RISK, RESPECT & UNSPEAKABLE ACTS : Untangling Intimate-Sexual Consent through 'Intuitive Inquiry' & 'Agential Realism'

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Centrum för genusforskning (from 2013)

Abstract: In an attempt to address the issues in research and theory on consent, this thesis explores what consent can be seen as "doing" through an 'Intuitive Inquiry' (Anderson 2011a) and 'Agential Realism' (Barad 2007). Various manifestations of consent appears through: the experience of the researcher, consent research and theory, consent legislation, interviews with professionals in intimate-sexual consent, and, feminist fanzines. Consent evokes issues around agency, power, communication, respect, violence, risk, morals and ethics that go beyond sexual-intimate negotiation. Consent emerges as multiple, complex and fluid in 'intra-action' (ibid.) with the context. Entanglements and paradoxes of consent are further explored in 'diffractive analysis' (ibid.) through "bodily autonomy" and"rights/obligations". As a phenomenon, consent appears to make agency and power intelligible (to different degrees), but, can not be said to provide a viable strategy against sexual violence. The tenets of consent discourse risk (re)producing anxieties around intimacy and sex, responsibilizing survivors and obfuscating sexual violence. Further and improved research on communication in everyday sexual negotiation, sexual violence, consent legislation and what consent "does" is urgently needed.Through creative method and new epistemology the thesis (re)presents a knowledge process true to lived experience, as well as, an invitation to pull the terrible wonderful world, it's complexities, and us in it, closer.

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