AOC discussion needs to be more nuanced


If only life’s ebbs and flows were as simple as the Harpocrites would have us believe.

Their evangelical base, championed by Justice Minister Vic Toews, advocate leaving sex education and reproductive choice information completely up to parents – and we know how comfortable the kids and parents alike might be in such hypothetical situations.

Sex, they say, ought to be left until marriage, i.e. heterosexual marriage. Anything else is intolerable sin. Why, therefore, should teens have information available to them on safer sex, on reproductive choice, on the spectrum of sexual orientations?

The baby-carrying, God-blessed stork has its head in the sand. Exceptions to the rules become crises, often family-splitting ones at that.

The proposed changes to age-of-consent laws would institutionalize the ignorance, intentional or otherwise, of these family-based birds and the bees discussions. Now I know that not all parents are puritanical on these matters. They may even have skeletons in their closets only intended for their children’s discovery on an age-appropriate basis.

I am the product of two heterosexual parents who abstained from sex until their marriage in 1952. That, if I’m not mistaken, was the year the Queen succeeded her late father – just to put it in some historical, black-and-white television, context. Nevertheless, despite raising four children (born between 1955 and 1968) in an exclusively heterosexual environment, the elder two – I was born four years after my brother – realized, upon reaching late adolescence or early adulthood that we were both gay.

Thankfully, although Mom and Dad had not taught us about the sexual orientation spectrum to which I’ve already referred, they fully accepted their sons and cared only that we be happy and as well-adjusted as possible. (You’ll note, in some of my other writings, that some maladjustments were, unfortunately, already in play for me.)

Which brings me to the nuancing, which I advocate, of the age-of-consent debate.

What happened to me in adolescence, at the hands of a much older stranger, was – and will remain – a crime. What my best friend and I did, in playful experimentation within roughly the same time period, was – and will remain – innocent and legal.

These experiences are polar opposite examples of sexual activity, the latter consensual and the former – due to the age and power difference – not. Both are addressed by existing laws.

The gray area, which the Conservatives seem reluctant to acknowledge, is in the counselling, by young adults of youth, on matters of sexual activity and sexual health as well as in the common occurrence, regardless of sexual orientation, of consensual sexual relationships developing between someone “of age” (or a little older) and someone who is not. While, given my experience, I understand the concerns about sexual exploitation I am confident in the Criminal Code of Canada as it stands.

I also believe the young people and their advocates at AgeOfConsent.ca are better able to articulate their legitimate concerns than a sexually-retired fellow like me.

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