Today, the Baltimore Sun reports that a 31-year old Washington man has been arrested in Maryland after “pimping out” a 15-year old girl. The girl had apparently gone missing from her Virginia home last September, and had been used as a “prostitute” between September 2011 and February 2012. However, because the girl was a minor under the age of consent in Maryland, which is generally 16, even if he wasn’t pimping her out, anyone having intercourse with her (unless the perpetrator was less than 4 years older than she was) would still be guilty of a sexual offense. In effect, regardless of any additional crime related to prostituting or soliciting prostituted women, intercourse in this context would be rape, not sex.
So, what the Baltimore Sun is really saying here is that in its estimation, prostitution is prostitution is prostitution, whether it is the commodification of “sex” or the commodification of rape, or child-rape. Which implies, doesn’t it, that there is also no difference between (uncommodified, regular) sex and rape, and between sex and child-rape. Implicit in their treatment of the issue, the Baltimore Sun and its employees reveal their belief that sex and rape are the same thing. Which would lead one to question, does the Sun think that both sex and rape are bad? Or does it think that sex and rape, being indistinguishable from each other, are both good?
And throughout the publication, the Sun repeatedly makes its belief that sex and rape are the same thing clear. Recently, the Sun reported that a 26-year old man was arrested for attempting to solicit a 14-year old girl for “sex.” What the facts seem to indicate, however, is that the man was attempting to lure the girl via Facebook so that he could rape her, because a girl of 14 cannot legally consent to “sex” with a 26-year old man in the state of Maryland. The man wanted rape, not sex. But again, the Sun uses the headline “Police charge Parkton man for soliciting underage girl for sex” when they could’ve just as easily used the legal term for what this man attempted to do: he was charged with sexual solicitation of a minor and an attempted sex offense. Of course, even the legal terms here are essentially weasel words meaning sexualized violence, including degrees of rape, but the Sun wasn’t satisfied with mere legal weaseling; it needed to weasel more. Why, one might wonder, does the Baltimore Sun seem so intent on minimizing men’s sexual violence against young girls?
And again, just today, the Sun uses the headline “Baltimore jury convicts child sex offender,” referring to a man who “repeatedly attacked” a 10-year old girl. Sex? Really? Interestingly, according to the Sun article, that jury actually convicted the man of child sexual abuse, another euphemism for sexualized violence of course, but the Sun decided to report that the man was an “offender” instead of an “abuser.” Why? If it was going to choose a descriptor that differed from the official legal one, why did it choose “sex offender” instead of something else, like violent offender, violent criminal, sexual predator, danger to the community, pedophile, pervert, or something else? Utilizing a derivative of “sexual offense” here makes it sound like the man farted in bed, when in reality, it appears as if he repeatedly sexually assaulted a 10-year old girl. Why not just say it? It’s not that hard.
Or it shouldn’t be that hard, unless the Sun has a written or unwritten editorial policy or corporate culture which makes it impossible for reporters and editors to accurately report on men’s sexual violence against young girls. So what’s the deal with your biased reporting on child sexual abuse, Baltimore Sun? Inquiring minds want to know.