Debate Guide: Sexual inexperience
- "Children under age X are not experienced enough to understand sex and it's implications, and thus cannot possibly give informed consent".
Ignoring the obvious problems of applying a hard age line to guess at an individual's experience, sex is not inherently very complicated. It's an instinctive form of physical intimacy and expression of affection, touching each other and deriving joy from that. Apart from the basic precautions of safe sex, which are also very simple (don't let part x touch part y directly, keep something in between it), that is all there is to it. And while many adults associate it with a variety of social rituals and expectations, these are not inherent necessities of sex and vary greatly even among the people adhering to them. As such, it can be expected that children of most ages will understand sex just fine - a better question is whether most adults really do. Are their opinions really formed with their "informed consent", even in a society full of indoctrination, soundbites and social engineering? If not, could these adults possibly consent to sex at such short notice, under such intense emotions? This causes us to ask what exactly consent is. Must it involve a person knowing exactly what they are partaking in, regardless of whether the consequences are likely to be positive or negative? Shouldn’t we only be legislating against negative consequences?
It also bears noting that for many other activities, getting a child's informed consent is not commonly considered to be all that vital, as long as they are not harmed by the process. For those responsible for the child's care, non-consensual treatment of children is often seen as a necessity, playing a part in education and the everyday running of the household. Although it is definitely questionable whether such behaviour is desirable in general, one does have to apply the same principles consistently in condemning or accepting behaviour. For example, but for a variety of social factors explained elsewhere in this guide, gentle coercion into sexual activities would be as harmless as gentle coercion into a bathtime scrubdown. Vaguely stating that "it's sexual" is not an adequate argument to warrant an exception.