Political Philosophy Colloquium
ABSTRACT: Social scripts specify the normal way for people to interact in certain situations. For example, a social script for a restaurant conversation explains why the world over, these conversations take a similar form. In this essay, I discuss how social scripts can be oppressive by constraining people’s sexual behavior. Specifically, I discuss how social scripts can explain why people voluntarily take part in sexual encounters that they would ideally like to avoid. In particular, I here focus on a linear script for heteronormative sexual encounters. I explain how a script like this can constrain people’s sexual agency in ways that constitute a form of sexual oppression. I then show how this oppression could be ameliorated by alternative social scripts.
Tom Dougherty is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Previously they were a Lecturer at the University of Cambridge and the University of Sydney. They research moral, political, and legal philosophy. In 2021 they published a book, The Scope of Consent. In addition to social scripts, they are currently writing essays on being nonjudgmental, welfare, contractualism, and wronging.