The Camp Vamp: Katrina Fox

Commentary on GLBTIQ issues, social justice and some of life's quirks.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Underage sex

Oh, it’s a hot potato, isn’t it? A 26-year-old female teacher from Brisbane is allegedly seen “kissing and cuddling” with a 14-year-old female pupil during a two-year “sexual affair” (pupil is now 17) and the moral campaigners launch their battlecry to “Raise the age of consent to protect the children”.

Some of the more religious fundamentalists will even put their homophobia temporarily to one side to “link arm in arm” with GLBT people to achieve such a goal, as the recent bizarre alliance between gay activist Gary Burns and Christian Democratic Party Parliamentary Leader Reverend Fred Nile showed. Nile is putting forward a Bill to raise the age of consent to 18 in NSW in an attempt to “curb paedophile activity”.

I don’t suppose I’m the only queer person in Sydney that finds this disturbing, just as I’m pretty sure I’m not the only lesbian to have seen the photo in The Daily Telegraph of Amanda Louise Thompson, the young blonde Brisbane teacher with cheekbones to die for and wished I had a teacher as gorgeous as that who would have whisked me off to an empty classroom at lunchtime to introduce me to the pleasures of the female flesh when I was 14. Never mind algebra and trigonometry, that’s what I would have considered a proper education!

Seriously though, raising the age of consent only plays into the hands of child abusers and moralists who refuse to accept that young people under the age of 16 have sexual feelings and want to act on them. Canada, Germany, Italy and eight other European countries already have an equal age of consent of 14, which applies either in all or some circumstances (for example in the Netherlands a young person can have sex at 12 with someone up to 16). Interestingly, according to UK-based gay rights activist Peter Tatchell’s research, most of these countries have fewer teenage pregnancies, abortions and HIV infections as well as a higher average age of first sexual intercourse.

Raising the age of consent won’t stop child sex abuse because perpetrators ignore the law. I’m with those who argue it’s better to equip youngsters from an early age with candid sex education and empowerment, including a requirement for schools to teach pupils how to deal with sex pests, and to offer sexual assertiveness training so they feel confident to say ‘no’ to people who try to pressure them into having sex.

This seems like a more sensible solution than getting into bed with right-wing religious fanatics to promote a futile anti-sex/abstinence agenda. Young people of all sexualities are willingly having sex at earlier ages than before and we have to deal with that in a more constructive manner than simply telling them they have no rights or control over their bodies by raising the age of consent. As for the 14-year-old Queensland girl, what I want to know is … did she get good marks?


  • At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Katrina,

    I understand your views on the need for earlier empowerment of children.

    I was first abused at 13 by our school counselor and I could certainly have benefited from having had some training or 'how to run away from paedophiles' lessons.

    You have to understand that everyone is different. While you feel now (as an adult) that you would have loved that at 14, I was a 13 year old boy and I do not regard any of the sick things he did as an 'education' better than algebra, as you jokingly state.

    Your flippant comments about whether or not that girl got good marks are not helpful. Would you consider a similar remark about whether or not an adult woman raped by her boss 'got a promotion' as suitable? I hope not.

  • At 10:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You make the point that lowering the age of consent is a wise choice in an age where younger and younger people are having sex. My issue with that is that whilst it may be the case, biology has not changed.
    Many fourteen year olds are still sexually undeveloped, not to mention the emotional immaturity prevalent among that age demographic.
    By legalising sex for 14 year olds, you are giving license to a host of pedophiles who would see a goldmine of sexually undeveloped 14 year olds and pounce on the opportunity, where if they were to do so under the current law they would be penalized for acting on their sickness.
    I find it rather insulting that you seem to believe that just because some of us concerned queers are not for the legalising of all manner of stupidity that somehow we're prudes, betraying the sisterhood as it were.
    I do give you this, I disapprove of queer-fundamentalist alliances and I believe sex education should be much more thorough.
    Finally, you should be ashamed, your insinuation that a teacher abusing the sacred teacher/student relationship is something to laugh about, and an alternative to learning, is in high poor taste. As for questioning whether the girl 'got good marks' how dare you, comments of that calibre are in the same league as those of male rapists who blame their actions on a woman's clothing or insist that she enjoyed it, or those of a Nun who insists her rape of her male charges was quality sexual education.
    I am 18, a person of colour and gay, and I find this piece outrageous.


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