While “no means no” should never be eliminated from anyone’s vocabulary, it may be time for us all to learn an even better sexual safety phrase.
You’ve all heard the saying, “no means no,” right? It’s a saying everyone should know from young childhood onward. Unfortunately, though, many people who have been sexually assaulted don’t get the chance to even say no. Often times, they are frozen in fear or disbelief, or are drugged, or passed out, and unable to respond.
In California, lawmakers are considering a measure that would require all colleges (which are, unfortunately, where many sexual assaults occur) that receive public funds to set a new anti-rape standard: “Yes means yes.”
Sounds pretty killer to me! I’m a huge fan of the ever increasing wave of women and men who want to build and support a system that is all about defining happy, enthusiastic, consensual sex.
According to the Yahoo, many universities, such as the University of California system and Yale, are adopting the yes-centric philosophy. SB-967, the bill supporting student sexual safety, was passed by the California senate in May and came before the State Assembly in early August.
While the bill requires that people get affirmative consent when engaging in, and during, intercourse, it does state that consent can be nonverbal. So, yes means yes, and often times, yes also means a mutual embrace and an enthusiastic hop into bed.
The bill also states the following, awesome things:
- Each person that’s involved in a sexual activity should ensure that he or she has affirmative consent of the people engaging in the sexual activity.
- Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent.
- Silence does not mean consent.
- Affirmative consent can be revoked at any time during sexual activity.
- Just because a person has or has had a relationship with a person doesn’t mean that there’s automatic sexual consent.
- A person can be accused of assault if that individual knows that another person was not able to consent to sexual activity.
Not surprisingly, there are critics of the bill who say that it is attempting to micromanage sex (barf). Other critics are saying that the bill aims to turn sex into rape. Ha! That’s a good one. These critics must be jesting because anyone who has ever had sex knows they can attain affirmative consent by actually interacting with their partner like a, well, I don’t know, healthy sexual human being?
I, for one, am incredibly happy about this bill and that people are beginning to hear the phrase “yes means yes.” If anything, the phrase allows people (especially young people) to discover that sex is supposed to be an interactive endeavor where everyone ends up happy and satisfied.
To help explain what “yes means yes” means, some schools, such as Yale, have developed word problems that give different scenarios of people engaging in sexual activity. Some scenarios give an example of “no consent” while others detail “unambiguous agreements.” Antioch College has even started a “Consent is Sexy” campaign.
For more on mutual consent and the awesome “yes means yes” culture, check out the website yesmeansyes.com to learn about Project Respect.
Related on EcoSalon
Terry Richardson, Consent and You: Sexual Healing
That Happened: The Steubenville Rape
Extinguish Sexual Shame by Claiming Your Authentic Desire: Sexual Healing
“California Legislature Considering ‘Yes Means Yes’ Campus Rape Bill,” Jezebel
Image: Chris Brown