Friday, May 2, 2008

Intentional sex torts: fraud as rape

Deanna Pollard Sacks has a short article up on Feminist Law Profs about the state of "intentional sex torts"*, specifically the increase of currency in the idea that fraudulent inducement of sex is rape.

While I wholeheartedly support that principle of not having sex with anyone who's not totally interested in having sex with you, I wasn't aware fraud-as-rape had been codified anywhere in the U.S.; apparently it's the law in four states (Alabama, California, Michigan and Tennessee, a motley group to be sure) and may soon be the law in Massachusetts. I haven't checked out the actual statutes, so I don't know what the standard for fraudulent inducement is; I suspect it's still a pretty high bar.

I have a minor quibble with this bit, though:

Thankfully, this mentality appears to be dying out. In a world filled with dangerous sexual diseases, it is particularly important to protect women’s rights to protect their own bodies, not just against physical violence, but against fraudulent inducement of sexual decisions and all of the dangerous consequences that can result from a lack of truly informed consent to sexual relations.

I think the focus on STDs and "dangerous consequences", while it might win short-term support, is counterproductive. It's not wrong because your partner can get sick or pregnant, it's wrong because it's a violation of basic autonomy.

* (I don't know why she uses that phrase, when what we're dealing with is apparently criminal law, not civil.)

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