Aileen Coe objects to the confusion of no and yes in this week’s Sophian, the Smith College student newspaper. A Maryland court recently overturned a rape conviction because the victim initially consented. Her subsequent withdrawal of consent was not considered sufficient to sustain the conviction. Coe quotes the court as saying,
“It was the act of penetration that was the essence of the crime of rape; after this initial infringement upon the responsible male’s interest in a woman’s sexual and reproductive functions, any further injury was considered to be less consequential. The damage was done…”It’s situations like this that make us concerned about the non-consensual content in porn magazines sold by Capital Video and porn magazines like Strictly Speaking Spanking (sold by Bookends). Some people appear to be pretty confused about what “no” means.
[The court, according to Coe,] goes on to say that a woman can never be “re-flowered,” citing that as another reason that “the damage has already been done.” While there’s nothing that can completely erase the pain of rape once it’s happened, further physical injury can be prevented if the rapist stops… Additionally, rape is about power and violence, not sex, as that argument seems to imply.
Why is the meaning of “no” even debated in cases like this? And is this the start of a slippery slope? Will “no” eventually cease to actually mean anything, to have no power? No means no and rape is rape, regardless of when it is said or for what reason.