Consent

Sabbar Kashur, 30, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Monday after the court ruled that he was guilty of rape by deception. According to the complaint filed by the woman with the Jerusalem district court, the two met in downtown Jerusalem in September 2008 where Kashur, an Arab from East Jerusalem, introduced himself as a Jewish bachelor seeking a serious relationship. The two then had consensual sex in a nearby building before Kashur left.

The family of a Wharton firefighter who died battling a massive egg farm blaze is fighting to keep his widow from receiving death benefits, arguing that the 37-year-old had found out his bride of two years was born a man. Thomas Araguz III separated from his wife after learning her history two months prior to being trapped in the fatal July 3 fire, according to attorney Chad Ellis, who is representing Araguz’s parents in the lawsuit.

My gut tells me the answer to both of these questions ought to be “no,” but in these cases, I think my gut is wrong.

Both cases violate the standard conception of informed consent. To a bigot, ethnicity is highly germane to decisions about intercourse, just as birth-gender matters quite a lot to transphobics. So attempts to reduce consent to the simple act of saying “yes” actually ignore the ways in which fraudulently representing oneself may be coercive. We can hate the bigotry and prejudice that make the lies seem necessary without embracing deception. While lying about one’s “true” origins is one of the well-worn strategies of the marginalized and oppressed, it is a strategy that bolsters the very racist or heternormative regime it is trying to circumvent. In contrast, disclosure subverts that regime by forcing potential partners to acknowledge the appeal of the supposedly-abject Other, and leaves open the possibility of acceptance and true consent.

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