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What Should the Legal Age of Consent Be?

Updated on February 17, 2020
Kyler J Falk profile image

I've been "sexually active" since a young age, and the laws around my sexual being have always scared me.

Lady Justice really is blind sometimes.
Lady Justice really is blind sometimes. | Source

At what age did you have your first sexual experience?

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A Necessary New Approach

Since my first sexual intercourse with another individual, at the age of eleven, I have been aware that my sexual rights and freedoms have been under scrutiny and I could've been punished legally for exercising them. This was strange to me, and still is, that myself and everyone I knew could be charged with crimes they weren't actually committing if one of the individuals involved or who knew about it decided to report it to authorities. I've witnessed this occur before as well while in junior high, when a boy reported a girl for sharing pictures he had sent of his genitals and told her to give it to her friends too. It was all consensual, and even requested by the boy himself, but upon finding out he wasn't as well endowed as he had thought he tried to get revenge on the girls who lambasted him. Having gone to the law, reporting that the girls had pictures of underage people in sexual situations on their phones, the authorities quickly came to the school in droves confiscating phones and removing all those involved from class.

This uncovered a wide array of different pictures, spanning schools from all across the country, and led to the arrest of multiple children who had both sent and received the images with all due consent. Many of these children, a few whom are still friends of mine as adults, are still registered as sex offenders. Now, this isn't even taking into account all the sexual intercourse that was occurring but I will get into that. First I must say the legal age of consent and associated laws need to take into account consent, willful interaction, biological damage caused, and anecdotal testimony of friends and family as to the sexual activity of the individuals involved. All too often, I knew girls who sought out older men and boys who sought out older women as sport, and the interactions were totally consensual, enjoyed, and harmless. Yet, the law would punish these consenting individuals to the fullest extent, and the media would run their reputations under the bus with impunity.

At what age did you first have consensual sexual intercourse?

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Mind your business.
Mind your business. | Source

My Sexual Life Is Not Your Concern

For such a serious topic as statutory rape, and "non-consensual" sex, people sure do like to gawk and have opinions despite not knowing the full story. As mentioned before, my first sexual experience was at the age of eleven, but first realizing I was a sexual creature happened long before that at the age of five. My first kiss and "game of doctor" was at the age of five in a Jacuzzi at the end of school party for kindergarten when a girl asked me to play a game with her, so technically that could be considered my first sexual experience but to keep the definition of it all less grey we'll stick to calling intercourse sexual activity while everything else is just exploration. Though, it should be mentioned that what we did at the innocent age of five could be called a crime.

Back on track here, though, at the age of eleven I was invited to hang out with a girl at her home while her dad was away on business. It didn't dawn upon me that all the signals of a first sexual experience were screaming at my face, I thought we'd just be watching cartoons and playing with makeup, video games, or something of the like. Yet, when I got there things felt a little weird because her voice was more flirtatious and she kept sitting on my lap and touching my face. I guess this was our "Netflix and chill" situation of the time, and being so young and innocent I was not expecting what was about to occur. From flirting, to kissing, to touching, and then the coup de grĂ¢ce. It was sloppy, and a bit embarrassing, but it was innocent and to call it a crime would be absolutely egregious.

So let's play the "What if" game here and say either myself, or her reported that we had done this. It would be her who reports it, most likely, when her dad convinces her that she had done something wrong and everyone around town hears about the "incident." Law enforcement is going to take her word over mine every time, and that is another huge issue, but the key point here is that her dad convinced her it was wrong where she and I otherwise would've carried on a healthy, sexual relationship. The media then picks up on the news, her reputation is destroyed and kids are making fun of her for being a "slut" all the while I'm having to deal with the legal and social fallout of being accused of a crime I did not commit. Now, I'll be convicted, she'll be off free because I'm the male "aggressor" and my life will have been ruined because others stuck their noses where it doesn't belong.

I was of an age where I could safely make these decisions myself, and so was she, but the situation could've been so much worse had word about it gotten out to prying and virtue-signaling eyes. This is an all-too-frequent occurrence in society, and kids deserve more freedom and less shaming.

Have you ever been shamed for your sexual nature?

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Shaming should be more illegal than underage consensual sex, but it isn't.
Shaming should be more illegal than underage consensual sex, but it isn't. | Source

Shaming and the Domino Effect

Shaming is an occurrence that rears its ugly head all too often as it concerns young women and how they choose to present themselves. When you shame a young girl for having sex, and we all know underage girls and boys are doing this despite the laws against it, you are creating this complex that leads her to believe that not only is the boy guilty of something but she is as well. She isn't guilty of anything that anyone else isn't also guilty of, including those shaming her, but what she will actually be guilty of is trying to escape that shame. Just as anyone else would in such a sad and unfair situation, this young girl being shamed for no reason is going to try to escape the shame any way she can. How do you go about escaping shame in a situation such as underage sex? You accuse the boy of rape, or otherwise taking things too far without consent.

Why would you make such serious, and false accusations? This usually appeases everyone around you, at least as far as your reputation is concerned. You're no longer the slut, and he is now the rapist. The domino effect started with revelation of sexual activity, it tipped to shaming the girl, now the boy is a rapist because everyone tortured the girl into trying to escape said torture. It is a believable story in such a situation as well, and unfortunately, because men commit most of the rapes in society and false accusations are rarely exposed as such.

Turning an innocent boy into a rapist, when he and a girl chose to engage in innocent and sexual activity, leads to ruining the boys life forever. It won't matter if he recovers from the title of sex offender, that will follow him the rest of his life as the media always goes out of their way to hop on stories like these no matter how small and insignificant they are. With the availability of everything on the internet, one search of his name and your opinion of the man who was once the boy has now changed forever and irreversibly.

Don't shame children for doing what we all do, what we all have done, and false accusations can be avoided. Teach your kids proper sexual safety, and let them feel as if they are free to explore their own desires and that sex is nothing to ever be ashamed of.

You'd rather see your child with a gun, than their lips pressed against someone else's.
You'd rather see your child with a gun, than their lips pressed against someone else's. | Source

Violence Good, Sex Bad

I'll never be sure where humans became so misguided that violence started to be acceptable, all the while their sexual nature was something to be hidden away and remain ashamed of. I won't even get into Hollywood, because it is upon a parent and society as a whole to choose what is okay for their kids to watch not the child to decide what is okay. A child will always choose to know more, about everything, but the question as to what is damaging or not doesn't seem to be being answered correctly. The first thing I can remember about school is watching Jesus and slaves get the skin whipped off of their backs, a crown of thorns placed atop a bleeding head of a broken Jesus, and the screams of torment that followed such scenes.

I wasn't allowed to see cartoon depictions of genitals attempting to teach me about my body, skipping over those sections in science books in favor of learning about pistils and stamens and how plants procreate. Yet, I was more than allowed to see men and women murdering each other both in the name of and against slavery. Bayonets piercing the delicate organs of the British as they marched into a guerrilla firing squad. Even the mangled remains of children in bombed-out rebar in the Middle East....

I'll never get it, and I don't think anyone who thinks logically gets it either, but there are solutions.

Are current laws concerning age of consent in need of change?

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The law has the final say, so let's change it.
The law has the final say, so let's change it. | Source

Punish Those Who Are Truly Guilty

The answer to the question of what the legal age of consent should actually be is a very hard conclusion to make, as I believe every individual develops at a different rate and makes consensual choices that the next person never would. I think the legal age of consent should be changed to "The Law of Circumstance."

The Law of Circumstance, by my definition, would take into account every possible factor in a case such as a child or adult claiming that their sexual activity was not consensual or they got caught and the parents demand "justice." People say it all the time, age is just a number, but society as a whole refuses to accept the equity of such a statement. This leads to the legal subjugation of all the individuals who choose to toil under the weight of the law each and every day. It also leads to the convictions of innocent individuals, and the ignoring of questions and facts that would otherwise clear their name.

Thus, I say make it a punishable offense to speak publicly on a conviction before it has occurred. It is no one's business but those involved and that of the legal representatives in the case. Those legal representatives should be made to legally take into account how the kids or individuals were treated by those who coerced them into making allegations, and the friends, family, and acquaintances of those kids or individuals need to be questioned as well. Due diligence seems to fall short in these cases far too often, and you cannot claim proper jurisprudence if you do not test each and every factor. Finally, eliminate the number guidelines for consent. It is common sense to know what is a reasonable age and situation for sexual intercourse, and placing a number on it inherently shames individuals who refuse to follow such stringent and ridiculous laws.

Comments

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    • Bushra Iqbal profile image

      Aishatu Ali 

      6 weeks ago from Rabwah, Pakistan

      Even marrying Virginia Roberts first would not have helped Andrew's case.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      6 weeks ago from Corona, CA

      Consent in Western Culture is definitely a complex creature. I think in most cases social stigma, and the weaponizing of a lack of proof so as to correct your own reputation plays a big role in the negatives of it all. If it weren't for all the stigma making people feel forced to make false accusations, then actual victims wouldn't feel so pressed to weaponize other's lack of proof. Then again, it's just a small bit of the puzzle as well.

      Your comment really got me thinking deeper, Bushra. Do you feel consent should mean, legally, a marriage pact? Should there always be proof of consent before consent can be said to have occurred?

    • Bushra Iqbal profile image

      Aishatu Ali 

      6 weeks ago from Rabwah, Pakistan

      There are many different ways to get married, but the thing is, you have got to make a rule and stick to it. If Westerners think consent is a kind of marriage, I'm okay with that, but it turns out that they don't think consent is a kind of marriage after all. Take, for example, the case of Prince Andrew and Virginia Roberts: Virginia Roberts claims that Prince Andrew slept with her and thus raped her because she was being trafficked at that time and had deliberately been taken from a state where the age of consent was 18 to a country where it was 17. But did she tell HIM (Andrew) not to touch her, that she was being trafficked, and that she needed help? She didn't.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      6 weeks ago from Corona, CA

      As an individual with a fifteen year difference between my life partner and myself I struggle to understand the law, especially considering my past before this relationship. It is all silly and needs constructive recourse. Maybe those of us who take a more logical approach and perspective are just aliens, and that is why we are treated as such.

      Thank you for your take on the topic, scorpio!

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 

      6 weeks ago from Chicago

      I meant to say:

      The guys (her) age are working at McDonalds and still living with their parents...

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 

      6 weeks ago from Chicago

      The age of sexual consent is outdated when it comes to people's actual sexual activity. If you live in Hawaii, Georgia, Minnesota and you're 16 you are of legal age but if you move to California, Florida, or Idaho you can't give consent until you reach 18.

      Are teens in Hawaii more mature than those in California or Florida?

      However the real icing on the cake is we have tried 13 year old teens as {adults} for murder!

      If one is too young the grasp the consequences of their actions by having sex they surly have no idea what facing a life sentence for losing their temper and shooting, stabbing, or pushing someone off a cliff will do to their future.

      Shouldn't a 13 year old be given a shot at redemption? hmmm

      Then there are other states which have a "close in age exemption". In other words two 16 year old teens can have sex with consent but if a 16 year old has sex with 21 year old it's against the law!

      So now it's not about the "sexual act" as much as it is the age of the body parts involved in the act. It's an age of consent with restriction!

      Truth be told even with the age of consent laws many people HATE to see May/December relationships period. An 18 year old girl with 45 year old guy is almost viewed as being against the law in the eyes of a lot of folks. He's a "vampire" draining the youth from her body!

      The guys are age are working at McDonalds and still living with their parents while he has his own house, sports car, money to take her places, and buy her nice things. He's a "dirty old man"! What's difference between him a guy 20 years younger? Nothing! They're both after the same thing usually. LOL!

      Bare in mind this man has broken no laws!

      Young women also frown upon older women or "cougars" who date young men. Who can forget the storm created when Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore got married. Men could care less but young women were losing their minds.

      Another related topic is the value placed on virginity especially that of females. One would think if virginity was so valuable it would not decrease in value with age. And yet an 18 year old virgin is revered more by society than a 38 year old virgin.

      Most "valuables" appreciate over time.

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