The legal age of consent varies widely around the world — and even within the United States, it's way more complicated than we thought. Let's take a tour.
To give you an idea of how complex state consent laws are within the US, we've made this table of New York's.
And that's not even counting the laws governing "sexual contact" when there's no intercourse involved. Of course, all this complexity isn't necessarily a bad thing. Many people would agree that an eighteen-year-old having sex with a fifteen-year-old deserves to be treated differently than, say, a fortysomething sleeping with a high-schooler. And it's also true that, while strict lines are necessary for legal purposes, whether someone is "old enough" to consent to sex is a little fuzzier. Disability issues come into play, as does the very ill-defined concept of emotional maturity, and it's no wonder that the idea of when one becomes a sexually autonomous person varies widely around the globe.