The photos of teenage girls began appearing on Twitter on Thursday night. First, a smiling, ponytailed 14-year-old looking into the camera. Then, another 14-year-old, this one posing for a school-style photo. Soon, there were photos from Katie Couric, Alyssa Milano and Sarah Silverman — all showing what they looked like when they were 14.
“Can’t consent at 14. Not in Alabama. Not anywhere,” wrote Catherine Lawson, a lawyer and the first woman to tweet a photo of her 14-year-old self with the hashtag #MeAt14. Lawson and the others on Twitter were responding to allegations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, first reported in The Washington Post. Four women have said Moore pursued romantic or sexual relationships with them when they were teenagers, and he was in his 30s. One of the women, Leigh Corfman, said Moore kissed her, removed her clothes, and touched her over her bra and underwear when she was 14.
Moore has denied the accusations repeatedly. He has said that the women’s stories are “a desperate attempt” to stop his campaign and that he plans to sue The Post for its reporting.
As more women shared photos of their days of big hair, thick eyebrows and shiny braces, Lawson tweeted to explain why she started the hashtag. “Show what a 14-year-old looks like,” she said. “Affirm they’re not capable of consent. Remind people *kids* deserve protection.” Lizz Winstead, the co-creator of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” asked her followers, “Who were you at 14?”
“I loved Star Wars and sailor moon and watched Nickelodeon,” one woman responded.
“I wasn’t dating a 32 year old male. I was riding horses, playing basketball, and trying to survive freshman year of high school,” another said.
All weekend, the responses kept coming.
“Not old enough to drive. Not old enough to work without a permit. Not old enough to see an R-rated movie.”
“I was babysitting my WAY younger brother & researching acne cures”
“Had just gotten by braces off.”
By Monday morning, the hashtag had been used more than 700 times, according to the Twitter analytics tracker Keyhole.co. Celebrities had joined in, and so, too, had teenagers who were 14 not all that long ago.
Moore has not responded specifically to the hashtag. He tweeted only once over the weekend — about Veterans Day.
Meanwhile, Alabama politicians and prominent Republicans have been deciding whether to denounce or distance themselves from Moore.
Some responses have sought to normalize the idea of a large age gap in a relationship. Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler offered an example of such a gap from the Bible: “Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” Zeigler said. He also reminded the Washington Examiner that Moore’s wife, Kayla Moore, is significantly younger than her husband.
The difference, as many on Twitter were quick to point out, is that while Moore and his wife are two consenting adults, a 14-year-old cannot legally consent to a sexual relationship with someone in their 30s. In Alabama, the age of consent is 16.