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.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The complaint that "Yes means yes" will kill the mood is a common argument against affirmative consent. While I personally agree with the author of this blog post that an enthusiastic "YES!" can most definitely be sexy, I think that the complaints about affirmative consent may stem from a broader issue. That issue is the outdated notion that women are not supposed to enjoy or want sex. They are supposed to be shy and coy and men should need to "convince" them to have sex. Telling men and women that a "yes" is needed (and wanted!) when engaging in sexual activity conflicts with this idea. Until we can get rid of the idea that women can be just as sexually liberated as men if they want to be, I am not sure that the "Yes!" and affirmative consent will be able to gain the popular support it so needs.