The Philippines is oddly tolerant of underage relationships.
It’s so telling when our former age of consent was 12 years old. Recently, it was raised to 16 and yet it’s still problematic. Who can forget musician Freddie Aguilar marrying a teenager back in 2014?
This tolerance has led to our country being dubbed “a global hotspot” for online child sex trafficking by US-based International Justice Mission. In their 2020 study, the non-government organization discovered “41 percent of victims’ abuse was facilitated by biological parents and 42 percent by other relatives.” This also breeds platforms like the defunct “Mahilig sa Bata” Facebook page, a site for anyone who wanted to see and cheaply pay for child pornography.
And amid all these harrowing matters, many folks perversely defend underage relationships with sayings like “love is blind,” which under different circumstances can be straight up facts. In this case, the positive connotation of this saying warps into something twisted when it’s defending child abuse falling under either pedophilia or ephebophilia.
What we want to say is fuck distorting the “love is love” and “don’t judge” argument when it comes to grooming minors.
Okay, what is the difference between the two? If pedophilia is defined as having sexual fantasies or relationships with a prepubescent child, ephebophilia is the term used when someone is attracted to teens around 15 to 19. None of them is the lesser evil.
Different definitions, both still terribly wrong.
Phrases like “love is love” and “who are we to judge?” are often thrown around when defending acts of pedophilia or ephebophilia. It made us automatically facepalm. Why? ’Cause this reeks of tolerating grooming.
Let’s get into it. What is grooming? As defined by our sisters from Preen, it’s “the act of training, preparing, or conditioning someone for a long period of time.” Pedophiles and ephebophiles use this tactic as a power play. Since the younger person is none the wiser, they’re oblivious to the predator’s intentions who use their seniority or superiority to manipulate the minor.
You’re not “grown for your age” or “have a mature brain”—you’re still growing.
We don’t know what love is now, what more when we were 16 in high school or a freshman in college? We do know there is such a thing as “too young for you” or “you’re under arrest for having sex with a minor.” Y’know, lines we shouldn’t cross.
So, what if you encounter someone who defends or crosses the line? Or pretends to not see the boundary? These aren’t perfect solutions, but here are some tips when you encounter a white knight of ephebophilia/pedophilia.
- Casually explain terms like “grooming” or “statutory rape”
- Say “they’re too young for you, bro” until they block you on social media
- Tattle on them and tell their parents “they’re child is too old for them, bro” until they reprimand their spawn
- If someone says “pedophilia is a sexual orientation,” explain why it isn’t (The Atlantic says no one wants to be attracted to children, but people choose whether to act on their sexual attractions) and how it’s insulting to the LGBTQ+ community
- Show them “Lovely Bones” and see how they would react
- Show them “Hard Candy” and see how they would react
- If they say “love is love” to defend ephebophilia/pedophilia, ask them if their first grade crush was love. Spoiler alert—it’s not
- If they keep saying “love is love” to defend ephebophilia/pedophilia, send them articles on child sexual abuse and its psychological effects
- Acknowledge you can’t change their mind overnight. But make sure you say your piece
- Save a minor. Ask them to seek help or report to authorities, if things go south
Okay, we might’ve gotten a little cheeky with some of our advice. What we want to say is fuck distorting the “love is love” and “don’t judge” argument when it comes to grooming minors. Whether you’re a teenager or an actual child, you are a minor.
You’re not “grown for your age” or “have a mature brain”—you’re still growing. And no adult should take away your childhood.
Art by Yel Sayo