Earlier this week, New South Wales unveiled huge changes to the definition of consent. The new affirmative consent model could see accused convicted unless they can prove they’ve taken active steps to obtain consent for sex.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman said the state government was adopting all 44 recommendations of the NSW Law Reform Commission’s review of consent in relation to sexual offences.
“You just can’t assume through lack of resistance or lack of protest that consent has been given,” Speakman said. “It’s very simple, consent has to be communicated by the other party saying or doing something.”
The problem is, of course, it’s not “very simple” at all.
If it were, there would be no messy relations between men and women, there would be no length family law battles, and lawyers wouldn’t long have been lining their own pockets based on the human to and fro of he said, she said.
If two human beings are involved, there will always be more than one story.
To presume that changing legal jargon will swiftly fix human miscommunication, especially when alcohol is involved, is utterly absurd. It makes a mockery of the complexity of this whole exhausting reality and does no one any favours by upholding such bizarre, dishonest pretence.
Speakman added, “To have reasonable belief, an accused will have to have taken steps. A thought process is not such a step, a reasonable step has to be an act or something said to ascertain the complainant’s consent.”
Is he deluded?
Man says to woman, “Would you like to have sex?”
Women replies, “Yes”.
Things go sour, the pair end up in court and the lawyer for the accused states the above.
Lawyer for the complainant presents a different version of events, along the lines of, no consent was asked for or given.
And round and round we go.
What is crucially important here is to note that these changes are specifically intended to address the statistic that only three per cent of sexual assault complaints made to NSW Police end up in a conviction.
The aim is to increase that number.
The easiest way to increase that number is to make convictions easier, to move the burden of proof to the accused, and ultimately, accept the risk that this means innocent men will end up behind bars.
To make it law that consent can be withdrawn at any time and still attempt to assert that this is “very simple”?
You’re joking, right?
The only sensible solution, it seems, is for us to give up sex.
Great, thanks for nothing feminism.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.