A common moral argument made against sex or sexual relationships between adults and minors is that there will always an imbalance of power between the adult and the minor involved. Because of this, such relationships are said to be exploitative, even if there is informed consent and the minor is not harmed either physically or psychologically by the experience. Assuming that such a scenario is possible - a minor gives informed consent to a sex act or a sexual relationship with an adult, and is not physically or psychologically damaged by what follows - is the imbalance of power between the adult and the minor really enough to render the adult's behaviour morally wrong or exploitative?

The reason why we worry about an imbalance of power in these cases is because where one party has more power over the other, it is possible that the other is being coerced by the more powerful party. It is not necessarily the existence of an imbalance that is problematic, but the potential this imbalance has to prevent the weaker party from making free and informed choices. The problem is exacerbated when the weaker party is a minor, as the issue of informed consent is trickier when we deal with children. Many believe that children are not capable of giving informed consent in any situation; certainly we would have reason to be concerned in situations where there also exists an imbalance of power. If we could really establish that the minor has given informed consent, then the existence of an imbalance of power might not in itself be problematic. But it is an extremely difficult task to establish the existence of informed consent in such cases, which is why most people think sexual relationships between minors and adults are exploitive.

Lorraine ends with "which is why most people think sexual relationships between minors and adults are exploitive." Yes, but it is also the reason that some philosophers, legal scholars, and feminists think that heterosexual relations are also coerced and exploitative. Men have power, woman have less. Hence female consent is in doubt. Assuming women are subordinated, how do we then argue against pedophilia but for adult heterosexuality?

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