Age of consent in anarchist perspective

Submitted by Bezotcovschina in AskRaddle (edited )

I know, I know, it's a bit of a tricky question. So I'll try my best to ask it properly.

So, I've had a conversation with my, let's say, friend:

Me: ...ancaps are not anarchists... ...caricatural ancaps support an abolition of an age of consent.

Friend: Wait, doesn't anarchists support an abolition of an age of consent either? How anarchists decide what the age of consent is?

Me: Not at all! An age of consent is to be determined by a community!

Friend: So, if you have a sex with a minor, and nobody argue, then it's ok?

Me: Well... basically... it's seems to be correct...

Friend: And, if your view on an age of consent doesn't match a communal view, theoretically, you always can find a community with the same view as youth?

Me: I guess so...

So, I've got caught off guard. So I want to ask the Raddle community about how to answer questions about an age of consent in anarchist perspective.

Edit: Grammar



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debored wrote (edited )

I think the critique of the age of consent for anarchists is that it is legalistic. An arbitrary number does not tell us if abuse is present. While there are hard limits that can be set, there's a whole lot of contextual grey area & the freedom of young people need to be kept in mind.

The problem with ancaps is that they usually have zero analysis of unequal power relationships. For them, if it isn't illegal to have sex with minors, and there isn't a clear breach of consent, then the adult is entirely in the clear. Their idea of consent is usually very legalistic ie. well they didn't explicitly say no so therefore no abuse (similar to the "well you agreed to work for your boss therefore no exploitation"). Like there are plenty of libertarians who will straight up argue that if the child takes part voluntarily then it's not abuse (Thaddeus Russell for example).


hermit_dragon wrote

I don't know if my perspective is appropriately anarchist, but I've decided to stop worrying about that regarding this kind of thing. I'll just speak as a survivor of CSA.

So in a nutshell? My argument would be: Raping children is not okay, and I'm not going to be okay with any anarchist who claims it's anarchist or 'liberating the youth' to rape children. And that's all that need be said to them, imo.

That doesn't mean I ignore nuance when it comes to teens etc, or want to ignore how things like age of consent are legally imposed, and how they are badly imposed (arresting teenagers for sharing nude pictures with other teenagers, for eg) but I don't think people like your friend are arguing in good faith.

I think we don't have to have a detailed intellectual argument as to why and how raping children is not okay. I think it should be ok to just be like 'I'm not okay with rape, especially of children/vulnerable people within others power/people in others care'. I think most people actually do understand that power differentials, maturity, anatomy, etc mean that there's no such thing as 'adult sex with children' or 'attraction to children' - just 'wanting to rape vulnerable people who cannot fight back and can be entirely controlled by you'. That's why I call them pedosadists.

In fact, I'm suuuuuuper exhausted with how this is 'the argument' a lot of people in anarchist spaces seem to want to have. I'm tired of having to be on guard for apologism everywhere I go. Like, with all the issues we're facing, of all the things we could focus on, some folks seem oddly invested in putting all their energy into 'abolish age of consent!!'?

Personally, I find anyone who focuses on that 'argument' instantly suspicious, and probably a predator, and therefore not worth the energy of a real discussion. Like why would folks go around arguing about how pedosadism is maybe ok unless they have some kind of vested interest? >_>

So yeah - I guess how I'd end that argument is with 'why are you so invested in this argument, friend? Why is this what you want to explore right now?'


celebratedrecluse wrote

sounds like you ran into an archetypal stumbling block of anarchist discourse, the fixation on process over outcomes. Fuck the community, and fuck the individual: we're talking about what world we want to live in, not what kind of world hypothetical people might hypothetically want to live in.

It's about coercion. If you coerce or pressure someone into sex or doing something sexualized-- with physical force, but also with emotional blackmail, with begging, with repeated insistent requests, by lying or taking advantage of some sort of power differential between you and the other person, including those of class or gender or age-- then you've committed sexual misconduct, no doubt about it.

Sex is something to be participated in freely, not something that you extract from others. There are a lot of sexual norms that are in fact enshrined sexual misconduct: patriarchal traditional marriages, the predatory buying of sex work from desperate people instead of aiding them without expectation of their body/labor in return, toxic sexual expectations in dating culture, and more. this is what is meant by "rape culture": it is the spillover of capitalist commodity fetishism to the terrain of human sexuality.

It is good for anarchists to be internally consistent, by ensuring that their relationships are as free from coercion as possible. This also has the positive effect of building strong communities resilient against informants, unburdened by ineffective interventions of the police to address abuse in our communities, and lessened trauma and social division amongst fellow radicals and anarchists.

I suggest everyone read "Why misogynists Make great informants", which is a great primer on why actively anti-coercive relationships are for anarchists not just an ethical or personal imperative, but a collective and political one as well.


Bezotcovschina OP wrote (edited )

I've just reread my post and realized, how my responses are problematic and fucked up... The hell I've thought answering "An age of consent is to be determined by a community!" Sorry. Now I see.


Majrelende wrote (edited )

Age of consent is already quite cultural— even if the laws go away, people will still be disgusted by paedophilia and make attempts to prevent it. Murder is often considered unacceptable not because there are laws in place but because it disgusts people— the same applies to age-of-consent cases. There does not have to be an “official” age of consent, but it could instead be culturally defined— for example, if you asked around a town, the average answer might be “18”.


asbestosstar wrote

what about people who are teens who themselves want sex? I mostly mean like 15-17


asbestosstar wrote

I believe if there is an age of consent, it should be much lower than it is now. Many teenagers may want to have sex because they just want it, especially if both people are in the same approximate age. I do not think being forced or being put pressure on counts as "wanting" it though, and that can be considered rape. In general, I think that if someone wants to have sex, even if they are fairly young, they should be able to, though it will be better for them to be educated on sex (by the time you start wanting sex you probably would have already learned a bit from sexed). Because people who are minors may sometimes go the distance to get around the age of consent law (like faking their age or just having sex with their friends in secret.). I think 13-14 would be an ok age of consent, which is around the time in my experience when the hormones come and they have learned the potential consequences, and they are generally fairly smart and can make lots of decisions themselves and are often starting puberty.

Though, I don't know how we will stop any one from leaving the commune to join another.

By the way, if it makes any difference, I am 16 as of the time of writing this, and the age of consent where I live is 18, which means I am bellow the age of consent.