For decades, feminists have intervened in a sexually violent culture. Many public health professionals, educators, and activists who design these interventions have called for complex conceptualizations of communication, yet communication studies scholars have not written extensively on consent. Moreover, researchers outside the field rarely rely on insights from the discipline. Accordingly, I offer a critical review of consent activism and research, and I highlight disciplinary assumptions that could enhance existing knowledge. I argue that many feminist academic/activist interventions use false ideas about communication, what I call communication myths: discourse merely reflects reality, and local discourse is disconnected from larger social Discourse. I show how these communication myths resonate with rape-supportive arguments. By suggesting communication should be unambiguous during consent, anti-violence educators/activists lower the standard for communicative competence, disconnect it from historical-cultural context, and miss opportunities to politicize consent. I argue feminists can challenge communication myths to build on existing interventions while more fully dismantling rape culture.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2018 National Communication Association.
- communication myths
- feminist communication
- rape culture
- rape myths
- sexual violence