Sex Talk

Having Sex with a Sleeper

Q from a male, junior wants to know... If I try to have sex with someone who is sleeping, would it be considered rape?

Dr. Caron’s Response: The short answer for most people: Yes. I think it would be dismaying to wake up and find this going on. Perhaps one would think it were fine if this was someone you had a long-term relationship with and therefore an appropriate level of trust exists between the two of you – assuming you had sex before and this was something you both enjoy participating in and have talked about. However, for many, this would be seen as a violation - a clear case of taking advantage of someone who is sleeping – especially if the relationship was fairly new. Where is the consent? You need that in order to proceed. Wake the person

Related Issue: Sleep Assault

© 2010, Sandra L. Caron

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It is not sex that gives the pleasure, but the lover. - Marge Piercy

American teens have the worst of all worlds...Our children are bombarded and confronted with sexual messages, sexual exploitation, and all manner of sexual criticism. But our society is by and large sexually illiterate. Faye Westheimer

Dr. Sandra L. Caron is a professor of human sexuality at the University of Maine. To submit a question to Dr. Caron or chat with your peers visit Got a question for Dr. Caron? Visit and ask away! Get a guaranteed personal and confidential response to your question: or E-Mail

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