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The age of consent and the ending of queer theory

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>22/10/2014
Issue number4
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)759-779
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article uses the debates surrounding the age of consent as a broad umbrella to question the continued usefulness of Queer Theory. The debates surrounding the age of consent illustrate that Queer Theory has not fulfilled its original promise and that it is not (and possibly never been), ‘fit for purpose’. Towards the end of 2013, the topic of lowering the age of consent in England and Wales was once again much in the news. This article suggests that much of that debate focused expressly or impliedly on the age of which men and boys have sexual intercourse (whether gay or straight), rather than when people have sexual intercourse. Queer Theory (originating from feminism), was intended to be a liberating phenomenon, but contrary to these hopes and intentions, Queer Theory evolved to become synonymous with white gay men, thus denying its origins and becoming distinctly anti-feminist. Those who argue for a reduction in the age of consent have used (whether knowingly or not) an approach which is consistent with this evolved version of Queer Theory. Consequently, the debate on the age of consent has ignored, or given insufficient attention to, the effect(s) a lowering of the age of consent will have on girls and women. This article, therefore, seeks to question, disrupt and unsettle, what Queer Theory has become, suggesting that, in several significant aspects, it fails to fully acknowledge patriarchy; render (lesbian) women visible; acknowledge and accommodate the lived experiences of women.