Friday Feminist Fuck Yeah: California legislature passes “yes means yes” bill

Berkeley

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.

AlexandraAlexandra Brodsky is a Feministing editor, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX.

New Haven, CT

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX, a national legal education campaign against campus gender-based violence. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NPR. Through Know Your IX, she has organized with students across the country to build campuses free from discrimination and violence, developed federal policy on Title IX enforcement, and has testified at the Senate. At Yale Law, Alexandra focuses on antidiscrimination law and is a member of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic. Alexandra is committed to developing and strengthening responses to gender-based violence outside the criminal justice system through writing, organizing, and the law. Keep an eye out for The Feminist Utopia Project, co-edited by Alexandra and forthcoming from the Feminist Press (2015).

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/brettminch/ Brett

    As a guy, when I initially heard “Yes Means Yes”, I thought it was a wonderful thing. And I still agree it is better than “No Means No”. Although, do women really want to say “yes” every time they interact sexually? That seems to me to be the result of this scenario and I can’t imagine all women agree it is the governments position to impose verbal agreements between consenting adults. My girlfriend personally has stated it could be a bit of a turn off to have to deal with this formality as a government standard. Thoughts?