With the start of school underway, however, the biggest paradigm shift on rape and sexual consent in decades may just now be emerging in California, where “yes means yes” – a model for reform that feminists like me have been pushing for years – could soon become law.
Late last week, the first state bill to require colleges to adopt an “affirmative consent” model in their sexual assault policies passed the California senate unanimously. The legislation, which is headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for approval by the end of this month (his office declined to comment), effectively requires the presence of a “yes” rather than the absence of a “no” – or else withholds funding from the nation’s largest state school system.
The legislation additionally clarifies that affirmative consent means both parties must be awake, conscious and not incapacitated from alcohol or drugs – and that past sexual encounters or a romantic relationship doesn’t imply consent. The California bill also, importantly, specifies that “lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent”.
It seems like a no-brainer to only have sex with conscious and enthusiastic partners, but detractors say the standard “micromanages” sexuality. The truth is that a “yes means yes” policy “helps to create a shared responsibility, instead of the responsibility falling on women to say ‘no’,” says Tracey Vitchers, chair of the board at Safer (Students Active for Ending Rape). Anti-violence activists are clearly excited about the bill, which – if all goes well – could be adopted by more states with large public university systems.
Last week, a Stanford student told Bloomberg that women need to protect themselves from rape by staying sober, etc., since many people lock their bikes to prevent them from being stolen and apparently that is the same thing.
So who is the type of person who thinks women should find a U-lock for their bodies?
Here’s what turns up when you Google the guy and take a peek at his Stanford Daily writer profile. As Alexandra at Feministing wrote, “No comment necessary.”
Let’s play out the scenario for the one in millions chance that someone in the presence of someone who wants to assault her is wearing the nail polish, coyly gets her finger into the drink, and spots the color change. Then what? How does it end? If this person is willing to go to such lengths to harm her, they won’t be phased by her setting her drink down. So let’s say she gets away or finds help. Does she call the police to report the activity of her fingernails? What happens when the next person this predator wants to harm opts for her favorite OPI shade that weekend?
How does it end?
It doesn’t; not with nail polish, anyway.
(…)This product does nothing to dismantle a culture of violence against women that demands we constantly become ever more vigilant against those who would do us harm. Undercover Colors, like so many other products, treats rape as an individual incident rather than a systemic and pervasive problem. Despite the never ending stream of prevention products, the statistics haven’t improved.
Unfortunately, This Magical Anti-Rape Nail Polish Won’t Save Us
Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, said his bill would begin a paradigm shift in how California campuses prevent and investigate sexual assault. Rather than using the refrain “no means no,” the definition of consent under the bill requires “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” Earlier versions of the bill had similar language.
"With this measure, we will lead the nation in bringing standards and protocols across the board so we can create an environment that’s healthy, that’s conducive for all students, not just for women, but for young men as well too, so young men can develop healthy patterns and boundaries as they age with the opposite sex," de Leon said before the vote.
Silence or lack of resistance does not constitute consent. The legislation says it’s also not consent if the person is drunk, drugged, unconscious or asleep.
June 5, 2014 at 11:55am
andhereshowiseeit said: A petition to change Williams college sexual assault policy has received over 3,000 signatures attempting to end rape violence on campus. Google williams sexual assault petition to see more. & go to the williams record to read more about the victims story
Hello! Thank you your response. Two of SAFER’s board members are Williams alums and we are aware of the petition.
I have got nothing to be ashamed of.
You can get raped, but not protest against rape.
Rape is not the presence of NO, it’s the absence of YES.
Rape happens because rapist choose to rape. Period. No one deserves to be on the receiving end of such a vile decision.-Wagatwe Sara Wanjuki
Do I have the right to shove pizza down your throat just because you enjoy eating pizza?