A 31-year-old woman in Ohio has pleaded guilty to “sexual imposition” after disguising herself as a man and seducing a 16-year-old girl. I am puzzled by several aspects of this case, and not necessarily because I’m a gorilla. I should imagine that Lieutenant Columbo himself would be scratching his head and asking searching questions if he were trying to get to the bottom of it.
The first thing to wonder about is the charge. Not abduction or rape, but “sexual imposition”. What exactly does that mean? The manager of the safari camp thought it meant having sex with someone in an unusual position, but his intuitions in such matters are not to be trusted. If it refers to the cajoling and posturing that occurs prior to sexual activity, I don’t see why it’s a crime at all. Such behaviour is surely an integral part of courtship for humans, as it is for gorillas. My females and I are constantly at it – I impose myself on them, they impose themselves on me, and whoever seizes the high ground dictates the terms of surrender. Without this preliminary sparring, mating would be a namby-pamby affair lacking vigour or excitement.
The facts of the case are even more perplexing. It seems that the teenage girl ran away from home to live with her “boyfriend” for an unspecified period of time. One has to wonder how the older woman managed to pull off the hoax. To sustain such a deception while the two were cohabiting as lovers would have required a disguise worthy of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Unable to make head or tail of it, I gave my friend Lady Chuffington a call:
“It’s all quite plausible,” she said. “The torso of a flat-chested woman is not that different in appearance from a male one, and the girl was obviously brought up to believe that nice girls don’t look at men’s groins. She must come from a traditional American family of pilgrim stock. It’s quite sweet really.”
“Indeed?” I replied. “And what about the consummation of their intimacy? Pilgrim stock or not, she must have noticed that something was missing from the experience.”
“Really, Bananas!” exclaimed Her Ladyship. “She was a 16-year-old girl and a virgin I should hope. At that age, I wouldn’t have known the difference between a man’s appendage and a stick of celery! Not with the lights out, at any rate. I refuse to elaborate further – please use your imagination!”
I paid my respects and terminated the call.
Whatever happened with the lights out, the girl is now saying that she is afraid to walk her dog. I feel sorry for the dog, who must be wondering why its mistress is so horribly traumatised. If I were the girl’s counsellor, I would attempt to reassure her with the following words.
“Falling in love with a woman who looks like a man is nothing to be ashamed of. Many notable people have done it, including Ann Heche, Virginia Woolf and King Edward VIII. Although hard to bear, such misfortunes can teach us valuable lessons. In time, you will put this troubling incident behind you.”
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