Gendered Conceptions of Autonomous Consent: A Philosophical, Psychological and Linguistic Investigation Across Cultures

This project investigates how philosophical concepts of autonomy and valid consent are gendered across different cultural and language contexts.
Project status

According to the principle of informed consent, autonomous persons have the right to make their own decisions regarding their bodies, lives and medical treatment. If a person is deemed not to be autonomous, others may make paternalistic decisions on that person’s behalf based on what is thought to be in that person’s best interests. However, research on gender stereotypes suggest that women are stereotyped as less agentic, less rational, and more emotional - traits that are associated with lower degrees of autonomy.

Meanwhile, threats to women’s autonomy in medical domains (e.g. high rates of reported unconsented to interventions during childbirth) and sexual domains (e.g. unconsented sexual touching documented by the #metoo, #SeAcabó movements) are widely reported. Our project bridges philosophy, social psychology and linguistics to investigate how gender stereotypes in different cultures affect the extent to which women are perceived to be autonomous and capable of making their own decisions.

Principal Investigator: Dr Joanna Demaree-Cotton, University of Oxford

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