Reconciling David Bowie’s genius with rape 

David_bowieToday, on the day of David Bowie’s death, people have been discussing an upsetting issue: Early in his career, David Bowie statutorily raped young teen girls—the underage “baby groupies” who were an open secret in the rock scene of the 1970s. This was despite the age of consent being 18 in California. (Their scene was the Sunset Strip.)

It’s difficult to receive this information while mourning Bowie’s death. It’s particularly complex to negotiate for those fans who are aware of the complexities of rape culture and who have made a conscious decision to believe women.

The idea that Bowie is a rapist (albeit a statutory one) places him within a broader behind-the-scenes pattern that is not uncommon enough among male stars. Bill Cosby. Roman Polanski. Woody Allen. Mike Tyson. R. Kelly. Michael Jackson. John Lennon. The list of famous men who have raped or battered women or children seems endless. Though these cases vary in significant ways, they all reflect the same underlying problems: criminally predatory behavior and entitlement in men’s celebrity culture.

But every time we learn another beloved figure committed horrible acts, it’s distressing. It’s unexpected. It’s a predictable pattern, but it’s not predictable regarding any one celebrity, so it always comes as a shock.

How can we, as fans, process such distressing information, particularly when it arises in social media conversations simultaneous to our mourning a widely loved figure?

I think it helps to remember the following:

1) Talented people do terrible things, too. Sometimes, their fame encourages such behavior, and it often enables it.

2) Being talented doesn’t excuse a person for committing terrible acts. Just because someone is an incredible artist doesn’t mean we can turn a blind eye to how they have wronged people.

3) Calling out artists’ abuse of others doesn’t necessarily negate the cultural value of their bodies of work. (Depending on the nature of their oeuvres, though, it can render them hypocrites and make us suspicious of their intentions.)

4) It is a sad commentary on our culture that modern masculinity can be so entitled, so toxic, that we are repeatedly put in the position of both loving the art and hating the man behind said art for what he did to women and/or children. It’s a horrible position for fans to be in–to try to reconcile our admiration of their work with our loathing for their actions.

P.S.: I am a David Bowie fan. This piece evolved throughout the day in my responses to posts about the statutory rape, which filled my Facebook feed (alongside posts mourning his death and celebrating his life, several of which I posted, too).

The conversations I read tended to convey two opposing perspectives: That this information is a deal-breaker that ruins Bowie’s work, or that this information is no big deal, because the girl says she was consenting. I weighed in because I think neither assertion is quite right. Bowie’s work is still wonderful. At the same time, the girl’s consent doesn’t negate the fact that this was statutory rape. As a young teen (depending on which report you read, she was 13, 14 or 15 at the time), legally she could not consent—and as an adult, Bowie knew better. He should not have pursued and seduced a minor.

Ultimately, I agree with Amanda Marcotte, who a couple of hours after I published this piece wrote: “Even if the girl in question says she is consenting, the relationship is inherently exploitative, at best. It is good that attitudes about this have changed and that we take statutory rape more seriously now. […] This all shows that the takeaway from hearing this story […] is that changing the culture *works.* And that is a far more interesting and important conversation to have than  whether or not you personally are a righteous person because you listen to David Bowie records.”

It’s a difficult discussion. My hope is that by engaging one another on these points, we continue to move the culture forward.

Bowie and teenFor further reading:

Primary source material: “I lost my virginity to David Bowie”

On the history of the age of consent in California: “The crazy quilt of our age of consent laws”

Secondary sources / analyses:

Other discussions:


Rebecca Hains, Ph.D. is a media studies professor at Salem State University and the author of The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years, a book meant to help parents raise empowered, media-literate daughters. 

Rebecca is on Facebook and Twitter. You may also follow Rebecca’s blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at

93 Comments on “Reconciling David Bowie’s genius with rape 

  1. Not surprising. Feminism will do that, kind of ruin the art you grew up around, blind to the misogyny therein.

    “Wham bam thank you ma’am.”

    • Yes he made a mistake a long time ago and many after that. We all are not perfect and his imperfection does not take away his genius and creativity. It is not the man we love it’s his product.

  2. I’ve always found George Orwell’s 1944 essay “Benefit of Clergy: Some Notes on Salvador Dali” to be a great help when it comes to having to make that distinction between “our admiration of their work [vs.] our loathing for their actions.” And yes, it’s sad that we have to do that so often with so many creative people.

    I have to say, though, after reading the source article, and remembering that awareness of and condemnation for statutory rape in the 1960s and 1970s was almost microscopic in our society compared to today, I’m not sure how to apportion “blame” or guilt among David Bowie, Lori Mattix’s mother and other enablers, and our messed-up over-sexualized rape-culture society as a whole. None are blameless.

    • Give it a rest – Lori’s in her late fifties now and she STILL brags about the rock stars she slept with. Back in the day, she was even on Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow Show with Sable discussing their groupie exploits. IT’s just so pointless now.

    • You’re right, of course; condemnation of consentual kiddie-fiddling back then, WAS pretty anemic, witness the mainstream media’s sexualizing young children (those disturbing Jordashe Jeans commercials, zooming in on pre-teens’ butts in TIGHT jeans
      The karmic comeback for Bowie (as I see it) was having fathered his own girl – later in his middle age – and trying to bend heaven and earth to protect her from the world (and its multitudes of degenerate males, no doubt).

  3. Lori Mattix’s mother didn’t rape her daughter. She wouldn’t be an enabler,if there weren’t predators around to enable

    • “I wouldn’t have killed the Jews if there weren’t any of them around here”.

  4. consensual sex with a physically adult woman is not rape… there is nothing wrong with these young girls experimenting sexually. There is nothing wrong with a 18 or seventeen year old girl enjoying herself with a famous player. Stigmatizing sexual experimentation is a wonderful way to look down your nose at folks though huh?

      • Cannot wait for the article about Lena Dunham raping her sister over and over and how we as a society can continue to embrace her and understand her.

      • Juliet was 14 and we celebrate Romeo (17) in high schools across the country. Not saying there shouldn’t be age laws but let’s stop equating real rape with the statutory version. That’s what makes people take real rape less seriously.

    • What we feel is much on a different plane than “looking down our noses”. Rape is not a sexual act. It’s an act of vile abuse, physically and emotionally. By your standards Mr. David M. Myles, sticking your penis into an 18 month old toddler or two-week old new born would be ok, because physically possible.

      This is not experimentation: it’s violence against females and children. By men.

      • So, boys can’t be sexually abused by women? Typical man hating end to your comment. BTW, the age of consent in many European countries is 14. Spain until very recently it was 13. Just saying!

        • The age of consent has risen from 14 to 16 in many European countries, thanks largely to improved understandings of adolescent brain development.

          • The age a human brain is fully developed is around 25 years of age. By your rationale that should be the legal age of consent.

            • I never said the brain needed to be fully developed for people to be capable of consenting. Consent laws must draw a bright line somewhere, and considering that in so many other areas we require our youth to wait until they are 18 years old to engage in certain activities (voting, entering the military, credit card ownership) or even 21 (for alcohol consumption), the laws that place the age of consent at 16/17 (aligned roughly with when youth are also considered developed enough to drive vehicles) seem perfectly reasonable, if (like so much of life) imperfect.

              To those who think the age of consent should be 13 or 14, I wonder if you’d also like children of that age to drive cars, vote in elections, join the military…? It seems to me that most people (largely men) making this argument find it convenient to believe girls are sexually precocious, even though they aren’t considered old enough for other responsibilities that also can entail significant consequences.

    • A 13-year old girl is not a woman and, like some mentally handicapped people, cannot legally consent. Just because they don’t know any better than to say yes doesn’t mean you can stick your penis in them. Children’s brains, part of their physical bodies, by the way, are still not fully developed at 13. Please seek help rather than hurting innocent children for your own pleasure.

      • 18 is the age of majority, not the age every girl becomes a woman. That happens when menarche happens.

        • When menarche happens to a/n (nowadays 8, 9, 10) 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 (even 16, 17) year old she does not “become a woman”. She remains a girl but now one who can be impregnated.

    • So tell me sir, you would have no problem with YOUR daughter sexually experimenting at 9 or 10 as long as she was “physically adult”? Which I was at 9 years old, and as more and more girls are becoming as there has been a significant drop in the age of puberty in the last couple of decades. When I was 10 I was frequently mistaken for being at least 15 or 16 because of my adult physicality, even though my mother took great pains to dress me in modest, age appropriate clothing (unlike the “underage hooker” styles found in most children’s clothing departments these days). And you would have no problem with your 17 year old daughter having sex with a celebrity…a total stranger…just because he’s famous? Really?

  5. Reading the link “I lost my virginity to…” it is hard to put all the blame on David Bowie. Something was broken there in Lori Mattix prior. The phrase “don’t put a stumbling block before the blind” . In this case Bowie was being blind, but … even a 15 year old has to take responsibility for their own actions.

    • Yes a 15 year old is responsible for getting her schoolwork done, being home on time, etc etc, but should we really hold children responsible for adult decisions? I’m not sure we should, and Bowie was definitely the adult in this situation, so should have behaved more appropriately.

      • She obviously was not responsible even for that and as a parent of girls who have gone into adulthood I can attest that there was not one night when my children went out and I did’t know where they were going. And children at that age are quite able to show responsibility. Going to meet Bowie to drink, use drugs and knowing that sex was part of that environment she pretty much gave her consent. Statutory rape is a real crime, as is underage drinking and drug use. Bowie isn’t blameless but but neither was Lori. She made a very bad decision knowing exactly what she was doing at the time. She is no victim.

        • The law would call her a victim and she is that.
          She made bad decisions and it is incumbent upon any adults to make adult decisions in the face of her bad ones, not “pile on” or take advantage or offer the sorry excuse in whatever words that she “ok’d it”.
          The adult who takes advantage had reprimands suited to an adult.
          The child has reprimands due also, just more of the instructional and curfew imposing, “getting ones lief in order typ”e.

          • The law calls a 17 year old boy one day shy of his 18th birthday who has sex with his girl friend one day older then he a victim of statutory rape. And in that context she is indeed a victim and Bowie certainly did wrong.

          • Let me clarify. Bowie is not my nor should he be anyone’s moral compass. He was famous and in his mind that gave him a superiority over those around him that (in my opinion) no one is entitled to. Then again anyone expecting for a rock star to follow conventional morality is naive beyond any measure. This problem comes up again and again. Many famous people from Albert Einstein to Martin Luthur King to Steve Jobs to Bill Clinton were rotten to women, sexist to the core. Power and influence is rarely a prescription for doing the right thing in the sexual arena. On the other hand labelling anyone who doesn’t parrot the party line as “part of the rape culture” is morally reprehensible and intellectually dishonest.

      • It is obvious to not have sex with a child.
        Good home training and broad, sound, inclusive instruction throughout the formal education years on matters relating to personal conduct and laws and requirements might help to more firmly establish this in the minds of some who need to be able to rely on training to avoid acting upon a child as though the child were an adult.

    • She is speaking the words our porn culture and sexual abusers gave her. She has been groomed to think of and speak of it that way.

      • You realize this happened in the early 1970’s?
        And, whatever impaired Lori and the others happened at some point before even then?
        They were not subject to “our porn culture” which has exploded since the internet came online. (Hehe@ internet coming online)

    • You’ve got it wrong.
      Lori is the one blind, David the one putting the stumbling block, there. Lori, at 13, would not be putting a “stumbling block” in front of a man, rather her behaviour would show what kind of man” we are dealing with, here.
      He took advantage of a young girl whom no one was looking after.
      Even if she climbed on him naked in the club it was his responsibility to leave her alone.
      The price of being an adult, a (real) man, law abiding, moral.

      From what was reported it seems Bowie wasn’t “blind” in that he knew her age.

  6. Reblogged this on The Nurdler and commented:
    It’s difficult to post this, but I wasn’t previously aware… I was a fan of his music. I’m now considering my position on that.

  7. Seriously, show me a conviction. All I find are blogs making accusations. And a charge is not guilt but an accusation. Those who wait till a person dies to claim such things are cowards and deserve to be bankrupted.

    • Please take your ass out to the nearest stroll and when you come back (if you do…) tell us more about children and women who are cowards.

  8. Horse manure. Statutory rape means Daddy Said NO; the young ladies in question traveled hundreds of miles to say YES.

  9. For those who need a definition: presentism: uncritical adherence to present-day attitudes, especially the tendency to interpret past events in terms of modern values and concepts.

    This describes this and other psuedo-feminists railing about Bowie to a “t.”

    • well, dear susan, i am a feminist. a feminist of the eighties, so a warrioress even if not a “cut off all the dicks because men are rapists anyway” kind. but i was also a teen in the seventies which were still hippie culture. and i would have wooed david bowie for sure and had happily shared a night with him, as having safe sex was no problem over here in germany in those days – and told any adult to please look after their own stuff and leave me alone. times were vastly different then. And i did prefer boys in their early twenties because they were really interested in me with long talks into the night and wonderful walks and more, and not boys that fondle you after the first date, make your first sexual encounter vastly unsatisfactory, and are likely to brag about their prowess in their group with intimate details and no regard to my feelings. boys my own age were just assholes who wanted to lay you whichever way to brag about their conquests. i wanted better. and girls being 15 or 16 are so vibrant, lively, and wonderful to discuss the nights through, it’s no wonder there are so many songs about them up into the 80ies when it slowly became not pc to do so any longer. i do not condone rapists or child abusers at all, they are so mentally and emotionally ill, it sickens me. but there was a huge difference to what happened in the 70ies. nevetheless i’m glad that jurisdiction better late than never in the end acknowledged that there was a need for new laws to protect teenagers – and to acknowledge the problem of rape more ardently as well. the way rape victims were treated as seductresses that just harvested what they earned even in the 80ies was what made me feminist – a women fighting for equal rights, not spreading hate.

      • Thank you, Sabine! Yours was the first rational comment I read here. I am also a feminist and I abhor rape and am disgusted and enraged by the rape culture that has run rampant on college campuses, in high schools, in the club scene and other places. I am a mother and it would be my second worst nightmare (after murder) to have my daughter (or son, if I had one) fall victim to a pedophile now or be raped when she is older. I’m fed up with the proliferation of misogyny on the internet and the horrible comments made to women online and things like “slut shaming”, revenge porn, and bullying. I worry that kids today are “learning” about sex from totally unrealistic and often hard-core pornography that is easily accessible online, rather than getting comprehensive sex education in school and at home and figuring out how to make love through equal, respectful, consensual experimentation with their peers. I could go on about gender politics and my support for women and against rape, but I want to discuss this article.

        Unless there has been a victim that has accused David Bowie of rape, he is not a rapist. Bill Cosby is a rapist. Dylan Farrow is a victim (though I’m not 100% sure which of her parents victimized her). Lori Matrix was not raped by David Bowie. I just read her account and I think it is inappropriate and outrageous to label her as a rape victim without her consent. Teenage girls mature sexually at different ages. Some teenage girls are sexually precocious at 14 or 15, others aren’t ready to engage sexually until their 20’s. I was very interested in sex at age 13, but knew I wasn’t ready to experiment with another person, so I read everything I could get my hands on from Norma Klein to Erica Jong to The Joy of Sex. I masturbated and explored my own body. I was lucky to have a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves on my family’s bookshelf. From 14 to 15 I experimented with boyfriends, “fooling around” but not “going all the way”. Not long before I turned 16 I lost my virginity. When I started High School I firmly believed that Seniors were too old for me and thought the Senior boys (17 or 18 year olds) that hit on Freshman girls (13 and 14 year olds) were creepy, yet I thought that Sophomores and Seniors were alright. Not all of my Freshman friends agreed with me. Some girls I knew were not ready or interested in sex at all, some were like me and interested in experimenting but not having intercourse, and a few wanted to have sex. We were lucky that the boys we got involved with understood that it was not ok to pressure us into doing anything we weren’t comfortable with, or at least knew how to take no for answer and be grateful for whatever they got; I also knew boys that weren’t ready to have intercourse. We muddled through and had fun and there was nothing wrong with that! When I was 17 I fell in love with a 25 year old and it was a great relationship that I both learned a lot from and which also felt more equal in many ways than relationships with guys my age. Females do mature faster than males, in the majority of cases.

        Why are we still so afraid of female sexuality? Sure there are things that can go wrong, namely pregnancy and disease. A broken heart can be devastating, too. Alcohol and drugs are the biggest problem in the sex factor because impaired people have trouble maintaining boundaries, but even then if a couple have made their boundaries and desires clear before combining inebriation with sexual activity it is not always going to be a disaster. Sable Starr went out with the goal of getting intimate with a young man that was an object of sexual fantasy for many, many girls and Lori Matrix dropped everything to enthusiastically join her. Most of the girls that fantasized about having sex with Bowie (or any male celebrity) probably wouldn’t have acted on their desires, but these two did. Lori Matrix did not anticipate that the encounter would necessarily be sexual. She had rebuffed him once before, with no difficulty, when she first met him (if he were a rapist, this would not have happened). Lori does not regret the experience or consider it to have been a mistake. Read her story and withhold your judgements about “the right age”. This is the account of a mature, older woman and it is positive. Compare it to the accounts of women who were drugged and raped by Bill Cosby. It is not the same situation, by a long shot! Lori Matrix has every right to her history and she should not be shamed for the exploits of her youth.

        We need to empower teenage girls/young women to enjoy their bodies in a safe environment by refusing to shame them, cast non-victims into victims (which doesn’t help real victims of sexual violence), apply double standards, underestimate their intelligence or agency, and by teaching teenage boys/young men about consent, respect, communication, and that their sexual desires are not more important than their partners. Everything I said in that sentence could be switched – both genders need to learn all of those things. We also need to find some solutions to the binge drinking culture. Comprehensive sex education, access to condoms and secondary birth control and abortions, and fighting misogyny and misinformation online (especially on sites where teens hang out) and in locker rooms and fraternities is imperative. And, yes, Sabine, the 70’s were a different time.

  10. There’s a big difference in being accused of molestation/rape and admitting to and/or being undeniably guilty. Don’t lump MJ in when he was investigated and acquitted.

  11. there is an article with the girl he raped who claimed she consented to it, sorry, she was a minor, and i find people defending him indefensible! so he’s a big rock star and that makes it ok?? disgusting.

  12. I acknowledge that I had never heard these stories before today. But I think this raises a really important problem that needs to be tackled. I read your article and think it is a good piece, but my problem comes in because I read the primary source material too. And the girl everyone is discussing is an adult now. She talks about this time in her life as a great experience. She doesn’t think it was rape.

    How we reconcile an awesome person like Bowie with the idea that he had sex with kids is a tough issue. The bigger issue is, how do we reconcile a movement to listen to women and believe rape victims, if we do not also listen to the women who say this happened to me, and it was not rape?

    • In this instance it is not about whether or not she thought it was rape, from either her vantage point then, or now.
      She was a young minor and laws are enacted to keep girls (and boys) safe or at least punish their abuser.

      • No.

        This is completely counter to any kind of bodily sovereignty thinking. This narrative treats her as property, not a person. How can we say that we trust women and believe them, but only if they claim to be victims?

        It negates all the ideas about agency and personal boundaries I am trying to raise my kids with. I can understand saying to a child in front of you, “No, this person is hurting you and we have to stop him from hurting others” but that is not what is happening here. There is no rational reason to talk about this story as a crime. The person who committed it is dead. The person who experienced it doesn’t think she was a victim. Instead we have people who are taking another person’s experience and taking away their narrative. It is exactly the same as the people who believed Lena Dunham was a pedophile victimizing her sister.

        Why don’t we respect a person’s right to her own story, without making them a victim?

    • Hearing everyone out, all the women you cite–with a few follow up questions–works.
      Is there an age at which one is unable to give consent or should be treated by the law as unable to give consent?
      At what age would it be (statutory) rape regardless of consent?
      There may be the occasional young teenager ready for an adult relationship. Still, legally allowing it outside of parental consent to marry opens cans of worms that you can’t get the worms back into, could fundamentally change the society, and have unforeseen consequences.

      • I am not proposing changing any laws. This is a story that happened 40 years ago. There is no purpose in treating it like a crime instead of part of the mythology around a famous person. Making someone a victim when they don’t want to be one is victimizing. It is not healthy.

    • “The bigger issue is, how do we reconcile a movement to listen to women and believe rape victims, if we do not also listen to the women who say this happened to me, and it was not rape?” Yes! Thank you, Eve! I wrote something similar before I read your comment. It seems a lot of people either aren’t reading the source article and making faulty assumptions or can’t imagine that a 15 year old can make choices about her body.

  13. Actually, my take away is that feminist kill joys ruin everything, and take a special form of glee in tearing down white men.

    • If you are sleeping with children, you should be taken down.

  14. Here’s the problem I have, and it’s complex though I’m sure some people will say it’s not, it is.

    On one hand there’s scumbag Roman Polanski who very much knowingly drugged and raped a 13 year old. There are women in Hollywood, very famous actresses, defending him, which, that’s just sick, and doesn’t help. Someone like him who knowingly drugged and raped a young girl, admitted to it, then fled, should be castrated as far as I’m concerned.

    On the other may be Bowie who, yes, shouldn’t get a pass, and here’s where things get complicated:

    I’m very good friends with a woman who’s now in her 30s, married, two beautiful children, and happy, very happy, that I’ve known since my teen years. She and I both have psych minors, she’s finds Polanski abhorrent, she herself has never been abused as a child in her mind, she’s adamant about this and I, personally, fully agree with her.

    She became very sexual in nature before most boys in her class, certainly earlier than I did, it confused boys but not her, she had an awakening of sorts early. She’ll tell you once she discovered masturbation at 12 she couldn’t stop touching herself, she loved the feeling of an orgasm, being the curious type she wanted to find out more about sex, and have sexual awakenings. Probably everyone will say “she’s too young to know, she doesn’t know, etc., but I’d beg to differ. God knows I didn’t even know.”

    She seemed to gravitate to women who were groupies. Going to a lot of rock shows when I did though to me I was like “that guy? With the big hair, sexy? What?” She wanted to get into their pants. Over and over she’d talk about that. She had various rock stars on posters all over her room and she’d talk about boning them. I found it odd, but whatever, wasn’t judgmental, and she told me she would, soon enough.

    I guess at this point someone is going to say “where are her parents?” Well, they were fairly permissive and figured if she went to a show with her friends they trusted us, as a group, to make right decisions. Not sure that’s the best approach per se and, as a father myself now, no way would I have let my daughter leave the house dressed the way her parents did. She’d not put on the makeup until in the car and it was put on in such a way she certainly did not appear 15. In hindsight perhaps, as there are pictures from these shows and backstage, if I were a musician, I may pause, but she certainly could be 18 the way she looked, and some of the 18 year old or older groupies who I vaguely know in some of the pictures who were in fact in college and legal age looked younger than my friend did, so it’s a bit confusing almost to see the pictures who’s older than who.

    She’s never come clean at what age she started fooling around with rock stars back stage but my guess is 15 and having sex with them probably maybe 16? 17? She’d be downright bouncy the next day in high school, she found the whole thing like a quest, to her it was empowering. She wasn’t necessarily broadcasting it but again we were close so she’d drop me hints and whatnot, and I do know other girls who looked up to her. I could rattle off five very famous well known people she’s said she had sex with in the late 80s, to this day, she still seems rather proud of.

    When pressed she will quip “well 16 is legal in Europe” or some such and, in a way, she has a point, the age of consent varies wildly, at 16 we can drive a car, at 18 people in the US could drink. It does make me wonder how age is in some ways an arbitrary median. I can tell you I was definitely NOT ready for sex at 16, but knew other boys that were, and did, not that I didn’t think about it. 18 may be more like a median age, but in some ways it’s a guide. I’ve two boys, one could walk and talk by the time he was eight months old, he was able to be potty trained by 18 months, he was by all measure WAY ahead of other children. He was even in his own bed with a rail by 18. He was just insanely advanced. Our youngest boy is still does not use words and he’s 17 months, potty training is a distant thought, and he needs very much to be in a crib. We’ve been very concerned but both his day school and his pediatrician say he’s fine, some kids just take longer and, those who know our first born say he was just insanely ahead of the curve, you guys were spoiled by him, relax, your second child is normal because children all learn and develop and different speeds. Indeed, looking around at other children at their day school all of them are all over the map in terms of development by ages, never more obvious that there were children six or more months older than our firstborn who were still in diapers or not talking or not walking. To wit, children to teens develop across a wide spectrum, there is no set reality to their development perhaps, from walking and talking and pooping to as I point out above my friend seemed ready sexually before I did. Honestly, I’m fine with that.

    At this point someone is shrilly going to point out probably “but your friend was just a baby!!!” No, she was a young woman. And at the age of consent does vary in some places. Granted, I think everyone can agree 14 is too young, probably 15, 16… well, not so sure. I’m sure age of consent was made up by men, and men are gross pigs who, like in the middle east, will stick their dicks into little girls in single digits, which is wrong and gross. Still, there’s probably still some logic behind what age someone knows what and who they are sexually and are able to express that.

    In fact, if you look at the age of consent by country map on Wikipedia ( you’ll notice 16 is most widely accepted. 15 in about half of Europe and, seems wrong to my sensibilities but 14 in much of South America.

    So how much of this is social mōrēs at work? When people raise pitchforks against Bowie, to what degree is it really a reflection on them based on what is almost seemingly arbitrary numbers that were created as a baseline, a baseline towards a human condition that at best is a guide as the reality is it varies from person to person? Did the girl, who may have appeared to be a young woman, who said she consented, if she was say 15, and everyone here is all angry mob where if say she was in France or Italy or Japan people would just shrug “what? Oh you American prudes, she was of legal age, what in the hell are you talking about?”

    I get it, people need to be angry, and people need to tear down idols, and the people who gnash the teeth and cast stones are always perfect people I’m sure who’ve never done anything wrong when – to be clear, if this consenting young woman was in many other places in the world, it’d have been perfectly legal, like my friend would be who knew what she was doing and, to those who say “there’s no way she could” may I tell you “bull-fucking-shit,” my friend is probably better adjusted than most the people who would be all “harrumph blah blah anger anger anger.”

    Let’s be clear here, there’s a huge difference between Polanski, who knowingly raped a 13 year old, really, regardless of her age, that was rape, and he should be tried and sentenced accordingly, as any many who rapes anyone and yes, 13 is, to me, too young to make a judgement call. 15 though? Maybe, maybe not. 16, I’d say and I know many friends and my current wife lost their virginity at 16, and you know what, I’m fine by it, if they say the knew what they’re doing and suffer zero emotional scars, who are you, the angry mob, to say you know better, that you’re better than them, and can pass judgement. Who are you to cast the stones?

    There are despicable famous people like Polanski or Gary Glitter or a long list of people who have done irrehensible acts. Unless somebody can point out a time when Bowie knowingly raped someone who said “no” repeatedly, which is the utmost in the sign of a rape, then sure, I’ll pick up a pitchfork with you all. However, if you’re trying to cast slings and arrows at Bowie without all the facts of exactly how old she was and if she was for it, based on the world view of consent and what I know growing up with people who because sexually active knowing what their doing, to me you’re just doing the tired old casting a dark cloud or an asterisk out of some knee-jerk hate reaction people have to find fault in flaw in those who have achieved success, probably out of your own petty jealousy and need for hate.

    • well done. you wrapped it up nicely. I was 15-16 in those times. i agree wholeheartedly.

    • No amount of hand waving makes having sex with a child okay or, even at the time and place this occurred, legal.

      • Define “child.”

        I say this, because your definition, my definition, Bowie’s groupie’s definition, my wife’s definition, Sabine who commented on my post’s definition, my friend who had no problem handling sex at an early age than I’s definition, 85% of the rest of the world’s definition, and on and on’s definition, does NOT fit your definition.

        Again, so you’re judge and jury? Really? You think you can be? Give me a break! You’re one (1) person, that’s it, just one. You may want to have the last word, thankfully, you don’t on the matter.

  15. David Bowie was a degenerate scumbag with average musical talent. And speaking of degenerate scumbags, let’s not leave out Bill Clinton..

  16. I am noticing here that it is the men who are blaming the victim & arguing that she was not technically raped bc she didn’t say no, she was old enough to consent, she knew what she was getting into going in, etc.,etc., etc.; & that’s what we women have come to expect from men in this age.

    Women are defending Bowie, yes; but for the most part that is all they are doing: defending Bowie, not attacking the victim.

    What people don’t seem to know or understand is this: (a) Bowie was a strong, powerful, rich white male & this girl was 13; (b) a lot of these “baby groupies” were drugged into unconsciousness & then raped; & (c) there is never just One victim – men don’t stop w/just one.

    But tbh, witnessing men attacking the victim(s) & women w/stars in their eyes, defending the guy…. this behavior, while both sad&anger inducing, is expected.

    This, right here in the comments…. this is rape culture.

    • Why can’t anyone give me a straight answer to my question? I’m not defending Bowie or attacking the victim, but I don’t understand why we can’t believe her?

    • The girl is a grwon ass woman. She said she conseted. But for some reason that is, clearly, beyond logic, you know better than her.

  17. Hate to break it to you but this Lori Maddox story doesn’t add up. She claims she was introduced to Jimmy Page at a later date.
    The problem there is that in the past shes claimed she was a virgin when they met..

  18. it was a different time back then. if you grew up in the 60s-70s everybody fucked everybody. was it exploitative by today’s standards? absolutely. but you can’t judge what happened then through the prism of today.

  19. This is a tough call. I am a huge David Bowie fan. I had no knowledge of this. My immediate question is whether the rape(s) are alleged or was he charged.

    I can no dismiss rape. But many women that I am friends with ALL had sex prior to being 16. I am not making an excuse, simply pointing out that underaged boys AND girls have sex. That’s a fact.

  20. Speaking as someone who’s in his 50s, I can recall that the 1970s were a much more Libertine period when it came to the sex-and-drugs associated with rock and roll. There probably aren’t too many popular male rock stars of that time who didn’t commit some act we’d find reprehensible today. But I would not call Bowie a rapist. I don’t believe he specifically sought out young girls for sex, although I wouldn’t be surprised if he bedded more than one teen groupie. He was just living the rock life, and by the time he was in his early 30s, he quit drugs and, I assume, other excesses. As for his dalliance with Lori Maddox, while I don’t condone it, it appears everybody had a good time and no one was traumatized, so there’s that.

  21. Sexual intercourse by an adult with a person below a statutorily designated age.

    The criminal offense of statutory rape is committed when an adult sexually penetrates a person who, under the law, is incapable of consenting to sex. Minors and physically and mentally incapacitated persons are deemed incapable of consenting to sex under rape statutes in all states. These persons are considered deserving of special protection because they are especially vulnerable due to their youth or condition.

    Most legislatures include statutory rape provisions in statutes that punish a number of different types of sexual assault. Statutory rape is different from other types of rape in that force and lack of consent are not necessary for conviction. A defendant may be convicted of statutory rape even if the complainant explicitly consented to the sexual contact and no force was used by the actor. By contrast, other rape generally occurs when a person overcomes another person by force and without the person’s consent.

    The actor’s age is an important factor in statutory rape where the offense is based on the victim’s age. Furthermore, a defendant may not argue that he was mistaken as to the minor’s age or incapacity. Most rape statutes specify that a rape occurs when the complainant is under a certain age and the perpetrator is over a certain age. In Minnesota, for example, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree is defined as sexual contact with a person under thirteen years of age by a person who is more than thirty-six months older than the victim. The offense also is committed if the complainant is between thirteen and sixteen years old and the actor is more than forty-eight months older than the complainant (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 609.342 [West 1996]).

  22. Pingback: This is rape culture.  | Dr. Rebecca Hains

  23. “Today in #RapeCulture: Commenters claim that when a girl hits puberty, she’s a woman who can consent to sex ….”
    Resorting to McCarthyism as well as poor reasoning.

  24. “At the same time, the girl’s consent doesn’t negate the fact that this was statutory rape. As a young teen (depending on which report you read, she was 13, 14 or 15 at the time), legally she could not consent—and as an adult, Bowie knew better. He should not have pursued and seduced a minor.”

    See, here is why feminism must get rid of the white, middle/upper class bunch. They always do the same mistake. If a girl says she had sex, she wanted to and liked it, well… she can’t, ’cause the white middle/upper class woman knows what is good and what is bad for her. Even now that she’s a grown up woman. I mean, don’t you think she would know her sexuality a bit better than someone who never even met her?

    Furthermore, Polanski and Cosby drugged and raped. Did Bowie drugged the girl? Not that we know. Not that she says. Did he rape her? No. The law it’s so unrealistic – yes, your law basically says that teenagers have no clue about what sex is – that you had to call it statutory rape.

    I’m a lesbian. When I was 15 I had my first experience with a woman. She was older than me, in her late 20s. Therefore I beg to differ from your take on “rape culture”. Let teenagers have sex if they want to. It’s not that hard, trust me.

    • No one’s saying the girl can’t have had sex and liked it. Adults nevertheless have a responsibility to obey laws. The legal system is imperfect (and that may be the understatement of the year…), but age of consent laws are meant to protect our youth’s best interest. Given our increasingly sophisticated understandings of adolescent brain development, it’s preferable to draw a bright line and err on the side of caution than to allow sexual predators to prey upon them with no repercussions.

  25. Disgusted by the comments in this article and the people trying to whitewash statutory rape in order to put this man on a pedestal. Priscilla Presley claims there was nothing wrong with Elvis courting her at age 14 and her parents giving her to him to live with. Does that make it okay? Of course there was grooming, but she liked it! Mandy Smith is “okay” with Bill Wyman, age 47, courting her at age 13. She married him after all. Never mind the grooming. Is that alright? Jimmy Page abused Lori and she is just as “okay” with that as she is with having sexual intercourse with Bowie. So was him keeping her under “lock and key” also “okay?” He hindered her education and as an adolescent, she was and still is “okay” with that. Sable Starr was also “okay” with sleeping with Iggy Pop at age 13 and even “okay” with him dating her 11-year-old sister. She then went on to run away with Johnny Thunders at age 16, not knowing that he would physically abuse her. Also, people like to pretend that all of these “baby groupies” were satisfied, but for every Lori, there’s a Catherine James (was with Denny Laine at age 15, had his baby at age 16, and had to escape through the bathroom window after he attacked her) and a Julia Holcomb (adopted by Steven Tyler so he could have sex with her but was told it was “okay” since her mother gave him guardian rights and her girlfriends were encouraging her to sleep with him). Please don’t try to argue that their age had nothing to do with these men exploiting and manipulating them.

    I also don’t understand why people are acting like victims do not justify the actions of their abusers. We see this all of the time with a number of crimes (domestic violence, kidnapping, assault). But when it is statutory rape involving young girls, suddenly everyone wants to act like “it’s not a big deal ’cause they liked it.”

    A lot of these rockstars were predators and did this because they felt entitled to do what they wanted. David Bowie is no different. Continuing to justify his actions with lame excuses such as “it was the 70s” (it was illegal to have sex with these “baby groupies” even back then) and “all rockstars do this” (that’s the problem) only contributes to that sense of entitlement.

  26. P.S. The Facebook post you linked to has information wrong about Roman Polanski. He was charged with (1) rape by use of drugs (2) perversion (3) sodomy (4) lewd and lascivious act upon a child under fourteen and (5) furnishing a controlled substance to a minor. A plea bargain was arranged for him and those charges were dropped. Currently, he is only convicted of “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor” (a.k.a. statutory rape).

    Not that it matters but Polanski continued to have ‘relationships’ with teen girls once he was out of the U.S.

  27. For most of the history of humankind “stautory rape” was the norm… still is here in Brazil where I am right now:here 14 yrs is the age of self consent for women/girls!
    Statutory rape is an ethical issue,not a moral absolute: ethics is determined by societal agreement/”norms”.When I first visited Amsterdam in 1971 girls 10 yrs old wore full makeup! Here in Brazil a few years ago,walking with my adult son,a 10 yr old girl came riding on a bicycle up alongside us accompanied by her younger brother,and verbally,&very charmingly offered a list of services and prices to us… shocked but calmly I engaged her I’m conversation for a few minutes, before saying thanks but no thanks…& she disappointedly but personally rode on!

      • And without dismissing the seriousness of statutory rape, any “age of consent” is a) arbitrary in how it’s set, b) arbitrary in how it’s enforced, c) at best only an approximation as to when we think a young person goes from “can’t really give proper informed consent” to “can really give proper informed consent” (something which is probably not an overnight process for anyone anyhow), and d) determined by the surrounding culture and societal ethos. Here in Canada, the age of consent was 12 at first in the 1800s, then it was raised to 14 in (I think) the 1890s, then it was just raised to 16 a few years ago. Which of these ages is the “right” one to use, if such a thing exists? Also, Canada has “Romeo and Juliet” exceptions, but many other jurisdictions don’t (I think California is one), so if someone one day older than the arbitrary age has sex with someone who is one day younger than the arbitrary age (the former is 2 days older than the latter), the former is technically guilty of a serious crime. So while it’s still very true to say “if someone is too young to be able to really give proper informed consent to sex, then anyone having sex with that someone is guilty of a serious moral and perhaps criminal offence,” it’s also true that we’ll never be able to enforce that in any way that isn’t arbitrary and often inaccurate.

  28. Pingback: Thoughts on David Bowie | Dr. Rebekah J. Buchanan

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