Unconscious women are sexually unavailable women

Posted on June 10, 2011


Consent ruling sends a welcome and clear message.  Mostly:

The majority in the 6-3 decision, written by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and joined by the other three female and two male justices, ruled against the idea of “advance consent” to sexual assault. They properly concluded there can be no consent in law when a woman is unconscious.

The three dissenting justices argued that it would further women’s right to autonomy to create a new doctrine of “advance consent,” so that unconscious women can have “sexual adventures.”

But can unconscious women enjoy sexual pleasure or exercise autonomy? Unconsciousness is the very antithesis of autonomy. At the very least, this view represents an impoverished understanding of “autonomy.” It is also terribly abstracted from the reality of women’s lives, in which the sexual assault of women who are unconscious, whether from intoxication, medications, episodic disability or other causes, is a serious and widespread social problem.

unconscious sexual adventures sounds like an excuse for rape.  A really fucking lame one, too.  Those three male judges seriously need to educate themselves on the realities of violence against women, especially in cohabitating situations.  I think this article does a great job of outlining that issue.  Also, another reason Canada is awesome:

The law of consent, on the books for over 20 years, was enacted by Parliament with suggestions and support from a broad base of women’s organizations. It addresses the pervasiveness of sexual assault and aims to protect women from sexual violence.  The requirement that consent be conscious, continuing, contemporaneous with the sexual activity and revocable at any point, is a cornerstone of this legislation...including the requirement that men take “reasonable steps to ascertain consent.”

emphasis mine. Imagine having that kind of protection.  Especially in college.  It’s comprehensive, it doesn’t allow for loopholes (mostly) AND it puts responsibility on the men instead of assuming that men should be able to put as much pressure as they want while the woman has to literally say “no no no” to the point of throwing him off of her (I wonder how this plays out in queer relationships). Anyway, it gives me hope.  At least some countries are (apparently) trying to protect their women while also shifting the focus of whose responsibility it is to keep them safe.