North Carolina — already not considered a democracy and characterized as more a dictatorial entity on par with Cuba and Indonesia — managed, with a fateful decision by the state Supreme Court in 1977, to pass a law allowing the legal rape of women who revoke consent to sex once the act has been initiated.
If actual, sexual penetration occurs under the banner of consensuality, that agreement to have sex cannot — according to North Carolina law for decades — be suddenly revoked, even if a man turns violent.
“If the actual penetration is accomplished with the woman's consent, the accused is not guilty of rape, although he may be guilty of another crime because of his subsequent actions,” the North Carolina Supreme Court wrote in its decades-old decision in State v. Way.
“It's really stupid,”understated 19-year-old Aaliyah Palmer — who allegedly agreed to sex — but revoked consent when the man she’d met at a party turned violent — to the Fayetteville Observer. “If I tell you no and you kept going, that's rape.”
Palmer understandably surmised her brutal encounter amounted to rape — as it did — but discovered to her astonishment state law disagreed.
Now, a new bill seeks to jolt the fraught Southern state into the 21st Century — making legal rape illegal again.
“Legislators are hearing more and more about women who have been raped and are being denied justice because of this crazy loophole,” asserted North Carolina Senator Jeff Jackson, who introduced a bill on March 30 — similar to another he attempted in 2015 — to append the misogynistic law.
Jackson proposes, according to the text of the bill, “a person may withdraw consent to engage in vaginal intercourse in the middle of the intercourse, even if the actual penetration is accomplished with consent and even if there is only one act of vaginal intercourse.”
Seems simple — and, frankly, logical — enough.
“This really shouldn't be a controversial matter,” Jackson opined to Broadly. “North Carolina is the only state in the country where no doesn't really mean no. Right now, if a woman tells a man to stop having sex he is under no legal obligation to do so, as long as she initially consented. If sex turns violent, the woman has no right to tell the man he must stop.”
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Let that last part sink in for a moment: A man in North Carolina can forcibly complete a sex act with a woman — even if he employs violence to get his way.
That’s rape by nearly any definition — except in the eyes of the repressive Southern state.
“Very few legislators are aware that this is the current state of our law,” lamented Jackson, who first encountered the anachronistic, justice-slaying law as a prosecutor when his office had to dismiss a rape charge for extenuating circumstances in line with the 1977 ruling. “They're very surprised when I tell them. Most of my conversations have been educating our members about this plainly unacceptable loophole in our rape law. I have not had any members defend the loophole. Every legislator I've spoken to agrees we need to fix this.”
Despite what should be unfettered support for a bill rescinding a man’s apparent ‘right’ to rape women, the state senator has received surprisingly resolute pushback — primarily from conservatives who view Jackson’s proposed legislation as interfering with natural intercourse.
Broadly explains many of the right-leaning legislators follow a traditionalist blog — which expounded oh-so eloquently on Jackson’s efforts recently,
“And the ‘rules’ of fornication are the ‘pressing issues of the day’ ????”
Of this tripe, Jackson noted tellingly, “This is a blog that unfortunately carries some influence with many of our conservative members. When it does, my bet is it passes unanimously. No one can seriously defend this loophole in our rape law.”
Ethically and morally, it would be pleasant to believe Jackson’s latter statement a comforting truth — yet, for 38 years this law has been permitted to languish on the books — depriving an untold number of rape victims from justice, human rights, and basic common decency.
“Aside from perpetrators not being held accountable, when women cannot revoke consent, then we are telling them violence can be perpetrated against them if they consented to begin with and then had a change of heart,” Angelica Wind, an advocate and executive director of Our Voice — a North Carolina-based crisis intervention and prevention agency for victims of sexual violence — told Broadly, adding, “allowing women to revoke consent would be transformative for the state of North Carolina.”
According to Broadly, North Carolina Senate Bill 553 will likely be tabled — meaning Jackson would next year, once again, have to revive the campaign to make forced sexual intercourse rape again.