Thursday, September 25, 2014

Yes means yes: Consent is erotic

Last year, the King Hall Women's Law Association held a lunch time event highlighting heightened issues of rape. During the Question and Answer period, one student voiced his opinion that he thought seeking consent for each sexual encounter was burdensome and unrealistic.

This debate is now happening in the greater public in reaction to California's "Yes Means Yes" legislation. On August 28, Californian lawmakers passed a law requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex. This has sparked a commentary on the ability to police consent in such a defined manner.

I have been surprised by the number or persons who have expressed feelings similar to that student; that this legislation goes too far because express consent is burdensome and stales sexual energy. So I was pleasantly surprised when I heard this KQED listener's perspective from  Dr. Leslie Bell, a sociologist at UC Berkeley, eloquently articulate the opposite:
When both partners feel comfortable talking about sex, some pretty sexy things can happen. "Can I do this?" "Yes. Yes. Yes."

But when we're uncomfortable talking about sex, lots of unsexy things can happen. Sexual assault chief among them.
Even while sitting in early morning traffic, Dr. Bell's chant of "Yes. Yes. Yes." was a turn on. I think most people would agree. That is evidence enough that consent doesn't close sexual possibilities, but opens them.