Shining Another Light on Spousal Rape Exemptions: Spousal Sexual Violence Laws in the #MeToo Era
This Note builds on the growing scholarly discourse involving the #MeToo movement and places an importance on discussing the issue of spousal rape in the #MeToo era. It fills a crucial gap in legal scholarship by articulating how sexual violence during marriage persists despite greater attention to sexual violence in the public discourse. There may be a blind spot in the popular discourse surrounding the #MeToo movement. This Note argues that the current conversation around sexual violence in the workplace fails to address the importance of fixing sexual violence in other areas (such as the home). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 18.3% of women experience some type of sexual violence in their intimate relationships. A majority of states essentially permit these forms of intimate partner violence within state statutes. In response, this Note provides a robust empirical analysis of states’ handling of spousal sexual violence. This Note exposes how loopholes in the law remain and how the #MeToo movement can influence the abolishment of these loopholes.
This Note proceeds in four parts. Part I covers the history of the spousal rape privilege and explains both the historical and modern justifications for spousal sexual violence. Part II explores previous feminist movements’ impact on the eradication of sexual violence. Next, Part III presents the current spousal exemptions in state statutes. Additionally, Part III tracks any #MeToo era repeals of spousal sexual violence statutes. Finally, Part IV recommends eliminating spousal exemptions to provide a legal remedy for spouses who seek one. Part IV also acknowledges that noncarceral approaches are necessary.