"You can feel that on the person": Danish Young Peoples Notions and Experiences of Sexual (Non)Consenting

Katrine Bindesbøl Holm Johansen*, Bodil Maria Pedersen, Tine Tjørnhøj-Thomsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This paper seeks to gain insight into the experiential dimensions of sexual consent as the basis for distinguishing sex from a sexual violation. Based on focus group and individual interviews with young people in Denmark we seek to explore how sexual experiences are co-constituted by discourses and experiences. We do this by exploring how young people interpret, what we conceptualize as consenting vis-à-vis non-consenting to sex and analysing how these notions are present in, or resisted by, experiences of unwanted sex. Drawing on Andrew Sayer’s needs-based conceptualization of human beings with a capacity for “emotional reason”, we show that young people’s notions of consenting is conditioned by a situated “sensing” based on care for the other. Secondly, we show that when and for whom to care for may be related to the relational context, the opportunity for individual pleasure and homosocial recognition. This leaves room for two inconsistent notions of non-consenting. Finally, we suggest that sexual violations may not be based on miscommunication but a lack of commitment to “sensing,” informed by gendered dispositions to act on opportunism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)4-17
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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