Okay, there’ve been some ugly threads on this topic of late, and I have no intention of simply providing another forum for the fighting. But there’s been one point, made repeatedly, that I have to challenge: several posters have reacted skeptically to any definition of rape that reaches beyond the standard conception of violent, forcible penetration. In particular, these posters–I can dig up the cites if y’all like–have played down the notion that diminished capacity (due to alcohol, say) might lead to rape by saying, “Well, what if they’re both drunk? Would they be raping each other?” Far be it for me to contest this sparkling display of rhetorical skill–every time I read this, however, I have a fairly simple thought that might cut through the bullshit regarding whether some act of less-than-perfectly-consensual sex was or was not rape:
If the person initiating sex knows or should reasonably know that his/her partner probably wouldn’t or doesn’t want to be engaging in the activity, this is rape. This should be a no-brainer. So two drunk college kids, their judgment equally impaired–not rape if the guy knew no better than the girl. A drunk college guy deliberately taking advantage of a passed-out college girl (“taking advantage” signifying, by definition, a perceived opportunity to do something they might not otherwise be able to)–how can this not be rape? Same thing goes for potential instances of relationship rape: if a husband doesn’t think his wife wants to have sex at a given moment but has sex with her anyway, this is rape.
Does this definition help clarify at all? Is it pernicious in ways that I’m not at the moment seeing?