‘An adult thing'? Young people’s perspectives on the heterosexual age of consent’

Thomson, Rachel (2004). ‘An adult thing'? Young people’s perspectives on the heterosexual age of consent’. Sexualities, 7(2) pp. 133–149.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460704042160

URL: http://sexualities.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstrac...


Historically, the heterosexual age of consent in Britain has enshrined in law an asymmetrically gendered model of sexual agency. This legislation is currently under review as part of a wider review of the law on sexual offences premised on gender neutrality. In this paper young people’s own perspectives are explored, through discussion of the proposition that the age of consent for heterosexuals should be lowered to 14. The ensuing focus group discussions with 11-16 year olds discussions reflect the active way in which young people encounter and negotiate the institutionalisation of heterosexuality represented by such legislation. The paper explores young people’s perspectives through themes of legality, protection and timeliness, seeking to distinguish between how young people may evaluate or use the existing legal framework and the factors that they believe make sex legitimate.

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