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    Why is sex between two underaged people so condemned in our society
    • theunabletable wrote:

      There seems to be a clear intuitive problem with the conclusion that 13 year olds can't consent to sex with each other when the premise is that it's wrong for a 13 year old to have sex with a 22 year old.

      Do you agree that it seems troublesome? Maybe stating it in dialogue form will better illustrate:
      "Why can't 13 year olds consent to sex with other 13 year olds?"
      "Because a 13 year old can't consent to sex with a 22 year old."

      It just seems unrelated, a bit of a non sequitur. Consent between persons aged 13 and 22 feels questionable because there's a large age gap. In cases where there's not a large age gap, that argument is suddenly dubious.

      There are reasons for why a 13 year old can't consent to sex with a 22 year old. Use those to derive the supposed wrongness of two 13 year olds having sex, otherwise, it's simply a misplaced analogy.

      No, the issue is the same in both cases: A 13-year-old can't consent, full stop. The age of the other party doesn't somehow make the 13-year-old more or less mature.

      May those who accept their fate be granted happiness;

      Those who defy it, glory!
    • Fluttershy wrote:

      I guess that with a 22 year old, one of them knows better and one of them is getting taken advantage of
      Bingo, in my opinion, anyways. Both parties are not in an emotionally equivalent situation wherein they can be expected to make respectable decisions.

      Sadib wrote:

      I was trying to say that if two children can consent to have sex, then logically a child can consent to have sex with an adult.
      No, there is a clear, necessary power differential inherent in an age gap like 13 to 22, that doesn't have to exist between two 13-year-olds. The logic doesn't follow like that when the cases are relevantly different. Perhaps a famous teenage actor attempting to have sex with another young teenager would make a better analogy.


      EDIT: Actually, I wanted to clarify something that I don't think I covered well. I see two major arguments here. One is an argument by analogy that goes something like: "A 13-year-old cannot consent to sex with a 22-year-old. By extension, it is similarly impossible for a 13 year old to consent to sex with another 13-year-old." The other argument is applying generalized rule to a special case, "13-year-olds cannot consent to sex under any circumstance. Therefore, 13-year-olds cannot consent to sex with another 13 year old. "

      I responded to the former under the assumption that the latter is false or not useful in some way. The reason being that the latter argument makes the former redundant. The first argument appears to be a flawed analogy, but it wouldn't matter if it were a flawed analogy if 13-year-olds are unable to consent by definition. We wouldn't need the emotional appeal of the first argument if the second were true.

      They're two separate ideas, and I've attempted to respond to them as such. It'd be easy to intermingle them with each other, and I want to make the dichotomy clear.

      John wrote:

      No, the issue is the same in both cases: A 13-year-old can't consent, full stop. The age of the other party doesn't somehow make the 13-year-old more or less mature.
      What is it about 13-year-oldness that makes you incapable of consent with regard to sex?

      What traits make this up, and when does it become clear that someone does have the capacity to consent (to sex)?

      And what is it about sex that is intrinsically different from other actions that we can expect 13-year-olds to be potentially capable of consenting to?


      Those are the three questions that come to mind when someone says that 13-year-olds can never, under any circumstance, consent to sex. (I would be inclined to phrase it "a sexual encounter", but I don't know the parameters of your belief, and I don't want to misrepresent. Clarifying that would be nice, as well.)

      The post was edited 1 time, last by theunabletable ().

    • theunabletable wrote:

      Actually, I wanted to clarify something that I don't think I covered well. I see two major arguments here. One is an argument by analogy that goes something like: "A 13-year-old cannot consent to sex with a 22-year-old. By extension, it is similarly impossible for a 13 year old to consent to sex with another 13-year-old." The other argument is applying generalized rule to a special case, "13-year-olds cannot consent to sex under any circumstance. Therefore, 13-year-olds cannot consent to sex with another 13 year old. "


      The first argument is a misunderstanding of my counterargument to the second argument. If you think children can consent to have sex with each other, why not also with adults? It's not due to the age difference. If that was so, there would be laws prevent 18 year olds from having sex with 81 years olds. The simple truth is that children can't consent to have sex. This is because:

      Viajero de la Galaxia wrote:

      It's an agreement plus an understanding of what they're about to do, along with the associated consequences. For example, someone who's really drunk can't consent to sex, even if they say "yes" because they're not in the right frame of mind to understand what they're doing. A very similar thing basically applies to children, but they're never in the right frame of mind.


      Why do you think children aren't allowed to vote or buy property?
      This Golden Realm is much darker than I thought it would be.
    • @Regginator: Probably not necessarily, but it seems to reasonably muddy up the situation. It's conceivable that someone may be able to consent to giving a sexual partner more power in their lives. But most of the troublesome cases, the 22-on-13-year-old case included, involve a difference in maturity that it seems unlikely that both parties would be considering each other as... "ends in and of themselves".

      It's a vague answer, for a vague, undeveloped idea. I would guess that there's a more fundamental piece of consent, namely some stipulation that consent involves "being in their right mind" during the agree, where the phrase "being in their right mind" would indicate having accurate sensory data, and the ability to "use it well". I seem unable (with very little preparation, mind you) to accomplish a solution without replacing one phrase with another.

      Still, I don't think that those arguments against underage sex are convincing. It appears to me dubious to declare 13-year-olds unable to consent on the basis of a rule that I'm not sure is defined, nor universal. There are enough conceivable exceptions to rules that go, "You cannot consent under such-and-such age" that it seems to be, at best, an inefficient rule. Our meaning of consent should be able to say that two 16 year old university students in a long-term, committed, monogamous relationship are capable of having sex, with protection, without raping one another, while also admonishing the 22-year-old for hitting up that 13-year-old.


      EDIT: Sadib, your post came up for me after I started writing my response to Double A. I'll edit in my response to you as I write it.


      Sadib wrote:

      The first argument is a misunderstanding of my counterargument to the second argument. If you think children can consent to have sex with each other, why not also with adults? It's not due to the age difference. If that was so, there would be laws prevent 18 year olds from having sex with 81 years olds. The simple truth is that children can't consent to have sex.
      I want to address the appeal to the existence of laws first. Specifically: "If that was so, there would be laws prevent 18 year olds from having sex with 81 years olds."

      The description of our law, or lack of it, has no bearing on our moral system. You could step around this by believing that it does have a bearing on our moral system, or that consent is an entirely legal concept and not a moral one, but I don't think you believe either, so I'll leave them be.

      So, it doesn't matter whether or not there would be laws. What laws get made is due to a completely different process, not one derived by consent. It's irrelevant.

      Further, it's not inherently the age gap, it's, usually, the power gap between them. If this example helps show my position, it's not clear to me that a 21 year old girl could reasonably consent to a sexual relationship with her 45 year old pastor. Her being over or under the age of consent has no effect on the griminess of that hypothetical in my mind. (Maybe it's because age has no inherent bearing on capacity.)


      On "If you think children can consent to have sex with each other, why not also with adults?"
      It's conceivable to me that a child (we ought to define child if we want to use this language more, though) could consent to have sex with an adult, in the same way that they could with another child.

      It's odd to me to think of ability to consent as this sort of binary, lightbulb situation. "Happy birthday son. Go out and get some, now that you're able to agree to it!" It may be possible to find an age where we would never find a person of that age who is capable of consent, but it wouldn't have anything to do with their age in the Gregorian calender. I can't consider an age that, by definition, includes ability to consent, and any lower bound age would be probabilistic and empirical, not universal and definitional.

      Sadib wrote:

      Why do you think children aren't allowed to vote or buy property?
      Maybe children should be allowed to vote and buy property. It's a different argument, though.

      The post was edited 2 times, last by theunabletable ().

    • Further, it's not inherently the age gap, it's, usually, the power gap between them. If this example helps show my position, it's not clear to me that a 21 year old girl could reasonably consent to a sexual relationship with her 45 year old pastor. Her being over or under the age of consent has no effect on the griminess of that hypothetical in my mind. (Maybe it's because age has no inherent bearing on capacity.)


      I might be trippin', but it sounds like you have some vague level of support for making sexual relations illegal based on large age gaps.
    • I'm definitely not trying to support the legality or illegality of anything. In fact, an arbitrary, legal age of consent of some sort may be a good way to deal with a lot of the situations, but that's apart from my attempts at an ethical evaluation.

      I guess it didn't illustrate my position haha. The 21-year-old with her much older pastor seems iffy because of a combination of the age difference and the position that the pastor might have. But I could imagine a situation with both of those properties, and other properties that make it seem okay, such as the 21-year-old appearing well rounded, and otherwise capable in her life. Do you understand the general direction I'm aiming at?

      The post was edited 1 time, last by theunabletable ().

    • I've interpreted that post as an argument as a Reductio ad Absurdum argument in favor of a legal and ethical age of consent.

      Given that, unless I've misunderstood you throughout the thread, you've been making a moral argument against children consenting to sex. That's how I've read the thread (regarding societal condemnation) and your responses.

      In that case, the legal age of consent isn't relevant unless our morality is derive from our laws (which is a position that reaches far beyond this comparatively smaller subject) , and I've already granted that an arbitrary legal age of consent may be best. But that's distinctly different from the capacity to consent in an ethical sense. More specifically, a sense where there exists justified social condemnation for underage sex, and not merely government-based action.

      Our laws are irrelevant on the topic I'm addressing, and, although I may be mistaken, I believe that I'm addressing the same topic as you intend.
    • theunabletable wrote:

      I guess it didn't illustrate my position haha. The 21-year-old with her much older pastor seems iffy because of a combination of the age difference and the position that the pastor might have. But I could imagine a situation with both of those properties, and other properties that make it seem okay, such as the 21-year-old appearing well rounded, and otherwise capable in her life. Do you understand the general direction I'm aiming at?


      What I'm not sure about, is what separates a 21/40 pairing from a 13/22 pairing. You seem to give each a similar amount of "rightness", yet you support making only one of them illegal (if I'm not mistaken).
    • I usually look at the justification for one of those pairings being legal, while the other isn't, as if an understanding of sex and its consequences increases logarithmically as a function of time (i.e. understanding increases in such a way that it levels off dramatically after puberty). This means that the older a person gets, the rate at which they get a better understanding drops off significantly, and if you define the power differential as the difference between two people's understanding of sex, then there's clearly a larger difference between a 13- and 22-year-old, v.s. a 21- and 40-year-old on such a graph, so there's a good justification for one being legal and one not.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Viajero de la Galaxia ().

    • The Regginator wrote:

      What I'm not sure about, is what separates a 21/40 pairing from a 13/22 pairing. You seem to give each a similar amount of "rightness", yet you support making only one of them illegal (if I'm not mistaken).
      I'm definitely not making any arguments on the implementation of these evaluations into law. I'm referring only to the moral type of societal condemnation that the thread is based on. So whether one should be legal or not, I don't really know, there are a lot of factors, and you would probably need reasonable data to find what type of consent maximizes utility.

      What separates them is just a general guess at the probability of how they would view each other. I have trouble considering what traits a person who's independent and 22 would have that would make them desire an equal emotional/sexual relationship*, where they could treat the 13 year old with respect, as "an end in herself", and I wouldn't be sure if the 13 year old would have the maturity, or the tools, to deal with the situation and not be taken advantage of. Given this sort of generic case, the probability of finding a sexual interaction between a 22 and 13 year old that didn't give me the heeby-jeebies seems very low. It's perhaps not inconceivable, but it would have to be set up for me, and in real life, you'd have to really demonstrate that it fits.

      In contrast, it isn't that hard to think of 21 year olds who could have that sort of relationship, nor is it hard to think of a 40 year old who may, potentially, be able. It's easy to think of cases where one side or the other isn't "able", but that's why, morally, we would evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis. The complicated combination of properties of the situation dictate the legitimacy of the consent, as far as I can tell. The age gap is more a red flag that says "hey maybe we should take a look here," but it doesn't, on its own, answer any questions of consent (it may be possible to establish an empirical lower bound on consent, but that would have to be demonstrated clearly.)

      I genuinely have no idea if the law is capable of differentiating spots like this efficiently.



      *There are a lot of variations that occur to me that aren't necessarily relationships. It seems to me that, rather than looking at all of them and making a huge wall of text, it's fine to charitably view only the romantic relationship between the individuals, and not instances of prostitution, casual sex, or what have you.
    • Sadib wrote:

      If the current age of consent is arbitrary, maybe we should just get rid of it altogether and replace it with the age limit being puberty.


      Puberty varies, so it would be too much of a hassle for the government to actually take care of each case on an individual basis. However, a lot of countries have adapted a more flexible and reasonable age of consent than 18. I don't think any European country has an AoC of over 16, and other countries, i.e. Japan are even lower. The reasoning for a lower age of consent is mostly not sexuality per se, but alleviating the legal system of twaddle. Let's be honest, nobody cares if a 19 year old guy is dating a 16 year old girl, even in USA states where it's illegal.
    • YoMaNaTiOn wrote:

      Puberty varies, so it would be too much of a hassle for the government to actually take care of each case on an individual basis. However, a lot of countries have adapted a more flexible and reasonable age of consent than 18. I don't think any European country has an AoC of over 16, and other countries, i.e. Japan are even lower. The reasoning for a lower age of consent is mostly not sexuality per se, but alleviating the legal system of twaddle. Let's be honest, nobody cares if a 19 year old guy is dating a 16 year old girl, even in USA states where it's illegal.


      Four do, actually (Cyprus, Ireland, Malta & Turkey). Additionally, Japan's AoC is in practicality like the US, where it ranges from 16 to 18 depending on the prefecture (usually 18; although yes, its national age of consent is only 13. There are loopholes.)

      I'm not going to say any given country has the "right" age of consent (although I am a proponent of close-in-age laws, so countries with that are doing something right, I would consider), but I say it's very important that they do have the age of consent as an age by year rather than by physical maturity. As you (Yoma) have said, measuring it by puberty would be quite a hassle for the government; estimating puberty by age is far more useful, and adding a few years from the average to account for physical and mental maturity is beneficial for avoiding the physical and/or mental harm which would result from lower AoCs.
    • Ah, the burning question that's been familiar to me for a while now. I don't have a lot to argue with, without going too depth, but I'll give some of my thoughts on the matter.

      Since I've been a thirteen year old before, I know what its like to have a lot of emotional changes. It hit puberty in between 4th and 5th grade, and it's been with me all the way to High School. As I started to grow, I started thinking with all the hormones driving through me. I tell ya, I always wanted to believe I was ready for sex. My body may have matured faster, but that doesn't mean everybody else was at my level. It may be a scary thought, but I believe that's why the thought of sexual intercourse isn't assessed as an acceptable think for younger children. We all grow at different paces, that's for sure. Our bodies and life around us is constantly changing. If we were to put younger growing teens into a situation of having sex, that could be dangerous.

      Sex isn't something to take lightly. It's meant to be an act between two individuals that love each over. I can't stress the love enough, it's the main drive. While children and teens can love, it's important to realize that they're still maturing. When I hear teenagers having sex, it honestly doesn't surprise me. I wish it didn't. Because it's not an appealing thing to hear about. A lot girls in my High School ended up getting pregnant. It really saddens me, because most of these girls don't want this to happen to them so suddenly. But they still did it, and now they have to decide what to do next. Some of my Senior peers have girlfriends in this situation before, and they've stuck by them. That is what I admire; not running away when things get real.

      I'll be honest, as a teenager, I want to believe that I'm always right. I wanted to persuade those around me that everything was fine and I was ready for adulthood. I wasn't. I was still growing like everybody else. There's a lot more to focus in life than to have sex; at least that's what I think.

      Traditionally, sex is told to come after marriage, and I support that. However, that is not always the case. A lot of time, sex is why people get married; because of a pregnancy. And I admire those who do follow through with their actions and raise a child. It's not an easy transition at all. I would know, because my sister got pregnant before she got married. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying everybody needs to wait for sex after marriage. I can't force that, and I don't believe its fair to do. Everyone is responsible for their actions, and I would hope they live up to them.
    • John wrote:

      No, the issue is the same in both cases: A 13-year-old can't consent, full stop. The age of the other party doesn't somehow make the 13-year-old more or less mature.


      So what, do we prosecute two underage offenders for raping each other, do we just prosecute the oldest participant in the coupling, or do we just prosecute the boy?
    • Red Dingo wrote:

      So what, do we prosecute two underage offenders for raping each other, do we just prosecute the oldest participant in the coupling, or do we just prosecute the boy?

      None of the above. As I said previously in the thread, since consent is about having the knowledge and maturity to comprehend what you are consenting to you can't punish either side of an underage coupling because neither participant is considered capable of fully understanding their actions.
    • John wrote:

      None of the above. As I said previously in the thread, since consent is about having the knowledge and maturity to comprehend what you are consenting to you can't punish either side of an underage coupling because neither participant is considered capable of fully understanding their actions.


      They both committed a crime that cannot be tolerated, right? Children are punished for committing murder and theft despite not being capable of fully understanding their actions.
    • Red Dingo wrote:

      They both committed a crime that cannot be tolerated, right? Children are punished for committing murder and theft despite not being capable of fully understanding their actions.

      Man shoots rhino; man goes to jail. Rhino gores man; rhino goes free.

      Children are also tried as children (and I find it a ridiculous denial of justice when they are tried as adults) for crimes. The crimes they are tried for are also ones we feel they can mostly understand are wrong: Theft, violence, etc. But the wrongness of underage sex is fairly morally unintuitive and the consequences hard to intuitively grasp, so we cut people who are young enough slack. Plus, they're fighting against some pretty strong hard-coded urges at a time when their resistance to such things is low.