Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Criminology and Justice Honours


School of Law and Justice


Faculty of Business and Law

First Advisor

Dr Karine Hamilton


This thesis examines young heterosexual women's negotiations of sexual consent in their casual sexual encounters and intimate sexual relationships with men, and their perceptions and understandings of consent and sexual violence with regard to these different sexual contexts. It explores the nature of young women's negotiations of sexual consent with the intention of facilitating a deeper understanding of the issue of women's consensual engagement in unwanted, pressured and coerced sexual activity. This thesis fills a void in the qualitative research literature on how consent is actually negotiated in everyday (hetero) sexual encounters through analysing the interviews of eight young women aged between 18 and 24 within a postmodern feminist theoretical framework incorporating some aspects of the sociological theory of Pierre Bourdieu. It argues that negotiating consent is a complex process highly influenced by the implicit presence of gendered norms that often constrain young women's ability to freely negotiate their sexual choices without their conscious awareness. It therefore draws attention to the limitations of legal and sexual violence prevention discourses that promote a woman's sexual autonomy and responsibility for explicitly conveying her willingness or unwillingness to engage in sexual relations.