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Understanding How University Students Use Perceptions of Consent, Wantedness, and Pleasure in Labeling Rape.

Hills, P.J., Pleva, M., Seib, E. and Cole, T., 2021. Understanding How University Students Use Perceptions of Consent, Wantedness, and Pleasure in Labeling Rape. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 50, 247-262.

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Hills2020_Article_UnderstandingHowUniversityStud.pdf - Published Version
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DOI: 10.1007/s10508-020-01772-1


While the lack of consent is the only determining factor in considering whether a situation is rape or not, there is sufficient evidence that participants conflate wantedness with consent and pleasurableness with wantedness. Understanding how people appraise sexual scenarios may form the basis to develop appropriate educational packages. We conducted two large-scale qualitative studies in two UK universities in which participants read vignettes describing sexual encounters that were consensual or not, wanted or unwanted and pleasurable or not pleasurable. Participants provided free-text responses as to whether they perceived the scenarios to be rape or not and why they made these judgments. The second study replicated the results of the first and included a condition where participants imagined themselves as either the subject or initiator of the sexual encounter. The results indicate that a significant portion of our participants held attitudes reflecting rape myths and tended to blame the victim. Participants used distancing language when imagining themselves in the initiator condition. Participants indicated that they felt there were degrees of how much a scenario reflected rape rather than it simply being a dichotomy (rape or not). Such results indicate a lack of understanding of consent and rape and highlight avenues of potential educational materials for schools, universities or jurors.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Consent ; Pleasure ; Rape ; Rape myths ; Sex scripts ; Wantedness
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:34285
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:13 Jul 2020 12:51
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:23


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