Under age sex and slut-shaming women

Before I go any further, I’m not advocating under-age sex at all. The legal age of consent is there for a reason. But as much of a taboo subject as it is, it happens. I read articles on under-age sex when trying to find out the average age for losing your virginity (it varies wildly depending on where you live, your gender, and what study you read), and a lot of the comments that went with said articles. The majority of these slut-shamed girls, and congratulated the boys. Girls were slags, probably going to become a single teenage mum with no prospects, end up on benefits, drain the system, blah blah blah. The boys however were studs, and “you go boy!” “whoop, whoop, well done!”. This angered me.

I recently started writing a new novel, the premise of which is, girl comes back into boy’s life after ten years and the relationship is rekindled, even though her dad disapproves. Nothing new there, but I am enjoying writing about a hot farmer and his beautiful girlfriend. Then an issue arose – under-age sex.

No, I’m not writing about an under-age romance, “girl” and “boy” are in their twenties. But it is a relationship that spans the decades, well, one decade. It occurred to me that, considering the four year age difference between them and their current age, that she would have been about 15 when they first started dating, and he would have been 18 / 19. In the UK, the legal age of consent is 16. Anything below this is considered statutory rape. Oops. Of course, I could make them slightly older and will probably have to considering the majority of erotic / romance publishers frown on the mere mention of illegal sex (of any sorts). Still, it got me thinking about under age sex and how women are perceived.

As a mum, I don’t think “children” should be allowed to have sex until they are in their twenties, and my hubby would say thirties for his little girl! It’s a conversation that has come up when discussing what we want for our children, and then I talk about our experiences of sex, and losing our virginity. Hubby claims to have been legal, and for many years I managed to convince myself that I was 19. I’m lying though. To myself and everyone who has ever asked. And I pray to God that my mum doesn’t read this blog! Why? Because I was 15. And even though we didn’t do it properly, finish the job, or go much further, penetration was involved, and therefore it was legally classed as sex. (I should point out that my boyfriend at the time was also 15.)

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20 year old me

As a woman who lost her virginity at 15, I feel I should stand up for my gender. Now I did not sleep around. Between losing my virginity and meeting my husband when I was 20, I slept with 6 men. That’s an average of 1.2 men a year for 5 years. Unremarkable really. I also didn’t have my first child until I was 25. Neither did I contract any STIs, because although I was sexually active, I used contraception. Yet according to many, this is not possible, because I was aware and comfortable with my sexuality before it was legally allowed.

But my number is irrelevant, because even if my average was 1.2 men a night, it shouldn’t matter. I have friends who could probably beat that average of 1.2 a night, and now we’re all in our 30s and they are happily married with their own families, and working good jobs (quite high powered in some cases). I have friends who kept their virginity intact until they were well into their twenties, and are now happily married with a family and working good jobs. Do you see any difference between these two examples? No, neither do I, other than one has a higher average of men they’ve slept with.

I also have male friends who have the same sort of figures and averages. I have male friends who slept with anything that looked in their direction – sometimes two or three different women in one night. I’ve known men who kept it in their pants until they were almost 30. And again, we’re all older now, in relationships with children and jobs.

Not one of us is a disease-riddled, scrounging, homeless criminal. What age we lost our virginity, how many people we slept with, had no bearing on how our lives turned out. That was all down to the type of person we were, our friends and our home lives.

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