We Heart: California’s Adoption of Affirmative Consent

9266030250_aa91a0f5df_oIn California, yes means yes!

As colleges across the country continue to struggle with how best to combat rape and sexual assault on their campuses, California Gov. Jerry Brown advanced the conversation Sunday by signing a landmark piece of legislation which requires individuals to receive “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” from their partners before engaging in sexual activity.

A first of its kind in the United States, SB967 reimagines consent by throwing out the ambiguous and ineffective “no means no” and replacing it with an active and sex-positive “yes means yes.” As a result, victims’ silence or lack of resistance during a sexual encounter (because of intoxication, for example) no longer is a legitimate excuse for unwanted sexual contact. Moreover, potential sexual partners are required to receive affirmation “throughout a sexual activity” as it “can be revoked at any time.” Dating history and sexual past, often cited as indicators of consent, do not presume permission.

The bill, drafted by State Sen. Kevin deLeon, also urges colleges and universities to develop training and outreach programs to educate faculty and students alike on how to prevent and address sexual violence on campus. If state institutions fail to follow the law, they may lose funding for student financial aid.

“Every student deserves a learning environment that is safe and healthy,” says De Leon.”The State of California will not allow schools to sweep rape cases under the rug. We’ve shifted the conversation regarding sexual assault to one of prevention, justice and healing.”

Hells YES!

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Steve McLaughlin licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.


Kitty Lindsay is a Ms. blogger and works at the Feminist Majority Foundation. She is also creator and host of Feminist Crush, a weekly podcast featuring conversations with feminist artists and activists. Follow her on Twitter!