This Article argues that while rape law reform has accomplished significant changes in the past decades, the reform has since stalled. The contemporary focus on the element of consent might account for this stagnation. This move has both failed to effect instrumental change in the courts as well as in social norms, and is conceptually flawed and normatively misguided. The practical result of these deficiencies is that rape, as defined by our criminal justice system, bears little resemblance to the various forms of sexual abuses that are inflicted on victims. While rape law typically criminalizes only the physically violent sexual attack, it refuses to criminalize an array of abuses, effectively disregarding prevalent forms of sexual violence and misconceiving the crime of rape. Statutory definitions of rape are inept and require an overhaul to better capture the harm and wrongdoing of sexual abuses that many victims still experience.
The Failure of Consent: Re-Conceptualizing Rape as Sexual Abuse of Power,
Mich. J. Gender & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjgl/vol18/iss1/4