Former footballer Adam Johnson has today been found guilty of grooming and engaging in sexual activity with a fifteen year old school girl.
A lot of people have commented back and forth on this subject and I’ve not written about it before for a number of reasons, but today I am going to.
Firstly I will state that I completely agree with him being punished for sex with an underage girl. From what I can see, with the limited knowledge I have gained from social media and newspaper reports, he used his position as a celebrity to get an adoring fan to feel special and wanted in order to engage in sexual activities with her. Reports state he knew her age and still went ahead.
However, not everybody agrees it was right. Indeed, the girl was given a lot of abuse online from those whom support Adam Johnson. She has been called a predator, a slut, and a gold digger. She has been threatened and harassed. Because she came forward.
So I will look at the side of the argument that sees Johnson as the victim.
SHE LOOKS OLDER THAN FIFTEEN
I’ve seen photos of the victim which have been shared across social media. She is no doubt a striking young lady. She is tall with a very womanly figure and, in the photos that were shared, she is dressed in a very glamorous and sexually alluring way. Very similar, in many, to how I was dressed the night I first kissed The Boy.
But it’s irrelevant. How a woman is dressed does not entitle anybody to her body. If a girl is dressed in a way men find sexually attractive they are not entitled to act on that attraction. Her looks, her body, her everything are hers. Whether someone else wants access to them doesn’t matter.
Reports state that Adam Johnson knew she was only fifteen but, because of how she looks, wanted her anyway. However, there are many cases where the perpetrators claim not to have known the girl’s age.
People have said, “Are we supposed to ask every girl we have sex with how old they are?” in an incredulous manner.
The answer? Yes!
If you’re having sex with someone then ask their age! You’re going to put your dick in them? At least find out if it’s legal. If it isn’t then be a grown up and don’t do it! She might be the most incredibly sexy and beautiful woman you’ve ever seen, you might be absolutely desperate to have sex with her, and she might not look like a child and if she did you wouldn’t be attracted to her. That’s all well and good, but it’s irrelevant. Be a grown up. Show some self control and some awareness. Having sex with underage people is not acceptable, however attractive they are.
SHE WANTED HIM
She may well have. When I was a little girl I was in love with Prince Jareth from Labyrinth. I was also in love with Gareth Gates (hang my head in shame) and various members of Westlife. I’d have loved to get close to them and had they paid me attention you can be damn sure I’d have been thrilled and followed them wherever they wanted me to go. The prospect of an intimate encounter with your idol is something that plagues many teenage girl’s dreams with hormone fueled desperation.
Would they have been right to take advantage of my adulation? No! Just because somebody wants you and makes themselves available to you doesn’t mean you’re duty bound to reciprocate. Sometimes, for whatever reason, you just have to say no. A fifteen year old girl throwing themselves at you is no excuse to take them into your car and have sex with them. None at all.
SHE IS A SLUT
I love this line. It comes up in every possible rape or abuse accusation ever.
I’ve been accused of being a slut. Does that mean that because I’ve consented with people before I no longer hold the right to say no to the next one? No, of course not. If this girl had been sexually active with others (I have no idea whether this is the case or not) does that mean that she’s suddenly not a child anymore? Does it mean that she has lost ownership of her body? Does it mean that an adult man is allowed to take advantage of her because other people have been allowed to have sex with her before? No!
Her sexual history is irrelevant! Her sexual preferences are irrelevant. Her willingness and availability are irrelevant. A twenty eight year old man having sex with a fifteen year old girl is unacceptable.
SHE KNEW WHAT SHE WAS DOING
Before their meeting they exchanged hundreds, literally hundreds, of WhatsApp messages. He made it perfectly clear what he wanted to do with her and she was completely willing. She was entranced, and excited by the opportunity to be intimate with the football star she adored.
When I was a young girl, a teen, I didn’t understand the emotional nor physical impact of many of my decisions. Indeed, this is true well into adulthood. Things i agreed to in my youth, and positions I put myself in and then regretted before I felt able to change the situation, still haunt me at the age of thirty.
So what if she was willing? So what if she knew what he wanted and agreed to go and meet him? She was legally a child. She was a little girl. We have an age of consent to protect children from exactly this situation. A law that, regardless of what children think is best for them, adults can see and understand. You can’t sell cigarettes to children because they can’t understand the damage it does to their bodies. You can’t sell alcohol to children because they can’t understand the loss of control that comes from it. You can’t have sex with children because they can’t understand the physical and psychological consequences that comes with it.
As the adult he should have respected that law. He chose to ignore it. He chose to put his own selfish desires ahead of her well being.
Did she know what he wanted? Probably. Does it mean he was entitled to have it? No.
Did Adam Johnson set out to abuse a child? I highly doubt it. Did he willingly do so anyway? Yes. He knew her age and he did it anyway. I don’t for one minute think he’s going to be downloading child porn and luring children from playgrounds when he is released. I think he’s a foolish, selfish man who didn’t give a shit about the consequences of his actions because he wanted to get his end away with a pretty girl. And for that he deserves to be punished.
He had sex with a child. Knowingly and willingly. I don’t care what she looks like and what she wanted. It was his responsibility to behave like the adult he is and he chose not to. He is to blame. She is not.