Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Expanding the definition of Rape, one state at a time.

Maryland recently became the one of nine states in the Union to decide that a woman can withdraw consent after sexual intercourse has started. Other states with similar rulings include Alaska, California, Connecticut, Kansas, Main, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Illinois, according to CNN.

One detractor of this law, Julia Morrow, claims that the new ruling will “open up the floodgates” of women claiming to have been raped. She stated during an interview on CNN: “Individuals have to start taking responsibility for their own actions, especially adults. Don’t go home with a guy, and get in bed with him, and agree to start having sex with him, and…and in the middle, all of a sudden change your mind and say its rape! I mean, it’s just ridiculous!”

Watch the interview here.

Clearly, Ms. Morrow has never been a position where intercourse has become painful, uncomfortable, or unpleasant. She has not been in a position where requests for a prophylactic have been misunderstood or ignored. A woman may have received information during intercourse which makes her realize she no longer desires to have sex. Regardless, now at least in nine states (out of fifty) it’s her choice to discontinue intercourse.

Furthermore, laws such as these allow people to take greater personal responsibility for their bodies. Instead of having to endure an experience that has become damaging and unpleasant, a woman is now able (at least in the nine states listed above) to request that her partner discontinue intercourse—and it requires that her partner be personally responsible, and honor that request.

Another criticism of this law is that Men may not be able to “stop on a dime.” The case on which this ruling was made, Baby vs. Maryland, the victim witnessed that she asked Maouloud Baby to stop because he was hurting her, and he continued for 5 to 10 seconds longer. (Read about the case at the Washington Post.)

Many feel as if this time is a “gray area” and that one cannot expect a man to immediately halt intercourse once it has begun. It is my opinion that this assertion is insulting to men and their ability to listen and empathize with their sexual partners. I think it is perfectly feasible that a man can stop sexual intercourse within seconds of being asked. Those who wish to assert otherwise are attempting to relieve the male of his responsibility of treating his partner with dignity and respect.

This is a positive step in the direction of women having full control of what happens to their bodies. There are many reasons why a person may request to stop having sex, and all are valid, and should be respected.

H/t to feministing and shakesville

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