Ezekiel Gilbert contracted for services with Lenora Ivie Frago, an escort he found on Craigslist. At the end of their Christmas Eve engagement, he paid her her $150 fee, and she walked out — which angered him, because he’d assumed that sex was included as part of the package. Gilbert shot Frago in the neck, paralyzing her; she died of her injuries seven months later. His defense before the courts? That his actions were justifiable because she was stealing the $150 — and under Texas law, he was acquitted....read more
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—and I’m not sure I could take such action anywhere else, either. But we can’t let the subtlety of this issue of consent confuse us from recognizing it as the violation it most certainly is. 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.
People lie all the time. There is no law against it. But lying becomes criminal when it is used to coerce others into sexual acts. “Why is deception tolerated in the context of sex? What protection does society provide to a person’s sexual integrity…? 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)....read more
This piece in the Times about sex workers who testified on behalf of their pimps in a sex trafficking case is… interesting. It touches on too many complex issues for me to do it justice in a blog post without having read the trial transcript or knowing much of the background, but a few thoughts:...read more
Having a product called “Sexcereal” is funny enough.
Seriously promoting it as being full of foods that make you sexy is funny enough.
Having different versions of it for men and women is funny enough.
But honestly, the folks behind Sexcereal are in the wrong business. Hollywood pays big bucks for people who can be this hilarious:...read more
Of course, some of you reading this are bisexual. So am I. But for those who aren’t, you may be wondering how to be our allies. Here are some suggestions (by the way, if any other bisexuals have suggestions they’d like to add, please feel free to say so in the comments.)...read more
Caperton covered the Elizabeth Smart speech about abstinence already, and my Guardian column this week is on a similar topic: How an emphasis on purity is bad for women, bad for men and bad for rape survivors:...read more
This weekend’s New York Times Magazine features Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin, and details how they’re rebuilding their marriage and Weiner’s political career in the wake of his boner-photo tweet scandal. I wrote about it in my Guardian column this week, and more broadly the script that politicians follow when caught cheating: Lie, then admit, then apologize with wife in tow, then stage a come-back. And sure, sometimes (often) we should forgive them because their stupid personal flaws don’t impact their ability to govern. But also, I’d like to see political wives have more options. People stay in marriages for all sorts of reasons, and staying in the relationship after an affair isn’t necessarily a bad or wrong choice; none of us are inside these marriages, so we have no idea. But it would be nice if there were more acceptable public models:...read more
Over at Al Jazeera, I’m writing about the evolution of American laws on rape and sexual assault. Over the decades, sexual assault law and jurisprudence have changed along with the status of women; the law has both reflected the culture and helped to move it forward. In light of that, perhaps it’s time for another shift in the law, to a model of affirmative consent:...read more
A whole lot of people, as it turns out. This week at the Guardian I’m writing about the Commission on the Status of Women, a two-week-long UN conference that wrapped up on Friday and, thankfully, resulted in a signed document pledging action on women’s rights. But in the lead-up to the signing, we saw a variety of actors from all around the world try to impede anti-violence efforts. Who? Russia, Iran, the Vatican, the Muslim Brotherhood and American pro-life groups, among others. They had a variety of objections, but the chief ones were that the proposed CSW document would treat husbands who rape their wives the same way as men who rape strangers, would disallow countries from using the “it’s our culture / religion / tradition” excuse to avoid implementing anti-violence measures, and stated that women have a right to bodily integrity and freedom:...read more
When school districts treat trans and gender-nonconforming kids as “different,” requiring that they use special bathrooms, is it any surprise when the other kids follow suit?...read more
I’m writing in Al Jazeera today about how the fight over the Violence Against Women Act exemplifies the increased extremism of the Republican party. A bit:...read more
Teri James was fired from her job as a financial aid specialist at San Diego Christian College for being unmarried and pregnant. Clarification: She was fired because the pregnancy was evidence that she had “engaged in activity outside the scope of the Handbook and Community Covenant that does not build up the college’s mission” — namely, premarital sex....read more