I’ve mentioned that I didn’t write SHAMEFUL with the intent to advocate for, promote, or encourage infidelity or statutory rape. You can read where I previously addressed this accusation here. It is merely entertainment for those who find it entertaining. An escape for those interested in living vicariously through fictional characters without experiencing the consequences of their actions.
Today, I’ve opened my blog to Houston family law attorney, Tasha Wilson, to discuss her take on statutory rape. I think she does the subject justice considering she is one of my beta readers and deals with family legal issues on a regular basis. This is what she had to say:
Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. Really?
The phrase statutory rape is a term used in some jurisdictions to describe sexual contact where one person is below the age required to legally consent to the sexual act. It generally refers to sex between an adult and a minor past the age of puberty. Statutory rape is different from forcible rape in that overt force or threat need not be present. The laws presume coercion, because a minor is legally incapable of giving consent to the act.
In Texas, it is illegal to have sexual contact with a person under the age of 17 years of age. The defense to sex with a minor is that the alleged perpetrator is not more than three years older than the alleged victim and the alleged victim must be 14 years or older. In other words, it is not illegal for a 19 year old girl to have sex with a 16 year old boy, but it is illegal for a 20 year old woman to have sex with a 16 year old boy.
Now that I’ve gotten all the legal jargon out of the way, I want to get to the meat of the issue…sex with minors! Just typing the words makes me feel uneasy.
But why? Is it because America has told me that it is wrong for an adult to have sex with a minor? Is it the instinctive desire to be a protector and mother-like/father-like figure to the young and less experienced? Had I grown up in a different part of the world, I am sure my thought process would be different. In some cultures, it is not uncommon for a man to marry a much younger woman or girl. This is sometimes due to importance placed upon female virginity, the inability of women to earn a living outside of the home, and to women’s shorter reproductive life period relative to men’s. In any event, being born and raised in the USA has shaped me into a person that knows and feels that an adult having sex with a minor is just SHAMEFUL.
In the novel “Shameful” author Dicey Grenor captures the essence of the American thought pattern when her main character Joanne internally defends age of consent laws during a somewhat heated family discussion saying, “Chad had to understand kids were impressionable. Our laws protected us, helped us peaceably co-exist. Age of consent laws protected children who may be exploited by adults. If Chad got them thinking everything was culturally-defined, they’d start questioning all authority, missing the point of our legal system. It was our job as parents to help them understand the difference between right and wrong. Some things were right because they were legal. Other things were wrong because they were illegal. Doing illegal things made the acts wrong.”
Joanne thinks like most of America. The age of consent laws were established to protect the predator from preying on the young and unsuspecting. With the recent Penn State child abuse scandal, it is clear that the old prey on the young and poor. With the experience, power, prestige, and manipulation that some adults possess, gullible minors can be easily targeted and taken advantage of. One victim’s mom stated that the boy could not tell the Coach Jerry Sandusky “no” to sex.
So, is age just a number? It depends. If a 21 year old wants to marry a 40 year old, then it should be their prerogative. But if a 21 year old wants to marry a 12 year old, then that is shameful and the law needs to step in. The only thing a 21 year old may have in common with a 40 year old is sex, but at 21, a person should have the experience and savvy to make informed decisions.
There has to be a line drawn in the sand to protect minors from adults. Texas hits the nail on the head by making that age 17. Some may argue the age of consent should be lowered since minors are making grown-up decisions daily by being sexually active and having children. Others argue that the age should be raised to 21. Regardless, we as adults have to do everything possible to protect the youth of today. I cannot argue against the fact that experience is the best teacher and there’s not an ample substitute; however, to allow minors to “learn the hard way” is foolish and our nation suffers the cost.
If you’ve read SHAMEFUL, have a strong opinion about it, and would like to express your thoughts, leave a comment. All opinions are welcomed.