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No means no, always

Dec 23, 2010 No means no, always

I am a big believer in sexual freedom in terms of freedom to engage in truly consensual sexual activity between and among adults, and the freedom to decline to do so. I believe strongly in abolishing laws criminalizing adult prostitution, and favor a harm reduction approach for sex workers that focuses on eliminating the harm of prostitution laws and on empowering sex workers against abusive pimps and customers and that provides them alternative paths to earning a living when and if they so wish.

Again and again we see the prosecution risks that arise from sexual activity going beyond the framework of a monagamous relationship to the point that this outrageous video has some truisms, with lawyers standing at the ready to ink a consent deal before a couple on a date engages in sex.

In criminal law, no means no. Legions may be the variations on the theme of aroused men (the genders can be interchangeable) visiting the homes of women they are interested in, with the woman closing the actual or proverbial door, with the man sticking his foot in the closing door, and sexual activity ensuing, sometimes non-consensual, sometimes consensual, and sometimes unclear which one is happening.

With the criminal law in this day and age: 

– The foot should not be placed in the closing door.

– No needs to be taken as no, always. Moreover, It is wise to assure there is a clear "yes" — lest there be fearful acquiescence — that is not later negated by any "no".

– Statutory rape is a strict liability crime, whether or not the underage person looked over-age or provided a false identification.

A recent appellate case underlining the no-means-no principle is from Maryland’s highest court, which yesterday ruled that a conviction for a second degree sex offense does not require physical force, but can instead involve, for instance, proceeding with oral sex after being told no. Maryland v. Mayers, ___ Md. ___ (Dec. 22, 2010).

To some people, the foregoing blog entry may seem obvious common sense. This article speaks to everyone else, and to those whose common sense is dulled when drunk or influenced by other drugs. 

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