California has passed a new law meant to stem the rise in sexual assault on college campuses. I wrote about how I believe this rise is because of a hook up culture that permeates college campuses in a sexual revolution gone awry.
As researched in my article, the behavior blurring the line of consent, is the fact that inebriation seems to be a requirement for the hook up sex. To counter this culture the California law specifies the prohibition of sex when “The complainant was incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication, so that the complainant could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity.”
And yet this definition of sexual assault is already in the California Penal Code which actually goes into more detail than this new law and actually explains quite succinctly what consent is.
Another aspect of the so called “Yes means Yes” law that is confusing is the reality that “hook up” sex is by definition void of real verbal communication. The adults engaged in it do not really have the trust and commitment required for said communication. Due to the awkwardness of sex outside of a committed relationship there is usually little to no verbal cues but a sort of hit and miss experimentation of sexual behavior.
It is, for the most part, only in the comfort of a committed relationship that there is real verbal communication during sex. Do this- don’t do that- can I do this? etc. There is this unwritten law about correcting a stranger and potentially ruining the spontaneity of the moment and possibly deflating your partner’s passion.
Does a law really have the power to change how humans communicate during sex? Will this be the new normal in sexuality?
Ohio State University is implementing new policies that take “Yes” even further. Not only must “Yes mean Yes” but the “why” of the interaction must be verbalized as well.
Even more bizarre are new definitions of Assault as described in regulations at the University of Michigan which include:
“ discounting the partner’s feelings regarding sex; criticizing the partner sexually; touching the partner sexually in inappropriate and uncomfortable ways; withholding sex and affection; always demanding sex; forcing partner to strip as a form of humiliation (maybe in front of children), to witness sexual acts, to participate in uncomfortable sex or sex after an episode of violence, to have sex with other people; and using objects and/or weapons to hurt during sex or threats to back up demands for sex. “
With these broadened interpretations of assault and narrower definitions of consent, it would seem that no sexual encounter is void of some type of prosecution. It is apparent that the real purpose of these policies and laws is meant to shield the Universities from litigation, rather than to protect victims.
One possible good outcome of this may be that young adults will pause before engaging in risky sexual behavior. Perhaps, not only will the incidence of sexual assault reduce but the growing rate of sexually transmitted diseases and the nearly 50% rate of unintended pregnancies in the US , in both of which California leads among all the other states.
Prohibition has never been an effective means of changing human behavior, so there is little hope that the complications imposed on sexual encounters on campus will make much of an impact. Ron Paul, a conservative Christian, has always stated that imposing laws is not an effective way to change morality.
Being alerted to the crisis, is probably the best we can hope for in this new law. Maybe being alerted will lead to some education and perhaps a change in the culture.