'Affair' minimizes act of rape

Letters in the Editor's Mailbag
The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon
May 11, 2004
Page A12

"Goldschmidt admits '70s affair with teen" was the May 7 front-page headline chosen by The Register-Guard to report on a grown man sexually imposing himself on a 14-year-old child. An "affair?"

Has The Register-Guard ever referred to the sexual abuse of boys in the Catholic Church, some of whom were 14 at the time of the abuse, as affairs? One hopes not!

"Affair" is a term that implies an equality of power and ability to give and withhold consent.

Let's get this straight: Goldschmidt was a 35-year-old mayor at the time abusing a 14-year-old child. This is no case of statutory rape being a mere technicality, as some might argue can occur with two teenagers of slightly different ages. A 14-year-old girl is in no position to give meaningful consent to a 35-year-old man. Furthermore, a huge body of research reveals that children abused in this way have a high probability of being damaged in serious and numerous ways.

As long as child sexual abuse is called an affair, this behavior is being implicitly minimized and excused. It is precisely such use of language that reveals that we live in what anthropologists have called a "rape prone" society.

Neil Goldschmidt raped and abused the girl. That is the language we must use if we are committed to ending rape and childhood sexual abuse.




Jennifer Freyd Last update 12 May 2004 jjf@dynamic.uoregon.edu
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