Their program Odyssey discussed
What we think of as rape can be determined by court decisions, political legislation and cultural representations. Gretchen Helfrich and guests discuss the social forces that shape our ideas of rape.
Jill Hasday University of Chicago Law School
Michelle Oberman DePaul University College of Law
Pamela Barnett University of South Carolina
The second participant, Michelle Oberman, is mentioned in The Resurrection of Statutory Rape Laws:
The reality is that the recent interest in reviving statutory rape prosecutions has been a response to teen pregnancy and more specifically to these girls getting on welfare. This is serious problem and understandably people are grappling for solutions. The catalyst for this renewed concern was as a result of a study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute of 10,000 mothers between the ages of 15 and 49. The researchers discovered that 50% of the babies born to 15-17 year old mothers had fathers age 20 or older. Even more unnerving was the finding that generally the younger the mother, the older the father. Other studies confirmed similiar findings such as "Men over 20 years are responsible for five times as many births among junior high girls as are junior high boys." (Quinn 95) These and similar discoveries shattered many of the previous assumptions about teen pregnancy. Almost immediately, politicians started calling for prosecution of the men responsible. California took the lead and states such as Georgia, Delaware, and Florida followed suit.
Is the revival of statutory rape enforcement the answer or is this "a new way to sound tough on crime in the guise of social compassion"?(Gleick 96) Perhaps its a little bit of both. We know that 74% of girls who have sex before the age of 14 have experienced coercive sex , as well as 60% of girls who have sex before age 15.(Quinn 95) Its obvious that we are not doing enough to protect young people from sexual abuse and exploitation and maybe statutory rape laws are a step in the right direction. However, its also true that many respected experts in the field are worried about the adverse impact of "discouraging teens from obtaining prenatal or reproduction health care." (Donovan 97) Or as Michelle Oberman pointed out "drawing a connection between enforcing these laws and lowering adolescent pregnancy rates flies in the face of everything we know about why girls get pregnant and why they choose to continue their pregnancies."
Which appears at Age of Consent. The author, Annette Burrhus-Clay, states "My concerns are many and quite honestly I'm not even sure where I stand on this issue." Which is the position I'm going to take as well. Part of the conversation on the show revolved around the California Supreme Court decision described in this article at Contra Costa Times:
A man may be convicted of rape if his sexual partner first consents but later changes her mind and asks him to stop, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday.
In a 6-1 decision, the justices said a man who continues sexual intercourse with a woman once she has retracted her consent can be charged with rape. The court ruled in a date-rape case involving teenagers at a party in El Dorado County.
"A withdrawal of consent effectively nullifies any earlier consent and subjects the male to forcible rape charges if he persists in what has become nonconsensual intercourse," Justice Ming Chin wrote for the court.
Other topics also came up, including making rape laws gender-neutral and fictional portrayals.
Oh, and race.
You're as shocked at this as I was, no doubt.
Did drive home the difference between Third Wave Feminism and earlier varieties for me, so there's that, at least.
Update: added links to the guests' faculty pages. There doesn't appear to be a copy of Oberman's "Regulating Consensual Sex with Minors: Defining a Role for Statutory Rape online, but truth be told, I'm not looking all that hard. And the audio for the show is available at that first link, if you'd like to give it a listen. Or even if you wouldn't.