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I don't know if Americans know this (or indeed ever had anything similar)... but for most of my life there was a double standard on the age of consent issue in the UK. The heterosexual age of consent was - and is - 16, but until 1994 the (male) homosexual aoc was 21 - TWENTY-ONE.

I think the general idea was to prevent teenage boys - in their hormonal/experimental/Public School/lust-crazed phase - doing something which they might regret. Something to do with the old idea that confusion about sexual-identity and sexual attraction is a normal part of adolescence. Yadda. It never made very much sense to me. 16 is old enough to leave school, get married, get a job, rent a flat; 17 is old enough to join the military and drive a car; 18 is legal adulthood, voting, drinking, etc... but you are not old enough or mature enough to decide to engage in male/male sex until you are 21? You (usually) graduate from *university* at 21! How can you seriously expect an entire demographic of young men to go all the way through school, Sixth Form/college and university without ever having sex?

In 1994 it was lowered to 18. (The UK version of Queer as Folk was incredibly brave: it portrayed a thirty-year-old (or so) character having sex with an underage teenager in the opening episode.)

Equity in this matter did not come into law until January 2001. (The age of consent is now 16 no matter who you want to have sex with.)

 I was reading a college-era AU in another fandom, when it occurred to me to wonder how (and whether) this disparity is handled in British-fandom slash-fics.

For example, in Harry Potter, James and Lily were 21 when they died in 1981. While the Magical World may have different laws which can handwave this, it means that Marauders-era slash, set in the UK, is technically illegal... well, until 1980/81 (depending on Peter's, Sirius's and Remus's birthdays), by which time they had already left school and were in the Order etc etc. Ditto for any Harry-era slash involving Hogwarts students under the age of 18 - and Harry didn't turn 18 until *after* that climatic battle.

Most archives seem to have rules about posting stories invoving under-age sex - or at least warning for it.  So what happens here? Obviously, the aoc laws have never stopped people having under-age sex - and it is both a stereotype and (from what I can tell) something of a truism that the British Public (meaning private/boarding) School system is a tower of homoeroticism and homeosexual behaviours... but do writers in British fandoms assume that the British aoc was always 16, or warn, or ignore it, or what?


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 22nd, 2009 12:30 pm (UTC)
That's interesting... I had no idea about that. Thanks for the info!

As to archives, I think people tend to operate on whatever the current laws are or use the laws for the physical location of the servers. Just because a story was set in 1800, doesn't mean that your content or method of distribution has to match the laws set during the 1800s.
May. 22nd, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC)
There's more legal craziness regarding homosexuality, if you're interested.

Until sometime in the 90s it was a *public decency* offence for two men to kiss/make out in a park, street or other public place. Same category of offence as streaking, or urinating in public.

Until the late 90s (1996/7? something like that) we had "Section 28" which meant that a homosexual lifestyle could not be "promoted" in our schools. Many Education Authorities interpreted this as "you cannot talk about homosexuality in Sex Ed".

We've come a long way in a very few years, baby! You know, given that we now have legal/civil partnerships for homosexual couples, gays in the military, etc.

As for archives and aoc, that makes sense. Femal aoc was 12 in the UK in the 1800s. Even in the 1850s. Victorian England had unknown thousands of girls of 11/12/13 working in its brothels. :( So much for Victorian middle-class morality. Actually, I can't remember when that changed...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


Dee Natsuko

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