Tracking the con in con-sent: Reflections on the hyper-aesthetics of sex in consent culture

Cefai, Sarah. 2022. 'Tracking the con in con-sent: Reflections on the hyper-aesthetics of sex in consent culture'. In: Bodies in Flux. Cultural Studies Association of Australasia Conference. Edith Cowan University, Australia 28-30 June 2022. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

In their recent book, Investigative Aesthetics: Conflicts and Commons in the Politics of Truth, Matthew Fuller and Eyal claim that ‘hyper-aesthetic images are not part of a symbolic regime of representation, but actual traces and residues of material relations and of mediatic structures assembled to elicit them’ (2021, p.81). This paper mobilises this claim to better understand the fields of power that are operating through the ascent of consent culture. From a cultural perspective, enthusiastic consent clearly relays a range of feminist lineages. For instance, consent effectuates a postfeminist sensibility, while it complicates the illusory power of self-determined femininity. Current models also impute sexual agency in normatively gendered terms and fashion conservative politics of sexuality, among other shortcomings, as discussed by Katherine Angel (2021), Joseph Fischel (2019), Laura Kipniss (2017), and more. To further understand the implications of the current formations of consent, this paper considers our cultural fascination with the “con,” suggested by a recent spate of programmes and films such as Fyre (2019), Tinder Swindler (2022), Inventing Anna (2022), Hustlers (2019), and The Hustle (2019), in relation to “consent,” not as a ‘symbolic regime of representation,’ but as indexes of a hyper-aesthetics of sex—the production of images that are actual traces and residues of material relations. In so doing, this paper takes heed from the sociological observation, made in the US, that everyday conceptions of consent foreground that which consent should defend against against—deceit (Sommers 2020).

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


28 June 2022Completed

Event Location:

Edith Cowan University, Australia

Date range:

28-30 June 2022

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Date Deposited:

23 Nov 2022 09:40

Last Modified:

23 Nov 2022 13:50


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