Postfeminist sexual agency: Young women's negotiations of sexual consent
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Law and Justice
Standard models of sexual consent in sexual violence prevention campaigns suppose that women, as free and autonomous agents, are in control of their sexuality and are able to 'just say no' to unwanted sex. In this article, we suggest that the 'just say no' approach to sexual consent is deeply problematic in light of the contradictory ways in which women's empowerment is assumed within postfeminist discourses whilst masking ongoing gender imbalances. In addition, we problematise neoliberalist notions of the inherently free and hyper-responsible citizen by highlighting the persistence of sociostructural constraints on young women's sexual decision-making. We draw on an analysis of interviews with eight young women aged between 18 and 24 about their perceptions and experiences of everyday negotiations of consent in their casual and intimate sexual relationships with men.