The very short version, in case you've missed it in the news: George Galloway, Respect Party MP for Bradford West in the UK, claimed that if a man has sex with a woman while she is asleep, it is not rape:
This response post is one of the best I've seen -- much better than ones which are getting much more play on teh interwebs -- and I invite you to read it, for oh so many reasons.
"A response to George Galloway, and what we mean by consent"
A few points:
Because the way I read [your remarks], my body, as the common parlance would suggest, is ‘fair game’ to anyone who has ever had sexual access to it. If those people tried to have sex with me without my consent, it seems you believe they would merely be guilty of ‘bad sexual etiquette’, rather than rape.
I love the way the author puts this plainly and calls it out -- the dangerous idea, which so many persist in clinging to, that sex without consent is no big deal, rather than something life-threatening and life-changing -- that sex without consent equals "bad sexual etiquette’, rather than rape."
The recognition that women are not the sexual property of their partners is one reason why marital rape was made a crime in this country in 1991. And why we don’t have laws that recognise degrees of rape. Such degrees don’t exist.
Consent is not an absence of ‘no’. It is not a permanent state of being. It is the presence of an enthusiastic, mutual ‘yes’. It’s present, for example, when your partner is responding enthusiastically. It is NOT present when your partner is asleep, or when it’s dependent on using a condom and no condom is used, or when you’re trying to fight off a man pushing your legs apart (the other allegation made against Assange) and that woman is trying not to cry, or when, out of fear, you’ve frozen and can’t speak that ‘no’. Those are just a few examples of when consent is absent.
Consent is not a permanent state of being. Consent once does not mean consent two times, three times, or an infinite number of times.
Read the full article here. It's short and a (relatively) easy read.