Mimi Arbeit

Mimi Arbeit: Examining the Work of “Consent” through a Systems Perspective: At the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

Mimi ArbeitNew Cabell Hall Room 236
Nov. 15, 12-1:30

With increasing attention to epidemic rates of sexual assault in the military and within higher education, the idea of sexual consent is being leveraged by activists, educators, policymakers, and scholars to identify what sexual violence is and how it is produced. Does the concept of sexual consent have transformative potential? In this talk, I will present findings from a grounded theory study of sexual relationships and sexual violence prevention at the United States Military Academy at West Point. I will use these findings to illustrate how the concept of sexual consent operates at multiple layers of the developmental system: the personal, the institutional, and the sociopolitical. I will then ask how, if at all, the concept of consent can be used to interrupt existing power structures that produce and promote sexual violence. The limitations of the concept of consent, and the ways in which a focus on consent at times functions to increase individual vulnerability to violence, will also be considered.