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Alabama’s Roy Moore sex abuse revelations with a 14 year old girl, and his propensity to have favored teenage girls back in the day, have brought to light discussions of age of consent. Along with the illegality of Moore’s act toward that 14 year old there’s been the echo of morality… which has no legal application but just adds to the emotion of discussions of underage kids having sex. Over the decades I have been involved in similar discussions both on and off the internet and when the opportunity arises I try to bring into focus the origins of age of consent laws in this country.. as they relate to the human condition and human sexuality. I usually ask the question.. “Why do we have age of consent laws?”
Well, at first blush the answer is usually because “children should not be having sex as they are too young and lack the maturity level to make such potentially life-changing decisions”.. yet we define a child differently as each state has established their own age of consent. One might ask, “Do we then assume that a 16 year old in Alabama (roughly a sophomore in high school) has the same maturity level to make a consensual decision to have sex as the 18 year old (roughly a high school senior… or even a recent grad, old enough to serve in the military) in California?”
In trying to bring people “down” from their morality perches a bit I point out some facts about human sexual maturity. Given man exists to reproduce (like any other living thing) nature defines its own “age of consent” biologically at around 12 years of age.. the start of puberty. Since we generally acknowledge that age of consent laws are established to protect girls… and also boys (vs. all children), nature assigns the point as the start of a female’s menstrual cycle. Now.. ask yourself the question.. why has nature made human sexual maturity begin at 12 years of age? Reproductive evolution, of course. The mechanism by which we survive as a species.
While we love to think in terms that modern man.. civilized man… has only existed in the 20th and 21st centuries and anything prior in our history were the ignorant and ill-informed, and that we have this seemingly advanced concept of not only making social laws but also living by some moral precepts… nature does not give a damn about any of that. Nature gives us humans instincts that can translate into desires to reproduce in order to help us along… but balances those instincts with other instincts as they relate to gender roles… the proverbial hunter/gatherer best suited for the male physique and the nurturer/child-bearing role for females. All of that playing a part in “natural selection”.. or more commonly referred to as survival of the fittest.
Now you are asking.. what the hell does all this have to do with age of consent? Well, as humans we spend a lot of our time trying to control our instincts for the good of the “tribe”; for social order, and to establish a measure of safety and security for everyone. If you want to bring religion into the picture, well, religion exists to fill that part of us with the idea that just because we have instincts it doesn’t mean it’s always acceptable to act on them (beyond the laws we might make for social order), and if you do then God will be a vengeful god, unless you make a deal and repent. Establishing age of consent laws are an attempt to control humans from getting too carried away with reproduction with younger humans.. or the act thereof that nature made so desirable to help us along in the process. Over the millennia of human existence the mortality rate was generally quite early in age; I believe I recall one anthropological estimate that the “cave man” (whatever epoch that represents) lived to his 30’s or very early 40’s. Having the ability to reproduce at 12 years of age made a huge difference in our survival as a species.
Through the centuries, through all the civilized development times of Greeks, Romans, Middle Ages… there were the occasional application of some age of consent, but by and large there was no such thing as age of consent throughout history as a broad, general application. At some times religion tried to set rules. But it wasn’t until the late 1800’s did America begin to develop an awareness for establishing age of consent. Why?
Now I’m going to make this even more complicated. I am a follower of Abraham Maslow.. specifically his Hierarchy of Needs. I often used the concept as a management tool. Maslow stated that as man begins to satisfy his physiological needs.. food, shelter, safety & security needs, he then begins to enter into self-actualizing and satisfying his social needs. Maslow illustrated this as a pyramid (refer HERE). My point to adding this complexity to my discussion is that society is an extension of man and once his social order has been established to satisfy those various levels of needs, adjustments are sometimes made to contain man’s desires. In other words, our own national development reached a stage of affluence and order to the point where the late 1800’s saw a movement, albeit initially a religious one, to set age of consent parameters. Society was achieving increasing life expectancy, and there were distinct social ramifications with children, still in school and being educated to fit society’s needs well into their teen years, having less understanding of the consequences of getting pregnant, or of getting someone pregnant, in current society.
My whole point with all of this is to introduce some balance that age of consent laws are not simply there to guard young females from fast-talking male adult perverts who can’t control their lust and debauchery, and can’t have sex only with people their own age like common decent, God-fearing folks. I present all this to lend perspective on what age of consent means. As a society we label someone a pedophile because the definition of that literally is “love of children” as it relates to sexual attraction. Legally age of consent laws are supposed to define who in our society is “children”. Yet nature defines a mature adult for purposes of the ability to reproduce at 12 years old; any human in the pre-pubescent age as being a “child”. But we don’t pass laws according to nature’s rules, nor should we. In fact, there will be those readers of this that will dismiss all this as me trying to assign some excuse for deviate sexual behavior rather than trying to understand that laws alone don’t always solve a problem. Just because a state legislature set an arbitrary (yes.. arbitrary) age for permitting young humans to have sex, I am supposed to be shocked and appalled with righteous indignation when someone does so?
So.. does this at all change Roy Moore’s situation? Not one bit. He broke the law.. he pays the piper, even if all there is now is destroying his career. Is he a sick son-of-a-bitch for trying to have sex with a minor? Not in my book. He just failed to use proper judgement not only in breaking the law but having total disregard for what his actions might do to that young girl emotionally. Do I understand the impulse that drove him to break the law? Of course I do… and no, not because of some empathy for him. It’s because I understand human sexual nature. I also understand why age of consent laws exist as a means of social order… and not some moral imposition of someone’s religious doctrine.
Now, given all this… here’s something that will really put your panties in a bunch…. I’ll leave you with this parting shot… children getting married.
The following is part of an article on CNN.com…
Child Marriage Is Happening At An Alarming Rate Across The US
By Fraidy Reiss
Updated 2:21 PM ET, Thu November 16, 2017
Child marriage — which often is legalized child rape — is happening at an alarming rate across the United States today. Clerks and judges openly give marriage licenses to adult men who are marrying young girls, granting the men a “get out of jail free” card that in many cases allows what would otherwise be against the law.
Moore’s alleged sexual encounters more than 30 years ago, as described by his accusers, were surreptitious, the actions of a man who knew he might get punished if he were caught. These adult husbands’ sexual encounters with child wives, on the other hand, are brazen, the actions of men who know they will not get punished because the government has sanctioned their misconduct and is complicit in it.
While most states set 18 as the marriage age, legal loopholes — such as judicial approval — in all 50 states allow marriage before 18. Laws in 25 states do not specify any minimum age for marriage.
Ironically, though Alabama’s child marriage laws are on their face abysmal, as they permit marriage before 18, they are relatively “strong” compared with other states across the nation: At least Alabama specifies that no child under 16 may marry.
In 2015, Unchained At Last — a nonprofit I founded in 2011 to fight forced marriage — collected marriage license data in the United States from 2000 to 2010, the time period for which the highest number of states had marriage age data available.
In just the 38 US states that track marriage ages, according to the available data, more than 167,000 children, some as young as 10, were married between 2000 and 2010. In all 50 states, Unchained At Last estimated that 248,000 children — or those under age 18 — were married in America in that decade. (Twelve states and Washington, DC, could not provide sufficient data on child marriage. For them, Unchained used a statistical model to estimate the number of children wed, based on the strong correlation Unchained identified between population and child marriage.)
Almost all the children married were girls wed to adult men, according to the data. In many cases, because of the age of the child or the spousal age difference, sex between the two would constitute statutory rape under that state’s laws.
This is happening in state after state, not only in Alabama. Since 1995, judges in my home state of New Jersey, for example, have handed marriage licenses to more than 105 men who instead should have been investigated for statutory rape under state law: The men were four or more years older than their child bride, who was between the ages of 13 and 15.
Horrifyingly, statutory rape within marriage is not considered a crime in many states. New Jersey is not one of those states. Thus, while those 105+ marriages are legal, every time those couples have sex, the husband could theoretically be charged with sexual assault.
Child marriage is an outrage not only when it legalizes or ignores statutory rape. Child marriage also is often forced marriage — imposed on minors who have little recourse. Before children become adults, which typically happens at age 18, they cannot easily leave home, enter a domestic violence shelter, retain an attorney or bring a legal action. They are nearly powerless to protect themselves if their parents or others try to force them into marriage.
I see the horrors of forced child marriage regularly through Unchained At Last. It means rape for the child on the wedding night and thereafter. It usually means the child is pulled out of middle school or high school, with all her or his hopes for the future destroyed. It means lifelong trauma.
Further, whether it is forced or not, child marriage devastates girls’ health, education and economic opportunities and significantly increases their risk of being beaten by their spouse. The US State Department considers marriage before 18 a “human rights abuse.”
Solving America’s child marriage problem should be simple. Every state can start by passing commonsense legislation I have helped to write to eliminate the archaic loopholes that permit marriage before 18, or before the age of adulthood, whichever is higher. Strong legislation to this effect is pending in Florida, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
But the same legislation has failed recently in other states. Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the bill that passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support in New Jersey. New Hampshire legislators voted no, and Maryland legislators let the bill die, twice. Legislators in New York, Virginia, Texas and Connecticut passed weaker bills that still allow marriage before 18.
Sure, let’s be outraged about Moore’s alleged actions to prey on five teenage girls.
But let’s not forget the ongoing outrage of child marriage, happening legally right now in courthouses and clerks’ offices across America.
The entire article is HERE.