On Thursday judge in Mass. ruled that the only valid definition of rape under that state’s law is if sex is forced. Or as this (rather inflamatory and sexist) ABC News story put it, “by force and against [the] will” of a victim. In the controversial case a woman who lived with her boyfriend says she was tricked into having sex with his brother. The brother (Alvin Suliveres, age 44) sneaked into her room while her boyfriend was at work in January 2005 but she mistakenly thought it was her boyfriend. It wasn’t until after the two had sex that she realized the man was not her boyfriend.
Now, I am not a genius, but isn’t being tricked into having sex or having sex under false pretenses a fraudulent activity? Wouldn’t that constitute having sex against your will? No, the court based its decision on a 1959 ruling which said fraud cannot replace force in rape cases.
But how might this be extrapolated out to further hurt rape victims? Is sex with a woman who is passed out on a date-rape-drug-laced cocktail fraud or force? What about so-called “date rape,” which is really just a nice way of saying raped by someone you know (as the majority of cases are)? What’s to stop a clever serial rapist from using this precendent to his/her advantage? Could this be used to justify sexual assault on sex workers?
Honestly, sometimes I think there’s no end to the ways our society tries to capture my autonomy. In Mass. I can’t decide if I was raped or not (that’s court territory there , little lady). According to the Supreme Court I’m too stupid to know what to do with my uterus (at least when there’s a baby inside). If I lived in Texas (or is that Nevada?), it would be futile to lobby for a bill that gets girls the HPV vaccine.
What’s next? Actually, I take that back. I don’t want to know.