Let's talk about 'age of consent'

April 18, 2017

After Milo Yiannopolous was uninvited to a conservative conference in Washington for making insensitive comments advocating sex under the age of consent on an online podcast, I felt compelled to try understand his perspective. How could he reason that a person under the age of sixteen could make a decision to partake in any sexual activity and bear the repercussions involved? If you ask me the age should be raised.  

 

  

For readers who have not heard of Milo Yiannopolous, please let me introduce him to you as the embodiment of a provocateur. Milo openly criticises not only the age of consent to sex but also feminism, Islam and social justice. On the podcast he denied advocating paedophilia, however supported cross generational relationships meaning ‘relationships between younger boys and older men can be hugely positive’. He also showed gratitude to his teacher for their relationship when he was fourteen. It seems to me that through his experiences he has normalised the concept of younger boys and older men. Does this mean now there will be a perpetuated cycle of sexually active younger children growing into older adults feeling comfortable pursuing more younger children? I don’t know how you feel about this, but this scares me.  

  

The law establishing the age of consent at sixteen is a way to implement a measurable guide.  Admittedly any age the law governs would have to generalise in order to protect children from exploitation. Now I understand that the law cannot accommodate every individual’s sexual maturity and so has to decide an age that a child can make an informed decision and be accountable. However, I disagree that sixteen is the correct legal age. This is because between the ages of fifteen and seventeen, girls and boys are in the latter stages of puberty. Why have the age of consent within the same bracket as puberty ending? During this period, we are subjected to a number of physical and hormonal changes which we need time to accept. Should we not have this time protected in order to familiarise ourselves with these changes?  

  

Along with sudden body hair growth, male and female organs developing, body odour and acne being bestowed upon growing children; self-awareness mutually surfaces. Teenagers become conscious of the changes they experience and can often feel embarrassed and uncomfortable with their bodies. During a time where their self-esteem can be low and they may be comparing themselves to their peers, I do not believe it is in their best interest to be able to have the resources to contemplate sex.   

  

So what age do I think is appropriate? I’d personally like to extend the consenting age to eighteen as this would allow the gradual transition from child to adult to become more established. There still seems to be confusion when adolescence ends. There are so many key elements to learn during adolescence; physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially.  

Shouldn’t our priority be to safeguard those not ready rather than enable the young people who have matured to such a decision?  

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