Her Campus/Notre Dame
9.18.15 | Gabriela Malespin
In light of federal investigations of mishandlings of sexual assault allegations on college campuses, as well as a greater awareness of rape culture and victim blaming, its very likely that you’ve heard of “Affirmative consent laws," particularly on college campuses. For those who don’t know, affirmative consent (also known as “yes means yes”) emphasizes that consent isn’t simply the absence of a "no," but rather requires enthusiastic, conscious participation from BOTH parties.
Basically, what this means is that sex should be an activity that people participate in freely, without coercion, and enthusiastically. It means you shouldn’t be having sex with someone incapacitated and unable to say yes. It means that, if engaging in sex, either party can stop at any time if they choose to, and that saying yes to one kind of sexual activity doesn’t mean they want to engage in another. It means that you have to ASK people if they want to have sex. That’s right, ASK.
This is not rocket science. This is not complicated. It takes less than five lines to explain.
I honestly wish I had a dollar for every article that “warned” that affirmative consent laws would “make sex impossible," that “anyone who had sex would be classified as a rapist”, that “people would be too afraid to have sex," and that these laws imply that “the government is monitoring college student’s sex lives." It’s frustrating and infuriating to read how prominent writers with huge online platforms fail to listen to advocates and supporters of affirmative consent laws, and continue to confuse so many readers.
Affirmative consent isn’t about policing student’s sex lives. It isn’t about defining any and all sexual activity as sexual assault. It certainly isn’t about making sex more confusing than it actually is. Rather, affirmative consent is about making sure that people are attentive and considerate when deciding whether or not to have sex.