William Woods professor, student release survey results on sexual consent

Elizabeth Wilson, professor of social work at William Woods University, recently released the results of a survey she and sophomore Katherine Johnson created on sexual consent. Wilson and Johnson collaborated for the school’s mentor-mentee program in which a professor and student team up for research.


This chart shows the male and female responses to the question: "The male is responsible for consent."


This chart shows the male and female responses to the question: "The female is responsible for consent."

The survey was completed by 198 William Woods students — 90 percent women and 10 percent men — and asked 13 questions, focusing on sexual consent and how students define it.

“Consent is more than yes or no. … It’s something that no matter what your relationship is with someone, it needs to be obtained,” Wilson said.

Those 13 survey questions tried to help lead Wilson and Johnson to answers for three main research questions, which Wilson discussed earlier this week:

•Is there a difference between male and female definition of consent?

•Is there a difference between male and female comfort levels discussing consent with their partners?

•Is there a difference between male and female expectations of consent?

Responses to survey questions ranged from strongly disagree to strongly agree.

One of the main conclusions Wilson said she gathered from the survey was that she felt the men were listening to messages on sexual consent. According to the survey, 100 percent of men agreed that they felt confident to ask consent from a partner, and 100 percent of men agreed that they should always assume they don’t have sexual consent when initiating an encounter.

“Young men are taking consent seriously,” Wilson said, based on the survey results.

Wilson also said that females judging female victims plays into rape culture, which blames the victim and depicts how a females’ actions caused a sexual assault. Often times, she said, women judged female victims because they don’t want to believe an attack could happen to them and go into “self-protection mode,” thinking they could have gotten out of a bad situation.

“It’s unfortunate that in our society it’s acceptable for young women to judge each other,” Wilson said.

According to the survey, 18 percent of the females agreed to the statement: “If I don’t physically resist a sexual encounter — even if I am protesting verbally — I am consenting.”

Wilson said she hopes that the survey will improve next school year with participation that reflects the William Woods population, which is currently 70 percent female and 30 percent male.

Survey statements and results:

  1. I feel confident that I could ask for consent from a partner.

Male: 100 percent agreed

Female: 88 percent agreed, 12% disagreed

  1. I think verbally asking for consent is awkward.

Male: 64 percent agreed, 46 percent disagreed

Female: 30 percent agreed, 70 percent disagreed

  1. I always verbally ask before initiating an encounter.

Male: 46 percent agreed, 54 percent disagreed

Female: 32 percent agreed, 68 percent disagreed

  1. I have not asked for consent because I felt it might backfire.

Male: 38 percent somewhat agreed, 54 percent disagreed

Female: Less than 1 percent somewhat agreed, 98 percent disagreed

  1. I feel that sexual consent should always be obtained before the start of any sexual activity.

Male: 78 percent agreed, 21 percent disagreed

Female: 87 percent agreed, 13 percent disagreed

  1. I believe it is enough to ask at the beginning of an encounter.

Male: 29 percent agreed, 29 percent somewhat agreed, 43 percent disagreed

Female: 19 percent agreed, 24 percent somewhat agreed, 67 percent disagreed

  1. The male is responsible for consent.

  2. The female is responsible for consent.

  3. I feel that verbally asking for sexual consent should occur before proceeding with any sexual activity.

Male: 86 percent agreed

Female: 78 percent agreed

  1. When initiating sexual activity, I believe that one should always assume they do not have sexual consent.

Male: 100 percent agreed

Female: 80 percent agreed, 20 percent disagreed

  1. If I don’t physically resist a sexual encounter — even if I am protesting verbally — I am consenting.

Male: 15 percent agreed

Female: 18 percent agreed

  1. If a partner doesn’t physically resist a sexual encounter — even if he/she is protesting verbally — he/she is consenting.

Male: 100 percent disagreed

Female: 14 percent agreed

  1. I believe that sexual intercourse requires explicit verbal consent.

Male: 14 percent disagreed

Female: 24 percent disagreed


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