Yes Means Yes

Redefining Consent

By Mia Dirito

Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” are just a few examples from pop culture that show society’s serious misunderstanding of consent. As a young woman in college, I have seen first hand the measures we are expected to take in order to prevent being assaulted in such a harmful rape culture. On September 28, 2014 Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 967, also known as the “Yes Means Yes Law.” The goal of the bill is to clarify what consensual sex is on campus. Consent is now defined as “yes means yes” rather than implied consent “no means no.” This change in rhetoric is also intended to prevent rape rather than make victims prove they were raped.

The law requires any California community colleges, state universities, and universities receiving state funding to implement an ongoing affirmative consent standard, and put victims’ best interests first.

There are people who oppose this new law and even more who ignore it. Complaints include placing too big of a burden on the accused and too much government intervention. Judith Shulevitz, of the New York Times, rejects the law because teaching people to talk while hooking up is “too big of a task.” The rape culture we live in discourages communication between partners because it’s not sexy, or it kills the mood.

On March 17, Interim Vice President of Student Services at BCC, Josefina Baltodano, told the BCC Voice that steps will be taken next semester to better educate students and faculty about sexual assault, however no official plans have been made.

Our patriarchal roots shape how we communicate, and the term “consensual sex” is an example of that. It isn’t consensual sex or non-consensual sex; it is sex or rape. Even though in general, obtaining consent before and during sex isn’t always seen as mandatory, this law is bringing us one step closer to eliminating rape culture.

According to the BCC catalog, students who have been a victim of sexual assault “are encouraged to notify the Vice President of Student Services,” (currently Josefina Baltodano: Room 242, 510-981-2820, for a list of resources and help notifying the campus police.

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