2014-03-18

Teenage boys and "statutory rape"

The following issue miffs me incredibly: people's righteous insistence that an adult female having consensual sex with an underage boy is problematic to the same degree, and for the same reasons, as an adult male having sex with an underage girl.

In most countries, the law doesn't distinguish between the two cases, probably to avoid criticism of gender bias. But the risks from sex for men and women are radically different. In the worst case for an underage boy, he might possibly get herpes - something most people will get in their lifetimes, and something that has no symptoms for 2/3 of carriers. Anything else that isn't curable is highly unlikely. He might father a child, but there is no risk to him whether the woman decides to carry it, or have an abortion. The boy should not be held responsible for the life he helped create, because he is underage; the woman should not be able to make him see the child if he doesn't want to, or extract alimony.

But there's no reason at all for our society to imprison an adult woman who had consensual sex with a boy. If he wanted it in the moment; if she did not drug him, or coerce him - then there was no risk to him at all, beyond the risks that also come from kissing. He would be legally able to consent to kissing; there's no reason to deny him the ability to consent to intercourse.

Full disclosure: my first time having sex was when I was 15, with a fragile 19 year old girl, who for personal reasons needed to have this experience with someone from whom she didn't feel threatened. It was pretty much great for both of us. It was legal where it happened, but I still had to protect her identity from the rabid rage of my mother, who has never had a sense for what's appropriate, or where boundaries are. She believed I was being "exploited", and wanted to confront this girl and her parents and create an enormous amount of drama that would be completely destructive and harmful to everyone.

There are no real risks in consensual sex for a 15 year old boy, or even a 14 year old boy, if he wants it. Men and women differ in that women have a uterus. When it comes to statutory rape, there should be a double standard; there must be a double standard, because the risks for boys and girls are very different.

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