Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin
queerbychoice

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"Pedophilia" on LiveJournal

LiveJournal has just issued their latest rewording of their policy regarding "pedophilia." Since the Harry Potter fanfiction writers have already written plenty about the extremely vague explanation of what types of fiction LiveJournal considers "pedophilic," I'd like to shift some attention for a moment to a somewhat different aspect of the policy.

LiveJournal has officially defined the age of consent, for LiveJournal enforcement purposes, as 18 (following California law). It therefore appears that an 18-year-old dating a 17-year-old in the U.K., or in any of the numerous other countries or U.S. states where the age of consent is younger than 18, cannot write a LiveJournal entry that mentions having sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend . . . despite both participants being of legal age in their jurisdiction. Doing so could result in such a person having their LiveJournal permanently suspended on the grounds that they are a "pedophile."

Last time I checked, the supposed purpose of having a LiveJournal in the first place was supposed to involve writing about our lives. And at least in the lives of most 18-year-olds, having sex is likely to be a considerably significant event, probably not something that they would want to omit all mention of in their journal. According to the official LiveJournal statistics page, the most common age of a LiveJournal user is 19 years old. This makes for a huge percentage of the userbase that is barely over the California age of consent, yet plenty young enough to be likely to date people who are under the California age of consent. (Under California law, an 18-year-old can be prosecuted for having sex with a 17-year-old even if the 18-year-old is only one day older than the 17-year-old. The small age difference can be presented as a defense for the court to consider, but it doesn't inherently prevent the case from going to court.)

Also according to that same official LiveJournal statistics page, the vast majority of LiveJournal users seem to live in regions where the age of consent is younger than 18. LiveJournal only discloses information about the top 15 countries and U.S. states where its users live, but by matching these lists with the Wikipedia age of consent entry and the Avert.org age of consent charts, we can find the following:
  • The LiveJournal statistics page discloses the country of residence for a total of 4,894,406 LiveJournal users.

  • Of these 4,894,406 LiveJournal users, 9.99% live in Russia, where the age of consent is 16.

  • 6.89% of them live in New York, where the age of consent is 17.

  • 5.92% of them live in Canada, where the age of consent is "either 14 or 18, depending on circumstances."

  • 5.70% of them live in Michigan, where the age of consent is 16.

  • 5.16% of them live in the U.K., where the age of consent is either 17 (in Northern Ireland) or 16 (everywhere else).

  • 5.15% of them live in Texas, where the age of consent is 17.

  • 3.77% of them live in Massachusetts, where the age of consent is 16, except that for virgins who are pressured to have sex it is 18 (??!?!).

  • 3.19% of them live in Illinois, where the age of consent is 17.

  • 3.04% of them live in New Jersey, where the age of consent is 16.

  • 2.91% of them live in Ohio, where the age of consent is 16.

  • 2.76% of them live in Washington state, where the age of consent is 16.

  • 2.45% of them live in Australia, where the age of consent is either 17 (in South Australia or Tasmania) or 16 (everywhere else).

  • 2.20% of them live in the U.S. state of Georgia, where the age of consent is 16.

  • 2.01% of them live in North Carolina, where the age of consent is 16.

  • 1.20% of them live in the Ukraine, where the age of consent is 16.

  • 0.96% of them live in Singapore, where the age of consent is 16.

  • 0.91% of them live in Germany, where the age of consent is 16.

  • 0.73% of them live in Finland, where the age of consent is 16.

  • 0.60% of them live in Japan, where the age of consent is 13 (with varying local laws that raise it higher).

  • 0.50% of them live in the Netherlands, where the age of consent is 16.

  • 0.39% of them live in Belarus, where the age of consent is 16.

  • 0.38% of them live in Israel, where the age of consent is between 14 and 16.

  • 0.36% of them live in New Zealand, where the age of consent is 16.
All in all, at least 67.15% of the LiveJournal users whose country of residence we know about live in places where the age of consent is younger than 18. Another 27.78% of them live in places where the age of consent is 18. The remaining 5.07% of them live in undisclosed U.S. states so that we can't determine the age of consent in their jurisdictions.

In conclusion: approximately 67% to 72% of LiveJournal users have been informed today that they cannot write journal entries on LiveJournal about perfectly legal activities that are likely to be significant events in their own lives - and that they're quite likely to engage in, since the most common age of LiveJournal users is 19 - because if they do so, LiveJournal will consider them pedophiles and permanently suspend their accounts. (Even users who are middle-aged and haven't dated a 17-year-old since back when they were 18 years old apparently should not feel free to write journal entries reflecting upon their long-ago teenage love affairs, since LiveJournal would interpret that as a confession of having committed pedophilic acts in the long-ago past, no matter that the acts were perfectly legal in the jurisdictions of the participants.)

What is the point of an "online journal" website where approximately 67% to 72% of the users are not actually permitted to write about their lives???
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