The bill essentially brings back the age-old crime of ‘seduction’, and courts would be tasked with uncovering someone’s “real” identity. That’s far more dangerous than it sounds.
Much has been made lately of new legislation, like California’s affirmative consent law, that is intended to broaden the definition of sexual assault. The hope is that such laws will provide greater protections to people at risk of sexual violence. But will it?
Amanda Taub at Vox argues that the fear of sexual assault imposes undue burdens on women’s schedules and psychological bandwidth, amounting to a “tax” on women. Taub is absolutely right to note the disproportionate hardship inflicted on women by the lingering possibility of sexual assault. She’s also right to recognize that the role of law in an equitable society is to provide protections that even out the unfair impositions stronger social groups make on weaker ones. The trouble is, expanding legal definitions of sexual assault seems primed to do the opposite.
Rape by Fraud
Consider legislation introduced by New Jersey assemblyman Troy Singleton, which would create a new category of crime, “sexual assault by fraud,” defined as “an act of sexual penetration to which a person has given consent because the actor has misrepresented the purpose of the act or has represented he is someone he is not.”