How Young Is Too Young?

Illustration for article titled How Young Is Too Young?

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled today that Genarlow Wilson's 10 year sentence for having consensual oral sex with a 15 year old girl was disproportionate to his crime. So, after spending 2 years in jail for a blow job from a girl that, by all accounts, wasn't shy about giving them, he is going to be a free man. The thing that bothers me is: why is the state deciding for women how old they need to be to consent?


Now, I'll be the first to say, I was an early, uh, comer to the sex thing. I was 15 (in a state where the age of consent was 17) and dating an 18 year old when I rounded 3rd base (though, it wasn't at a party or in front of a camera). Fortunately for me — because, damn, was that boy stupid — his parents had already had to talk another girl's parents out of a statutory rape charge and they made him end things. But, had they not, I can be honest enough to say I would've probably fucked him, stupid or not — and it wouldn't have been because he exerted some kind of control over me. But, I eventually gave my v-card up to a really nice boy my own age who I really loved and with whom I lived happily ever after... or, you know, not. When I started college at 17 in a state where the age of consent was 18, I immediately started dating a senior and began breakin' the law again- and, once again, if one of us was in control emotionally/intellectually, it wasn't him. So, I get a little resentful when adults are all like "A teenage girl doesn't know what she wants and is too easily led into having sex," because I certainly did know what I wanted (sex) and no one had to con me into doing it.

I mean, obviously some things are rape, and some things are child molestation — those things should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and maybe then some — and some girls aren't emotionally mature enough to know what they're doing. I get that. However, statutory rape laws weren't written to protect emotionally immature girls from predatory high school seniors. They were written to give parents some leverage over a guy that swiped a girl's commodified virginity in a day and age when that was of paramount importance, and they do so by stating that women, despite having the physical maturity to want and to engage in sexual intercourse (and to get pregnant), are too "young" to know what they really might want. I think this is insulting, personally. Age and emotional maturity are not the same thing, obviously, and criminalizing the behavior of many, many people to keep girls from experimenting with/owning their sexuality at the age that they choose to start doing so can be, as Genarlow Wilson and his family found out, far more detrimental than helpful to children.

Georgia Court Orders Man Freed in Sex Case [NY Times]



I think the way Maryland (my home state) handles it is pretty good, comparatively: the magic ages are 16, 18, and 23. Essentially, once you're 16, having sex with anyone over 18 but under 23 is legal. 18, you're home free. So a 15 year old and a 17 year old are fine...gets rid of the "two years" complication.