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February 2005

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Is it Rape?

On Acquaintance Rape and Taking Women's Consent Seriously
Joan McGregor

The issue of acquaintance rape has been gaining increased prominence in recent years. In this book Joan McGregor analyses the ethical and legal problems that arise in connection with acquaintance rape cases. She discusses with great clarity and precision the complexities involved in notions such as consent, force, autonomy, power, intention and the impairment of responsibility through drugs, alcohol and mental illness. Arguing that criminal rape laws are too narrow, capturing only cases where there is clearly recognized physical violence and resistance from the victim, she sets out a new proposal for how the criminal law should deal with cases of nonconsensual sex which captures the ideals of a liberal political society and in particular the idea of equality. This book explains fully what it means when a woman says no and means no.


Professor Joan McGregor is Lincoln Associate Professor of Bioethics and director of the bioethics program at the School of Life Sciences and Department of Philosophy, Arizona State University.