The Age of Consent movement originated in 1885 as a part of the Social Purity Movement. The Social Purity Movement focused on eliminating sexual relations that were immoral. This included prostitution and sex before marriage. Like many women’s rights’ movements, both fought for equality to their male counterparts. However, the age of consent movement focused primarily on younger girls and their ability to consent to sexual relations. Before the movement and during the movement, girls were subjected to intercourse with men who were two, three and probably four times their age. Though the movement did not necessarily change the way some men thought about young girls it did change how many times they acted upon those thoughts. The Age of Consent movement was successful due to four things. The first being their fight for equality, the second being their emphasis on morals and the third being the addition of men into the movement. The most important reason the Age of Consent movement was so successful is due to one of the leaders of the group, Helen H. Gardener. Without her, the movement would not have had much of an influence on legislature.
The success of Helen H. Gardener before the Age of Consent movement is extremely relevant to why she is the most important person in the movement. At a young age she became interested in the differences between man and woman. Mostly the differences that were brought about by society. Men had an increasingly better advantage over women when it came to just about everything during this time period. She began writing about her findings. Though she did not want to focus on writing professional until later in her life, her writings would soon become the back bone to the ...
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... before marriage would still be committing a crime and should still be punished. Using Christian values was a different approach to the Age of Consent movement than the others. While they mostly blamed the men and pointed out the mistreatment of women, this viewpoint blamed everyone. The movement also called for the abolishment of the age of consent because it promoted lust and desire. Though different, focusing on morals was just as effective in getting supporters to change the way men treated women.
Changing the viewpoint of individuals and spreading it on to other is exactly what Helen Gardner’s research on the environment and heredity needed. If the environment continues to change then so will society and if society continues to change so will the environment. It took men, Christianity, and proof of inequality for the Age of Consent movement to be successful.
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