To begin with, let’s get the facts out into the open here; a fifteen-year-old female human is a child, legally speaking. She cannot buy cigarettes, beer, lottery tickets, or a gun. However, there’s some legal trickery that goes on when it comes to little girls and marriage in Tennessee.
“Tennessee: The age of consent is eighteen. With parental consent, parties can marry at age sixteen. Under special circumstances, younger minors can receive a license to marry. Common law marriage is not recognized.
Marriage consent law by state (note there is no lower limit to (“younger minors”)
“Special Circumstance” is a term to describe pregnancy, which means in Tennessee, it is illegal for a teacher to run off with a student to have sex, because she is far too young to understand what’s going on, yet it is perfectly legal for her to marry the teacher (with her parent’s consent and a judge who is agreeable) even though having sex with her would have normally gotten him at least ten years in prison.
Take a moment to consider what it is like to be a ffifteen-year-oldgirl in High School. You have to compete with all the other girls in the class, and the older upperclass females, and at the same time, the guys who you are competing for are testosterone driven young teenage boys whose view of dating is driven by porn videos and a president that says as long as you’re famous you can grab them by the pussy.
“There is only one princess in the Disney tales, one girl who gets to be exalted. Princesses may confide in a sympathetic mouse or teacup, but they do not have girlfriends. God forbid Snow White should give Sleeping Beauty a little support. Let’s review: princesses avoid female bonding. Their goals are to be saved by a prince, get married, and be taken care of the rest of their lives.”
― Peggy Orenstein, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture
So we teach young men that young women are prey animals to be taken and bragged about. We teach young women that other young women are the enemy and that they need a male to rescue them from…themselves? Their parents? Everyone else?
Elizabeth Thomas clearly bought into that idea, and she bought into it hard.
The law taught Elizabeth Thomas that marriage could save her lover from the crime of pedophilia because it’s okay to have sex with an underaged girl if you’ve gotten her pregnant and then marry her. Pay attention to this because it’s telling very young women it’s illegal to violate and prey upon a young woman, unless you’re married to her.
Take a moment to consider how young women feel about this sort of law.
Elizabeth Thomas was a prey animal for the young men at her school. Elizabeth Thomas was the enemy of every girl in that school who competed to have the prettiest dress, the most revealing outfit, the best make-up, the skinniest thighs, the best bathroom selfie, and sexist smile, and none of this, not one damn bit of it, speaks to her self-worth as a human being.
The only sin of Elizabeth Thomas is she was born female in our society where her self worth isn’t measured in intelligence or skill at craft or service to a cause but rather in her ability to be the princess.
We failed to protect this little girl.