Spacey’s actions have nothing to do with his sexuality — like anyone who makes unwanted sexual advances on young teens, it is about one thing and one thing only: Power.

By Dr. Jonathan P. Higgins

With the news of actor Anthony Rapp alleging that fellow actor Kevin Spacey made sexual advances towards him when Rapp was 14-years-old, many are more than upset with the way that Spacey responded to Buzzfeed’s article.

In a statement released on Spacey’s personal social media account, his response was more focused on his sexuality and his alcohol usage than how his actions affected Rapp. With this type of gaslighting that happens very often to young men who are sexually abused by adult men, many on social media have been left asking: Why do we as a society always conflate homosexuality with pedophilia, ephebophilia and hebephilia?

We have to acknowledge the danger in what Spacey said. For years, society has always found a way to make the point that young men are molested by other men because of older men’s sexuality. But what Spacey allegedly did to Rapp, and what happens to thousands of young men, has nothing to do with sexuality and all to do with a pyschosexual disorder. Gregory Herek, a well known researcher and psychologist of gay violence at University of California Davis has noted this in their work, stating that pedophilia is a “pyschosexual disorder characterized by the preference for prepubescent children as sexual partners”. Herek points out that we must focus on the “actions” rather the “makeup or the motive of said perpetrator”.

Spacey’s actions have nothing to do with his sexuality — like anyone who makes unwanted sexual advances on young teens, it is about one thing and one thing only: Power.

In most situations, child molesters and sexual abusers are usually in some type of powerful position and use said power (be it social capital, strength or otherwise) as a way to control their victim. For most perpetrators, it is never about the one’s sexual orientation, but having the said power and ability to control the victim. Research shows that most often pedophiles aren’t hung up on the gender of their victims, but the accessibility.

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We have to acknowledge that in this case, Rapp — like many of those who are victimized — trusted Spacey and that is why Spacey may have taken the course of action that he did. His sexuality has nothing to do with this conversation — we have to acknowledge that when anyone is sexually abused, regardless of age or sex, what is happening to them is an act of sexual violence, regardless of who the person is perpetuating the crime. When men molest young girls, we never refer to them as heterosexual — we have to confront the fact that society still has an aversion to homosexuality.

We also have to acknowledge that what Spacey did was use his coming out to mask what he allegedly did to Rapp, instead of taking ownership over the fact the he, as an adult, violated a young teenager. On the flip-side, Spacey’s statement will validate what many folks believe about queer men and we have to push back against the homophobic narrative that sexuality, pedophilia and child molestation are synonymous, because it is false, and conflating all three of those things together is dangerous.

Sexuality, regardless of the perpetrator, has nothing to do with sexual violence and everything to do with the person who is committing said act. Men, regardless of their sexual orientation, are taught to revel in toxic masculinity.

Children, especially queer children, are extremely vulnerable to different kinds of abuses and we have to do our best to protect them at all costs. We must continue to acknowledge that the news about Weinstein and others has been and will forever be about what men in positions of power can get away with. If we continue to focus on one’s sexuality over the act and crime that was committed, no one will ever be truly safe.

 

 

Author Bio: Dr. Jonathan P. Higgins is a speaker, writer and activist. His work focuses on the intersections of Black and queer identity and ways to eradicate systematic oppression. Follow him on Twitter: @DoctorJonPaul.

 

 

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