I Believe I Can Open My Fly

Why Michael Jackson Is Damned and R. Kelly Is the Man

There's a common thread in all these fantasies. They evoke a world where male privilege is the basis of sexual morality. In this system, a man can attest to his machismo by seducing a girl, and a woman can affirm a boy's manhood by giving herself to him. But a lad seduced by a man is deprived of his masculinity. This is why such incidents often inspire images of robbery—the boy's status has been stolen.

A generation ago, not much attention was paid to the sexual abuse of boys. It was thought that they could slough it off in the absence of penetration. After the pedo-priest scandals, we know otherwise. Now there's a danger that boys will be regarded as the most vulnerable victims. That would be the perfect projection of America's homosexual panic. As for attitudes toward men abusing girls, consider Chris Rock's reaction when he spied R. Kelly in the house at last year's MTV awards show. Better put the Olsen twins in the balcony, quipped Chris. Bah-dum!

Because fantasies of sex with minors are so common, age of consent laws are essential. But the obsession with these cases has unintended consequences. It focuses our attention on the sexuality of minors, and makes our fantasies about them even hotter. The more hysterical D.A.s get, the hipper these reveries seem. By now, a yen for the young is an emblem of roguish transgression. This spiral of arousal and repression was bound to produce a superstar—and R. Kelly is that man.

As for Jacko: If he wants to save his career, he'll have to start fooling around with 14-year-old girls.


Research: Matthew Phillp

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