Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Volume 3, Issue 1
fall 2012
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Craig Canfield
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

Theory and Politics of Sexual Consent

by Connie Cho, '13

Professor Joe Fischel leads a dynamic but nuanced investigation of the possibilities and limitations of sexual consent as a model for "good sex." Alongside a rigorous foundation of political theory, Professor Fischel deftly navigates the class through the intricacies of feminist critique – Catharine MacKinnon, Sharon Marcus, and Kimberlé Crenshaw, you name it – as well as writings of legal scholars on the use of force, sexual autonomy or bodily integrity in shaping standards of sexual consent. Court cases are balanced by first-person narratives such as Latoya Peterson's moving reclamation, "The Not-Rape Epidemic," Michelle Tea's illustrated novel, Rent Girl, and interviews with sex workers of color. This course has also pushed our analytical boundaries in unexpected intellectual arenas like zoophilia through the documentary "Zoo," cyberspace through the  essay by Julian Dibbel, "A Rape in Cyberspace," and intergenerational sex through several films and theoretical texts.  I have deeply appreciated the intersectional approach fostered by the course materials and have often relayed our ideas on affirmative, enthusiastic consent to peers outside the class. Through honest inquiry of sometimes fantastical material, this course has opened up a remarkably intimate, safe and important intellectual space to question what we might believe about sex, violence, and sexual justice.

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