Sexual consent has been defined as the unambiguous willingness to engage in sexual activity that is expressed or verified by sexual partners. Despite the importance of expression and ascertainment of sexual consent, there is a marked disconnect between required elements of sexual consent in legal provisions and administrative policies, on one hand, and how individuals actually engage in their sexual interactions, on the other. We also lack an integrated theoretical model of factors that contribute to sexual consent expression and ascertainment to employ as a conceptual foundation to guide sexual consent promotion intervention efforts. This article adopts the perspective of the Information-Motivation-Behavioural Skills (IMB) model of sexual health to organize an overview of research concerning how individuals currently engage in what they view as “sexual consent” behaviours and how regulatory bodies conceptualize and regulate sexual consent, with a specific focus on the Canadian setting. According to the IMB model, deficits in consent related to information, motivation, and behavioural skills are responsible for the lack of sexual consent behaviour enactment, and research that identifies such deficits is discussed throughout the paper. The IMB model and the obstacles to sexual consent expression and ascertainment which are identified have implications for sexual assault adjudication, sexual assault prevention education, and sexual consent-related policy. Understanding how and why individuals currently ascertain and express consent is the crucial foundation upon which sexual consent education and regulation must be built.


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pp. 277-291
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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