(Article changed on October 21, 2012 at 09:03)
An overwhelming majority of first sexual contacts between the teenagers are in fact rapes even if those are never reported as such.
There, I said it. I had just watched the movie "Notes On The Scandal' in which a woman- teacher has an affair with a teenage boy somewhere in England. The woman is played by Kate Blanchett. Judy Dench co -- stars as an old spinster- teacher with lesbian tendencies. The affair was discovered, the woman went to jail, life went on. That's in a nutshell. Before going deeper I would like to recruit a powerful ally- Bill Shakespeare himself or rather his protagonists Romeo and Juliet. They will help me as always.
As Juliet's age is defined in a play explicitly (her father says that she is not less than 14 years old), our dear Western theatrical folks in an attempt to avoid Romeo being charged for a statutory rape usually rise her age and lower his. They make those two a pair of horny teenagers with raging hormones, candidates either for Prozac or for a Twilight Zone. As a result we watch an American Pie story happening in Verona, Italy. The spectators from the Elizabethan times would have thrown rotten apples at such a nonsense. They knew their time and Bill S. knew that too.
Yes, Virginia , Juliette was about 13.5 years old. Her mother gave birth to her at even more tender age. In those times it was quite a normal thing; people matured earlier as personalities and died earlier too. They could not afford sex education classes and waiting for the prom night to lose their virginity. A man was to assume the men's responsibilities at 18, the age when he could handle a sword and a woman- she should be able to bear children. Mind you, old Capulet, Juliette's father (a man of about 35- 40) was progressive- he considered that 16 would be an ideal age for his daughter to become a wife.
It is that very Capulet who gives us some clues about Romeo. For some strange reason he, the mortal enemy of Montagues, the Romeo's family, pays tribute to a young man, calls him wise and righteous, mentions that Romeo was respected in Verona for his politeness and good deeds and adamantly rebukes his nephew Tybalt when that one wants to expose Romeo who covertly joined to the Capulet's annual ball. That tells us two things: that Romeo was considered a mature adult- that places him at the age 18 or more and- that Capulet maybe would not mind deep in his heart if somehow that obviously honorable youngster would become a part of his family and thus stop the stupid feud which led to so many deaths. Then we find out from Romeo's friends that he already had passions and that he (inadvertently) was considered among the young men as an unofficial leader: they were a daring bunch but they all respected him more than a friend; they respected him as an older and wiser person. His friend Mercutio deliberately and very respectfully makes sure he is protected from possible immediate risks, sort of presuming that Romeo is there for something outstanding. Romeo himself, from the moment when he appears on the stage presents himself as a man of a powerful confidence, honorable but not violent, protective but not pig- headed, educated, very caring about his friends and possessing some kind of authority which comes only with experience and personality. Romeo is a true good man of his time and that puts him in the age of about 21 or so. Then it all falls into place: a young, but fully mature man woes a woman of the childbearing age to become his wife. That simple.
One particular idea shines through the whole play: Romeo, Juliet and ALL personalities are absolutely and unequivocally fearless. They have no fear in their hearts; their behavior is utterly natural. Juliet appears to be up to the challenge to fall in love and defend the feeling. Her intentions are honorable from the beginning to the end: she pursues love, marries a man she loves, then rejects the idea of deceiving God in a second marriage, joins willingly the plot to reunite with her true husband and when finding out about the tragic mistake -- kills herself. Not only that set of events is entirely honest and honorable- she is courageous beyond belief. Juliet rises in her last moments to the heights of Biblical heroines.