There is an incredibly harmful narrative that's wormed its way into the mainstream discussion about sexual consent. The idea that we should ignore "yes" and "no" when it comes to sexual consent.
What's that? That isn't mainstream, you say? That's rapist talk? Why yes, that is rapist talk, but that doesn't mean it isn't mainstream.
I am, of course, talking about those underage individuals who desire and pursue sexual relationships with older individuals. The very fact that the age of consent exists as a law is proof of the existence of such individuals, since you don't make laws against things that never happen.
The politically driven policy is to treat the kids who said "yes" exactly the same as the ones who said "no". I'm not talking about the adult not having sex with the kid, for those of you still unsure where I stand on that. I'm talking about how society is to treat those kids who did end up having sex with someone in violation of the age of consent.
What happens when you treat someone like a rape victim? They start
acting the part. So much of the trauma that comes from rape stems not
from the mere act of forced sex, but from the societal reaction. To take one example, the feelings of bodily impurity that may come about naturally when someone is forced into sex are added to by a cultural narrative that says that a person who has been raped will never be the same again. If the person didn't feel violated or sullied before, the cultural narrative can do the job of making them feel violated retroactively all on its own.
treating "yes" the same as "no", we make damn sure that everyone who
said "yes" and meant it ends up exactly as traumatized as the ones who
said "no" and meant that. The pattern is so consistent, an alien observer would be forced to conclude that was the point.
The virgin/whore false dichotomy is at the root of a lot of harmful ideas the mainstream of society has about sexuality, and here we have yet another example. The people pushing the agenda of treating those young people who honestly and enthusiastically said "yes" precisely the same way we treat those who've been the victims of force or coersion aren't doing so because it's healthy for those kids. They're pushing that agenda because in their narrow minds the only other option is to call the kid a slut and move on with their day.
There is no inherent need to make such a child devalue his/her own choices and judgements. There is no value in making that child feel vulnerable and exploited. If we were actually concerned with the health and sanity of those kids,
we would be looking for any way to make them feel safe and empowered,
rather than deliberately imposing a victim narrative on those who
haven't reached that point naturally.
The crime of rape is the crime of ignoring another person's explicit
consent. Whether they said "yes" or "no", the rapist does what he/she
was going to do anyway. Consent is all about the importance of that
distinction. By ignoring that "yes", we're making sure that whether
they said "yes" or "no", someone is going to ignore their opinion on the
subject and mistreat them accordingly.