Several weeks back, I wrote about a new NSW, Australia rape law proposal that would use the affirmative consent standard — an absence of no does not mean yes — and no longer allow the intoxication of one or both parties to be used as a defense in court. The NSW Bar Association, apparently believing in an extremely misogynist system, argued against the bill, saying that it would “turn our sons into criminals.” When really, it would just send your son who actually is a rapist to jail.
Anyway, the good news is that despite all the “criticism” (which basically amounts to “do you realize this will make it illegal to fuck unconscious women????”), the law is going into effect on January 1st. No, the Bar Association hasn’t stopped their fear-mongering and profuse rape apologism. They’re still whining that “a person accused of rape could be found guilty under the new laws even if they honestly believed there had been consent.”
So basically, men in NSW can no longer legally “believe” there has been consent with absolutely no basis for doing so. Unless they want to risk rape charges, they now actually have to make sure that the women they’re fucking want to fuck them back. They’ll have to do horrible things like communicate with their sexual partners and stop to find out what’s wrong when a woman is not actively engaging with and responding to their advances. They’ll be forced to ruin the romance by saying totally unsexy things like “do you want me?” and “do you like that?” instead of just shoving it in and grunting and thrusting away like there’s not another person there.
In short, a legislative body has finally decided that men deserve to be held to the standards of basic ethics and humanity. And a large section of men are mightily upset about that.
But I’m very pleased with the parliament members of the Australian state in which I used to live. With other current problems with the Australian legal system’s treatment of rape victims, it’s a welcome relief.
I can only hope that the new law will be actively promoted. It really could be turned into a great anti-rape/rape awareness campaign, telling men who sadly need to be told what actually qualifies as rape and encouraging women to report because the chances that they will be believed have increased. I hope like hell that the law will be a success and other governments will feel encouraged to apply the same standards. And if I allow myself to be truly optimistic, I can dream that eventually — not over night, but over many years — this new legal definition of rape will change public attitudes towards women, sex and consent, that it will wake people up to the “she was asking for it” myths and destroy their faith in them.
I know, it’s a crazy long-shot. But please, let me feel hopeful that this world can change and people can be better . . . if only for today.