Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Is the "affirmative consent" law going to cause rape and sexual assault to be taken less seriously?

There's a good but poorly spelled article in Reason with this headline:

Half of MIT Students Think It's Possible to "Accidently" Rape Someone (Thanks, Affirmative Consent!)
Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes:
Folks from President Obama to swearing 5-year-olds princesses have been citing a statistic that 20 percent of women on college campuses, or one in five, will be sexually assaulted while there—a stat that has also been routinely debunked. However, a new sexual assault survey from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—one of the first schools to release broad data on campus sex crimes—seems to corroborate everyone's favorite sketchy stat. . . .

But students are confused about how alcohol and intoxication affect consent, which perhaps speaks to increasing progressive activism around the idea that drunk people can't give consent. Only about three-quarters of respondents said they feel confident in their own ability to judge whether someone is too intoxicated to consent to sex. And more than half agreed that "rape and sexual assault can happen unintentionally, especially if alcohol is involved."

I just want to repeat that one more time: Half of the MIT students surveyed think it's possible to "accidently" rape someone. When you consider undergraduates alone, this rises to 67 percent.

This is what we get when people push an idea that rape is really often a matter of consent confusion or a drunken misunderstanding and not something that one person (the rapist) intentionally does to another. This is exactly what those of us opposed to affirmative consent standards mean when we worry about it muddying the waters of consent and confusing the definition of rape. About a fifth of female undergraduates and a quarter of male undergraduates surveyed agreed that "when someone is raped or sexually assaulted, it’s often because the way they said 'no' was unclear or there was some miscommunication."
The supposedly progressive new law may actually cause us to retrogress.

As for the spelling: an adverb is based on an adjective, not a noun. Thus, "accidentally," the adverb, is based on "accidental," the adjective, not the noun "accident."


CatherineM said...

Thank you for posting this thoughtful article.