18 is not a magic number.
My mother has multiple mental issues, including an intellectual disability.
When I was 17, I was going to an event in the city. Might have been a metal gig, I don’t remember. My mother asked me how I was supposed to get home afterward, to which I replied that I could take a cab. At this, my mother was horrified. “No, the driver might rape you!” she protested.
I reminded my mother that she and my father had already decided to move to their new home six hours away from me in a year from now. “Once you’ve moved, are you planning on returning here to drive me yourselves every time I need a lift?”
“No, no,” my mother clarified, “by then you’ll be 18!”
“Oh,” I said, “so when the cab driver tries to rape me, I’ll just show him my ID, and he’ll be like ‘oh, I’m so sorry I tried to rape you, I didn’t know you were 18!’”
At this my mother laughed at herself, finally understanding the flaw in her logic. And the subject was dropped.
I sometimes think back at this memory and many other like it, usually to reaffirm to myself that yes, my family was pretty messed up, and there are reasons why I ended up with the problems I still struggle with.
BUT I DESPAIR when I see my mother’s brand of logic being perpetuated in fandom discourse today.
Turning 18 doesn’t magically transform you from a helpless, innocent victim to an invincible adult and potential abuser. That is not how any of this works.