Research Handbook on Gender, Sexuality and the Law
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Research Handbook on Gender, Sexuality and the Law

Edited by Chris Ashford and Alexander Maine

This innovative and thought-provoking Research Handbook explores not only current debates in the area of gender, sexuality and the law but also points the way for future socio-legal research and scholarship. It presents wide-ranging insights and debates from across the globe, including Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Australia, with contributions from leading scholars and activists alongside exciting emergent voices.
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Chapter 30: Deviancy and illicit constructions

Brian Simpson


Childhood is a contradictory construct that contains narratives that tend to romanticise children as well as ‘darker’ notions that speak to their transgression and deviancy. In contemporary times, notions of childhood as an age of innocence have connected with increases in the regulation of intimate life, including its expression online, to dominate social and political discourse. However, there is another more confronting narrative of childhood that accepts that children may often have a level of maturity to make their own decisions, understand matters pertaining to their sexuality and question authority. While such narratives are often said to steal childhood and lead to deviancy and illicit behaviour, this chapter suggests that such outcomes lead us to question assumptions about what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in this context. In the result, acknowledging children’s right to transgress can disrupt the very definition of what is deviant or illicit.

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