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Dr Tanya Serisier
School of Law, Birkbeck College

Reframings of consent over the last decade have provided a space for the enactment of new sexual ethics and politics. However, as these debates have increasingly been taken up by criminal justice agencies there has been a shift from an oppositional register that sees enthusiastic and affirmative consent as carrying the potential to overhaul (hetero)sexual norms to constructions of a binary of legal/illegal sex defined primarily through discourses of criminalisation. This paper asks about the consequences of attempting to reform sexual ethics and politics through a carceral horizon, arguing that these new forms of regulation may work to construct divisions between sexually respectable and dangerous sexual subjects in ways that mirror class and racial vectors of power. I argue that such a logic reinforces rather than contests heteronormative harms and power dynamics and reproduces longstanding tropes of sexual danger as arising from criminalised others rather than norms and dominant practices of (hetero)sex.

Dr Tanya Serisier is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her research sits at the intersection of criminology, gender and cultural studies, with a particular focus on social and cultural responses to sexual violence and on the social regulation of sexuality. Her recent book, Speaking Out: Feminism, Rape and Narrative Politics explores feminist attempts to use women’s narratives of sexual violence as a political weapon against rape. She is currently working on understandings of sexual danger and threat under neoliberalism.

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