Criminalizing Sex:
A Unified Liberal Theory

How should a liberal system of criminal law protect individuals in their right not to be subjected to sexual contact against their will, while also safeguarding their right to engage in (private consensual) sexual conduct in which they do wish to participate? Criminalizing Sex develops a framework for harmonizing these goals across a wide range of sexual offenses — including rape and sexual assault, sexual harassment, voyeurism, indecent exposure, incest, sadomasochistic assault, prostitution, bestiality, and necrophilia.

Taking on a collection of fascinating moral and legal puzzles, arising out of real-world cases of alleged sexual misconduct, the book situates the theory of sexual offenses in the current cultural context — including the #MeToo movement and the ongoing revision of the American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code. It is sure to spark conversations, and potentially change the way we think about some of the most contentious legal, moral, and social issues of the day.

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Criminalizing Sex: A Unified Liberal Theory by Stuart P. Green

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Released: March 13, 2020
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0197507484
ISBN-13: 978-0197507483

Download the introduction

“[Criminalizing Sex] is incredibly important in ensuring that the law on sexual offences evolves rationally rather than in a reactionary manner. . . . The author eloquently makes the case for considering carefully what offences we need to criminalise and those we do not.”

CAITRIONA MCLAUGHLIN
Law Society Gazette

“Stuart Green’s Criminalizing Sex is the most important contribution to the scholarly literature regarding sexual offenses in decades. Even those who may disagree with some of his arguments will find themselves grateful for his clear, careful, and insightful analysis. A must-read for scholars, policy-makers, and lay readers alike, Green’s book is, quite simply, a masterpiece, by one of the leading criminal law scholars of our generation.”

Professor Michelle Madden Dempsey
Villanova University


“In this magisterial work, Green uses his powerful intellect and tender spirit to produce an insightful, rigorous, and sensitive critique of sexual offences law. Marked by care, precision and a deep understanding of the law, the book provides an overview of all sexual offences, taking the reader back to the starting points to examine how we categorize and label these crimes. I am sure it will come to be recognized as a work of enormous significance in this area of the law.”

Professor Jonathan Herring
University of Oxford


“Criminalizing Sex tells us why fortifying negative rights to freedom from sexual assault can undermine positive rights to consensual relations. An engaging and brilliant writer, Green leaves readers more sophisticated consumers of contemporary controversies that swirl around such characters as Brett Kavanaugh, Louis C.K., and Larry Nassar. Highly recommended.”

Professor Sherry F. Colb
Cornell University


“An indispensable read for anyone interested in criminal law theory and sexual offenses, Green’s newest book scrutinizes the foundations of prohibitions that target a large variety of sexual misconduct, from rape to necrophilia. Readers from all over the world will profit from this clear, analytical approach that transcends the boundaries of national law.”

Professor Dr. Tatjana Hörnle
Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law

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