Yes Means Yes

One in four college women report surviving rape or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime.

673,000 women currently attending U.S. colleges and universities have experienced rape at some point in their lifetime.

Each year, there are about 293,000 victims of sexual assault. 

68% of sexual assaults are not reported to police. 

98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail or prison.

80% of victims are under the age of 30.

Approximately 4/5 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.

47% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.

Statistics from RAINN1 in 4NYSCASA

“No means no” has been the prevailing tool in rape trials. This means a victim must be able to prove they made his or her “no” clear in order for the case to be viable. Society must challenge the notion that victims must have resisted assault in order to have valid complaints. Soyesmeansyes-header4cial activist Sofie Karaoke notes, “there’s this pervasive idea that if [a rape is] not super violent then it doesn’t really count.” Under a “yes means yes” standard, sexual activity is considered consensual only when both partners clearly state their willingness to participate through “an affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision” to engage in sexual activity.

On October 1, California became the first state to approve “Yes Means Yes” legislation. This law requires high schools to teach affirmative consent as a part of curriculum in sex education. This includes “explaining that someone who is drunk or asleep cannot grant consent“.  It also specifies that “lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent”. Furthermore, “colleges [must] use affirmative consent as the standaelle-sexual-assault-college-h-lgnrd in campus disciplinary decisions, defining how and when people agree to have sex”. The bill also requires colleges and universities to adopt “victim-centered” sexual-assault response policies and implement comprehensive programs to prevent assault.

There is wide criticism surrounding “Yes Means Yes”.

Most of the criticism I found was written by males and appeared to have strong misogynistic under tones. Several journalists have argued this law is only in place to service ‘political correctness’ instead, with one such journalist noting “the perils and predicaments of life on campus are increasingly being used to advance politically correct legislation.” He asserts this law was written out of desire to ‘appear’ that change is happening, rather than with the interest of future victims’ in mind. Another journalist criticized the law, saying “discussing consent is widely seen as awkward and likely to kill the mood.” In his critique, he continues by stating women want to be surprised during sex and that having a conversation about consent could result in less pleasurable sex. He also says affirmative consent removes “non-verbal” cues from consent. He states if a woman is flirting and “passionately kissing”, it should be apparent they want to have sexual intercourse. I, however, think these arguments promote a negative rape culture. The view that ‘a girl wants sex because she has a provocativee0ec5ad45c56b354953b5f6702d7dbd4 dress’, or ‘a girl wants sex because she drank at the bar with me’, ect is misleading and potentially dangerous. If a person is kissing another, it does not signal they want to have sex in all cases. In fact, a person can be in the middle of sexual intercourse with another, but can become uncomfortable and request the act to stop. If the other person continues, it is rape – no matter the case.

Lastly, it has been argued that ‘Yes Means Yes’ is replacing ‘No Means No’. However, this is not the case. As described above, someone can give affirmative consent at one point, but they hold the legal right to say “no” and the sexual encounter must stop or else it is considered rape. Yes means yes sole purpose is to protect those who couldn’t say no, either due to fear, intoxication, or other circumstances. I believe it will make college campuses (and the world in general) a safer place for women.

Yes Means Yes does not negate No Means No.