“No means no.” The meaning behind the phrase is not rocket science, but an easy concept that many of us learn at youth. For decades, it’s been the one phrase used in efforts to eliminate rape culture. If a woman says ‘no’ at any time during a sexual advance or act, stop. Period. No more discussion to be had. Still as simple as “no means no” seems, governors in California are looking to flip the phrase on its head with the new, SB967 Bill that attempts to define what exactly constitutes sexual consent as well as adopt requirements for colleges to follow when investigating sexual assault reports.
The state Senate unanimously approved the “yes means yes” bill Thursday sponsored by, Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles). “With one in five women on college campuses experiencing sexual assault, it is high time the conversation regarding sexual assault be shifted to one of prevention, justice, and healing,” Sen. de Leon said, as the Associated Press reported. Rather than using the refrain “no means no,” the definition of consent under the bill requires “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” The legislation outlines that silence or a lack of resistance does not equal consent. Under the bill, someone who is drunk, drugged, unconscious, or asleep cannot grant consent.
On Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill after being urged by college sexual assault victims and women’s advocacy groups who had delivered petitions to his office. The bill will apply to all California post-secondary schools, public and private, that receive state money for student financial aid. The California State University and University of California systems are in support of the new laws after implementing similar consent standards this year.
Critics of the legislation have argued that it presumes guilt on the accused and that the State is setting themselves up for legal troubles as it shouldn’t be able to regulate consent between two sexual adults. But supporters, including Sofie Karasek, an activist who sought changes in how the University of California-Berkeley handles such cases, say that it’ll be helpful to define consent and set standards across campuses. “It does change the cultural perception of what rape is,” Karasek told the Mecury-News. “There’s this pervasive idea that if it’s not super violent then it doesn’t really count.”
In addition to the legislation defining consent, the bill requires training for faculty reviewing complaints so that victims are not asked inappropriate questions when filing complaints. The bill also requires access to counseling, health care services and other resources.
No matter how many yeses a woman gives, just one “no” should still be more than enough to stop an unwanted sexual advance, do you think this new bill will help change rape culture on college campuses?