Tuesday, September 28, 2010

North Carolina’s “legal rape” problem

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No means No!
If it’s not “yes”, it’s “no”
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What constitutes rape? Any form of sexual contact with another person without their explicit and knowing consent.

Finding someone walking alone in a dark alley and forcing them into sex is rape.

Getting someone to have sex with you when they’re too drunk or otherwise affected by drugs to fully understand what’s happening is rape.

Trying to have sex with someone who either doesn’t outright say “yes” or who explicitly says “no” is rape.

Unwanted sex is rape. You’d think this was a simple enough concept to understand. North Carolina courts apparently don’t think so.

If you begin having sex in the great state of North Carolina, want to stop, and your partner forcibly restrains you to continue having intercourse, well, you should have made up your mind beforehand. Once you've initially consented to the act, you relinquish the right to your own body, according to a 1979 state Supreme Court ruling: "no rape has occurred though the victim later withdraws consent during the same act of intercourse." If your partner ignores your pleas to get off you or causes physical injury to keep you from leaving, that's still just not rape.

In effect, this is a court decision legalizing rape.

It’s commonly accepted that most people are horndogs who will happily get hot & bothered any chance they get (not just men, despite the popular stereotype), but this biological notion also comes with the moral responsibility of self-control. Unless your partner lets you know, in no uncertain terms, that the sexual act to come is approved, then you cannot and must not try to drag them into it, regardless of how much you want it. Even if your partner originally wanted it and now wishes for the act to end as it’s underway, whether you’re just beginning or nearly done, it is your responsibility, as a moral being, to end it at once and let your partner be. It doesn’t matter how, when or why he/she says no – just stop. It’s really not that hard. (Plus, you would think the fact that your partner is in obvious distress would be an effective boner-kill for most people to begin with.)

I, for one, fail to understand how the North Carolina Supreme Court could have made such a revolting pronouncement, even thirty years ago. I would normally find it hard, if not ludicrous a concept, to believe that thinking, competent justices thought over and pronounced a decision declaring that people who say “no” and even try to fight their way out of the act are therefore not victims of sexual assault, just because they said “yes” at first. It seems unthinkable; and yet, there it is in the books, where it is used as a legal basis for cases to this day.

For those interested in fighting this loathsome travesty, there’s a petition that begs to be signed. (US residents only.) 2,152 signatories are already on the roster. Do your part to end legalized rape in the Tar Heel State[1].

[1] Okay, seriously – what the hell kind of a nickname is that?