informed consent

Recent posts

The Must-Read Article On Herpes

Yes, yes, I know you’re probably thinking: “I don’t have herpes, why should I read an article on it?” Actually, you might. By some estimates, anywhere from 60% of adult Americans to 90% of adult Americans have herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1), which most commonly manifests as cold sores. There is not much stigma in having a cold sore, whereas the genital sores associated with herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) can cause not only physical pain but also emotional stress around disclosure. According to the CDC, around 16% of Americans have HSV-2, but around 80% of them are unaware that they have it. Continue Reading →

Informed Consent: The Zimbardo Experiment

Also called the Stanford prison experiment, this psychological experiment is known along with Milgrim’s experiment as one of the most compelling pieces of evidence for the human tendency to react dramatically to power imbalances. A group of young people were randomly divided into prisoner roles or guard roles, and the arbitrary amounts of cruelty and control exhibited by the guards exceeded anyone’s expectations. This video clip shows some of the original footage as well as present-day commentary (and some hilarious 1970s hairstyles). The subjects knew that they were in an experiment, but they had no way of knowing how drastic the humiliation and psychological suffering would be. So again, we return to the idea of informed consent – that it’s important for people to understand what kind of situation they’ll be getting into in advance. Continue Reading →

Informed Consent: Risk Assessment vs. Stigma

As part of my informed consent post series, I’d like to talk about the issue of risk assessment regarding STIs when deciding whether to have sex with someone, and how to grapple with the problem of stigma. I wrote about stigma in my post on the adjacency effect, but the brief recap is that stigma is a sense of judgment or pollution attached to people who deviate from the norm. They’re seen to be dirty, unworthy, and so on. People who have been diagnosed with STIs certainly fall into this category; many face judgments such as slut-shaming, intolerance, and even human rights violations. In the context of informed consent, it is incredibly important for people to disclose their STI status to potential sexual partners. Continue Reading →

Informed Consent: The Milgram Experiment

I mentioned in the first informed consent post that we apply the idea of informed consent in academia and research in order to make sure we’re being ethical when dealing with human subjects. Why is this a big deal? Stanley Milgram’s experiment that tricked people into thinking they were administering electric shocks (in dangerous amounts) to other people is a great example of how an experiment can be psychologically damaging to people who don’t know what they’re in for. This video clip succinctly explains the experiment and shows footage from a similar experiment. If you felt disturbed while watching it, just imagine how the unknowing subjects involved felt! Continue Reading →

Informed Consent: Relationship Status Questions

An important way that informed consent is relevant to sexual pursuits is in the question of relationship status, availability, and ethical entanglements. Let me put it this way: say that you’re single and on a date with someone. It’s going well. What if, after the date (and whatever ensuing erotic activities you might’ve pursued), this person reveals that they’re actually in a long-term committed relationship, or married? How would you feel about that? Continue Reading →

Introduction To Informed Consent

I’ve been thinking about consent a lot lately, and so I’m going to use this blog post to kick off a series of posts that focuses on one aspect of consent: informed consent. I’ll address what informed consent is and how it differs from plain ol’ regular consent, and I’ll set up a discussion about the importance of informed consent that will continue in my next few posts. The most basic definition of consent is to give permission for something to happen. Sex educators and feminists generally agree that consent is a significant component of healthy sexual relationships: situations that lack consent are considered coercive or abusive, hence we try to educate people about consent so that they can make sure they’re always having consensual sex and thus not hurting anyone. How does informed consent differ from this? Continue Reading →