A FAIRY bursts through the bedroom window of sleeping girl.
FAIRY: Happy 18th Birthday!
GIRL shoots up in bed and turns on a lamp.
GIRL: Who the hell are you?
FAIRY: I am the magical Consent Fairy who bestows complete legal adult thinking upon all girls at the stroke of midnight on their 18th birthdays, which is the age at which a girl is legally able to consent in all 50 states. The day before your 18th birthday (or 16th or 17th birthday, depending on the state) it is illegal and gross for men to see you as a sexual partner. The day after it is great and totally fine!
GIRL: Is that — is that a group of men outside my window?
FAIRY: Don’t mind them! They’re just biding their time until you’re officially “legal,” which means they can’t go to prison for sleeping with you.
GIRL steps out of bed and closes the blinds.
GIRL: I’m gonna get my parents.
FAIRY: No, no, there’s no need to get your parents. This can stay just between us.
GIRL: Seems kinda creepy.
FAIRY: Do as I say. (Raises wand)
GIRL: (Sits on bed) So just like that, overnight I get adult thinking?
GIRL: But won’t my prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain used in complex decision-making, not even be fully developed until I’m well into my mid-twenties?
FAIRY: Wow, looks like someone is Wise Beyond Her Years! An Old Soul, even. Do you really need the age of consent, smarty-pants?
GIRL: Well I am different and more mature and intelligent than other girls. As my hot 25-year-old music tutor told me the other day when he put his hand on my knee: I’m special.
FAIRY: Exactly! All young girls are more mature and intelligent than other girls and, therefore, special. All of them.
GIRL: Cool. I’m sure I won’t look back on him when I’m 30 and see him as predatory. But why do different states have different ages of consent? Shouldn’t they at least be consistent within the country?
FAIRY: What happens is, when a minor moves from state to state their intelligence, maturity-level, and life experience magically fluctuate to meet that state’s legal requirements. Fun fact: In most states, the age of consent is actually 16, not 18!
GIRL: Wow, gross.
FAIRY: Not gross, legal.
GIRL: So what if I turn 17 in a state where that is the age of consent, then move to a state where it’s 18, then move from there to a place where it’s 16?
FAIRY: My, you ask a lot of questions!
GIRL: It just seems like a lot of this doesn’t make sense. Whatever. Are you going to my twin brother’s room next?
FAIRY: Age of Consent is more for girls. Is a boy really a boy if he needs protection, hon?
GIRL: That sounds really toxic.
FAIRY: Is “toxic” teen-speak for “cool”?
GIRL: No. What about my nonbinary friend Sam?
FAIRY: Your what? Look, I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.
GIRL: My cool older cousin — who, granted, has not met my hot music teacher — told me the age of consent is an arbitrary number that doesn’t take into consideration other forms of power imbalance. For instance, “how does a man know if his actions will ultimately traumatize a legal adult older than the age of consent but notably younger than him and/or on the lower end of a power dynamic, and given that in those situations trauma is always a risk factor, shouldn’t his actions be seen as predatory either way?”
FAIRY: Legally speaking, an older man doesn’t need to consider this at all, now does he?
MAN OUTSIDE WINDOW: No, he does not!