In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts rape is defined as:
- The penetration of any bodily orifice without consent and with force or threat of force. Penetration can be with fingers, objects or penis to the vagina, mouth or anus.
In addition, in Massachusetts it is illegal to have sex with someone who is incapable of giving consent because:
- They are intoxicated.
- They are unconscious.
- They are mentally incompetent.
- They are under age.
What constitutes as consent?
You can't have sex with someone if they say "No." That is easy to understand. But the fact is that you cannot have sex with someone unless you have consent. So how do you know exactly what consent is? Generally defined, consent is an explicitly communicated, reversible, mutual agreement in which both parties are capable of making a decision. But sometimes it is more complicated than this.
- Is it a simple "Yes"?
- Does it have to be verbalized?
- What if the person is drunk or high?
- What if they don't say anything at all?
- Can consent be implied?
This combination of cultural messages about sex and consent creates confusion over what exactly constitutes consent. To clarify:
- Consent is a "Yes" in response to requests for sexual acts.
- Silence is not consent.
- "No" is not consent.
- In Massachusetts, consent cannot be given by someone who is not of sound mind and body. Someone who is drunk, high, unconscious or mentally incompetent may not be able to give consent to a sexual act.
- Submission is not necessarily consent. There is a fine line between persuasion and coercion. Having sex with someone who reasonably believes that there is a threat of force meets the legal definition of rape in Massachusetts.
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