The Narrow Window When No Means No

Jessica finds what she describes as "perhaps one of the scariest rulings I've ever seen," and I totally agree:

An appellate court said Maryland's rape law is clear -- no doesn't mean no when it follows a yes and intercourse has begun.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Special Appeals Monday threw out a rape conviction saying that a trial judge in Montgomery County erred when he refused to answer the jury's question on that very point.

The appeals court said that when the jury asked the trial judge if a woman could withdraw her consent after the start of sex, the jury should have been told she could not. The ruling said the law is not ambiguous and is a tenet of common-law.
This is truly, deeply disturbing. As Jessica says: "So ladies, once it's in, it's in. Ain't nothing you can do about it. Changed your mind? Suck it up. He's hurting you? Oh, sorry -- should have thought of that before. After all, it's not like your body is yours or anything." Patently absurd. What kind of FUBAR ethical paradigm allows someone to argue that consent to have sex means you cannot change your mind if you're being hurt or forced to do something you don't want to do or any one of a number of other reasons, including just not bloody enjoying it?

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. Feministing commenter Thomas says: "They have made a policy choice that a man has a right to orgasm once intercourse begins and that this right supercedes a woman's right to decide who gets to be within the boundaries of her own body. That is a policy choice that cannot be justified except as bareknuckled patriarchy." Absolutely spot-on.

(Crossposted at AlterNet PEEK.)

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