by Abbi Berry
On Sept. 27 California became the first state to define sexual consent as presence of “yes” rather than an absence of “no.” This law essentially diminishes the ambiguity of “no means no” for sexual consent cases on college campuses.
Too often in cases of sexual assault, victims suffer the inability to protest. In these instances if the victim is too afraid or too drunk to say no, the assaulter is granted consent. Yes Means Yes validates that rape is caused by a rapist and not a lack of refusal. This bill gives a voice to the victims who could not say no, but never said yes.
Democratic senator, Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles, introduced the bill with the idea that “every student deserves a learning environment that is safe and healthy.” Colleges all across the nation have been needing a better way of dealing with sexual assault cases, prompting California’s decision to pass this bill. California enacts this law with the hope of clarifying the standards of sexual consent and improving how rape and sexual assault cases are dealt with on campus. The bill applies to all California colleges or universities receiving state financial aid. It declares that these colleges receiving financial aid from the state must acknowledge that in campus sexual assault cases, being drunk or lack of dissention do not grant consent for sexual activites. The law also entails that these schools must develop policies in order to properly deal with more than a dozen situations that emerge from sexual assault cases including victim counseling and campus official training.
In response to the bill an advisor of the National Coalition of Men described the bill as presuming guilt of the accused and solely supporting that of the survivors or victims. However, supporters of the bill characterize the law as a new way of defining assault. Rather than it being portrayed as an aggressive action, it can be seen as a sexual encounter that is not necessarily supported.
In hopes of minimizing the controversy of consent, California will be the first state to redefine its meaning.
Sources: USA Today, The Odyssey, National Public Radio