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This article was written on 30 Mar 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

The age of consent

If you make noises around the relaxation of the age of consent, people, and that includes me, are going to question your motives. Right now, I’m on the cusp of my 43rd birthday. I’d no more want to have sex with someone who was 15 than I would sever my own arm and fry it in garlic. And I think that anyone who supports other people doing so is deeply and abhorrently weird. A person, male or female, who does have sex with someone under 16 should be signing the sex offender’s register and wearing some kind of tag so that we can tell where they are for the rest of their life.

‘But,’ say the libertarians, ‘what about people who are closer to their age? Why can’t they have sex with someone under the age of 16?’ I mean, really? This is like saying that if people under the age of 16 want to be stuffed up chimneys or have their arms ripped off by the machines they’ve been sent in to clean, then we should see that as a splendid exercise in free choice. This all hinges on one thing that REALLY isn’t very popular in Libertarian World, that theme park full of mangled bodies: the state sometimes needs to step in to prevent harm.

People mature at different rates. I can remember, as early as primary school, girls who looked like Amazons and boys who would have blown away in a moderate wind. At secondary school, some of the boys were shaving, and others probably still aren’t. These, incidentally, were just the signs of physical maturity. They make no demonstration of emotional maturity. What this says is that people do mature differently, but the law, that bluntest of blunt instruments, has decided that the best way to protect children, as clumsy and desperate as it sounds, is to fix the age of consent at 16.

By ring fencing people at this age, when most people are taking their GCSEs, you at least plant the seeds of doubt in the kind of vile, vile adult who gets off on having sex with children that they may be caught and exposed. This was the case with Adam Johnson, he of the diseased dick, who is now serving a six year sentence for grooming and sexual touching. What you can’t prevent, sadly, is the adolescent urge to fuck. I know people in my peer group at school who were having sex a lot younger than that age, and I abhor it, but the best you can say is that they were having sex with each other, rather than the kind of older fuckwit that used to hang around them trying to get lucky.

The law gives people permission to say ‘no.’ When you’re being pestered by the class lothario into having sex with him, you can say that it’s illegal and that if he was caught, he’d face fairly severe penalties. And the same holds true of girls pressuring boys into sex. They can all say ‘no’ and have the full force of the law behind them, which is absolutely as it should be. I’m not naive enough to think that this is a reliable failsafe, but it seems like the best you can do under the circumstances.

Why this matters is that the impact of sex when it isn’t wanted, when one of the partners pressures another, can be devastating. You’ve given away part of your physical integrity that you won’t ever get back, given a part of you to someone else who just wanted to use you to get his or her rocks off for a fleeting moment. The people I know tend to say that their ‘first time’ was almost uniformly appalling and something that they slightly regret. It often leaves an unpleasant legacy for their self image and it’s a rare person that doesn’t feel as though they’ve been diminished in some way. How many teenagers do YOU know who enjoyed themselves? Quite.

I clashed yesterday on this subject over on Twitter with Doctor Christian Jessen, him off the telly, and someone called ‘Prisoner Ben.’ There was a conversation taking place about the criminal age of responsibility and the age of consent. Now, my uncle was sexually abused as a child and it’s pretty much ruined his life, so I’m very sensitive to this subject, but why anyone would even ask this question is lost on me. I think the age of criminal responsibility is ten and the age of consent is 16. Jessen was asking what the basis for these figures is.

Neither Jessen nor ‘Prisoner Ben’ were arguing for sex with children or for lowering the age of consent in any way, shape or form, but including it in a conversation about criminal responsibility seems unfortunate, because it’s exactly the kind of thing that will be seized on by other people, people who DO want to have sex with children, who may say that if the age of criminal responsibility is, say, ten, then that should also be the age of consent. What even talking about this does is to put a weapon in the hands of the kind of unalloyed bastard who exploited girls in Rotherham and who can then turn around and say that nothing they did is illegal.

I hate the idea of people lowering the age of consent. I even hate the idea of people airily discussing it as though they were discussing what colour they wanted to paint the walls and that it’s just an amusing opportunity for ‘libertarians’ to posture, preen and flaunt their libertarian credentials to others. Many years ago, I once had a conversation online with someone who thought there shouldn’t be an age of consent. Reader, I felt that I may go berserk. Call me any name you want, from Mary Whitehouse to Hitler, but the legal age of consent is presently fixed at 16 in this country. Let’s keep it there.

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