Wednesday, November 01, 2006

revolting headline of the day.

this is a real headline from a Maryland news outlet:

Court: Women Can't Say No After Start of Sex

hmmm. why is that? is there new research that indicates womens' vocal chords give out upon penetration? a bizarre chemical reaction that happens in our brains at the outset of intercourse that renders us unable to utter words?

oh, right - it's more important for a man to achieve orgasm that for a woman to be able to change her mind.

rebecca traister says:

Consider for a moment what this means: that once intercourse has started, a woman has no legal right to stop it. Not if it hurts, not if it feels wrong, not if something starts going badly. As soon as you say yes and begin the act, your freedom and ability to make and act on your own decisions simply evaporate.

shakes trenchantly observes:

The entire premise of this decision appears to be that women are not active players in the sexual act, but instead consent to turn their bodies over to their partners, who are then free to do with it whatever they please until they're damn well ready to be finished.

there are many things about these kinds of rulings that disturb me, but shakes's point is perhaps the most difficult for people to grasp. because on the whole, the issue of "consent" is an important (and unfortunately necessary) one. but it's difficult, because to focus so minutely on what does and does not constitute consent ends up painting women as passive recepticles of sex, not willing participants. women "consent" to sex, they don't actually "have" it! and that's not the direction in which i want to see sexual attitudes and ethics move.

it's sad that it has to be this way. it's sad that there have to be 50+ letters in response to traister's broadsheet post, with many letter writers not understanding that if we didn't live in a patriarchal society so rife with rape, assault, harassment and hatred towards women, we might not have to argue over these things! we wouldn't have to ask a court to tell a man to honor a woman's right to bodily integrity - and we certainly wouldn't have to watch that court deny it to her.


Anonymous said...

It's news like this that makes me really feel ill. I cannot believe that we live in a society where this kind of thing can still happen. It's like racism or poverty - how can we think we're such a great world power with such backward views?

Heather said...

Hi, Kate! Thanks for commenting on my blog entry about Time Limits on Rape. I left a fairly lengthy reply there, but just to summarize -- I agree that this is a bad idea, and not just for women but for men, as well.