Consent is too low a standard for promoting ethical sex, says Nicole Jeffrey. In an article published May 29 in the Conversation, the postdoctoral fellow and adjunct assistant professor of psychology argues that focusing on consent limits the ability to create better approaches to dealing with sexual violence.
“Moving beyond the language of consent will open new possibilities for promoting truly equitable and ethical sex,” Dr. Jeffrey writes. “At a minimum, we need to teach young people how to communicate more meaningfully about sex.”
She says that comprehensive sexual health education should teach that empathy, mutual decision-making, and ongoing communication are integral components of sex, rather than preconditions that take place only before.
“We need to teach and expect boys and men to listen to women’s desires and care about their well-being,” Jeffrey says. “Prevention programs that, in part, challenge what it means to relate as women and men are some of the most effective at reducing sexual violence.”
She concludes that concepts of consent should never have played more than a supporting role in defining ethical sex: “It’s time to shift the spotlight.”
The Conversation is an online publication featuring articles from academics and researchers around the world. Read Jeffrey’s entire article, “Focusing on consent ignores better ways of preventing sexual violence.”