Huge congrats to California anti-violence activists! Yesterday, the state’s legislature passed a bill that would require affirmative consent on college campuses. The bill now awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s approval to become law. The New York Times reports:
State lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill that would make California the first state to define when “yes means yes” while investigating sexual assaults on college campuses. . .
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. . . .
Advocates for victims of sexual assault supported the change as one that will provide consistency across campuses and challenge the notion that victims must have resisted assault in order to have valid complaints.
As Maya wrote earlier this summer, affirmative consent is really the least we can ask of each other. And the fact that opponents are so up in arms about the idea that we should only be having sex with people who want to have sex with us just demonstrates how desperately we need this reform.
The next step, it seems to me, is expanding this standard beyond college campuses to (at least) all civil law suits for sexual assault. Hopefully the California law passes and serves as an example not only for other campus-specific legislation but a shift in our national legal understanding of gender-based violence.