Sex and Consent on Campus
"Yes Means Yes" Law: Anti-Woman, Anti-Sex

http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1056/sex.html

Publisher:  Workers Vanguard
Date Written:  14/11/2014
Year Published:  2014  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX17031

Amid an ongoing debate over sex and consent on college campuses, in September California passed "affirmative consent" legislation, which was followed by a slew of similar initiatives nationwide. The pretext is to curb a purported epidemic of sexual violence and have college administrations come clean on reporting sexual assault complaints. But legislating one form of consent as the only acceptable variant and branding all else as assault -- as these new policies do -- means that these administrations now have even greater power to enforce what is acceptable sexual activity among students.

Abstract: 
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Excerpt:

Amid an ongoing debate over sex and consent on college campuses, in September California passed "affirmative consent" legislation, which was followed by a slew of similar initiatives nationwide. The pretext is to curb a purported epidemic of sexual violence and have college administrations come clean on reporting sexual assault complaints. But legislating one form of consent as the only acceptable variant and branding all else as assault -- as these new policies do -- means that these administrations now have even greater power to enforce what is acceptable sexual activity among students.

The new California code, known as "yes means yes," dictates that "affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement" must be ongoing throughout an entire coupling. Acts without explicit agreement or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are not considered consensual. As many young students are unskilled at both sex and drinking, this combination often results in morning-after misgivings and bad hangovers. In an American Spectator article online titled "In California, Every Love Scene Ever Filmed Is Rape" (2 October, 2014), one commentator aptly captured that state lawmakers have made "every drunken collegiate hookup a potential sexual assault."

Like the "date rape" frenzy in the 1990s, the current campaign invites campus bureaucrats into the bedroom to poke, pry and criminalize a range of customary sexual activity -- from intoxicated make-out sessions to miscommunicated caresses or overly zealous groping. Regimenting sex is a morality drive, and laws dictating affirmative consent give the campus sex police an even freer hand to say what is immoral.

...

The suggestion that a misunderstanding -- or for that matter, bad or unpleasant sex -- is equivalent to rape is not only ludicrous but dangerously trivializing of actual sexual violence. Human sexual behavior is certainly complex, but it is not one broad continuum from the innocuous hookup to violent rape. Rape is a heinous crime of degradation and terror whose victims have every right to legal recourse. One much-discussed article in New York magazine (21 September, 2014) on student activists "starting a revolution against campus sexual assault" captures the effort to make all sexual acts suspect: "Frustration with hook-up culture is undeniably a part of the anti-rape movement. In some activists' ideal world, there might be no trial, on campus or elsewhere, but instead a simple presumption of guilt."

For us Marxists, the guiding principle in all sexual relations is that of effective consent, meaning nothing more and nothing less than mutual agreement and understanding, as opposed to coercion. The social norms surrounding sexuality -- colored by shame, fear and religious mores, not to mention gender, class and racial inequalities -- can complicate matters. But as long as those who take part agree at the time, nobody else, least of all the state, has the right to tell them how or if they can do it.

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