Arguably Chaucer's Wife of Bath is one of the most famous literary portrayals of a sexually voracious woman expressing her sexual voraciousness in words. However, in today's slut-shaming parlance, the Wife of Bath would be described pejoratively as a "slut," as would sexually voracious under-age teen girls ("jail bait").
If certain under-age girls are not sexually voracious, then how did the term "jail bait" ever come to be widely known? Why do we in American culture today treat sexually voracious under-age girls as children? Do we Americans collectively actually think that it will help teenage girls grow up if we regard them as children?
In an essay titled "Sally Hemins, Thomas Jefferson and the Ways We Talk about Our Past" in the New York Times Book Review dated September 24, 2017, page 20, Harvard historian Annette Gordon-Reed says, "This was a bold gambit for a 16-year old [Sally Hemings], even at a time, unlike today, when females that age were not thought of as children. The age of consent in Virginia in the 1780s was 10, and was raised to 12 in the 1820s."
Many of our human ancestors staged not only male puberty rites but also female puberty rites as a ritualistic way to help young people of a certain age transit from being children to becoming adults.
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