Legislators and activists just don’t trust adults to navigate issues of consent without them.
With all the other drama in the news, the likely passage of a California law ostensibly targeting sexual assault on college campuses—approved by the state Senate on May 29 and by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on June 18—has gone largely unnoticed. Yet the bill, SB-967, deserves attention as an alarming example of creeping Big-Sisterism that seeks to legislate “correct” sex. While its reach affects only college students so far, the precedent is a dangerous and potentially far-reaching one.
The bill, sponsored by state Senator Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) and developed in collaboration with student activists, does nothing less than attempt to mandate the proper way to engage in sexual intimacy, at least if you’re on a college campus. It requires schools that receive any state funds through student aid to use “affirmative consent” as the standard in evaluating sexual assault complaints in the campus disciplinary system. According to the bill:
“Affirmative consent” is an affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Consent is informed, freely given, and voluntary. It is the responsibility of the person initiating the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the consent of the other person to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.