Let’s talk about sex… ‘baby’ – The Malta Independent
Sunday February 8, 2015, 10:45 a.m.
Last update: about 7 years ago
Why aren’t we all talking about changing the age of consent? Why don’t we shout louder? Aside from the fact that I really enjoyed watching the general public squirm at the idea of our precious 16 year olds copulating everywhere, I also think this debate is Absolutely crucial. Really, I sometimes wonder what exactly all the naysayers think is going to happen if the age of consent goes from 18 to 16 – a plague of locusts, kidnapping, a typhoon of teenage sexual interactions, perhaps ?
I would like us not to err on the side of caution for a moment.
Everything you ever wanted to know about sex * (but were afraid to ask)
When I was 16, I was madly in love. He was a boy then, not a man, and I was a girl, not a woman. But we were getting there, climbing the teenage ladder together, one precarious rung at a time. I remember dipping my toes first into the previously uncharted waters of sexuality – discovering a new world with intrigue and excitement. I also remember walking around strange places to find contraception. We were ashamed to have these forbidden cravings. We were afraid of what “they”, the pharmacist or the person watching us near the dispenser in the public washroom, would think or say about us. We were not alone, although we did not know it then. Apparently a third of those who engage in sexual activity for the first time do not use contraception – 41 percent of them are in the 16-18 age group. This is of particular concern.
I was fortunate enough to have had a decent enough sex education, but maybe it came a little too late for it to be ingrained in my psyche that sex is not. in fact a criminal act. Rather than being gradually inflicted, sex education has been abrupt. And it ceased to be a part of our program as abruptly as it got into it late, as if all the tools we needed for our psycho-sexual development had been downloaded and we could now continue on our way. knowing what to do and how to do it.
In fact, it was just as difficult as a 17-18 year old (and to be honest, even after) to ask for advice on how to take care of their sexual health. Our needs were always met with a raised eyebrow. Unless we turned to our parents to talk about “what-should-not-name” (which never happened), we had no choice but to stay in the hinterland of our desires. It was a form of Russian roulette for many reasons, the risk of contracting STDs being one of them. Most overlooked, however, was the fact that our shame was psychologically destructive. It made what we were doing dirty, instead of being perfectly natural. More than that, it informed how, at least, I felt about sex until my early twenties. The sex was not normal, it was something extraordinary. Going to a gynecologist or a family doctor to talk about sex was not necessary, it was unnecessary and embarrassing. I still have that insignificant scare in my stomach at the thought of asking for a package of condoms at a sex clinic.
A dose of realism
I started awkwardly asking my 16-year-old sister what she thought of the age of consent debate:
“Jien naf, Jen, she replied helpfully.
“I mean, isn’t it obvious he should be 16?”
Well, no, apparently it isn’t. Why? I will raise two reasons but they are not exhaustive.
Values – The name is used as Polyfilla in Malta whenever a debate of supposed moral weight is brought up. This seemingly rigid set of values is the cohesive monolith at the base of our culture. They imply that having sex or, for example, being homosexual is a direct threat to the moral code that forms our identity. They are not. Our identity is much more complex and multifaceted than that. And ignoring this fact undermines the strength of that very identity that “conservatives” seem determined to protect. We do not defile these values by entering this debate; we make them stronger, more inclusive and less alienating. These are not outlandish perversities of modern society; these are its normal realities.
A teenager does not look into a moral code derived from society when he first experiences the thrills of sexuality and that is how it should be. What the imposition of our “value system” on the younger generation achieves is the killing of the right to have these feelings and to express them in a healthy way. Worse yet, he absolutely cancels any dialogue about it.
Catholic Church – The Church is not an obstacle. We have seen talk shows and articles from notable members of the clergy demonstrate this. We can’t continue to point fingers at the Church because at the end of the day it’s up to us to see that what our religion can offer us is advisory, it’s guidance, on how to get there. to our own conclusions. This is not a mandatory consultation. And in any case, it should not serve as a normative basis for our legal system. I don’t want to babble about secularization, I just want to express the wish that we crack regularly with that.
While there is an argument to be made that you can be a 40 year old male with a very underdeveloped understanding of your own sexuality, and conversely a particularly sexually sensitive 16 year old, the limit has to be. drawn somewhere. The law is also there to protect vulnerable people, and younger people are more vulnerable to abuse and it is imperative to think about how the law can protect them from such abuse in both directions. But the law must reflect social changes. The argument that changing the age of consent will lead to a greater propensity for abuse is tenuous at best. Abusers will abuse regardless of what the law says. It is the system itself that should be strengthened to end child abuse.
The benefits of the potential use of a level system which clearly and comprehensively defines the legal parameters of consent are obvious. An example is the one used in Germany, which states that an individual can have sex from the age of 14 as long as it is with a person under the age of 21, and that people over 16 are expected to consent. fully to unrestricted sex. Note that in the German case there are exceptions when such persons are in the custody of a person or in a guard position (eg a teacher). A system like this would present a flexible solution that would take into account the need to protect the vulnerable and at the same time prevent the unnecessary conviction of the innocent. It may not be a catch-all solution, but no law ever will be.
The degree of immaturity of the debate is as palpable as my awkwardness in asking my little sister what she thought of it. My mistake is to think that by not talking about it, I will preserve his innocence, whatever that means. The truth is, I won’t. Talking about sex openly and without shame, taking ownership of the wonderful adventure that is your body, and doing it in a healthy and safe way, is a right to be defended and protected. We can only encourage responsible behavior by refusing exclude sex from public discourse.
Finally, although I hate when we compare Malta to other countries (as if we ourselves weren’t able to come to these conclusions without European guidance), I cannot help saying that it is lamentable that we have always lagged behind in this regard. We shouldn’t ask ourselves which EU countries have 16 (or less) as the age of consent – it doesn’t matter. Rather, we should ask ourselves why Malta is one of the last countries to have this debate in Europe.
It is we who have chosen to burden the debate with an unfounded and allegedly insurmountable moral gravity. It is we who persist with this culture of shame. And it has to stop.
Because in the end, changing the law will certainly send a message, but it will not automatically reverse the public’s perception on the subject. That is why the importance of this debate cannot be underestimated.