The Age of Consent

A friend posted something online a few days ago about the age of consent for sex. He thought it was arbitrary that in his state, a girl has to be 18 in order for an adult to legally have sex with her. He wonders why the lower limit is 18. Why not 17 or 16 or 15? He argues that some girls mature at a much earlier age than others.

Apparently some men never do.

No, my friend is not an 18-year-old with a 17-year-old girlfriend. He’s 60. I don’t care how mature a 16-year-old may be; if she is in a relationship with a 60-year-old, he is always in the position of power, and she is at risk. I only hope his question is purely academic — I’m sure his wife would hope so too — but I was afraid to ask.

I understand that imposing a legal age limit for anything is by definition arbitrary. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have one. It doesn’t matter that some teenagers are more mature than others. A law cannot say, “the legal age of consent is 18 — unless the girl is mature for her age, in which case anything goes.” What about a 15-year-old? What about a 13-year-old? What about a 10-year-old? Who decides who is mature? Humbert Humbert?

By the same token, why not let 14-year-olds drive? Why not let 6-year-olds vote?

Why is there any question about this? Adults should not have sex with children. Period. You can quote me on that.

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