Preponing adulthood

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | NISHA JAMVWAL
Published Aug 17, 2016, 12:07 am IST
Updated Aug 17, 2016, 7:22 am IST
In an era defined by the free mingling of the sexes, the notions of sexual maturity and adulthood seem to be undergoing a few drastic redefinitions
Still from Juno
 Still from Juno

I recently came across an article where actor Ranveer Singh spoke about always using condoms for safe sex. It sparked off a few thoughts in my mind. Casual sex is as common as table salt now — all you need is the inclination, the opportunity and an acquiescing partner. And this is undoubtedly more prevalent in film and theatre circles. But what struck me as a bit radical was the easy mention of it in a newspaper interview, as a matter of course. Times have changed drastically. Living, studying or working away from their homes, many individuals are now brought up to be equipped for self-dependence. What comes with that is a liberation of thought, word and action. A free, spontaneous mingling of the sexes describes our times.

In my somewhat old fashioned point of view, this does not necessarily ensure an adherence to values, morality, commitment or fidelity. There is always the danger of being sucked into a societal black hole. What is probably happening is that with wider exposure, along with the Internet being all-pervading in metropolitan lives, and decreasing insularity in social circles, erstwhile restrictions are coming undone. People are also broadening their thinking in accordance with these changes.

 

The current debate in the United States is whether or not the consensual age for sex should be lowered to 13, so long as the parents and the partners agree. The ones for the motion argue that puberty is attained before 12 today, and right from the age of seven an individual is able to know the difference between right and wrong. Their argument is that these children grow up and are accountable earlier, and are also biologically programmed for consensual intercourse.

A research paper that argues this point explains, “For at least the first couple of centuries A.D. and earlier, people were married and supported themselves usually between ages 11 and 14. They handled all adult responsibilities, including sex. If they could do it then, why not now?” It further suggests that by curtailing individuals who are 13 or older, we are doing them a disservice and that by allowing them to do what they are naturally programmed to do we would be allowing them to become responsible, accountable adults.

 

My friends tell me that if they push their moral code upon their kids, they stand to alienate their children. “They will do what they have to anyway. It’s smarter for us to accept this and work around the current scenario by insisting on safe sex in the very least. That way, they are protected and bring their partners home so we can meet the people they are engaging with. They do not hide or lie either, so we are at least in the knowing.”

After all, change is inevitable and undeniable. And not all of it is negative. Relationships are still precious and spontaneous. They consist of strong bridges that connect us, and we still value them. Sure, some bridges are strong enough to stand the test of time and some aren’t, but the ones that do endure are the ones that define us for life.

 

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