A bill in the Utah legislature is aiming to clarify the language in the state’s rape statute to make it overwhelmingly clear that if someone can’t consent — it’s rape. Seems pretty cut and dry, right? Not for one lawmaker, who is concerned that in the hypothetical situation that a man has sex with his unconscious wife — i.e. rapes her — he might be called a rapist. He refrained from screaming, That wouldn’t be fair! Wives are property that husbands can do with as they please! Everyone knows that!
Utah State Representative Brian Greene, in a discussion with the Utah Judiciary Committee, expressed his concerns that the language in HB 74 may be used to label spouses who have sex with their unconscious partners as “rapists.” Yes, and? Here’s a clip:
“So it looks to me now that sex with an unconscious person is, by definition, rape… an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious, or the other way around if that’s possible… prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape.”
YES. Yes, they could — because it is rape. This is a terrifying example of the pervasive and very damaging idea that wives are property. Yes, he included husbands in his statement — but it’s clear that wasn’t his concern. He his very uncomfortable with the idea that a man does not own his wife and is not entitled to do with her body what he pleases.
From Think Progress:
“This is something that’s been a long time coming,” bill sponsor Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said after the meeting. “At the end of the day, if someone’s unconscious or they’re a vulnerable adult, then the logical answer is: Don’t try to have a sexual relationship with them.”
Apparently Greene caught on quickly that everyone around him was horrified by what they just heard, because he clarified, “I’m not at all trying to justify sexual activity with an unconscious person. It’s abhorrent to me.” But he seemed to grapple with the idea that having sex with someone who is not conscious is always wrong. He wondered if it was “rape in every instance — dependent only upon the actor’s knowledge that the individual is unconscious. That’s the question. That’s what I struggle with.” Why? Why is he struggling with that?