The Scope and Limits of the Criminal Regulation of Sexuality, Review of Stuart A. Green's Book: Criminalizing Sex: A Unified Liberal Theory

Criminal Justice Ethics, Volume 40 Issue 2, June 2021

25 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2021

Date Written: August 26, 2021

Abstract

In recent decades, societal perceptions about sexuality have undergone immense changes, which in turn led to substantial reform of states’ criminal regulation of sexual misconduct. Legal scholars and feminist reformers, particularly in the aftermath of the #MeToo social movement, call on legislatures and policy makers to reform existing sexual assault laws in a way that would increase prosecutions for these crimes and provide justice to victims. This type of advocacy urges legislatures and policy makers to expand the scope of criminal provisions on sexual misconduct by adopting “gap fillers” to cover types of misconduct that existing legislative frameworks fail to encompass. Still other reformers, adhering to the goals of the social movement Black Lives Matter (BLM), highlight concerns about over-criminalization, over-enforcement, and mass incarceration that have disproportionately affected minority communities, especially black men, including among others in the area of sexual offenses.
In the wake of #MeToo, and given this multifaceted political and social environment, legislatures and policy makers must reconcile the purported tension between the need to protect victims of sexual misconduct from violation of their sexual autonomy on the one hand, while also contracting states’ power to prohibit sexual behaviors that do not justify exercising the coercive power of the criminal law on the other.
This comment reviews legal theorist Stuart Green’s new book Criminalizing Sex. It argues that the book offers an important contribution to existing literature on sexual offenses. The book’s key innovation is to provide a comprehensive unifying theory that should inform the criminal regulation of sexuality. As its title suggests, the book’s goal is to offer a single, unified framework that conceptualizes all sexual offenses by suggesting various fundamental guiding principles to theorize these crimes.



Keywords: sexual offenses, regulation of sexuality, criminal law

Suggested Citation

Buchhandler-Raphael, Michal, The Scope and Limits of the Criminal Regulation of Sexuality, Review of Stuart A. Green's Book: Criminalizing Sex: A Unified Liberal Theory (August 26, 2021). Criminal Justice Ethics, Volume 40 Issue 2, June 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3912122

Michal Buchhandler-Raphael (Contact Author)

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School ( email )

3800 Vartan Way
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9380
United States

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