This here is what we call a double-edged sword: sex intersecting with the law. There are definitely instances where legal action is needed to regulate sexual issues. Unfortunately, there are many other instances where legalities are placed on sexual activity needlessly. And then there are those gray areas. Can a balance ever be struck or will the precipitous sword hang over us forever? That's what we'll be looking at in this week's Sex Stories We Love.
To Swerve and Deflect
On one hand, it seems incomprehensible that one of the most murky gray areas, considering legalities concerning sex, is that which surrounds rape. Then again, this isn’t surprising at all. Lawmakers have, predominantly, been men and rapists are, predominantly, men. And, of course, women’s sexual agency and safety is often a moot point. Rape laws can easily be equated to guys looking out for other guys. Even when those guys are police officers who have been tasked to serve and protect all citizens. Was this noted loophole in New York policing regulations that define whether arresting officers can have sex with detainees an oversight? Or has it been known and understood ... and possibly used in conjunction with victim silence? It's a truly frightening thought.
Outside the Law
Park sex remains a contentious issue. It remains an offense in most jurisdictions because other people using outdoor areas often aren’t keen to witness other folks getting it on, particularly if the space is one children use. However, park sex can often be the only outlet for sexual gratification for stigmatized people, particularly gay men, bisexual men and men who have sex with men who fall somewhere else on the sexuality spectrum. Plus, we can’t deny that some folks just like to get their fuck on in public spaces. Are arrests and tickets the way to go in these situations? After last year’s crackdown on park sex in Marie Curtis Park in Toronto (seriously, this place has an obsession with park stings over the years), the police department has acknowledged that community outreach may have been the better way to go. Perhaps having officers ask people to move along instead of issuing tickets? Could that work?
A New Stamp in Passports
Sex crimes against children is one of the concerns that has very little gray area in North America. It is a little dicey in other parts of the world, though. Sex tourism that sexually exploits children is a distressing situation, no doubt exacerbated by people from North America continuing to support it. Recent legislation in the United States aims to help reduce this situation by marking the passports of convicted, registered child sex offenders. How effective this will be in other jurisdictions remains to be seen, but the American government is hoping to get a handle on the travel habits of those who have been convicted. This situation will be something to watch.
So, inmates are masturbating in prison. Surely this is the least surprising thing you’ve read today. Even if maybe they aren’t supposed to, has the penal system ever really tried to enforce penalties on jerking off in jail? Because, let's face it, that would be a total waste of resources. That said, if those inmates are “visiting solitary” in spaces outside their own cells, then some kind of intervention is needed. And in one county in Illinois, public defenders are refusing to visit courtroom lock-ups until the sheriffs get their inmates under control. As with park sex, discretion and judgement are both needed. Not everybody wants to be involved in your sex life, even if you really want something right there, right now. They have that right. Especially if it is a workplace environment.
High School Confidential
Age of consent legalities just might be the most challenging legal issue around sex to understand and accept. Yes, we want to protect young people from abuse and exploitation. But what is “young?” Who is too young to have sex with whom? Is there any way to try and control teenagers from participating in consensual sex? And at what stage, if any, does the state have any place in that discussion? The strict reading of legislation in Oregon has put educators in a very tough position, and one I wouldn’t brush off so easily as “police won’t be knocking at the door.” Police love to come knocking at the door when it comes to sex! And educators are compelled to report if sexual abuse is “suspected.” That is the grayest of all of the gray areas. Different people have different interpretations and values. Some really nasty situations could come out of this, even if it is an attempt to do good.
Theft Hurts Everyone
Finally, stealing sex toys just ain’t cool, man.