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Crossing the Line

18th-birthday-party-ideasToday’s topic comes from QSFer Beth Brock: “How do people handle age of consent in scifi and fantasy? Hell, even in the US of A we have differing ages of consent depending on the state you’re in. How do people feel when a 13 year-old character in a fantasy setting is having sex, or a 14 year-old alien is selling their body on the streets (when adulthood for those aliens is at a younger age). Where’s the line in spec fiction? How about how this relates to current LGBT issues (see Portland Mayor Sam Adams and Beau)? What if you read a story about them? Would it squick you? Would you be okay as long as there was a reason? Where’s the line in contemporary fiction?”

It’s an interesting question. The lower you go on the age bracket, ie: 14 or 13 or 12, the easier it is to say that’s clearly out of bounds in life. But in fiction? It’s a touchy subject. What if the topic is childhood sexual abuse?

And to muddy the waters a little further, what if one character is 18 and the other is 17?

Remember too that some countries have historically put the age of consent for gays higher than for straights (at 21).

I had sex for the first time at 14, with another boy my age. But in my pre-coming-out mindset, I considered myself a virgin because I hadn’t had “real” sex – sex with a woman.

I wanna be clear here: I am in no way advocating for child porn or the exploitation of minors – some folks (understandably) take a hard line stance on this that nothing should happen under the age of 18, while others are more nuanced.

So where do you stand on the exploration of the age of consent and fantasy/sci fi? This has the potential to be a divisive topic, so let’s keep it civil. :)

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