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age of consent

There are a lot of things that others can’t legally do to you without your consent. For example, they can’t force you to work; that’s called slavery. They can’t force you to sell a house you own free and clear; that’s called extortion (or maybe blackmail depending on how they force you). They can’t force you to buy something you don’t want to buy; that too is called extortion (or maybe blackmail again depending on the method.

So why is it that the term “age of consent” usually applies only to sex?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m appalled the thought that there are pedophiles out there. And I’m happy that we have laws that say that a child’s consent to sex is not sufficient if that child has not yet reached a state of maturity where he or she can make an informed, reasoned choice. You can argue about that the existing age of consent is too low or too high, but bravo for having one.

All I’m saying is, isn’t it a bit presumptuous—or one-track-minded—to assume that age of consent refers only to sex? What about those other things like consenting to sales and purchases and to work in a factory?

If toddlers consent to those sorts of things does that make the activities legal? No it doesn’t. So aren’t the ages at which people can, on their own, provide legally accepted consent to engage in those sorts of activities also ages of consent?

The above is, of course, a nonsense argument. However, if I didn’t make it I would have been left with too little that I wanted to say about the age of consent.

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