Survey: Most Klang Valley Men Ignorant About Proper Sexual Consent

65% of male respondents incorrectly defined consent as anything other than a verbal “yes” from the sexual partner.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 — A study of young Malaysian men from the Klang Valley revealed that only 35 per cent of respondents correctly identified sexual consent as an explicit verbal “yes” from their partner. 

The study by the Centre of Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS), which surveyed over 2,000 Malaysian men aged 18 to 30 about sex education and sexual relationships, found that another 30 per cent considered sexual consent to be “mutual agreement”.

This was defined as a previous discussion about sex, but still falling short of an explicit verbal agreement to have intercourse.

Another 13 per cent said sexual consent could be identified through body language, while 4 per cent claimed consent would be a given if there was some form of romantic attachment with their partner. Another 4 per cent claimed that consent was given if their partner did not object to sex.

“The results of this survey point to a slippery understanding of sex education, consent, healthy relationships and protection for all races of men in Malaysia,” said Cent-GPS.

“A majority of men do not understand the true meaning of consent. A majority of men claim they learned how to use protection through the media and porn. A big segment of men are unable to identify an unhealthy relationship. A big chunk of men believe that sex education promotes unnecessary sexual activity.”

A screenshot of a question on defining sexual consent from the Centre for Governance and Political Studies’ “The Question of Sex in Malaysia, Part 1” study, released on July 31, 2019.

Their study found that over half, or 53 per cent, first learned how to use contraceptives from the media, defined as books and magazines, advertisements, movies and TV, pornography, the internet and “self-taught”. 

Out of this, 36 per cent said they learned about contraceptives from online articles and videos, while almost a quarter, or 24 per cent, admitted they learned through porn. About 17 per cent claimed they were “self-taught”.

When asked if respondents would still date a person who demanded that they choose between her or their friends, respondents were split between “no” and “yes” at 38 per cent and 37 per cent respectively, while 25 per cent said it “depends”.

“In this question, we wanted to test whether the male respondents would be able to walk away from a seemingly unhealthy and obsessive relationship. 

“Quite obviously, if an ultimatum is given concerning a romantic partner or friends, not enough space and trust is being invested in this relationship,” said Cent-GPS.

The study found that among Malay respondents, more than half, or 52 per cent, said they would continue dating someone who forced them to choose between their friends and dating partner, while only a quarter of Chinese and 18 per cent of Indians chose to stay in such a relationship.

“Of the race segments, the Indian respondents appear to be the most likely to be definitive in their decision about leaving or staying in the relationship,” Cent-GPS said.

Majority of respondents at 64 per cent believed that sex education did not promote sexual activity, but almost a third at 32 per cent believed that it did. 

More than half at 56 per cent said their religion permitted sex education, but 36 per cent believed that this was not allowed in their faith.

About 48 per cent preferred to teach their children sex education instead of having schools do it, while less than a third at 30 per cent preferred schools to teach it. 

Cent-GPS said urban, English-speaking men living in the Klang Valley were supposed to have the best understanding about sexual consent, sex education, and healthy romantic relationships.

“We fear the results and misconceptions surrounding sex education may possibly be the same, or worse in other areas of Malaysia.”

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