Is Affirmative Consent the Answer to Sexual Assault on College Campuses?

Read more of our articles on consent and sexual assault on U.S. college campuses here.

A bill making its way through the California Assembly is attempting to address the problem of rape on college campuses by mandating affirmative consent, or a verbal or written yes, before engaging in sexual activity.

SB 967, which has already passed the state senate, says that all sexual behavior on state-run college campuses requires “an affirmative unambiguous and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. … Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent.”

Students who want to have sex on campus will need to reach a mutual agreement. The bill comes as four of California’s state universities made the list of 55 colleges under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for mishandling sexual assault cases.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Brown University’s botched attempt to deal with one case of sexual assault and mentioned how it gave me déjà vu because similar events had happened on that same campus when I was a college student two decades ago. This California bill also is giving me déjà vu, as I immediately remembered the highly criticized policy developed by Antioch University in 1991 (also during my college days) that required affirmative consent seemingly at every touch. This became the butt of many jokes and the focus of a 1993 Saturday Night Live sketch starring actress Shannen Doherty, who was at the height of her Beverly Hills 90210 fame, and the late SNL cast member Chris Farley. Though I found the skit (which I will explain in more detail later) offensive, Antioch’s strict rule still struck me as a bit ridiculous at the time. I did not believe that it could really work to end the crisis of college sexual assault. And I was pretty sure that it would ruin consensual sexual spontaneity.

I still worry about those things. However, it’s been more than 20 years, and we clearly haven’t solved the problem of sexual assault on campus, so it seems like a good time to revisit whether legislating affirmative consent might make a difference.

Affirmative consent essentially changes the current standard of “no means no” to one of “yes, and only yes, means yes.” In its most basic form, it means that the person who is initiating sexual behavior must receive a verbal yes from the other person before continuing, and that this consent must be ongoing through the sexual encounter. In other words, consent for kissing does not count as consent for oral sex.

In my interview with Toby Simon about her work to prevent sexual assault on Brown’s campus in the 1990s, she pointed out that within a few years the “no means no” message had gotten through. In Brown’s skit-based prevention program, if the young woman on stage said “no” out loud, there was no longer any debate amongst the student audiences watching the performance—she had been raped. But if she was silent, multiple questions about her motives, behaviors, and culpability came up. So, if “no means no” sunk in on that campus more 20 years ago and sexual assault is still prevalent there, it seems clear that we need a new standard.

Though it is easy to define the standard of affirmative consent, operationalizing it is far more complicated. The process is clunky at best. Consider these finer points in Antioch’s 1991 policy:

  • Consent is required each and every time there is sexual activity.
  • All parties must have a clear and accurate understanding of the sexual activity.
  • The person(s) who initiate(s) the sexual activity is responsible for asking for consent.
  • The person(s) who are asked are responsible for verbally responding.
  • Each new level of sexual activity requires consent.
  • Use of agreed upon forms of communication such as gestures or safe words is acceptable, but must be discussed and verbally agreed to by all parties before sexual activity occurs.
  • Consent is required regardless of the parties’ relationship, prior sexual history, or current activity (e.g. grinding on the dance floor is not consent for further sexual activity).

If this policy is followed to the letter, it would mean that even if you were fooling around with a partner of several years with whom you’d done pretty much everything, you would need to discuss and agree upon what you were going to do tonight—either in advance or along the way.

This is where comedians had a field day, and where the SNL crew came up with their skit. It opened up on set of a Jeopardy-like game show, called “Is It Date Rape?” hosted by the “Dean of Intergender Relations.” The contestants were Ariel Helpern-Strauss, a “junior and a major in Victimization Studies,” played by Dogherty, and “Mark Strobel, a nose back and Sigma Alpha Epsilon brother,” played by Chris Farley. The running joke is pretty obvious: She thinks everything is date rape and he thinks it’s not. In a skit within the skit, the “date rape players” parody what a sexual experience at Antioch would now look like with lines like “May I touch your left breast now?” and “Yes, you have my permission to touch my breast.” The whole thing depicts affirmative consent as pretty ridiculous. You can read the full transcript here if you want to know the details.

Again, I found the sketch offensive to women and especially to survivors of date rape, because it was one more example of people belittling their experience and portraying them as oversensitive. Further, it suggests that affirmative consent will turn what could have been a fun, intimate experience into something about as sexy as getting your taxes done.

In writing about California’s proposed law for the site Vocativ, Elizabeth Kulze—who also notes the similarity to the Antioch rule and mentions the SNL sketch—says that affirmative consent rules miss the mark because date rape is not about misunderstanding.

Multiple studies have shown that the sexual assault crimes are almost never a consequence of miscommunication. Rapists are usually aware that their coercive and aggressive behavior is both wrong and unwelcome, but they go ahead and pursue the prize anyway.

She’s right that the men involved in many sexual assault cases have no intention of stopping no matter what they hear. But communication is still important. Young men have been taught by our society that their role in relationships is to want sex badly, and women’s is to reluctantly give it to them. Many have never really been taught what is and isn’t consent—except, perhaps, “no means no.” That does not excuse any man who rapes, but it is a problem. Fostering a culture of affirmative consent among both parties could prevent at least some men from raping.

Moreover, as Amanda Marcotte pointed out in a piece for Slate back in February, affirmative consent might help us do away with the myth that sexual assault on campus is often just a case of women regretting their weekend of drunken sex:

Looking for a woman who said “yes” (or any variation of it, which can be expressed in a variety of ways, both verbal and nonverbal) instead of focusing on whether she said no in exactly the right words will help put the role alcohol plays into focus. It will clear up some of the murky gray areas, such as cases where a woman is too drunk to be articulate in her refusals but not so drunk that she passes out. It will also offer a degree of protection for scared men, because a somewhat intoxicated woman who explicitly asks for sex will have a hard time convincing the courts she hasn’t “demonstrated intent” to bone. It’s an easy way to get more guilty men convicted while offering protection for innocent men.

What I think convinced me the most about the potential benefits of affirmative consent, however, is the idea—pointed out on—that such a rule creates a community standard.

The 1991 Antioch policy called sex without consent an “offense against the entire campus community.” State Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), who authored the California bill, said in a February press conference, “The measure will change the equation so the system is not stacked against the survivors. There’s nothing that’s vague, there’s nothing that’s ambiguous to this equation right here.” More recently, he added, “I think this is really critical that we create a culture that’s respectful of women, that we create protocols that are transparent.”

Having this new standard, which lets everyone know that sex without active consent is not OK, is an interesting start to changing culture. It rules out sex with someone who is too drunk to consent. It rules outs blaming the victim for not saying “no” or for following a guy back to his room. (“Well, what did she expect?” becomes “She expected to be asked for her consent.”) And as much as possible, it interjects into the situation some pre-sex conversations, which we sex educators have been trying to get couples to embrace for years.

I recognize that the roots of rape culture in our society go far deeper than what happens between individual couples in the bedroom. On a societal level, we have a lot of work to do on how we view sexuality and gender before we make a dent in our rape problem. I also recognize that these laws may be impossible to enforce and may not, in the end, make it any easier to punish rapists; there will no doubt still be he said-she said battles over who said “yes” and when.

Yet I find myself hopeful at the thought of this law passing in California. It’s a baby step—but one that’s trying to incite a culture shift away from putting the onus on women to prove they didn’t want it. And culture shifts usually do happen in baby steps.

Correction: A version of this article incorrectly noted that “students who want to have sex on campus will need to reach a mutual agreement either verbally or on paper” (emphasis added). However, the latest version of the bill text omits that reference, saying only that there must be “an affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.” We regret the error.

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  • Amandagon

    My only issue with the bill is the term “unambiguous.” Nothing in the realm of human communication (or human emotion) is ever perfectly unambiguous. I think there should instead by an objective, reasonable person standard.

    You say that it’s possible to discern, from body language alone, whether or not someone would like to be touched sexually. This is true, but only after the touching has already occurred.

    Imagine that a man and a woman are consensually kissing. The man would like to move to second base, but is not sure if he should. He’s reading the woman’s body language and she seems to be enjoying the kissing. He lowers his hand to the woman’s buttocks, and immediately senses her tense. He quickly removes his hand and apologizes.

    Hasn’t that man already committed sexual assault? How is he to tell, from body language alone, whether or not she wants him to touch her IN ADVANCE of the actual touching? She seemed eager and comfortable, but that could just mean that she’s enjoying the kissing. Not that she’d be comfortable with anything more.

    He could ask, of course, but even then miscommunication is possible. Let’s say the man stops in the midst of kissing and asks: “Can I touch you?” That’s far from an unambiguous question. Touch her where? With what? For how long? How hard? Aren’t they already touching? (kissing with arms around each other)

    He could be more explicit, but that creates other problems. He could ask: “May I place my hand upon your breast?” What if he wants to touch her butt? Does he have to ask again? What if he stops touching her breast and then wants to do so again later on in the make-out session? Does he have to ask again? Does he have to stop and ask every single time he slightly repositions his hands? This would turn sex into a tedious nightmare for both parties.

    Does he have to ask to touch her breasts if they’re in the midst of intercourse?

    As I said, I agree with the thrust of this article, but human communication is an imperfect instrument. It’s impossible to completely remove all grey areas from any type of human interaction. At the end of the day, we have to rely on the reasonableness of our fellow human beings.

    The man in my scenario probably shouldn’t be reported for sexual assault, even if you could potentially make a case for it. At the same time, anyone initiating sexual contact has a duty to be as careful as is reasonably possible and to desist immediately when they sense that they’ve inadvertently crossed a line.

    • cjvg

      If someone consents to sex they are aware that that included touching. You are creating a far fetched reasonable doubt foundation so that we again are left with the status quo

      • Amandagon

        “You are creating a far fetched reasonable doubt foundation so that we again are left with the status quo”

        I’ve been scratching my head for a while now, and I still have no idea what this sentence is supposed to mean. Care to elaborate?

        • Arekushieru

          Pretty simple, actually. Where and how is reasonable doubt usually established? In courts of law, perhaps? Maybe they are suggesting that you are going beyond the bounds of what is normally established as reasonable doubt in such a scenario? After all, they did say far-fetched did they not? And doing so means you do not believe it is a good policy to introduce, which leaves us with… tadah!… the status quo. Simple, really.

          • Amandagon

            This comment is even more nonsensical than the post I was responding to.

            Reasonable doubt has nothing to do with the subject we’re discussing. This is about institutional definitions of sexual violence. Not the law, and not standards of proof.

          • cjvg

            You are introducing a scenario that is dealing with behavior during dating, not asking consent before sex. You then use that scenario to claim that instituting a clear consent before sex policies would be to onerous because of your previously mentioned case.

            You then proceed to claim that the man in that scenario already committed a sexual assault if the woman had to say no to his hand placement. You then and subsequently conclude that no clear consent to sex policy would protected him or her from that sexual assault that has been committed. So lets not institute a policy requiring clear unambiguous consent before sex.

            Never mind that there is not one single case of a sexual assault being charged OR prosecuted for “wrong” hand placement!

            Your “objections” would make some sense if the state wanted to institute a clear and unambiguous consent to touch policy in place, however that is not what we are talking about.

            You are playing a very disingenuous and intellectually as well as morally and ethically dishonest game of obfuscation and dissimilation. You do not even have the slightest intention of being honest as your obvious and deliberate misrepresentation of the facts and reality surrounding sexual assault and rape clearly shows

            Just as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said in Jacobellis v. Ohio 1964. He stated that hard-core pornography clearly did not fall under the constitutional protections of free speech and, “I shall not today attempt to further define the kinds of material I understand to be hard-core pornography but, I know it when I see it”

            We all know what sexual assault really is and what it is not, however there are some like you who deliberately attempt to cloud the issue for their own nefarious goals. The more you and those like you can cloud the issue of obtaining clear unambiguous consent before sex, the easier it is for rapist that they “thought” she wanted it, because she was giving of those “vibes”. If the rule is that when you do not get a yes do NOT assume or proceed, it becomes much harder to claim that “she wanted it” . And that is the crux of the isuue, if the law of the land becomes that a YES is needed, you can no longer use the self serving “interpretation” of her behavior/ clothes/dancing/ laughing/ accepting a drink. entering a car consent

          • Amandagon

            The bill uses the same standard of consent for touching that it does for intercourse.

          • cjvg

            And we already addresses the whole touching issue extensively.
            That’s all you got after a whole novella about how it is wrong to have ask for consent?

          • Arekushieru

            Um, are you incapable of understanding your own posts? Then, don’t put the blame on me for not being able to understand what I write. Reasonable doubt IS equivalent to requiring standards of unambiguous consent to be met before certain conditions can be implemented. In this case, that consent must be SO specific to time and location and placement, before a yes means yes approach to gauging personal boundaries can be invoked. It’s similar to requiring that clear evidence be provided by video from the witness present at each stage of the crime committed, before one can be convicted of a crime. Sounds like someone is establishing a far-fetched foundation for reasonable doubt to me. And it’s neither cjvg nor I. So, who’s the nonsensical one, now?

    • lady_black

      Yeah… NO. Getting permission to kiss someone already implies that there will be embraces involved. How many times, when kissing someone in a romantic manner have you ever not been in bodily contact while doing so? I’d be willing to bet none. You are not moving on to a different level in a clear way, such as removing (or moving aside) clothing. That would require asking permission, and it’s not a huge deal to say “May I remove your ____?” Fill in the blank. In fact, it’s common decency not to assume you may start disrobing someone without asking permission or being asked to do so. When someone is a known lover, the dynamics change somewhat where you can rely on body language alone. If she doesn’t want you to touch her. or move on, she’ll do something to let you know i.e. pushing your hand away or saying “No I don’t want to do this right now.” Yes can never be implied simply by the action of not saying NO between two people who don’t know each other’s signals.

      • Amandagon

        The problem is, if you do something sexual and then immediately stop when you notice a bad reaction, you have ALREADY committed sexual assault. People also have different ideas about what constitutes a “different level.” Is putting your hand on someone’s ass a “different level” when you’re feverishly making out with someone?

        There’s zero margin for error. Also, what does a question like “can I go further?” mean, exactly? This is my point about the ambiguity of even verbal communication. No matter how explicit you are with your requests for consent, there is always significant room for interpretation. Even a super explicit question like “Can I touch your breasts?” is not completely unambiguous. Touch your breasts when? For how long? How hard? Where on the breasts? With your hands or something else? How many times?

        Perfectly unambiguous communication is impossible. No matter how explicit you are, there can still be questions about what you meant. What if some crazy person decided to call the cops in a situation where the boundaries were (very slightly) misunderstood? That would be sexual assault according to your definition. The actual law needs to be more reasonable than that. It shouldn’t be an open door to anyone who wants to unreasonably accuse someone of a serious crime.

        • lady_black

          NO. When making out with someone, touching them anywhere over their clothes is not “a sexual assault.” Putting your hands under the clothes is clearly another matter, and you better make sure that’s OK before doing it. And you better not be touching anyone’s breasts “hard” or you may find yourself being grabbed “hard” in some equally unpleasant region of your body. Just saying…

          • Amandagon

            That may be your opinion, but college sexual assault policies don’t share it.

            I was told that you have to stop and verbally ask every time you touch someone in a slightly different place. The college sexual assault crisis is real, but these insanely over-broad definitions only serve to muddy the waters and ultimately help no one.

          • Arekushieru

            Huh, I was never told that. Wonder why?

          • Jennifer Starr

            Told by whom?

          • Amandagon

            By my college’s orientation.

          • Jennifer Starr

            Which college are you currently attending? I’m not even understanding what point you’re trying to make.

          • lady_black

            No, I don’t believe you have to ask permission before moving your hand to “a slightly different location.” I think you must ask permission to touch someone in an intimate matter. Sexual activity moves along a sort of continuum most of the time. The term you used of “making out” usually implies kissing of the head/neck areas, along with fondling through the clothes. If you wish to proceed from “making out” to “heavy petting” you have to ask for consent first. What’s the big deal? I’ve been down this road countless times, as I’ve been on this earth for 55 years. You don’t assume because someone is kissing and embracing you mutually, you have automatic consent to reach inside their clothing and touch a man’s penis or a woman’s vulva. That’s only common decency and treating other people like human beings with rights, rather than possessions for the taking. Bear in mind, probably most of the time the answer is going to be “Yes, please do!” which can’t possibly do anything but stroke the ego of the person hearing it, and relieve doubts about whether actions are being misinterpreted. You’re either inventing problems where none exist, or you are accustomed to treating others like objects and don’t want to change your operations. I would rather believe you are “over-thinking” the situation than thinking you’re a predator.

        • Arekushieru

          Obviously, you do not know what sexual assault entails. It means to continue with a previous sexual action even after one has not consented to it. Immediately backing off is not doing that, now is it? As for your complaints about the ambiguous nature of something, no means no also does not make something less ambiguous. Therefore, it seems that it is possible that this has nothing to do with making things as clear as possible, after all, no? Maybe, like I pointed out to iamcuriousblue, it’s more of a way to establish the basic rules for gauging personal boundaries when it comes to sex?

          • Amandagon

            Colleges are now enforcing a policy of “affirmative” consent. If someone has to say “no,” then you’re already guilty.

          • Arekushieru

            Why are we discussing something that we never even brought up, before, now? I’m talking about changing the basic rules from no means no to yes means yes, then you’re extrapolating some weird conclusion from that to mean that someone must be saying no to have stopped the assault. Um, no? If a woman doesn’t say yes to something she’s not giving consent. She doesn’t HAVE to say no to REMOVE consent. That’s the whole freaking POINT.

          • Amandagon

            Is English your first language?

    • L-dan

      It’s not like someone can’t say “I’d really like to touch your, x now,” to get that consent before actually moving on. It’s really not that hard to require some attention to detail.

      Every time I see these convoluted hypotheticals, it really reads as someone going “I don’t want to have to change the way I do things to make sure my partner is actively consenting,” and/or, “under these definitions, I may have assaulted someone in the past, and I don’t like thinking of myself that way.”

      Let’s see: status quo is currently a lot of people having sex they don’t actually want because their partners aren’t putting any effort into getting more than a ‘they didn’t say no’ level of consent. Shifting the culture to an affirmative consent standard opens the door to alleviating some of that, at the cost of some awkwardness. For the record, this standard pretty much requires reciprocity. So “damn look at that cock, I want to suck it…ok?” is a requirement too.

      It removes a lot of the social license that says it’s cool to gain sex by getting someone too inebriated to be clear about things.

      • lady_black

        Not to mention, what guy wouldn’t get a swelled head by being asked such a question? Consent is so… SEXY! In my mind there’s nothing sexier for a man OR a woman than being told they are desirable. Consent need not be as onerous as what this guy is implying.

      • Amandagon

        Convoluted? My hypothetical is extremely straight-forward. Man and woman are making out. Man places hand on woman’s buttocks. Woman reacts negatively and man apologizes while removing hand. This hypothetical is neither convoluted nor far-fetched. I have observed this precise interaction multiple times at various high school and college parties.

        You’ve also completely glossed over the fact that no question is every completely free of any ambiguity. As well as the fact that stopping to ask for explicit permission in between touches is hardly realistic. “I’d really like to touch your X now, may I?” Sounds fine in isolation, but keep going. “I’d next like to touch your Y, may I?” A few seconds later. “I’d now like to touch your Z, may I do that.” Followed by: “I’d like to touch your X again, is that still okay?” You get the picture. You can’t be expected to stop and ask at every single step. That is Antioch territory.

        Nevermind the fact that none of those questions are “unambiguous” per the requirements of the proposed law. “Can I touch your X?” With what, your hands? How hard? How many times? For how long? Which exact parts of my X? You might think this unrealistic, but the standard is complete unambiguous communication. Something that cannot ever exist. Human language isn’t capable of perfect clarity or perfect specificity. Especially when discussing something as organic and multi-faceted as sexual activity.

        I’ll say again, the standard should be an objective, reasonable person standard of consent. That’s the way it’s handled under the law, and in every other area of life. Consent is legally conceived of as an objective expression, based on the reasonable person standard. This proposed language is nothing short of Utopian nonsense.

    • JamieHaman

      Consenting to “normal heterosexual sex” is not the same as consenting to anal sex, nor is it the same as consenting to play in the field of S&M or a number of other sexual ‘thrills’ out there, enjoyed by many.
      When does it cross the line into sexual assault or rape? When either partner refuses to listen.

  • iamcuriousblue

    Does the California law in fact mandate verbal or written consent, at each step no less, per the infamous Antioch Rules of the 1990s? I’m not sure the bill actually says that. But if it does, I find it hard to believe that a law micromanaging the process of sexual consent would hold up in court, as it likely violates the 9th Amendment and whole bunch of other protections, going entirely against the spirit of Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down this kind of state micromanagement of personal sexual behavior. Of course, it is entirely possible to give affirmative consent non-verbally, via unambiguous body language, actions, and so on (albeit, I know there are quite a few “consent culture warriors” out there who attack the very idea of non-verbal consent). A looser standard of affirmative consent is one thing, but the state handing people a playbook on exactly how the sexual consent process must be conducted is quite another.

    There’s also the issue of having this kind of law being part of law on college campus rather than being part of general criminal laws on sexual assault. It creates the absurd situation where there are two very different sets of laws on sexual assault, on campus and off. (And looks like a creep back to “in loco parentis” rules in progressive guise.) If there are in fact aspects of affirmative consent rules worth enshrining in law, then it should be part of criminal law on sexual assault, not part of some educational code.

    • iamcuriousblue

      I probably should have just read through the bill’s text (as should the author of the above article), because the bill does not mandate verbal or written consent. The old language of the bill read:

      “expressed either by words or clear, unambiguous actions”

      The revised version backs away even from that:

      “an affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each participant”

      Even though the language is vague, IMO, it’s good of them to move away from the direction of micromanaging the course of a sexual encounter. It is not the proper role of the state to define what’s good sex or good communication, but only the minimal role of outlawing sexual assault.

      • Lauren Kelley

        You are right about that change in the bill text. Thanks for catching that. Fixed in the piece. -Lauren Kelley, Managing Editor

    • Arekushieru

      For one, there would have been no ‘playbook’, given as you suggested. even in the original version you mentioned. After all, all that to which you are referring, unambiguous consent that is, simply requires, is that one give consent to each situation, not which questions to ask and how they should be asked. That was pretty much outlined as extremely ridiculous in the article, itself, after all. A ‘playbook’ based simply on THAT could in no way be said to be micromanaging anything.

      For two, the author did not say that the bill mandates verbal or written consent. I think you will understand that if you go back to the beginning and read how she phrased it. Specifically, mandated affirmative consent. OR verbal OR written agreement. If she meant mandated affirmative consent to mean one or the other of both, I think she would have stated it like this: mandated affirmative consent, meaning verbal OR written agreement; no?

      And, finally, for three. having a separate educational code IS appropriate not only because campus rape culture tends to vary quite a bit from rape culture in general, simply BECAUSE it is a microcosm of the events that occur in the wider culture (just as incestuous rape is a microcosm of all rapes that occur), but because it starts a concentrated acceptance of affirmative consent off earlier than it would if it were merely applied to the culture at large.

      • iamcuriousblue

        “And, finally, for three. having a separate educational code IS
        appropriate not only because campus rape culture tends to vary quite a
        bit from rape culture in general”

        Sorry, but I’m not buying your premises or conclusions. Even getting around the fact that “rape culture” is a pretty slippery, poorly defined, and overused terms, I see no evidence that colleges have a different “rape culture” than the culture of similarly-aged people anywhere. Two, I think it’s simply absurd when you’re talking about the serious crime that is sexual assault/rape that there should be two different sets of laws around it. Colleges aren’t some little utopian experiment where basic laws and rights that apply everywhere else suddenly don’t apply. And I reject your approach that we start with colleges to get “concentrated acceptance” – again, it’s not the role of colleges to re-educate people on the laws they should want to live under. (Ditto for speech codes and the general attack on free expression rights in general. What that crap is supposed to get people to accept is not benign in the least.) If these laws are worth having, they should have to be laws that the whole society is prepared to accept, not just impose on young people through some legal backdoor.

  • Arekushieru

    And you know these people are wrongly charged, how?

    • Melooley

      He (she? somehow I’m assuming the commenter is male, but apologies if I’m wrong) didn’t say “wrongly charged,” he said “wrongly expelled.” There’s a whole world of difference between those two phrases.

      • cjvg

        Question still stands

        • Melooley

          I’m sorry, I was trying to suggest that the original commenter (teriincali) thought that rape simply is not “bad” enough to deserve expulsion, and that that’s what s/he meant be “wrongly expelled.” I was trying to be curt and snarky, and instead I was just unclear.

          (I’m worried I’m still not making sense, so here goes a third attempt: “Wrongly charged” implies that there is a pseudo-victim lying about having been assaulted. “Wrongly expelled,” on the other hand, seems to me to imply that even though the victim is telling the truth and a rape did occur, that the crime somehow isn’t worthy of expulsion. “Wrongly charged” is pretty danged awful, because of the assumption that any victim would be lying, but “wrongly expelled” is worse, in my view, because of the assumption that a rapist deserves leniency.)

          (Sorry, too, that this is 10 days late. I was out of town, but still wanted to clarify.)

  • fiona64

    Citation needed.

    • fiona64

      Reply to Teriincali, in moderation:

      Your citation is far from scholarly: AccusingU puts rapists in the position of “victim.” Just one example of their horror show can be found here: Basically, they say that victims of sexual assault are all liars who just regret sleeping with some dude.

      Oh, and your other citation, from Edward Greer? He’s a so-called “men’s rights activist,” whose opinion is not worth the powder it would take to blow it up. “National Coalition for Men,” his organization, is one of the worst out there for misogyny. BTW, you might want to take a look at NCFM’s website, if your gag tolerance is strong. They maintain that affirmative consent is a “war on male students.”

      As a survivor of sexual assault, I invite you to go screw yourself.

      Oh, and to learn how to actually weigh citations for bias. The reality is that false reports range from 2-8 percent.

      You’re welcome.

      • Jennifer Starr

        Teri C. Stoddard (the poster above) is actually associated with that saveservices site. She’s very involved in the whole MRA schtick.

        • fiona64

          Puke-o-rama. I feel sorry for anyone with that kind of Stockholm Syndrome.

          • Jennifer Starr

            Yeah I read a few of her comments–I’d say that she has some serious issues.

          • catseye

            An awful lot of these bozos are actually men passing themselves off as women online. (BTW, ChrisFunGuy has showed up over on AlterNet with a generic female pic for an avi.)

          • fiona64

            He had a female avi when he was 5×5 as well.

  • fiona64

    The percentage of wrongful accusations of sexual assault is so small that it is not even statistically significant (5.9 percent). Nice try.

  • jefflewis

    These government law makers and anti-sex trafficking and feminist groups believe that all women should be treated like children in regards to sex. They feel that it is impossible
    for an adult woman to give consent to sex with a man. Therefore all sex
    with a man is considered rape. Any woman who tells them that they gave
    consent to sex with a man they feel must be coerced, forced to say that, or
    mentally insane and needs mental help. Because what women in their right
    mind would ever consent to having sex with a man?
    The feminist women’s groups on college campus, in law enforcement, and government
    in America believe that when a woman says YES to sex –she really means NO. No
    matter what the woman says or does the answer to sex is always –NO! YES
    means NO! No means NO, maybe means NO, silence means NO. If she
    gets sexy and physical with a man, and says she wants sex, the man must realize
    the answer is still NO! And walk away.

    My best advice for men is: — DON’T HAVE SEX WITH A WOMAN! PERIOD! –
    If you do, you can have lots of problems with the government, police, law
    enforcement, women’s groups, feminists, anti-sex trafficking groups,
    politicians,social services, church leaders, lawyers, law makers, the
    universities, college, work supervisors, the news and the media.”

    Link with some supporting views written by a woman:

    • Jennifer Starr

      Sounds to me like Judith Grossman is one of those mothers who refuses to believe that her ‘little angel’ could do any wrong. The fact that she’s a woman doesn’t really lend her any credibility. And I don’t think that you’re Jill Watson, either. I’m not even sure you’re Jeff Lewis. You don’t have much credibility either.

    • fiona64

      They feel that it is impossible for an adult woman to give consent to sex with a man. Therefore all sexwith a man is considered rape.

      Citation needed … and not to something you wrote this time, okay?

    • Melooley

      You know what? As much as I disagree with most of this crazy rant, I agree with the main premise: If you believe all that fooey, then YES–do us ALL a favor and don’t have sex with women! Or men, for that matter. No one deserves a crazy, real-world-denying sex partner, and we certainly don’t want any of that hot mess getting passed on to the next generation.

  • zyan

    I have seen the studies for this too. In light of this finding it remains mysterious why college males, especially in fraternities, insist on a culture that celebrates raping drunk dates, underage partners, and forcing (or labeling as bitches) those who say “No” outright. By actively defending rape culture and rejecting the message that males have anything to do with responsibility or consent, they are enabling those very rapists – those alpha peers who “cheat” in order to out-compete them for access to women.

  • JamieHaman

    Nope. Not enforceable imo, but could lead to progress in understanding consent. Progress would be good.

  • jovan1984

    A whole lot of other things need to be included along with sex under the affirmative consent law. Money, for one, should be included under the affirmative consent law.

  • zerophalanx

    “Affirmative consent essentially changes the current standard of “no means no” to one of “yes, and only yes, means yes.””

    Except it doesn’t! At all!

    Where in the bill does it say each partner must verbally ask the other if they want to get busy, and each must provide a verbal confirmation to the other?

    That’s the problem with this bill! If the state legislature wants to require verbal consent, then maybe they should—I don’t know—WRITE THAT INTO THE BILL.

    And if they don’t, then what the hell is the point? It doesn’t change the calculus of the he-did-she-did nature of rape cases at all.

    “…one that’s trying to incite a culture shift away from putting the onus on women to prove they didn’t want it.”

    At least you’re open about being in favor a presumption of guilt, rather than trying to beat around the bush.