This essay considers sexual offence legislation that automatically criminalizes sexual relationships between teachers and students where the latter are over the general age of consent. Examining an Australian criminal case, it critiques the model of sovereign power informing such legislation, suggesting that it forecloses critical questions of subjectivity and intersubjective dynamics. Far from innocuous, the author argues that this model of power and its foreclosures misrecognize the teacher–student relationships under scrutiny and often create far greater harm than do the sexual relationships themselves. An alternative model of multi-dimensional inter/subjective power relations is proposed as a way of analysing interpersonal relationships, giving due weight to adolescent agency, encouraging responsible sexual citizenship and preventing unnecessary prosecutions and collateral damage.
- teacher–student sex
- sex crime