A woman caught having sex with her unconscious boyfriend in the parking lot of a supermarket has inspired debate across the country. Allegedly, the woman was spotted by supermarket shoppers in Norfolk, Virginia, straddling her unconscious boyfriend. When police arrived her boyfriend was "unconscious and intoxicated," and taken to a local hospital. The woman, Kimberly Jackson, was charged with "being drunk in public."
"I was in the mood."
Jackson stated to news cameras, "I was in the mood, that's basically what happened," and continued that "The alcohol made me think I wouldn't [get caught]. I'm not into erotic public sex or anything like that." Palmer, her boyfriend, stood beside her during the onslaught of attention, additionally adding in "...I consented to that, I just didn't finish the job as you could say."
The implication is that Palmer fell unconscious during the sex act -- which is considered rape in most states. There's no denying that Jackson's story is being treated in the press as a humorous aside, and though alcohol does have a tendency to blur the lines between decent and indecent behavior, most of us haven't been caught having sex in broad daylight in a shopping mall parking lot.
Over Reactionary or Under Reactionary?
There are two ways that this case can be approached: it's either over reactionary and under reactionary. If the news articles have been over reactionary, it implies that consent can be maintained even if an individual (whether male or female) falls unconscious during sex. In other words, it means that under our legal system, anyone who blacks out during sex that they have nevertheless consented to, whether they're a man or a woman, should not have their cases prosecuted. (Many are not aware of this, but it is not the victim who chooses to press charges in America for rape; it is entirely up to the state as to whether they wish to prosecute.)
If the case is, instead, under reactionary, it implies that consent cannot be maintained if an individual falls unconscious and is too drunk to consent. In that case, it means that Palmer was raped by his girlfriend Jackson... and that charges should be pursued against her by the state for sexual assault, regardless of his point of view.
A bit of a double standard.
Whether the news or the police have been over reactionary or under reactionary is actually a moot point, however, because right now the case exists as a double standard. If the gender roles had been switched, there very likely would be a rape prosecution, whether it would be valid or not -- and a story about a man having sex with an unconscious woman in a parking lot would have a very different tone in the news media. In fact, even the language would likely be different: "having sex with" would likely have been replaced with "sexually assaulting."
Was Palmer raped by his girlfriend? Legally the answer is absolutely yes, which brings to rise some questions. Clearly public sentiment doesn't align with the legal system, and which is correct is likely a matter of personal opinion. Should Jackson be brought up on sexual assault charges for having sex with an unconscious man? Or should Palmer's prior consent be honored?