Affirmative Consent

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Minnesota’s New Puritans trying to make college sex “safe” might destroy it, instead.  

The proposed legislation says consent to a sexual act must be given by words or actions that create mutually understandable, unambiguous permission regarding willingness to engage in, and the conditions of, sexual activity.   It goes on to say that consent may be withdrawn at any time.  

Does “at any time” mean “after the fact?”  Can a person regret having agreed to have sex and retroactively withdraw consent?  Do second-thoughts convert consensual activity into sexual assault? 

If a person is accused of engaging in sexual activity without obtaining express consent, at trial, how does the accused prove s/he did obtain explicit consent?  He-said-she-said testimony?  A witness who watched the sex act?  Sex video?  Who curates the library of sex videos? 

It would be much easier to enforce if they’d cut to the chase and say: “Students shall not engage in sexual activity while enrolled in college.”
Joe Doakes

My alma mater – at least while I was in school (I have no idea today) went through at least the formality of saying “nobody of the opposite sex in your room after 11PM – 1AM on weekends”. Everyone knew the rules were getting flouted – but the institution had the wisdom to imply “look, all you late-adolescents – we know you’re going to do it, because for all the academic jabbering you are all still governed by hormones. But we know you’re neither thinking clearly, nor ready for the consequences, and we’re at least going to nag you about it long enough that the consequences don’t happen on our watch”.

I’m pretty sure it was a better idea.

5 thoughts on “Affirmative Consent

  1. It’s worth noting that those “in the know” are pretty sure that sexual assault is actually higher among young people who are not in college. So why protect the middle and upper classes in college and not the poorer/working classes who are not?

    And while we’re working with the Pareto Principle, the big issues that exist with sexual assault on campus are sexual assault while intoxicated (~65% of incidents) and not providing sufficient evidence for police to move forward (~95% of incidents). If you want to greatly reduce the rate of sexual assault and greatly improve the rate at which we incarcerate those who perpetrate these crimes, we need to teach people what factors are important in a good report to police and what to expect in the process, and to make one’s self scarce when people are getting drunk and stoned.

  2. So why protect the middle and upper classes in college and not the poorer/working classes who are not?
    Because they don’t care about that?
    You can ask that question alongside “why aren’t feminists working to integrate women in nearly all-male rubbish collection business?”

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