Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that makes California the first in the nation to have a clear definition of when people agree to sex. The law goes further than the common “no means no” standard, which has been blamed for bringing ambiguity into investigations of sexual assault cases.
The new law seeks both to improve how universities handle rape and sexual assault accusations and to clarify the standards, requiring an “affirmative consent” and stating that consent can’t be given if someone is asleep or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.
"Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent," the law states, "nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time."
The state Senate unanimously approved the “yes means yes” bill Thursday sponsored by, Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles). “With one in five women on college campuses experiencing sexual assault, it is high time the conversation regarding sexual assault be shifted to one of prevention, justice, and healing,” Sen. de Leon said, as the Associated Press reported.
Critics of the legislation have argued that it presumes guilt on the accused and that the State is setting themselves up for legal troubles as it shouldn’t be able to regulate consent between two sexual adults. But supporters, including Sofie Karasek, an activist who sought changes in how the University of California-Berkeley handles such cases, say that it’ll be helpful to define consent and set standards across campuses. “It does change the cultural perception of what rape is,” Karasek told the Mecury-News. “There’s this pervasive idea that if it’s not super violent then it doesn’t really count.”
In addition to the legislation defining consent, the bill requires training for faculty reviewing complaints so that victims are not asked inappropriate questions when filing complaints. The bill also requires access to counseling, health care services and other resources.
No matter how many yeses a woman gives, just one “no” should still be more than enough to stop an unwanted sexual advance, do you think this new bill will help change rape culture on college campuses?