Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel
November 28, 2014
Paul R. Abramson / Leif Dautch
Even California's laudable measures on affirmative consent may be a case of 'too little, too late.'
LOS ANGELES — California’s new affirmative-consent law has garnered national attention this fall, and for good reason. The first-of-its-kind “yes means yes” statute requires all public and private colleges that receive state money for student financial aid to incorporate affirmative-consent language into their sexual-assault policies. The only problem? It may be too little, too late.
Affirmative consent hits all the right buttons. It requires lockstep consent at every phase of a sexual encounter between college students, thereby eliminating the defenses of intoxication, the absence of overt resistance and other excuses for nonconsensual sex.
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Supported by victim advocacy groups and UC President Janet Napolitano, the bill passed unanimously in the state Senate, shepherded through by new Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles).
But what the bill ignores is that a person’s approach to sexual behavior and relationships is often already firmly established by the time he or she reaches college.
With dating and sexual activity increasingly starting in junior high or high school, ameliorative measures at the college level might come years too late. And by then, attempts to reprogram views on sex and relationship dynamics could prove difficult.