The Maryland state motto is “Manly deeds, womanly words.” Which is a hot one. Maryland’s deeds may indeed be manly — and I don’t intend that as a compliment — but womanly words, specifically the word ‘stop,’ currently have no legal standing in the Old Line State.
For it is in Maryland, as has become generally known among the tiny minority of Americans who give a crap about this stuff, that once a woman “gives consent” to be penetrated, that consent stays given.* It cannot be rescinded. Not if the woman is in pain. Not if she has a heart attack. Not if the cat vomits on the pillow. And certainly not if she suddenly decides she’d rather be eating an egg salad sandwich than continue being pronged by some festering knob.
In other words, you Maryland women can say “stop,” but it’s not legally considered rape if he doesn’t.
A Maryland appellate court hath decreed that, in permitting the initial incursion to commence, a woman is suddenly stripped of her personal sovereignty and she is transmogrified forthwith into a subhuman meat receptacle until the ‘manly deed’ (remember the motto!) is done and the impalement has reached what male dominant culture defines as its ‘natural’ conclusion. Whatever subsequent vacillations of heart and mind our female protagonist may suffer, these may legally be ignored by her penetrator. Maryland judges, in fact, invite his continued incursion on her person, the duration of which affront is apparently left entirely to his sole discretion. Check out this astoundingly Medieval ruling:
It was the act of penetration that was the essence of the crime of rape; after this initial infringement upon the responsible male’s interest in a woman’s sexual and reproductive functions, any further injury was considered to be less consequential. The damage was done. [see pages 29-30 of the decision]
The response to the 2006 decision has been rife with typical bogus twittering. Such as the concept, adopted by men’s rights activists** from the Neanderthals, that it’s ‘biologically impossible’ for a dude to pull it out once it’s in there.*** Or the great debate about what constitutes a “reasonable time frame” within which the pronger must withdraw once the woman announces her disinterest in further participation.
In the original 2004 Maryland ruling, now overturned by the recent appellate decision, the pronger got 5 years for failing to whip it out on demand (although Time points out that the perp did stop “within a matter of seconds and did not climax.” As though his failure to ejaculate somehow mitigates the offense).
Which brings me, at long last, to my main patriarchy-blaming point. It is this: that “sex” is popularly but incorrectly imagined to encompass nothing less than what transpires during the interim between the female’s passive acquiescence and the inevitable event of dudely ejaculation. The whole thing is narratively structured around female submission to powerful forces of nature beyond mere human control.
I’d like to meet the straight girl who has not, at some point in her sexually active life, said “That’s it! Enough already,” only to be met with at least a few more thrusts and some attempt (“Just a little longer! I’m almost there!) at negotiation.
Well, fuck that. I’ll tell you what a “reasonable time-frame” is: the length of time it takes sound to travel 2 or 3 feet.
* It is unclear to me why Time magazine has elected to resurrect this story from last year, but it suits me fine. Like I always say, there’s no time like the present to complain about state interference with a citizen’s decisions pertaining to the contents, or lack thereof, of her personal vagina.
** this knob will sell you a ‘consensual sex contract’ — a “binding agreement” that will “keep your willing participant honest”, for 25 bucks.
*** The Time article quotes one well-meaning victims’ advocate as saying “It’s insulting to men to say they can’t stop.” These arguments based on the notion that men should consider bagging their troglodyte behavior, not because it’s just wrong to rape women, but because rape insults men, always strike me as sad.