Which means that there are some larger and rather unpleasant implications here; are there not?
I’ll be the first to say that human behavior isn’t something that needs to be defined, legislated, or otherwise enforced – unless a law has actually been broken. But to have one of the nation’s most populous states providing very explicit directions for what does and doesn’t constitute consent is, I believe, a troublesome precedent, however well-intentioned the legislation may be.
Sexual intercourse is an expression of mutual trust, and shouldn’t be entered into lightly by either party. So is affirmative consent necessary? Of course – I just don’t like the idea of either partner being able to make somebody’s life difficult after the fact because they forgot to say “You may continue” at regular intervals during the encounter.
Any discussion about sexual politics is doomed to become a minefield, so I’ll close with what spokespeople from UCLA and Chapman University hope to get out of the new legislation: publicity.
Both schools agree that some action was called for, and that the new legislation is a gesture that will make schools’ expectations “more clear” and will help women feel “empowered to speak up when they are in bad situations.”
Hard to find fault with that reasoning. All we have to do now is wait to see, in the long term, whether the legislation succeeds in its mandate or whether it causes more problems than it solves.
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