Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

If the US leads the free world why isn't the legal age 18yr on most parts of the planet?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26783points) October 20th, 2010

A few days ago I was reading a thread which I can’t find now, where the age of consent was brought up, and someone mentioned that where they were the age of consent was 16yrs. Here in the US society outwardly—seem to have a problem with the age of consent or how females should be considered until they reach it. Outwardly (—I guess because Hollywood is in California) no one is suppose to look at a 16 or 17yr old with any arouses whatsoever even if she physically has the body of a 19yr old (even thought the big secret is the age of consent in about half the US states _is 16yr_), she has to have no sex appeal to any male until one minute past midnight on the morning of her 18th birthday then like a bulb that is switched on she can be seen as sexy. Anyone who would see her as sexy or get aroused before that minute pass midnight is some sleazy perv.

About have of the world, and not the 3rd world has an age of consent that is 16yr, and most of Europe it is 15yr to 14yr. Would the US take the official stand to call those nations out as ”Perv Nations” (officially it is believed here than anyone looking at anyone under 18 has to be strange if not dangerous)because they have their age of consent lower than de facto legal age here of 18yr? Do you suppose their age of consent is lower because their young people mature earlier or they better at handling and managing sex than US minors who have to be controlled or at least guarded until 18?

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14 Answers

meiosis's avatar

The US doesn’t ‘lead the free world’. It plays a major part in world affairs, but other countries are quite free to make their own decisions regarding internal matters.

The factors influencing the age of consent a country adopts are varied and (amongst other considerations and in varying degree) have reference to: the protection of children from predators, individual freedom and liberty for young people, religious dictat, the desire not to criminalise young people for engaging in consensual sexual relations.

BoBo1946's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I think the U.S. is on the right side on this one as most experts say the brain does not mature until age 25!

http://teenagebrain.blogspot.com/

poisonedantidote's avatar

I think that was maybe me that mentioned the age of 16. and yes, both here in Spain and the UK the legal age is 16.

Now, are kids here more mature and/or able to handle sex better than kids in the US? No. The UK is almost the world leader in teen births and single mothers.

Why is the legal age of consent 16 here? well, I cant speak for the politicians that passed those laws, but when I look at the situation, I think I may have an understanding.

In the past, humans only used to live until about the age of 30. for the purposes of survival of the species, we have physically developed to be ready for sex at the age of 12. that may sound wrong or immoral, but nature is not subject to our morals, and in nature, as soon as a little girl has her first period she is more or less ready to have sex and to reproduce. they start to gather fat in certain parts of their bodies, they develop breasts, and are fertile.

So, by the age of say 11 to 13, accounting for both male and female, humans are ready to pass on their DNA. So, by the age of 14–15 it is more or less impossible to stop kids fingering each other and jacking each other off, kissing and having sex. that’s just how our bodies are made. so, what stops these kids from having sex? the parents rules, and education. Give girls sex education and they will fend off boys maybe for another year or two out of fear, before finally having sex with one of them.

So, at 14 our bodies are ready, by 15 we are usually seeking out sex. but, you also have religious ideas, moral ideas, and other ideas that see sex as a bad thing. This to me is where the number 16 comes in. it’s a compromise, to give religious groups, parents and activists a little satisfaction regarding their level of control over their kids.

So, 16 is because people think kids are not ready at 14–15. some would like to make it higher, like 18 or 21, but that is just not practical, because the fact is, by 16 you are capable of making choices, and it does not make any sense to outlaw something done between two consenting people who are not hurting anyone else. we can’t go filling up our prisons with horny 17 year olds. It’s just not reasonable.

So, when you take all that in to consideration, I think, that is how we have arrived at the age of 16, rather than older or younger.

I’m quite a fan of that program you have in the states, date line, with Chris Hansen. If you watch that program, it should be clear to anyone what is and what is not a sex offender. If an 18 year old guy turns up to meet a 15 year old girl for sex, and he brings chocolates and flowers and then craps his pants when Chris Hansen shows up, that is not a sex offender. If however it’s a 43 year old man who is going to meet a 15 year old girl, and instead of flowers and chocolates he brings vodka and rope, and when Chris Hansen shows up he tries to run, that is indeed a sex offender and should be locked up.

I think these laws need to change. I think we should do away with the concept of age relating to sex all together. There is no magic number where as you say, 1 minute past midnight the person is ready for sex. It just does not work that way. What I think, is we should probably have a test. A test where you have to prove that you know how HIV spreads, what other STD’s there are, where babies come from and how contraception works. You should also be required to prove you are capable of making decisions based on critical thinking. Once this criteria has been met, you should then be declared legal. As for how the tests should be carried out, well, it should be as anonymous as possible, and parents should not be informed as really, if they pass the test, it would be none of their business. If they fail the test, then yea, inform the parents.

janbb's avatar

Faulty premise.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

“Leading the Free World” is a journalistic phrase without much meaning outside of certain political issues.

For example, the US “led the Free World” in the fight against Soviet Communism, because the US was the only other real rival to the Kremlin. But that was then, and that was that. The British led the entire world in exports of Beatles, and the French in their exports of Brigitte Bardot movies.

Zyx's avatar

How can people be hating on other countries all the time? Is anyone really satisfied with their own country? Patriotism is just a bad alternative to loyalty since you know who you’re following with loyalty.

There is no free world and the only thing US leads an empire of organized corruption.

marinelife's avatar

Because items like the age of consent are matters of local custom and culture.

Trillian's avatar

Your first position is false. The US does not “lead” the world anywhere. To say that “their young people mature earlier” is also misleading and an incorrect summation of variable factors taken into account which you have left out.

wundayatta's avatar

Because most parts of the planet are six feet lower.

iamthemob's avatar

There are some problems with this question that have been mentioned. I don’t cite this as authority – but what one defines as “free” varies depending on if we’re talking about civil, political, economic or social freedoms, and in many studies the U.S. ranks fairly low on the totem pole of Western nations in terms of freedoms.

Further, there is no national age of consent in the U.S. – the only nationally mandated limit for age is 18 for voting, and the federal government is given specific authority to regulate its own elections. The 18 drinking age is mandated in a practical sense by withholding interstate highway funding. And there is a legal restriction on being depicted in a sexual manner in pictures or on video for anyone under the age of 18 – but in many ways, we can take sex out of that entirely if we consider that anyone under the age of 18 cannot consent to a contract without it being voidable.

As to a de facto age of consent, you do state that we are in fact in line with the rest of the western world. Age of consent is regulated state by state, and over 60% of states in the U.S. have an unrestricted age of consent of 16. In fact, only 12 states (one-fifth) of the states have an age of consent of 18, and the rest have 17. Also, this doesn’t take into account the restricted age of consent – this allows people of an even younger age to have sex with each other or someone (relatively) close in age without that person being charged with statutory rape – ages of 14, 13, even 12 I’ve seen recently (although I’m uncertain how current that is – but I’m talking 5 years ago, not 100).

But that is the de facto age of consent then. What we attempt to limit is the sexualization of children with these regulations. Although I think that it’s dangerous to do so to the point where we’re promoting abstinence without a simultaneous sex education program in place, and scaring kids about sex generally, this isn’t a social statement about sex in and of itself – but power. The age of consent is a line we draw not about sex per se but one of maturity, and we still would find it socially unacceptable for a 40 year old to date a 16 year old, regardless of the legality. It’s because the 40 year old will most likely exert undue influence over the younger partner, to a point of dependence.

It’s not so much about maturing faster, but recognizing that legally sanctioning relationships where there is a vast difference in the age and theoretically the level of maturity is irresponsible.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@poisonedantidote I think that was maybe me that mentioned the age of 16. and yes, both here in Spain and the UK the legal age is 16. To tell you the truth I can’t be sure because the person did not say which nation they were in, but I figured it had to be Europe or down under or close to it.

However a lot of what you said logically falls in what I believed and most try hard not to. _ In the past, humans only used to live until about the age of 30. for the purposes of survival of the species, we have physically developed to be ready for sex at the age of 12. that may sound wrong or immoral, but nature is not subject to our morals, and in nature, as soon as a little girl has her first period she is more or less ready to have sex and to reproduce. What period in time people lived longer or shorter than today to me really had no relevance with the science of biology. What was true is that _biologically humans are adults (be it young adults) around the age of 13 on average, and is still practiced that way in many unindustrialized nations. It is human feelings that try to shift the workings and timeline of biology.

I think the big difference is back when man was more tribal and traveled alone less when these young people entered puberty the elders or older members of the clan, tribe, etc took them under their wing to teach them how they should function and integrate into the society. We really don’t have that kind of “it takes a village to raise a child” mentality. Everyone wants to raise their kids alone without outside influences.

This to me is where the number 16 comes in. it’s a compromise, to give religious groups, parents and activists a little satisfaction regarding their level of control over their kids. Really? Reading over these Q&A forums no matter where it seem to me most adult including parents seem to toss their hands in the hair in surrender, believing they would have a better chance lining up 20 cats on the fence when you have 5 large platters of diced ham on grass 15ft away than controlling or stopping teens from having sex; so just pass out the condoms and cross your fingers.

So, 16 is because people think kids are not ready at 14–15. some would like to make it higher, like 18 or 21, but that is just not practical, because the fact is, by 16 you are capable of making choices, and it does not make any sense to outlaw something done between two consenting people who are not hurting anyone else. we can’t go filling up our prisons with horny 17 year olds. It’s just not reasonable.” But here in the US it is not about filling the prisons with horny 17yr olds but those 18yrs and over even if said 18yr old was dating and having sex with said 16yr old female since she was a freshman and he was a junior. The moment he got 1 minute passed his 18th birthday he was suppose to not see her as sexual or arousing for another 2 years until she got 1 minute pass her 18th birthday. At 16 you can make a lot of choices, most of those choices have little to do with logic and much to do with politics and money. You will allow a 16.5yr old woman to operate a 210hp 3,200lb petro loaded machine which if operated mistakenly could cause great harm, property damage and death but not give her no quarter if she fell in love (so she believe or feels she have) with her softball coach; she is too stupid or naïve to know that.

Why is that? Because as you pointed out, If you watch that program, it should be clear to anyone what is and what is not a sex offender. Who is or is not a sex offender is as arbitrary as “leader of the free world” to many here. It has a lot to do with what community you are in and religious leanings. According to many religions any sex outside marriage (man and woman) is an offence. All this innocent fornication is not innocent. In certain cultures a wife cannot with hold sex from her husband, if she does he has every right to take it from her, here in the US he most likely will be charged for rape. Who is the sex offender? Where are we in the world or under what religion? That might make the difference. In the US if the guy meet a 15 year old girl, and instead of flowers and chocolates he brings vodka and rope it won’t if he was 35 and showed with flowers and concert tickets he would still be viewed the same way.

I think we should do away with the concept of age relating to sex all together. There is no magic number where as you say, 1 minute past midnight the person is ready for sex. It just does not work that way. What I think, is we should probably have a test. Logically that makes a lot of sense but you are way ahead of the curve on that one, especially here in the States. The magical number is 18, as a young adult you can drive a car, pay adult fare on public transportation or on jets and trains but too dumb to know who you want to boink (if that person is pass 18). Not everyone can handle sex at the same age just as all drivers are not ready just because you can operated a car legally (with some limits) you can’t operate it safely and efficiently. If ever society grew to have such a test I think the parents should be involved. I suppose it could be like abortions, the state seem to think a teen girl is wise enough to make that on her own without her parents.

@ Zyx There is no free world and the only thing US leads an empire of organized corruption. People believe the US is the leader of the free world because before Abu Graib, rendition, preemptive wars/invasions Uncle Sam stood as the beacon and example of fair play and an honest broker.

iamthemob And there is a legal restriction on being depicted in a sexual manner in pictures or on video for anyone under the age of 18 – but in many ways, we can take sex out of that entirely if we consider that anyone under the age of 18 cannot consent to a contract without it being voidable. There is no blanket 18yr lower limit. At 18yr you can go die for your country but can’t have a drink in most places or go shop at a sex shop for some toys to make your last night before you deploy to go risk your neck memorable. Why can’t you be 16yr and do a nude spread? The de facto 18yr min. because of the mag. movie, etc was able to be accessed from any state in the nation with a 18yr consent age child pornography laws would be broken. Any movie, series, sitcom no matter where in America it is suppose to take place the min age is always 18. Maybe it is because most come out of or through Hollywood and since Hollywood is in California where the consent age is 18yr that is what is projected in the media. Had it been Nevada or Kansas the de facto age might be 16yr and California would seem a lot less liberal.

It’s not so much about maturing faster, but recognizing that legally sanctioning relationships where there is a vast difference in the age and theoretically the level of maturity is irresponsible. Who wrote that rule? The leader of the free world? Don’t tell Celine Dion that. In many places in the world they don’t try to regulate the heart by number of birthdays separating them. Al it has been shown the US way don’t work everywhere on this planet.

iamthemob's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central

It’s not about the age difference. It’s about attempting to make sure that there’s a minimum level of maturity, and we use age as a proxy for it. Please, you know what I’m talking about, so don’t re-characterize the argument by detaching it from the minimum and inserting Celine Dion.

Roman Polanski was convicted of statutory rape of a thirteen year old girl, maintaining she was sexually aggressive to him. Was that regulating the heart? Are laws preventing pedophelia regulating the heart? We draw lines at times, not because it’s the right place to draw them, but because not doing so would result in harm. They should be examined, of course. But let’s not get ridiculous.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@iamthemob It’s about attempting to make sure that there’s a minimum level of maturity, and we use age as a proxy for it. That is all arbitrary to who is in control, and the leanings of a given society. How mature or less mature has no real credence on the gap in ages. Two people could both be 23 but if one is mentally impaired with the brain development of a 11yr old the physical gap might seem quite OK on paper but the actual mental gap that can’t be seen would be significant in some way. Biologically mental maturity is a non-starter, irrelevant.

iamthemob's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central

Nope. It’s not irrelevant. It’s not always right, but it generally is right when we say someone who is older has had more experiences in relationships than someone who is younger, as they generally will have been friends with more people, longer, and dated more, and dated longer. To say something is a proxy for something else means that it’s generally effective, not 100% correct. Therefore, it is relevant unless you can show that, in the majority of cases, someone who is older will not have had more experience in relationships than someone who is younger, and that that gap doesn’t increase with age, and that until you are a certain age you will not have had any real independent relationships as until a certain age they are supervised by the parents. There are various factors that can muddy the proxy in certain situations, but it has credence unless you can show that the above statements are wrong.

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