I read a couple of interesting blog entries here, here and here, about the current news item about Julian Assange being indicted for rape in Sweden. The whole case seems to center the idea of withdrawn consent. The sketchy details are these:
On one occasion he agreed to use a condom while having sex with a women, but it wasn’t until they were done that she realized that he didn’t’ wear one. In the other case, he wore a condom, which broke during intercourse. The woman asked him to stop when it broke, but he continued the sex act to its conclusion.
In Sweden, the law basically says that if consent is withdrawn at any time, the the person continues, that constitutes sexual assault.
To me, this is a given. I can’t imagine how anyone could possibly not get this. But, to my astonishment, it seems that most states in the U.S. do not have any kind of laws that deal with withdrawn consent. Apparently, most states still focus on the use of force in determining if rape occurred. WTF!?
If I am kick boxing with someone and half way through, I tell him to stop, but he continues to wail on my ass, I’m pretty sure that would constitute assault in most jurisdictions. Why should sex be any different. It is an, like kickboxing, an act that two people consensually engage in, but when one person withdraws their consent and says, “Stop!”, then the other person should stop. This is a basic of civilized human interaction.
It is horrifying and unacceptable that any woman should ever need to worry about a man not stopping a sex act if she tells him to. That any man would continue when told to stop is reprehensible beyond words and that man should be charged with sexual assault at the least, and really should be charged with rape, pure and simple. What part of “no means no” don’t these guys get?
This all goes back to this socially ingrained sense of male privilege that permeates society. It is a throw back to patriarchal societies that sprung up thousands of years ago and even back then there was no justification for it. If you had a penis, you were golden, if you didn’t, you were chattel. It was total and complete utter bullshit then and it still is now.
As long as the laws allow a man to have sex against her will, regardless of if she originally gave consent when they started, we will coninue to tolerate the intolerable. Laws that clearly define that, “no means no”, must be passed and penalties for breaking those laws must be harsh. Next to murder, sexual assault and abuse is the most heinous crime imaginable. Men need to realize that they will lose their freedom for a long time if they don’t stop when they hear “stop”.
It’s time to move beyond sensitivity classes and make sure that 50% of the population knows it can’t just impose their will on the other 50% without serious consequences