The BBC reported last week on a case in Israel where a man has been convicted of rape because the woman he had sex with learned after the fact he was not Jewish, but Arab. The judge deemed it "rape by deception" and cited another case where a man posed as a neurosurgeon in order to sleep with a woman and later was convicted of fraud. But fraud is not rape.
According to reports filed by the woman, the two met in a public street then later that day adjourned to a nearby office building for sex. In his sentence the judge actually wrote, "If she had not thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious relationship, she would not have co-operated." Ah, yes, that old custom, whereby marriage-minded Jewish boys bang their future brides in a deserted building the same day they meet them.
And yet, when people started talking about the circumstances I could not help but find myself feeling sympathy for the accuser. "So every time a guy says he loves a girl just to get her in bed, he could be accused of rape?" a male friend asked, laughing. I didn't think it was so funny. It is quite horrid to realize a sexual encounter you've just had was not the love-making session you were hoping for. But that's not rape either. And so it begs the very slippery question: What about common sense?
By all accounts, the perpetrator's crime was to misrepresent himself in order to be more pleasing to the woman in question. I'd say we're all guilty of that, to some degree or another. But when people lose sight of the fundamental fact of rape–not consenting before the fact–I fear it lends an air of frivolity. The problem with the whole "common sense" question is the responsibility it places on the victim. I don't care how drunk or scantily clad a woman is, if she says no, it's game over. Deception is a whole other story.
This week, Fortune's cover story involves an insider trading scandal at IBM. The story focuses on one criminal, an executive at IBM who fed information to a beautiful woman who turned around and used the knowledge to buy and sell stocks. Since she was in the business of buying and selling stocks, and this fact was well known the the man in question, THE DUDE IS CLEARLY GUILTY. And yet, the article is practically a love letter to what a stand-up guy he is. This passage in particular kills me: "To gain a conviction, the government didn't need to prove that Moffat had profited financially, only that he had obtained a benefit of some kind. The bad news for Moffat: The affections of a comely woman qualified."
Can we talk about common sense on this one, people? He plans to fight the charges? On what grounds? He acted in a fraudulent manner. The end.
The cases are unrelated except that both seem to treat sex as a benefit. What's grating about that in the first case is that this is not the nature of rape. Rape is an act of violence that no civilized society should tolerate. In the second story, I don't even get why the sex is the focus of their look-at-this-poor-guy coverage. Sex may have been his motivating factor, but the fact is, he acted in a fraudulent manner. Whether he made money or got laid, or neither.
And that's the week in sex scandals.