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If we [women] have not stopped rape, we have redefined it, we have faced it, and we have set up the structures to deal with it for ourselves.
[T]he definition of rape, which has in the past always been understood to mean the use of violence or the threat of it to force sex upon an unwilling woman, is now being broadened to include a whole range of sexual relations that have never before in all of human experience been regarded as rape.
In 1989 the philosopher and self-described feminist Christina Sommers published a short essay — ‘an opinion piece,’ she called it — that was eventually developed into and published as a philosophical article. In this essay Sommers criticized ‘feminist philosophers’ (her term) for being ‘oddly unsympathetic to the women whom they claim to represent.’ Specifically, Sommers accused these philosophers of ignoring the ‘values of the average woman’ and of being caught up in an ‘ideological fervor.’ To emphasize her point that the so-called feminist philosophers have lost touch with ‘the average woman,’ Sommers wrote that ‘One must nevertheless expect that many women will continue to swoon at the sight of Rhett Butler carrying Scarlett O'Hara up the stairs to a fate undreamt of in feminist philosophy.’
The object of the statute is to protect the virtuous maidens and the undefiled virgins of the State and not the unchaste female.
To deny exculpating effect to B’s fully voluntary hence valid consent to A’s conduct is not only unjust to A; it is also an objectionably paternalistic interference with the autonomy of B—even if B is a child. Insofar as children are (or would be) capable of consenting voluntarily [to sexual conduct, including intercourse], it is indefensible paternalism to prevent them from doing so.
Power is a prerequisite of responsibility, and the primary justification for statutory rape laws is that women in our society do not have enough power to resist coercive male initiative in sex. To the extent that statutory rape laws enable women to resist aggression, they increase women's sense of personal responsibility. I believe that we should acknowledge the present reality of pervasive male sexual aggression in our society and devise ways to change it rather than deny it as an “outmoded stereotype.”
Feminists, especially radical feminists, have reason to be dissatisfied with contemporary moral theory, but they are understandably reluctant to abandon the theoretical project until it is seen as unsalvageable. The problem is not, however, as Margaret Urban Walker claims, that theory is abstract, that it seeks to guide conduct, or that it postulates moral knowledge. The problem is that contemporary moral theory is foundational.
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