You've kept the secret of your youth
You led me to believe you're old enough
To give me love
And now it hurts to know the truth
Young girl, get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run girl
You're much too young girl
-Young Girl, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap
“You need to be eighteen to vote in Britain. Any younger and you can't legally go clubbing, you won't get into many bars... There's the odd pub you'll get into if you're with your parents. You also can't buy 18-rated DVDs, or R18, which is basically hardcore porn.”
Thanks for clearing that up, Fluffy. I had no idea.
I'm sat, still drinking Aberlour as Rob Dougan's Born Yesterday snakes out of the speakers.
“With Broadband,” he continues, glass in hand, “I don't see how video outlets that sell R18 are going to survive. The net's changing everything.”
Fluffy is onto something here, as he paces back and forth across his living room. How old is “old enough”?
“Basically, yeah, the net should be made more secure to stop kids from checking out certain sites. And yeah, it should stay at 18 as, like, a minimum age limit. But what doesn't make sense is that, in Britain, it's legal to have sex at sixteen. Before video streaming came along, you could be banging someone legally, but have to wait a further two years before you could buy a video that showed someone else doing it. Granted, we don't have that problem any more. But then there's still lap dancing clubs, brothels... You've gotta be eighteen to use them. I dunno. I'm being rhetorical here. People change a lot in those two years of life. There's a reason why adulthood starts at eighteen. Around that age, you pull yourself together. You develop maturity. If you'd have met me at sixteen, you'd have met a geeky, weird kid who quoted films all day. If you'd have met me again at eighteen, You'd be talking to an adult who was knuckling down, learning a shitload of animal science- and was getting good at it. Someone who was serious about his passions- I mean zoology. But sex as well, obviously.”
Fluffy rolls his eyes. “Yes, Matt. Seperately. My point is, I'd matured. And so had everyone I'd gone through college with, whether they'd had sex or not. Sex is what turns a boy to a man and a girl to a woman. That's why you should at least be an adult, legally, when you do it. I mean, Would you shag a sixteen-year-old?”
“Hey,” I say. “I'm interviewing you. You feel quite strongly about the subject. Why's this a big deal for you?”
“I dunno. I probably read the papers too much. They say Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe, the highest STI rates in Europe and, it's probably not surprising, but Britains schools apparently offer the worst sex education in Europe as well. And that's according to Broadsheets. I don't know how we managed to get ourselves into this state. I think I understand animals a lot more than I understand people. Species by species, animal behaviour is usually more predictable.”
Fluffy sighs. “Well... I told you I was going to do this... Back when I was about twenty-five I met this girl in [house music club] Area 51. She flirted with me loads; she was all over me. Not shy at all. Went to hers. Somewhere in Tameside, I think. When we got out of the taxi I could tell from the ornaments in the window- and the fact that it was a decent, middle class house- that she lived with her parents. Fair enough, I thought. Once we got inside, though... she started to quieten down. She got really nervous. Then she told me she was only sixteen. She looked older, though, and after all, I still wasn't going to do anything illegal. And when you're in the moment like that, well, you don't slow down, do you? She was drunk, I was drunk, she didn't say no... so, well... you wouldn't just lean back and put the TV on, would you?”
Fluffy stares into his drink. The ice in his Glayva liqueur has melted.
“I felt like a total bastard afterwards. I thought, I'm not waiting for her parents to wake up. If I was her dad, I wouldn't be too impressed. I made a drunk decision to bail. Straight out the front door. Couldn't even lock it behind me. Never found out whether they got robbed or not. Well... I guess she did...”
“I guess she did! Nudge-nudge-wink-wink. And that's why you'd up the age of consent two years if you had the power?”
“But you do realise that upping the legal age of consent to eighteen would massively increase the number of people having 'underage sex'. Sixteen / seventeen-year-olds won't all change their habits. For example, here's another change in the law- do you think anyone put their joints out when cannabis was reclassified back from a C to a B again?”
Fluffy collapses back onto the couch. Head lolled back, he pinches the bridge of his nose, eyes closed.
“You're right,” he says. “People aren't going to change their habits just because the government tells them to. People are anti-establishment, especially around that sixteen, eighteen age. But something should change. And it's better to act and deal with the backlash than do nothing at all. Coupled with some actual decent sex education lessons throughout, say, fifth form, with a test and the end of it and a qualification to aim for, a raise of two years to the age limit would solve a lot of problems. I just hope that girl in tameside hasn't got too many.”
Given all the facts, is Fluffy right? What do you think about Britain's age of consent? Lower, raise or stay the same?