California Is Set To Outlaw Unannounced Condom Removal
California is set to outlaw unannounced condom removal. A bill that passed the California legislature earlier this week and now awaits Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature would be the first in the country to make such “stealthing” a cause for legal action.
But the measure (Assembly Bill 453) will not work through the state’s criminal code. Rather, removing a condom without a sexual partner’s verbal consent will become grounds for a civil lawsuit and punitive damages, with the act added to the state’s civil definition of sexual battery.
Under A.B. 453, “a person commits a sexual battery who causes contact between a sexual organ, from which a condom has been removed, and the intimate part of another who did not verbally consent to the condom being removed.”
In effect, it creates an affirmative consent rule for condom removal.
Supporters of the legislation say that consenting to safe sex doesn’t mean consenting to sex without a condom. Thus, furtively removing a condom before or during sexual activity amounts to rape.
Yet determining who is telling the truth in such cases will be incredibly tricky. If nothing else, this seems like a very difficult claim to prove in court. (“How the fuck is this enforceable?” comments Nancy Rommelmann on Twitter. “It’s not.”)
Regulating sexual conduct is a pain practice, since usually there are only two people present, the accuser and accused. But in theory, makes perfect sense: if sex if consented to conditional on a condom being worn, removal would result in sex without consent.
— King Haris (@kingharis) September 9, 2021
And what if someone never puts on a condom in the first place but their partner mistakenly thinks they did—could that partner still sue? Will the law punish people who inadvertently lose a condom during sex? Won’t people sued under the law simply claim this is what happened?
All in all, enforcement here seems like a logistical nightmare. That’s not necessarily a reason to oppose the law. (Proving sexual assault claims in general can be difficult, of course.) But it does suggest that the measure may be more symbolic than anything else.
It also means the measure could be ripe for abuse—disproportionately wielded against the same parties who routinely suffer most under U.S. laws.
In any event, it seems at odds with California’s 2017 move to reduce penalties for knowingly exposing someone to HIV.
9/11’s domestic law enforcement legacy. As we approach the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, a slew of articles looks at how they entrenched America’s surveillance state within our own borders.
“The rich nations of Europe and North America are liberal democracies, but their governments are also ferociously efficient repression machines.”https://t.co/RRgN4wjcCP
— Foreign Affairs (@ForeignAffairs) September 8, 2021
Spectacular though the 9/11 attacks were, they did not, as many feared, indicate that large and powerful terrorist organizations had laid down roots in the West and threatened the foundations of its social order. Meanwhile, the persistent fear of that outcome—which was never likely—has blinded many to an opposing trend: the steadily growing coercive power of the technocratic state. With artificial intelligence already entrenching this advantage, the threat of a
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