Youth rights, including the sexual liberation of children, is compatible with some interpretations of communism. Marxism views the nuclear family as a means for the subordination of children and women, exploitation upon which capitalism is supposedly dependent. Family values -- monogamy, homophobia, sexual suppression, and other enemies of free love -- are enforced to maintain the traditional family unit. According to some communists, extending rights to children would undermine the father's place of power and interrupt the inheritance of class and acceptance of classist models.
- "But perhaps the most important illustration of the link between struggle and sexuality is the Russian Revolution of 1917, in which the working class exploded the limits of capitalism. In the brief period in which the revolution flourished, the revolutionaries abolished all laws against homosexuality, introduced divorce by request, abortion on demand and repealed the age of consent laws."
The 1920s were a period of relative sexual openness for the USSR. Erotic "experimentation" was reportedly common during meetings of the Young Pioneer youth organization. Parents "complained that their 10–12 year old children came home at 3–4 am, declaring that they were at the Pioneer meetings and cut off parental protests with threats and accusations of counter-revolution."
The disempowerment of the working class by Stalinism in the 1930s roughly coincided with the start of a moral panic over "unhealthy relations" between children. It was claimed that "the abnormal sexual relations between children" had "taken on menacing proportions" and required "extreme measures." Sexual indulgence was thought to distract children from more productive activities. The state began to enforce a strict taboo against sexualities that did not conform to the Victorian model. The uniforms of one summer camp were criticized on the grounds that "pants are not entirely hygienic for girls, because they cause in them excessive friction in the sexual organs."
The problem of youth sexuality was eventually deemed severe enough for the state to segregate male and female schooling. Ann Livschiz writes that this action reflected the "fundamental social conservatism of the majority of the top political leadership of the country and their great fear of youth, and particularly female, sexuality, as a force that could not be overcome, controlled or fully harnessed for the service of the state."
- An immediate demand of the Communist Party of Great Britain: "The abolition of age-of-consent laws. We recognise the right of individuals to enter into the sexual relations they choose provided this does not conflict with the rights of others. Alternative legislation to protect children from sexual abuse."
- The Spartacist League: "Marxists oppose all laws against “crimes without victims,” such as prostitution, drug use or pornography. We utterly reject the practice whereby looking at pornography is equated with violent crimes such as rape, sexual assault and even murder. We also oppose the criminalization of those who look at child pornography which, like all pornography, is simply words and images designed for pleasure. [...] In line with this, we do not think intergenerational sex is by definition abusive, nor do we think incest is a priori a crime to be punished by the bourgeois state. [...] We oppose age of consent laws because we oppose state intervention into people’s private sexual activities. We do not accord the capitalist state the right to decree the age at which youth may engage in consensual sexual activity. To create genuinely free and equal relations between people in all spheres, including sex, requires nothing less than the destruction of this class system and the creation of a communist world. In a classless society, social and economic constraints over sexual relations will be non-existent, and in the words of Friedrich Engels, 'there is no other motive left except mutual inclination.'"
- The US Revolutionary Socialist League (disbanded): "We believe that all consensual sex is the business only of those involved. The state has no business regulating in any way expressions of sexuality between consenting persons of any number, sex, or age. The state's attempt to regulate youth sexuality in particular is rooted in young people's position as property of their parents and/or wards of the state. Young people are jailed in schools, economically exploited, and denied the most basic political rights. Society maintains this oppression by imposing the idea that young people are not capable of determing their own wants and needs, in particular their sexual needs and desires. We oppose age of consent laws. These laws deny the ability of young people to determine their own sexual needs and desires. They maintain the status of youth as property, and reinforce the closet for gay youth."
- Sandra Bloodworth: "Ultimately children will not gain genuine liberation until capitalism has been destroyed root and branch and a new society is built in which all human sexuality is encouraged and nurtured instead of despised and repressed."
- David Thorstad, founder of NAMBLA
- Shulamith Firestone, Marxist feminist
- "Sexual Liberation and Socialism," Socialist Alternative (Red Guide), issue 16, April 1997.
- Livschiz, Ann (2008). "Battling "Unhealthy Relations": Soviet Youth Sexuality as a Political Problem," Journal of Historical Sociology, 21(4), 397-416.
- Sebag-Montefiore, Simon (2007). Stalin and his lover aged 13, The Daily Mail, 11 May.