"Decent Exposure": Judith Levine on the black hole of sex crimes law

Elizabeth's picture

Judith Levine writes brilliantly about sex, teens, and the law. From her book Harmful to Minors to her recent writings on the new craze of charging teens who send sexy photos of themselves to one another with possession and distribution of child pornography, she is one of the most articulate when it comes to explaining the irrationality of the law. 

Today she writes :

U.S. sex law is like a black hole: Once reason falls in, it can never re-emerge.

Can all this get any stupider? Just as I was asking myself this question, a post arrived from sex therapist Marty Klein’s blog, Sexual Intelligence, confirming that it could:

Massachusetts state representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein (D-Revere) has introduced a bill making it a crime for anyone over 60 to pose nude or sexually for a film or photo. The person taking the photo — whether a lover, artist or commercial porn maker — would also face jail time.

Adding insult to injury, the proposal amends a bill designed to punish those who make child pornography. It treats fully functional adults who happen to be over 60 the same as children under 18; it explicitly takes away their right to consent to be photographed in a lascivious way.

What Klein doesn’t mention is that the bill precludes consent not only by “an elder” but also by “a person with a disability.” Massachusetts law defines an elder as someone over 60; a “disability” is “a permanent or long-term physical or mental impairment that prevents or restricts the individual’s ability to provide for his or her own care or protection.” The bill is an obvious violation of the First Amendment, says Florida Constitutional lawyer Marc Randazzo, who notes that among the consent-stripped could be his own mother, whom he describes as a 60-plus sexually active “knockout” with a lung condition. Representative Reinstein, by the way, is 38.

Click here to read the whole article, "Decent Exposure," at Seven Days.

Denying the sexuality or restricting the sexual expression of the over-60 set or of disabled people of any age is appalling. I understand that the concern is about exploitation, but exploitation is its own crime. To restrict consent - to essentially legally remove the possibility of consent - is certainly an assault on autonomy by the law itself.

One wonders what kind of sexual expression will be the next to approach the edge of the black hole of sex law?