Since 2005, four states have finally recognized that fraudulent inducement of sex is rape. Not just immoral, not just “boys being boys” behavior, but misappropriation of a woman’s personal right to choose who invades her body. Perhaps surprisingly, the first state to recognize fraudulent inducement of sex as a basis for rape was Alabama in 2005. California, Michigan, and Tennessee followed suit the following two years, and Peter Koutoujian of Massachusetts filed a similar bill in February, 2008, which, when passed, will make Massachusetts the fifth state to recognize the crime of “stealing” another’s sexual prerogative.
For decades, feminists such as Susan Estrich have argued that rape has many forms, and often occurs in contexts not involving physical force or violence. While women have always known this, most (male) judges in the U.S. publish sentiment in criminal and tort cases reflective of an inappropriate “boys will be boys” mentality. For example, a New York judge had the nerve to write in 1975:
“So bachelors, and other men on the make, fear not. It is still not illegal to feed a girl a line, to continue the attempt [to obtain sex], not to take no for a final answer, at least not the first time. . . . [A] male [will] make promises that will not be kept, . . . indulge in exaggeration and hyperbole, or to assure any trusting female that, as in the ancient fairy tale, the ugly frog is really the handsome prince.Every man is free under the law, to be a gentleman or a cad.” (People v. Evans).
Thankfully, this mentality appears to be dying out. In a world filled with dangerous sexual diseases, it is particularly important to protect women’s rights to protect their own bodies, not just against physical violence, but against fraudulent inducement of sexual decisions and all of the dangerous consequences that can result from a lack of truly informed consent to sexual relations. For more background about the need for tort law to respond to the reality of sexual misappropriation, see my new article, Intentional Sex Torts, to be published in the Fordham Law Review in the fall of 2008.
– Deana Pollard Sacks