age of consent : Gay & Black Glossary


age of consent
The lowest age at which sex is legally permissible. Often the age differs for male/male, female/female and male/female. In Canada, the age of consent is 16, raised by the Conservative party from 14 in 2008-02, though there is a law that prohibits anal sex until 18. That law’s legal status is unsure given that it clearly is intended to discriminate against gay people. In the USA, the age of consent varies state by state from 16 to 18.

The notion of age of consent is peculiar in that one day sex can bring a 7 year prison term and the next day is perfectly legal. It does not depend on the apparent physical age. The other oddness in Canada is that possession of a naked picture of someone under 18 is illegal even though it is legal to have sex with such a person. It is not clear if viewing such a picture is illegal, or if it requires possession.

My view is that gays and straights must be treated equally. It is bigotry to punish a gay person and let off a straight for doing the exact same act.

Raising the Age of Consent

I am somewhat suspicious of the motives of people who lobby to crank up the age of consent. One lobby group are paedophiles. With a higher age of consent, their crimes become conflated with acts formerly legal. This dilutes the societal disapproval for their crimes. Further, by upping the age of consent, it creates a huge new class of criminals, much larger than the original class of paedophiles. Law enforcement will then be diluted chasing the ephebophiles. That leaves the paedophiles with far less supervision.

Another group I suspect are parents, who believe there is no way they can use reason, argument, bribes or threats to keep their teenage children from having sex. They have legitimate concerns to protect their children from STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases), pregnancy, AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) and getting trapped in inappropriate relationships. There are also less nurturing motives such a prudery, desire to control, youth envy and a refusal to acknowledge their child is growing up and will soon leave the nest. They hope a higher age of consent law will do for them what they cannot do for themselves. They are abusing the notion of age of consent. They are not trying to block some predator from taking advantage of their innocent child. They are trying to thwart their horny teen from pouncing someone.

If any changes are made to the law, it should make a clear distinction between paedophilic acts and ephebophilic acts. The litmus test would be puberty, a marker that a defendant could not pretend to have overlooked.

The Delusion

Age of consent and statutory rape hold a view that was accurate 120 years ago, but is no longer valid now that puberty occurs so much earlier. Today a young teen is hornier than they will ever be at any other time in their lives. They are the ones frantically and clumsily trying to seduce someone. They are not naïve little dolls who don’t even know what a sexual thought is. The law makes no distinction between someone who puts up a heroic resistance to a relentless seduction by a minor and eventually capitulates and a predator who plots to force sex on an 8 year old with threats of eternal damnation. That makes no sense to me. These acts should have different names and different penalties.

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