women share awkward teen photos to debate the age of consent
#MeAt14 is a powerful (and problematic) response to the allegations against Roy Moore.
At 14, I survived my first hangover and copped the explicit version of Afroman’s “Because I Got High.” I was also obsessed with horses and convinced that my Sims were speaking a form of Tolkien’s Elvish. Maybe, at 14, you were less confused and had cooler taste in music. But we both had something in common: being 14, and too young to consent to sex with adults.
Last week, The Washington Post reported that Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore had initiated sexual relationships with teenage girls in the 70s, when he was 32. One of Moore’s accusers was just 14 at the time. In response, women including Lizz Winstead, Sarah Silverman, and Alyssa Milano have been posting throwback teenage photos of themselves with the hashtag #MeAt14, to prove that 14-year-olds are still just kids. The photos run the gamut of awkward adolescent aesthetics: braces, glasses, graceless outfits, and cheesy grins.
But it’s important to note that sexual assault of minors isn’t about 14-year-olds looking young. It’s about them being 14. The most powerful posts are the ones that point this out, rather than focusing on hobbies or bad hairstyles. “Not old enough to drive. Not old enough to work without a permit. Not old enough to see an R-rated movie. Not old enough to consent,” wrote one user. “Can’t consent at 14. Not in Alabama. Not anywhere,” tweeted another. Some women (and men) have even hijacked the hashtag with their own stories of sexual assault. “I was a freshman in high school. I was a virgin. My stepfather got home from work at 3:30 every day. I got home at 3:45,” wrote @oliviaresists as part of a harrowing thread.
Last week, in response to the sexualization of the young Stranger Things actors, one fan tweeted, “rule 1- don't sexualize the stranger things kids / rule 2- don't sexualize any kids for that matter.” Moore is alleged to have actually committed sexual assault, not just said gross things on the internet. But the same logic applies. 14-year-olds can be whip-smart and woke as hell, but they’re still 14-year-olds. It's never okay to sexualize kids, no matter what they look like.