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335 Responses

  1. jemima101
    jemima101 June 4, 2013 at 7:10 pm |

    i found the attitude to substance users very off putting for someone writing on consent, i see no reason for using derogatory and hateful language.

    I am truly sorry the author had a bad experience and clearly met a deceptive and abusive partner, to invite the law further into our bedrooms than it already intrudes is not feminism or freedom.

    1. konkonsn
      konkonsn June 4, 2013 at 7:37 pm |

      bad experience

      No. People always use that to dismiss abuse or relationships built on lies, and it’s a terrible phrase.

      This wasn’t going to an amusement park on a rainy day. This was more like an automobile accident where the other driver knows that racing that other car at the light could cause an accident, but fuck everyone else on the road because FUN! And when another driver has bone fractures that take her out of work for months because an accident does happen, we compensate her for the stupid driver’s recklessness.

      1. jemima101
        jemima101 June 4, 2013 at 7:41 pm |

        very poor analogy, she got into a car with someone she thought she could trust, and it turned out they were drunk and crashed the car.

        Better analogy.

        Thing is we are not talking about cars, but about letting the state decide for us about our lives.

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra June 4, 2013 at 8:03 pm |

          I’m not going to wade into this whole “cars” analogy thing because it is beside the point.

          One thing which Ms Ross perhaps did not make explicitly clear, and which I would like to elaborate on, is the fact that active alcoholics (and people who are dependent on other substances) are often liars. Lying and addiction go hand in hand. People lie about whether or not they’re using, they lie about how much they used, when and where they used, whether they plan to use again. People lie about whom they were with, and w hat they did while using. Some of these lies have an element of self-deception. Others are more grossly manipulative and self-serving.

          Ms Ross begins this post by describing how she negotiated the beginning of her relationship with [William]. Acting with honesty, forthrightness, and self-disclosure she told him that, in part due to a history of trauma from which she was still healing, she could not be with him unless he agreed to be substance free, and totally monogamous. She made explicit what the terms of the relationship would be, acting in good faith. And her honesty and good faith was met with deliberate deception. Ms Ross connects this deception to the fact that [William] was a heavy substance user. I find this entirely plausible.

        2. PM
          PM June 4, 2013 at 8:15 pm |

          Alexandra-

          I agree, totally. This wasn’t a guy who smoked weed on the weekends. There is a difference.

        3. yes
          yes June 5, 2013 at 7:40 am |

          If we’re pursuing the car analogy, this is more like getting into a car with someone who was drunk, but lied and said they weren’t, and then claiming you were kidnapped because you wouldn’t have gotten in the car if you’d known they were drunk.

        4. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah June 6, 2013 at 3:09 pm |

          [A]ctive alcoholics (and people who are dependent on other substances) are often liars. Lying and addiction go hand in hand. People lie about whether or not they’re using, they lie about how much they used, when and where they used, whether they plan to use again.

          Yes, yes, yes. 1000% times yes. I work with people in recovery and you would be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) at the sheer DEPTH of some of the lies and manipulation we uncover (who even knows how much we never find out). I’m not saying people can’t change–they can–but I am saying I, personally, would want there to be years and years (and YEARS) of sobriety and friendship before venturing into a relationship with someone who struggles with addiction. After what I’ve seen…maybe not even then.

          Also, if the OP

      2. Asia
        Asia June 4, 2013 at 10:28 pm |

        This man was very abusive to her….I also support strengthing domestic violence laws to protect against emotional abuse. That said there are laws that criminalize the transmission of HIV. They are a failure because in practice they encourage people not to get tested. I don’t support a repeat of that situation for other STIs. I better policy would be regular STI tests for anyone that is sexually active.

      3. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune June 4, 2013 at 10:43 pm |

        This wasn’t going to an amusement park on a rainy day. This was more like an automobile accident where the other driver knows that racing that other car at the light could cause an accident, but fuck everyone else on the road because FUN! And when another driver has bone fractures that take her out of work for months because an accident does happen, we compensate her for the stupid driver’s recklessness.

        Nope. This was like getting a taxi ride, discovering halfway through the uneventful ride that the cab driver’s drunk, getting out safely…and then filing a $100,000 insurance claim for an auto accident that never fucking happened, and demanding to change everyone who ever gets in a car with a drunk driver should be compensated for car accidents whether or not they get into one.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 4, 2013 at 10:46 pm |

          Well, she did end up with an STI, so arguably has a definable injury resulting from their relationship.

        2. White Rabbit
          White Rabbit June 4, 2013 at 11:14 pm |

          FWIW, we do arrest people who are caught driving drunk, whether they have injured someone along the way or not, so that complicates this particular analogy even further.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 4, 2013 at 11:34 pm |

          FWIW, we do arrest people who are caught driving drunk, whether they have injured someone along the way or not, so that complicates this particular analogy even further.

          We arrest them for driving drunk, not for getting in a car accident. There’s a difference between the two.

        4. White Rabbit
          White Rabbit June 4, 2013 at 11:40 pm |

          Okay, so in this analogy, wouldn’t that be like arresting the guy for blatantly deceiving her and exposing her to risk, regardless of whether that risk materializes into actual harm?

          And I’m not at all endorsing this course of action, but rather just observing that the analogy could be interpreted this way.

        5. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 5, 2013 at 9:41 am |

          We arrest them for driving drunk, not for getting in a car accident. There’s a difference between the two.

          Technically, at least here in the U.S.? Drunk drivers get arrested for both driving drunk and drunkenly causing an auto accident, assuming there is actually an auto crash and drunkenness involved. Sorry to get pedantic here, I can’t help myself sometimes

        6. Ledasmom
          Ledasmom June 5, 2013 at 10:06 am |

          I believe macavitykitsune is analogizing the situation in the post to a drunk driver being charged with causing an accident that didn’t actually happen. That is, being treated as if the potential for an accident was the same as the accident actually happening.

  2. Barnacle Strumpet
    Barnacle Strumpet June 4, 2013 at 7:46 pm |

    Maybe if it’s limited to things that solely affect one’s health, it could work, but…it seems to me something that would be hard to enforce for non-health reasons. And:

    If someone were to ask [William], even now, if I would have consented to sex with him had I known the truth, his answer would be an unequivocal, “No.” He knew it then, just as he knows it now: He was having sex with me against my will.

    This reminds me of the what some of the people say who feel that trans* people are obligated to disclose their assigned at birth gender to all partners, or asexual people are obligated to disclose their asexuality to partners. I guess it’s rape to have sex with someone if they don’t know I’m trans* and they wouldn’t want to sleep with a trans* person?

    1. Alexandra
      Alexandra June 4, 2013 at 8:07 pm |

      I think the difference here, Barnacle Strumpet, is that Ms Ross laid out explicitly what the conditions of the relationship would need to be in order for her to consent to that relationship (and to sex in the relationship). There’s a distinction, yes, between not disclosing a significant fact about yourself to a potential romantic partner on first meeting them, and deliberately lying about that significant fact when asked about it point blank.

      I worry about this a lot myself because I have bipolar disorder; there’s never really a “great time” to announce this. It’s a mood killer on the first date, but if you announce it to somebody four months on, has the premise of the relationship been built on an unspoken deception? It makes my head hurt. There are other things in my past, too, which very probably a romantic partner would care about and yet which I am not inclined to disclose upon first meeting someone.

      I think I have the right to choose the manner and time of any self-disclosure, that this is part of my autonomy as an adult human being. At the same time, I don’t think I have the right to lie to someone if they ask me a thing about myself, or to continue in a relationship with a person who has made clear that they are unwilling, for whatever reason, to date someone with a psychiatric diagnosis (in my case).

      1. Barnacle Strumpet
        Barnacle Strumpet June 4, 2013 at 9:53 pm |

        There is a distinction, the problem is the OP doesn’t say how far she wants the laws to go on this. She has talked about dishonesty as coercive, and we can clearly see that she considers what happened to her to fall under that category; but how much else is going to fall under it as well? Is a deliberate lie when asked point blank going to be the only instance that is considered rape by deception?

        I wish she had gone more into the legal aspect of it.

      2. PM
        PM June 5, 2013 at 5:48 pm |

        Off-topic, but I disclose my mental health history if it looks like the relationship’s about to get exclusive. Up to that point, it’s not her business.

  3. Buttered Lilies
    Buttered Lilies June 4, 2013 at 7:47 pm |

    Wouldn’t this lead to making adultery a crime again, and even expanding adultery laws to make cheating in any relationship (not just legal marriages, but the oft-less clearly defined relationships that are more popular now) illegal?

    1. N45
      N45 June 4, 2013 at 8:05 pm |

      Not just adultery, lying about anything. I wouldn’t want to sleep with a racist but I have done that by mistake & I didn’t get the police involved. I got over it.

      1. lilith danne
        lilith danne June 6, 2013 at 3:40 am |

        I agree with your point but the get over it thing is off she can’t get over herpes

        1. lilith danne
          lilith danne June 6, 2013 at 10:52 am |

          Hpv

    2. Nanani
      Nanani June 4, 2013 at 9:43 pm |

      No? It would not?
      That might be an effective consequence for people where monogamy is the thing being lied about, but it wouldn’t make “adultery” illegal for people where non-monogamy was discussed and agreed upon.

      Unless I read the post dramatically wrong, it’s not about infidelity or substance abuse so much as it is about LYING to someone about things that were openly discussed, and about breaking agreements. So, a given relationship could have a completely different set of agreements (say, its OK to have other partners as long as everyone uses protection and you tell each other?), and a law about deception in relationships would still apply to them instead of having a giant hole because well, you’re a bunch of adulterers anyway.

      1. Alexandra
        Alexandra June 5, 2013 at 12:34 am |

        In order to make that workable, though, you’d need to have publically drawn-up marriage contracts – or even just contracts in order to have a relationship of any sort.

        1. Willard
          Willard June 5, 2013 at 1:13 am |

          There was a video someone linked a while ago with a couple getting ready for some friskiness…then the lawyers stepped in.

        2. Willard
          Willard June 5, 2013 at 1:19 am |

          And found it.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLhH1axWiTI

          The whole discussion of legislating this reminds me of some MRA screeds I’ve read about birth control and “get-out-of-parental-responsibility contracts” they dream of.

      2. Buttered Lilies
        Buttered Lilies June 5, 2013 at 12:34 am |

        Well, cheating, by definition, involves lying and deception. And you’re right, technically, it would not be exactly like the old adultery laws, but the difference between the two is… slim.

        1. Nanani
          Nanani June 5, 2013 at 12:48 am |

          Yeah.
          Upon further reflection, I can see that my reading is pretty naive when run against the actual way that laws work.

      3. Nanani
        Nanani June 5, 2013 at 12:46 am |

        …and after reading the later comments, I see where my reading falls apart.

        Stupid reality.

  4. N45
    N45 June 4, 2013 at 7:57 pm |

    -___________-

    FFS. This is ridiculous & actually alarming. It is sad a boy hurt your feelings one time but that is no reason to get the state involved in personal relationships. it is not illegal to break your heart and this is not rape. If you are serious you are trivializing rape, not everything that upsets you is rape or a police matter. Next time don’t just take the guy’s word for it, take responsibility for your own health.

    This is a lot like bitter men’s rights activists who want the state to DNA test all babies & imprison women who lie about who the father is. They would probably love a law like this they’d call the police on their ex wives. Luckily this is not the role of the state.

    Also people are getting a bit [gendered adjective redacted] about hpv.

    1. White Rabbit
      White Rabbit June 5, 2013 at 12:21 am |

      It is sad a boy hurt your feelings…

      Are you effing kidding?! This guy was emotionally abusive, and he exposed her to an STI that can cause life-threatening cancer.

      that is no reason to get the state involved in personal relationships

      Have you ever heard of Domestic violence? Sexual assault? Rape? I can think of many very good reasons why the law may get involved in one’s personal relationships.

      1. N45
        N45 June 5, 2013 at 12:44 am |

        First try prove in a court that he exposed her to hpv, 90% of adults have it & if he did pass it to her he most probably had it before he violated their verbal agreement.

        I do have experience of rape & domestic violence, thanks for asking, and this situation is nothing like rape. Comparing everything that upsets you to rape is not feminism afaik.

        I can’t even imagine what it is like to be so over privileged you think the police exist to protect you from getting your feelings hurt.

        1. White Rabbit
          White Rabbit June 5, 2013 at 1:08 am |

          Our conversation had nothing to do with the ability to prove HPV transmission in court, and I never claimed that what happened to the author was equivalent to rape.

          On the other hand, you DID log on and trivialize abuse and deceit that led to the transmission of a dangerous STI.

          As for this tidbit from your original comment:

          Next time don’t just take the guy’s word for it, take responsibility for your own health.

          In addition to the blatant victim-blaming, you betray your ignorance about STI’s. Even if the author had chosen not to trust her boyfriend (or, “the guy,” as you flippantly refer to him) and use condoms, she could STILL have transmitted HPV. Condoms merely reduce the risk of HPV transmission, they do not *eliminate* the risk, as HPV can be transmitted through skin that is not covered by the condom.

        2. Alexandra
          Alexandra June 5, 2013 at 1:46 am |

          First try prove in a court that he exposed her to hpv, 90% of adults have it & if he did pass it to her he most probably had it before he violated their verbal agreement.

          I think you are mixing up HPV – human papilloma virus – with HSV – herpes simplex virus. HPV is responsible for (fairly benign) genital warts and (not necessarily benign) abnormal pap smears. HSV gives us genital and anal herpes and cold sores.

          HSV types I and II have a prevalence between 65% and 90% worldwide, whereas there are more than 30 strains of HPV which may cause an STI. Most HPV infections do not become chronic, but some do, and so while many (most?) people may become infected with one or more strains of HPV in their lifetime, talking about a 90% incidence rate isn’t particularly informative.

          Finally, the OP mentioned having contracted a high-risk strain of HPV, the incidence of which is not 90% as best I can tell: Fun with the CDC.

        3. N45
          N45 June 5, 2013 at 2:39 am |

          Ridiculous. If she doesn’t need to prove it in court then what is this “conversation” even about? Or does the guy who hurt her feelings not get a trial under this proposed legislation? The author literally said it was equivalent to rape, that is what I responded to in the first place, not sure why you think my comment was addressed to you.

          “Abuse and deceit” “a dangerous STI”. #Drama. This trivializes real abuse. HPV really isn’t a big deal, whatever type she has she probably won’t get cancer. And I’m sorry (notsorry) it enrages you but as she can’t in any way prove he gave it to her or that he caught it while cheating on her it is not a matter for the police even under these imaginary laws.

          Whatever, even if you sympathise with her situation the solution to this is not to pass unworkable laws.

          I know the difference between herpes & warts tho cheers for the information, it confirms my original opinion

      2. Dan
        Dan June 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm |

        Excuse me, but where in this article is there “emotional abuse”?

        Lying to someone is not emotional abuse, because there is no bad feeling at all until if/when the person discovers the lie.

        By her own account, he appeared to everyone including her to be a good partner, until, at the end of the relationship, she discovered his deception. That’s not emotional abuse, and it trivializes ACTUAL abuse to pretend that it is.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 7, 2013 at 8:07 pm |

          Lying to someone is not emotional abuse, because there is no bad feeling at all until if/when the person discovers the lie.

          What in fucking fuck? By that account, if someone gets raped while they’re asleep, they haven’t been raped because they don’t know about it until they wake up. And a person who got knocked out and eaten alive wouldn’t feel anything, so I guess they’ve been magically not-murdered….

        2. amblingalong
          amblingalong June 7, 2013 at 9:12 pm |

          Lying to someone is not emotional abuse, because there is no bad feeling at all until if/when the person discovers the lie.

          This is a pretty clear attempt at trolling.

    2. Venus
      Venus June 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm |

      HPV causes cervical cancer. If she had contracted it and died, he’d be looking at manslaughter. Many cases regarding non disclosure of HIV status have already been tried.
      Aside from that it is rape by deception, he removed her ability to consent.

      1. LMM
        LMM June 7, 2013 at 7:50 pm |

        All other (major) ethical issues aside, I definitely hope that only applies to people who *know* they’re infected with an STD. I’m not sure that applies to the OP’s boyfriend.

      2. Camera Lady
        Camera Lady June 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm |

        ‘Rape by deception’ not only is not rape, it’s also not moral. Anybody can claim deception from even the smallest thing at any time and retroactively call the sex they gave consent to, rape.

        If she consented to sex with conditions, and he broke those conditions on the sly, and the breaking of those conditions injured her in some way (usually via a STI) then he may be charged with assault. If she dies from that STI, he may even be charged with murder. But NOT rape. This is in no way rape.

        Stop co-opting the rape label for things that aren’t rape. All you’re doing is spitting on people who have actually been raped.

        The practical outcome of ‘rape by deception’ is most of the human race going to jail, men and women alike, because I guarantee you nearly everybody has told a lie about themselves to get laid at least once, even if it’s something stupid like “I work this amazing job” or “of course I’m on the pill” or whatever.

        In reality, rape by deception, if legally enforced, will be one of the most oppressive laws of our time.

    3. Ramonet
      Ramonet June 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm |

      Analogy not applicable. In my hometown, a pioneering DNA research was conducted on all parents and newborns, to track statistics on certain traits and diseases. The whole program had to be scrapped because of the constant pressure of many reluctant mothers (about 10 to 12% paternity fraud, my OBGYN friend told me). There were actual scientific benefits to this inexpensive program and they were lost, even when the results weren’t actually passed on to the fathers.

  5. Ed Darrell
    Ed Darrell June 4, 2013 at 8:18 pm |

    Tough rules. I can’t think of a good rebuttal to any part of it.

    Lots to think about there. How might things change if women gave this to all new boyfriends, sort of a pre-non-nup set of ground rules?

  6. Theaz
    Theaz June 4, 2013 at 8:30 pm |

    I was in a very similar situation with a long-term partner who was relentlessly, dangerously, shockingly dishonest about sex and infidelity, protection, infection… but I could not disagree more with where this article goes.

    There are jurisdictions where exposure/transmission of STIs does vitiate consent (Canada, for example). The problems with that approach are pretty google-able, but they stem from criminalizing health conditions and so deincentivizing testing, essentially. There are also serious concerns with the way those provisions come down on marginalized populations and prosecutions of them mirror traditional racism in the justice system (ie the likelihood a prosecution would arise from an infected black man and a white woman, but not where both parties are black, or where the parties are queer etc.).

    More broadly, though, I think my problem is with the line of thought that the currency of seriousness is criminalization or that it’s a useful tool through which to pursue a meaningful discourse on consent. I just don’t think that’s true. I don’t think criminalization has some instructive effect on a population, generally, and I struggle with the idea that absent a criminal offence a violation can’t be taken seriously. Which isn’t to say I don’t think that ameliorating problems with prosecuting sexual assault or providing victims safe space inside the justice system ought not be priorities. I just can’t get behind a carceral feminist press on this.

    1. Jane
      Jane June 4, 2013 at 10:43 pm |

      Backing this comment hard!

    2. Ed Darrell
      Ed Darrell June 6, 2013 at 7:30 am |

      If a guy punches a woman, and breaks her nose, there is no doubt of the fact of the assault — criminal, and in tort.

      Why should it be different if a guy who could have prevented doing so with use of a condom, gives a woman a chronic disease?

      The broken nose can be fixed. Disease, not so much.

      Short of criminalization, some jurisdictions would probably be quite amenable to a tort suit, which might be better — a lifelong commitment to providing funding to fight the disease.

      1. Camera Lady
        Camera Lady June 8, 2013 at 12:22 pm |

        The broken nose analogy only works if the assault was unprovoked. If she attacked him first, and he, in his own self-defense, breaks her nose, he shouldn’t be charged.

        He will, of course, because men are always charged with assault even if it’s the woman doing the assaulting.

    3. (BFing)Sarah
      (BFing)Sarah June 6, 2013 at 3:17 pm |

      I don’t think criminalization has some instructive effect on a population, generally, and I struggle with the idea that absent a criminal offence a violation can’t be taken seriously.

      Yeah, I agree with this, too. I mean the guy IS using, right? So its not like he is not totally down with flouting the law when it suits him…why wouldn’t he just flout this new “sexual deception” law as well?

  7. Donna L
    Donna L June 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm |

    I am not in favor of making sexual deception a crime. Mostly because I have little doubt, as Barnacle Strumpet mentions, that such a law would be used against trans people. (Perhaps more than it would be used in situations like the OP’s. ) After all, there’s already a lot of anti-trans rhetoric out there to the effect that any trans person who doesn’t disclose their history before having sex is a rapist.

    I realize that what happened to the OP resulted in real harm — not simply the horror of finding out that you just slept with a person with a trans history, or maybe somebody with a racial or religious background they failed to mention. But I see no reasonable way of criminalizing one without the other.

    What I don’t understand is why the OP’s situation wouldn’t give rise to a civil lawsuit for fraud under current law, without having to change anything about the law.. He represented a number of material facts in order to induce her to have a sexual relationship, she reasonably relied on those representations, and — most importantly — she suffered actual damages, including a specific physical injury (being infected with the HPV virus), emotional distress damages, and medical costs, for all of which she should be able to sue him and recover those damages.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L June 4, 2013 at 8:42 pm |

      I meant: he misrepresented, etc.

    2. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve June 4, 2013 at 9:16 pm |

      What I don’t understand is why the OP’s situation wouldn’t give rise to a civil lawsuit for fraud under current law, without having to change anything about the law.. He represented a number of material facts in order to induce her to have a sexual relationship, she reasonably relied on those representations, and — most importantly — she suffered actual damages, including a specific physical injury (being infected with the HPV virus), emotional distress damages, and medical costs, for all of which she should be able to sue him and recover those damages.

      She mentions the laws of the state of Virginia in the OP. Sounds like they’re not particularly progressive.

      1. Anon21
        Anon21 June 4, 2013 at 10:54 pm |

        Fraud isn’t a particularly “progressive” crime/tort.

    3. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl June 4, 2013 at 9:22 pm |

      I agree with you, Donna, that this does not appear to be a situation where a new law needs to be written to address what happened to the author. Duty, breach, causation, damages, they are all arguably something she could show in order to establish a tortious fraud was committed against her.

      I disagree with Barnacle’s premise above to some extent, only because it could be interpreted as excusing the boyfriend’s lying and deception in order to wheedle sex out of her. Having unprotected sex with someone is a hugely big deal, I think most of us can agree on that, and requiring monogamy from a partner as a prerequisite to unprotected sex doesn’t sound like a terribly controversial thing. Doing so and then ending up with an STI is also understandably a reason to feel betrayed and mistreated by that partner.

      The last point I wanted to make is that I am a bit creeped out that the author does appear to be using the real names of the people involved in this whole saga of hers. Dragging the ex through the mud in a public forum is one thing, but using identifiable facts of his other paramours seems a bit unsavory. I’m willing to consider argument to the contrary, but I thought the point needed to be made.

      1. lilith danne
        lilith danne June 6, 2013 at 3:56 am |

        That works

  8. Lisa
    Lisa June 4, 2013 at 9:13 pm |

    Would or could there be a practical difference between legally recognizing conditions under which sex would be considered coercive and legislating against the things mentioned above, like adultery and knowingly putting your partner at risk for STI’s?

  9. Sid
    Sid June 4, 2013 at 9:30 pm |

    ” . . . consensual sex is an oxymoronic term; without consent, the act of sex isn’t really sex at all.”

    I am pretty sure you mean redundant.

    1. Ledasmom
      Ledasmom June 5, 2013 at 10:13 am |

      Or tautological.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong June 7, 2013 at 9:05 pm |

        I’ve heard that talking point a lot and honestly I can’t make sense of it. Do you have a problem with the phrase ‘sexual assault,’ if you’re asserting that sex is only sex if it’s consensual? Or ‘sexual violence’ and ‘sexual abuse?’

        I really don’t see how defining rape as non-consensual sex is even slightly problematic.

  10. a lawyer
    a lawyer June 4, 2013 at 10:01 pm |

    I recognize this as a horrible act, but suggesting it should be illegal (much less criminal) seems frightening. Problem is, the OP is making the argument in the context of her own, highly intimate, personal experience.

    Personal anecdotes don’t usually make a good basis for proposed laws. They certainly don’t really support the necessary discussion–does the OP really want to hear too much opposition pr disagreement here?

    When people propose horrible criminal laws, you have to be able to say “WTF are you thinking, that’s ridiculous!” without personal offense.

    1. lilith danne
      lilith danne June 6, 2013 at 3:30 am |

      I agree with lawyer on this one

  11. Gary Krant
    Gary Krant June 4, 2013 at 10:11 pm |

    There is a distinction, the problem is the OP doesn’t say how far she wants the laws to go on this. She has talked about dishonesty as coercive, and we can clearly see that she considers what happened to her to fall under that category; but how much else is going to fall under it as well? Is a deliberate lie when asked point blank going to be the only instance that is considered rape by deception?

    I wish she had gone more into the legal aspect of it.

    Perhaps you missed her ultimate line – “no consent = rape. Period.”

    In the absence of additional contrary statements, one would have to conclude that she wants [William] prosecuted for rape.

    1. TomSims
      TomSims June 5, 2013 at 3:56 am |

      @GaryKrant

      “Perhaps you missed her ultimate line – “no consent = rape. Period.”

      In the absence of additional contrary statements, one would have to conclude that she wants [William] prosecuted for rape.”

      Yes that’s what it sounds like to me too.

  12. Gary Krant
    Gary Krant June 4, 2013 at 10:20 pm |

    I agree with you, Donna, that this does not appear to be a situation where a new law needs to be written to address what happened to the author. Duty, breach, causation, damages, they are all arguably something she could show in order to establish a tortious fraud was committed against her.

    I don’t think fraud is a recognized theory for recovery of damages arising from a personal injury. Civil battery perhaps but unlikely.

    What is the duty imposed by law which has been breached in your negligence theory? Not transmitting STIs? The OP seems to think that [William] should have known that he carried HPV due to his sexual history and states that he was “willing to be tested” but there is no indication that he actually was tested for STIs. Guess what the discovery/theory of defense will be?

    1. Anna
      Anna June 5, 2013 at 1:58 am |

      There are no FDA-approved HPV tests for males, anyway. When a male goes into a sexual health clinic and asks to be tested for “all” STIs, he is actually only tested for a handful of them.

      Actually, there aren’t good HPV tests for anyone, regardless of gender. The Pap test/HPV test can give you a definitive “positive” result, but “negative” results aren’t definitive.

    2. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl June 5, 2013 at 10:00 am |

      Here I am, getting pedantic again. I said she could arguably establish the elements of a tort, which merely means she might be able to state a case, not that she could or should win if she actually did sue this guy. There are plenty of facts missing here from what the author has set out in her article, and plenty of holes in that story too.

  13. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 4, 2013 at 10:41 pm |

    Nope. Nope. Nope.

    This would hurt trans people. This would hurt non-straight people. This would hurt religious minorities (including atheists). This would hurt GSM folks like asexuals, etc, etc. This would hurt people who are disabled or ill in a number of non-contagious yet stigmatised ways. This would hurt sex workers, former sex workers and people suspected of being sex workers. This would hurt people with a history of substance abuse (whether currently addicted or not). Nope, nope and fuck that, NOPE.

    I love puppies. If I found out my wife was skewering puppies on Friday evenings, I would divorce her. I would never, ever date someone I knew skewered puppies on Friday evenings. And yet, if I discovered tomorrow that Val skewers puppies on Friday evenings, I still wouldn’t go back and turn four years of consensual sex into rape just because MY FEE-FEES, won’t somebody prosecute trans people/gay people/religious minorities because MY FEEE-FEEEEEEEEES.

    OP, I’m sorry your boyfriend was a douche. Your self was violated, your relationship was violated, and your healing was fucked with in a way I find horrible and inexcusable. (Yes, I am in an open relationship, but it’s not boundary-less, and yes, I consider cheating to be an absolute dealbreaker for anyone who finds it so.) But you certainly don’t get to take your particular sexual trauma and turn it into foggy laws that would harm vulnerable people horribly. And you can feel however violated you feel or don’t feel, but you don’t get to legislate into a crime what can often be an act of survival. Trans panic and gay panic are horrible enough without the likes of you turning them into law.

    1. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable June 4, 2013 at 10:49 pm |

      I don’t know how to say it in a way that isn’t offensive, and I am really angered by this, but –

      I’ve been cheated on. The cheating would have been an absolute dealbreaker for me had I known about it at the time, and it sucked (especially so because it was my first relationship, and I can pretty much guarantee I’ve never been loved before then). But also, I’ve been sexually assaulted. In my case, those were two different men. My first boyfriend did not sexually assault me.

      I think the differences between “lack of consent” and “lack of meaningful consent” are fascinating, but real. And I am unbelievably livid at the conflation of the two. Thank you for being the first person to write what I was thinking.

      And that’s just through my own selfish lens – the transphobic argument is infinitely more compelling than my own feelings on the matter.

    2. Alexandra
      Alexandra June 4, 2013 at 11:20 pm |

      Hey, I agree that the OP’s proposed changes to rape laws are a bad idea, but you are seriously over the line in making fun of her emotional upset about the fact that a lying, emotionally abusive ex gave her an incurable STI that will leave her at greater risk for cancer, after she wasted years of her life with him. That is not okay.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune June 4, 2013 at 11:32 pm |

        making fun of her emotional upset

        I specifically said that she had every right to feel violated, as she WAS violated. What she doesn’t have is the right to take her hurt feelings to legislation. I spent years being molested by a priest. I have every right to take the bastard to court, even if I know I wouldn’t stand a chance of winning. I don’t have a right to say that all priests should be prosecuted for molesting little girls, whether or not they did. Same difference.

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra June 4, 2013 at 11:42 pm |

          Specifically I was objecting to the bit where you talk about “MY FEE-FEES” which I think is unnecessarily dismissive.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 12:44 am |

          Ah. Well, I suppose that is dismissive. I guess I get a little dismissive when someone decides they’re entitled to advocate the creation of a situation that would legally and seriously endanger several minorities, to some of which I myself belong, because they dated an abusive scumbag that one time. I have every sympathy for her trauma, and have said so repeatedly. Still doesn’t give her a pass on promoting what would almost certainly become de facto gay panic and trans panic, among other lovely things.

        3. Alexandra
          Alexandra June 5, 2013 at 1:00 am |

          I agree with you on the substance of things, macavity. It’s sort of the nature of feminist conversation, though, that we extrapolate from the personal to the political, and I’m trying to keep my criticism of the OP’s political recommendations separate from any judgment about how traumatic or life-altering the OP’s personal experiences were.

    3. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune June 4, 2013 at 11:35 pm |

      Also, I find it really fucking offensive if OP used the scumbag ex’s other flings’ real names (I can’t tell if they did or not). I don’t care about him, but those women don’t deserve to be dragged through the mud for being taken advantage of.

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl June 5, 2013 at 9:48 am |

        Yep, I addressed the same concerns in my comment upthread. There is zero indication that the author here is using pseudonyms for anyone involved in her saga. If she is using the real names of her ex’s other sexual partners, it is highly shitty of her to do so. They don’t deserve to be publicly named and shamed like that, because anyone familiar with her story can easily determine who these other women are (especially the mention of the other woman the ex took to work with him, at Whole Foods?). WTF?

        1. Gorb
          Gorb June 5, 2013 at 9:59 am |

          Lolagirl has a point.

          I suspect she’s used the real names here. If so, the reason is pretty clear.

          Doubtlessly, and for good reason, she feels that she has the moral authority in this situation and that she’s been seriously wronged by a sociopath, and that the others involved were either complicit or tagging along in her cathartic release.

          This speaks of several themes. First, she can’t be criticized for suffering from a bit of narcissism; she is a victim here, in a real sense. However, she’s letting this narcissism direct her if she’s used real names.

          Secondly, she’s looking for approval and acknowledgments of status: this is, short of a criminal charge against the man who wronged her, a form of social acknowledgment of the crime that was committed against her.

          Thirdly, she gets to use Feministe and the commenters in the public tragi-play that she’s currently living. We become actors on her stage.

          Or, she could just be careless and irresponsible.

          In any case, given that her argument wasn’t well thought-out and has been thoroughly shredded by all and sundry, I might add easily, even though we feel a great deal of sympathy for her, it might speak to another surmise I have–

          that she’s very young, somewhat inexperienced, and (especially given the tenor of her argument) somewhat unable to filter out her own feelings and emotions when coming to conclusions or decisions.

          I wouldn’t blame her for this; we’re all guilty of youthful exuberance and convincing self-righteousness, especially when it’s mostly justified (as in her case).

          It might be excusable, and a correctable mistake for the future.

          But it doesn’t make it right, and Lolagirl is right to call her on it.

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 5, 2013 at 10:12 am |

          Yeah, I wrote my other comment out last night and this issue issue has been bothering me ever since. I came back this morning to see if anyone else picked up it or responded to that portion of my earlier comment. Honestly, my concern is to the point where I wonder if it would be preferable for the author or the mods to redact the names from the article above.

          The more I have stewed over the whole thing, the more it makes me doubt the author and the veracity of her story. It also makes me a whole lot less sympathetic to her plight. Because it just makes me wonder if she is using this platform precisely for a public axe grinding. I know that’s an unkind thing to say, and I try to usually give people the benefit of the doubt, but there it is.

        3. Kerandria
          Kerandria June 5, 2013 at 11:48 am |

          I completely agree that the real names of the other women ought to be redacted/changed by the mods (with a note at the top of the post reflecting the change). As someone who was (formerly) attached to someone that was named and shamed, I can speak to how shitty it felt to see my name in a public forum like that.

        4. Caperton
          Caperton June 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm | *

          I’ve changed all names, including the boyfriend’s name, since his relatively unusual name could make it easier to identify the women mentioned.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 12:17 pm |

          Thank you, Caperton. I’ve been written up on things without my permission, and even though the things in question were neutral, unlike here, I still felt violated as fuck. So…seriously, thank you.

        6. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

          Thanks for changing out the names, Caperton.

          Although I don’t know, it’s hard to un-ring that bell now that I’ve already read the above essay with all of that identifying information intact. While I think it’s important to give women the recognition they need when they feel victimized and betrayed in situations like this, on the other hand I still can’t get past how the author went about this. Why did she feel it was so important to include that identifying info? Because I just can’t get help wondering if she did have some less than positive motives for doing so.

          (Side tangent alert) I actually knew someone who went on Oprah years ago to name and shame her ex where the show’s topic was marital betrayal. Seeing as how the Oprah Show was filmed less than 20 miles from our hometown, and the person in question purposefully used people’s names and specific locations, you bet everyone was buzzing about it afterwards. Whether or not the cheating spouse deserved the public shaming is one discussion, but the fact that she dragged others through that mud as well who didn’t deserve it, not so much.

  14. White Rabbit
    White Rabbit June 4, 2013 at 10:44 pm |

    Thank you for this essay, and I am so very sorry for what you have been through.

    I experienced something eerily similar two years ago, and I have only recently started feeling like myself and dating again. I had some past trauma that most definitely exacerbated things for me, but nevertheless, this kind of betrayal and exposure to physical danger is overwhelming and difficult to overcome.

    I remember feeling, among other things, an enormous swell of anger about the injustice of the situation, so I understand what you are driving at, even if there’s no clear path to legal recourse for people in this situation. I’m glad I’m not alone in wanting to do something to hold people such as our exes accountable.

    I still remember breaking down in tears at the Planned Parenthood clinic where I had gone alone to get an HIV test. I was terrified, as I was painfully aware of the amount of risk my ex had exposed me to, and it still gives me chills when I recall his complete indifference about it.

    In addition to exposing me to STI’s, my conniving ex had been emotionally abusive. Every time I started sniffing around his lies, he’d masterfully turn the situation around until *I* was apologizing to *him.* Once I ended the relationship, I did some reading and quickly recognized that he had been emotionally abusive. I’ve since learned a lot about abusers, and it’s sickening what they get away with – both because our legal system lacks real teeth, and because the manipulations – even when extremely destructive – are often stealthy enough to evade any kind of larger accountability.

    It never ceases to amaze me how similar the MO’s are among these folks. I’m assuming you’ve changed names/details to protect people, and I’m fighting the urge to compare notes to see if we dated the same guy. Everything from expressing contempt for those less intelligent/cunning than him, to sleeping with the woman he insisted was merely his “best friend,” to introducing us to his parents/family while sleeping with several other girls on the side… Ugh. Every time I read one of these stories, I think about what we can do to educate young women to recognize the signs, and young boys to not grow up to behave this way.

    Also, I am so glad I’m not the only one who reached out to try to warn the other women who were tangled in the web. I was roundly criticized by friends for doing this. It was fruitless in my case, as the women were more than happy to remain in denial, but at least I know I tried.

    …This probably isn’t the best use of this space, so my apologies to all. This just hit very close to home for me. In fact, the abusive relationship I mention was the catalyst for me finding my way to feminism and to communities such as this one. Though I’m sure I would have found my way to feminism regardless!

    1. White Rabbit
      White Rabbit June 4, 2013 at 11:06 pm |

      …and now that I’ve gone back and read everyone else’s comments, I am all the more enlightened, which is one of the reasons I keep coming back here. I am reminded that there are some potential legal avenues available for recovering specific damages, and I can also see the myriad ways an attempt to criminalize this particular behavior can backfire terribly.

  15. lilith danne
    lilith danne June 4, 2013 at 10:59 pm |

    Well said

  16. Gorb
    Gorb June 4, 2013 at 11:16 pm |

    I’m glad to see the commenters calling the author out on her implied conflation of consent and meaningful consent. Whatever happened to this poor woman wasn’t assault. Unfair, dishonest, yes: but that’s the risk we take when we deal with the real world.

    There’s no connection between her experiences as narrated and a risk sexual assault. The implications of conflating th are socially horrifying. It forcefully introduces a kind of quasi-traditional sexual purity and morality into relationships; the legal nightmare this would create would dwarf any small good it would do.

    What nobody has noticed is the other elephant in the room here. The comments focus on how bad men can be, and the most recent on refining * boys * not to do this.

    I’m not sure what social background such commenters have, but amoral behavior like this knows no gender boundaries. Substance abuse and lying and especially cheating is just as common among women as men. I’ve personally seen this with men I know.

    It’s not “boys”that have to be raised not to behave this way. It’s people.

    That this assumption could go unchallenged greatly disturbs me.

    1. White Rabbit
      White Rabbit June 4, 2013 at 11:48 pm |

      Ugh. That was me. You are absolutely correct that perpetrators can be of any gender, and I stand embarrassed and corrected. And my comment hasn’t been here long – I’m confident others in this community would have also called this out.

    2. White Rabbit
      White Rabbit June 4, 2013 at 11:54 pm |

      I’m not sure what social background such commenters have, but amoral behavior like this knows no gender boundaries. Substance abuse and lying and especially cheating is just as common among women as men.

      I don’t know those exact stats, but that sounds reasonable on the face of it.

      I would like to point out, though, that domestic abuse does not occur at the same rate among males and females. My understanding of the breakdown is that 85% of victims are women, and 15% are men. I further understand that, of the 15% of male victims, 5% are victimized by women. I also don’t believe that sexual assault rates are evenly split between the genders, but I would need to research the exact stats.

    3. TomSims
      TomSims June 5, 2013 at 4:32 am |

      @Gorb

      “What nobody has noticed is the other elephant in the room here. The comments focus on how bad men can be, and the most recent on refining * boys * not to do this.

      I’m not sure what social background such commenters have, but amoral behavior like this knows no gender boundaries. Substance abuse and lying and especially cheating is just as common among women as men. I’ve personally seen this with men I know.

      It’s not “boys”that have to be raised not to behave this way. It’s people.

      That this assumption could go unchallenged greatly disturbs me.”

      I agree with your statement , but am surprised someone hasn’t called you an MRA yet.

  17. Alexandra
    Alexandra June 4, 2013 at 11:16 pm |

    So, OP, I believe what you are advocating for is that “rape by deception” be recognized in the US. There have been a number of high-profile cases in recent years, in the US and abroad, which brought up cases of rape by deception in which the accused was alleged to have impersonated someone, thereby gaining the consent of the victim. I’m not a lawyer, but I believe in the US “rape by deception” is not considered a crime basically anywhere, even in cases of outright impersonation (the story that springs to mind was a man impersonating his brother in order to have sex with his brother’s wife).

    What you appear to be arguing for, however, is that “rape by deception” should include not only impersonation – deception based on identity, saying you are one person when in fact you are another – but also misrepresenting one’s character. That is, a person could be guilty of rape by deception not only if they claimed another person’s identity, but also if they presented themselves as having one sort of personality or character when in fact they had another.

    And I don’t think this is tenable. Every relationship includes unpleasant revelations about the character of the person you’ve become involved with. Some of these are trivial, others are more serious and lead to the end of a previously consensual relationship.

    The way you describe the onset of your relationship, you created a kind of contract – not a legal one, but one with to your mind moral force – which said that you had a relationship with [William] if and only if he agreed to and abided by certain totally reasonable standards of behavior (not using drugs, not sleeping with other people). Your argument, I believe, is that because [William] knowingly and deliberately violated the terms of this “contract”, he was in fact guilty of rape, because your consent had been contingent on his abiding by the terms of the contract.

    But on these grounds, wouldn’t any marriage ending in at-fault divorce likewise involve rape by deception?

    I am not saying you were not injured – and I am upset that some people upthread are treating the fact that you contracted an incurable STI as if it were meaningless – but it’s not clear to me that the way in which you were injured is best described as rape.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune June 4, 2013 at 11:37 pm |

      But on these grounds, wouldn’t any marriage ending in at-fault divorce likewise involve rape by deception?

      YES. Exactly. This proposal is such a fucking farce on so many levels, I’d be laughing if I weren’t horrified at the consequences of such a thing.

  18. Gorb
    Gorb June 4, 2013 at 11:37 pm |

    One solution is to make infidelity a crime, similar to sexual assault. I presume this law would apply equally to men and women.

    Another solution would be to make dishonesty punishable by law. It would be a kind of relational assault.

    This is the upshot of the post.

    I hope I can be excused for not sympathising sufficiently with the author to sign on to such a program.

    I also am somewhat taken aback by this kind of verbal construction:
    ” I was rendered completely helpless against his intentional deceptions. Because of his lies, I was powerless to protect myself from his reckless endangerment of my health and well being. ”

    This is the tone of the entire piece. Does no one see the problem with this?

    While she may have an incentive to go out of her way to paint this as a victimising experience, what she’s done is minimise her ( adult human) agency and assign hyper-agency to her boyfriend. Thus, she has infantilised herself in a quest for justice. There is immense danger in doing this.

    She got burned by a relationship cheat. She wasn’t assaulted.

    If we’re going to make dishonesty a crime, then we end up with situations like this:

    An Israeli woman dated a charming guy for some time. He said he was Jewish. He turned out to be an Arab Muslim. She charged him with sexual assault ( rape): she would never have consented had he not lied.
    He went to jail for rape.
    Of course, Nobody ever asked if this could apply in reverse. Imagine the potential were this to become the norm.

    If the author can’t see why this mode of thought has horrifying, repugnant implications, then not much can help.

    I would wish the author greater perspective and a tougher skin, rather than a retreat into self-infantilisation.

    There’s enough crime in the world without rendering ourselves subjects under the heavy thumb of a paternalistic state.

    We should be trying to get the state as far away from bedrooms as possible, not the reverse. This whole attitude and line of thought percolates with danger.

    1. Alexandra
      Alexandra June 4, 2013 at 11:40 pm |

      Except that’s not at all what happened in that very famous rape case in Israel: From the BBC, this very famous case (which established the very dangerous, and real, case law about rape by deception) actually resulted because of a plea bargain struck to protect the victim from having to testify.

      1. Gorb
        Gorb June 4, 2013 at 11:53 pm |

        The point, though, as you point out, is very real and extremely dangerous. Imagine the effect were this applied as law.

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra June 4, 2013 at 11:54 pm |

          It is. I don’t think I was quite clear – what’s significant about this case is not the particular rape conviction (as best I can tell, well deserved) but the fact that a judge in Israel established as case law the idea that misrepresenting one’s religious identity would be grounds for a rape by deception case. And not the fact that, you know, the rapist left the woman in question bruised, bleeding, and half naked in the stairwell.

    2. White Rabbit
      White Rabbit June 5, 2013 at 12:14 am |

      While she may have an incentive to go out of her way to paint this as a victimising experience, what she’s done is minimise her ( adult human) agency and assign hyper-agency to her boyfriend. Thus, she has infantilised herself in a quest for justice. There is immense danger in doing this.

      She got burned by a relationship cheat. She wasn’t assaulted…

      I’ve seen similar arguments levied against DV victims, and they make me extremely uncomfortable.

      She is not infantalizing herself. She took all reasonable precautions and communicated her boundaries, and her partner deliberately deceived her and exposed her to real physical harm. If he had raised a hand and struck her, we wouldn’t hesitate to involve the law. I’m more than a little horrified that his exposing her to a life-threatening STI is seen as a lesser harm.

      I understand the problems with creating new legislation around this, as outlined by others above. but that is not the argument you are making here.

      1. Buttered Lilies
        Buttered Lilies June 5, 2013 at 12:48 am |

        Can’t there be some kind of middle ground between “completely helpless” and “in total control”? “Completely helpless” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, really – how does any abuse victim leave (which many do) if they’re “completely helpless” because of deceptions and lies?

        1. White Rabbit
          White Rabbit June 5, 2013 at 1:28 am |

          Oh, absolutely. I didn’t mean to imply that victims are completely helpless. Far from it in many cases.

          Where the author uses the words “rendered completely helpless,” I interpreted that as meaning that she was completely helpless to know the truth about her ex’s lies, and thus unable to act on that truth. I didn’t take her to mean that she was rendered utterly helpless as a person.

          Meanwhile, I read this commenter as accusing her, in so many words, of “playing the victim,” which is a common way of turning the tables on a victim.

      2. Gorb
        Gorb June 5, 2013 at 2:36 am |

        Not at all. I’m not blaming the victim. I’m just saying this: she’s presented the information in a ” my bf tendered me helpless”tone that plays on our sensibilities and isn’t accurate.

        It’s not victim blaming * at all *.

        She suffered, and the guy was a jerk. But she’s making many false equivalencies and dressing herself in the equivalent of blood-soaked rags in a dramatic appeal to endorse the creation of some pretty problematic social proscriptions and laws.

        If you can’t see the problem with the tone of her presentation – especially what I quoted, which is emblematic of her tone- then perhaps the problem runs deeper than I thought.

        She’s not at fault for what happened to her. That would be victim blaming.

        She is at fault for the way she chooses to see herself in a social context, and the prescriptions she makes for preventing this from happening again. And it’s entirely legitimate to call her out on this.

        I don’t personally like how she’s stripped herself of all agency in this process. I can’t help feeling she’s doing this. We all get hurt and cheated; the only way not to is to live on an island, alone.

        Her words are carefully chosen to minimise her presume agency and to maximise his.

        This is not feminist.

        1. jemima101
          jemima101 June 5, 2013 at 2:41 am |

          I have to agree and alongside the elitist abusive attitude to those with issues of drug and alcohol misuse i am out, feministe seems closer to a right wing mouthpiece for privileged women than anything feminist.

        2. Jane
          Jane June 5, 2013 at 11:47 am |

          I really disagree with this line. She had potentially severe health consequences as a result of breached trust after she clearly advocated for herself and her boundaries. I don’t think we need to penalize or hate on people who are doing their best to act on their own behalf while being taken advantage of.

          There are several critiques of the post’s conclusion in the comments above.

          One set critiques the criminal justice system and explains that criminalization is a flawed route for this sort of deception because criminalization inherently is used against the most marginalized in society (for example DV arrest-required and hate crimes laws have been turned against women and LGBTQ survivors of violence who those laws were meant to protect) and because the harms in this case cannot be adequately narrowed down to create a criminal law that couldn’t be used against a vast multitude of other circumstances– including the example that some deception in actually necessary in order to allow certain groups of marginalized/criminalized people to protect themselves from harm.

          Another set of critiques focuses on the differences between consent and meaningful consent. They take very seriously the physical and mental harms caused by this deception, but suggest that we need to change society to take the latter more seriously without conflating it with the former. They recognize that trauma from deception is very real and has long-term consequences, and that being exposed to STIs by deception after making a good-faith effort to protect oneself if horrific– but that exposure to STIs and no-monogamy in a consensual sexual encounter are tangibly different than sexual assault. They want to complicate and broaden the discussion of sexual consent.

          Finally, there’s this thread here, where y’all are conflating the writer’s trauma and her ignorance of the full scope of her arguments. She could have insisted on condoms on top of insisting on monogamy, and therefore she’s not being an empowered feminist, and therefore fuck her! Please examine your own logic. Feminism is at its best when it focuses and benefits the most oppressed and marginalized people. Your logic creates an arbitrary demand for some pre-concieved standard of empowerment before we can take her victimization seriously. She was victimized by the partner who decieved her: she was traumatized and exposed to dangerous sex she thought she had taken due steps to protect herself from. This article is a step toward surviving that deception. Her thinking was flawed as explained by commenters above because it was too narrowed in on her own experience, but her reading of that experience was not. She was sexually harmed by another person’s malicious deception. That’s awful.

          Can we take her trauma seriously and still critique the direction her logic took her? Yes, we can, as most of the folks above have done. Please don’t dismiss the harms here as negligible. We do not need to dismiss this trauma to explain why criminalizing its cause is dangerous and has broader consequences than the author’s narrow experience.

        3. Jane
          Jane June 5, 2013 at 11:51 am |

          I don’t personally like how she’s stripped herself of all agency in this process. I can’t help feeling she’s doing this. We all get hurt and cheated; the only way not to is to live on an island, alone.

          I really can’t get over this line. Just like the OP’s flawed logic that criminalization will solve this complex problem, the logic of your post most harms the most vulnerable people– the folks who do not know how to best protect themselves from deception and exploitation. Let’s not dismiss survivors because they were too ignorant or powerless to effectively protect themselves.

  19. A4
    A4 June 4, 2013 at 11:59 pm |

    The call for legislation is a bad idea. Legislation is like computer code. You need to be aware who will be writing it, who will be compiling it, how it will be tested, and what system it will run on. You cannot base legislation on an imagined idea of Proper Moral Law. That’s not how state laws and their enforcement work and it won’t lead to the outcome you desire.

    That being said, I’m just going to repost what I wrote here on another feministe article:

    It is my job to be absolutely sure that my partner feels as positive and safe about a sexual encounter as I do. Right now our culture of sexual objectification has taken the concept of consent and tried to objectify it:
    “Consent looks like X Y and Z”
    “Consent is when your partner says the right words”
    “Consent is when your partner’s body is this way”

    But those aren’t consent.

    Consent is when you absolutely know that you are not hurting your partner. Consent is when you absolutely know that the other person will now and thereafter feel positive, safe, and happy about the sexual encounter that you are having.

    Many people will protest that this is too hard, that it’s too imprecise, or that it is unreasonable to expect someone to know absolutely what someone else is feeling or will feel.

    Those people are placing their desire for a human sex object over their desire to look out for the health and happiness of their sexual partner. Those people suck.

    Consent is not some magic thing that you “get” that then frees you from being responsible for the way you treat someone else’s body when you have intimate access to it.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 12:39 am |

      Consent is when you absolutely know that you are not hurting your partner. Consent is when you absolutely know that the other person will now and thereafter feel positive, safe, and happy about the sexual encounter that you are having.

      Bullshit. What about PWD like myself, for whom the two sentences are often mutually exclusive? I make a tradeoff of sex (with attendant intimacy, bonding, etc) for pain, most days. Sometimes the tradeoff is pain that lasts several days. Sometimes I look back on (perfectly consensual, awesome) sex I had and go “shit, if I’d known I would get this fucked up, I’d probably have foregone that position/orgasm/encounter/tiny specific movement that somehow left me in crippling pain”. Does this mean no one who has sex with me is ever really going to have my consent? How many times would you say I’ve been raped by my wife?

      And… what about people who have been in relationships for years before it went downhill and broke up? Does consent get retroactively withdrawn because they no longer look back fondly on the sex they had? So…if a person has 40 years of marriage with someone, then cheats on them once, and the couple gets divorced, the non-cheating partner can claim to have been raped for 40 years?

      What about if someone gets unintentionally pregnant from a mutually happy and willing sexual encounter – a pregnancy that they in no way want, maybe even a pregnancy they and their partner took measures to prevent, and failed? Does that encounter become rape if the person(s) in question feel horrible about the sex and wish they hadn’t had it, in retrospect? Granted, that’s a consequence and not an aspect of the sex itself, but still, your standard makes no distinction.

      Nobody magically knows the entire future and all its consequences, and this standard is immediately and obviously ridiculous for reasons that have nothing to do with how “hard” or “imprecise” it is.

      1. A4
        A4 June 5, 2013 at 1:24 am |

        I’m trying to construct consent in a way that actually accurately captures the way people interact and assign cause and effect.

        ? I make a tradeoff of sex (with attendant intimacy, bonding, etc) for pain, most days. Sometimes the tradeoff is pain that lasts several days. Sometimes I look back on (perfectly consensual, awesome) sex I had and go “shit, if I’d known I would get this fucked up, I’d probably have foregone that position/orgasm/encounter/tiny specific movement that somehow left me in crippling pain”. Does this mean no one who has sex with me is ever really going to have my consent? How many times would you say I’ve been raped by my wife?

        It means that your wife should understand this relationship you have between sex and pain and that sometimes you might regret the intimacy and bonding you shared. She might feel guilty for causing you pain. Either way, your conceptualization of the experience should be important to her, not just whether after weighing the risks you decided to give her an access pass, which is often the way consent is conceptualized.

        I am very very not inclined to name someone else’s sexual experiences as rape if they do not do so themselves to me and also give me permission to speak about it if they are an adult. Children are different because they do not necessarily have the capacity to name their experiences. So in this case, I would not say that your wife has raped you at all.

        And… what about people who have been in relationships for years before it went downhill and broke up? Does consent get retroactively withdrawn because they no longer look back fondly on the sex they had? So…if a person has 40 years of marriage with someone, then cheats on them once, and the couple gets divorced, the non-cheating partner can claim to have been raped for 40 years?

        Well, since we’re not talking about a courtroom here, it really depends on each person’s feelings doesn’t it? We see above some intense feelings of betrayal and trauma as well as the new realization of long term medical consequences. Once again, consent is not a keychain dongle. People can claim whatever they want, and I really don’t think there’s a danger of people wanting to name all of their sexual experiences as rape. It’s not a pleasant thing to do. There aren’t really any benefits to doing so.

        What about if someone gets unintentionally pregnant from a mutually happy and willing sexual encounter – a pregnancy that they in no way want, maybe even a pregnancy they and their partner took measures to prevent, and failed? Does that encounter become rape if the person(s) in question feel horrible about the sex and wish they hadn’t had it, in retrospect? Granted, that’s a consequence and not an aspect of the sex itself, but still, your standard makes no distinction.

        Once again, it’s very important that when people have sex that could cause pregnancy in one or more partners, they understand the ramifications of what that would mean to the future conceptions of the experience. I’ve had a lot of sex I didn’t feel great about, but it wasn’t rape. It was much more helpful for me to look at them as “Why didn’t this go well? What was missing?” because this doesn’t leave me trying to carve out some bright line for what is and isn’t consensual in order to decide what was and wasn’t okay for me sexually. It also helped me understand how important it was for me to assert myself in situations where people got pushy.

        Nobody magically knows the entire future and all its consequences, and this standard is immediately and obviously ridiculous for reasons that have nothing to do with how “hard” or “imprecise” it is.

        That is the point. When you have a sexual encounter, you become the possible cause for a lot of very extreme consequences for someone else of both short term and long term natures. It is important to consider the consequences our actions will have for others. We do not just need to follow correct procedure or obtain a particular approved passwords in order to certify the acceptability of our sexual encounters. These can be useful tools, but they are not the prime directive, so to speak.

        1. amblingalong
          amblingalong June 5, 2013 at 3:04 am |

          It is important to consider the consequences our actions will have for others. We do not just need to follow correct procedure or obtain a particular approved passwords in order to certify the acceptability of our sexual encounters.

          No, because other people have agency. When I go home with and have sex with someone I don’t know very well, I get consent, they get consent, and we have sex. I respect their agency enough to not feel the need to inquire deeply into their psychology and decide for them if having sex with me is a good idea.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 3:05 am |

          Either way, your conceptualization of the experience should be important to her, not just whether after weighing the risks you decided to give her an access pass, which is often the way consent is conceptualized.

          Okay…I’m not sure I understand the distinction you’re drawing here. Isn’t my conceptualisation of the experience…a weighing of the risks? And isn’t that weighing (and a consent-giving outcome) the thing that should matter to her?

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 3:14 am |

          Once again, it’s very important that when people have sex that could cause pregnancy in one or more partners, they understand the ramifications of what that would mean to the future conceptions of the experience.

          I think you answered your own question there. Bad sex isn’t nonconsensual sex. Speaking as someone who’s had disability-induced Suddenly Awful Sex, there’s light-years of difference. And by the same token, later-regretted-consensual sex is also not nonconsensual sex. You can tell, because when people get accidentally pregnant, they tend to go with “I wish I hadn’t slept with that penis-haver, fuck fuckity fuck”, not “I wish that penis-haver hadn’t retro-raped me even though I was totally into it at the time”. Like… this is seriously not a thing I have ever heard of happening, and I’ve been around my share of accidentally-pregnant women.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 3:16 am |

          I really don’t think there’s a danger of people wanting to name all of their sexual experiences as rape.

          Argh. Sorry for another comment, but considering that’s exactly what’s happened in the OP – OP clearly states she was raped by deception – I think elevating this point to a theoretical is a bit ridiculous.

      2. amblingalong
        amblingalong June 5, 2013 at 3:07 am |

        Consent is when you absolutely know that you are not hurting your partner. Consent is when you absolutely know that the other person will now and thereafter feel positive, safe, and happy about the sexual encounter that you are having.

        So in other words any sex you have with someone minus TWU WUV is rape.

        You’re full of shit.

        1. amblingalong
          amblingalong June 5, 2013 at 3:24 am |

          Like, I’ve had sex with someone while pretty sure it was a bad idea that we’d both regret, a fact we’d been discussing immediately before having sex. But we both consented by any meaningful sense of the word; we both said yes and actively pursued sexual contact. And yes, sure enough, we’d probably both be happier if we’d just let our previous breakup stick and not had sex again, but the idea I was raped, or I raped her, is silly as fuck.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 1:42 am |

      Consent is not some magic thing that you “get” that then frees you from being responsible for the way you treat someone else’s body when you have intimate access to it.

      Also, actually, yes. Yes, it fucking is. I do things to my wife that would be considered domestic violence without consent. I do things to my wife that would be considered rape without consent. Etc, etc. It’s not magical in the way that you’re saying, but it does make a difference. Kind of like a will is the difference between inheritance and looting a corpse, or an adoption certificate makes the difference between parenting and Happy Babynapping Tiems. I suppose those are magical, too? Consent doesn’t let you off the hook for being an asshole, no, any more than being an adoptive parent gets you an official pass for child abuse, or being given a cow-creamer in a will lets you take the dead person’s entire estate. But it does let you off the hook for rape/babynapping/corpse-looting, etc.

      On the other hand, your insistence that only precognitive telepaths (you know, those people who absolutely know that they are not causing any damage whatsoever to their partner (with or without said partner’s consent, as in my case in my previous comment) “thereafter” their partner will never ever have any regret, for the reasons outlined above) can have consensual sex seems to rely much more on magic than what us plebes engage in.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 3:21 am |

        To clarify: consent for sex removes exactly one responsibility – the responsibility to abstain from sex (or a certain sex act) in order to not rape an unwilling person.

        1. amblingalong
          amblingalong June 5, 2013 at 3:25 am |

          ^^ all of this

      2. Ledasmom
        Ledasmom June 5, 2013 at 10:42 am |

        Kind of like a will is the difference between inheritance and looting a corpse

        I have to tell you, I admire this analogy exceedingly. It has been making me laugh for at least five minutes now, and I expect that to continue, off and on, for most of the day.

    3. A4
      A4 June 5, 2013 at 8:43 am |

      Oh my God, Ambling and Mac, could you guys be any fucking dumber right now? I think not.

      We often talk about how rape and assault exist along a spectrum. That some things contribute to rape culture without being rape. Well I AM REFLECTING THAT IN MY CONSIDERATION OF WHAT CONSENT MEANS.

      And you’re right! You can’t have perfect consent! Because consent is about what’s in the other person’s head, and you can’t know that for sure! Boo fucking hoo! I’m sorry that you don’t like the thought that the sex you thought was super great might not have been so fun for the other person. I’m sorry that you resent the idea that you should consider the feelings of the person you’re having sex with! I’m sorry that I think people should realize that they are having sex with real people, not just a sexual object.

      Y’all keep bring up your racy sexy practices to combat my “puritan” guidelines, but guess what! I’ve had all those kinds of sex too! I also got paid for sex! I had sex when I was underage with older men, I’ve had sex with people I met in locker rooms, I’ve had BDSM sex with dudes I met on the internet and never saw again. Some of these were excellent times, some of them less so. Some of them got coercive, some had people who were very sensitive and communicative. Some of them could have resulted in prosecuting my partner for rape. But you know? Somehow? I didn’t quite find our legal system’s construction of rape to be particularly helpful in understanding my own experiences or the experiences of others.

      The point is that perfect consent is something you strive for, just like perfect safety is something you strive for. You don’t NEVER get in a car even though it’s very unsafe, but when you do, you don’t say “I put my seat belt on! Now I’m totally safe!” because you get that it’s NOT ABOUT THE SEATBELT. It’s about not getting hurt. I am accepting this limitation of being human. You seem to want to deny it, and pretend like your magic rituals will assure a bright future. That’s fucking stupid. You’re being dumbasses.

      But sure, use your self-righteous indignation to shit all over the author’s feelings and experiences because she advocates for some bad laws. Bad laws that virtually nobody here agrees with and pretty much nobody anywhere else on the internet or in life either. These laws are not in danger of happening.

      But like, sure, take pride in being assholes to someone who was victimized by rape culture and who had a relationship that was sexually coercive. Way to show how cool and hardcore you are that you can justify being a mean shit because someone is sorting through their feelings of sexual violation in a nonperfect manner. What do they think this is some sort of supportive feminist space? Haha fuck her! You’re all “I’ve been abused and I’m not saying those things so that makes it okay to be insensitive and dismissive of other people’s pain!”

      How clever you are, to leverage your own negative experiences to justify your insensitivity. A gold star for each of you.

      1. Gorb
        Gorb June 5, 2013 at 11:18 am |

        A4, you’re way off.

        She put her experiences out there, expanding from them to a larger goal: rules legislating the following things:

        – infidelity
        – Deception (not coercion) in the bedroom
        – Risking sexual transmission of diseases.

        She also apparently used the real names of the people involved in her story, almost certainly without their consent.

        Why not make going into groups of people when you have a cold or, say, german measles a crime as well?

        If you date men or women, you must assume some degree of personal autonomy. There is no insurance againt jerky behavior.

        She held up her personal experience as motivating reasoning for doing a specific series of legislative (it’s assumed) things. Indeed, she more or less equated lying about cheating on your spouse with rape.

        She opened it up, and she’s being properly assailed for making dangerous suggestions based on woolly thinking and vague assumptions.

        Most of the commenters preface what they say with genuine sympathy for her.

        Once you start using your feelings as a tool to advocate for serious legislative changes, which she does, you put up those feelings for close examination and you’ve tied them to a projected result. Should others shoot that result down – as I think has been universally done here – then the effects this has on your feelings is entirely your own fault.

        If you’re going to use your own experience to make bad arguments, you’d better know precisely what you’re doing. I don’t think you can blame ambling or mac for their approach.

        Having sympathy for victims of anything does not mean supporting wacky – even dangerous – proposals.

      2. a lawyer
        a lawyer June 5, 2013 at 11:22 am |

        But like, sure, take pride in being assholes to someone who was victimized by rape culture

        Um, she wasn’t. She lived in a culture which allowed many men to rape; she was mistreated by a man (who was an asshole;) she had bad experiences. But she wasn’t victimized by rape culture, and she wasn’t raped. Which is the point of the protests.

        and who had a relationship that was sexually coercive.

        No, that is simply wrong. It was not coercive; that word has a meaning and this isn’t it.

        Coercion is when someone applies unreasonable pressure to make you “agree” to do a thing. (Legally, the definition is stricter, and usually requires some sort of illegal pressure.) “I’ll move to Alaska, accuse you of abuse, and sue for sole custody unless you have sex with me” is coercive. “No, I didn’t sleep with the neighbor” is not coercive.

        Lies and coercion are entirely different.

        Way to show how cool and hardcore you are that you can justify being a mean shit because someone is sorting through their feelings of sexual violation in a nonperfect manner.

        By “nonperfect” do you mean “unthinkingly dangerous to a lot of people?” Because that is what she wrote.

        What do they think this is some sort of supportive feminist space?

        What do you mean, that any woman is allowed to say anything they want (even if it will harm tons of people, men and women alike) and that she can’t be called on it if she’s upset and in a “supportive feminist space?”

        Haha fuck her! You’re all “I’ve been abused and I’m not saying those things so that makes it okay to be insensitive and dismissive of other people’s pain!”

        Nobody is dismissive of her pain. Her experience really sucks and she can determine her own level of upset.

        But the fact that she’s upset has shit-all to do with the reality of what she is suggesting.

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 5, 2013 at 6:23 pm |

          Coercion is when someone applies unreasonable pressure to make you “agree” to do a thing. (Legally, the definition is stricter, and usually requires some sort of illegal pressure.) “I’ll move to Alaska, accuse you of abuse, and sue for sole custody unless you have sex with me” is coercive. “No, I didn’t sleep with the neighbor” is not coercive.

          Lies and coercion are entirely different.

          Yes, but it is possible to lie and to coerce. He coerced her into having unprotected sex, or at least that’s what it sounds like here…

          In the midst of all of his secretive drinking, drugging, and cheating, he would repeatedly coax me into have unprotected sex with him. He used his clean bill of health and our monogamous status to persuade me to do this, and occasionally his arguments would work, and I would concede. He pushed for unprotected sex even while knowing that he was putting me at risk for the contraction of countless diseases.

          “Repeatedly coax,” “persuade,” “I would concede,” “He pushed.” This sounds like the language of coercion to me. The fact that he was a lying deceitful scumbag is actually irrelevant to the charge of coercion.

      3. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 11:26 am |

        I’m sorry that you don’t like the thought that the sex you thought was super great might not have been so fun for the other person.

        …excuse me?

        I’m sorry that you resent the idea that you should consider the feelings of the person you’re having sex with!

        If that’s your takeaway, wow. I’m flattered you think so highly of me.

        You seem to want to deny it, and pretend like your magic rituals will assure a bright future. That’s fucking stupid. You’re being dumbasses.

        What I’m trying to deny is this ridiculous notion that anyone can ever be 100% sure that no one is ever for any reason in between now and their death going to have a tiny sad about a particular sexual experience that was consensual. Consent at the time doesn’t ensure people are never going to regret it; hell, that was my point in my first reply to you! But congratulations on using ableist slurs.

        Y’all keep bring up your racy sexy practices

        Er…I never said my sexual practices were particularly racy. I pointed out that consent makes the difference between DV/rape and sex. The most vanilla and cuddly sex in the world could be considered both, if I’d coerced my partner into sex and then committed any penetrative sexual act upon her (by the laws here). I said jack shit about what I do in the bedroom; you’re the one whose brain went to kink and fucking older men. But thanks for the litany of your racy sexy experiences. I feel very edified.

        The point is that perfect consent is something you strive for, just like perfect safety is something you strive for.

        Oh, look, the point I was making! How is it a disagreement of the point I was making?

      4. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 11:29 am |

        Bad laws that virtually nobody here agrees with and pretty much nobody anywhere else on the internet or in life either. These laws are not in danger of happening.

        Comment in mod about the rest of it, but:

        These are laws that exist in the goddamn world. Rape by deception (in so many words, though it has many other terms afaict) is still a thing in many countries, India among them; India’s trying to phase that law out, iirc, but it’s not done yet. You don’t know shit about global law, but you could at least try not to proudly fly your ignorant flag. Rape by deception is a narrative I shut down with a vengeance, not because I want to traumatise and mock survivors, but because I’ve seen where this shit leads, I’ve lived where this shit leads, and I want no part of it in any space I inhabit again.

      5. Valoniel
        Valoniel June 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm |

        A4-

        I’ve been watching this argument from the inside since last night, and I have to tell you that you and Mac (I’ve already told her) are arguing the same side of the point, but from radically different language.

        You seem to be arguing for a social contract responsibility/consequence framework for not being a raging asshat at people in order to have sex with them. That it is right that there be social consequences for this type of behaviour. You’re absolutely 100% right, in that case.

        What Mac is arguing is that while she fully agrees with the need for social consequences, the OP is moving from social to legal consequences, based on the fact that she was lied to and (rightly) feels that she was wronged, and this is a dangerous move, at best. It muddies up the concepts of consent and rape by conflating them with deception and emotional violation. These are not the same things.

        You’ve both stated that there needs to be an understanding that people are not always going to feel 100% awesome about the sex they’ve had, once the act is over, and that’s not necessarily rape.

        You’ve both stated that not knowing absolutely for sure that regret won’t happen isn’t a reason to a) not consider one’s partner or obtain consent, or b) not to accept the consent that’s given.

        You’ve both stated that there is a clear social division between good and bad bahviour as regards the treatment of sexual partners, and that should be adhered to, and have repercussions within the community, if it isn’t.

        Seriously, you two. That’s a lot of words and anger exchanged for you to agree that consent is an awesome and good thing that should be obtained and treated in good faith, that it’s not a magic bandaid that ensures that everything’s going to be perfect, even if you try, and regret and rape aren’t the same thing.

        – __ -XX

        (Seriously, watching you two snipe at each other is like watching an argument in a mirror.)

        1. A4
          A4 June 5, 2013 at 1:13 pm |

          I feel this way exactly and that is why I am a little perplexed. Seriously I don’t think there’s a disagreement.

        2. Valoniel
          Valoniel June 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm |

          Well, from my perspective, it’s because you two seem to have pretty much exactly the same types of reactions to things, and extremely similar ways of expressing yourselves.

        3. A4
          A4 June 5, 2013 at 1:36 pm |

          Also I tend to mirror.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm |

          *sheepish* I don’t see a disagreement. That’s why I flailed so hard…

          >_> We are pretty alike, huh.

        5. Valoniel
          Valoniel June 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm |

          Also I tend to mirror.

          I hear you so much. You should see the arguments we get into, at home.

          So similar it hurts.

        6. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm |

          What Mac is arguing is that while she fully agrees with the need for social consequences, the OP is moving from social to legal consequences, based on the fact that she was lied to and (rightly) feels that she was wronged, and this is a dangerous move, at best. It muddies up the concepts of consent and rape by conflating them with deception and emotional violation. These are not the same things.

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but I got the impression she was also arguing that the law could, and probably would, be disproportionally used against marginalized group members.

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm |

          That too, Steve. But A4 and I never disagreed on that point, that I noticed.

        8. Valoniel
          Valoniel June 5, 2013 at 7:11 pm |

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but I got the impression she was also arguing that the law could, and probably would, be disproportionally used against marginalized group members.

          You’re not wrong, that was pretty much exactly what I was saying, there, actually. Just didn’t spell it out explicitly enough, I suppose.

        9. Valoniel
          Valoniel June 5, 2013 at 7:14 pm |

          I understand that the OP does have hurt feelings but those are irrespective of the fact that she was deceived about a sexual history in order to have unprotected sex and she contracted an STI. That’s actual physical hurt and not just feelings.

          True, but the salient point here is that he lied in order to obtain consent for unprotected sex. She gave that consent, ergo this is fraud, not rape, even with physical harm.

      6. amblingalong
        amblingalong June 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm |

        I’m sorry that you don’t like the thought that the sex you thought was super great might not have been so fun for the other person. I’m sorry that you resent the idea that you should consider the feelings of the person you’re having sex with! I’m sorry that I think people should realize that they are having sex with real people, not just a sexual object.

        It’s not that we’re against considering people’s feelings, we’re against calling failure-to-consider-feelings rape.

        Pretty simple, really.

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 5, 2013 at 5:42 pm |

          It’s not that we’re against considering people’s feelings, we’re against calling failure-to-consider-feelings rape.

          Pretty simple, really.

          I’m actually against equating lying to someone in order to get them to have unprotected sex with you with hurt feelings. I understand that the OP does have hurt feelings but those are irrespective of the fact that she was deceived about a sexual history in order to have unprotected sex and she contracted an STI. That’s actual physical hurt and not just feelings.

        2. A4
          A4 June 5, 2013 at 6:04 pm |

          Good news! I didn’t advocate for any guidelines on when people are allowed to call something rape. In fact, I don’t think i used the word rape at all in my post. I believe I was talking about sexual consent, you know, the way in which two people communicate desire for sexual contact and then how they go about engaging in it.

          You and Mac started putting words in my mouth about what I would say is or isn’t rape. That’s not my problem. I’m not responsible for your conception of the link between consent and rape because I reject your construction of consent as not very useful for mediating control and behavior in sexual experiences. I’m not a lawyer and I’m not a judge. I don’t need to base my worldview on our incredibly limited legal system and it’s definitional framework.

        3. amblingalong
          amblingalong June 5, 2013 at 9:29 pm |

          Steve- that was in response to A4, not the OP. A4 argued that consent is only valid if you are 100% sure the person will, forever, have unambiguously positive feelings about the sexual encounter.

        4. A4
          A4 June 6, 2013 at 9:14 am |

          You are very obtuse amblingalong.

        5. amblingalong
          amblingalong June 6, 2013 at 9:45 am |

          Consent is when you absolutely know that the other person will now and thereafter feel positive, safe, and happy about the sexual encounter that you are having.

          And you’re very disingenuous.

  20. Datdamwuf
    Datdamwuf June 5, 2013 at 12:25 am |

    I would like to put up for discussion the idea that cheating/affairs while having unprotected sex could be grounds to prosecute for reckless endangerment. I negotiated many things with my now ex husband. The author’s list is somewhat similar to mine but I went past that to day to day issues I needed to know were acceptable to me/him. He lied from day one about the important things and the mundane, but it’s not something we can legislate, FWIW, I live in Virginia.

    I think the author of this piece has gone too far in equating her SO’s lies to have sex with her as rape. This is lies, this is taking choices from you, consent for sex was given even if given based on lies, it is not rape as we consider it. As an abuse survivor who had a cheater and was infected with an STI, I would never want to create laws that would call what happened to the author (or myself) rape. It would not work, could be easily scammed and after my experience with mandatory domestic abuse arrests, I would say such a thing would be abused by the very people the author wishes to punish and deter.

    1. Buttered Lilies
      Buttered Lilies June 5, 2013 at 12:43 am |

      Yeah, would it then be illegal to continue having (consensual) sex with your abusive partner even while saving up money to leave them? What if you have another lover who helps you out of that abusive relationship – are you now a rapist who’s leaving an abuser?

    2. Barnacle Strumpet
      Barnacle Strumpet June 5, 2013 at 12:58 am |

      I would like to put up for discussion the idea that cheating/affairs while having unprotected sex could be grounds to prosecute for reckless endangerment.

      Something about this bothers me. Unprotected sex isn’t a “A victimized B by unprotected sex” scenario. Assuming it’s not forcible, both parties agree on having unprotected sex.

      You can get STIs via non-sexual means. It is itself not a very good idea to get the idea that you’re safe from STIs just because your partner is sticking to the agreement to be monogamous.

      And what if your partner was themselves raped or coerced into sex and caught an STI as a result? And told no one and spread it to you?

      Maybe situations like that don’t happen often. They still happen. And people still catch “STIs” in ways that have nothing to do with sex or rape.

      The idea that you have 100% done your part to be safe from STIs by not cheating, and the onus then goes entirely onto the cheater for any STI you catch, seems ridiculous.

      Besides, you can catch an STI from protected sex. OP could have gotten HPV even if her ex had used protection every time, including wtih her. It lowers you chances of contracting significantly, but it doesn’t eliminate them.

      I also don’t like something that makes people with multiple partners for whatever reason, seem like they are somehow more careless or dangerous than monogamous people.

      Not everyone is planning some big manipulative crowing joy over cheating and lying on their partner like OP’s ex was. Some people act out of impulse, love, apathy, etc. That someone should be considered a criminal for failing to perfetcly adhere to monogamy is nothing short of ridiculous.

      1. Alexandra
        Alexandra June 5, 2013 at 1:28 am |

        That someone should be considered a criminal for failing to perfetcly adhere to monogamy is nothing short of ridiculous.

        Yep yep yep! We do not want all aspects of sexual morality legislated by the government. Not even if we could all come to an agreement about perfectly just and equitable, feminist ethical guidelines for sexual relations (which we never will). Laws are written, interpreted, and enforced by fallible human beings with perspectives, and sometimes agendas, which can wildly differ from the original framers’ intents for those laws.

        Also, what would it mean for the government to get into the business of enforcing “good” behavior in long-term (or short-term, or no-term) relationships? There are lots of things that are really shitty to do to a person, which may be sexist or abusive or both, which are not illegal. Getting really drunk and screaming obscenities at your spouse is not illegal. Tweeting pictures of your genitals may lose you your job in Congress, but won’t land you in court. And so on.

        1. Willard
          Willard June 5, 2013 at 2:26 am |

          Getting really drunk and screaming obscenities at your spouse is not illegal

          Depending if the obscenities verge into terroristic threat territory it might be.

        2. Datdamwuf
          Datdamwuf June 5, 2013 at 9:05 am |

          I’m not suggesting failing to adhere to monogamy is criminal. Failing to disclose it to your partner and passing on a illness is more than that. He could have given me HIV, I won’t know for sure until I get another test.

          I would also point out that in Virginia one can file for cause of adultery, the bar for proving it is very high. I know this from my own divorce. I found it insane that you can get an instant divorce if adultery is involved but not if domestic abuse is involved. So yeah we have some crazy laws.

      2. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve June 5, 2013 at 7:36 am |

        That someone should be considered a criminal for failing to perfetcly adhere to monogamy is nothing short of ridiculous.

        Adultery is a crime in 20 states and in the military- at one point it was a crime in every state. It may be ridiculous but it’s far from unheard of.

        1. TomSims
          TomSims June 5, 2013 at 8:35 am |
        2. Donna L
          Donna L June 5, 2013 at 11:57 am |

          From Wikipedia:

          Massachusetts, Idaho, Michigan, Oklahoma and Wisconsin are the only states to consider adultery a felony. In the other states it is a misdemeanor.


          The last conviction for adultery in Massachusetts occurred in 1983. In that case it was held that the statute was constitutional. It was held that “no fundamental personal privacy right implicit in the concept of ordered liberty guaranteed by the United States Constitution bars the criminal prosecution of such persons [adulterers].”[62] Whether a conviction under this statue would be possible today (especially after Lawrence v. Texas (2003)) is not known.

          See also http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2010-04-26-column26_ST_N.htm

          The most recent conviction I’ve found was, in fact, in Virginia in 2004 — the “offender” ultimately decided to plead guilty (and was sentenced to 20 hours of community service), instead of challenging the law’s constitutionality.

  21. Buttered Lilies
    Buttered Lilies June 5, 2013 at 12:41 am |

    This just feels really shoehorned into a consent paradigm. I don’t think cheating and lying in relationships are really best understood as issues of consent, and while I can follow how some could feel raped by the experience, I’m terrified of what this would mean, legally. I’m totally ok with there being things that are unethical in sexual and romantic relationships that are not illegal, and just frowned upon by society.

  22. Unree
    Unree June 5, 2013 at 1:39 am |

    The late Jane Larson published a very good law review article on this subject twenty years ago, and an editorial version as well.

    Contrary to the OP, however, Larson insisted that if you’re going to take the liar to court you need damages beyond disappointment and rage, and I don’t see any here. As was mentioned upthread, HPV is very common. Most people who get it enjoy a complete recovery. IIRC, Amanda Marcotte wrote on Pandagon that she is in this large majority.

    1. amblingalong
      amblingalong June 5, 2013 at 3:19 am |

      The decline of civility and communal norms and the rise of predominantly self-seeking behavior has also changed sexual behavior, eroding trust and licensing a callous and abusive vision of sexual relations.

      No.

      Can we please get it out of our heads that a) sexual relationships were better under ‘traditional’ norms and b) there’s anything inherently better about relationship sex than casual sex?

      1. Gorb
        Gorb June 5, 2013 at 4:07 am |

        It’s this call for a specific, universally-applied “proper sexual morality” that terrifies me. Does this mean when a woman cheats on her partner, and say gets pregnant by another man, she’s prosecutable? She’s destroyed her family. Should she also go to jail?

        Where do we stop this process?

        If a guy lied to you to have sex with you and you consented, the onus must be entirely on you to ensure that he’s telling the truth. You can’t turn around and call it sexual assault when you consented.

        What kind of feminism is this? This is absolute rejection of personal agency. In a legal sense (and not a social “you bastard” sense), consent is consent is consent. It’s not withdrawable after the fact.

        This entire argument reverses 100 years of trying to give LEGAL AGENCY to women.

        I was initially somewhat alarmed. On careful thought, I’m appalled this claptrap could be paraded as some brand of feminism. There’s quite literally nothing feminist about it.

        A traditional Southern Chivalrous male who thinks women shouldn’t be given full scope to make their own decisions becuase they’re fundamentally weak and subject to abuse by lying, cheating men might have made this argument. The whole “promise breaking” laws that were discarded in the 1930’s were premised on the same arguments.

        How is it possible to defend an argument that advocates for undoing 100 years of female agency?

        With agency comes responsibility. And the need to suffer consequences — full consequences – of actions.

        This argument is disastrously more anti-feminist than anything uttered by the most ideological MRA.

        I must restate my original thought: Far from needing new laws or reinterpretation of consent, the only viable solution is for the author to use better judgment and have a much thicker skin. It may sound harsh, but this is human reality.

        Except in cases of actual non-consent, playing to weakness is no strength.

        1. Willard
          Willard June 5, 2013 at 4:36 am |

          Just heading off a potentially derailing turn of phrase (since I do agree with you)

          consent is consent is consent. It’s not withdrawable after the fact.

          “After the fact” here meaning after the conclusion of the agreed upon activities as opposed to any time after consent is given, ie. while said activity is still in progress?

        2. Gorb
          Gorb June 5, 2013 at 10:24 am |

          Of course, *during* is not the same as after the fact. By after the fact, I mean, well, after said activities have completed.

          Of course.

  23. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 5, 2013 at 3:02 am |

    This is a fail on many, many levels, but the fundamental one is an absolute lack of understanding what consent means. Consent means that when someone asks “do you want to have sex,” the other person, in possession of their mental faculties and without fear of harm, says “yes.” Period.

  24. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 5, 2013 at 3:13 am |

    Is this even worth talking about? It’s a stupid, offensive, privilege-blind* idea for reasons immediately obvious to everyone with even half a minute to puzzle out of consequences. Let’s just pretend it never happened?

    *criminalizing transmission of STIs sound fine but has a really horrifying history that would be nice to acknowledge

    1. Datdamwuf
      Datdamwuf June 5, 2013 at 9:15 am |

      I do think criminalizing it could cause many people to not get tested which would be a bad result. Also, like proving adultery, the bar to prove it would have to be very high and so it wouldn’t be effective anyway.

  25. amblingalong
    amblingalong June 5, 2013 at 3:16 am |

    It is time to remove deception from the realm of sexual interaction in American society. Its tolerance promotes an unseemly status quo in our social fabric that denigrates the most intimate of relationships” (Decker and Baroni, 2012, p. 1167-1168).

    Oh, and fuck you twice for quoting this oppressive bullshit. Sexual relationships are not by default more intimate than close friendships or any other given type of close relationship, as any ace person could tell you (or any reasonably thoughtful adult).

    1. amblingalong
      amblingalong June 5, 2013 at 3:27 am |

      Sorry, that F U should be aimed at Larson, not you Unree.

  26. Gorb
    Gorb June 5, 2013 at 3:32 am |

    The author of the piece is arguing that lying to get consent to sex, especially unprotected sex, is rape and/or assault. This is the summary of the argument. it may not be precisely thism but this is the gist.

    Great. Just when we got the government out of defining who can and can’t have sex, we invite the massive, heavy hand of Big Brother back into the bedroom and make bad feelings the ultimate arbiter of who *goes to jail*.

    The guy was a jerk and a bit sociopathic, but does he deserve to be punished for some variety of domestic violence or sexual assault? if the author truly believes this, then it’s a very good reason to NOT use bad experiences or strong emotions to create law.

    I can only imagine the pseudo-Victorian hellish nightmare our society would be plunged into were we to take these suggestions at face value.

    Perhaps we need a Council of Sexual Morality Arbiters to police the individual actions of people, too. How about Sexual behavior Monitors who are permitted to patrol bedrooms, and, if necessary, intervene to save helpless, lost souls?

    The entire approach of this author is, on further reflection, altogether non-feminist.

  27. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 5, 2013 at 8:12 am |

    As a faithful married person for 20 years, the hurt I feel even thinking about unfaithfulness makes me immediately empathize with the author. Also, having just read an interview with Michael Douglas about his cancer, I was under some mis-impressions about how dangerous HPV
    is.

    However, thinking it through, I have to agree with the objection to her overall conclusion by macavity k and others.

    Something which hasn’t been mentioned:

    Breaking a promise is not the same as deception. I have no doubt the guy mentioned above was acting in bad faith, but how do you prove that? There are plenty of people who agree to faithfulness in good faith then break their word.

  28. Emma
    Emma June 5, 2013 at 8:41 am |

    Apologies if someone has already discussed this – I’ve skimmed the comments but not read all of them at length – but is there not a serious problem with suggesting criminalising STI transmission while ignoring infections which are not sexually transmitted?

    I have no problem with criminal charges for someone who deliberately and maliciously (rather than recklessly) infects someone with an STI, but the same charges should apply to someone who maliciously infects someone with any other kind of disease.

    There’s no evidence here that the author’s partner infected her with HPV deliberately. Would she support criminal charges for someone who, say, was coming down with the flu, didn’t mention it, and infected their partner? There’s an uncomfortable whiff of slut-shaming (which has a crossover with gay panic when this sort of legislation is applied to HIV, as it is in several countries) from the distinction made between STIs and non-sexually transmitted infections.

  29. Jenna
    Jenna June 5, 2013 at 11:31 am |

    Before I engaged in a sexual relationship with my last boyfriend, [William], I made the terms for my consent very clear:  if we were going to become sexually involved, it had to be within the context of strict monogamy.  Because he was also in recovery from alcohol and drug addition, I told him that I required full disclosure if he broke his sobriety, and I asserted my right to be informed if he chose to engage in sex with anybody else.  My freedom of choice depended on these disclosures, and my ability to make decisions for my own health and well being required his acquiescence to my terms.

    The terms of consent were discussed. These were the deal breakers. Engaging in intercourse with her after breaking these agreements was definitely deceptive and fraud, but, I don’t think there is any court where it would be taken seriously. There aren’t going to be any damages awarded, and the only thing anyone can do is break up with the jerk.
    Intercourse without condoms, when he was misrepresenting himself as monogamous and safe, when he wasn’t monogamous and was also having intercourse with others without condoms as well is a callous disregard for her safety and the safety of others. He’s an ass, and a jerk, and a sad pathetic excuse for a person, but, I don’t know where anyone could successfully prosecute this, in civil or criminal court.
    I don’t usually have a problem when people are only putting themselves at risk. I also don’t care about secrets that don’t have to do with broken promises( the agreement that he supposedly AGREED to) or possibly endanger others(condom use is important!). I don’t actually consider someone being a transgender person to be a problem in this sort of situation. Or it shouldn’t be. I know some people panic about it, but, it isn’t a promise broken or a safety hazard….for anyone but the trans person. Being a trans person and being outed can absolutely be a health hazard for the trans person, and I know that.
    For this story, he made promises and broke them. He risked his health and the health of all the people he was sleeping with. I don’t see any way to prosecute him, but, his behaviors are horrible and should be condemned. I wouldn’t choose to associate with anyone who would do these things and I would expect my friends to have the same standards.

  30. a lawyer
    a lawyer June 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm |

    The terms of consent were discussed.

    am I the only one who finds the OP’s list of “this is what you shall do, full stop” to be, well, a bit creepy? Especially the concept of “rights” rather than “requests?”

    If the OP were posting about her new boyfriend’s demands and if they included the boyfriend’s assertion of his “rights” regarding the OP’s future conduct… wouldn’t most folks see a problem?

    We can ASK people to do things. But we don’t usually accept an assertion based on a “right” to control other people’s actions.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 12:49 pm |

      No, I don’t think it’s creepy at all. I don’t fault any of OP’s feelings/behaviours through all these events, only the recommendation for legal change that is being proposed. In fact, the extent to which people don’t discuss major dealbreakers makes me boggle. OP did absolutely the right thing in bringing up the fact that she would not be in a relationship with someone who used drugs or alcohol. And it was not controlling his actions! If he wanted to use drugs or alcohol, he wasn’t exactly chained up in her dungeon of torture; he could have left at any time. If anything, OP was being perfectly ethical, even considerate, by telling him “this is what I need/want/expect from a partner. If doable, stick around; if not, don’t”. Would you have preferred she didn’t bring those up, in order to not seem “controlling”, and then blew up at him when he did them? I mean…that seems the abusive thing, to me.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm |

        As in: OP has a right to not be in a relationship with a non-monogamous drug-user. Hell, if her dealbreakers were “never kiss your mother in church on Saturdays and never pet terriers at the park”, that’s her right, too. He also has a right to tell her that’s not what he wants, so… sorry and kindly fuck off. He didn’t; he chose to be an abusive, lying scumbag, and to deliberately violate her.

        1. a lawyer
          a lawyer June 5, 2013 at 3:06 pm |

          Yeah… I guess it was a phrasing thing. I entirely agree that dealbreakers are (and should be) best said up front. It’s more like the difference between

          “I don’t want to date a smoker. I’ll dump you if you start smoking again.”

          versus

          “I assert my rights here, and you are violating those rights unless you refrain from smoking or proactively notify me if you start.”

          I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but it seems off. Still, I 100% agree that openness is a good thing.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm |

          I dunno, AL. Seems to me like people often interpret “I don’t want…” as a negotiation in a way that “My rights are…” aren’t. I fully understand why OP would phrase her dealbreakers as rights (or rights violations), particularly if she has childhood sexual trauma (which could cause a host of complications in her ability to negotiate dealbreakers, or resistance to pushy “spontaneous” renegotiation). Seems to me like she understood herself and her needs really well and went with a strategy that would work and be ethical.

  31. JULIECASS
    JULIECASS June 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm |

    I have to say that I have been made a fool of when, as an intelligent independent and successful human being, I should have known better – there ya go! I take full responsibility for my own gullibility, and indeed arrogance in believing for one moment that all the wonderful things he said to me were worth the empty air they sailed through. In my case he was an digital fraud and I was new to the internet – unsure of my ground, compliant and willing to please – and oh how he took advantage and hurt me! I met him twice in a different country, with a view to marriage. I truly believed I had found a love I wasn’t even looking for – ha ha!

    I am a quick learner – not quick enough unfortunately – I suffered firstly – wounded and humiliated. But a slow cold anger kept my self-respect intact and I kept him (the snake) close by me while I decided what to do with him.

    Payback was sweet indeed. In the on-line company of other women he had damaged, we slowly psychologically disintegrated him while building one another up – reinvented and re-posted his lying profiles, cut and pasted his messages to each of us and sent them back from different senders. And much much more …. he was an emotional wreck.

    I don’t particularly like what I did, nor did I enjoy the feelings it engendered within me. But there again, I was not exactly bowled over by what he had done to me and others.

    Yess! Revenge is a dish well served cold! I personally have little confidence that any justice system would have served him as well as we did. And for those who may consider it a waste of good time and energy, all I can tell you is I felt really great as a result and, moreover, I believe that I reclaimed all he had tried to rob from me.

  32. snow white
    snow white June 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

    [Gratuitous demeaning of OP author deleted by moderator] If someone: person A has lied to person B to get them into bed, what is the crime? ZERO! WHY? because if that were to become a crime we would be sending more than half of the male teenagers to prison, thats why.

    This womans problem is her own naivety! Men AND woman routinely lie about things in order to get what they want, its a common human trait. Adultry was no longer considered a crime in South Africa as far back as 1908. How do i know this? im a jurist, thats how.

    Further: the reason behaviour (as mentioned above) will never become law is because with any law there needs to be a certain amount of legal clarity, certainty. The possible scope of such a law would encompass too wide a net, at what point would it end?
    eg: person A is going to have sex with person B, person B promises not to cheat (in reality person B is already cheating) and therefore person A has intercourse with B. Person A has trusted him. she finds out about his previous infedility and current whoremongering. and has him arrested for rape, indecent assault ect… Now im sorry to say but neither of these happened in this case, when u look at the facts, person A consented. period. terms and conditions DONT apply, because the issue would become too clouded and quite frankly almost impossible to get a conviction, not mention a waste of police resources wasted on person A’s broken heart!

    Another problem would be retrospectivity. another good example is a real life case i read involving a hooker/whore: she picked up a client and they agreed on a price(a contract like the one above, except in the above eg she uses his fedility as money…u get it) they went to her place and had sex, after he got dressed he left without paying and told her he will not pay a woman for sex. The whore reported the incident and he was arrested and brought to trial. THe court found him not guitly, why? because she had consented, she cannot therefore recind her consent retrospectively! why? because it would cause chaos, uncertainty and create an avenue for hurt lovers to seek revenge. not to mention opening the flood gates for civil litigation!

    1. orangedesperado
      orangedesperado June 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm |

      (cough)Terms like “hooker” and “whore” used in your context sound very condescending. FYI: sex workers get the money upfront before anything sexual happens.

      Should a GIRAFFE take a better look at snow white’s comments ?

  33. Revolver
    Revolver June 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm |

    And this is why people are reluctant to be guest bloggers here.

    Yes, making this situation illegal is not a good idea. However, the author gets to define what is or is not rape to her, and she fucking shared it from her perspective. Yes, she extrapolated to the general population, and that again is not a good idea. However, as we remind MRAs all the time, we are not a hivemind and can have different opinions. And instead of recognizing that sharing this shit is tough and she gets to totally define her experience, the commentariat ridicules her for having “fee-fees” and asserts that what happened to HER, IN HER EXPERIENCE, was not rape. Jesus H. Christ.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm |

      not a good idea

      What a lovely way to state “would directly harm incredibly vulnerable sections of the population”.

      asserts that what happened to HER, IN HER EXPERIENCE, was not rape

      I cop to the fee-fees remark, but for the record, if she feels raped, she was raped. She just doesn’t get to take that and put it in legislation, because it is a bad idea.

      Also, if everyone is pushing back against a person’s idea of what the law should be (I’m going to be revolutionary here, stick with me, seriously, it’s worth it) maybe it’s because that person’s grasp of the law is (gasp, horror) wrong.

      1. Revolver
        Revolver June 5, 2013 at 1:03 pm |

        I apologize, that was not appropriate wording. I agree that it is a terrible, terrible concept, but it’s really offensive to me that instead of saying hey, this sucks and here’s why (which you did, and I’m not concern-trolling, I’m not saying “why can’t we all be niiiiice,” you don’t have to tone down your opinion about the law (not that what I think should matter to you)), it also stepped over the line to be dismissive and belittling of her experience and her definition of experience. Which comes off as, “hysterical lady alert! You are overreacting and being oversensitive, are you on the rag?” which as you know is a common dismissal technique towards women.

      2. Jane
        Jane June 5, 2013 at 1:07 pm |

        Macavitykitsune, if you’re going to hold the poster to the standard that she’s responsible for the wider implications of her recommendations (which is a fine standard to have, and has been addressed respectfully yet forcefully above by many folks), then please hold yourself to the same standard– your ‘fee-fees’ comment among others and the conversation stemming from Gorb’s comment above trivialize very real and significant harms experienced by the author. I appreciate the apology, but I also feel like you’re really weirdly digging in to defend the comments that people are NOT upset about– the vast majority (all?) of the commenters here agreed that the legal implications and the use of real names were way off track. We didn’t think the claims of trauma were.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 1:14 pm |

          Fair enough, Jane. I did not intend to minimalise her trauma, and I believed my statements (even the one with fee-fees in) were sufficiently clear to convey that I felt she’d been traumatised and violated. The response seems to indicate that that did not come through. I apologise again for dismissing her pain.

      3. Revolver
        Revolver June 5, 2013 at 1:20 pm |

        Macavity – longer post in mod, but just wanted to apologize for the trivializing language. Of course it’s much more than “not a good idea.”

        1. Revolver
          Revolver June 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm |

          Oh and also – I am not trying to pile on you. There were multiple comments that were offensive, and I appreciate your apologies.

    2. Gorb
      Gorb June 5, 2013 at 1:02 pm |

      Rape is a social reality and a legal construct. You don’t get to decide if any action is rape based solely on your own personal experiences and your personal interpretation.

      No social or personal crime is treated in this manner. It’s a social construct, something that a society must agree upon. Feminists have spent decades trying to get rape recognized as a terrible violation of an individual – not as theft or any other such thing – and have largely succeeded, though there are still battles to be won.

      You can’t just argue that someone calls X or Y sexual assault (rape) by being tricked into giving it. It’s not rape. It’s just not.

      It might be sexual assault in her mind – that’s fine. And good for her. But this is a crime in her mind. She needs to call it something else when communicating to people who are not her.

      If individuals decided alone whether or not they had been the victim of a VERY PROSECUTABLE VIOLENT CRIME, without reference to what society understands is a crime, then I can’t even imagine how bad that could get.

      Please tell me you’re not advocating this.

      1. Gorb
        Gorb June 5, 2013 at 1:04 pm |

        By “not rape” I mean rape of the legal variety, and something that should be punishable by the massive, iron fist of the state. And not something that’s just socially repugnant.

        1. Jane
          Jane June 5, 2013 at 3:34 pm |

          Gorb, you are oversimplifying. Sexualized violence is too complex to fit your “she was raped or she wasn’t” box. As I stated below, feminists have long claimed terms like sexual assault and rape even when the particular experiences do not match the legal definitions of these words, precisely because the concepts are much too complex for the racist, heteropatriarchal, winner-take-all legal system to be able to encompass. It’s dangerous to criminalize many forms of assault because the legal system is built on injustice and oppression. But it’s also dangerous to discount the trauma and very real harm caused by this kind of malicious deception, having one’s carefully guarded bodily safety and trauma history intentionally put at risk by a sexual partner exploiting one’s trust and good faith. That shit can be traumatic in a similar way that the acts that fit legally-defined rape are traumatic, and it is not for us– or the criminal justice system– to define a survivor’s experience for her.

          Arguments like you are making have been used against survivors of complex forms of abuse and relationship violence (like ‘date rape’ for example), and act as barriers to hurt people from accessing support. It is a really common and important point that rape crisis responders have made again and again. In terms of accessing support– as opposed to criminalizing behavior (for which I agree with you, this particular instance should not be criminalized)– it’s imperative that survivors get to define for themselves what trauma they endured. This is a major tenet of trainings on supporting survivors of sexualized violence.

        2. Gorb
          Gorb June 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm |

          Jane,

          I understand completely. Alas, in this context, we’re talking about what should be done. The OP proposes that she was sexually assaulted in the terms currently understood legally and socially. SHe made a specific case.

          I agree entirely that these terms don’t begin to capture the myriad ways men and women abuse each other when sex enters the picture. For that matter, “Domestic violence” is a massively simplifying term that ends up clouding the entire psychology of violent circumstances; a man (and woman) can perform massive emotional violence without ever lifting a finger. IS it still “violence”? Weve invented a term for one kind of this: Relational aggression.

          The OP did not propose that there was a new term for a new kind of violence that we don’t currently have a category for.

          She suggested that what she suffered was sexual assault.

          If we want to create a wide range of terms for fine delineations between twenty or thirty kinds of sexual assault-like things, and then draw an arbitrary line where some are prosecutable in a law court with legal implications and others are not, then fine.

          This is not what she suggested.

          In this society – as it is – calling something sexual assault as she’s doing is not value-neutral.

          You may have aspirational goals for a better world in which it’s possible to hand-construct social relations such that these things can be refined and carefully countered through whatever mechanism is suitable for replacing the courts and police and jails.

          Alas, in the interim, the rest of us need to live in this particular world with the very flawed institutions we have. In THIS context, accepting what the OP suggests pro forma means

          – making infidelity a criminal offence
          – making lying in a relationship a criminal offence
          – putting the responsibility for sexual health on the partner and not on the individual claiming protection.

          I’m sorry. There’s no way this is remotely acceptable. But the upshot of this unacceptability is this:

          What this woman experienced was not sexual assault – at all – in any way shape or form – in the sense that’s understood by the public, by people, bu courts, by newspapers, by anyone outside of a fundamentalist church.

          She suffered. It’s awful. But it’s not sexual assault. Calling it sexual assault does her no favors and it hinders understanding of these serious issues for everyone else.

          Of course the underlying truth of this is nuanced, but that nuance can’t cause us to lose our grip on our language. If we follow the path you prescribe, sorrow awaits. More sorrow than counseling this woman and consoling her in terms that are consistent and make sense.

        3. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable June 5, 2013 at 6:00 pm |

          Sexualized violence is too complex to fit your “she was raped or she wasn’t” box

          I disagree whole-heartedly. All oranges are fruit; not all fruit are oranges. All rapes are sexual violations; not all sexual violations are rape. And yeah – language matters. Even outside a legal context. Terrible things happened to the OP, but that doesn’t mean zie gets to co-opt something I experienced because she doesn’t have the language to easily talk about her trauma.

      2. Revolver
        Revolver June 5, 2013 at 1:05 pm |

        There are huge differences between personal definitions and legal definitions. I am not advocating that the author’s personal definition should become legal, and I don’t agree with her that it should, but holy fuck, she gets to decide if she was raped or not. Who are you to tell her if she was raped or not?

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 1:12 pm |

          This.

        2. Gorb
          Gorb June 5, 2013 at 1:12 pm |

          I mean legal action, as I said; of the “retaliation by state and society” variety.

          In this case, as well, it seems a mockery of rape to say that they’re the same thing: one is prosecutable and a major crime, but the other (which carries the same linguistic name) isn’t. Obviously, no matter how we want t say it, in a social sense there’s a difference between the two. You can parse that any way you want, but we are supposed to prosecute sexual assault – full stop.

          If we all agree that this is sexual assault (and clearly that’s not the case), then her original position should be accepted and the guy’s actions should be considered criminal, essentially rape.

          She can personally decide that she was violated and sexually assaulted, but I think the major arguments here are this: That the rest of society won’t agree with her personal definition.

          We can’t have it all ways. It’s backhanded of you to say “who are we to say she was raped or not?” when we’ve spent an entire posting arguing that this wasn’t the case, but then saying “but for you you can think that so long as you do so in the comfort of your own mind”.

          Rape must be prosecuted wherever possible. *IF* we accept that her definition of being raped means she was raped, and then turn around and refuse to allow crimes like this to be prosecuted, we become arbiters of injustice.

          We can’t have our cake and eat it, too. We can redefine words as much as we want but we’re just playing semantic games. What most of the commenters have said is that this isn’t sexual assault.

          For you to turn around and agree, and then say that she gets to determine if it’s sexual assault or not, means you’re sitting on a pretty thin razor blade dividing two irreconcilable camps.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm |

          when we’ve spent an entire posting arguing that this wasn’t the case, but then saying “but for you you can think that so long as you do so in the comfort of your own mind”

          You…really don’t see the difference between “you are absolutely allowed to feel how you want” and “your feelings are the legal structure”?

          I’ve wanted to kill my abuser. I would feel no remorse in killing my abuser in retaliation for the half-dozen or so of his victims that I personally know he abused, and fuck knows how many others besides. That doesn’t mean that if I recommended that all victims be allowed to kill their abusers legally and without consequence, that would be A-Okay. OP can feel however she wants, thanks.

          Ugh.

        4. Revolver
          Revolver June 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm |

          when we’ve spent an entire posting arguing that this wasn’t the case in the legal sense

          FTFY. I am not in the business of dictating what someone should or should not call what happened to them.

        5. Gorb
          Gorb June 5, 2013 at 1:20 pm |

          If she says it’s rape, and you agree with her because she gets to define her experience any way she likes, but…

          it’s not prosecuable? Then I ask : How is it even related to “rape” that IS prosecutable?

          You can’t have your cake but deliver it in a velvety soft glove at the same time.

          That’s intellectually disingenuous. It’s nothing more than a form of emotional pandering to spare the social crime victim the need to put her experience in any context other than her own feelings.

          In effect, it’s paternalism. If society doesn’t see her suffering as a form of sexual assault, it’s absurd to call it that (but, somehow, this is some form of vague sexual assault that can’t ever be prosecuted because it’s not really sexual assault as we understand the term but we want to call it that to spare someone’s feelings, …)

          Excuse me if I’m unimpressed. This renders most discussion of this subject moot because it plays tiresome semantic games with words, rendering it impossible to discuss anything clearly.

          Such games serve no one, most especially people who are victims of either social crimes or actual crimes.

          It also doesn’t serve the OP.

        6. Revolver
          Revolver June 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm |

          That’s intellectually disingenuous. It’s nothing more than a form of emotional pandering to spare the social crime victim the need to put her experience in any context other than her own feelings.

          In effect, it’s paternalism. If society doesn’t see her suffering as a form of sexual assault, it’s absurd to call it that

          Hmmm…yes, let’s decide that societal opinion is what is most important and of course most correct. And obviously the author NEVER gets this same response IRL, it’s only in this feminist space that we need to tell her that she is cray-cray and we know better!*

          That’s not paternalistic at all.

          *intentional sarcastic ableist slur

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm |

          If she says it’s rape, and you agree with her because she gets to define her experience any way she likes, but…it’s not prosecuable? Then I ask : How is it even related to “rape” that IS prosecutable?

          “Not prosecutable” is, like, arguably the worst standard for establishing the seriousness of a violation. For instance, literally all my sexual abuse is non-prosecutable, for various reasons (no witnesses, no physical evidence due to the lack of violence, I wasn’t raped). No one would consider it even as an FIR. It would basically come down to a believability contest of Angry Lesbian vs Pillar of Community, and we all know how that ends.

          need to put her experience in any context other than her own feelings.

          Whose feelings would you prefer she contextualise her experience in? Yours? The law’s? Which of the two do you believe to be infallible and rational? Either way, I’ll laugh my ass off.

        8. Gorb
          Gorb June 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm |

          PS I have the greatest respect for the OP’s pain and her genuine shock and feelings of betrayal.

          I just like things defined properly. She advocated for specific legal and social regulations. She called what happened not an internal definition of assault, but made a case for it being actual socially-defined sexual assault – rape.

          A lot of commenters refused to approach this (focusing on legal ramifications) because it’s considered inappropriate to question anyone’s interpretation of anything that happened to them.

          However, she also opened this up massively by expanding from her personal experience to the political and social spheres. Going back along the path she opened is entirely warranted under the circumstances.

          And I find the idea that we could agree that she was raped – a massively serious crime, that we should all recoil from and which should trigger the “justice” reaction in everyone – and then that we go on to argue that this NOT BE PROSECUTABLE…

          to be utterly repulsive.

          If this is sexual assault, ergo rape, then it absolutely has to be prosecutable to the full extent of the law.

          The only way it shouldn’t be prosecutable is if it’s not, in fact, sexual assault, which many commenters have made the case for.

          There’s an odious scent to the idea that this is rape because she says it is but that it’s a kind of rape that could never be prosecuted because it can’t ever be illegal.

          There’s a philosophical disconnect here that leads to just as bad a place as prosecuting her ex boyfriend.

          Ultimately, either this is sexual assault or it’s not. From a “we’re all trying to speak the same language” perspective.

          If this is rape, then how could you possibly justify not putting the ex in jail – like, right now?

        9. Valoniel
          Valoniel June 5, 2013 at 2:27 pm |

          I just like things defined properly. She advocated for specific legal and social regulations. She called what happened not an internal definition of assault, but made a case for it being actual socially-defined sexual assault – rape.

          Ah, this is going to go badly for me, I’m sure, but…I absolutely agree with you. From what I can see, there’s been a massive swing to allow a broader definition of assault of late, because of the incredibly varied ways in which people can be assholes to each other, and this has led to a fairly overt dilution of the terms of rape and sexual assault. I think this is a bad thing, for precisely the reasons you outlined, above.

          Unfortunately, our time for creating new terms and definitions rather than commandeering existing ones and broadening them right out of relevance may have passed, and there are, without doubt, many places and spaces in which the OP would get close to 100% support for this definition. This idea gives me hives, because really, we are talking about a short leap from the social definition to the legal. I try to hold out hope that the legal system would resist this, but I’ve seen some truly reprehensible and nonsensical things being put into law in some places recently, so I’m not doing very well with that.

          Unfortunately, there’s that weird gray area where trying to define an unclear situation can wander over into trying to define a victim’s own feelings and perceptions of their experience, and that’s seen as bad. Of course, I’m all for people deciding how they feel about things, and what they choose to do with those feelings…

          But.

          But I do think that socially, we have a responsibility to assist people in finding the definition that’s accurate, as opposed to the one that allows the “appropriate” levels of anger and betrayal.

          Because that’s a problem, right there. That socially, there’s been a kind of consensus on how bad a person gets to feel, based on the ‘it could have been worse’ model of thinking. “You only get to be this pissed off, because you were assaulted without penetration, and it could have been worse” kind of thing. And so, in order to allow for a higher level of pain and anger, there’s this weird need to up the framing context.

          Honestly, if we could just allow that people get to feel exactly as hurt/angry/ragey/betrayed/what-have-you as they feel, no matter what their experience is called, this wouldn’t be such an issue.

          This person, to my view, was not sexually assaulted. It does not follow, however, that those feelings of betrayal and intense violation are either not real, or out of proportion to the OP’s experience.

        10. Gorb
          Gorb June 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm |

          Valoniel also has it. Many others don’t.

          If sexual assault comes to mean anything anyone is ever uncomfortable with, then it removes our ability to talk about it, regulate and punish, console in any meaningful sense and construct a moral guide to action.

          You can’t simply blur semantic layers and then not suffer consequences. Either the OP was raped or she wasn’t. She wasn’t sort-of raped or kind-of assaulted. If she was raped and assaulted, then the rapist deserves to be put on trial.

          Was she victimized? Yes. Was she lied to? Absolutely. Betrayed? Yup. Raped?

          Sexually assaulted?

          No.

          She can believe she was, but in the larger context of other people, … she was not.

          When we start blurring boundaries and playing semantic games for points, we lose the distinctions that make words and concepts mean things.

        11. Ledasmom
          Ledasmom June 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm |

          I am thinking we had a similar discussion regarding the case of the woman who had sex with her boyfriend while she had reason to believe he had consented, only to find out that he had in fact been asleep at the time and felt he had been violated. It all sort of hinged, in my mind, on whether you can have a rape without a rapist; at least a few people considered that he had been raped but she had not raped him – an odd concept but to me the one that came closest to explaining the situation.
          We have been in this area before, is what I’m saying.

        12. Valoniel
          Valoniel June 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

          It all sort of hinged, in my mind, on whether you can have a rape without a rapist;

          Yes,, we have definitely been here before, and that’s why we need to keep fine-tuning the language, rather than applying umbrella terms across the board. This is pretty much exactly the same kind of quasi-assault weirdness, and there’s no proper name for it.

          We need one.

        13. a lawyer
          a lawyer June 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm |

          I usually think of “individual/subjective” rape and “standardized”/objective rape.

          Individual/subjective rape is simple: if you feel like you were (or were not) raped, then that’s what you feel. It doesn’t matter what gave rise to your belief.

          We have no business arguing with subjective descriptions of feelings, whether or not we think that they make sense. You can recognize claims of individual/subjective rape because they start with “I feel like _____” and do not attempt to state objective facts.

          “I felt raped when I realized he cheated on me” IS a perfectly legitimate statement because it is entirely subjective.


          Standardized/objective rape is different.
          Generally speaking, something is either rape or not and a given opinion can be right or wrong, from an objective sense. And it works both ways; something can be rape even if the victim didn’t subjectively identify it as rape.

          “He raped me when he cheated on me” is NOT a legitimate statement because it makes an objective claim that isn’t true.

          We all know that those things are different, of course. But we tend to shirk from disagreeing with victims in an effort to make a “safe” space. That’s a valid concern, of course–but it does make discussion a lot more difficult. So when someone says:

          Revolver June 5, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

          There are huge differences between personal definitions and legal definitions. I am not advocating that the author’s personal definition should become legal, and I don’t agree with her that it should, but holy fuck, she gets to decide if she was raped or not. Who are you to tell her if she was raped or not?

          We don’t get to have an opinion on whether she feels like she was raped. That’s purely subjective.

          We do get to have an opinion on whether she was raped, because that opinion is how we form our laws and social boundaries. We may not choose to actively express that opinion out of a desire to avoid harm to the victim (or to create a safe space). But that’s not the same thing.

        14. Gorb
          Gorb June 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm |

          A lawyer has it, too. Nice way to bridge the divide, here, too. You must collect some well-earned fees.

        15. A4
          A4 June 5, 2013 at 5:15 pm |

          “He raped me when he cheated on me” is NOT a legitimate statement because it makes an objective claim that isn’t true.

          LOL objectivity. Communal truths are not objective. The sum of many subjective opinions is not an objective fact. Please enlighten me as to your perfect objective definition of rape. And please provide objective definitions for the concepts you use to define rape. Make sure to provide procedures for quantitative analysis of the situation and demonstrate how they are not at all based on subjective judgements.

        16. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm |

          LOL objectivity. Communal truths are not objective. The sum of many subjective opinions is not an objective fact. Please enlighten me as to your perfect objective definition of rape…. Make sure to provide procedures for quantitative analysis of the situation and demonstrate how they are not at all based on subjective judgements.

          Okay, if you’re asking for a differentiation between cheating and rape that is based on strictly objective, quantitative analysis:

          For starters, I’m going to assume that you can’t actually rape someone while on another continent from them. You can cheat on them while on another continent. You can’t rape someone merely by getting on a webcam with a totally different person; you can cheat on them by getting on a webcam with a totally different person (if that’s not in your relationship agreement). You can’t rape someone just by peeking into a strip club; you can cheat on someone by peeking into a strip club (if that’s not in your relationship agreement). Hell, considering the terms in which some people define cheating include things like “date” activities, I’m really curious how slow-dancing or holding hands with someone not your partner is exactly the same as raping your partner. Even if the dance/hand-holding isn’t consensual, it’s still not rape, and still not rape of your partner.

          So…yeah. There’s some pretty objective differences between cheating and rape, to me.

          (Please note I am not referring to rape-by-hired-hitman scenarios, or “but what if SPACE ZOMBIE ROBOTS”, or “what if Mr Fantastic could stretch his dick from Cairo to Vancouver” or whatever else one could come back with.)

        17. a lawyer
          a lawyer June 5, 2013 at 5:38 pm |

          A4 June 5, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

          “He raped me when he cheated on me” is NOT a legitimate statement because it makes an objective claim that isn’t true.

          LOL objectivity. Communal truths are not objective. The sum of many subjective opinions is not an objective fact.

          Of course not, from a philosophical perspective. who the heck is objective?

          But we agree to treat it as objective and refer to it as objective, because that’s how laws work and that’s what society requires to function. We are required to judge a situation that we didn’t experience: we attempt to be objective.

          Claims which are obviously outside those agreed standards don’t deserve to be treated as legitimate, whether it’s “yes, he [description of rape] but it wasn’t really rape,” or “my boyfriend cheated on me and that is rape.”

          Please enlighten me as to your perfect objective definition of rape.

          There isn’t one, of course. There probably can’t be one. It’s obvious that our attempts to codify agreement in law are imperfect–as we can see from the constant attempts to enforce (for victim) and escape (for defendants) the laws.

          But w/r/t this post this is a side track. We do our best to define it as well as we can. Yes, there’s a lot of dispute at the margin between “rape” and “not rape,” but that doesn’t mean that the entire classification is suspect. There are still some things that are obviously “rape” (which I don’t care to list) and some things which are obviously “not rape.”

        18. A4
          A4 June 6, 2013 at 9:08 am |

          if you’re asking for a differentiation between cheating and rape that is based on strictly objective, quantitative analysis

          That’s not what I asked for at all Mac. I didn’t mention cheating at all. You need to stop reading whatever you want into my comments and start actually reading what I write. You’d save yourself a lot of time responding sarcastically to things I never said.

        19. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 9:58 am |

          You asked for an objective definition of rape in the context of someone dismissing the statement “He raped me when he cheated on me”, which indicates that you did not believe this dismissal to be true. Disproving the link between cheating and rape was the simplest way to dismantle that. I second AL that a perfect objective definition of rape can’t be arrived at. That doesn’t mean that literally everything could be rape. I mean, fucking seriously. “Animal cruelty” can’t be perfectly objectively defined. But I know eating a vegan pie, playing Tetris and watching anime aren’t animal cruelty.

          You don’t actually have to know exactly what a thing is to know what it ain’t. Though if you think you do, that probably explains a lot.

        20. A4
          A4 June 6, 2013 at 11:08 am |

          But I know eating a vegan pie, playing Tetris and watching anime aren’t animal cruelty.

          Except that the wheat in your pie was harvested using industrial practices that end the lives of many many animals living among the crops. The computer running tetris was manufactured using oppressive labor standards that are cruel and inhumane to people. Same for the computers used to produce the anime.

          In a world as complicated and interrelated as this one, trying to go around and name everything with moralized on off labels like “rape” “not-rape”, “animal cruelty” “not-animal cruelty” is NOT going to lead to an accurate understanding of the many causes and effects of our actions. It just makes it easier to assign blame to other people and ignore the harmful aspects of the systems from which we benefit, especially when the harm is so far removed from the benefit. I do not see the exploitation of foreign workers that was required for my computer to be so cheaply manufactured. I just enjoy the low low prices.

          Currently the use of binaristic states of morality is incredibly widespread and built into our legal systems, which really screws over the people whose identities themselves are seen as the “wrong” to the norm’s “right”. My sexuality, is the “wrong” one. Even if people are accepting, I’m still the “not normal” to their “normal”. The “unnatural” to their natural. You wanna talk abotu the wider implications of your rhetoric? Well your insistence on simplistic binary states of morality will only serve to reinforce the simplistic moralization of marginalized identity categories. It supports the coercion of individuals to adhere to rigid identity categories that have no coherent definition and are subject to people’s gut instincts and statements like “I can’t tell you exactly what a man is, but I know a man can’t have ovaries!”

          It supports worldviews that inevitably marginalize those who don’t fit in them but still have legitimate experiences of pain and victimization. It means that when the author above tries to engage with this discourse of consent and coercive sex, they are shouted down and dismissed due to their “dangerous” and “non-normative” engagement with the discourse.

        21. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 11:12 am |

          All right, A4. You win! Cheating is rape. Graduating college is rape. Tetris is rape. Literally everything is rape. I’m being raped right now, probably. I feel like light particles are penetrating my epidermis in an unsuitably rapey fashion. Scents are entering my nose without my consent. Can I legislate to outlaw physics and biology?

        22. A4
          A4 June 6, 2013 at 11:27 am |

          That’s a really disgusting attitude Mac. People have a very difficult time identifying their sexual experiences as rape. Even the OP did not call what happened to her rape. She said there wasn’t consent, and then later she made a statement that no consent = rape, but she did not say “I was raped”. I’m sure she knew she would be told to shut up by people like you in incredibly dismissive and disparaging terms.

          I had a lot of friends in college who would not identify their experiences as rape. Experiences where someone carried them back to their room unconscious and had sex with them. I staffed a sexual assault hotline that nobody ever ever called ever though there were stickers for it in every single bathroom. I saw many of my friends putting their arms around people who were known to have raped other students and beaten their girlfriends. And this is considered a very “liberal” college!

          So you’re cutesy little paragraph about light particles in response to my thoughtful consideration of how simplistic definitions and classifications of sexual coercion does no one any favors except for the unaffected and the perpetrators is really gross.

          Are we policing women for crying rape now? Are we worried that TOO MANY WOMEN will identify their experiences as rape, because that’s such a grave issue? Are we worried that women’s definitions of their own sexual experiences will be TOO privileged and become TOO powerful? Are we worried that someone might actually listen to a woman’s story of sexual pain and betrayal and react with sympathy rather than excoriating them for their policy proposals?

          UGH. You certainly have adopted some key MRA talking points.

        23. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 11:40 am |

          People have a very difficult time identifying their sexual experiences as rape.

          Are you fucking kidding me with that paragraph? I specifically pointed out that my problem is with legislating cheating as rape. You said there was no simple “binary” of rape and not-rape, which had nothing to do with what I was talking about. As in, the act of X having sex with Y cannot be the same as X raping Z (when Z is not in the same location). Cheating is not literally rape of the betrayed partner. I said fuck-all about OP’s experience, and have argued repeatedly on this thread that if she feels she was raped, she was raped. Just not by the cheating. The unprotected sex by deception? That qualifies as sexual assault at the very least, in my eyes.

          Are we policing women for crying rape now?

          I’m policing women for arguing that the act of cheating (and lying about cheating) is indistinguishable from the act of rape.

          You certainly have adopted some key MRA talking points.

          Just taking a page out of your book, A4, wasn’t it you who argued that black men who sing “oversexualised” lyrics might contribute to their own public sexual assault? At least I’m managing not to be racist while I’m at it ;)

        24. A4
          A4 June 6, 2013 at 11:46 am |

          Yes. And just the other day you said some really shitty things about my gender identity, which I was pretty gracious about. I don’t feel like being gracious anymore because you’re being such a stupid shit all over the place here. Consider the cordiality ended, and refer to my previous statements: Fuck Off.

        25. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 11:54 am |

          And just the other day you said some really shitty things about my gender identity, which I was pretty gracious about.

          That’s your prerogative. I did say a shitty thing.

          I don’t feel like being gracious anymore because you’re being such a stupid shit all over the place here.

          I don’t think I am, because I think we’re really only in disagreement about one thing: whether one can legislate the act of cheating to be the act of rape of the betrayed partner. In all other things (that the OP experiences the relationship as including rape, that the OP was betrayed, that rape is horrible and underreported and treated badly in society) we seem to agree. So, okay, if you think I’m stupid, how stupid are you?

          Consider the cordiality ended, and refer to my previous statements: Fuck Off.

          Technically: one statement. Plural gooder.

        26. amblingalong
          amblingalong June 6, 2013 at 11:55 am |

          People have a very difficult time identifying their sexual experiences as rape.

          I’m really fucking sick of you trying to identify Mac’s position, which is “rape actually doesn’t mean whatever anyone wants it to,” with the totally separate position “people’s shouldn’t define their own experiences,” a position she has been exceedingly clear she doesn’t hold.

          You’re being incredibly disingenuous all over this thread, from setting up straw-men, to denying holding positions that you put down in writing on the same page, to accusing people of being rape apologists because they want rape to be a word that means something (that last one is some Orwellian shit, right there).

        27. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 11:57 am |

          And, since you apparently can’t read unless it’s an argument you’re personally having, my take on this, from immediately below:

          breaking of the relationship’s non-actual-sex-related terms (monogamy, financial partnership, not blowing the paycheque on Yu-Gi-Oh decks, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, walking the dog in snowstorms, never slow-dancing with football players unless they’re the goalie, it doesn’t really matter what the terms are) does not constitute rape.

        28. CassandraSays
          CassandraSays June 7, 2013 at 2:00 am |

          “Are we worried that women’s definitions of their own sexual experiences will be TOO privileged and become TOO powerful? ”

          Part of the problem that you seem to be trying to avoid is that things like “my partner promised not to do drugs when we were together, and then he broke that promise” are not sexual experiences.

        29. Willard
          Willard June 7, 2013 at 4:08 am |

          Just taking a page out of your book, A4, wasn’t it you who argued that black men who sing “oversexualised” lyrics might contribute to their own public sexual assault?

          It’s been a busy week but I was waiting for that one to come back from beyond the grave to bite some ass. The argument there does fit with the completely relativist definition A4 is supporting. She said it was rape (and yes those words in that exact order don’t appear anywhere, but the entire argument of the piece works up to the no consent mic drop at the end), so it definitely was, he didn’t so it definitely wasn’t and anyone who says otherwise in either case is wrong for having an opinion that doesn’t completely support those statements or silences.

          Not even going to touch how personal definitions of rape made group definitions have worked out for men of color in the past.

          This is the stuff of MRA feverdreams, where anyone’s personal working definition of rape is no longer for themselves, their support people, and their healing process but instead a tool of the state to bring about mass incarceration of the menz. The only thing is, it’d also be a huge win for them. Just think about all the shit they claim “there ought to be a law against,” and then realize that the deception theme runs rampant throughout.

          I know my attachment to horrid binary moral theory and aspirations of objective (or at least logical and rational) support for the same was castigated a while back, and though the arguments here have been good reading I’d like to see how the personal definitions of “theft,” “deception,” and “murder” are defended in the new Texas thread. That guy felt like a victim and he used his state sanctioned (and now precedent supported) right to kill the woman that so offended him. Maybe that’s the more elegant solution we need, instead of more trials and jail-time just expand self-defense to include anything up to and after the time you find out he’s a lying scumbag.

      3. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 1:11 pm |

        You can’t just argue that someone calls X or Y sexual assault (rape) by being tricked into giving it. It’s not rape. It’s just not.

        Actually, that’s dangerous territory, since “trick” includes so many things. (Identical twins, for example; consenting to one is not consenting to the other.) There’s definitely “tricks” that would constitute rape.

        I imagine a better way to put it would be: breaking of the relationship’s non-actual-sex-related terms (monogamy, financial partnership, not blowing the paycheque on Yu-Gi-Oh decks, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, walking the dog in snowstorms, never slow-dancing with football players unless they’re the goalie, it doesn’t really matter what the terms are) does not constitute rape.

    3. Barnacle Strumpet
      Barnacle Strumpet June 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm |

      Oh don’t make me laugh. This thread is beyond tame compared to many that have gone on in the past; the rudest probably is mac’s feefee comment, which has been apologized for。Go back and dig up maia’s posts, or that white blogger that posted here about dreadlocks, if you want to see someone getting told off.

      Considering the OP has been advocating for vague laws that could hurt a lot of who already are disproportionately hurt by the laws regarding sex, relationships, and marriage, I would say that a little heat is to be expected.

      People have been more considerate and sympathetic to this guest blogger than to any other who has brought up something controversial. Most of us have not even said anything about whether the OP’s experience was rape or not; we have instead talked of the serious fallout this could have for many already oppressed people.

      1. Ledasmom
        Ledasmom June 5, 2013 at 8:06 pm |

        Seriously, this is nothing compared to the Children in Restaurants War of two-thousand-whatever.

    4. matlun
      matlun June 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm |

      the author gets to define what is or is not rape to her

      Isn’t that just the Humpty Dumpty philosophy that words can mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean? Words have meaning. Without it they have no value as tools of communication.

      I have a lot of sympathy for her pain, but saying it is rape is still simply incorrect.

      1. Gorb
        Gorb June 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm |

        ” the author gets to define what is or is not rape to her

        Isn’t that just the Humpty Dumpty philosophy that words can mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean? Words have meaning. Without it they have no value as tools of communication.

        I have a lot of sympathy for her pain, but saying it is rape is still simply incorrect.

        Several people have suggested that this is not the case. That somewhat baffles me.

        1. Jane
          Jane June 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm |

          Given the massively fucked up nature of the criminal justice system being predicated on upholding systems of power and domination (see, for example, the New Jim Crow or anything by Angela Davis);

          given the emotional and relational complexities of sexualized and relationship violence wherein most victims are harmed by people they know and may love and can also cause harm;

          given the deep cultural support for rape and patriarchy that makes it very difficult to interpret intent to harm and make sense of one’s experience;

          given the fluidity and accumulative nature of trauma;

          and given many other subtleties and complexities of sexualized violence, desire, and consent…

          yes. it’s wrong to limit the definition of sexual assault to the narrow constraints of a legal framework.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm |

          yes. it’s wrong to limit the definition of sexual assault to the narrow constraints of a legal framework.

          See, I’ve been arguing on this thread that self-definition is different from legal definition, but this is kind of a line even for me. By OP’s standards, I should get to legally say that I’ve been raped by my ex-girlfriend (who cheated on me in a monogamous framework). I should be able to prosecute her for raping me. Which just no. When someone says they want to make the legal framework reflect their personal reactions, they’re officially over the line. Violation and betrayal do not constitute grounds for legally retroactively framing all sex within a relationship as rape. What in fucking fuck is the matter with people that this is something that needs saying?

          If I knew in advance that my ex would cheat on me, would I have gotten together with her? No, of course not. But that doesn’t mean I get to say that she should legally be considered a cyber-rapist, for fuck’s sake. That is so far over the line that the line is a dot on the horizon. And in that context, I am all for taking refuge in a “narrow legal framework”.

        3. Jane
          Jane June 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm |

          If I knew in advance that my ex would cheat on me, would I have gotten together with her? No, of course not. But that doesn’t mean I get to say that she should legally be considered a cyber-rapist, for fuck’s sake. That is so far over the line that the line is a dot on the horizon. And in that context, I am all for taking refuge in a “narrow legal framework”.

          Maybe it’s not clear because you might have missed my comment supporting Theaz @ June 4 8:30pm above, but I am agreeing with you here, Macavity. I think the criminal justice system is way too flawed to respond to the complexities of sexualized violence. We need cultural shifts and community accountability, we need to open support for survivors of sexual violence much wider than what any narrow legalese can contain, but we do NOT need to universalize privileged people’s limited experiences into laws that will be applied through the lens of the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy against groups already oppressed by it.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm |

          Oh, I see. Got it. I did wonder, because it seemed like you’d argued the opposite elsewhere, but there’s a couple of people on this thread making severely wonky arguments for legal redefinition and my brain kind of exploded when it seemed you were one of them. Sorry, Jane.

        5. A4
          A4 June 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

          I think the criminal justice system is way too flawed to respond to the complexities of sexualized violence. We need cultural shifts and community accountability, we need to open support for survivors of sexual violence much wider than what any narrow legalese can contain, but we do NOT need to universalize privileged people’s limited experiences into laws that will be applied through the lens of the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy against groups already oppressed by it.

          YES. THIS.

        6. matlun
          matlun June 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm |

          we need to open support for survivors of sexual violence much wider than what any narrow legalese can contain

          Very true that.

          Nevertheless: I for one was not speaking from a legal standpoint. I stand by the position that cheating on and lying to your sexual partner is in fact not rape simply due the violation of the agreement of fidelity rendering consent invalid. It is an example among many of a morally repugnant action that is not rape.

          To illustrate the same principle: Even if the type of betrayal described in the OP could poetically be said to feel like getting your heart cut out, it would be incorrect to label it as murder.

          That said, it does seem as if most everyone is pretty much agreeing except when it comes to semantics and word choices. Perhaps we are no longer debating any significant disagreement.

        7. Aaliyah
          Aaliyah June 6, 2013 at 12:04 pm |

          I think the criminal justice system is way too flawed to respond to the complexities of sexualized violence. We need cultural shifts and community accountability, we need to open support for survivors of sexual violence much wider than what any narrow legalese can contain, but we do NOT need to universalize privileged people’s limited experiences into laws that will be applied through the lens of the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy against groups already oppressed by it.

          I wholeheartedly agree.

    5. Camera Lady
      Camera Lady June 8, 2013 at 12:39 pm |

      You don’t get to define your own experience if that definition includes potential fucking lawsuits.

  34. Kathleen
    Kathleen June 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm |

    I wonder if this might be a situation where the internet is better than the legal system. We are used to turning to the legal system, because it is a social institution that has existed for a long time, and there are many, many instances of this new social institution — the internet — being used as a tool of social enforcement in horrifying ways. But I can also imagine it going toward solving some of the kinds of problems that Lilli identifies.

    Facebook helps cheating but it also helps detect cheating, for example. It sounds like this ex managed to keep several social worlds separated, and to present a distinctly different persona in each (though his propensity to hurt people everywhere was the same). Was he not on Facebook? Of course not everyone is — I’m not.

    But I’m trying to think through a way forward without piling on Lilli. The harm she is talking about is real, though I’d agree I can’t see the structure of the legal system being the right institution to address it. What other kinds of social institutions might, though?

  35. anonymous
    anonymous June 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm |

    Does anyone else pick up on the slut-shaming in the OP? “Ewwww, I was exposed to second-hand sluttery!” It’s almost as bad as her shaming of drug users.

    1. Amelia the Lurker
      Amelia the Lurker June 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm |

      I think the OP has the right to define who she has sex with by proxy, and that means that she has the right to stipulate that her partner not be sleeping with anyone else.

    2. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl June 5, 2013 at 1:59 pm |

      What seemed like shaming to me was all the details the author provided about the “other women.” Which, by extension, did sound slut shamey as well. Honestly, there is a whole lot going on in this essay that sounds judgemental wrt to the author’s ex’s extracurricular romantic partners, even though she goes on to mention that they apparently did not know that the ex was cheating with/on them. It still comes off like, can you believe those women, cheating my boyfriend! Even though they did’t know about my very existence and were used and manipulated by him too! They all stink!

  36. Amelia the Lurker
    Amelia the Lurker June 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm |

    but consensual sex is an oxymoronic term; without consent, the act of sex isn’t really sex at all. It is assault.

    I think you mean that “consensual sex” is a tautology, not an oxymoron. An oxymoron would be “non-consensual sex.”

    1. Buttered Lilies
      Buttered Lilies June 6, 2013 at 2:41 am |

      “Non-consensual sex” is not an oxymoron, it’s the definition of rape. How would you even define rape without using the word “sex”, unless you were spelling it as “intercourse” or “carnal knowledge”?

      Yes, colloquially, “sex” frequently refers to consensual sex. But it also refers to the physical act, without any reference to consent – like, in science. And given that our notions of consent have changed rather drastically over the centuries, but sex (at least PiV, which is also the most likely to be seen as “real sex”) is how we literally reproduce the species, I’m thinking the scientific one’s gonna be around longer than the colloquial one. Because (despite what Todd Akin might claim), you can still get pregnant from sex, even if it was non-consensual and forced.

      Rape is not *consensual* sex. But rape is sex.

      1. Amelia the Lurker
        Amelia the Lurker June 6, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

        To be honest, I don’t think that “non-consensual sex” is an oxymoron either, but it is by the OP’s logic (where sex is by definition consensual). What I was trying to say was that even by the OP’s logic, “oxymoron” is the wrong word for “consensual sex,” that she meant “tautology” or “pleonasm,” and that by that same token an oxymoron is “non-consensual sex.” Not so much because I agreed with the premise, as because I wanted to explain the proper meaning of the word “oxymoron.” And I know that’s quite the derail, so sorry.

  37. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm |

    If she says it’s rape, and you agree with her because she gets to define her experience any way she likes, but…

    She doesn’t literally say ‘it’s rape.’ She outlines all the issues which make her feel there was a lack of consent on her part and then in her final paragraph says ‘no consent = rape.’ Are you saying she’s not allowed to re-consider consent based on new information?

    1. Anglia
      Anglia June 5, 2013 at 3:26 pm |

      Warning for emotional abuse:

      For me, yes, that’s exactly what it means. I come from the position of having been in a relationship that began consensually, became emotionally abusive and culminated in rape. One of the things that this partner did as an abusive mechanism was to read parts of my journal while I was out of the room, and then use the contents to manipulate me into sleeping with him. I didn’t discover this until after the relationship had ended. The sense of violation was extreme – I won’t say worse than after the actual assault, but certainly equivalent. At that point I had to think very carefully about that gradient of sexual experience, and at what point it was no longer actually consensual. And it became clear to me that those parts were not rape. My emotional reaction to them was indistinguishable to my reaction to being raped, but the fact remained that at that point, I had consented to that sexual act and had not withdrawn consent for the duration of that act.

      I should note that this is different from limiting ‘rape’ to its legal definition: I also experienced sex while afraid, from his body language, from implication, that saying ‘no’ would not be acceptable and might result in escalation: I classify this as rape, but it would be difficult to make this meet the legal definition, at least in my country.

      1. Hrovitnir
        Hrovitnir June 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm |

        Thank you for sharing.

        Your experience demonstrates my feelings on the discussion of self-definition of rape (something I strongly support in general).

        The sense of violation was extreme

        And it became clear to me that those parts were not rape. My emotional reaction to them was indistinguishable to my reaction to being raped

        I should note that this is different from limiting ‘rape’ to its legal definition: I also experienced sex while afraid, from his body language, from implication, that saying ‘no’ would not be acceptable and might result in escalation: I classify this as rape, but it would be difficult to make this meet the legal definition, at least in my country.

        This is the important distinction here. There is violation that can be just as traumatising as sexual assault, there is unprosecuteable sexual assault and there is legally defined rape and sexual assault.

        They are three different things, and wanting to be able to define rape personally without having to prove it in a court of law or equivalating all violations associated with sexual relationships to literal sexual assault is not the same as demeaning someone’s pain.

        This topic is heavily tied up in consent. This man most likely did get off on the innate lack of consent in the situation. It is horribly ethically unacceptable. It just doesn’t retroactively make consensual sex unconsensual, or illegal.

        I do have a lot of empathy for your position, OP. I in no way want to communicate that you’re an awful person for writing this, or feeling this way. But I think it is unacceptable to make the leap from your pain to legislating dishonesty in relationships because the law is a blunt instrument, and hell no.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L June 5, 2013 at 9:18 pm |

      Are you saying she’s not allowed to re-consider consent based on new information?

      Are you saying that my former spouse should legitimately have been able to claim, retroactively, that every time we ever had sex (including during the nearly one year we spent trying to conceive a baby, before our son came along) was really “rape” on my part because I didn’t disclose my transness before we first had sex or before we got married? I would find such a result objectionable, to say the least.

      (Before anyone decides to lecture me — and leaving aside the fact that the world was a very different place in 1987, and I had naively managed to convince myself that my transness was entirely in the past — I can assure you that I was amply punished for my non-disclosure, and am still paying the price for it.)

      Nor, by the way, do I believe that I should be able to charge my former spouse with rape for failing to disclose, either before we got married or at any time during our 13-year marriage, that she was involved with someone else the entire time; someone with whom she’d had been in a relationship since before we met. Apparently, there was a secret “grandfather clause” in our marriage vows. I knew I should have gotten them translated from Hebrew!

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve June 5, 2013 at 9:25 pm |

        Are you saying she’s not allowed to re-consider consent based on new information?

        Are you saying that my former spouse should legitimately have been able to claim, retroactively, that every time we ever had sex (including during the nearly one year we spent trying to conceive a baby, before our son came along) was really “rape” on my part because I didn’t disclose my transness before we first had sex or before we got married? I would find such a result objectionable, to say the least.

        (Before anyone decides to lecture me — and leaving aside the fact that the world was a very different place in 1987, and I had naively managed to convince myself that my transness was entirely in the past — I can assure you that I was amply punished for my non-disclosure, and am still paying the price for it.)

        Nor, by the way, do I believe that I should be able to charge my former spouse with rape for failing to disclose, either before we got married or at any time during our 13-year marriage, that she was involved with someone else the entire time; someone with whom she’d had been in a relationship since before we met. Apparently, there was a secret “grandfather clause” in our marriage vows. I knew I should have gotten them translated from Hebrew!

        Donna, I’m not arguing that she should be able to charge someone with rape, just that she’s allowed to re-consider consent,

        1. Donna L
          Donna L June 5, 2013 at 9:51 pm |

          Donna, I’m not arguing that she should be able to charge someone with rape, just that she’s allowed to re-consider consent,

          I disagree. She had a right to be angry. She can say she wouldn’t have consented to have sex or get married had she known about my transness. (Just like someone else might feel deceived and angry if I hadn’t told them I was Jewish, or a Democrat, before we had sex or got married.)

          But she can’t retroactively rescind the consent she gave. It’s not like getting your money back when you buy a piece of property that you wouldn’t have bought had the seller disclosed that there were termites, or an old oil tank buried under the back yard. That kind of transaction can be “unwound.” This kind can’t.

        2. GallingGalla
          GallingGalla June 5, 2013 at 10:07 pm |

          Sure, sure, you’re not directly claiming that trans* women rape other people by our very existence, maybe, *maybe*. But do you not see how “just that she’s allowed to re-consider consent” plays into the “trans* women are deceivers” theme, Steve? Do you believe that trans* women (and I say trans* women specifically because that’s who this trope is used against) are required to disclose our trans*-ness on the first date and that if we don’t, the other person “never consented”?

        3. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 6, 2013 at 11:18 pm |

          Sure, sure, you’re not directly claiming that trans* women rape other people by our very existence, maybe, *maybe*. But do you not see how “just that she’s allowed to re-consider consent” plays into the “trans* women are deceivers” theme, Steve? Do you believe that trans* women (and I say trans* women specifically because that’s who this trope is used against) are required to disclose our trans*-ness on the first date and that if we don’t, the other person “never consented”?

          I do see it, and I don’t just think it’s ok. That’s why I didn’t suggest a law should be drafted, I can understand how it would be abused. However I can’t get away from the fact that in this case the OP specified to her partner that she consented to unprotected sex only if he was faithful and/or had previously used protection. I feel that she specifically has the right to feel her consent was given under false pretenses, and therefore is not actually consent.

          Since we’re using analogies drawn from our own personal life…
          This past Wednesday I had a prostate exam (which, if you don’t know, involves digitally pentrating the anus,) which I consented to because my doctor told me it was medically necessary for a man of my age and I trust her. Had she been lying and doing the penetration for her own enjoyment and filmed the whole thing, then uploaded it to Pornhub, I would feel that my consent was not given.

        4. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 6, 2013 at 11:23 pm |

          Hey Donna,

          I just read your comment below about your experiences with a physician…and I want you to know I wasn’t aware of it before bringing up the analogy above, and I apologize greatly if it triggered anything.

        5. Donna L
          Donna L June 6, 2013 at 11:57 pm |

          I do see it, and I don’t just think it’s ok

          Steve, what exactly is it that you just don’t think is OK? You’re not being clear.

          If you mean that what happened to the OP isn’t OK, there’s nobody on this thread who’s remotely suggested that it was, or that it was anything other than horrible and abusive.

          If you mean that you just don’t think it’s OK for a trans woman to decide to keep her personal history private when she has sex, then I have a major, major problem with that.

        6. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 7, 2013 at 12:05 am |

          Steve, what exactly is it that you just don’t think is OK? You’re not being clear.

          If you mean that what happened to the OP isn’t OK, there’s nobody on this thread who’s remotely suggested that it was, or that it was anything other than horrible and abusive.

          If you mean that you just don’t think it’s OK for a trans woman to decide to keep her personal history private when she has sex, then I have a major, major problem with that.

          Neither. I’m saying I’m not OK with the law because it could be used against trans people.

        7. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve June 7, 2013 at 12:08 am |

          to be clearer I was responding to this specific bit of GG’s comment:

          But do you not see how “just that she’s allowed to re-consider consent” plays into the “trans* women are deceivers” theme, Steve?

          That theme is what I was saying is not ‘just OK’.

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 9:27 pm |

        Well, Donna, apparently consent is an ongoing procedure that literally does not end until all parties involved are dead. This is why people administering last rites always ask for a list of every person the dying person has ever had sex with, and faithfully note down how they currently feel about them and make a decision on how often they were raped based on current feelings. They then submit a full and complete biography of the dead person to all their partners, who can then decide, since they now have all necessary information, whether they were raped by the dead person or not.

        Soshul Justiss achieved!

    3. amblingalong
      amblingalong June 5, 2013 at 9:32 pm |

      Are you saying she’s not allowed to re-consider consent based on new information?

      I don’t know if they are, but I am!

      1. Camera Lady
        Camera Lady June 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm |

        No, you’re not, and you would rightfully hit resistance and hopefully fail if you ever took it into the legal sphere.

        It’s dishonest to claim your consensual sex was actually rape after the fact simply because you found out new information about your partner that you don’t like. You would never had slept with him had you known? Well, you slept with him consensually, so your ‘what if’ scenario means nothing.

        I would’ve neeeever bought that house if I knew that the foundation was cracked and allowed water in! Well, that’s why most people put the house passing an inspection as a condition of their purchase. And if you didn’t get it inspected and tried to go back to the old owner for compensation, you’d be laughed right out of court and rightfully so.

        Again, do you want this applied equally? If rape by deception is law and it applies to both genders, let’s see how many women are thrown in jail:

        – Woman says she’s on birth control and isn’t. Gets pregnant. Guy retroactively withdraws consent on the ground that he wouldnt’ve had sex if he knew about her fertility status, she is jailed.
        – Woman says she loves the guy and will be with him forever. Dumps him down the road. Guy retroactively withdraws consent for hundreds of sexual encounters on the grounds that he would not have had sex if they weren’t staying together ‘forever’ as she said.
        – Female prostitute charges 100 dollars for a session. Guy pays up front. Guy retroactively withdraws his consent later. Woman is convicted for rape, theft of 100 dollars, and prostitution in one fell swoop.
        – Guy picks up a girl in a dark location and has sex with her in his dark room, never fully getting a good look at her. The next morning she turns out to be unattractive and he retroactively withdraws consent on the grounds that he wouldnt’ve had sex with her if he noticed her looks before.

        Do you REALLY wanna open this can of worms? Either ‘rape by deception’ is stupid and never becomes a thing (ideal solution) or we apply it to both genders and 80% of the human population ends up jailed.

        Or we only give the right to retroactively withdraw consent to women and not men, which is not equality at all but rather the oppression of men.

  38. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm |

    Got to say, I’m amazed at the paragons of virtue here who are arguing for the OP being a rape victim in the legal sense. Like…what, have you all never broken any terms of a relationship in any way whatsoever even one time ever? How comfortable are you with being a legal rapist for, say, smoking a cigarette? Eating meat? Praying to Vishnu? Doing heroin every day? Writing real-person slash fanfiction? ’cause you know, I know people for whom one or more of those things are dealbreakers. Hell, the last two are dealbreakers for me.

    And if we’re redefining rape as betrayal, that’s not a slippery slope, that’s a slide made entirely of lube. Speaking as a betrayal victim who’s never been raped, it also seems kind of shitty to rape victims, I’m just going to say.

    1. Jane
      Jane June 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm |

      ’m amazed at the paragons of virtue here who are arguing for the OP being a rape victim in the legal sense.

      Seriously, what comments are arguing this? I feel like we are reading different sets of comments– the vast majority here seem to be arguing against or at least critically examining the OP’s idea that laws should be changed to criminalize the deceptions done to her. Even the person above who said she felt she had the exact same story happen to her quickly replies to say she’s questioning her feelings about crimilization. The disagreements I see are about the use of terminology– and here I agree with you and many other commenters that feminists have long claimed terms like sexual assault and rape regardless of whether the experiences match the legal definitions of these words, precisely because the concepts are much too complex for the patriarchal, winnter-take-all legal system to be able to encompass.

      1. Jane
        Jane June 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm |

        Yo I wrote this before seeing your reply to my comment above- I think I understand the confusion. No worries!

  39. Really?
    Really? June 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm |

    I find the author’s actions a bit strange. The absolute worst way to get honesty from people is to state dealbreakers upfront. Most people will respond by lying or hiding the truth. The real way to get honesty is to (pretend to be) open minded and wait for people to reveal themselves.

    Also, if getting HPV is the Worst Thing In The World, don’t have unprotected sex! Seriously, never have unprotected sex with someone without seeing a clean STI test. Because if the author had demanded a clean STI test instead of taking his word for it, and he’d forged the results, this would be covered by current fraud laws.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm |

      The absolute worst way to get honesty from people is to state dealbreakers upfront.

      The absolute best way to be fucked over by partners who are genuinely good-intentioned and loving is to never state dealbreakers upfront.

      The real way to get honesty is to (pretend to be) open minded and wait for people to reveal themselves.

      That’s not a creepy attitude at all! ^__^

    2. Valoniel
      Valoniel June 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm |

      Seriously, never have unprotected sex with someone without seeing a clean STI test.

      Yeah, ’cause they totally couldn’t have picked something up in the interval between the test and the results, and no STI ever has an incubation period during which it’s undetectable or anything.

      Though, yes, the best way (short of abstinence) to not get STIs is to not have unprotected sex with anyone, ever, no matter how many pieces of paper they hand over or how many pretty words fall out of their mouths.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm |

        Yeah, ’cause they totally couldn’t have picked something up in the interval between the test and the results, and no STI ever has an incubation period during which it’s undetectable or anything.

        Who needs science when you can have shame instead?

    3. Valoniel
      Valoniel June 5, 2013 at 3:25 pm |

      The real way to get honesty is to (pretend […]

      Wait…is it even remotely possible that you can’t see what’s wrong with these nine words placed in this particular order? Because…wow.

      Just wow.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune June 5, 2013 at 3:26 pm |

        Clearly, the healthy way to have a relationship is to be the Shelob of Sexual Morality.

    4. White Rabbit
      White Rabbit June 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm |

      Most people will respond by lying or hiding the truth. The real way to get honesty is to (pretend to be) open minded and wait for people to reveal themselves.

      I would like to second what mac and Valoniel have already said in response.

      Also, in my experience, the people who are convinced that most everyone else is lying and scheming are merely projecting, and their sharing of this viewpoint serves as a handy red flag to beware of them.

      1. Valoniel
        Valoniel June 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm |

        Also, in my experience, the people who are convinced that most everyone else is lying and scheming are merely projecting, and their sharing of this viewpoint serves as a handy red flag to beware of them.

        THIS.

      2. Barnacle Strumpet
        Barnacle Strumpet June 5, 2013 at 8:38 pm |

        Or they’ve been lied to and hurt by pretty much everyone they’ve ever trusted.

        That happens too. Trust issues don’t come from nowhere.

        1. White Rabbit
          White Rabbit June 5, 2013 at 10:59 pm |

          Trust issues are, indeed, a real thing. Unfortunately, if and when the previously hurt person takes to intentionally deceiving others – including the people who are supposed to be their closest confidantes – they become part of the problem.

    5. Chataya
      Chataya June 5, 2013 at 8:47 pm |

      There isn’t a reliable test for HPV in people with penises. There is a test that involves applying what is basically a nail file to the penis and testing the shavings, but it isn’t terribly accurate.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong June 5, 2013 at 9:32 pm |

        applying what is basically a nail file to the penis

        oh god oh god oh god

  40. MH
    MH June 5, 2013 at 3:21 pm |

    [Redacted, because posting the original names after the names have been changed rather negates the purpose of changing the names at all. – Mod]

    Why on earth was this posted without the name changes, if that was believed important?

    1. Jane
      Jane June 5, 2013 at 3:37 pm |

      Dude, why did you just add the names back in?

      **Caperton** please delete or edit this person’s comment with identifying information. They could have asked the question without identifying the people whose names had been changed.

  41. tigtog
    tigtog June 5, 2013 at 8:22 pm | *

    Quick moderator note: I’ve deleted several comments from various commentors which I judged to be veering off-topic and in one way or another to be potentially derailing. It’s very common for that to start happening in 200+ comment threads, and it’s generally unhelpful for what tends to already be a sprawling thread. If any of the authors of those deleted comments want to take their tangents/side-discussions to #spillover you’re most welcome to do so.

  42. Jennifer Frances Armstrong
    Jennifer Frances Armstrong June 5, 2013 at 8:40 pm |

    So Western feminism requires paternalism in the form of state authority?

  43. trees
    trees June 5, 2013 at 11:22 pm |

    Putting aside the legal implications, I’m not getting how does this expanded definition of “rape” really serves anyone. The OP’s story sounds horrible and traumatic. Is it that calling the sexual relationship rape in some way helps in the healing process? Is this a stop on the way to making sense of the experience? It’s one thing to have a personal working definition, but I’m struggling to understand how this expansion would affect positive social change.

  44. BP
    BP June 6, 2013 at 6:40 am |

    She consented to sex under specific, clearly articulated conditions, and her partner actively and deliberately violated them.

    I once consented to sex only under the particular condition that my partner wear a condom no matter what. He knowingly penetrated me without one. The sex, then, was not consensual for me. And frankly, if I had shared this experience in a feminist space and gotten this thread in response – basically, commenters debating whether or not I was “really” raped – that would be devastating.

    1. Gorb
      Gorb June 6, 2013 at 8:48 am |

      If we accept your premise, and accommodate you, then it means that we’re rendering the terms sexual assault and rape meaningless in order to accommodate your feelings.

      We’re walking on tippie toes and playing semantic games, avoiding stating the facts, in order to make sure a victims feelings are maximally protected and endorsed.

      If we do that, we don’t need courts, laws or even social norms at all; we can just operate in a fully fluid miasma of reactions. Any reaction or conclusion is perfectly acceptable at all times.

      I think the commenters have all made excellent cases for how this indulgent semantic game doesn’t help the victim, nor does it serve society .

      If also argue that it’s paternalistic, insulting and there’s way too much denial of agency involved in it. The op called for the heavy booth eels of the state to come crashing down on sex lives in an explicit call to make

      – dishonesty
      – misrepresentation
      – sex which risks transnission of stds

      If you back this, you’re no feminist. You might be doing so just to cater to a damaged emotional state in someone who genuinely feels victimised.

      But as many commenters have pointed out, down the road of this kind of argument lies grief.

      More, you’re not considering how this does a massive disservice to the victim.

      She has many bad things happen, but whatever they were, none of it was assault .

      Fraud, yes.
      Deceit, yes.

      Rape or assault: absolutely not.

      Telling her “there there ” and calling her a rape survivor for your amazingly bad reasons , as one poster commented, insults not just rape survivors but also this poster

      She doesn’t need philosophical friends like that .

      1. A4
        A4 June 6, 2013 at 9:01 am |

        You suck. This comment sucks. Everything about your snide dismissal of “feelings” and willingness to sacrifice supporting victims of rape culture for precious and perfect facts that are apparently God given is gross and shitty. Just thought you should know.

        1. Gorb
          Gorb June 6, 2013 at 9:11 am |

          Precious facts that allow us to have sex without the government breathing down our necks.

          Precious facts that give women and men agency and responsibility ( as well as having unfortunate consequences).

          Precious facts that give us laws and allow us to live in social groups.

          If we could just make up fairytslr rani fa as we go along to accommodate feelings, willy-nilly, it reduces our sympathy for this victim to a value of zero.

          Your sympathy is nice and very well-intentioned but is effectively worthless.

          If you can’t see this I can’t help you.

          There’s more to genuine support than empty validation.

          That’s all you’re offering.

        2. a lawyer
          a lawyer June 6, 2013 at 10:49 am |

          A4 June 6, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink | Reply

          You suck. This comment sucks. Everything about your snide dismissal of “feelings” and willingness to sacrifice supporting victims of rape culture for precious and perfect facts that are apparently God given is gross and shitty. Just thought you should know.

          You understand that there is an unavoidable conflict here, right?

          We all want to support victims. In the context of support, we want to give (as much as we can) unrestricted help; we also generally want to avoid disagreement with the victim regarding their experience.

          But we ALSO want to have some sort of agreed framework that we can use to evaluate and compare situations, and that we can use to allocate our resources to help. Because of course this is not a homogeneous situation: all assault victims deserve help because all assaults are horrible, but some victims need more help because some assaults are more horrible. And that is a double-edged sword: you can’t recognize that some people need more assistance (relatively speaking,) unless you also recognize that some people need less assistance.

          Those two things are often matched: in most cases, the victims’ interpretation is pretty close to the social one. But when there isn’t a good match, there’s no “right” answer when it comes to “what should we do?”

          To use a medical analogy: I’ve been in emergency rooms with folks who had relatively minor medical injuries but who were enormously freaked out by them–often involving kids and bleeding scalp wounds (messy, scary, and generally very non-dangerous.)

          Some people might try to treat them in front of other slightly-more-serious cases because they were so freaked out. The triage nurse might let them sit there because from an objective sense they aren’t actually as needful of medical attention.
          Are those triage nurses “unfeeling?” no: they’re just operating off of one set of conflicting processes.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 11:19 am |

          I find your binaristic moral judgment simplistic and lacking. How can you know if a thing objectively sucks? What right do you have to say “this sucks” as opposed to “I feel this sucks”? It might not suck. It might suck. It might be in a state of ambiguous sucking, perceptible only to sucker or suckee. This insistence on categorising and minimising and denaturalising promotes a social understanding of suck and sucking that frankly distracts from the dialoguing and interconnecting interlocking of mediation that communicating condones.

        4. A4
          A4 June 6, 2013 at 11:34 am |

          Yes, well, while you’re busy theorizing your perfect frameworks all over the story of this woman’s pain, she is learning that she will receive little support from this feminist community if her understanding of the law and government is not perfect.

          Exactly who are you supporting here by spending so much time tearing down the author?

          Do you know how vulnerable it is to open up about your painful sexual experiences to a commentariat like this?

          The way people have responded is selfish and shameful, and has nothing to do with prioritizing “real” victims or triage, and everything to do with their own perfect little objective worldviews designed for maximum self-absolution for the effects of their own actions.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 11:44 am |

          she will receive little support from this feminist community if her understanding of the law and government is not perfect.

          Her bullshit recommendations of laws that will in practice be transphobic, homophobic, ableist etc receives little support from this feminist.

          If she’d written in with this exact article, minus the “oh and let’s make laws that will literally kill people, that I totally haven’t thought about because lol”, I guarantee you she would have received a different response. Why? Because I’ve talked about my sexual abuse and received nothing but sympathy. Ditto at least six other commenters here I can think about, and several guest posters. We all managed it by the simple expedient of not using our abuse to lead up to recommending the implementation of some truly asshole laws.

        6. amblingalong
          amblingalong June 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm |

          Her bullshit recommendations of laws that will in practice be transphobic, homophobic, ableist etc receives little support from this feminist.

          Yeah. This is a huge intersectionality fail, A4.

        7. amblingalong
          amblingalong June 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm |

          The way people have responded is selfish and shameful, and has nothing to do with prioritizing “real” victims or triage

          Maybe we’d like to prioritize victims with creating more of them?

          maximum self-absolution for the effects of their own actions.

          So now you’re straight up accusing the people who disagree with you of being rapists. Awesome.

        8. amblingalong
          amblingalong June 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm |

          without*

        9. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm |

          Do you know how vulnerable it is to open up about your painful sexual experiences to a commentariat like this?

          You don’t know shit about what kinds of sexual experiences I’ve opened up about and with what kind of commentariat. Or what kind of public, face-to-face crowd, for that matter. Or how supported I was. (Hint hint: It was big. And I wasn’t.)

        10. Donna L
          Donna L June 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm |

          A4, I think I’ve opened up about my experiences (sexual and otherwise, including being repeatedly sexually molested as a child by a physician) as much as anyone else here, and in general people (I’m thinking mostly of the regular commenters, not drive-by trolls) have been very supportive.

          One thing I don’t generally do is unthinkingly advocate new laws without even considering the consequences.

        11. number9
          number9 June 6, 2013 at 6:49 pm |

          Yes, well, while you’re busy theorizing your perfect frameworks all over the story of this woman’s pain, she is learning that she will receive little support from this feminist community if her understanding of the law and government is not perfect.

          Exactly who are you supporting here by spending so much time tearing down the author?

          You would have a point if the author came here to share her story and receive support. But that was not her purpose. She came here to share a policy/legal proposal that was rooted in her personal experience. That’s what everyone is responding to – her poorly thought out, downright harmful proposal. No one has dismissed her feelings of hurt. One does not get a pass just because their policy proposal is based in painful personal experience. People have every right to judge that proposal on merits and call out the author. Them’s the breaks in posting a policy proposal on a public discussion forum.

          There are countless vulnerable and marginalized people on this thread detailing why this is a very bad idea. That’s who allies here are trying to support. If the author is upset (and we don’t know if she is) because people are “tearing down” her ridiculous policy idea, it’s a perfectly acceptable trade-off for forcefully pushing back on this proposal.

      2. Revolver
        Revolver June 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm |

        We’re walking on tippie toes and playing semantic games, avoiding stating the facts, in order to make sure a victims feelings are maximally protected and endorsed. …

        If you back this, you’re no feminist. You might be doing so just to cater to a damaged emotional state in someone who genuinely feels victimised.

        But as many commenters have pointed out, down the road of this kind of argument lies grief.

        More, you’re not considering how this does a massive disservice to the victim.

        Fuck you. You do not know what is best for the author’s healing. Neither do I, but I can certainly support her assertion of assault instead of trying to tell her how she should feel because I Know Best.

        It cracks me up (not really) that you keep bringing up paternalism when holy shit dude, you declaring What Is Best For You Who Is Not Me is the worst kind of infantalizing and patriarchy.

        1. Gorb
          Gorb June 6, 2013 at 1:48 pm |

          I have no idea what’s best for the OP’s healing.

          I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that this is not a good way for her to heal: letting her suggest we change the very concept of sexual assault to include an experience which was more akin to fraud and betrayal, and reinforcing her feelings that she must have been raped because her ex cheated on her.

          If I was attacked in the street, and was attacked because I looked rich, but I’d gotten it into my head that the only reason I was attacked was that I was (insert race), and that therefore I suffered from a brutal racist attack, instead of what actually happened to me – a random robbery of opportunity – it might help me “heal” in some way to now seek retribution for what I perceive as racism-0

          That’s all fine and good, and others can enable this for my recovery. But if the attack wasn’t motivated by racism, then you may have just created a (healing) person who now, say, hates all black people or thinks there’s a racist war being aged against white people by black people.

          Revolver, having definitions that are so malleable that they essentially mean nothing at all, and making the only possible measure the feelings of the victim (perhaps she thinks she was murdered, too?), makes a mockery of both her and the very language we use.

          You can promote healing and counsel people who are suffering from injustice without crippling language and our ability to make critical distinctions.

          It’s entirely possible that indulging this kind of woolly thinking could, in fact, lead to horrible laws that interfere with everything we do. It’s happened before, all to often.

          Honesty is far better than sophistry. If you think empty sophistry is what feminist dialog is all about, then it leaves me wondering.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 1:56 pm |

          Yeah, no shit. I couldn’t disagree more with OP’s asshole legal propositions, and I would feel differently about her experiences had they happened to me, but I’m not going to look kindly on telling her what to call her own experiences, any more than I look kindly on someone telling me what to call mine.

      3. BP
        BP June 6, 2013 at 4:41 pm |

        My premise is not particularly complicated – it’s that sex without consent (or as the OP phrased it, “against my will”) is rape. I thought this was feminist 101 stuff?

        I’m not talking about the legal angle, since the law has a lot of catching up to do in terms of sexual violence, but I am talking about accepting/believing women’s testimonies and allowing them to name their own experiences.

        I want the OP to know that some of us do stand with her, despite many of these comments.

      4. snorkellingfish
        snorkellingfish June 7, 2013 at 12:31 am |

        If we accept your premise, and accommodate you, then it means that we’re rendering the terms sexual assault and rape meaningless in order to accommodate your feelings.

        This comment is not even slightly okay. You don’t get to talk to an actual survivor and tell her that her experience wasn’t valid (especially since BP wasn’t advocating laws here!). And let’s not pretend that you weren’t doing that when you went into the second person. We can talk about how the laws the OP proposes would be a terrible idea for marginalised groups without attacking survivors in this thread.

  45. Drew
    Drew June 6, 2013 at 9:25 am |

    Oxymoron does not mean what you think it means. Also you’re trying to justify changing your mind after the fact – 10 years later that firs encounter we had… turns out I didn’t consent because you turned out to be a cheating husband. So it was rape because I didn’t consent.

    I call BS on that.

    1. Gorb
      Gorb June 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm |

      Camera lady:
      “This isn’t rape. It’s certainly immoral, it’s certainly deceptive, and the guy is certainly a scumbag. Calling this rape trivializes actual rape.

      Consent can’t be given and then retroactively withdrawn later at your convenience, just because you’ve changed your mind about the guy.

      Or would you support equal prosecution of women who have sex under false pretenses? There are many lies women tell men in order to get them in bed, like say… “of course, I’m on birth control”. You can’t have it both ways.”

      Exactly.

      If using deception to get someone to have sex with you is a crime, then we’d better start building prisons. Pretty much half the population – male and female – will end up in them in short order.

      A4 isn’t getting the point clearly and is being disingenuous, as well as actively ignoring what everyone else is saying.

      You can’t play this semantic game to vapidly validate the genuinely injured emotions of a person who has suffered.

      We can come up with a gajillion comparable situations and show you how empty, shallow and, in the end, UN-AFFIRMING this action is. Alas, you appear deaf for some reason to both logic and carefully laid-out description.

      The most kind thing to say to the OP in this situation is that, definitely this guy is a jackass, and that it’s horrible what happened to you, but that your freedom to engage in whatever sexual activity you feel desirable comes at a price: And that potentially encountering jerks is one of them.

      But whatever this awful man did, and we’ve all agreed it was unethical and bad and that you have genuine grounds for feeling he’s treated you carelessly and viciously, this cannot be said enough:
      he did not rape you.

      Despite the attempt by A4 and others to allow you to define rape any way you choose, depending on your mood or your personal experience, A4 is doing the OP no favors and the concern A4 would seem to shower on the OP is wholly misdirected.

      If this is the way A4 sees acknowledgment and recovery, then A4 isn’t serving victims of anything. It’s actually rather sad.

      Twisting the argument over consent to involve conditionals and take-backs opens the door to a moral vacuum that sees no victors, only victims.

      A4 seems, for some reason, incapable of seeing this.

      Moreover, this entire thread is devolving into snide commentary and personal attacks.

      I can’t be bothered to go back and check, but calling anyone who doesn’t agree with the position “rape is anything I say it is nobody is allowed to disagree” a Rape Apologist or some other such thing is repugnant.

      Who’s playing the childish semantic game? Who’s paternalistically indulging the OP in her misguided and poorly reasoned argument? Who’s placing subjective opinion over even the ability to communicate with each other in a common language?

      Whatever position it is, the OP’s and A4’s position is no kind of progressive feminism. Or indeed, of feminism of any kind, unless it’s the “agree with and support a sister no matter what she says at any time.”

      The OP’s poorly reasoned position belongs in an alternate reality where middle-class Victorian moral assertions were allowed to fester into something incoherent and arbitrary.

      No way to organize a personal philosophy. No way to approach counseling a victim. No way to approach recovery.

      And no way to govern ourselves or a society.

  46. Camera Lady
    Camera Lady June 6, 2013 at 9:35 am |

    This isn’t rape. It’s certainly immoral, it’s certainly deceptive, and the guy is certainly a scumbag. Calling this rape trivializes actual rape.

    Consent can’t be given and then retroactively withdrawn later at your convenience, just because you’ve changed your mind about the guy.

    Or would you support equal prosecution of women who have sex under false pretenses? There are many lies women tell men in order to get them in bed, like say… “of course, I’m on birth control”. You can’t have it both ways.

  47. rox
    rox June 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm |

    I do think that if you say no to sex without a condom, or anal sex, or any other sexual act and your partner specifically does that sex act anyway that is sexual assault/rape.

    I agree that making laws that say any type of lie or ommission of fact that might make the person retro-actively want to revoke consent does not make all previously consented to sex acts rape. I am willing to entertain this as an idea, I think it IS abuse, but I think community response to abusive relationships is going to be more effective (sometimes even if there WAS sexual assault or rape involved).

    OP, I kind of hope you aren’t reading these comments, but if you are, I think it could have been explained to you much more compassionately why making laws out of this could be potentially disastrous for a lot of people.

    I personally understand where you coming from with your feelings and I don’t think you sharing your feelings here poses any real threat of dangerous laws spontaneously occurring. People who reacted with anger did so from fear that your ideas would spread and cause harm. I don’t think that’s a real danger so I don’t think the anger/insults/cruelty were necessary but this community IS a place where insults and hurtful language are tolerated.

    Sometimes that can be good and sometimes it’s just awful, but it does allow for a larger spectrum of voices which is likely overall a good thing despite making this place sort of harmful for a lot of users.

    1. A4
      A4 June 6, 2013 at 1:02 pm |

      Great comment. I wish they all could have been like this.

    2. Revolver
      Revolver June 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm |

      Thanks, rox. You and Jane have both eloquently made excellent, supportive points while I have just sputtered angrily.

    3. SophiaBlue
      SophiaBlue June 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm |

      I agree that what happened to the OP was a serious violation, and she deserves sympathy and compassion for that.

      People are not required respond with compassion when she proposes laws that put them in danger. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s dangerous or not, it’s not fun to have our safety completely ignored, and we have a right to be angry about that.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm |

        This idea (which FTR rox did not put forward at all, but others have) that one is somehow obliged to be coddling and compassionate about horrible and harmful laws, just because the person suggesting them is doing it out of a place of unresolved sexual trauma, is fucking ridiculous. I got into horrible screaming fights with my family in my teens because I was dealing with ongoing sexual abuse. That doesn’t mean the awful things I said should have just been given a pass because “Mac survived shit, everybody be nice always no matter how big an asshole she is”.

      2. A4
        A4 June 6, 2013 at 2:09 pm |

        Obviously based on the responses here no one was required to have any compassion at all.

        Let’s look at the relative violations here:
        On the one hand we have the Author who was lied to and cheated on and exposed to diseases without knowing and emotionally abused and now has an incurable disease that raises her risk of cancer. She is obviously still feeling a lot of pain and the effects of this long period of abuse.

        On the other hand we have some people on the internet who had to hear the author make a poorly thought out and not very smart proposal for legislation. They had to hear the author make tentative suggestions that didn’t center their life experiences and concerns. I’m one of those people.

        Obviously the answer is to focus on the author’s policy recommendations and call her an asshole for them and continually tear her down for things she didn’t say. Pay lip service to her pain and then turn around and excoriate her with abusive language for not knowing enough about the way the law is written and implemented.

        That’s the feminist thing to do after all.

        1. Camera Lady
          Camera Lady June 8, 2013 at 12:09 pm |

          I’m not denying her pain, her suffering, or saying that the guy isn’t scum. He is.

          But what happened to her wasn’t rape. Was it abusive? Yes. Should it be illegal? If he directly infected her with something due to his infidelities, yes, not as rape but as assault. If he didn’t infect her with anything, then no.

          But it is in no way rape. Calling this rape is an insult to people who have actually been raped.

        2. EG
          EG June 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm |

          Actually, I want it on record that I don’t think that giving somebody a communicable illness in the course of regular interaction with that person (not counting sneaking up behind somebody and injecting them with something, obviously) should be considered assault at all.

          I have herpes simplex 1–cold sores. As far as I know, I have never given them to anybody. I don’t french kiss or share water with people when I feel one coming on, when I have one, or when I’m healing from one. But it’s perfectly possible that sometimes, when I’m not symptomatic, the virus is shedding anyway, and I’m not aware of it. Nonetheless, I have never felt the need to stop someone about to kiss me good-night on the first date and say “Just FYI, I am prone to cold sores sometimes.” I don’t think that means I’m guilty of assault.

          There’s a certain level of risk-taking that comes with engaging with other people. When I have unprotected sex with my boyfriend, I’m making a conscious choice to take a certain level of risk, and part of that risk is the risk that despite my confidence in him and what I understand to be his feelings for me, and my having directly asked him about STDs, he might be lying to me. And I decide to take that risk, because I think that risk is small enough to be outweighed by the benefits of having condom-less sex with that man in these circumstances. But I’m an adult, and I live in the world, so I’m aware that the risk of somebody cheating on me and lying to me about it does exist. That doesn’t make it OK for somebody to do so, but we all, every single one of us, makes these kinds of risk-benefit calculations every day from both sides, and I don’t think they should be legally actionable.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm |

          That doesn’t make it OK for somebody to do so, but we all, every single one of us, makes these kinds of risk-benefit calculations every day from both sides, and I don’t think they should be legally actionable.

          Yeah, pretty much. OP was clear she consented to the unprotected sex, even if it required coaxing (what, negotiation is a vice in relationships now?). I can understand her rounding up her betrayal to feeling raped, and support that, but honestly, no, she knew there was a chance of STIs with unprotected sex (because seriously, is there anyone with the requisite age/experience who doesn’t know you can get STIs from unprotected sex?), and she went with it. Incubation times are a thing; she could have been infected by something her boyfriend didn’t even know he had, even if he’d been faithful for the duration of their relationship. Barebacking is always, always a risk.

      3. Donna L
        Donna L June 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm |

        Thank you Sophia. I said pretty much exactly the same thing, in a much more long-winded way, in a comment that’s now in moderation, and included the following paragraph:

        Nobody in this thread, so far as I remember, has suggested that what happened to the OP wasn’t horrible. But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t allowed to talk about unintended consequences, when the OP actually proposes extending the scope of the criminal laws to encompass “sex by deception.” Why are you giving primacy to the OP’s feelings over the feelings of people who could actually suffer great harm from what she proposes? Especially since the OP apparently never even considered the actual consequences of what she proposes? People can’t be angry about that?

        And:

        Of course the OP’s situation was awful, and almost as bad a case of deception as one could imagine — although not quite as bad, since nothing the OP said shows that “William,” who was clearly and incredibly reckless, actually knew that he was infected with the HPV virus or deliberately tried to transmit it to her. But please tell me how that justifies advocating new criminal laws making “sex by deception” a crime (or the basis for a civil lawsuit seeking emotional distress damages), whether it would be called rape or something else. Please tell me how that would not amount to criminalizing infidelity by anyone who ever either affirmatively promised fidelity, or failed to disclose an intention to be unfaithful (or actual acts of infidelity). Please tell me how that would not amount to making it a criminal act for any trans woman to have sex without “disclosing.”

        1. Donna L
          Donna L June 6, 2013 at 2:20 pm |

          Regarding A4’s point, I didn’t call the OP an asshole or anything like it. In fact, I just went back and looked, and I didn’t say one critical word about her. I talked only about the consequences of her proposals — proposals which she chose to make, and chose to post here for comment. As I said in my long comment now in moderation:

          II assume that the very purpose of posting what the OP wrote was to generate discussion about what she advocates, not simply to generate expressions of sympathy for the awful thing that happened to her. For better or worse, Feministe is not intended as a support group, and is not intended as a “safe space” in quite the same way as a place like Shakesville.

          Of course personal insults were out of line. But I do think people had the right to be upset.

        2. A4
          A4 June 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm |

          You’re right Donna. My impression of your comments is that they are always thoughtful and measured, and your words weighed very carefully.

          People have a right to feel however they feel. Whether their expression of those feelings is privileged in a community setting is up to the other members. Many people here refused to privilege her concerns over those whom the laws she proposed would greatly harm, and that is totally right and has been my position from the beginning.

          On the other hand, this is not a lawmaking body. It’s a discussion community, so once I made it clear that I thought her legislative proposals were a very bad idea, I discussed how I thought consent could be conceived as consideration for your partners feelings not only at the time of the sexual encounter but also later on, as that is directly relevant to the OPs experience of consent and how it affected her quality of life.

          Other commenters, like MacavityKitsune, a lawyer, Gorb, and Matlun, decided to dismiss the author’s victimization, dismiss her right to self-identify her experiences as rape (which she never actually did), or partake of a theoretical discussion of what should and shouldn’t be allowed to be called rape.

          The author used the word rape exactly once in her article, when she wrote “no consent = rape”. She did not say she was raped.

          From my point of view, she was dealing with the issue where she feels incredibly betrayed and victimized knowingly and intentionally by her boyfriend, but that this victimization does not fit into our current legal or social framework of what consent is about. She brought an issue she was wrestling about to us and offered one very simplistic solution that was a bad idea. She is trying to figure out how society allowed her to be victimized in this way and why there is nothing she can do about it.

          In return people called her an asshole, and yelled at her for claiming things she didn’t claim. many responses were vicious, unsympathetic, dismissive, and gleefully so.

          A lot of comments here used her thoughtlessness as justification for their own. Just like not considering the implications of the proposed laws spread rhetoric that harms trans people, not considering the implications of excoriating the author in the way people have here spread the idea that it’s okay to yell at people trying to talk about their sexual trauma if you don’t think they were “raped enough”.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 4:04 pm |

          I’m curious. Searching through the post for “asshole” brings up numerous references to “William” from various people, A4 calling people assholes, Valoniel making a general statement about people being assholes to each other, my referring to the law OP proposes as an asshole law, and my referring to…myself.

          I wonder who all these bad bad scarecrows are, who are calling OP an asshole.

        4. XtinaS
          XtinaS June 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm |

          Uh, I’m not seeing anywhere where the OP was called an asshole?

        5. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl June 6, 2013 at 4:31 pm |

          I’ll cop to possibly implying that the OP was an expletive, and I don’t intend to rescind my questioning her credibility because of her using the naming and shaming tactic in her essay.

          But yeah, I agree with you, Mac, nobody actually used that word, or anything like it to describe the OP. I think A4 got a head of steam going taking offense on her behalf and turned it into her getting name called as a result.

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm |

          her right to self-identify her experiences as rape (which she never actually did)

          I’m very confused. If someone says “he cheated on me, so I could not consent. No consent = rape”, then are they or are they not identifying as a rape survivor? I mean, at least in the eyes of people capable of connecting two thoughts in a semi-logical manner when they’re not placed right next to each other in a handy-dandy kindergarten manner?

      4. EG
        EG June 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm |

        The OP, A4, was promoting an idea that has been used to justify the murder of trans women. It’s not about knowing the law well or not. It’s about understanding the arguments she’s using and their implications. Failing to condemn that, and to condemn it forcefully, would have been yet one more reason for trans women to bear exclusion and hostility and indifference to their lives from feminism. That is actually far more important to me than whether or not the OP feels welcome or supported.

        1. A4
          A4 June 6, 2013 at 2:26 pm |

          But you didn’t comment anywhere on this thread until now. You also have managed to condemn that argument without using abusive language towards the OP. Others, however, continue to call her an asshole when it’s fairly obvious that she is in pain. You expect here to wade through this and learn the issues with what she wrote? You expect her to approach these responses unemotionally and with understanding for the justifications for insulting her and denying the validity of her feelings?

          Because I certainly wouldn’t expect her to. I imagine reading through these comments would be intensely unpleasant and would only serve as a lesson in why she should sit down and shut up in the future. I guess you’re cool with that?

          I feel like people could have voiced their disagreement without being abusive, but that just doesn’t feel as fun, clever, or exhilarating I guess.

        2. EG
          EG June 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm |

          I haven’t commented anywhere on this thread until now because my boyfriend spilled beer on my computer a couple of nights ago and it hasn’t worked since, and now I’m at work, with an computer that has never known the touch of any liquid at all.

          I imagine reading through these comments would be intensely unpleasant and would only serve as a lesson in why she should sit down and shut up in the future. I guess you’re cool with that?

          Feministe already has a reputation for a rough commentariat. Nobody sat down and forced the OP to write her post and put it up here. I would expect any writer to be responsible for judging whether or not ze is ready and able to handle the discussion of zir post here before ze posts it. That is what it means to write about personal experiences. If ze isn’t ready for that, then indeed, posting about still-raw and painful experiences while in that place of pain is probably a lousy idea. It’s not the job of anybody here to hold the hand of a writer who was unaware that she was supporting an argument used to justify the killing of a subjugated group. So yeah, I’m cool with that.

        3. Donna L
          Donna L June 6, 2013 at 2:43 pm |

          A4, instead of broadly condemning everybody who’s commented her, including the many people (like me) who did not remotely insult the OP — and instead of using extremely insulting language yourself — please be specific. If you want to cite particular comments that you find abusive, please post the links to those specific comments.

          I really do wonder sometimes if you used to be DLL.

        4. A4
          A4 June 6, 2013 at 3:18 pm |

          Wonder no longer. I was DLL.

        5. Donna L
          Donna L June 6, 2013 at 3:25 pm |

          Well, it didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure that out — what were the chances, after all, that there would be two people here, one after the other, with what appeared to be precisely the same self-described background?

        6. A4
          A4 June 6, 2013 at 3:46 pm |

          For the record, I emailed Jill and informed her that this was the case, since I was banned for being an asshat as DLL.

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 3:53 pm |

          Wonder no longer. I was DLL.

          Oh.

    4. Donna L
      Donna L June 6, 2013 at 2:06 pm |

      I agree that making laws that say any type of lie or ommission of fact that might make the person retro-actively want to revoke consent does not make all previously consented to sex acts rape. I am willing to entertain this as an idea, I think it IS abuse, but I think community response to abusive relationships is going to be more effective (sometimes even if there WAS sexual assault or rape involved).

      If I’m reading you correctly, you are, in fact, saying that a trans woman having sex (without disclosing her history) with someone who would claim after the fact that they wouldn’t have had sex with her had they but known, constitutes “abuse.” And that the same is true of someone who has sex with an anti-Semite without disclosing their Jewish background. Or has sex with a racist without disclosing their race. It’s all “abuse” according to you — all retroactively, and all without regard to whether the person claiming abuse actually said anything in advance such as “I sure hope you’re not a trans woman, or a Jew, because I would never have sex with someone like that.” Because if someone deciding that they were sexually abused (or raped) is entirely subjective, without any limit (of reasonability or otherwise) on what constitutes a “material lie” or “material non-disclosure” on which the deceived person can reasonably rely, then that’s the logical conclusion of what you appear to be saying.

      Of course the OP’s situation was awful, and almost as bad a case of deception as one could imagine — although not quite as bad, since nothing the OP said shows that “William,” who was clearly and incredibly reckless, actually knew that he was infected with the HPV virus or deliberately tried to transmit it to her. But please tell me how that justifies advocating new criminal laws making “sex by deception” a crime (or the basis for a civil lawsuit seeking emotional distress damages), whether it would be called rape or something else. Please tell me how that would not amount to criminalizing infidelity by anyone who ever either affirmatively promised fidelity, or failed to disclose an intention to be unfaithful (or actual acts of infidelity). Please tell me how that would not amount to making it a criminal act for any trans woman to have sex without “disclosing.”

      In other words, please tell me where and how you it would be possible to draw the line between criminal and non-criminal “sex by deception,” without imposing some sort of “reasonability” standard as to what facts about their history or conduct someone must disclose prior to having sex, in order to avoid criminal charges after the fact if it turns out that such undisclosed facts were a “dealbreaker” to the person later claiming deception. And how is it possible to impose a reasonability standard if it really is up to each person to decide whether they were deceived, abused, or raped, and whether they would or wouldn’t have consented to sex had they known the facts at issue?

      Nobody in this thread, so far as I remember, has suggested that what happened to the OP wasn’t horrible. But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t allowed to talk about unintended consequences, when the OP actually proposes extending the scope of the criminal laws to encompass sex by deception. Why are you giving primacy to the OP’s feelings over the feelings of people who could actually suffer great harm from what she proposes? Especially since the OP apparently never even considered the actual consequences of what she proposes? People can’t be angry about that?

      I assume that the very purpose of posting what the OP wrote was to generate discussion about what she advocates, not simply to generate expressions of sympathy for the awful thing that happened to her. For better or worse, Feministe is not intended as a support group, and is not intended as a “safe space” in quite the same way as a place like Shakesville.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 4:00 pm |

        Why are you giving primacy to the OP’s feelings over the feelings of people who could actually suffer great harm from what she proposes? Especially since the OP apparently never even considered the actual consequences of what she proposes? People can’t be angry about that?

        Because apparently starting with “I was abused” is now a pass for proposing whatever horrible shite the subconscious bloodglewoodgles forth.

        And pointing that out is apparently dismissing OP’s victimisation (when I didn’t), claiming OP doesn’t get to identify as a survivor (when I repeatedly said the opposite) or engaging in the horrible horrible crime of deciding what is and isn’t rape…in a thread that invites commenters to decide what is and isn’t rape.

      2. Jane
        Jane June 6, 2013 at 5:05 pm |

        Thanks for bringing these issues up so clearly, Donna.

        Speaking for myself and not the OP, I think there is a distinction between a person disregarding a clear request for condoms or fidelity to avoid exposure to STIs, and the broad application of the term ‘sex by deception’ that’s been talked about in this thread. I am NOT advocating for new laws and have stated many times above that the criminal justice system is designed to target marginalized groups and generally sucks in handling sexualized & relationship violence, so this question is not tied to the OP’s idea of criminalization. My question is about understanding abuse.

        From a power lens, I think it’s clear that protecting one’s identity is a really different animal than putting someone’s health at risk by purposefully ignoring clearly stated boundaries. The former centers on identity and presentation which are fluid, complex, and personal; the latter is about concrete actions done to another. Like, the difference between a person/identity/being and a practice/action/doing. I’m not sure I have the right words, but I would like to be able to separate the two ideas when we talk about it. I think in terms of understanding abuse, it seems like there should be space to examine the specific trauma of exposure to a sexual practice one specifically stated one did not want to do or deliberately having one’s boundaries regarding bodily health violated (i.e. no condom, nonmonogamy, non-disclosure of a known STI, lying about having been tested). I think we should be able to clearly distinguish that intentional and malicious disregard of physical boundaries from the disregard of discriminatory [lacking good vocab here] bias (because of self-preservation or many other reasons) that Donna and others have shown the OP failed to separate out in her generalized statement against ‘deception.’

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 5:22 pm |

          I think in terms of understanding abuse, it seems like there should be space to examine the specific trauma of exposure to a sexual practice one specifically stated one did not want to do or deliberately having one’s boundaries regarding bodily health violated (i.e. no condom, nonmonogamy, non-disclosure of a known STI, lying about having been tested).

          Yes, absolutely. I’ve only ever heard the term “betrayal trauma” used to cover this, and that’s so vague as to be somewhat worthless (what betrayal? what does that look like? etc).

          I guess part of the problem is that people seem to so rarely actually vocalise the terms of marriage, relationships, etc, that there’s no social framework for support for someone who’s been betrayed in such a way (aside from pre-nups, which are so not what I’m talking about here) unless it’s infidelity. Drugs, alcohol, smoking, wev – those can be betrayals too, like financial stuff, childcare stuff. I wish there were a better way to discuss betrayal within relationships, because it seems like some kinds of betrayals are very gendered, too (I’m thinking of child care and housework breakdowns in straight couples) and it would be useful for several feminist discussions.

      3. Donna L
        Donna L June 6, 2013 at 5:48 pm |

        Jane, thank you for trying to articulate a way in which a line could be drawn, at least in discussing these issues if not in legislating them.

      4. DouglasG
        DouglasG June 6, 2013 at 9:08 pm |

        [If I’m reading you correctly, you are, in fact, saying that a trans woman having sex (without disclosing her history) with someone who would claim after the fact that they wouldn’t have had sex with her had they but known, constitutes “abuse.” And that the same is true of someone who has sex with an anti-Semite without disclosing their Jewish background. Or has sex with a racist without disclosing their race. It’s all “abuse” according to you — all retroactively, and all without regard to whether the person claiming abuse actually said anything in advance such as “I sure hope you’re not a trans woman, or a Jew, because I would never have sex with someone like that.”]

        May I add people bisexually oriented to that group of those who often face issues of disclosure (especially given how easily they “pass”, whether they want to or not)?

        1. Donna L
          Donna L June 6, 2013 at 9:35 pm |

          Thanks for adding that.

      5. rox
        rox June 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm |

        No, I’m not entertaining the idea that withholding information or rape– what I meant was “I’m willing to discuss why you feel that way and think about proposed solutions that might work better than what you proposed”

        I understand you’ve been hurt so it’s natural to want to make sure people aren’t saying things that are dangerous.

        I’ve been hurt and had what I believe are my rights trampled as well and not every commenter here agrees with me that parents deserve the resources to parent their children in a healthy way. I believe their ideas violate my well being in a very real way, and they likely believe my ideas violate their well being. Therefore very real hurt and anger happens in these conversations and that’s ok. What I meant by entertain was..have a discussion about it- hopefully addressing the root problem of abuse in very real ways but that will not result in laws that cause harm for others. The goal post will need to shift from legislation to other solutions, but I don’t think shutting the conversation down entirely because of a bad proposal is productive.

        1. rox
          rox June 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm |

          “withholding information is automatically rape” rather. How the laws deal with different types of coersion and assault is different. I do think putting your partner at risk of std’s is potentially life threatening so it’s the sort of thing I think it’s fair to feel OUGHT to have legal repercussions. The actual discussion of what that might look like is more difficult and complex but, while I don’t think it would fit under rape, I think it’s possible to discuss a possible role of the law in such situations.

          I’m a fan of community responses being a bigger part of abuse situations than the law but the law can help facilitate or hinder that and social policy can facilitate education and frameworks for community involvement… so government and social policy having a role in abuse situations is worth entertaining in my opinion.

  48. Gorb
    Gorb June 6, 2013 at 1:49 pm |

    It would be interesting to take this to a poll of readers.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune June 6, 2013 at 5:50 pm |

      Gorb, I don’t know wtf you want to take to a poll of readers. Everyone, barring A4 and Rox, seem pretty clear that legislating cheating as rape is fucking ridiculous. And if you’re suggesting that we need a poll for deciding if OP was raped or not, that’s fucking disgusting and I will call a giraffe on you.

  49. AnnieD
    AnnieD June 6, 2013 at 7:05 pm |

    I can’t really speak for the American system, but Australian law distinguishes between fraud as to identity (which vitiates consents) and fraud as other things, which does not. This is a standard element of the law on consent, one which is not limited to consent to sex but is also key in consent to contracts.

    The impact of this is that if a stranger walks into your room pretending to be your sexual partner (or more plausibly), someone famous; and you agree to have sex with them because of their identity, you did not consent.

    In contrast, in the case of R v Papadimitriopoulos, a Greek woman who was of strong religious conviction (believing strongly that sex outside of marriage was a sin) and who spoke very little English, was seduced by Papaimitrioupoulos, who took her to sign a form at the registry office and told her they were married, which was a lie. Because he never lied about who he was but merely the facts of their relationship, it was not fraud as to identity and he got off of criminal charges.

    I’m not sure whether the law should be changed on that basis, although I do feel that the victim in Papadimitriopoulos was failed by the law. I don’t think there are any easy answers to this question.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L June 6, 2013 at 7:21 pm |

      It sounds pretty much like the difference between fraud in factum, and fraud in the inducement, in entering into a contract.

      1. AnnieD
        AnnieD June 7, 2013 at 6:43 am |

        And that would be the lingo I’ve forgotten.

  50. BP
    BP June 6, 2013 at 11:22 pm |

    Maybe I was reading this in a different way than others, but I didn’t take it to mean that cheating = rape. Instead, it was the partner’s PATTERN of abusive behavior that added up to a situation in which consent was violated.

    Just like with domestic violence – offhand comments and looks alone don’t constitute abuse, but taken as a whole there are patterns of attempting to control, threaten, intimidate, and manipulate one’s partner. I think it’s about seeing the context and big picture rather than auditing specific acts. If you looked at an incident in isolation it may appear benign in the absence of more information.

    As a survivor of rape I have no problem with the way the OP chose to describe her experiences. Her pain doesn’t somehow trivialize my own pain.

    1. Hrovitnir
      Hrovitnir June 7, 2013 at 1:17 am |

      Ah, but she specifically described him as “having sex with me against my will.” This is pretty problematic; not the idea that she was abused or harmed, but direct equivalence with rape. I still wouldn’t personally want to tell her she’s terribly wrong in her definitions; it’s her life.

      The problem comes where she wants to legislate this. Make law. Laws that hurt people. There are so many reasons that’s a bad idea, but most specifically a law against deception is a law against trans* people, plain and simple. Nope nope nope.

      If there had been laws to protect me from his actions—laws that forbade the use of deception and manipulation to lure someone into dangerous and unwanted sexual situations—perhaps this wouldn’t have happened to me. At the very least, if it had happened, I would have had some legal recourse. As it stands, there is no prosecutorial action I can take regarding his loathsome behavior in the state of Virginia</blockquote

      1. Chris
        Chris June 8, 2013 at 1:13 am |

        “I still wouldn’t personally want to tell her she’s terribly wrong in her definitions; it’s her life.”

        She IS wrong in her definitions. She has a right to her opinions and how she feels, but not to the point of asking government step in and make laws that are based on her personal, and wrong, definitions.

    2. AnnieD
      AnnieD June 7, 2013 at 6:48 am |

      I don’t think that anyone who frequents this blog would call his conduct less than deplorable; but I do have doubts about the extent to which such a precise (though accurate) idea of consent could improve the law.

      A different idea might be changing the mental element of the crime of rape. In most jurisdictions that is the intent to have sex with a person without their consent. If this were changed to a being reckless about whether or not they consented this might gradually permit a more nuanced discussion of consent in the law.

  51. alan
    alan June 7, 2013 at 10:44 am |

    This woman has a good point. But the law is so far away from protecting us. Even in marriage theres no fault divorce. If a woman cheats on her husband, and she divorces him, he is forced to pay for years together, standard of living…plus alimony. The law is a random mix of anachronism and modernity that no one in their right mind would ever come up with on their own. Its a travesty. And no protection for lovers or marriage partners equals less security in a relationship and fewer men willing to commit.

    1. EG
      EG June 7, 2013 at 1:48 pm |

      fewer men willing to commit.

      Horrors. However will I deal with that terrible consequence?

      1. Ledasmom
        Ledasmom June 8, 2013 at 7:24 am |

        Well, really. Just think of all the lovely FNTT contestants who have withdrawn themselves from the marriage market. I’m sure we all feel terribly deprived.

    2. TJ
      TJ June 12, 2013 at 3:52 pm |

      I believed you both are proving his point. Commitment is/must be bi-directional, if not it is a long and painful journey.

  52. Georgia Platts
    Georgia Platts June 7, 2013 at 9:14 pm |

    I really believe that we need to make distinctions between sex and sexual acts that are not truly consensual. Like making distinctions between sex and rape. People blur the two so much, sometimes say they couldn’t tell whether something was sex or rape.

    This adds a whole new dimension to that end. Very thought-provoking.

    Thank you.

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