Persistent Narratives of Force and Resistance: Affirmative Consent as Law Reform

Rachael Louise Burgin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the persistence of narratives of force and resistance in rape trials, informed by a thematic analysis of rape trial transcripts from the County Court of Victoria, Australia, between 2009 and 2015. Legislative reform in Victoria has moved towards an affirmative consent standard, requiring active communication by all parties to a sexual act. Such a standard should safeguard against narratives of force and resistance in rape trials, and place the onus on the accused to establish consent. This article argues that the concepts of force and resistance continue to be drawn upon by prosecutors and defence counsel. Considering this evidence, this article contends that rape law reform has been largely symbolic rather than substantive in legally securing women's sexual equality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-314
Number of pages19
JournalThe British Journal of Criminology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • feminist jurisprudence
  • force
  • law
  • rape
  • reform
  • resistance

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