Arguments that need to stop being made to defend certain ships—
"It’s not pedophilia, it’s ephebophilia!"
1- That doesn’t really make it much better? 2- Pedophilia is often used as a blanket term for Ephebophilia, Hebephilia, etc. Derailing a discussion to explain it’s not pedophilia but X, doesn’t help your argument.
"The age of consent is X in this one country."
First of all, 8 out of 10 times I see this argument being made for series with a fictional setting, so that’s not really that relevant. Second, if you paid attention to those laws besides the age listed, you’d see that most of these minimum age of consent laws still make it illegal for an adult to sleep with a minor.
"Back in the day, people married young! Sometimes to people who were much older!"
They also believed the earth was the center of the universe and had some strange ideas about medicine. Just because it’s old as dirt (and still happening) doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best thing.
If they’re old enough to die in battle, they’re old enough to have sex.
Okay. But there is a difference between the maturity to be involved in violence, and the maturity to be in a sexual relationship— especially one with an adult. Moreover, the trauma of battle has different effects on people and in some cases can actually stunt emotional growth. Really, if a young child is in battle, it’s a screwed-up situation to begin with.
"Age is just a number"
Except there are reasons why pedophilia and some age gaps are considered a bad thing? Good reasons? Do I really have to explain this?
- Statutory Rape
- Age of Consent
- You can find a lot of articles of people giving their accounts of their relationships with adults as teenagers, but I don’t have the stamina to dig them up today.
- One of the major issues is power imbalances between an adult and a younger person, and this is even more extreme between a student/student, employee/boss, or soldier/commanding officer.
There is something to say about the cultural differences on the subject and western ideas on consent vs. elsewhere, but most of these arguments listed are being made by people in western culture. (Things also get complicated in fictional settings with characters that age at a different rate or in a different way. But that’s a whole other subject I don’t feel like getting into today.)
Also, I’m not trying to say age gaps in and of themselves are always a bad thing as people are different and develop at different rates, and it certainly works out for many couples. I personally don’t have a problem as long as they’re both consenting adults or have a small age gap between people close to the legal age. (Though as you get older, most people find dating much younger people unappealing anyways because of maturity level, life experience and general attractiveness, not just because of laws.)
Ultimately, my issue is less to do with people shipping adult/minor pairings or the pairings themselves, but with the arguments made to justify them. Do what you want, but understand there are good reasons why people are troubled and triggered by these pairings, and don’t dismiss every criticism as mindless hate.
"It’s just fictional" is one of the most common arguments used in these discussions. While that may be true in theory, when you’re talking about the justifications for the pairing, and bringing out laws or history, you do begin talking about the real world, and even fanart can hit a little close to home sometimes.