Common sense actually isn't as common as you might think, and when common sense errors get tangled with legal matters, things get extra sticky. Thankfully, California lawmakers have taken a big step to prevent unnecessary ambiguity in sexual assault cases, with the new 'Yes Means Yes' Law.
California Governor Jerry Brown has enacted a new law that clearly states that in any debate over sexual consent, the simple "no means no" standard won't cut it anymore.
Thanks to this outdated guideline, there's been plenty of confusion and wiggle room in sexual assault cases, where a perpetrator can claim that a victim consented because he or she did not explicitly say "no." But now, unless there's a "yes" involved, that perpetrator is clearly in the wrong.
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"Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent," the law reads, according to NPR. "Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time."
With this new law, California becomes the first state to clearly define the parameters of consent. Lawmakers in Cali are hoping this will change the way universities deal with issues of rape and assault on campus, by making them clarify that "affirmative consent" does not count if a person is not conscious, or is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. State-funded colleges will legally be required to update policies pertaining to sexual assault and domestic violence cases.
California Senator Kevin De León, who initially introduced the bill, has been very outspoken about the issue. "The State of California will not allow schools to sweep rape cases under the rug," he said. "We've shifted the conversation regarding sexual assault to one of prevention, justice, and healing."
This problem clearly spreads far beyond college campuses as well. Recently, musician Cee Lo came under fire for making some controversial comments about how consent applies in sexual assault cases -- so teens aren't the only ones who need a lesson on "yes means yes."
And now, there's even an app to make sure that all parties involved understand the rules of consent.
“If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, call the 24-hour National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673), or visit Rainn.org.”