Friday, September 11, 2015

Under the Wire

The longer I'm eighteen, the more I'm convinced it's no different than seventeen. 
My roommate, Eden, is seventeen years old. She'll stay seventeen for most of the school year. She moved from New Zealand to America a few years ago and the terms didn't quite match up, so she skipped a grade. Two other girls in our hall are seventeen but I don't know their birthday situations yet. If any of these three girls want to meet with our RA, they're required to have someone else present. They can't be alone with her because they're below the age of consent.
Our RA is nineteen. The age most of us will be by the end of the year. I turn nineteen in November, so in a few short months, Eden will be sharing a bedroom with a nineteen year old. But spend five minutes alone with a nineteen year old in a permission of power? Heaven forbid. 
This summer I watched over my neighbors' house and dog while they were out of town. Spending night after night in a big, empty house with only a collie for company can get lonely, so I invited friends and cousins. The first night I had a twenty year old friend sleep over. When I got back the following morning, my mom told me she'd been anxious because my friend was older than me and we were sharing a bed.
I took this same friend on a family boating vacation the previous month. We shared a bed then. But oh, there were adults aboard, and that makes a world of difference.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Most young women between the ages of eighteen and twenty aren't rapists. In fact, a lot of them are attracted to men. So they are not out to prey on just-below-the-wire teenage girls.
I'm not denying the girl-on-girl rape happens, and yes, I know that girls are statistically more vulnerable to sexual assault than women. But the psychology and vulnerability of an eighteen year old is no different than a seventeen year old. The only difference between the two is lifestyle. College freshmen (often but not always) live on their own. High school seniors don't. But even though the American school system would normally have Eden in high school, she's living the same life as me. As I mentioned in my last post, plenty of girls from my graduating class are still living with their parents, essentially stuck in the same lifestyle they had in high school.
An eighteen year old can be jailed for prostitution where a seventeen year old would be treated as a human trafficking victim. Rape of minors carries longer sentences. Child pornography is illegal and immoral while adult porn is completely acceptable to most society. And really, what's the difference? I wish we lived in a society that was more concerned with protecting people on both sides of the wire than putting up caution tape around secure, independent teenage girls. 

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