Let’s talk about sex, because we need to. If the state defines rape as sex that is forced, coerced and/or not consensual, then there is an implication that some kind of sexual interaction that is forced or coerced could ever be considered consensual, when it’s not. The second that sex becomes coerced or forced, it becomes an act of power, which we know, whether we’re willing to admit it or not, isn’t sex. It’s rape.
To put this in plain terms, coerced could be persuasive language, encouragement of alcohol or other altering substances, etc. (Regardless of what you believe, if one or more parties have even an ounce of alcohol in them, they are not legally able to give consent. Meaning that if they press charges for sexual assault the next day or within the next year, the they have every right to do so, and their assault should not be thought of as any less of a case than someone else’s.)
So to say that sex could maybe be coerced and consensual at the same time is this not far-off idea that casual sex and even relationship sex in today’s world has become more about power than about a consensual act between people.
If you still don’t agree, think about the first time you had sex. If you are a heterosexual male, you probably “got in her pants” “hit it” or “got laid” in any case, gained or took something from your sexual partner.
On the other hand, if you are a heterosexual female, you “gave it up,” put out,” or “lost your virginity.” Why is it that generally, men are thought to gain something through sex while women are assumed to lose a piece of themselves?
After talking to people on my campus, the majority of male students I talked to didn’t realize that the above situations were even considered rape and expressed the belief that any women who would make that claim would only be doing so as an act of revenge.
The truth of the matter is that the reporting process, on college campuses especially, is a stressful, triggering and often unsuccessful process for the survivors. There is no excuse that victims of sexual assault should be suffering because of the ignorance of a misogynistic general population.
(Some of the ideas and facts in this post are based off of the text in Catharine A. MacKinnon’s book “Toward a Feminist Theory of the State).