CommunityPam's House Blend

Ladies, rape ain't rape in Maryland if you initially said "yes"

As a straight dude, I was inculcated with two opposing theories of female sexual response. One theory, advocated by sane, sensible humans with a modicum of ethics, states that “No means no”, and that applies even if at first she said “yes” but later on realized she didn’t like it and then said “no”. Sure, it leads to the proverbial “blue balls” and sometimes we guys get very frustrated and take it very personally when we hear that “no”, but hey, tough luck fella, she changed her mind – get thee some Jergens and Kleenex and deal with it.

The other theory is that old saw about how “her mouth says ‘no’ but her eyes say ‘yes'”, usually accompanied by “girls want a manly man to ‘take’ them”. It’s a long tradition in many primitive societies and religions that when Tarzan wants Jane, he just takes her, but most of us with IQs above room temperature and hearts bigger than an acorn realize that those pretty humans with the soft skin and appealing mammalian protuberances* are people, too, deserving of respect and bodily sovereignty.

Well, that old theory is alive and well in Maryland today, where an appellate court has ruled that once a woman has said “yes” and the man has penetrated her, she can’t revoke her consent. “No” only means no before insertion, I guess. The feminist blogs are going nuts over this (I’m not sure if that’s a pun or not, but pardon it anyway). Here’s the review from The Happy Feminist, with my own emphasis:

Yesterday a mid-level state appellate court in Maryland interpreted Maryland’s common law in such a way as to preclude women from withdrawing consent to sex after penetration has occurred. The court itself admits that this ruling is predicated on ancient views of women as chattel whose value is lost upon penetration, rather than independent human beings whose suffering matters. The court took the position, however, that under the law of stare decisis (the obligation of a court to follow precedent), only the Maryland Supreme Court or the legislature could alter this outcome.

The case is Baby v. Maryland, __ A.2d ___ (Md.App. 2006). According to the young woman’s testimony, the defendant asked to have sex with her and she consented on the condition that he would stop when she told him to. She testified that the penetration hurt “so I said stop and that’s when he kept pushing it in and I was pushing his knees to get off me.” After she told him to stop, he continued to “keep pushing it in” for about “five or so seconds.”

For reasons that I won’t get into in this post, the prosecution’s theory in this case was that the whole situation was coerced and that her consent was not freely given in the first place. The jury, however, asked this question during their deliberations: “If a female consents to sex initially and during the course of the sex act to which she consented, for whatever reason, she changes her mind and the man continues until climax, does the result constitute rape?”

The trial court declined to answer the question other than to refer the jury back to the original jury instructions, which did not specifically address this concern. The jury convicted the defendant and the defendant appealed. The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland held that the trial court erred by failing to answer the jury’s question. The court further held that there is no rape under Maryland law if the woman consents to sex prior to penetration and then withdraws the consent after penetration. I should note that this interpretation of the law would apply regardless of whether the man kept thrusting for five seconds or ten minutes after the woman said to stop.

Why is it that I have this mental picture of certain GOP congresscritters scanning the multiple listing services for new homes in Bethesda?

Here’s an odd bit of trivia – Maryland’s State Motto:

Motto: “Fatti maschii parole femine,” loosely translated “manly deeds, womanly words,” but more accurately translated as “strong deeds, gentle words.”

They may need to change that to “Manly deeds, womanly words don’t mean squat.”

* “It’s wet t-shirt night!” — God, I miss Frank Zappa.

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