Sexual consent is an important, complex and often awkward topic to talk about. And when people have been consuming alcohol or other drugs, it makes negotiating sexual consent even more complicated. Indeed, drawing the line between consensual sex and assault when a complainant is heavily intoxicated is a particularly difficult area of law.
What is clear though, is that context matters. The gender of the people having sex, their sexuality, the nature of their relationship and how they became intoxicated – whether willingly or unwillingly – all shape the judgements that we make about intoxicated consent.
The importance of context was brought to the forefront in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the so-called “feminist sex wars” divided Western academics who were interested in gender equality. The debates were dominated by arguments over pornography and sex work, but the issue of sexual consent – and