Why We Need Affirmative Consent on College Campuses
by lizzfowler on February 2, 2015 - 8:35pm
Why We Need Affirmative Consent on College Campuses written by Madeline Diamond on December 11th 2014 for Huffington Post details some of her personal experiences of rape culture on college campuses across North America, along with stories and examples from the past year. She begins her article with a brief personal story about the selling of "I HEART CONSENSUAL SEX" merchandise at her own school's orientation and how she did not originally understand the importance of consent in the college social setting. She quickly learned shortly into her first semester that there are far too many cases of non-consensual sexual activity and rape, especially in the college setting.
In September of 2014, the state of California passed a law defining consent to a sexual activity as "affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity". This basically states that not only does 'no mean no', but a 'yes' has to be present in order for it to be considered affirmative consent. In many states and provinces, and on many campuses, the 'no means no' rule is repeated again and again; everyone knows that 'no means no'. However, in many cases, silence or the absence of a 'no' can be taken as a 'yes'. In her article, Diamond wrote that "the fact a clear "yes means yes" along with the more popular standard of "no means no" is defined through affirmative consent is just as important as the fact that silence does not mean yes".
Diamond brings up the circumstance of Joan Tarshis and Bill Cosby. In Tarshis' case, her alleged absence of a direct 'no' earned her a lot of criticism from CNN anchor Don Lemon. He implies that in not actively voicing that she did not consent to sexual activity, she was then actually giving her consent. Even though Lemon has since apologized for what he said, it really does bring up the question of how society views what consent is, and if we should change what the definition set in concrete is.
I personally believe that creating a universal model of what consent looks like could really benefit society and clear up any ambiguity that may be present in what consent means.
I believe this is a reliable source, because the author not only majors in English, but as a university student she has a lot of experience in speaking about this topic. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/madeline-diamond/