Scripting Sexual Consent: Internalized Traditional Sexual Scripts and Sexual Consent Expectancies Among College Students

AuthorStacey J. T. Hust,Benjamin Bayly,Kathleen Boyce Rodgers
Published date01 February 2017
Date01 February 2017
S J. T. H, K B R,  B B
Washington State University
Scripting Sexual Consent: Internalized Traditional
Sexual Scripts and Sexual Consent Expectancies
Among College Students
College students are at a relatively high risk for
both sexual assault victimization and perpetra-
tion, and understanding sexual consent is imper-
ative to reduce the incidence of sexual assault.
Informed by the interactionist perspective of
feminist theory, we surveyed 447 undergraduate
students to identify factors associated with het-
erosexual college students’ expectancies related
to sexual consent. Womenwho believed in sexual
stereotypes and endorsed music that degrades
women were less likely than other women to
expect to engage in healthy negotiation of sexual
consent. Men who were condent that they could
avoid perpetrating nonsexual, physical interper-
sonal violence were statistically more likely to
report practicing healthy negotiation of sexual
consent. These results indicate that it is impor-
tant for practitioners to consider individuals’
sexual stereotypes in the prevention of interper-
sonal sexual violence.
Only seven of the 50 U.S. states explicitly dene
consent, and what legally constitutes sexual con-
sent is therefore not always clear (DeMatteo,
Galloway, Arnold, & Patel, 2015). Nonetheless,
Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, Wash-
ington State University, Pullman, WA, 99164–2520
Key Words: Interpersonal violence, sexual assault, sexual
consent, sexual stereotypes.
among college students in the United States
who completed the Campus Climate Survey on
Sexual Assault, 11% reported having experi-
enced nonconsensual sexual contact during the
2014–2015 academic year, and 21% of col-
lege seniors had experienced nonconsensual sex-
ual contact since starting college (Cantor et al.,
2015). Given such prevalence rates juxtaposed
to ambiguous legal guidelines, sexual assault
reduction programming has focused primarily
on encouraging individuals to verbally ask for
a partner’s verbal “yes” to participate in sexual
activity (Jozkowski, Peterson, Sanders, Dennis,
& Reece, 2014).
In practice, research on sexual consent has
found that individuals use a variety of verbal and
nonverbalcues to communicate theirwillingness
to participate in sexual activity (Humphreys,
2004; O’Bryne, Hansen, & Rapley, 2008;
O’Bryne, Rapley, & Hansen, 2006; Walker,
1997). Importantly, too, men and women often
report using different cues to communicate
consent (e.g., Jozkowski et al., 2014), and some
scholars believe the negotiation of sexual con-
sent is informed by culturally determined sexual
scripts (Bay-Cheng & Eliseo-Arras, 2008;
Conroy, Krishnakumar, & Leone, 2015; Ryan,
2011). The interactional feminist perspective
provides a theoretical framework for explaining
how gender differences have an impact on
negotiation of sexual consent by emphasizing
the important role of power within social inter-
actions wherein masculinity and femininity
Family Relations 66 (February 2017): 197–210 197

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