“Consensual Rape.” Really?

Published: May 20, 2019

By Jim Lichtman
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Last Friday, during the debate in the Missouri state House on a new bill designed to ban abortions for women at eight weeks of pregnancy, Republican Representative Barry Hovis said that the majority of sexual assaults he dealt with in law enforcement were not strangers “jumping out of the bushes” but instead “date rapes or consensual rapes.” according to an Associated Press report.

“St. Louis-area Democratic Rep. Raychel Proudie,” the AP said, “…assured the House that ‘there is no such thing as consensual rape.’ ”

A while later, Hovis attempted to correct his words. “…he had meant to say ‘date rapes or consensual or rape.’ When pressed on whether that made sense in the context of the rest of his sentence, he said he believes there is no such thing as ‘consensual rape.’ ”

Nonetheless, the genie was out of the bottle.

Years ago, I dated a woman who confided that she had been the victim of date rape. If any man ever suggested to her that it could possibly be “consensual rape,” like Hovis, I can see her giving the guy a hard slap in the face.

“The comment,” The AP points out, “was reminiscent of former Rep. Todd Akin, who lost the state’s U.S. Senate race in 2012 after saying women’s bodies can prevent pregnancy in cases of ‘legitimate rape.’ ”

However, we live in a different world, today; a world where the outrageous becomes the norm and common sense is uncommon.

Acquaintance or date rape occurs when, according to The Encyclopedia of Social Psychology, “The perpetrator uses physical or psychological intimidation to force a victim to have sex against their will, or when the perpetrator has sex with a victim who is incapable of giving consent because they have been incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.”

“ ‘I’m not trying to make excuses,’ Hovis said. ‘Sometimes you make a mistake and you own up to it,’ The Washington Post reported.

If anyone is confused about the term “consent,” here is the clearest explanation put forth by Planned Parenthood:

“Consent means actively agreeing to be sexual with someone. Consent lets someone know that sex is wanted. Sexual activity without consent is rape or sexual assault.

“Sexual consent is an agreement to participate in a sexual activity,” the non-profit organization said. “Before being sexual with someone, you need to know if they want to be sexual with you too. It’s also important to be honest with your partner about what you want and don’t want.

“Consenting and asking for consent are all about setting your personal boundaries and respecting those of your partner — and checking in if things aren’t clear. Both people must agree to sex — every single time — for it to be consensual.”

The AP report said that “The Missouri Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it strongly opposes the threat of criminal penalties for delivering ‘evidence based, necessary health care.’ ”

The Missouri House passed the latest in what has become a new series of anti-abortion bills that present a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade expecting the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the decades-old law.

While there is a legitimate debate to be had regarding the parameters of abortion rights, people engaged in that debate need to do so in a respectful and responsible manner.

Republican state governor, Mike Parson, is expected to sign the bill.


  1. So much respect can be gained by quickly acknowledging and apologizing. Keep watching the ethical issues, Jim.

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