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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: May 2011

9 - Conclusion

Summary

The rules for negotiating sexual relationships have changed and continue to change for Generation Y. Are they redefining these new sexual rules of engagement for themselves? What is it about these rules that is changing? What has changed already? What is still the same? A mixed tale has emerged from this research. On the one hand there have clearly been some shifts in the rules – changes in sexual mores – that make it more permissible for young women to confidently and assertively negotiate safe and consensual sex. Likewise, some young men were clearly aware of the complexity of sexual consent and the need to actively ensure that sex with a partner was indeed consensual. On the other hand, much about the sexual rules of engagement appears not to have changed. In particular, constructions of gender that position an active, desiring male sexuality against a passive, receptive female sexuality continue to create an uneven playing field for the negotiation of sexual encounters. Claims that the sexual double standard no longer exists, or that young women are liberated and empowered, fail to acknowledge the very real ways in which gender norms and discourses continue to shape young people's everyday negotiations of sex, power and consent.