Ages of consent

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by DC_DEEP, Sep 25, 2006.

  1. DC_DEEP

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Messages:
    9,029
    Likes Received:
    12
    For my United States compatriots: I was just thinking about various ages of consent in this country, and wondered if anyone else has any comments.

    For most purposes, the age of consent/adulthood in the US is 18. Oddly, though, there are some areas where exceptions to this rule are made, and those usually vary by state. It seems odd to me that in NY and NH, with parental and court permission, age of consent to marry is 14 for males, 13 for females. In most states, driving privilege begins at 16. So the scenario is, you can marry at 13, drive at 16, vote (or enlist in the military) at 18, buy alcohol at 21, and rent a car at 25. You can qualify to marry 3 years before you can get a learner's permit to drive? You can vote for president or be deployed to Iraq and put your life on the line 3 years before you can buy yourself a beer?

    I understand that there are variations in the level of maturity and decision-making ability between the ages of 12 and 21, but does it really take more maturity to be able to buy liquor than it does to enter into a (hopefully) lifetime partnership?

    And in Utah, the general marriageable age is 18 (for a first marriage); 14 with parental consent, or lower if previously married. What the fuck? Entering into your second marriage at age 13 or 14? And this one is NOT considering polygamy, this is if your first marriage is no longer in effect.

    No wonder life can be so confusing at times, for our adolescents. Everything a 14-year-old wants to do, he is either told "You're too young for that" or "You're too old for that." Exactly what is a 14-year-old "just the right age" for?
     
  2. rob_just_rob

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Messages:
    6,037
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Nowhere near you
    IMO, the rule of thumb when it comes to age of consent laws is that the state likes to set the number lower when it comes to activities that keep the individual under control, and higher otherwise.

    So (in the USA) you can be drafted at 18, but can't drink until 21. You can marry at 14 (but only with consent... and I suppose any 14 y/o who gets married is presumed to 'settle down') but you can't have a credit card until age 18.

    I haven't reconciled the drive-at-16 laws with this hypothesis yet... but I have heard that if it wasn't for the rural vote, the driving age would have been upped to 18 by now.
     
  3. Lordpendragon

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2004
    Messages:
    3,880
    Likes Received:
    1
    Great topic DC and in a while you will have outed me for an irrational pov.

    In the UK - Sex (inc. marriage) and cigarrettes at 16, everything else at 18. You can drink in restaurants with an adult at 14. You may have to be 21 to rent a car, but you can start driving at 17 with a license.

    I was in the States when I was 17 and was amazed that I could not buy cigarettes but I could buy a semi-automatic rifle.

    We recently made the age of consent the same (16) for gay and st8 sex (gay used to be 18).

    I have to admit, against all my rational instinct, that I find 16 a bit young for boys. I remember what I was like at 16 and despite what I thought at the time, I was not psychologically mature. I am uncomfortable with big age gaps with 16 year old girls as well, so I am not being discriminatory. I am uncomfortable if either 16 year old sex is going with someone say over 28. I don't have a problem if they are with someone, same sex or whatever, of the same age. Am I wrong or do you think it's no problem for 16 year old guys to be with 40 year olds? Of course it will vary with individuals but the "law" has to set a line.

    Twenty one for drinking seems ridiculous to the Europeans. Do you really not let your soldiers have a beer?
     
  4. B_Stronzo

    B_Stronzo New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Messages:
    4,730
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Plimoth Plantation
    DC?

    This is an immensely involved topic for me. I'm glad you've raised it since I think there are SO MANY factors ) in a literal and a humanistic way.

    I really want to respond to it since it's so beautifully constructed (your OP). I'll come back to it. This is a very significant issue to me.
     
  5. DC_DEEP

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Messages:
    9,029
    Likes Received:
    12
    Thanks for all the responses so far. No, LPD, I don't think you are "out there." I understand your puzzlement.

    Stronzo, I'm glad I struck a chord with you. Please post publicly, but also in PM if you feel moved to do so.

    To all: no additional comments on especially the Utah law? That one just blew me away. If you think about it, lawmakers don't generally act on an isolated case or two, nor (at least on this topic) on conceptual basis. It must have come up often enough for them to legislate the "first marriage, subsequent marriage" thing. To have laws on the books addressing 14-year-old divorcees or widows, I'm just speechless.
     
  6. dolf250

    dolf250 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2005
    Messages:
    784
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    The Great White North
    I would like to know when the law in Utah hit the books. I could see the late 1800's or early 1900's. Polygamy would have been accepted back then, and if modern polygamists are any indication, they would have liked their wives young. It would not have been unheard of for a 35 or 40 year old man to have a very young wife. If he should die in a farming accident or in a mill (really no OHSA back then) it would be conceivable to be a widow by the age of 13. I cannot see it being a divorce law as I do not think that Mormons smile on divorce.
    I will try to find time later to respond to the rest in a little more detail; but no promises.:wink:
     
  7. joyboytoy79

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,557
    Albums:
    4
    Likes Received:
    9
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    DC-ish
    I have some first-hand experience with this, because at the age of 17 i was involved with a 27 year old. He assumed i was 18 and i kept my mouth shut. My mom knew about him, and his age, and she trusted me to make a sound decision. A year later I was 18 and dating a 17 year old who only differed in age from me by 5 months.

    It's also interesting that in Wisconsin (where i lived) the general age of consent is 18. But if both parties involved are under 18, the age of consent is 14. This makes it possible for high school sweethearts to have consentual sex, but if there is any age difference, there comes a point where any sexual relations become illigal. I have heard of (but don't know the valitidy of the stories) cases where a young couple has been together for 2 or more years, with sexual relations known to parents. But Suzies mom doesn't like that she's dating Johny. So, when Johny turns 18, but Suzie is still 17, mom presses charges for Statutory Rape. Johny gets convicted, and is now a listed sex offender.

    I, personally, think there has to be a better solution. Some sort of over-lap. Perhaps a law that states between the ages of 14 and 18 you may consent to sex with anyone within 2 years of your own age, and at age 18 you may consent to sex with anyone. This would allow 16 year olds to consent with 18 year olds, and would allow 17 year olds to consent with 19 year olds, but prevents the big age gaps that LP worries about in the UK.

    As for the Utah thing: I. Am. Confused. Am i reading correctly that a 14 year old can be married with parental consent, but if there is a prior marriage one could theoretically be married below the age of 14? How. Is. That. Possible??? In any case, i think it's rediculous that kids (because that's what they are) can get married, but can't vote, can't drive, and aren't even allowed to drink champaigne on their wedding night! I don't understand the reasoning that would allow for children to consent to marriage (presumably with someone much older, even) but not to consent to sex. And in NY and NH there's a different marriage age for boys and girls??? It's only a year, but still, that smacks of sexism.
     
  8. novice_btm

    Staff Member Moderator Gold Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    18,199
    Albums:
    4
    Likes Received:
    861
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Los Angeles (CA, US)
    Also, while the accepted age of consent is 18, it actually varies from state to state, in the US (and I believe in Australia too). I'm too lazy to look, but google it, and there's a chart that breaks it all down, by country, and then in come cases by "state". It is interesting because it shows things like consent being anywhere between 14 and 21. Then, there are things like "16, for all relations except penetration", "14 heterosexual, and 16 homosexual", "17 heterosexual, homosexual prohibited", etc.


    Fine, a quick search gave me this one as a starter:
    http://www.avert.org/aofconsent.htm
     
  9. relytor

    relytor New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2006
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Yes, the ages of consent for different U.S. laws have baffled me also. For a good history of the drinking age, see http://www.youthrights.org/legana.shtml. As far as drinking goes, from my limited experience it seems that in general, Europeans tend to drink alcoholic beverages as a beverage, while in the U.S. alcoholic beverages tend to be used as an intoxicant. Obviously these are both very general statements, but seem to hold up to my experience. Teenagers in Europe don't seem to "get smashed" as often as U.S. teens, because, they usually legally can, and have been drinking alcohol with meals and such with their families forever. For U.S. teens, it's something more exciting, illegal, done at parties with other friends for fun and excitement, and is abused to excess.

    As far as sex laws, several U.S. states actually have laws that state people younger than 18 can have sex with others that are less than 60 months older than them. (Someone on their 16th birthday can have sex with someone who turns 21 tomorrow, but nobody any older, for example) I personally like this type of limiting sex law for those under 18, especially if between two males, who, it seems, often desire sex at an earlier age than females.

    As far as Utah Marriage laws, Mormon's are very anti sex outside of marriage, and believe that sexual urges can be controlled before they are first used, but much more difficult to do so once they have been "used". Reading Utah marriage laws written before the last decade, keeping this sort of idea in mind, they make much more "sense".
     
  10. DC_DEEP

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Messages:
    9,029
    Likes Received:
    12
    Kotchanski, thanks for your input (by the way, I welcomed your husband in his "new member intro" thread!). I'm not offended by your comments, these age things are perplexing to me, too. Some of it is just plain backward. I cannot even begin to formulate a better solution, but one has to exist. And not just for sex/marriage consent. Even though the idea of a heinous crime requiring harsh penalties, the phrase "juvenile being tried as an adult" just bothers the hell out of me. Either you consider him an adult, or you don't.

    Dolf, I didn't do any thorough research into individual state laws, I just did a search using the terms "age of consent" and "state laws", read a few of the sites, and pulled a few of the consistent results; I know neither the specifics nor the history of the Utah statutes.

    Among the responses I've received so far, though, it appears that I'm not the only one who finds it a bit odd that you can legally die for your country at age 18, but can't legally decide whether or not you can drink a beer until age 21... or that with parental and court consent, you can marry at age 13, but not celebrate with a glass of champagne until 8 years later. For that matter, housing and utilities would not legally be available to married 14 year olds. Mom and pop would have to sign for everything, wouldn't they?
     
  11. Lordpendragon

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2004
    Messages:
    3,880
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thanks Novice.

    I can't believe that it is legal for middle aged men/women to go around the world having sex legally with 14 year old children.

    On a more light hearted note - how about lesbians being legal and gays not - how do you square that one?

    Then you can be a lesbian at 14 but not str8 till you are 18.

    And yes you can be str8 and not gay at all or a few years after (which is why I have trouble with my own views). I also like that 60 month rule for people under a certain age.

    Whatever people's views, I think we should be protecting the potentially vulnerable.
     
  12. D_Humper E Bogart

    D_Humper E Bogart New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Messages:
    2,226
    Likes Received:
    2
    Oh well, as long as we can kill people before we're allowed to fuck, everyone wins :p
     
  13. DC_DEEP

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Messages:
    9,029
    Likes Received:
    12
    Oh, I'm sure those antiquated laws hail back to a time when lesbian sex was 1)expected; 2)not taken seriously; and 3)not really sex, because they don't have a penis and can't penetrate one another. Right.
     
  14. Lordpendragon

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2004
    Messages:
    3,880
    Likes Received:
    1
    I believe that you are right. I understand that when we were banning homosexuality in the Nineteenth Century, Lesbianism was not covered because Queen Victoria refused to believe that it could exist.
     
  15. fortiesfun

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2006
    Messages:
    4,692
    Likes Received:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    USA
    It appears to be a myth that she personally struck it from legislation* but I've always been fond of the version where her ministers omitted it themselves because they could not bring themselves to explain it to her. That seems especially Victorian.

    *(The Labouchere Amendment to the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 which criminalised 'gross indecency' between (consenting) (adult) males in public or in private, for those who care about such things.)
     
  16. Lex

    Lex
    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,536
    Likes Received:
    16
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    In Your Darkest Thoughts and Dreams
    Marital laws in many states still hold that adultery is explicity defined as involving penetration. Therefore, oral sex is not considered adultery (I know this to be true in MD and DC, which is why Clinton used the word "Sex" in that now infamous confession).


    Also--nothing about Utah surprises me.
     
  17. roosevelt

    roosevelt New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Messages:
    422
    Likes Received:
    2
    Gender:
    Male
    You haven't legally been able to buy a rifle in the US under the age of 18 in a long time.
     
  18. fortiesfun

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2006
    Messages:
    4,692
    Likes Received:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    USA
    DC: I was not raised in Utah, but a neighboring state, where the legal driving age when I was growing up was 14 in order to facilitate farm work. I actually got my learner's permit when I was still 13. Having raised a son myself, I tremble now to think of it.

    I can't find immediately locate any record of the debate on or history of the Utah marriage law, but myself I don't think the Utah law was related either to Utah's polygamous history or to state specific track record of child widows, but a particularly virulent view of women as chattel. What is being protected by the "parental consent" is the value to the patriarch of a daughter's virginity. Once she has been married, at whatever age, that value is gone and so there is no longer any reason to protect it. Utah was not the only place where such thinking was commonplace, but they seem to have been unusually willing to be blunt about it.
     
  19. B_Stronzo

    B_Stronzo New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Messages:
    4,730
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Plimoth Plantation
    DC-

    I promised I'd get back to this thread and I've attempted to many times to answer all the things you've enumerated.

    But the sum and substance of how I feel about the age of consent has so many variables that it defies civilized thought and social mandate.

    Honestly? By example most parents I know should have been sterilized prior to mating... but that's only a sidebar of what's really ailing this society. I have friends whose children (by way of societal and parental instruction) are so self-centered and self-involved it makes me literally sick to my stomach but let's protect them all from pornography and other civilizations so we can send them off to get slaughtered in Iraq..:rolleyes:

    Woops. Forgot myself. See? I knew I couldn't keep still about it.

    But then most of my own views defy common beliefs. And since we're a culture so saturated with absolute notions of right and wrong just now I hesitate to write down my precise thoughts for fear of getting embroiled in another "detail war". I'm tired of combating and defending my personal views and my political ones.

    It inevitably disintegrates into a battle of those who think themselves moral and my notion of real morality. And "never the twain shall meet". Add popular (current) opinion to that and I'm certain I'd offend more than a few sensibilities on this board.

    Let's just say by pure illustration of the inconsistencies you mention the whole thing is truly fucked up.

    (Again- this is a superb topic and needs the dissection of those whose views are less libertine than my own)
     
  20. Spoogesicle

    Spoogesicle New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Under a bridge...The Bridge of Sighs (or Size?)
    We must keep in mind that Sexual Age of Consent is a legal term. Laws are made to include everyone without regard to individual maturity. The physical and emotional maturity of a particular person is not a concern of the judicial system if someone wishes to bring forth charges of carnal knowledge of a minor (or whatever term is used depending on the state in question). Mental capacity is usually a factor.

    Many people think that the sexual age of consent is eighteen years of age throughout the US; they are wrong. In fact, only seven US states have an unqualified 18 as the age given. They are Arizona, California, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. Others have the two-year stretch rule that allows someone, for example, of the age of sixteen to have sex with someone older as long as that partner is under the age of nineteen. Most states give the age of sixteen as the sexual age of consent.

    A friend of mine had to become familiar with the laws concerning the age of consent. He is in his early forties, but has a sweet tooth for those much younger. He received an angry call from the parent of a seventeen year-old sexual partner of his threatening him with a lawsuit. My friend's attorney returned the call explaining that in our state, a seventeen year-old in considered a consenting adult as far as sexual activity goes; the kid's father's suit would be thrown out. However, my friend was sued for contributing to the deliquency of a minor; he had given the boy liquor before they bumped fuzzies that night. Maybe I need to find a better class of friends.
     
Draft saved Draft deleted