Can\’t they bother to invent new sexual panics?

Giving examples from the capital, she said: \’There are parts of London where certainly children expect to have to perform oral sex on line-ups of boys, up to two hours at a time from the age of 11.


This is just the Rainbow Party without the lipstick.

Deborah Tolman, director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University, writes: \”This \’phenomenon\’ has all the classic hallmarks of a moral panic. One day we have never heard of rainbow parties and then suddenly they are everywhere, feeding on adults\’ fears that morally-bankrupt sexuality among teens is rampant, despite any actual evidence, as well as evidence to the contrary.\” Tolman finds that several features of the story ring false. She was skeptical that many adolescent girls would be motivated to engage in such activity in the face of the severe social stigma still attached to sexual activity, and rejected the idea that adolescent boys would examine each others\’ lipstick marks. However, the urban legend was widespread; an informal survey taken by The New York Times in 2005 found that most teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16 were familiar with it

23 thoughts on “Can\’t they bother to invent new sexual panics?”

  1. Oh, this reminds me of stories about ‘daisy-chaining’ going on in schools ‘all the time’, a few years ago.

    One of my friends was affronted it never happened in his school when he were a lad.

    I told him, “it probably doesn’t happen now.”

    oh, and another thing:

    “We should start from the assumption that children are being sexually exploited right the way across the country.”

    Really? We should start from that assumption?

  2. That is the least accurate use of the word “certainly” I’ve ever seen.

    Re James #1, that’s likely to be true, at least until you get down to “hamlet”. However, that’ll involve individual children being abused by a particular relative or family friend, not CRAZED SEX GANGS (teen, Muslim or otherwise), because the former is how nearly all child abuse occurs and always has been.

  3. I’m not sure that she knows what a hamlet actually is. There is a precise technical definition of what constitutes one, rather than a village.

    However, it’s going to be a brave MP who stands up and says “No, this is nonsense. Children are not being exploited in the way you claim.” And when did we last see political bravery (rather than political stupidity or suicide, which can appear similar at first glance?)

  4. If you ask pubescent boys about sex you’ll get some pretty ripe stuff. But it won’t be true.
    Maybe they called the report “Coming of Age in South Acton”.

  5. The “rainbow party” long-predates the early 2000s date given in your wiki link, I can testify to its being spread around the school playground sometime between 1985 and 1990.

    Not literally, of course.

  6. This is just one of the opening salvos in the long campaign thats just beginning to ban porn on the internet. I already heard the ‘we must do something to protect our children’ on a piece on the BBC news today. Its all just sowing the seeds, and putting things in place so any opposition can be demonised as supporting evil paedophiles.

  7. It does appear to be a small (though serious) issue within gang culture. But it’s certainly not widespread and it’s certainly not going to affect girls called Lucinda and Jemima.

    Won’t stop their parents panicking & demanding action, though.

  8. James (#1), there are only 2 houses in my hamlet, and no children in the other one.

    Should I be worried, or should I be suing for libel?

  9. Of course this report is insane, unevidenced, and hysterical. It’s in the Daily Mail. QED

  10. In the DM the woman says that all racial groups are guilty of these bizarre behaviours.

    Looks to me like a smokescreen to cover the disproportionality of Asian gangs sexual grooming of kids.

  11. Churn Rincewind: “Of course this report is insane, unevidenced, and hysterical. It’s in the Daily Mail. QED.”

    It’s in ALL the papers.

  12. I see no split infinitive. Not that it would bother me much if there were one – the proscription is an invention of 19th century grammarians with too much time on their hands (if it kept them from kiddie-fiddling, so much the better).

    John b is of course right that it’s relatives and family friends who are the biggest danger to children – “For þis was gret unkyndenesse, to þis manere trete þere broþer”.

  13. Does modern lipstick even come off on your pecker in appreciable quantities during a blowjob? Can’t say I’ve ever noticed it, but then I suppose one has other things on ones mind.

  14. Thinking about it, it probably depends on whether you take a “lie back and savour it” approach to blowjobs, or an, ahem, more active role. Which might only serve to support the rumour as applied to teenage boys.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    PaulB – “John b is of course right that it’s relatives and family friends who are the biggest danger to children – “For þis was gret unkyndenesse, to þis manere trete þere broþer”.”

    No he is not. Relatives and family friends merely commit the most sex abuse. That does not mean they are the biggest threat. That means they have the easiest access. We guard against the danger of strangers. We can’t do much about our friends and relatives. Thus they get their chance.

    Suppose we distributed all children at random across this United Kingdom on the weekend. Some total stranger at the other end of the country got your children. As opposed to, say, siblings. You think the former would result in less abuse than the latter?

  16. @SMFS, sure it doesn’t result in less abuse from the POV of the individual, but what does that have to do with the fact that the overwhelming majority of kiddie fiddling takes place in close family/social circles? Or that the overwhelming majority of that never gets discovered and prosecuted and when it does it never gets reported because it’s one of those things too disturbing for even the sordid end of the news media spectrum.

    So once every 5 years a pretty white middle-class girl is abducted, raped, and murdered, and society gets the impression that that is representative of child sexual abuse. And lots of people are simply incapable of confronting terrible truths – can’t bring themselves to think of their own husbands, brothers, best friends, raping their daughter.

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