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Written by Barb JA
(10/23/2009 12:39 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Age of Consent, penned by Bridget D
I'm not trying to say that because they had reached some arbitrary age of consent that it was suddenly OK for them to have sex. If a girl like Eliza had reached that age, that we're going to apply "it takes two to tango" idea, or "she was old enough to know what she was getting into" then why are we blaming any of the adults for their lack of guidance? My point was only that the very recognition that they needed adult guidance or to be chaperoned points to the fact they weren't mentally mature enough to make adult judgments about the situation they were in. I do believe they needed adult guidance.
It's interesting too, down below it was mentioned that Sophia was "of age". She was 21 so she could choose whom she wanted to marry and didn't need consent of her guardians. (At least I think that's what it meant. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.)
I have trouble find the right word but I see a great disparity, inequality, or unfairness in the idea that a 12 year old/16year old whatever is old enough to know better and if they have sex it's their own fault. Contrast that with the idea that the female must have consent from a guardian before they marry, unless they are age 21.
To further the point, Willoughby being an adult himself, was filling a void of adult guidance. He abused that age difference to guide these girls down the wrong path. I know we can say that Marianne to came to no lasting harm, but her story demonstrates how she was guided by him and was aping his behavior and as Barbara pointed out earlier, she thought she would know if she was doing wrong. Regardless of whether one believes he was calculating or just opportunistic (or both), it was an abuse by an adult authority figure.
I understand fully what others have said; those were the laws in place. Sexism was entrenched in the society and that legally Willoughby would not receive punishment...but it does not mean that Willoughby's behavior was any less morally reprehensible.
I know I have bored everyone with my rambling, so I'm sorry. I saw that I left words out of my prior post, which probably made it hard to understand. If we can agree that Willoughby is a villain, then we have found some common ground. I suppose we can leave it at that.
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