California’s Affirmative Consent Law: A Step in the Right Direction


By: Chase Cabot

When I heard that California had passed the ‘Yes Means Yes’ Law this year my heart filled with pride for my home state. For the first time in this nation’s history rapists won’t be able to hide behind the excuse that their victim didn’t say no. Maybe police and university officials will finally begin to believe rape victims instead of blaming them.

But that dream seems a little utopian now; especially since rape apologists are coming out of the woodwork to decry the law. That’s no surprise, of course, but it is a little disappointing. For instance, Jonathan Chait writes this in New York Magazine: “Instead, it will technically deem a large proportion of sexual encounters to be rape.” As usual, people are shaking in their boots because somehow rape is being too broadly defined, or something. Jonathan and his friends would like us to ignore the fact that 90% of victims know their assaulter. That means our current definition of rape is actually far too narrow, and that it needs to be broadened if we as a society want to protect the vulnerable from rape. The idea that rape happens only when a stranger steps out of a bush with a weapon is an absurd one, and the true picture is a twisted person taking advantage of an intoxicated person or their significant other.

But what about false rape accusations? Yes, those wicked females are just out to get the poor men because they regretted having sex with them! It makes complete sense to draw yourself into an expensive legal system that is often extremely hostile to rape victims just because you regretted having sex with someone. Besides, even the strongest arguments that the Anti-feminists Who Cried False Rape crowd can come up with conclude that false rape reports at their highest are ten percent. However, they’re probably much closer to the FBI’s estimate of 2% since law enforcement officials have a history of intimidating rape victims into dropping complaints and then registering it as a false complaint.

If the idea of affirmative consent seems absurd and the lack of a “no” is consent to you, then ask yourself this: have you ever done gone along and done something you didn’t want to do because you were afraid to say no? It doesn’t matter what the situation was, just remember that coercion is more complicated than sheer force.

Others say that women who get raped deserve it by dressing or acting “slutty.” Of course, that’s moronic, and anyone who truly believes it probably hasn’t put a second of thought into what they’re saying. A woman who wears a short skirt or is flirtatious is not “asking for it.” This idea implies that men have less self-control than a dog waiting for a biscuit. Rape is a choice by demented people who feel a need for power over the weak to compensate for their own sense of disenfranchisement.

The “Yes Means Yes” Law takes away these pathetic excuses and finally allows victims of rape to have justice after being ignored and demeaned for so long.