From the New York Times (my emphasis):
STOCKHOLM — “Sex must be voluntary — if it is not, then it is illegal.”
This is the straightforward language of a new Swedish law set to change the way rape and other sexual crimes are prosecuted in the country.
It is the first law in the country that acknowledges sex without explicit consent as rape
I normally don’t write about this topic, but this law shocked me, at least as reported by the New York Times. This post is about legislation and how it’s written.
According to the Swedish government’s page, “The responsibility of men and boys must be clarified.” According to the director of an organization that promoted the legislation, “We need men to understand that if he is unsure, he should either ask or just not go there. We have a saying in Sweden: ‘If she is lying still, it is not her will.’”
They aren’t distinguishing between men and rapists. Shouldn’t they say, “the responsibility of everyone must be clarified,” and “we need people to understand that if they are unsure…”? What if a man is lying still?
You might say, “But rape is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men on women.”
This law seems to legislate otherwise: if “sex without explicit consent is rape,” since I don’t remember the women I’ve had sex with asking me for explicit consent, let alone getting it, including ones who escalated, Sweden seems to be calling them rapists, making me a rape victim or survivor.
While I don’t know if the behavior of women I’ve had sex with represent women’s behavior in general, the article and government page don’t seem to consider that men may not be consenting or that many women aren’t seeking consent.
Since the New York Times says that the country acknowledges, not legislates or defines but acknowledges, this situation, the New York Times seems to agree, though I suppose you could read the reporting in other ways.
Laws apply how you write them
I’m not trying to be clever, split hairs, or belittle serious crime here. I support justice for rape as much as anyone. Whatever someone’s intent, though, laws apply as written, not as hoped. This law appears to grant the government a lot more power to imprison many people beyond the rapists they want to. That’s dangerous. And moving edges doesn’t make edge cases go away, it just moves them.
It looks to me like associating rapists with men led people to extending the definition to include behavior that women do by default, at least in my experience. I think many people take for granted that men want and therefore consent to sex by default. Obviously we don’t.
Are they prepared that many men will now be rape victims by law, at least as the Times reported?
If you agree with the law but think I’m making light of something, would you be belittling a rape survivor, at least according to this law as reported? Or would you say that the times I didn’t give consent weren’t as meaningful as others? Is that not distinguishing some rapes as more valid or real than others?
Alternatively, if you think my experience doesn’t make me a survivor, would you not also oppose this law, at least as reported?
Have I misinterpreted?
If I’ve misinterpreted something, as I hope I have, I welcome corrections.
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