Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access




Abigail Kluchin

Committee Member

Kelly Sorensen

Committee Member

Kara McShane

Department Chair

Roger Florka

Project Description

Consent might seem like a straightforward concept, but within this thesis I argue that sexual consent has varying definitions which impact how it is understood. I examine the United States legal system’s definition and how it defines consent by placing focus on the accused. In looking at this definition, I analyze its impact in court cases such as the Brock Turner trial, the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, as well as Harvey Weinstein’s trial. I examine higher education’s definitions of consent and the way Title IX and the Jeanne Clery Act impact those definitions. Socially, the way consent is understood is impacted by rape culture and victim-blaming culture, and I examine how those two ideas affect social conceptions of consent. These three structures have differing ideas of what consent means, but it is my belief that there needs to be a more concrete definition and understanding of consent. I argue we need to rehabilitate the very concept of consent in order to offer a better understanding of what sexual consent should look and sound like. This definition of consent would be one that would be affirmative, clear, continuous, ethical, and given, not just received. I explain each of these criteria and their potential effects. If consent is rehabilitated, and if consent is taught at a younger age, I believe there would be a positive change in consent culture as well as how society understands sexual assault.