Age of consent (history of)
The age of consent is a modern construct. Historically, there have not been "ages of consent" for any activities humans engaged in. The idea that "consent" is only possible by a person who has reached a certain age began in the Age of Reason -- the renaissance.
Historic examples of "ages of consent"
In the U.S. constitution, formulated in the late 18th century, ages were set for those seeking certain political offices, for example, the president or senators.
The "age of consent" for sexual activity
RousseauDATE NEEDED AND OTHER REFS, in his writings, suggested that youth were "innocent," and needed to be "protected" from the knowledge of certain things.
Women, too, were seen to need "protection". Soon the ancient chivalrous practices were enshrined in laws to "protect" women. In the mid- to late 19th century, women began to speak out against their being prevented from engaging in political discourse (except "behind-the-scene" through their spouses.)
Women's right's movements began. There were a number of women who were activists. They were the first " feminists"
These women struggled hard to be given an equal standing with men. Meanwhile, other feminists were working to restrict the sexual rights of young people, as a reaction to the (assumed) "serious problem" of the rape of young females.
- See: NEED LINK TO WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE ON 19TH CENTURY HYSTERIA BY BRITISH NEWSPAPER EDITOR -- WHO LATER WAS CONVICTED OF KIDNAPPING A YOUNG GIRL IN ORDER TO FABRICATE A STORY ON THE TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN
But then some feminists realized that children, too, were being denied their rights as well. The second-wave feminists in the 1960s began to speak out for the rights of young people, including the young persons right to freely express their sexuality, which was denied to them by "age of consent" laws.
Beginning in the 1970s, there was a strong backlash by other feminist, the "third-wave feminists", who joined forces with the right-wing conservative Republicans to suppress not only sexual rights for young people, but the mere discussion of young people's sexual rights.