Man/boy love and sexual freedom: a radical perspective

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In June 1980, the Revolutionary Socialist League (RSL), a group that was influenced by anarchist and Trotskyist views, said in a leaflet entitled, "Lesbian and Gay Liberation Through Socialist Revolution": "We believe that all consensual sex is the business only of those involved. The state has no business regulating in any way expressions of sexuality between consenting persons of any number, sex, or age. The state's attempt to regulate youth sexuality in particular is rooted in young people's position as property of their parents and/or wards of the state. Young people are jailed in schools, economically exploited, and denied the most basic political rights. Society maintains this oppression by imposing the idea that young people are not capable of determining their own wants and needs, in particular their sexual needs and desires. We oppose age-of-consent laws. These laws deny the ability of young people to determine their own sexual needs and desires. They maintain the status of youth as property, and reinforce the closet for gay youth." [...]

But age-of-consent laws never had anything to do with protecting anyone, and in fact those who defend them never offer evidence that they do. They cannot. The only thing these laws criminalize is consensual activity – in other words, the best kind of sexual activity. Moreover, they were first introduced under Queen Elizabeth I, and the age then was set at ten, because that was the age at which a girl was considered marriageable. As the private property of her parents, her own wishes were irrelevant. This aspect of the age-of-consent laws persists – the young person is to be forced by the state, against his or her own wishes, to remain "pure" and "undefiled" by sexual pleasure. The big change has been in the age, which has risen from ten (as it also was in the United States until the 19th century) to as high as twenty-one (England). As society has sought to prolong adolescence, it has increasingly denied young people the enjoyment of their own bodies, and that is the main purpose of these laws. [...]

The real crime of boy-lovers is that they refuse to play according to these rules. They are not all saints. But for the most part, they do conspire to shift power to the younger person. That is what society considers unforgivable.

source: Article 'Man/Boy Love and Sexual Freedom: A Radical Perspective' by David Thorstad; From the book 'Varieties of Man/Boy Love - Modern Western Contexts'; Edited by Mark Pascal; NAMBLA Journal 8; Wallace Hamilton Press, New York; 1992