Sexual consent and alcohol intoxication among youth

A qualitative study on Danish youngsters’ definition of sexual consent in an alcohol intoxication context and their sexual experiences in such when they drink alcohol and party.

Aims

The aim of this PhD project is to gain an insight on how Danish youngsters (ages 18-25) perceive and define sexual consent in an alcohol intoxication context, that is, what they define as consensual versus non-consensual sex in such a context. In addition, the PhD student will seek to shed light on young people’s sexual experiences in an alcohol intoxication context with a focus on both consensual and non-consensual sex. Shedding light on this and the definition of sexual consent among Danish youth can help create more effective preventative measures against sexual violence and unwanted sexual experiences.

Background

There seems to be a relatively high number of Danish people who have had some kind of non-consensual sexual experience, e.g. sex which is unwanted, regretted or harmful. In addition The Danish Crime Prevention Council et al. estimates that approximately 29 percent of non-consensual sexual experiences take place in an alcohol intoxication context e.g. at parties, concerts etc. Even though this is a relatively high number, research on the association between alcohol consumption and sexual consent seems to be quite sparse. Therefore, it is not quite clear how alcohol can influence and maybe even complicate the processes of sexual consent. Furthermore, the consequences of non-consensual sexual experiences are multifaceted in nature, some of them being PTSD, anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties and substance abuse. Last, but not least Danish youngsters seem to be among the ones with the highest alcohol consumption in Europe, while alcohol plays a pivotal role in their social life.

The study

In the study PhD student Evangelia Kousounadi Knountsen will conduct 30 semi-structured qualitative interviews with both young men and women - 18 to 25 years old. The researcher will, among other things, ask the participants about their conception of sexual consent and sexual experiences in situations where they drink alcohol. The interviews aim to establish the social and cultural norms and ideas about sex, sexual consent and gender together with alcohol consumption. Apart from the qualitative interviews the researcher will showthe participants vignettes that tap onto their implicit assumptions and help exploring sensitive topics like the ones in this project.

The project takes place from February 2020 to February 2023.

Funding

The project is funded by Aarhus BSS Graduate School at Aarhus University.