I’m Disgusted, I’m Appalled, and I Hope Everyone In Connecticut Is Too

It has been a while since I needed to specifically pick on something a particular state did, but boy did Connecticut ever give me the opening I needed.

Let me get y’all up to speed here: a few days ago, the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction on the grounds that the victim could have expressed her dissent to the perpetrator.  The victim, who is severely handicapped and has limited mobility and cannot speak, was said to have been able to “bite or possibly kick” the defendant in order to convey to him that she did not wish to have sex with him.

Problematic for so many reasons, but let me break this down for you:

1) Precedent holds that a victim no longer has to show that he/she utilized force in order to resist a rape.  This precedent was developed in order to address the fact that sometimes, utilizing force is NOT the appropriate course of action: for example, if someone is holding a gun to your head, you’re hardly going to start kicking, you are going to lay there and try not to get shot.  For this reason, we cannot defer to use of force as the means by which we evaluate lack of consent.

2) This establishes a higher standard for the disabled community than it does for the rest of society, which is an unfair burden to create.  This basically argues that while I can scream and shout and maybe hit someone, a person who lacks these abilities necessarily needs to go even further in order to express their dissent.  This is fairly unreasonable to expect, that someone who is disabled should have to do MORE to prove that they didn’t consent.

3) It establishes that consent is assumed, as though it is somehow an opt-out system.  This is just an absurd concept.  Look, consent is fundamentally opt-in.  Consent is not implied.  And setting a precedent that we are consenting until we say no is dangerous because:

A: It further blurs the lines of what constitutes consent.

What did I already tell you about how force is no longer the standard we use for evaluating consent?  It goes a little further than that.  Ever heard of the expression “drunk consent isn’t real consent”?  I hope you have.  There are certain conditions under which we don’t think people are able to give consent.  Why?  Because they necessarily have to GIVE it.  This precedent legitimizes the idea that unless someone is really protesting, struggling, etc, they are consenting.

B: It legitimizes rape culture

This basically says that a person has a green light unless someone goes to extreme lengths to stop them.  That should not be how we evaluate sex.  Sex isn’t opt-out.  It is opt-in.  When we set the precedent that sex is opt-out, that you have to prove you didn’t consent, that you have to go to all possible lengths to NOT consent if you don’t want to consent rather than just say yes when you do, is problematic.  Sex should be a mutually agreed up on act.  Any standard that says otherwise legitimizes rape, especially acts like date rape.

That’s not the America I want to live in, folks.

Consent is a blurred issue in our country as is, and I’ll explore the topic more in a little bit.  But the idea that sex, that consent, are opt-out instead of opt-in are dangerous. It is a precedent that Connecticut should be embarrassed to have set.

No means no.  But if you CAN’T say no, that doesn’t mean that others get to assume you said yes.  We need laws and legal precedents that uphold that idea, not laws and legal precedents that run the risk of excusing date rape and letting assailants walk free.

Connecticut, I have nothing more to say to you.

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~ by Randi Saunders on October 12, 2012.

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