No Underage Sex Please, We're British - Why We Need To Accept Teens Are Doing It Anyway

Teenagers are no more discouraged by the age of consent than footballers are by a motorway speeding ban.
Publish date:
January 16, 2013
age of consent, underage sex, teenage sex

In a review of personal freedoms, a Number 10 'policy unit' (nope, no idea what they are either) has dared to suggest the UK age of consent be reduced to 14. David Cameron, approaching the topic with the same lack of subtlety he approaches cuts to benefits, responded that the very notion was 'offensive' and apparently the debate is over.

'Fraid not Dave. Perhaps old Mr Filler Face can be forgiven for looking at this proposal in the current sexual climate, one tainted by the grubby touch of Jimmy Savile and absconding school teachers, where the collective conscious sees all teenage sex as non-consensual. But the inconvenient truth is that more than one-fifth of school-age girls have had sexual partners by the age of 14.

Teenagers are no more discouraged by the age of consent than footballers are by a motorway speeding ban. And a change in the law would have had little effect on the pit of hormones and confusion that was my comprehensive school.

At 14 I had all the sexual inclination of a stick insect. I had the working parts to go it alone, I think I just about had my period, but I was buggered if I was letting anyone else get involved.

But I can remember observing two distinct and exotic types of girl on the school bus – those who played at lust and those rare few who had it oozing from their pores. These girls prowled through the dinner hall, red hot and hormonal, like Penelope Cruz.

To this wide-eyed contemporary they were fascinating. To the teachers they were approached with terror and the side eye – they were a sexual bomb ready to explode, in danger of taking any male teacher in their vicinity down.

Trembling year-nine boys approached them with fear. The sixth-formers couldn't stay away. These authentic teenaged sex-pots were few and far between, but everybody noticed them – beacons of true sexuality among so many fake fondles and unwanted snogs.

Everybody matures at a different pace and to deny any woman is ready for sex at 14 is to deny basic biology. Teenage years are a mix of mental and bodily madness. And while I was sure as damn it I didn't want to have it off until the relatively ripe age of 17, I know women who lost their virginity at 14 with just such conviction.

The real question is whether any of these girls, or even the boys, has the emotional maturity to handle sex at fourteen. There's an stellar episode of My So-Called Life (they're all insanely good, but this one should be on the bloody curriculum) where Sharon Cherski talks to Angela about virginity and says: “The only strange thing [about losing your virginity] is that, after that, having sex was, like, expected. Because, you can't like, go back. I mean, it kinda stopped mattering if... I wanted to.”

After a woman becomes sexually active she doesn't only have to deal with sperm and breathing through blowies and crippling cystitis, but the myriad emotional crap that comes hand in hand (or P in V) with a sexual relationship.

Young women having sex need help, training, education and an open environment to discuss it. They should be able to speak to someone about how to explain to a randy teenage boy that they are just not in the mood.

They need to know how to say that they have needs beyond 30 seconds of foreplay and a quickie, that they can change their mind at any time. They need to know their desires aren't dirty, shameful, slutty or whatever their peers may label them behind their backs.

Sex education needs to extend beyond an Australian VHS called 'Have You Got Gonorrhoea?', the lesson that women have three holes and being shown a poorly rendered animation of a stiffy (my personal experience, thanks Egglescliffe Comp) and encapsulate all the crap that comes with shagging.

And until we stop pretending teenage sexuality exists, and as long as we keep thinking of it as 'offensive', none of these conversations can take place. And then who is left to explain sexual politics to these girls? Rihanna? God help us.

Was I a late bloomer? Does it matter? Were you ready for sex at 14? Could you have used more sex education? Tory does not discuss sex on Twitter – my Mum's on there @ToryFrostWrites.