Thursday, June 13, 2013

Another angle against consent

I'm a critic of consent-based rape laws and ordinances, as they monstrously assume that all sex is rape until proven otherwise. I recently stumbled across an essay from Jeremy Stangroom that defuses consent requirements from a different angle. He asks what about a sober person who says they will only want to engage in sexual activity if they become intoxicated:

Look, Aeneas, I want to want to have sex with you, but I never actually want sex unless I'm drunk. It's the only way I can relax, and if I can't relax, then I can't get aroused, which means I won't enjoy it. But hey, I'll start drinking now, and hopefully there will come a point where I'll be relaxed enough to allow us to go ahead. But you must realize that I'm not consenting right now to have sex with you later. I'm simply telling you that I'm choosing to drink now in the hope that I will come to want sex later on, and I'm letting you know that my intoxicated consent - if I come to give it - will be genuine consent. 
Dido starts drinking, and eventually tells Aeneas that she's ready to have sex with him. Aeneas, though, is worried, because although Dido is cogent enough, and appears to know her own mind (which means there is no legal impediment here), there's no doubt she's more than a little drunk. Normally, he would decline to have sex under such circumstances, but he wonders whether it makes a difference that she has deliberately ingested alcohol in order to get in the mood for sex. In other words, should he take Dido's consent to be valid even though she is intoxicated?

There is something obviously puritanical about forbidding two adults from engaging in a private sexual act with one another simply because it upsets your own personal morals. Yet, that is exactly what consent crusaders are doing, whether they realize it or not.

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