Why Rape Law Revisions should be Consistent with Anderson’s Negotiation Model

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Emma Jervis


In this essay I argue that the current law structure unobjectionably fails to protect women against cases of rape and needs reform. I further maintain that Anderson’s suggestion of ‘negotiation consent’ is the most appropriate line of reform, and I will defend her proposal in the face of potential objections. The current rape law in the UK was implemented in 2003, which revised previous laws firstly defined in the Sexual Offenses Act of 1953. Despite the ostensibly ‘objective’ nature of this law, which will be further examined in this essay, many feminist philosophers have noted the biases within the law which favour male interests. This essay explores the present issues within UK law, as well as our current understandings of what constitutes ‘a reasonable belief of consent’, that fail to protect women in instances of rape. This foundational attitude towards such matters influence performative revision models, such as the No Model and the Yes model, which I consider within this essay. Yet the inadequacies of such approaches, as I demonstrate, mirror some of the current issues with rape law in the UK today; such as the lack of recognition of men’s frequent inability to interpret women’s nonverbal behaviour and disregard for instances where one person changes their mind.

Furthermore, I advocate for Anderson’s proposal of the negotiation model as an alternative reform of the law as well as society’s attitude towards sex and how consent can be clearly obtained. This model, when legally applied, will not only legally protect women in cases of rape, but eventually protect them from the present societal norms that perpetuate the imminent risk of rape and sexual exploitation.

 Through making the act of negotiation a legal requirement, I maintain that there would be a ‘ripple effect’ throughout society that would, eventually, lead to a change in public expectations of men and women.

Anderson’s emphasis on either party being able to initiate the negotiation establishes a much more open-minded attitude towards gender roles and expectations of individuals based on their gender. This is the greatest strength of Anderson’s argument, as this equality-driven initiative would eventually seep into society’s wider expectations of individuals when initiating sex, and create a world where understanding what the other person is anticipating in a sexual situation is the norm.


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