The temporal character of sexual consent among college students

Matthew Chin, Alexander Wamboldt, Claude Ann Mellins, Jennifer S. Hirsch, Shamus R. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The presence or absence of sexual consent distinguishes between sexual contact that is sexual assault and sex that is not assault. While temporality is an implicit focus in studies of sexual consent, it has received relatively little attention as an object of analysis. Drawing on in-depth ethnographic research conducted as part of a mixed methods study on sexual health and sexual assault among college students, this article examines the role of time in sexual consent. Specifically, we attend to how socially- and discursively-patterned experiences of time influence college students' capacity to grant or withhold consent. We identify three important temporalities. "Calendar time" refers to how events throughout the year influence the expectation of sexual contact and the negotiation of sexual consent. "Relationship time" refers to how the temporal dimensions of a sexual relationship impact how consent is navigated. Finally, "sexual time" pushes us to think of sex itself as a temporal process that locates consent at different points in time: before, during, and after a single sexual encounter. We conclude by outlining how time-based approaches to sexual consent may contribute to more effective sexual violence prevention initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-344
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Organization
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


  • (sexual violence) prevention
  • Sexual consent
  • Sexual violence
  • Students
  • Temporality


Dive into the research topics of 'The temporal character of sexual consent among college students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this