For most of human history young men were expected to go to war at about the same age that young women were expected to become mothers, probably within about a year of their first period. Were our ancestors just mistaken? And if so, about what? Or is it that twelve-year-olds today aren’t as mature as they were a few centuries back? And if they’re not, why aren’t they? Or maybe we think they could be just as mature, but we now enjoy both the life expectancy and the resources to afford them a few more years of carefree childhood.
Whether a) we’ve learned something we didn’t know before, or b) we’re accommodating delays in maturation, or c) we’re just over-coddling our young, I’m not in a position to pronounce. But clearly we’ve made decisions about the age of this or the age of that, and those decisions have been small-p political. They’re small-p political because if our material conditions changed we’d revisit those decisions.
But in the meantime, decisions once taken have a tendency to feel as if they’re principled rather than contingent. And this can cause us to embrace some very silly moral fictions. Such as? Such as that a twelve-year-old doesn’t want to pick up a gun but an eighteen-year-old does. Such as that a twelve-year-old can’t consent to sex, notwithstanding she might have initiated it.
I have no objection to these political decisions. But I do to the silliness that purports to justify them. I reserve my silliness for comedy, not political advocacy. Which no doubt is leading you to wonder, is this blog entry an attempt to make a point or just a joke?