The Historical Background Of Adolescent Subculture In Relation To Underage Marriage
The argument over how old is old enough has been a heated one for centuries. Different cultures have different standards regarding when a young girl enters into her womanhood and how her passage into womanhood is handled. When I was taking French in college, I read in one of my textbooks that girls entered into womanhood at 14 years of age in the French culture. In most Spanish-speaking countries, there is a celebration called a “quinceañera” that a girl has on her fifteenth birthday to celebrate her passage into womanhood. On the other hand, when I was talking with this one waitress about the drinking age laws here in our nation, she told me that she had heard that 30 years old was set as the age of maturity in some of the Jewish faiths. Different societies cannot seem to agree upon this one question of when one is no longer considered to be a child. Not even our nation’s most prominent English-language dictionaries are able to agree on this question. For example, one publication of Merriam-Webster’s English dictionary defined a child as a boy or girl before puberty. Other well-known dictionaries may define a child as someone who has not reached the age of majority yet. For example, the Cambridge dictionary defines a child as “a person from the time of birth until he or she is an adult.” What is so interesting is that I was once watching The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Oprah Winfrey stated that she had found out that one was considered to be a kid in the Japanese culture until he or she was 52 years of age. Then again, the Japanese have the luxury of longevity over other cultures.
Societal fundamentalists proclaiming themselves to be child advocates will argue that the frontal lobe of the brain is not fully developed until 25 years of age. However, that argument at best really only serves the purpose of providing a reason why our Federal government does not allow for anyone to run for office in the United States House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. until they are at least 25 years of age. However, even that argument could easily be contradicted by the fact that adolescents have ruled entire nations. Also, since the counterculture and flower power surfaced in the 1960s, youngsters have reinforced the fact again and again that life begins well before 25 years of age.
One custom that I find very interesting is that in the Cuban culture, the parents will require for a chaperone to accompany their teenage daughter and her suitor whenever their teenage daughter goes out on a date, especially when the suitor is significantly older than her. For example, if a 14-year-old girl wishes to date a 21-year-old man and she is Cuban, her parents will require a chaperone to accompany the two youngsters on their date. As a matter of fact, most Cubans will even apply this same custom when the teenage girl and her boyfriend are both the same age. As a result, their culture has fewer unwanted pregnancies and fewer sexually transmitted diseases among their teenagers than our culture does among ours. My response to this custom is that if it can work in the Cuban culture, then why can’t it work in the American culture? It would seem like a fair tradeoff between parents and their teenage daughters. Complete forbiddance appears to cause more problems than it prevents. Adolescent girls and young adult men are so much different now than they were years ago back when the talk show host, Steve Wilkos, was 16 years old himself. Perhaps that fact could explain why his lectures to his television talk show guests on how he only dated adolescent girls 16 years old and younger when he was 16 years old himself seems to go in one ear and out the other ear with them. They just can’t relate to his archaic logic.
If you look into world history, you will find that adolescent rulers over kingdoms and even entire empires was not something uncommon during the renaissance, the middle ages, and even before then. Take the example of Queen Isabella II. She first became the queen of Spain at the age of 13 in 1843. When she first came into power as a preteen in Spain after her mother, María Cristina, fled that country and went into exile, she had political dealings with American president, Martin Van Buren, and other American presidents who were elected into the Oval Office after him. She first had dealings with President Van Buren after the dispute between our nation and Spain transpired over the destiny of the African slaves from the Amistad. She remained on the Spanish throne until she was 38 years old. She was a powerful and effective leader to her country.
In 1770, Marie Antoinette first became the Princess (Dauphine) of France at the age of 14 after she married Louis XVI, who at the time was the Prince (Dauphin) of France. She was already an Austrian princess before she married him. Four years later, she became the Queen of France. In regard to her feelings about the poverty in France, she may have been rumored to say, “Let them eat cake.” However, historians later debunked that same rumor, and they proved that she had always had a soft spot of compassion in her heart for the less fortunate in France. Her ultimate execution was most unfortunate and very unjust, because her husband was not the brightest bulb in the bunch and he had placed her and their children’s lives into danger.
King Tut became the Pharaoh of Egypt before he was even a teenager back in 1332 B.C. His reign in Egypt has gone down in history and has remained a subject of interest for centuries since his existence. Five and a half years ago, I saw an edition of 60 Minutes in which Morley Safer interviewed a 13-year-old boy named Jacob Barnett who was already a sophomore at a university because of his precocious intellectual abilities. This young man was helping classmates 5 or more years older than him tackle complicated mathematical and scientific homework assignments. There have been other cases of adolescents his age who have gotten into a college or a university well before they would normally be entering into an institution of higher learning. I’ve even heard of stories about youngsters graduating from a college or a university at 12 years old. The point I’m making herein in contradiction to that of the previously aforementioned male news reporter from the RT network is that if adolescents as young as 12 years old have gotten into colleges or universities early, have gotten their Bachelor’s Degrees or even Master’s Degrees before they have gotten their driver’s licenses, and have even ruled entire nations, then adolescents who are ready for marriage must and do exist.
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