Let's talk about sex.
Sex is the most important thing that happens on the planet. If you don't believe me, try growing food without it. Everything that lives has to eat, and only the simplest lifeforms reproduce asexually. Of course you could still have a planet with only the simple lifeforms, but that's not what life itself works towards. It works towards complexity, and it did so a long time ago. Sex is what has created the world we know, so we should laud it for what it is.
In most animals, and in plants, the timing of sex is governed by cycles, be it oestrus or pollination. Humans (and rabbits) are "ready" for sex at just about any time. Quite why this is, is a bit of a mystery. We are only fertile at certain times (unlike rabbits), so the urge to have sex does not correlate with the ability to fertilize.
It stands to reason then, that in humans (and indeed in other animals, not just dolphins, no matter what you've heard) having sex is NOT only about reproduction. It is about pleasure. Yes, animals are often stimulated to have sex from the smell caused by oestrus, my rams leave the girls alone at all other times, despite running free with them. But many species, not just so-called higher animals, presumably do it because they like it. We don't know for sure, because we can't ask them, but it takes effort to have sex, on the whole. Energy is used up. Animals do not expend energy for no reason at all. That is a prime rule of nature. The reason for it may not be a good one, and it may not be obvious, but everything we do has a purpose, even if that purpose is only pleasure.
Of course it may not be pleasurable for both parties. Ducks are notorious gang rapists, and it's quite plain that the female is not having any fun at all. She doesn't get a choice, and may not personally benefit from it in any way, but her species gets to continue, because her eggs are fertile. Remember, when it comes to it, the whole "plan" is that, not the benefit to the individual. The drive of life is to continue, and it's a very powerful drive. If you've ever seen a tree growing out of bare rock, a beetle with several legs missing, dragging itself around, or indeed the flowers on bomb sites, you can't help but be reminded of this. That drive is what causes animals, from hormones mostly, to have an urge for sex.
As humans we like to think we are not animals, but we are. We have animal urges. Yes, even the female of the species. Women are blessed with several things other animals may or may not have:
1) Men who are ready for sex at just about any time.
2) The ability to enjoy sex; to do it for no other reason than fun
3) In the modern world, the ability to enjoy sex without risk of pregnancy.
4) In theory, in the modern world, the ability to choose when we don't want to have sex.
Of course that last one is in theory, because unfortunately, all too often the male sex drive is so strong it causes men to break the law, and harm women, by forcing sex on them against their will.
There is this idea, put around by men, that they can't help themselves. That they are completely controlled by their hormones, their sexual urges, and that the poor dears should be understood as the potential rapists they are. It never ceases to amaze me that men would want to admit that they are pathetic, helpless beasts that can't stop themselves from doing something that is morally and legally wrong. But this is the reasoning used to excuse them. This is why in so many cases they blame the woman for being just so damned alluring.
Rape is not a new crime. It was mentioned in all the ancient texts, including the Bible. Unfortunately the Bible often condones it, but at least its writers were aware of what it was. Even when there were strict laws against rape it only applied to certain women, for example Hammurabic law only protected virgins, and indeed laws against rape within marriage are new, being created only in the last few decades.
Laws (and attitudes) with regard to sex with young girls has varied widely over the centuries and across the planet. In the modern world, in most developed countries, there are laws to do with age of consent, that is to say, any girl under that age is deemed to be too young to choose for herself whether she is ready for sexual behaviour or not, and the law protects her even in situations where there is no suggestion of rape. This age varies quite a bit. In Tunisia it's 21, in Angola it is 12. In Bolivia it is "at puberty". In most of the world it is 15-16. But let's not pretend that these laws actually protect girls from unwanted sexual activity.
The fact is simply, that anyone with half a brain can recognize that there is a time when a girl is not ready. Bolivia is at least being logical in a biological sort of way. Before puberty a girl is obviously not intended (by nature) to have sex. Puberty is sexual maturity. A female animal is no longer a child, she can reproduce. Does that mean she is ready to do it?
Let me give you another farmer anecdote. Last year we sold all our female lambs, because our flock was at maximum. We only have a small barn, and overcrowding leads to problems. Therefore this year we didn't have any yearlings having lambs. The result was a great lambing season with very few losses, and in all cases the losses were not the fault of the mother. It is common, to the point of normal, for a yearling to be a poor mother. She is just clueless, and we can't talk to her to tell her what to do. Animals have to have the right instincts to tend to their babies. Sometimes with enough encouragement they can be persuaded to allow the lamb to feed, but results are patchy. By the time she's another year older, even if it is her first time, she'll do better.
If a human girl was to have a child at the age of 12, she'd need massive support. She's still a child herself and although she may be fertile, she's not ready for the responsibility of motherhood, and also there can be damage to her body from enduring a pregnancy before she is fully grown. So puberty is not, instantly, a sign that she is ready for all that sex can lead to.
But there's something else. Humans have very complex psyches. Unlike most animals, we often can not dissociate the act of sex (physical) with the emotional ramifications. There is some dispute as to exactly how much of this is taught (cultural). It could be argued that if a society routinely allowed or even encouraged everyone to have sex with anyone, at any time, with no restrictions, and if girls were brought up to expect that, that they might not suffer from the experience of constant sexual activity, even unwanted. Bonobos behave in this way and do not appear to be harmed by it, in fact it appears to be what holds their society together. However, the fact is that human society is NOT the same as Bonobo society, and women DO suffer from unwanted sex, unwanted attention, and from sex too early.
To avoid the risk of girls being taken advantage of, we teach them various ways to avoid sex. In some cultures they simply don't get the opportunity to be alone with men. In the west we teach them that they have rights, and that they must scream when assaulted, and report assaults if they have been unable to avoid them. We assume that for the most part, men will leave young girls alone, due to laws, morality, and common sense. It doesn't work.
That's enough for now, I'll continue, thanks for all your kind words about this blog series:)