Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Sex and Harm in the Age of Consent

2016
Author:

Joseph J. Fischel

Sex and Harm in the Age of Consent

Exposing the fault lines underlying our regulation of sex

Sex and Harm in the Age of Consent cautions against the adoption of consent as our primary determinant of sexual freedom. Examining the representation of consent in U.S. law and media culture, Joseph J. Fischel contends that the figures of the sex offender and the child are consent’s alibi, enabling fictions that allow consent to do the work cut out for it under late modern sexual politics.

Sex and Harm in the Age of Consent is a strongly original, frequently brilliant, cross-disciplinary study of the limitations of consent for measuring sexual freedom and sexual harm.

Tim Dean, University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign

Sex and Harm in the Age of Consent cautions against the adoption of consent as our primary determinant of sexual freedom. For Joseph J. Fischel, consent is not necessarily always ethically sound. It is, he argues, a moralized fiction, and it churns out figures for its normativity: the predatory sex offender and the innocent child.

Examining the representation of consent in U.S. law and media culture, Fischel contends that the figures of the sex offender and the child are consent’s alibi, its negative space, enabling fictions that allow consent to do the work cut out for it under late modern sexual politics. Engaging legal, queer, feminist, and political theory, case law and statutory law, and media representations, Fischel proposes that we change our adjudicative terms from innocence, consent, and predation to vulnerability, sexual autonomy, and “peremption,” which he defines as the uncontrolled disqualification of possibility. Such a shift in theory, law, and life would be less damaging for young people, more responsive to sexual violence, and better for sex.

Sex and Harm in the Age of Consent

Joseph J. Fischel is assistant professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Yale University.

Sex and Harm in the Age of Consent

Sex and Harm in the Age of Consent is a strongly original, frequently brilliant, cross-disciplinary study of the limitations of consent for measuring sexual freedom and sexual harm.

Tim Dean, University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign

Joseph J. Fischel’s Sex and Harm in the Age of Consent offers a breathtakingly queer account of sex, perversion, innocence, and consent. His careful and complex reading of the social and legal meaning of the ‘sexual predator’ boldly challenges the common wisdom about the justifications for and consequences of regulating outlaw sexuality.

Katherine Franke, director, Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, Columbia Law School

A very well-researched book . . . I applaud the author for the depth and breadth of his scholarship.

PsycCRITIQUES

Sex and Harm in the Age of Consent

Contents
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Sex and the Ends of Consent
1. “Especially Heinous”: Politics, Predation, Sex Panics
2. Transcendent Homosexuals, Dangerous Sex Offenders
3. Numbers, Sex, Power: Age and Sexual Consent
4. Growing Somewhere? Journeys of Gendered Adolescence
Conclusion: Other Sex Scandals
Notes
Bibliography
Index