The scarlet umbrella is the international symbol of the sex workers’ rights movement

Complicating Consent

Consent has been a consistent theme throughout this module. In the section on Affirmative Consent, we saw that consent cannot be implied, that it must be positive and ongoing, that it can be retracted at any time, and that an unconscious person cannot be deemed consenting, whatever they may have said before they passed out. While the “Tea Consent” video made recognizing consent seem simple, we also saw that this a simple understanding of consent, in which we always know when something is consensual, has been questioned by feminists. For example, we saw anti-pornography feminists question the genuineness of consent in at least two contexts, that of sex work and that of BDSM. For anti-pornography feminists, women who perform in pornography and engage in sex work are likely coerced, whether by pornographers and pimps or by financial desperation. For these same feminists, women’s consent to masochistic sexuality is also up for debate, given that they see such sexuality as a consequence of women’s social conditioning and the internalization of their oppression. Affirmative consent takes us from “‘no’ means ‘no'” to “only ‘yes’ means ‘yes’,” however we saw that for some feminists, even “yes” may be questioned if takes place in a context of oppression or poverty.

Knowledge Check


The Sex Wars, Consent, and Ethical Sex

CHALLENGE ONE: One topic that was debated in the feminist sex wars but that was not taken up in this module is the contentiousness of butch-femme lesbian relationships. For this Challenge, do some research on this topic and write a report (500 – 750 words) on the two sides of this debate in the context of the feminist sex wars. Write a short report on your research findings and share it in the Challenge Sharing Forum by Friday at noon.

The Sex Wars, Consent, and Ethical Sex

CHALLENGE TWO: Write a short film review (500 – 750 words) of the documentary Zoo, that was an optional resource for this module and share it in the Challenge Sharing Forum. Your review should not only provide an overview and your own insights into the film, but should also show an understanding and engagement with concepts from this module by Friday at noon.