Watch out wanky men! The law is coming…to get you

No, honestly. Its true. Or at least, in my humble layperson sort of brain, putting together recent legal rulings and working out what they ought to mean in a rational world, that feels like the right sort of conclusion.

Online wankers are now committing a crime!

The subtle bit of the McNally ruling

Allow me to explain. First up is the McNally case, which a load of us are probably sick of hearing about now. But there’s one teeny bit of it that maybe people haven’t noticed.

The prosecution was brought under s74 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which broadly says that deceiving someone as to the nature or purpose of a sexual act may invalidate consent to that act. S74 is about freedom to choose – and not having all the relevant info means you don’t have that freedom.

Read the judgment closely. Skip past the bits where the judges appear not to know the difference between sexuality and sexual identity – or a dildo and a “german sausage”. They cite the complaint that the defendant started her deception four years ago.


Yep. Online, Justine was calling herself Scott. And giving out all manner of signals to the effect that Scott was a guy. (Interestingly, I wonder what would have happened had the name used been Robin or something equally gender-neutral).

For at least two years of the relationship, the only place that the “deception” occurred was online. But the court chose to mention it.

Wanky man spanked

OK. Quick switch. Over to s76 of that same law, which makes it an offence if someone did not consent to an activity and the perpetrator should have understood that.

And the case of r v Devonald (2008).

{Hmmm: for those for whom THAT link doesn’t work, here’s the full html…}

Its not a nice case. the perpetrator was seeking revenge on a young boy for jilting his daughter. He therefore posed over the internet as a woman aged 20 (“Cassey”) and persuaded the boy to masturbate on a webcam for Cassey’s sexual gratification. The aim was to teach a lesson through embarrassment and exposure. Ugh!

Still, once you’ve backed away from that nastiness, its what lies at the heart of this ruling that is of interest. The judges were picking up not on the vengeful motive, but on the fact that the boy was “masturbating for Cassey”, which was a sexual act whose purpose – and possibly nature, too – were entirely other than “masturbating for a nasty old middle-aged bloke in drag”.

Conclusion: dishonest men go directly to jail, do not pass Go

So let’s get this straight. Inducing someone to masturbate while thinking that you are a woman is an offence if you ain’t.

And telling someone online that you’re a guy is an offence when, in the view of various m’learned gents, you ain’t.

Now, I may be wrong here, but I do believe that it has been known, in the history of the internet, for guys (mostly) who are anything but trans, to devise online persona’s, avatars and what-have-you (usually blonde and with unfeasibly large breasts) for the purpose of chatting up women.

Maybe – eek! – for the purpose of online sex, which involves inducing people to masturbate, or to pretend to masturbate, while online and type the appropriate “oooh!” and “aaaah!” noises every so often. Ye-es…

Seems to me that the better your typing, the less likelihood that you are ACTUALLY masturbating.

Such guys may even have entered into women-only spaces in the vain hope of a little mutual fapping.

OK. Let’s get real. I have spent time in online virtual worlds. Second Life for one. I like the easy social interaction and for a while made some quite nice friends there. At the same time, I would never, ever trust anything anyone told me in there, unless backed up by a real life phone number, profile, the works…

But it is interesting, not a little amusing, to think that courtesy of various learned gents a not inconsiderable number of wanky men may now, in principle at least, be guilty of an offence under both s74 and s76 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.


(Any suggestion that this is written with tongue-ever-so-slightly-in-cheek is most hurtful and if you suggest such a thing you ain’t my friend any more. Maybe)


About janefae

On my way from here to there
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4 Responses to Watch out wanky men! The law is coming…to get you

  1. Nick Smith says:

    Hmmm…I kinda always assumed it was. And should be. So, good.

  2. Nick Smith says:

    Though whoever thought that society was well-served by prosecuting McNally is an idiot.

  3. rachbowyer says:

    Devonald is considered a difficult and troubling (i.e. bonkers case). One way of looking it is as follows. There is a long line of cases where deception as to purpose negates consent. The defendant was looking for sexual intimacy; the victim thought it was a routine medical examination etc. Devonald is the other way round. The victim thought it was for their mutual sexual enjoyment whereas Devonald’s purpose was non-sexual; he wanted to humiliate the victim. On this analysis if both parties are “wanking” for their mutual sexual enjoyment there is no deception and no crime.

    McNally should make no difference as it was a s. 74 case not a s. 76 case.

    However, post McNally of course Devonald seems like the epitome of judicial discretion. Now that the judges have turned to Alice in Wonderland for the meaning of the words and ignored the express wish of parliament who decriminalized sex by deception in 2004 – (will be blogging about this) – anything is possible.

  4. Evagreen says:

    What about if a man has sex with a woman for a few times, the woman wants commitment otherwise she won’t have sex with him, then he agrees to have a committed relationship with her. She believes him, then he disappears after sex, would he be guilty of an offence under s. 76?

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