With the recent big successes of the gay rights movement, “Love Equality” seems to be a trending topic. “All Love is Equal” is a quote that you will hear often nowadays.
As this Icelandic children’s show explained, “Think about what it would be like to live in a world where it didn’t matter who you were attracted to. You don’t decide what makes your heart beat. It just beats.”
However, will people apply this knowledge outside of the classroom? Society may teach people that “all love is equal”, but to what scope will these values be applied? Most people would now consider gay love as an appropriate example of the values embodied in this phrase, but what would these same people say to those whose attractions haven’t been researched or fought for as much? For example, what would they say about zoophiles? What would they say about incest? What would people say about those attracted to people under the age of consent?
Perhaps they would say, “No! Those don’t count as ‘Love’! Zoophilia and incest are disgusting and sex with someone under the age of consent is statutory rape and rightly illegal!” Some reactions can be found by looking at Tumblr. A few years ago, there was a post going around that said “Love is Love.” The original post, with 37k+ notes or reactions, was removed for apparently violating Tumblr’s community guidelines, but I was able to find a reupload of it.
The picture in question is of man and a man, a woman and a woman, a Jewish person and a Christian person, and a 15-year-old girl and a 21-year-old man being affectionate. Some people reblogged this without criticism. Other people made their own edits of the image: they cut out the 15 and 21-year-old couple or crossed out “love” and wrote “statutory rape” in red letters. I have a couple of criticisms about this “statutory rape” edit. Firstly, this image shows that for many people, love must entail sex. A 15-year-old hugging a 21-year-old does not mean that a sexual act or statutory rape has been committed. One can have a romantic or loving relationship with a person without sex. All it requires is a basic self-control, understanding and care for the other person.
Secondly, if this image does in fact imply ‘sex’, and not ‘love’, 15 is not below the age of consent in many countries, so it is presumptuous and ethnocentric to describe that couple’s love as “statutory rape”.
Thirdly, many relationships that are considered socially acceptable today were criminalized in the past. In fact, same-sex marriage was illegal in certain states at the time of this image’s creation, and same-sex relationships are still illegal in some countries. What if these people were living in a country such as Russia or Uganda? (Though even this is not quite comparable with the concept of adult-child intergenerational love, as same-sex love is becoming accepted in other parts of the world, and people sometimes take advice from other modern countries.) I wonder if a few decades ago these people would have described same-sex couples as “mentally ill”, or an interracial couple as “illegal”. The whole point of the ‘Love is Love’ campaign is not only to campaign against the stigma but also, in certain states, the illegality of certain types of love. To object to an intergenerational relationship merely because it is illegal (in some states and countries) goes against the whole point of the ‘Love is Love’ campaign.
Harris Mirkin described pedophilia as a Phase I topic – a topic that is unable to be rationally discussed by society in general. The topic is taboo. It is a radical, or even ‘unthinkable’ concept in the eyes of the “Overton Window”. The Overton Window measures the public’s acceptance of political or social ideas.
All the groups currently included in the ‘Love is Love’ campaign have been through the Overton Window stages of being a radical concept to becoming accepted or popular ideas.
So are people really becoming more open-minded? I would like to think so, but unfortunately I am not so sure.
In today’s society, all love is equal.
That is, unless the idea of their relationship is a taboo topic and their attraction has not yet been thoroughly researched. I’m afraid that a lot more research and thought will be required on the subject of intergenerational love before the majority of people will be open enough to even give it a second thought. As long as the group in question (whether interracial, same-sex, or whatever the next one may be) is considered to be a threat by the public, they can not be ‘equal’.