Age of Consent – Debate on KGO Tonite
KGO-810 AM Newstalk Radio just called and asked me to be in a debate tonight, starting at 6:10 PM (PT) on the subject of “Age of Consent.” That is, what should be the legal age of consent for sex? Usually, I can do these radio interviews in my sleep (and sometimes I do), but this is a tough question. After all, different human beings mature at very different rates. I know some 14-year-olds who are quite mature, physically and emotionally, and can handle sex and all that it entails with responsible awareness. I also know some 40-year-olds who are still too immature to handle sex responsibly. It is simply impossible to come up with a *perfect number* for the legal age of consent that works well for everyone.
That said, I do think that 18 is a little high. Especially when I see 18-year-old guys going to prison and being branded as “sex offenders” for the rest of their lives because they had consensual sex with their 17-year-old girlfriends.
Of course, we need to have some age of legal consent because it shouldn’t be legal for an adult to have sex-for-candy – or any kind of sex – with a child. But what should that age be? Honestly, I’m not sure, but if I have to come up with a number (and for this debate, I do), I’ll say 16. Why 16? Maybe because “Sweet 16” is already considered a mark of sexual maturity in our society. I mean, let’s get real: Isn’t the sex factor the reason that 16 is so “sweet”? Or maybe I’m picking 16 because I had my first sexual intercourse a few weeks after my 16th birthday (with my boyfriend who was 15), and look how great I turned out? ;-) I’m not stuck on 16. It could be 15 or 17. Even 14 (isn’t that the age of consent in New Mexico?).
Keep in mind that just because the age of consent is 16 doesn’t mean anyone HAS to have sex at 16. You can have it anytime you want. It just means the state can’t arrest and imprison a person for having consensual sex with a 16-year-old.
When I had sex at 16, I didn’t even know that I was *underage.* This was the 1970s, and “age of consent” was not the big deal that it is now. Nowadays it is a HUGE deal. Conservatives think that this makes us all more *moral,* but I think that the unnatural focus our society places on teenage sexual *purity* winds up making them even more intense objects of desire for many adults.
Teenagers are maturing faster than ever, physically (thanks to our protein and hormone-rich diets) and emotionally (thanks to the Internet). In that sense, they are ready for sex even earlier than they were in the *old days* of Queen Victoria when 13-year-olds would get married without anyone thinking anything of it. Despite (or perhaps because of ) this high level of maturity, our society makes teenagers sexually taboo, issuing draconian punishments to anyone who touches the little darlings (who are often, thanks to those hormones, bigger than we are). This turns the teenager into forbidden fruit, and we all know how tempting forbidden fruit is. You can see it all over the Internet – sites that trumpet their “Barely Legal Babes,” “Jail Bait,” “Lolitas,” “Cradle-Robbing” and the like. I don’t think so many adults would be interested in teenagers at all if they weren’t so temptingly forbidden. The result is that our society now fetishizes adolescence, and this doesn’t strike me as terribly healthy for anyone.
Anyway, there are no easy answers to this question, which does make it interesting. So tune into the debate on KGO, moderated by Greg Jarrett, and let me know what you think. Remember, if you post a comment here and give me your email address, I will give you a free BACKSTAGE pass. But only if you’re over 18! I may believe the legal age of consent should be lowered, but I do NOT want to break the law.