Until late last Thursday, Armstrong State University's sexual misconduct policy stated that students with disabilities couldn't consent to sexual activity, making any such activity rape.
The policy had been in effect since Sep. 8, 2014, but on Thursday — following questions from the Washington Examiner — the university updated its policy, calling the original wording an error.
Original policy: "In addition, persons under the age of 16 and persons who have a physical and/or mental impairment are unable to give consent."
Updated policy: "In addition, persons under the age of 16 and persons who have a physical or mental impairment and are unable to communicate are unable to give consent." (Changes in bold.)
Deidra Dennie, Armstrong's Title IX coordinator, told the Examiner last Thursday that the original policy had been corrected but had not been uploaded to the website at the time. "I apologize that our website was not kept up to date with the actual policy in circulation," she said.
Allison Hersh, Armstrong's director of marketing and communications, told the Examiner that it was never the university's "intent" to suggest that students with physical disabilities could never consent to sex.
"Our intent was to protect individuals with physical impairments that could prevent them from consenting or denying consent," Hersh told the Examiner. "The intent was not to imply that all physically disabled people are incapable of providing consent." ...
A new app has launched aimed at reducing false allegations of rape by filming consent before having sex.
Users of We-Consent record 20-second clips naming who they're about to have sex with.
The app only works if the camera detects human faces and if both people involved are clearly heard saying "yes".
However, support group Rape Crisis says that although the app has good intentions it "throws up concerns".
Katie Russell, the national spokeswoman for Rape Crisis in England and Wales, told Newsbeat: "Someone saying 'yes' to sex on camera does not necessarily prove that they have given their consent.
"Consent must be fully and freely given by someone with the capacity to do so.
"Video footage might not capture whether someone has been threatened, bullied or intimidated into saying 'yes' to sex and, if they have, then they have not fully or freely given their consent, even if they've said the word 'yes' out loud.
"In an abusive or controlling relationship, someone might be forced or manipulated into being filmed 'consenting' to sex.
"The concept seems to assume and suggest that 'false allegations of rape' are a common problem that young people need to be worried about; they're absolutely not.
"In fact, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has looked carefully at false allegations of rape and concluded that they are 'very rare'."
The most recent CPS study, carried out between January 2011 and May 2012, found there were 121 suspects whose cases involved allegedly false rape complaints.
Of these, 35 were prosecuted, 25 for perverting the course of justice and 10 for wasting police time. ...
Last week over on Raise the Horns Jason has been talking about being a polytheist. It got me to thinking about my own relationship to polytheism. Poly directly translates from the Greek as “many”. In our society “poly” is in opposition to “mono” as a concept. The choice is between one and many. I choose many. In my life there are many gods, many loves, and many choices. My worldview has evolved into one where a diversity of answers is the default, rather than the exception to the rule.
Being a Druid makes polytheism the obvious choice for me, grounded in my theology, personal experience, and the lore left to us by the ancient pagans. I believe in a myriad of Powers and Spirits that exist with us as part of the world in ways that are not always clear, but like Jason and many others, I have come to understand that the gods have agency, or the ability to think, take action, and create as well as the ability to form relationship. In my spirit work I have relationships with many deities and spirits. Some are mentors, some are remote figures like stern distant relatives, some are friends, and sometimes the relationship can become sexual or romantic. I’m not a godspouse, so I can’t speak to that, but I have had intense trance experiences where sexuality was a part of what I did. The thing is, all of these are relationships that have meaning for me. They blend and change over time, just like my relationships in the physical plane.
In my tradition we study ancient proto-Indo-European culture because so many of the gods and goddesses we worship evolved from this linguistic root. We can only know what linguists and archeologists have deduced from the puzzle of common root words and pottery fragments. These people lived long before written language. *Ghosti is one of those words linguists have discovered. When you see an asterisk in front of a word it means that this was never a real word; it’s a word that linguists have created by comparing many related languages. This particular word is really, really old, and seen in many languages all over the Eurasian continent. It is the word from which both “guest” and “host” evolved. It is a word that encapsulates the sacredness of relationship.
*Ghosti has deepened my understanding of all my relations, both with people and with other Beings. All relationship is sacred; in every moment I am both the guest in someone else’s experience and their host in mine. I do not control them, own them, or get to say what they do. Not even my husband.
o now we get to the polyamory. You were waiting for it weren’t you? Some of you, dear readers, were probably envisioning orgies and never ending sex parties, right? It’s okay, I get it. It’s not really like that though. Okay, maybe once in a great while it is. A little bit. Beltane is fun. Now let’s move on.
I’ve identified as polyamorous for most of my adult life. My husband and I have been part of a stable quad relationship for almost three years now. We live and work together. We are raising our kids together. Beyond that there are sometimes lovers outside the quad, and metamors. Those are my lover’s lovers. Often those relationships deepen into good friendships. I have relationships with all these people in one respect or another. ...
Q. My wife and I have an open marriage. Can I be charged with adultery even though she allows me to sleep with other women?
A. Military swingers beware: A spouse's consent to sleep with other men or women will not save you from a conviction on the charge of adultery in violation of Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Adultery, an offense unique to the military, occurs when a service member has sexual intercourse with someone who is not his or her spouse or who is married to someone else. This conduct must be service discrediting or prejudicial to good order and discipline. You'll notice that this offense is triggered by sexual intercourse, regardless of whether it is consensual.
In the 2013 case U.S. v. David J.A. Gutierrez, the appellant, an Air Force technical sergeant, tried to fight an adultery charge by arguing that he and his wife had an open marriage and she consented to his sexual activities outside their union. He argued that "adultery requires a victim spouse and that a spouse who consents is not a victim," according to the U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals.
But the court rejected this argument that a spouse's consent can be used as a defense to an adultery charge. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces earlier this year affirmed Gutierrez's adultery conviction, stating: "Participation of the appellant's wife in the offense is immaterial to the question presented, which is whether the government presented legally sufficient evidence at trial to sustain the conviction."
While a service member cannot count on a spouse's consent to defeat an adultery charge, it could be beaten by showing the sexual affair that grew out of the open marriage was not open or notorious. In the 2012 case U.S. v. Gemayel A. Jones, the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals noted that "although open and notorious conduct may be service discrediting, wholly private conduct is not generally service discrediting."
In that case, the court set aside an adultery specification, finding that the adulterous activities between Jones, an Army specialist, and another junior enlisted soldier who was not his wife, did not have "a divisive or detrimental impact on their units" and there was insufficient evidence showing their relationship was open or notorious. ...
NCSF hopes to collect thousands of signatures and plans to submit our petition in September prior to the next meeting of the American Law Institute which is considering making changes in the Model Penal Code provisions relating to sexual assault.
NCSF has urged the ALI Committee to treat BDSM under a category they define as “sexual contact” even if there is no contact with the breasts or genitals. Under the ALI’s draft proposal, “sexual contact” is not a crime if consent is given for such contact. If consent is not given, sexual contact is a misdemeanor, not a felony. Such treatment of BDSM—as not a crime if consensual and as a misdemeanor if nonconsensual—would be fully consistent with the concept that BDSM is intended to be a mutually pleasurable activity rather than an act of violence. If a rape is committed in a BDSM encounter then it can be prosecuted as felony sexual assault and the fact that BDSM activities were also included will reduce the confusion for prosecutors and courts. Judgment can be made solely in the context of whether there was consent for each act that was committed.
A further benefit of our proposal would be that a person who is injured in a nonconsensual BDSM incident would have the shelter of “rape shield” rules, which prohibit introduction of evidence of prior acts and provides the victim anonymity. This protection applies to complaints in sexual assault cases, but not in criminal assault cases. People who are assaulted in a BDSM context typically choose not to report what happened to the police because they will be outed as kinky by the public court documents and they may even face media exposure if their assailant is charged with criminal assault rather than sexual assault.
But first we need to persuade the ALI to agree with our proposal, or at least something like our proposal.
Petition to the American Law Institute:
Consent should be a Defense for BDSM activities
I urge the American Law Institute in its consideration of proposals to revise the Model Penal Code (MPC) provisions relating to sexual assault, to provide in the MPC that prosecutions arising from BDSM (bondage, discipline, Dominance & Submission and sadomasochism) conduct be pursued as “sexual contact” rather than as criminal assault. I believe this is appropriate because consensual BDSM is intended to be a mutually pleasurable erotic activity and not a violent assault by one person against another. Criminal prosecution may be appropriate if consent is not given, but consent should be allowed as a defense.
National Consent Month embraces the freedom of expression that comes with informed consent.
Join us by dedicating one of your events or workshops during the month of September to consent. Let us know the date of your event, and we'll put it on our calendar and publicize it on our social media.
Get your “Got Consent?” T-shirts, mugs and dog tags in the NCSF shop!
Submit photos of your Consent Month celebration to our Consent Photo Contest. We’ll post the photos and award the winner top billing on our Consent Month website for the rest of the year. You’ll also be featured in an NCSF media campaign about Consent Month.
Consent Month is proudly sponsored by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and the Arizona Power Exchange.
Thank you for celebrating September as Consent Month!
Shoes, catheters, even pacemakers and dacryphilia: academics have made it their duty to study the ever-expanding catalogue of things that turn people on
by Marc Abrahams
On 28 October 2004 we humans took a giant step towards cataloguing all of our sexual fetishes. An Italian/Swedish research team, led by Claudia Scorolli at the University of Bologna, downloaded data from hundreds of online fetish discussion groups and spent the next three years analysing their haul. Then they published a study in the International Journal of Impotence Research: Relative Prevalence of Different Fetishes.
Many fetishes concern body parts, the catalogue reveals. Feet and toes lead the list, followed in order of frequency by body fluids (blood, urine, etc), then body size (slim, stout, short, tall, whatever) and head hair. The least coveted bits by fetishists are nails, nose, ears, neck and, in last place, body odour.
Other fetishes documented centre on objects associated with the body. Stockings, skirts, footwear and underwear are the most popular. The list eventually dribbles out, with some – but few – people erotically craving nappies, hearing aids, catheters and, dead last, pacemakers. Only two people are tallied as having a sexual preference for pacemakers. The catalogue does not specify whether the pacemakers are inside people, or in their boxes, or not.
Psychiatrists also do this kind of research, assaying the range of raunch to decide what – to their professional satisfaction – should be officially considered a fetish. The profession’s bible of treatable and billable conditions, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), must be kept up to date.
In the world of psychiatry, the big name in fetish definition maintenance is Kafka – Dr Martin P Kafka, of McLean hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. In the wake of the Scorolli fetish survey – performed by non-psychiatrists, and thus of questionable use to mind doctors – Kafka published two studies updating the fetish situation for his professional peers.
The Kafka writings appeared in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, in 2010, with the titles The DSM Diagnostic Criteria for Fetishism and The DSM Diagnostic Criteria for Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified.
Paraphilia is a word that some psychiatrists find fascinating. It means “the experience of intense sexual arousal to atypical objects, situations, or individuals”. In the old days, people called it “sexual perversion” or “sexual deviance”. Kafka inspects what he calls the “not otherwise specified” categories of paraphilia: telephone scatologia (obscene phone calls), necrophilia, zoophilia, urophilia, coprophilia and partialism. Google at your own risk. ...
to put your hand on the other person's butt during foreplay? What if you had to
ask again before touching her breast? What if there was a law that said you had
to do this?
In New York, there is now on all college campuses. A bill signed into law July 7 requires both parties to obtain consent for sex and each nibble and caress that sometimes paves the way. The law applies only on college campuses. At its heart is a simple concept: instead of "No Means No," it's "Yes Means Yes."
It switches the dynamic of consent in what could be an empowering way. The hope is that by changing the power structure of the hook-up and making it law, college sexual assaults will decrease. The legislation, proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and called "Enough is Enough," was passed unanimously by the state Legislature.
It's difficult to find fault with the law's goal of reducing sexual assault. But some, including feminists and legal scholars, say laws like New York's overstep, and risk turning into a criminal someone who honestly misread a sexual cue. And the laws ask college students to turn into a contract what is often a fumbling dance for otherwise sophisticated adults.
The law is not a criminal one, but violating it could result in criminal charges, as well as disciplinary action by the school. Colleges in New York have until September of 2016 to comply by re-rewriting their conduct codes and policies.
New York and California are the only states with affirmative consent laws, and they only apply to college campuses. But there is a movement to make the same laws apply for everyone. The American Law Institute, which helps write the nation's criminal codes, is in the process of re-writing the sexual assault penal code to incorporate "Yes Means Yes."
As Lady Gaga penned an essay with Cuomo in Rolling Stone to gain support for New York's college law, two dozen legal scholars, including retired federal Judge Nancy Gertner, wrote a memo warning against the dangers of such laws.
In Syracuse, Mayor Stephanie Miner, a lawyer, refused to sign on as a supporter while Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud penned an op-ed in support of it.
A hook-up contract?
No matter what precautions you take, the hook-up now poses serious legal risks: "You look at the legal system we're building and it's incredible risky to hook up with someone you're not married to," said Peter Lake, director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University in Florida.
"It changes the rules of the game. It gives the game rules," Lake said.
The national push for restrictive rules and laws comes at a time when attitudes and practices around sex are becoming riskier, Lake said.
And the New York and California laws don't address binge drinking on college campuses, except to say that a person cannot give consent if they are under the influence.
Lake and some other legal scholars have said the laws threaten to make it much easier to falsely accuse someone of rape and sexual assault.
Lake said college students are already figuring out the work-around to the rules to avoid being caught up in sexual assault allegations. They've realized that it's much less risky to hook up with someone who doesn't go to your school. "It's hard to investigate on another campus," Lake said.
There is a movement to extend the same consent rules to everyone. The draft sexual assault law being written by the American Law Institute would make sex without express consent a misdemeanor anywhere. The institute, made up of legal scholars and judges, writes draft penal codes that are often adopted by states and the federal government. ...