Privacy, Sex and Democracy

We’ve talked about the reversal lately between the rights of public organizations and the rights of individuals to privacy in a democracy. But I didn’t realize we actually needed to take a serious look at the rights of public organizations and the rights of individuals to have sex in a democracy.

But apparently we do. Sweden has proposed the most progressive law ever governing sex between private individuals. And if this is progress, we need to talk. Apparently, in the 667 pages, these are the key points:

– Each person must give explicit consent to everything. Quiet consent shall not be allowed. “The idea is that anyone who commits a sexual act without consent shall be punished regardless of whether the coercion or exploitation has occurred or not.”

– Those who find themselves not only in a helpless state but otherwise have special difficulties safeguarding their sexual integrity, could be raped, even if they have given explicit consent. No, that state and those difficulties are not defined at all. Remember, this is Sweden, where sex with someone who is in a helpless state (drunk, asleep) is already considered rape.

– The victim does not decide whether she gave meaningful consent or not, the court does. Claes Borgström, the plaintiff’s lawyer in the case against Julian Assange, said when asked why his client did not feel she was raped, “She is not a lawyer.”

Let’s ponder this for a minute. We know that industry has a right to have sex. Sex is a huge international industry, and the industry frequently does not have the true consent of the participants, especially if we factor in financial difficulties, substance abuse, etc. The US military has the right to have sex provided it’s in the line of duty. Two adult men cannot have consensual sex, but they are permitted to rape people or have them raped as part of an enhanced interrogation technique. Or for fun.  As long as it is not consensual, because that would be giving comfort to the enemy or something. Many other countries have military that are permitted to rape children, men, women, whatever, but the private citizens are not allowed to have adult consensual sex because god wouldn’t like it. In most countries the government does not actually have sex yet, but they are certainly allowed to regulate everything about it. They can dictate who has sex, who they have sex with, what forms they have to fill out to have sex, and what officials have to approve them having sex. In the US, they have gone farther, and the government now employs people to sexually assault and make nude films of people of all ages, including children.

But private individuals, at least in Sweden, will not be allowed to have adult consensual sex. That’s adult, heterosexual, non-violent, married, consensual sex. If they do, there is really no way to protect themselves against being charged with a crime.

Make war, not love?

5 thoughts on “Privacy, Sex and Democracy

  1. I am an aging, fairly sedate person, but I totally do not get the sex hysteria. Two consenting adults — where is problem?

    I’m also a long-time feminist, and I take some of the nuances seriously. It’s wrong to exploit someone who is incapacitated for any reason, and I know that happens too often. In Canada police will press ahead with domestic abuse charges even if victims are reluctant — that’s a problem, except leaving violent individuals on the loose is a problems too.

    But it is patriarchal madness for a patriarchal male like Borgstrom to declare that a woman doesn’t know what happened to her unless he tells her so. It is very weird to me to require explicit consent (what? we have to sign forms?) to any sexual contact. Whatever happened to falling rapturously into one another’s arms? I don’t have sex unless it feels like that, but that is maybe beside the point. The point is being a consenting adult, consenting to whatever it is you want to consent to and facing up to the emotional complexities of all intimate relationships, taking responsibility for your own actions, none of which are the state’s business if no one is being forced.

    I thought it was only or mainly in the U.S. that hypocrisy about sex had become such a total fetish that it could be used seriously as a political weapon, but obviously I was mistaken. I’m sure the Americans are pressuring the Swedes in Assange’s case, but it sounds as though they’ve jumped off the cliff too. I blame Walt Disney. I always blame Walt Disney. Western minds have been so blenderized it’s scary.


  2. skdadl, even a written contract wouldn’t help here one bit. For one thing, it would have to be initialed every five minutes or so, for another, it could be “unlawful coercion”, and if both parties agree it wasn’t, the courts could decide one had “special difficulties safeguarding their sexual integrity” because of some yet to be imagined “helpless state” that is NOT one already covered by Swedish law, ie, asleep, intoxicated, whatever. Like, oh for instance, incapacitated by a stalker fetish?


  3. The question comes up spontaneously: is the militarization of the sexes a required step of the western culture, or is it just an inner demon of the swedish? I don’t think such existential… cold would infiltrate relationships and laws over here.


  4. Pingback: Assange and the Swedish Prosecution | GeorgieBC's Blog

  5. Where is here? I can’t imagine it in Canada (but I can’t imagine a lot of things I have seen to be true right now). What concerns me more is the US perception of sex as kinky or a form of assault, always matched with violence in their films, music, whatever. Make love went out the window in that culture a long time ago (was it ever there?) and that has the definite potential for spillover here. The Swedish are straight out of 1984, something completely different.


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