attributes – for some innocent adult to accidentally have sex with a girl under the age of consent. Sure, that can and does happen, but it’s not usually what happens, is it? Mostly the girls are in “relationships” – the guy knows full well that she’s in junior high or early high school. And is just fine with it.

    Maybe the ad is aimed at the hypothetical innocent guy, telling them to check a girl’s i.d. before sex. Doesn’t seem that way to me. It seems more like: “Hey, have a heart. You shouldn’t be cruising after underage girls. It’s just wrong.” Yeah, that’ll really make someone stop and think.

    For the record, I really don’t have a problem with breaking the consent laws in circumstances where the parties are close in age. I had a co-worker who is under the age of consent by a year who was sexually active with her college age boyfriend. But there’s a two and half year age difference between them – they’re basically on the same page emotionally and mentally. If he was twenty-five, or thirty, then I’d be worried for her.

  42. RumorsDaily » Creepy
    RumorsDaily » Creepy February 9, 2008 at 2:03 pm |

    [...] Creepy anti-Statutory Rape ad, via Barzelay. Tags: Advertising, Asides, Barzelay, Crime, Rape, Sexism 1 views [...]

  43. Mercurial Georgia
    Mercurial Georgia February 16, 2008 at 7:51 pm |

    They should replay that segment from the episode of Just Shoot Me where brunette Maya goes blonde. So her dad the womanizing business, see the outline of her back, starts leering in spite of Finch’s attempt to warn him, and he was like, muttering “come to daddy!”, and that’s when Maya turns around!

  44. Mercurial Georgia
    Mercurial Georgia February 16, 2008 at 7:52 pm |

    …and ya know what, shames does work on creeps who view dating teenage girls as a badge of honour, when externally applied. Have an ad showing them lurking around high schools, as someone who was obviously too old to still be there.

  45. Sex and Youth: Why We Need Community Focused Messaging at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

    [...] image above has been making the rounds of the feminist blogs, most notably Feministe and [...]

  46. Storm Rydah
    Storm Rydah February 27, 2008 at 7:37 pm |

    That lolita thing is kinda scary. Who is this targetted to? Pedophiles?? Cause it may just facilitate more problems. No real comment, except that the ads look… disturbing.

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