Rape by Deception. Autonomy. Consent. Kantian Ethics. Ethics of Care. Feminist Theories.
Rape by deception is a unique and controversial form of crime. It is based on the assumption that withholding some information from a person –usually a woman- prior to having sex with her can be said to nullify her consent to the act. One can assume that a feminist approach would strongly condemn this type of crime. However, in this paper we want to underline how rape by deception puts in question some variants of feminist theory. We will argue that in order to convincingly condemn acts of rape by deception, we need to accept that some forms of feminist ethics, such as relational autonomy and ethics of care, are inappropriate or incapable of convincingly condemning this type of rape. In order to support this claim, we will consider recent cases in Israel and in the United Kingdom that give relevance to this global issue. Assuming that procuring sexual interaction by deception about one’s own identity amounts to rape, we will highlight that such a position is consistent with a strict Kantian version of ethics. However, we will explain how this position paradoxically collides with the directives of some feminist theories.