The Sexual Offences Act 2003 declared that consent must be ‘active, not passive’; in rape cases, consent is now taken to mean agreement rather than the absence of a refusal. So if a woman goes along with sex, but doesn’t make it explicitly clear that she is actively consenting to it, it can be deemed to be rape. The government has even moved towards ensuring that no agreement can be taken as consent if it is given under the influence of alcohol. As Cavendish pointed out: ‘In our zeal to protect women, are we going to legislate so that a drunken man is accountable for his deeds, but a drunken woman is not? Why do we encourage women to see themselves as victims?’ Absolving women who engage in sexual liaisons – whether drunk or sober – of responsibility for their actions is not liberating; it’s demeaning.
Yet rape is difficult to prosecute precisely because it is, sometimes, a matter of his word against hers. There are often no witnesses and little circumstantial evidence, particularly in cases of acquaintance rape. It is very difficult to establish the truth in rape cases, but that does not mean that truth should have no bearing on the outcome of a rape case in court.
Yet, with the blessing of the government and various feminists, some important legal safeguards have been eroded in rape cases and the burden of proof has been reversed. Rather than the prosecutor having to prove that the woman did not consent, the defendant now must prove that the woman did consent.
Women are done no favours by these changes. They are being treated as feeble dimwits who have constantly to be asked for their consent, to be checked on every step of the way to make sure they’re okay. It is curious that self-described feminists are propounding such a paternalistic view of women as unable to make their own minds up, as too weak and silly to say ‘no’ to men, and as putting themselves at risk by drinking and flirting and potentially knocking out their critical faculties, leading them to wake up in a strange bed without having first given their ‘active consent’.
Nathalie Rothschild is an international correspondent for spiked. Visit her personal website here.
Innocent men go to prison for many years due to the perversion of due process at court. Since they rarely could prove their innocence, many even plead guilty in exchange for a shortened prison term.
Half of the population is denied the basic right of the defendant which used to be the rockbed of modern jurisdiction and our understanding of justice, namely the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven.
So what, thinks little Nathalie. Why should I care – I’m a woman, hear me roar about how demeaning this is to women!