Via Unfogged:

Gregg Easterbrook suggests that, since “No” so often means “Yes,” women should say “This is rape!” to make men stop, you know, raping them. Dahlia Lithwick bends him over and spanks him.

I’m with Easterbrook on this one. Because law–and to an extent, social mores generally–is often shaped by extreme cases, we’re getting dangerously close to the point where “rape” is being applied to cases where consensual sex has taken place and the woman regrets it the next morning.

Lithwick’s argument that “This is rape” could evolve into the same slippery slope is technically true but quite unlikely. Women are unlikely to employ the word “rape” as coy sexual banter and it’s certainly unlikely to spur on men of any moral decency. Moreover, it properly shifts the burden to the party removing consent from an otherwise obviously consensual situation.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. JC says:

    I think these slippery slope arguments are pretty transparent.

  2. Meezer says:

    I agree to a great extent. I am a woman who fears that ‘rape’ is going to be denatured. These two scenarios are not equivalent: 1) A woman attacked in a parking lot by a man who tears her clothes, hits her with his fists, and says that he will kill her if she doesn’t cooperate. 2) A woman that gets schnookered along with her date and makes very poor *choices* and regrets it during the act or later.
    And the slippery slope is coming along nicely. Today (yep, this very day) I had to take a Psch test (college) where the correct answer to “What percentage of college women have been raped?” was 60%. That was in the textbook.

  3. Meezer says:

    I mean I agee with James.

  4. I’m tremendously conflicted about the whole thing. In the past, the burden of proof has been on the woman to prove that a rape occurred at all–and that certainly wasn’t fair.

    Likewise, there was no such thing as “date rape,” or any kind of right to remove consent after once granting it. This meant that, for instance, a man could force anal sex on a woman because she had agreed to standard intercourse.

    I don’t happen to believe that it’s ideal for the woman to be able to withdraw consent [pun intended] in the middle of the act. After all, we all know that five seconds before orgasm, the male would needy tremendous resolve to pull out.

    But if the penetration is too rough and painful, or the man has said something so coarse and thoughtless that all eroticism has just fled the room, the woman *should* be able to remove consent and have the man stop.

    There really are times that intercourse can be painful. It can even start out just fine and become painful because the lube dries out, or the thrusts are too deep (especially using rear penetration).

    I would never say, however, “this is rape.” Not unless I’d already tried saying it nicely in several other ways. (“Honey, this is just too painful; we’ve got to stop.” or “Sorry, man. I just lost the feeling, you know? We’ve got to disengage, here.”)

    And I would NEVER agree that a woman who goes to a man’s hotel room has to endure anything he dishes out. That’s not how it works.

    At the same time, if both parties are loaded and they fall in bed together, they are equally responsible.