When I was in college, something rather odd happened to me while I climbed upstairs alone to go to the library. A girl, one of my friends, came towards me, in downstairs direction, while I walked upstairs. When she got close enough, she pat my butt. I continued my way, but, when I reached the top, I looked back at her. She was smiling playfully. I may have pulled a silly, or maybe indifferent face, but I admit that it wasn’t a bad experience. Actually, that was the closest I ever got to get laid anyway. Sad, isn’t it?
So, knowing that:
- The act didn’t harm my body, my mind or my image, but;
- Was a butt slap, an act frequently seen as “libidinous”, often embarrassing;
I ask: was it sexual assault? If yes, then assault is an objective concept; otherwise, it’s a subjective concept. If assault is an objective concept, then it’s problematic: in fact, at least in my case, it was a victimless crime. I would never report her, because she was young, had a bright future to pursue. How could I report her over something so small? I would need to be a money-thirsty mercenary. I’m only disclosing this because I don’t know where she lives, I forgot her name and there’s no records to prove that the episode has happened, so it would be impossible to start an investigation against her.
If subjective, then something may or may not be assault solely depending on who received the action, their judgement on the issue, not the nature of the act. For example, a man was reported for sexual assault because he, while taking a picture with a woman, kept her close by her waist. According to the woman, he squeezed her waist twice, which caused her such a profound psychological damage that it was like her whole person had been erased. That means that the man was reported for hugging her by the waist and giving squeezes, which supposedly traumatized the woman. But that’s not an act often seen as “libidinous”, nor is it stereotypically “embarrassing”.
If assault is an objective concept, we need to draw a sharp line between what’s libidinous and what is not, like I suggested to be done for statutory rape, in a way to not punish harmless acts. If it’s an subjective concept, it must become objective, to avoid allowing a person to prosecute another solely on a particular interpretation of the act, almost as if the accuser had powers of a judge.