Tag: sexual relations

Bioethics Blogs

Rape, disability, and gender: A response to McMahan and Singer’s op-ed on the Anna Stubblefield case

Unfortunately, there have been numerous cases of sexual
harassment and sexual assault in academia and particularly in more
male-dominated fields, including my home field of philosophy. In these cases,
professors use their position of prestige and power to sexually harass and
abuse their students. UC Berkeley philosophy professor John
Searle
is just the most recent example. To my knowledge, all of these cases
have involved male professors victimizing female students. The lone exception
is Anna
Stubblefield
, a former professor of philosophy at Rutgers. Here is a
summary of her case from Current Affairs

At issue is the case of Anna
Stubblefield, a Rutgers University philosophy professor convicted of sexually
assaulting her mentally disabled pupil, and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The case is, to say the least, extremely unusual. The student, D.J., was a
severely impaired 30 year old man with cerebal palsy, who had never spoken a
word in his life and communicated through “screams” and “chirps.” Stubblefield
acted as his personal tutor, using a discredited pseudoscientific technique to
elicit what she insisted were complex communications from D.J. Eventually,
based on what she believed D.J. wanted, Stubblefield began engaging in sex acts
with him, having become romantically attracted to him over the course of her
time assisting him.  

Stubblefield’s case is not only different because she is a
woman and her victim is a man, but also because she is one of the few
professors to go through the legal system and be convicted.

There are
many complexities to Stubblefield’s case and I don’t have the space to address
them all here.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Rape, disability, and gender: A response to McMahan and Singer’s op-ed on the Anna Stubblefield case

Unfortunately, there have been numerous cases of sexual
harassment and sexual assault in academia and particularly in more
male-dominated fields, including my home field of philosophy. In these cases,
professors use their position of prestige and power to sexually harass and
abuse their students. UC Berkeley philosophy professor John
Searle
is just the most recent example. To my knowledge, all of these cases
have involved male professors victimizing female students. The lone exception
is Anna
Stubblefield
, a former professor of philosophy at Rutgers. Here is a
summary of her case from Current Affairs

At issue is the case of Anna
Stubblefield, a Rutgers University philosophy professor convicted of sexually
assaulting her mentally disabled pupil, and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The case is, to say the least, extremely unusual. The student, D.J., was a
severely impaired 30 year old man with cerebal palsy, who had never spoken a
word in his life and communicated through “screams” and “chirps.” Stubblefield
acted as his personal tutor, using a discredited pseudoscientific technique to
elicit what she insisted were complex communications from D.J. Eventually,
based on what she believed D.J. wanted, Stubblefield began engaging in sex acts
with him, having become romantically attracted to him over the course of her
time assisting him.  

Stubblefield’s case is not only different because she is a
woman and her victim is a man, but also because she is one of the few
professors to go through the legal system and be convicted.

There are
many complexities to Stubblefield’s case and I don’t have the space to address
them all here.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Susan Reynolds Whyte’s Second Chances: Surviving AIDS in Uganda by Jason Johnson Peretz

Second Chances: Surviving AIDS in Uganda

Susan Reynolds Whyte, editor

Contributions by Godfrey Etyang, Phoebe Kajubi, David Kyaddondo, Lotte Meinert, Hanne Mogensen, Jenipher Twebaze, Michael A. Whyte

Duke University Press, 2014, 328 pages

 

What would happen if an entire generation of people who were expected to die experienced a ‘medical resurrection’?What would that generation do with their second chances?What would life look like for them? Susan Reynolds Whyte and her team explore these and other questions in Second Chances: Surviving AIDS in Uganda.

The medical miracle under investigation is anti-retroviral therapy (ART). When first introduced to Uganda, antiretroviral medication (ARVs) literally brought people back from the brink of death. An entire generation of Ugandans who had been expected to die of AIDS was suddenly given a second chance at life.

As Whyte and her team argue, survival created a ‘biogeneration’: a generation marked by the presence of both a medical diagnosis (HIV) and treatment (ARVs). The ‘return to life’ gives this first cohort the shared experience necessary to be a generation unto themselves. Unlike chronic illnesses like diabetes, which also require daily medication, ART in Uganda entails close treatment surveillance, clientship within particular clinical networks, and an identity assumed from the social networks informed by diagnosis, access, and adherence to ARVs. As the authors specify toward the end of the book:

‘The new social relations of the first generation were first and foremost to their health care providers and to the treatment programs they joined. Those relationships were the basis for possible membership in support groups and HIV welfare organizations.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Zoë Wool’s “After War: The Weight of Life At Walter Reed” by Christopher Webb

After War: The Weight of Life At Walter Reed

by Zoë Wool

Duke University Press, 2015, 264 pages.

In After War: The Weight of Life At Walter Reed, Zoë Wool shares her experience working with some of the most grievously wounded veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During a year of research from 2007-2008, Wool conducted fieldwork with amputees recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center, the military hospital complex that has become emblematic of the post-war experience of American combat wounded service members.

Before she embarks on her ethnographic portrait of life at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Wool makes explicit some important characteristics of the people and environment she describes, which are vital to understanding the context of her project. First, she notes that the overwhelming majority of her participants are male. Current critical military scholars are careful to avoid the homogenizing of the diverse uniformed members of the military as “men.” However, Wool acknowledges that the maleness of the demographic she was working with is omnipresent and the theme of normative masculinity it produces becomes central to this narrative. Wool is also clear that the experience of a decade’s worth of combat wounded veterans is quite diverse. The ratio of troops serving in either Iraq or Afghanistan shifted throughout the war, as did the prevalence of certain types of combat injury (gunshot wounds versus blast injuries from roadside bombs). Thus, there was a similarity of experience that profoundly shaped the narrative of the people whose lives are captured in this book, the overwhelming majority of whom served in Iraq and were wounded by explosions that resulted in lower extremity amputations.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Guest Post: An Unfortunate State Of Affairs

Hilary Greaves, University of Oxford

Ashley Madison is an online extramarital dating service, running with the succinct subtitle “Life is short. Have an affair.” On July 20, 2015, the service announced that hackers had breached its data security defences, and obtained identifying details for the site’s 37 million members. In the months that have since past, the newspapers have reported case after case of divorce, resignation from top jobs, blackmail and, tragically, suicide.

Reactions to the Ashley Madison scandal have been many and various, ranging from unreserved sympathy for the ‘victims’ to the view that subscribers to Ashley Madison were stupid and ‘therefore’ deserve everything they get. My own reaction to any case of family trauma caused by infidelity is rather one of sadness: the sadness of witnessing suffering that seems, in many or most cases, so eminently avoidable.

I do not mean that the suffering would have been avoided if the straying parties had kept strictly to their vows of monogamy, true though that may be. What strikes me most is rather the frequency of the refrain that what really hurt the wronged partner was “not the sex, but the betrayal of trust”. This raises the urgent question of why the vows of monogamy were made in the first place. Of course, once a promise is made, (a) it should be kept and (b) one feels cheated, even humiliated, if one is on the receiving end of a promise-breaking; but those observations imply nothing about which promises are good ones to make.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Does human papilloma virus vaccination encourage sexual promiscuity?

An ethical issue that often arises is to determine whether human papilloma virus, HPV vaccination could encourage sexual relations between adolescents who have been vaccinated. This was tackled in an extensive study published in JAMA (175; 617-623,2015), which concluded that “human papilloma virus vaccination was not associated with increases in sexually transmitted infections in a large cohort of females, suggesting that vaccination is unlikely to promote unsafe sexual activity”.

La entrada Does human papilloma virus vaccination encourage sexual promiscuity? aparece primero en Observatorio de Bioética, UCV.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Daniel Jordan Smith’s AIDS Doesn’t Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria by Darja Djordjevic

AIDS Doesn’t Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria.

University of Chicago Press, 2014, 208 pages

In Daniel Jordan Smith’s AIDS Doesn’t Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria, we confront AIDS as a total social fact of Nigerian society. In this, his third book, Smith, a seasoned anthropologist of Nigeria, presents conclusions that draw on his 23 years of amassed data. As such, the facility with which he organizes his confident analyses comes as no surprise, and yields a clearly written and well organized book—a boon to any social scientist. He is adamant that the book is meant to be more about Nigerians and Nigeria than about AIDS, but it is precisely the multiple products, effects, and consequences of the illness, integrated into various facets of social life that allow for AIDS to teach us something about Nigeria. Smith organizes his monograph into six chapters treating the domains in which he has observed the most profound changes in the past 23 years—urbanization, gender relations, religion, AIDS NGOs and civil society, kinship, and reproduction. He contends that these areas of social life are ones in which “people’s beliefs about and responses to HIV and AIDS offer significant insight into broader social processes that produce and reproduce social inequalities and their consequences for people” (19).

Smith’s AIDS research has centered on three (overlapping) populations: youth, married couples, and people receiving antiretroviral therapy. The data undergirding the book is quite substantial. In addition to several projects’ worth of participant observation and in-depth interviews, in 2001-2002 the author conducted an in-depth and highly detailed survey of 800 young Igbo-speaking migrants in major cities of northern and southeastern Nigeria.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Guest Post: Prostitution, harm, and disability: Should only people with disabilities be allowed to pay for sex?

* Note that this entry is being cross-posted at the Journal of Medical Ethics blog.

By Brian D. Earp

Introduction

Is prostitution harmful? And if it is harmful, should it be illegal to buy (or sell) sexual services? And if so, should there ever be any exceptions? What about for people with certain disabilities—say—who might find it difficult or even impossible to find a sexual partner if they weren’t allowed to exchange money for sex? Do people have a “right” to sexual fulfillment?

In a recent issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Frej Klem Thomsen[1] explores these and other controversial questions. His focus is on the issue of exceptions—specifically for those with certain disabilities. According to Thomsen, a person is “relevantly disabled” (for the sake of this discussion) if and only if:

(1) she has sexual needs, and desires to exercise her sexuality, and

(2) she has an anomalous physical or mental condition that, given her social circumstances, sufficiently limits her possibilities of exercising her sexuality, including fulfilling her sexual needs. (p. 455)

There is a lot to say here. First, in order to figure out the merits of making an exception to a general ban on prostitution (for people with disabilities or for anyone else), we have to start by deciding what to think about the advisability of such a ban in the first place. For, if we don’t think it’s a good idea to begin with (spoiler alert: this is my own view), then we can skip all the talk about making exemptions, and just argue against the ban.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Prostitution, Harm, and Disability: Should Only People with Disabilities be Allowed to Pay for Sex?

By Brian D. Earp

Introduction

Is prostitution harmful? And if it is harmful, should it be illegal to buy (or sell) sexual services? And if so, should there ever be any exceptions? What about for people with certain disabilities—say—who might find it difficult or even impossible to find a sexual partner if they weren’t allowed to exchange money for sex? Do people have a “right” to sexual fulfillment?

In a recent issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Frej Klem Thomsen[1] explores these and other controversial questions. His focus is on the issue of exceptions—specifically for those with certain disabilities. According to Thomsen, a person is “relevantly disabled” (for the sake of this discussion) if and only if:

(1) she has sexual needs, and desires to exercise her sexuality, and

(2) she has an anomalous physical or mental condition that, given her social circumstances, sufficiently limits her possibilities of exercising her sexuality, including fulfilling her sexual needs. (p. 455)

There is a lot to say here. First, in order to figure out the merits of making an exception to a general ban on prostitution (for people with disabilities or for anyone else), we have to start by deciding what to think about the advisability of such a ban in the first place. For, if we don’t think it’s a good idea to begin with (spoiler alert: this is my own view), then we can skip all the talk about making exemptions, and just argue against the ban.

But Thomsen doesn’t pursue that route.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Sex, Consent, and Dementia

A 78-­year­‐old Iowa man, Henry Rayhons, has been charged with third-­‐degree felony sexual abuse for having sex with his wife, who had severe Alzheimer’s, in her nursing home on May 23, 2014. Mrs. Rayhons died in August. The case raises questions about the capacity to consent in cases of severe dementia, an issue that is not limited to sexual relations. It comes up also in cases where patients initially resist food and water, but can be coaxed to eat. Does opening one’s mouth and ultimately swallowing indicate consent?

The importance of consent in sexual relations is now well recognized, although it hasn’t always been. Under common law, laws against rape were not considered applicable in marriage. The movement to make spousal rape a crime began only in the mid-­‐1970s. By 1993, it was a crime in all 50 states. 

However, this case is clearly not a case of spousal rape. No one suggests that Mrs. Rayhons resisted sexual contact with her husband, nor were there any signs of abuse. Indeed, by all accounts, theirs was a loving and affectionate relationship, and Mrs. Rayhons was always pleased to see her husband. That pleasure was undoubtedly less visible in the final stages of her dementia, but even then there were minimal signs that she enjoyed this contact, and none that she did not.

Without any signs of abuse, what was the basis for the arrest? Apparently, Mrs. Rayhons’s daughter was concerned that Mr. Rayhons was engaging in “inappropriate sexual contact” with her mother. This led a social worker to ask the nursing home’s doctor whether, given Mrs.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.