consent can be like a cup of tea.
If someone can’t say they want a cup of tea, it’s bad if you make them that tea and pour it down their throat. Even if, once upon a time, they used to really like tea. Love tea, in fact. Because…maybe their tastes have changed. Maybe they aren’t into tea anymore. Maybe they’re not well enough to enjoy the tea.
But now I want to stop talking about tea because it makes it sound too polite.
Let’s talk about a real situation.
“In late March of last year, Donna Lou Rayhons moved to a nursing home in Garner. The clashes over her care built until a meeting in May during which Henry Rayhons was informed of his wife's inability to consent. According to court documents, Henry Rayhons entered his wife's room about a week later, pulled the curtains around her bed and a roommate heard noises that suggested sexual activity. As Rayhons left, he dropped undergarments in a laundry basket.”
The woman, who had dementia, who had no ability to provide consent because of her mental state, who cannot state whether or not she did consent (because she has since died)…her husband had sex with her, after the nursing staff had already told him that she could not consent due to the severity of her dementia.
Let’s go over that again – she *could not* consent due to dementia, a mental condition – but because he was married to her, he decided it was okay to have sex with her body.
Yes, I said it that way on purpose. He did not have sex with his wife. She was gone mentally. All that remained was her physical body. And he somehow figured that it was okay to go ahead and have sex with her body, regardless of her mental state.
Now for some more scary stuff from the original article on the case:
First, the law in place is Iowa is pretty damn frightening. According to Iowa law, “an act [is] sexual abuse in the third degree if the two parties are not living together as husband and wife and if one person "is suffering from a mental defect or incapacity which precludes giving consent."”
Yup. So if they are living together as husband and wife, even if she cannot give consent, it’s okay. The location matters. If he had her at home, under his own care, he could rape her as often as he wanted to, and no one could step in to stop him. Because, hey, if you’re married, you’ve automatically consented to sex at any time, right? Ummm. No. Wrong.
If he’d had sex with an unconscious woman, would anyone defend him?
If he’d had sex with a woman who wasn’t his wife and who didn’t consent to the sex, would anyone defend him?
If he’d had sex with a child who was, by definition, incapable of consent, would anyone defend him?
So why is his family defending him now?
Their argument that her location didn’t change their love or their relationship does not fly with me. People get divorced all the time – that changes love, right? And even if they don’t get divorced, people can still choose to not have sex with their spouse, regardless of how much they love them, simply because of medical issues or something as simple as not being in the mood.
Let’s cut through the crap.
Having sex with a non-consenting partner – regardless of marital status or reason for lack of consent – is rape.