Autonomy and Access
The fifth chapter explicates a Connecticut case of alleged sexual assault committed against a significantly physically and cognitively disabled woman. The facts and fallout of the case facilitate an analysis of sex and sexual ethics that applies, synthesizes, and qualifies the three core criticisms of consent (insufficiency, scope, and inappositeness) leveled across the other chapters. The examination of the case shores up several ways in which consent fails to deliver sexual justice. Hilary O’Connell and I propose legal remedies and social reforms that would better facilitate sexual and intimate possibilities not only for the alleged victim in the Connecticut case and people similarly disabled but also, if more speculatively, for people positioned across the spectrum of ability. The legal remedies are grounded in a feminist reconstruction of sexual autonomy that rejects the equation of autonomy with consent. The social reforms are grounded in a disability-studies reconstruction of access that promotes institutional arrangements facilitating people’s equal participation in politics, education, employment and sex.
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