Age of Consent ruminations

A current IMHO thread discusses a recent concert in which the lead singer stopped in the middle of his song to berate part of his audience. There was evidently a teenaged girl “crowd surfing,” which involves getting picked up and then handed, prone, across the packed crowd. The lead singer pointed out that the girl was a minor and, according to him, was being molested – presumably he meant that some of the people were not simply pushing her along but were taking the opportunity to cop feels of specific parts of her body.

One poster opined:

And this made me think of a Washington Post blogger’s speculation:

That’s a good question.

Are we saying that minors lack the capacity to consent to sex – or sexual-type contact – period? Or that they can meaningfully consent to sex with other minors? Does it make a difference if the alleged concert gropers were minors themselves?

The existence of young, sexy girls has always been a very irritating fact of life for the older female generation.
Daddy has always wanted to keep men away from his innocent little girl.

So, sex has been made illegal, below an arbitrary age.

now if those damned kids wouldn’t want sex every damned minute, everyone would be happy.

No, no (well, yes, but not in the exclusive way you mean it, I don’t think) and no.

What we are saying is that there is a point earlier than which we will not accept that an individual’s consent to sex is effective, because people younger than that age are too susceptible to various kinds of victimization. It’s not an arbitrary point, but it’s inevitable that there is going to be considerable crossover. Maybe many minors can effectively consent to all sexual contact. Maybe some can effectively consent to some sexual contact with some individuals. Maybe some can effectively consent in only a few very select circumstances. In the same way, maybe some people who blow a .2 are actually pretty OK drivers.

The alternative to drawing a line is having no line; counsel for the six year old has to prove at trial that a reasonable person wouldn’t have understood his or her conduct to manifest consent to sex. I suppose there’s no reason this couldn’t be the way we did it. But there’s a reason it isn’t.

ETA: Oh, and on the third question: why would the age of the groper matter? Age of consent for the person doing the assaulting isn’t really an issue.

Wait, are we operating under the assumption that the girl gave consent to the gropers while she was crowd surfing in the middle of a rock concert? Like, “Hey, do you mind if I grab your tits while you surf on past!?” “Sure, go for it!”

Because I’m pretty sure Romeo and Juliet laws don’t protect sexual contact where no consent was given. Or am I missing the point here?

I think the half plus seven rule is a good one for Romeo and Juliet laws (For those not familiar, the rules is to take your current age, divide by 2, round down, and add seven, and that is the youngest partner you may pursue. Doing this in reverse lets you know the oldest partner you should pursue.).

At 18, all age limitations go - Sure a 19 year old and a 80 year old is creepy, but they’re both adults, free to make their own decisions.

I feel like, in general, society coddles the young too much. I felt the same way when I was in high school incidentally, and having kids of my own hasn’t changed that.

I do wish ages of consent were more uniform, both nationally and globally, just so everyone is on the same page, but I’m not going to fight the State’s Rights crowd if they have a problem with that.

That’s a good point. I guess I was picturing more of a diminished offense thing – as minors themselves, their actions are still assault, but they are not deserving of the additional obloquy aimed at the presumptive ephebophiles.

I think the way to approach the problem is saying the older partner lacks the mens rea. Of course this is hypocritical because we routinely prosecute much younger folk, but when we do it is usually for something very serious like murder.

And then there is the concern that a relationship that we presume a lack if mens rea suddenly has mens rea on the older partner’s 18th birthday, and I suppose the overriding concern is that we might be criminalizing a young family. I would certainly be against sending the older partner to jail if they otherwise lawfully conceived a child–that would be depriving the child of his parent.

Where I am more concerned is that we tend to wink and wish we were that “lucky” boy if the over eighteen partner is female, even when its not a continuation of a relationship that started when the couple were both minors, unless she’s a teacher. But the courts have held differences in age restriction are constitutional under EP because boys and girls are in different positions regarding the ability to become pregnant.

In re Romeo and Juliet laws, I think the simplest interpretation is that both parties are victims, but that neither party can be held culpable, and that therefore there is no crime.

Mind you, I’m not saying one way or another about how the laws should be, but this interpretation seems completely consistent with how the laws are.

Also did someone ID the girl body surfing? What state was it in? IIRC the age of consent is as low as fourteen. Most are at sixteen. Was the girl sixteen? There is something to be said for the idea if she isn’t complaining she is consenting.

Except when the older partner turns eighteen, he still has a pass as long as his girlfriend is within a certain number of years., and it becomes hard to say he is still a “victim.”

Yeah, there’s something to be said, and it’s “this idea is repugnant.”

In the case of “Romeo and Juliet” laws, it has nothing (in my mind) to do with either young person giving consent, it is about having no-one to blame legally for the event.

I understood that the whole point of statutory rape laws was that an older person can (and is presumed to) exercise undue influence on the actions of a too-young person, such that the younger person is not really giving informed consent to the act. In the case of two people under the age of consent, such undue influence is presumed not to occur, not because it doesn’t really occur, but because it is too difficult to prove that it did, and which one exercised it.

That is not to say, of course, that actual rape could not occur between two people under the age of consent. Just not statutory rape. Absent some sort of force or drugs, or a complaint by one of the participants, we have to assume that both were equally willing.

Which part do you take issue with? That she is legal to be groped with her consent at fourteen in some places? it’s certainly true. or is it the idea that some girls consent to being groped by multiple people?

it may be repulsive, but I was making a value free observation that it would be legal.

The idea that “if she isn’t complaining, she’s consenting.” That’s disgusting.

WTF? Do you really think there are a lot of 16 year old girls who really look forward to being molested by a mob of randos? Life isn’t a Playboy letter.

Sure, any who volunteers for crowd-surfing.

How exactly does one support a crowd surfer without touching said person’s ass?

If you’ve ever tried to hold a person up above your head in a dense crowd, you need lots of hands and there is only so much surface area…

All in all, the girl did something stupid and got GASP groped a little bit. Let’s all throw a hissy fit about it.

You’re way ahead of us.

Would this underage girl have been legally capable of consenting to the FUGGGGGGGGGEN CIRCLE PIT I WOULD HAVE THROWN HER ASS INTO FOR MAKING THE MOSH ALL ABOUT HER!!!:mad:


I know the PC-police love to scream “there wasn’t explicit consent!” when an 18 year old hugs his girlfriend’s underage sister, but at some point we have to accept that life is not a legal hypothetical. If the girl was crowd-surfing and seemed to be enjoying herself, she doesn’t need to explicitly consent to each person that touches her. She can stop surfing if she thinks she’s being groped. I’m picturing this conversation:

“Woooooo yea this awesome, woooAAHGHH WHY THE FUCK DID YOU DROP ME?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t have your express consent to touch you and I may have placed a hand on your buttocks, so I declined physical contact”.