Debate Guide: The kids do not want it
"Your arguments will only come into play, once children themselves start asking for sex. I have not heard a single one making such requests!"
This argument is ethically unacceptable, simply because it would justify the oppression of almost any group.
Socialised apathy is central to the oppression of entire creeds and classes. The very definition of oppression is to undermine liberties with physical or mental tyranny. Minors, women and slaves throughout history and through to this present day, would not have suffered oppression had they collectively stood up and challenged the status quo. In many present societies, women and minors are silenced through (sometimes tacit) exclusion and alienation from the civil rights discourse. Very few people under the age of eighteen have an adequate concept of civil rights or political activism, or for that matter the voting rights to make it count anyway. More specifically, the youth of a culture so dogmatically against youth sexuality will not be driven to see themselves as sexual beings and sexual agents. There is no way of confidently and authoritatively demanding the right to something you may not legitimitely obtain accurate information on, ponder the nature of, let alone experience for oneself.
To expand the counter-argument, a common proposition is that the average western child would struggle to express sexual feelings due to his or her inadequate understanding of sexuality. This is not, however a pure age-related problem. Such a problem is often caused by general prudishness, poor intergeneratonal relations and a lack of accurate information in the young person's immediate environment. In fact, history suggests that this general inadequacy and the aforementioned apathy is not a "developmental" deficiency, but can be found among individuals of all ages and classes. For example, when foreign powers would try to incite slave revolts in rival sovereignties, many a time they would face problems. Slaves would refuse to revolt, claiming their masters would not approve. These slaves lived their entire lives as subordinates to their masters; it is all they knew. They could not comprehend the concepts of liberty and freedom beyond what they could observe of their masters. When the feminist movement first began, most women were opposed to it. They, too - lived their whole lives as subordinates to men. And they, too - struggled to comprehend civil liberty. This inability was used by anti-feminist ideologues as a supporting argument as to why women should not be emancipated from men. The tendency of subservient groups to rationalize their position is covered by system justification theory, for example in Kay et al. (2007):
- "He concluded that with respect to slaves and concentration camp survivors, "It is no wonder that their obedience became unquestioning, that they did not revolt, that they could not 'hate' their masters. Their masters' attitudes had become internalized as a part of their very selves". Even in extraordinarily oppressive circumstances such as these, people find ways of adapting to circumstances that they cannot change, so that "the unwelcome force is idealized"."
Likewise, the sexuality of (pre)pubescent youth is repressed, and their exposure to information regarding sexuality is greatly limited. With the establishment of "adult content" filtration, youth under the age of eighteen are hidden from the knowledge that would allow them to better understand sexuality. When they do gain enough information to ask, assuming they are not already whipped into fearing punishment upon asking, the answers are withheld, the child is presumed to have been "corrupted" or "abused", and is often victimised regardless of his or her own take on their experiences.
True believers in the part-myth of apathy among the young are also directed to read some accounts, offering a contrary perspective.
The "kids do not want it" argument is also illogical, because in advocating the removal of legal restrictions, one does not require someone else's explicit will in order to grant new personal freedoms. Prohibitions and restrictions on individual agents' social trajectories are an entirely different issue. In such cases, it is the proponent who advocates coercion, as it is he or she who is denying a person's right to say "yes" as well as "no". Similarly, the burden of proof is on the age of consent advocate to explain how such a law brings about improvements in people's lives. Laws are not passed to legitimise activities (where all others are assumed undesirable), but instead, to prohibit them in societies otherwise (and rightly so) deemed free. It is legal restrictions that must be reasonably justified and not liberties.