Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Difference Between Simply Asking Again And Refusing To Stop

I've been commenting on Alas, a blog: Isn't it good we have men to tell us what to do where Maia responds to a post by Sailorman where he scolds feminists for their definition of rape and my latest comment which responds to another commenter who can't see how certain situations could rise to the level of rape. My response is something that I feel is so important I must repeat it here.

But in BB’s scenario and other similar situations the rapist blocks her attempt to walk away and refuses to accept no for an answer. Refusing to accept no is not the same thing as merely asking for sex multiple times. The first ignores lack of consent, the second may be inappropriate but it is not a rape attempt.

Physical force is more than wielding a knife or a gun or threatening to kill someone. Physical force is involved when one person uses their body to control the other person. That could be stepping between the other person and the exit or it could be grabbing an arm or pinning the other person so they can’t move.

When coercion that on the surface isn’t violent is combined with subtle physical force, it can be as effective as a knife at the throat. If the victim doesn’t know how to get away that should never be seen as legal consent.

Maybe you would know how to get out of that situation and would recognize the danger in time to escape, but that doesn’t mean everyone in that situation does. If the only way to not have sex is to escape, how can that sex be anything but nonconsensual?

I was asked what I meant by escape, but the exact definition doesn't matter. What matters is that if the potential victim doesn't feel that leaving is a viable option, for whatever reason, staying is still not legal consent.

She may still be there, but that doesn't mean she's there for the taking.

I'm all for recognizing and avoiding those who can rationalize sexual exploitation, but the failure to detect and avoid a rapist does not nullify the rape or the rapist's legal and moral responsibility.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   0 comments links to this post

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